While it's uncertain what the future of the Prague stop on the schedule will be next year when the European Poker Tour is rebranded and divided in PokerStars Championships and PokerStars Festivals, today made clear there's a poker-loving community here with deep pockets. After two impromptu Single-Day High Roller, today it was time for the regular €10,300 High Roller event.
The field in this closing high roller event has grown over the years from 26 in the inaugural edition in 2010, to 315 last year when Kenny Smaron won the whole thing for €595,500. Well, like just about all the records this week, today's version of the event crushed that number. While registration is open till the start of play on Day 2, upon closing of the day the clock showed 394 entries.
After 10 levels of play, 200 players remain. November Niner Jerry Wong leads with 402,900. Russian player Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko, who won this event back in 2014 for €487,180, is on his heels with 365,000.
Right from the start, the room was buzzing. It seemed that anyone that could spare €10,300, entered the event. And those who couldn't walked around looking for investors. Even before the first level was done, predictions were made that the record would be broken. By the time the dinner break came by, those betting against it would need to hit the ATM as they were proven wrong.
Rocco Palumbo was one of the early leaders, busting Scott Margereson in a flip with jacks to ace-king. While he wouldn't end with the lead, he did hold on to his chips the entire day, and slowly but steadily, the Italian added to his stack to end the day with 258,000.
One of the bigger pots early on was one between [Removed:197] and Igor Kurganov. [Removed:198], a poker superstar some seasons ago, since retired but now making a comeback in Prague, stuck in five bets before the flop with ace-king and got a call out of Kurganov. The board brought a jack and a king and [Removed:198] continued. With a queen hitting the turn, [Removed:198] and Kurganov both had a tough spot. [Removed:198] had ace-king and only effectively a third pot behind. [Removed:198] choose to shove. Kurganov had an over pair with aces and faced just as tough a choice. He was getting such a good price, but what could he beat? After some time, and the clock called, Kurganov called with the better hand. [Removed:198] still had chips left and would finish the day on 64,600 chips. Kurganov returns tomorrow with exactly 150,000 in chips.
It wasn't the biggest pot, but a hand between Bryan Piccioli and Tamer Kamel did make headlines as it was Piccioli making a royal flush, something you don't see every day, even when you see hundreds of hands every day. Kamel had a lower flush and had to leave the pot to Piccioli. The latter ended with 91,100 in chips, Kamel with just 40,800.
Another player that made headlines was EPT Barcelona champion Sebastian Malec. Not because he was gathering heaps of chips — he was, but that wasn't why photographers were constantly snapping photos of him — but because he was dressed as Harry Potter. Besides the RayBan Potter-style glasses he had a Gryffindor sweater and a magic wand he waved when all in. Among others, he waved it at Pascal Lefrancois to send the French-Canadian packing. Lefrancois won't return on Day 2 as he busted twice, Malec will bring 139,800 to the table when play starts.
Jerry Wong gathered the most chips of all. No royal flushes or Halloween outfits for Wong; we reported on him solely because he was crushing all day. He started off great snagging chips from Thi Xoa Nguyen who was value betting her top set of kings all the way, only to stare into Wong's straight on the river. When he busted a bluffing Michael Gathy a couple levels later, he completed a wall of chips that would make Donald Trump proud.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier busted two bullets and tweeted he was happy the year was over. His colleague, PokerStars Team Pro Liv Boeree, did make it through as she'll bring almost 100,000 in chips to Day 2 from a 50,000 starting stack.
194 players survived Day 1 of the three-day event. Day 2 of the last-ever EPT Prague €10,000 High Roller kicks off at 12:30. The first level on the schedule is 1,000/2,000 with an ante of 300. Players can buy in till the start of play, getting 25 big blinds in return for €10,300. PokerNews will be on the floor to bring you updates all day long.