EPT Prague: Day one done and dusted

The line-up for day 1b at EPT Prague read like a glittering who's who of modern poker. There were EPT champions and online legends and then a man entered the house with the biggest reputation of all: Europe welcomed back to its bosom Peter Eastgate, the 22-year-old Dane who went to Las Vegas in the summer alongside more than 6,800 other hopefuls and came home with all the bacon. Eastgate - for the benefit of cave dwellers - is the newly-crowned World Champion, but $9 million seemed to rest easy on his shoulders.

"I played this tournament last year," Eastgate said, taking charge of the microphone for shuffle up and deal formalities. "But I busted in level five. I'm hoping I can do better this year." Not quite, Peter. Not quite.

Eastgate, in fact, started on one of the toughest tables in the room and was one of its inevitable casualties. His A-K was outdrawn by Stuart Rutter's excellently-disguised A-3 during the late afternoon, and Eastgate's homecoming was not as glorious as it might have been.

But there was no shame in elimination today. The same fate befell the Team PokerStars Pros Alex Kravchenko, Katja Thater and William Thorson. It befell the former EPT champions Pascal Perrault, Mike McDonald, Jan Boubli, Roland de Wolfe, William Fry, Sander Lyloff and Andreas Hoivold. It befell such proven quality performers as Ben Grundy, Marc Goodwin, Nicolas Levi, Ramzi Jelassi and Praz Bansi.

Ben Grundy

But it's a measure of the talent here that emerging from the wreckage of day 1b are still numerous notable names. Dario Minieri's charge continues. The Team PokerStars Pro, a final table player last time out in Warsaw, remains in the hunt into day two and finished with more than 50,000.

Whatever Minieri's team-mate Noah Boeken got up to today, it was always likely to be much less loud than his violently garish hoodie. But Boeken's silent progress through the field meant he bagged up 17,000 chips overnight.

Team PokerStars Pro Noah Boeken

The very top of the tree is adorned by players from Sweden, France, Italy, Finland and Germany. They are Christer Johansson (110,000), Manuel Bevand (105,000), Alessio Isaia (93,500), Fredrik Nygard (60,000) and Marcel Baran (50,000). There's a whole lot of EPT experience among that lot - as well as the expected new faces.

When the field merges tomorrow, and the survivors of two days come together, there will still be fewer than 190 players in total. We reduced 298 into 96 today and 272 into 88 last night. Those 184 left now know what they are playing for: it's a first prize of €774,000, from a total prize pool of close to €3 million.

We'll probably play down close to the bubble tomorrow, which will burst when player number 57 departs. And then Friday and Saturday's action, will decide our champion.