Less than 24 hours ago the mood in Copenhagen's poker circles was one of jubilee; an evening spent toasting the latest winners at the Scandinavian Poker Awards, names like Eastgate, Sahamies and In de Betou. Tonight though, after eight day 1a levels of play, the mood is more of relief and rest for the 99 survivors after business as usual on the world's best poker tour.
The EPT tournament room is a cauldron type place that turns some into steel, others into soup. But tonight it's one of the old guard and one of season five's new faces who lead: Thor Hansen and Albert Iversen are at the top of the day one pile.
Iversen made a name for himself at EPT Budapest, finishing fourth for €153,216. As it stands now the Dane in the best position to add to that fledgling record, thanks in the main to a crazy 15 minute spell this evening when half a dozen hands sent him to 65,000 and three players to the rail. Like he'd been blessed, Iversen was suddenly unstoppable, watched in awe from the rail as he called all-in after all-in, and emerging as the last man standing each time.
At least that was the case with minutes to go on the day. Suddenly, with minute to spare and from out of nowhere, Thor Hansen, a legend in these parts and a favourite of players and railbirds alike, strapped on a jet pack and flew to the lead, ending the day on 74,700 after a series of never say die hands.
While Hansen worked on his new found lead all three of the Team PokerStars Pros who began today bagged up chips at the end of it, each perched around the average mark. Any feeling of relief they might feel comes at the expense of 126 players who right now have just the emptiness of elimination to remind them of their Copenhagen escapade - and not even the sub zero temperatures can numb that. Ask the likes of former winners Joao Barbosa and Magnus Petersson, or Erik Friberg, Carlos Mortensen and Christian Grundtvig, all of whom found their way to the rail today.
Local players dominate the landscape as far as chip counts are concerned. Hansen and Iversen may be at the head but are followed by countrymen Rasmus Nielsen and PokerStars player Allan Baekke. Laurence Houghtonis doing something similar ending today on close to 50,000. Names such as Eidsvig, Mattern, Biechel and Hedlund will also be back for day two.
The award winners had something else in common apart from their new silverware- they had cleverly opted for a day 1b start. Their toil begins tomorrow, plenty of time for last night's hangover to subside. They'll be joined by a host of big names. From the Team PokerStars stable - William Thorson and Dario Minieri, Isabelle Mercier and Alex Kravchenko, alongside Bertrand Grospellier and a certain couple of PokerStars players Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov.
With all that read, watched and digested you're free to do whatever you want, just be sure to be back here for the start of day 1b, that's 2pm sharp.