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Day One (A) at the WPT Spanish Championship

Bienvenidos a España!

Streets of BarcelonaEach season of the World Poker Tour has included several tournaments outside the United States, including a stop in Europe. The WPT visited Paris in the first five seasons, but France's gaming regulations have become increasingly more difficult to navigate. The WPT didn't want to risk running afoul of the complicated gaming laws, so they withdrew their cameras from the annual Grand Prix de Paris for season six.

Eager to keep Europe on the tour, the WPT turned its eyes south, to the coastal Spanish city of Barcelona, host of the highly successful 1992 Summer Olympics. Grup Peralada agreed to host the inaugural WPT Spanish Championship at two of its casinos. The first four days will be played at Casino Barcelona, and then the tournament moves north to play the WPT final table at Casino Peralada.

Why go to so much trouble for a final table? Atmosphere. Casino Peralada is inside an actual castle, built around the turn of the 17th century. Talk about a unique final-table experience. But that's still five days away, and the players can't get ahead of themselves; to reach that final table in a castle, they first need to survive day one.

Players were given their choice of starting days: Thursday (day one (A)) or Friday (day one (B)). The recent trend at WPT events has been for most professional players to choose the later start, skipping potential days off during a tournament to reduce their travel or avoid disrupting momentum. Of course, a few professional players counter that strategy by signing up for the earlier day, anticipating a softer field.

One such player was Jim "KrazyKanuck" Worth, who was hanging around the tournament area before play began, sizing up the field. He finally decided that he was too tired (jet lag?) to play his best, and would come back to start on day one (B). That decision didn't last 15 minutes, when he was seated and smiling at table No. 2, saying the field was simply too favorable to pass up.

Worth's decision was put to the test at the end of level four (blinds at $100-$200) in a hand that extended into the last break of the day. After a flop of J 9 6, a short-stacked player moved all in for $4,800, seat No. 6 called, and Peter "Colonel Hazzard" Jepsen moved all in over the top for $13,800. Worth held pocket sixes for bottom set, but wasn't sure of his read on Jepsen. He called the clock on himself before finally folding his hand. Seat No. 6 folded 10-8 face up, and the all-in player flipped over 9 8 for middle pair. When Jepsen showed his pocket jacks for top set, Worth excitedly jumped in the air, telling everyone that he was now freerolling in the tournament after the big laydown. (For the record, Jepsen would win that hand with a full house, as the last two cards were running queens.)

Patrik Antonius shortly before busting on day one (A) Of course, the "soft field" theory didn't hold much weight for the players at table No. 11, who were facing Barry Greenstein, Alex Kravchenko, Jani Sointula, Steve Zolotow, and Joe "Bigegypt" Elpayaa. If that wasn't bad enough, Patrik Antonius was added to the mix late in the first level. Greenstein asked how unlucky he had to be to find himself at that table, but someone pointed out he was lucky in one aspect - at least Barry Greenstein didn't have to play against Barry Greenstein. Of the 97 players who started the day, 55 survived all six levels (60 minutes each). Worth parlayed his big laydown into a ticket to day two, as did most of the tough players who started at table No. 11. (Antonius was the exception, following his late arrival with an early departure.)

The leader board has an Italian flavor to it, with countrymen Maurizio Carra (first, $59,975) and Max Pescatori (sixth, $44,400) both off to strong starts. Here are the top 10 chip leaders from day one (A), including some notables further back in the pack. (Average stack: $26,455)

1. Maurizio Carra - $59,975
2. Carl Hostrup - $55,750
3. Piagro-angelo - $50,650
4. Marciano Marc - $46,300
5. Fabrice Soulier - $45,750
6. Max Pescatori - $44,400
7. Henrik Gwinner - $40,775
8. Andre Akkari - $37,050
9. Markus Lehmann - $35,150
10. Joe "Bigegypt" Elpayaa - $34,250

Zolotow and Greenstein on day one (A) at the Spanish Championship

Barny Boatman - $32,250
Christer Johansson - $28,850
Doug Lee - $28,525
James Hoeppner - $23,625
Ted Lawson - $22,150
Peter "Colonel Hazzard" Jepsen - $21,625
Erik Seidel - $20,250
Mike "Timex" McDonald - $19,975
Alex Jacob - $19,625
Barry Greenstein - $19,475
Johan Storakers - $18,500
Jani Sointula - $15,025
Jim "KrazyKanuck" Worth - $15,025
Steve Zolotow - $11,250
Alex Kravchenko - $9,600

Tournament action resumes Friday at 17:00 (5 p.m.) Central European Time. If you're following along from North America, that's 11 a.m. EST and 8 a.m. PST. Return to for live coverage of all the action.
Tags: europe