The second day of play at the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Main Event in Kyiv, Ukraine -- the second of two scheduled “day ones” -- attracted 167 more players, bringing the overall total number of entrants for the event to 296. I know those running the show were hoping to hit 300, but I think that had been considered a somewhat unlikely goal, so 296 ain’t bad.
There are 33 different countries represented, too, which is kind of amazing to consider, especially given the fact that players only had a couple of weeks to arrange to come to Kyiv. We’ll never know, of course, how many would have been there had this event been played in Moscow as originally scheduled. I think in fact there might have been some who came to Kyiv who might not have come otherwise, given the stricter visa requirements over in Russia.
As happened on Day 1a, there were seven one-hour levels played yesterday with no dinner break. For those of us on the reporting side, that basically translates into approximately ten consecutive hours of work -- a bit of preliminary prep, blogging through the eight hours or so it takes to play the seven levels, then doing all the recap stuff afterwards (getting final chip counts, writing wrap-ups, etc.). A long day, then, though not as arduous as some of the days we had at the WSOP.
The press area is located right next to where the tourney is being played, which I’m told is a more convenient set-up than sometimes occurs at these non-WSOP events. Actually we’re all in the same cavernous arena that is the Kyiv Sport Palace, with huge amber-colored curtains hanging down from the ceiling separating the rows of tables at which the media works from the poker tables on the other side. So FerricRamsium and I are continually walking back and forth -- about 50 yards (?) -- between our laptops to the tourney as we gather hands and other items to report throughout the day.
Without question, the most memorable moment yesterday came when a construction crew working near the Sport Palace accidentally cut through the main power line, suddenly plunging the entire arena into darkness. At the time I was on the floor, standing in between two tables and trying to record the action at both.
On my left was Dario Minieri’s table. The Italian had been playing his usually aggressive game, opening most hands with preflop raises and watching his stack go up and down wildly. After more than doubling up early, he’d slipped up and was down around 10,000 or so (from the starting stack of 30,000), and so I wanted to keep an eye on him just in case he happened to bust.
Meanwhile, to my right I had become engrossed in a huge hand developing between another Italian player, Pier Paolo Fabrietti, and a fellow named Alexander Rykov. On the turn the board read . Rykov bet 7,500 into what had already become about a 20,000-chip pot, and Fabrietti called. The river was the , and Rykov again made a bet. Fabrietti responded by pushing all in, and Rykov thought a bit before finally making the call. Fabrietti had Rykov covered by about 10,000, and the pot was now over 100,000.
Somewhat surprisingly, the moment Rykov called Fabrietti tossed his cards to the dealer. He’d obviously missed a draw on that river and had nothing, although it was odd to see him mucking without waiting to see Rykov’s cards. (I ended up chatting about this hand some time later with one of the other players at the table, who said he most definitely would have waited to see what Rykov had before giving up like that.)
It was at the precise moment Fabrietti tossed his cards -- I want to say they were still airborne, in fact -- that the power went out. All of the players at the table instantly pulled out their cell phones and shone the meager bit of light they provided on the table. The dealer leaned forward, anxiously extending both hands out over the chips in the middle. Rykov turned out to have pocket kings, giving him a set. Wild stuff.
At other tables hands had been interrupted midway through, and so those were finished one at a time with the tournament director shining a flashlight. My buddy Benjo snapped that nifty photo pictured above, chronicling the action as we awaited the return of power. Backup generators were cranked up, and after about 20-25 minutes of darkness we were back in business.
Minieri busted soon thereafter. As did Gus Hansen, who arrived very late. He’d apparently bought in earlier, but didn’t take a hand until the middle of the fourth level, and was out at the start of level seven. There were 110 players left at the end of Day 1b, meaning we’ve got 203 total coming back today for Day 2.
The tourney is scheduled to go four more days. No idea how many levels they’ll play today or from this point forward. I did hear that the tourney will be played eight-handed from Day 3 onward (all EPT final tables are eight-handed, btw). Also, there will be television crews on hand for the last two days of play, as I believe they’ll be showing this event in Europe at some point in the near future. There’s also some sort of “EPT Live” feed available online, I think -- I’m sure I’ll learn more about that as we go.
To this point Kyiv has basically been a lot of back-and-forthing for me -- from the laptop to the poker tables and back, and from the hotel to the Sport Palace and back. So not much sight-seeing, but I’m having fun, for sure. Am still struggling to find a good night’s sleep, I’m afraid. Am usually in bed by midnight, but as my body clock still thinks that it is late afternoon, it has been taking me a few hours to shut down the brain altogether. But all in all, so far so good.
Talk at you tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can check in on us over on the PokerNews’ live reporting page. Also, Gloria, Jeremy, and John are doing some location shooting in the city this morning, so there should be some cool video from Kyiv on the site soon. Go over to tv.pokernews.com later in the day for that.