Vladimir Geshkenbein Tops Day 1A Leaderboard of EPT Berlin

Vladimir GeshkenbeinRussian pro poker player Vladimir Geshkenbein secured the chip lead after Day 1a of the €5,000+€300 buy-in main event at the European Poker Tour (EPT) Berlin, with his stack just beating out second-placed German Jens Weigel.

The Regensdove player – who shot to fame after collecting $266,705 for winning the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) HK$88,800 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em High Roller event in Macua back in late August of 2009 – holds 201,600 chips, while Rodenbach’s Weigel is just two thousand behind on 199,600 for what is the penultimate leg of the EPT’s eighth season.

Certainly, Weigel is in a good position to improve on his best EPT finish, when he took 30th place for $24,906 from the same event last April, although that isn’t in fact his biggest cash. That arrived when the German finished in 373rd place at the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event in Las Vegas for $36,463.

Just 110 Players Survive Opening Flight

A healthy 243 players began the Berlin tournament, although just 110 made it into tomorrow’s Day 2 following 10 60-minute levels of play at the lavish Grand Hyatt Hotel in Germany’s capital city.

Third place after Day 1a went to New Mexico’s Ariel Celestino (153,300), while Sweden’s Anton Wigg (fourth on 152,200), German Azmi Korkmaz (fifth on 143,300), Frenchman Stephane Albertini (sixth on 142,500), New Zealand’s David Yan (seventh on 139,000), Greek Iliodoros Kamatakis (eighth on 138,800), home player Bozidar Miljkovic (ninth on 136,600) and New Yorker Scott Baumstein (10th on 132,600) completed the top 10.

However, the highly-entertaining Geshkenbein had to battle back from a poor start to the opening flight after dropping down to just 15,000 chips, before rallying to end the day on top – much like he did when winning last year’s EPT SnowFest €3,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em main event in Hinterglemm’s Alpine Palace Card Casino for $552,901.

Russian Chip Leader Enjoys Fabulous Fightback

The Russian pro staged an incredible comeback, at one point cracking ace-king with ace-queen along the way – although he did slip back a little as Day 1a came to a close before again taking down several pots to take the chip lead.

We can’t recommend this, but Geshkenbein certainly enjoyed himself yesterday, drinking copious amounts of vodka – with bitter lemon, in case you’re wondering – while having his lucky mascot, a toy monkey, alongside him.

No matter the ‘benefits’ of knocking back some of the hard stuff, the Russian will undoubtedly be one to watch as he aims to secure his biggest win since that event in Austria last March – particularly as he hasn’t cashed since finishing 106th for $54,851 in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em World Championship in Vegas back in July last year.

Seven Team PokerStars Pros Make Day 2

Eight Team PokerStars Pros started the day, with just one – the Czech Republic’s Martin Stazsko – failing to make the cut. However, Chicago’s Barry Greenstein (on 55,600 chips) – a three-time WSOP bracelet winner – as well as Denmark’s Theo Jorgensen (64,500), Brooklyn’s Vanessa Selbst (17,000), Angel Guillen (123,400), of Mexico City, German Jan Heitmann (48,600), Portugal’s Henrique Pinho (23,100) and Pierre Neuville (7,800) all survived, although the last placed Belgian will do well to make it through Day 2.

Other notable players to make it into Day 2 include Belgian Kevin Vandersmissen (115,100), Montreal’s Sam Chartier (107,500), Russian Alex Bilokur (69,100), Ontario’s Andrew Chen (47,200), German Philipp Gruissem (46,700), New York State’s Shaun Deeb (33,100), home star Fabian Quoss (26,900) and Bulgarian Nikolay Bibov (12,300).

Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Plays Today

Meanwhile, railbirds can expect to see many more Team PokerStars Pros today, with the likes of Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Jason Mercier, Arnaud Mattern, Eugene Katchalov, Liv Boeree, Jonathan Duhamel, Victor Ramdin, Lex Veldhuis, Juan Manuel Pastor, Rino Mathis, Alex Kravchenko, Michael Keiner, George Danzer and Marcin Horecki all playing, as is WSOP main event champion Pius Heinz.

Additionally, also starting today are big-name pros such as Steve O’Dwyer, Faraz Jaka, Xuan Liu, Jason Wheeler, Jamie Rosen, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Martin Jacobson, Fabrice Soulier, Matthias De Meulder, Jake Cody, Johnny Lodden, PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker, Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald, Roberto Romanello, Anton Ionel, Andrey Pateychuk, David Vamplew, Chris Moorman, Juha Helppi, Nicolas Chouity, Tobias Reinkemeier, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, JP Kelly, Andre Akkari, Rupert Elder, Ville Wahlbeck, Christophe De Meulder, Elio Fox, Kevin MacPhee, Mickey Petersen and last year’s champion Ben Wilinofsky – although he was an early casualty today.

They will all be aiming to emulate Wilinofsky’s success from last year, when the Canadian pocketed $1,174,143 after outlasting a 773-player field, with organisers adding the nearby Spielbank Berlin to ensure that the expected 1,300 competitors can be accommodated.

EPT Berlin Main Event Day 1a – Top 10 Chip Leaders

1. Vladimir Geshkenbein (Russia) – 201,600

2. Jens Weigel (Germany) – 199,600

3. Ariel Celestino (USA) – 153,300

4. Anton Wigg (Sweden) – 152,200

5. Azmi Korkmaz (Germany) – 143,300

6. Stephane Albertini (France) – 142,500

7. David Yan (New Zealand) – 139,000

8. Iliodoros Kamatakis (Greece) – 138,800

9. Bozidar Miljkovic (Germany) – 136,600

10. Scott Baumstein (USA) – 132,600