Plenty of European legends have added their names to the lists of PokerStars European Poker Tour winners, but one man who hasn't is old-time online crusher Johnny Lodden. The Norwegian PokerStars Team Pro has come close a couple of times with top-four finishes at EPT Grand Final in 2013 and 2015, and he's building toward another possible run after bagging a big stack on Day 1a of EPT Prague Main Event.
After eight long levels of play on Day 1a, Lodden bagged 132,700 to place among the top stacks at day's end. Lodden had two starting stacks before the first break even arrived and scarcely looked back en route to his strong finish.
Though Lodden has heaps heading to Thursday's Day 2, he isn't quite at the top of the board. The man to catch is Dane Henrik Hecklen, who finished with 221,800. Hecklen has made his bacon in recent years in some of the bigger field, lower buy-in events that accompany PokerStars EPT events. He won an Estrellas €2,200 High Roller in 2014 for €293,000 and has over $1 million in total cashes.
Others to bag big included Thomas Muehloecker (151,000), Tony Dunst (129,500) and Pascal Lefrancois (114,900). Anthony Zinno, Daniel Dvoress, Sergio Aido, Juha Helppi, and €50,000 Super High Roller runner-up Charlie Carrel were also among the 117 survivors. Overall, 246 players entered the first flight of the final EPT Main Event, and plenty more will assuredly join them for Wednesday's Day 1b.
Some of the players who busted out on Day 1a and are therefore out of the running to take the final EPT crown include Justin Bonomo, Rainer Kempe, Sam Greenwood, Davidi Kitai, Isaac Haxton, Steve O'Dwyer, Kenny Hallaert, Vojtech Ruzicka, and PokerStars Team Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier.
O'Dwyer couldn't get much going and busted just before bagging time when he his flopped set of eights was not good enough against the turned set of jacks of Romain Lewis. ElkY also busted with eights, putting his last 15 big blinds in and having an opponent pick up nines behind him. The famed Frenchman has had a tough couple of days as he bubbled the €50,000 Super High Roller on Monday night.
Day 1b gets underway at noon Wednesday and should see a big crowd fill the Hilton Hotel Prague. Come back to PokerNews for more live coverage.