It was appropriate that home star Jan Ramik topped the leaderboard as the Prague Poker Festival kicked off with the first ever World Poker Tour (WPT) Prague at the city’s Corinthia Casino.
Day 1a ended with Czech Republic player Jan Ramik on top with 209,300 chips as the only one of 231 entrants to break through the 200,000 barrier, while the top five was completed by two more Jans in Slovakian Bendik (second on 180,300) and another home favourite in Brandejs (third on 170,000), Israeli Eran Malkin (fourth on 169,200) and Spaniard Adria Balaguer (fifth on 154,000).
A total of 93 players made it into tomorrow’s Day 2 of the €3,200+€300 ($4,320+$405 / £2,752+£258) buy-in main event that will be followed by two more major tournaments in the capital city over the next 10 days.
But it was Ramik who made the biggest moves to take top spot following 10 one-hour levels of play, although there is a good chance some of Day 1a’s casualties – such as Sam El Sayed, Shannon Shor, Toby Lewis, Melanie Weisner and WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger – will take advantage of this being a re-entry event to return on Saturday.
Incredibly, Ramik chipped up from his starting stack of 30,000 to more than double that before the 100/200 level was completed, although El Sayed was the first player to hit the 100,000 mark before crashing out.
On a board that showed 9♠ 6♥ 9♣ 2♦ and a 15,000 pot already made, El Sayed made a raise of 6,000 over his opponent’s 4,000 bet. The Swiss player’s opponent called, before the river provided the players with the Q♦. El Sayed’s opponent checked, only for the Swiss star to go all-in. His opponent took his time and then folded, but what followed was rather amusing as both players discussed the hand. El Sayed’s opponent said: “What did you have?” El Sayed answered: “A full house and you?” Then came: “I had aces.”. El Sayed found this hilarious and added: “That’s the funniest thing I have ever heard. Your aces were good.” His opponent looked puzzled before saying: “You said you had a full house,” to which El Sayed replied: “Never believe a poker player.”
However, El Sayed wasn’t laughing when he was sent to the rail later in the day as Spain’s Adria Balaguer took over at the top. In the big blind, Balaguer placed 4,100 into the pot following a flop that read 8♦ 7♠ 4♥. Frenchman Jerome Barr, in early position, made the call. The 3♠ arrived on the turn and both checked to see the 6♠ on the river. Balaguer threw 6,100 into the pot and Barr, after checking his cards, mucked. However, hitting 155,000 at the start of level 10 was as good as it got for Balaguer as he dropped back down to fifth place on 154,000 chips come bagging-up time.
Also definitely returning for Day 2 are players such as Britain’s John Eames (64th on 44,300), Irishman Eoghan O’Dea (10th on 132,600) – who was a November Niner at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event – as well as another Brit in James Akenhead (34th on 89,700), Canadian Russell Carson (62nd on 46,200) and Sweden’s Christian Jeppsson (54th on 57,300).
Additionally, railbirds will get another chance to see other big-name pros, including Germany’s Tobias Reinkemeier (21st on 109,700), Ireland’s Dermot Blain (25th on 105,000), Russian Vitaly Lunkin (67th on 38,900), German Dominick Nitsche (63rd on 45,700), and new Team PokerStars Pro and November Niner Martin Staszko (65th on 44,000), from the Czech Republic.
WPT Prague Day 1a Top 10 Placings and Chip Counts
1. Jan Ramik (Czech Republic) – 209,300
2. Jan Bendik (Slovakia) – 180,300
3. Jan Brandejs (Czech Republic) – 170,000
4. Eran Malkin (Israel) – 169,200
5. Adria Balaguer (Spain) – 154,000
6. Mikhail Shakhmovic (Russia) – 145,500
7. Michal Maryska (Czech Republic) – 141,900
8. Vadim Markushevski (Belarus) – 137,800
9. Daniel Strelitz (USA) – 133,700
10. Eoghan O’Dea (Ireland) – 132,600