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PokerStars EPT Grand Final -- Day 1B

Thiago Nishijima Leads Big After Nine Levels of Play

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Most tournament officials predicted an increase from last year’s field of 935 at the PokerStars EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, but it looks like that the volcanic ash cloud created after an eruption in Iceland might have had an effect on attendance.

With 351 players on day 1A and 497 on day 1B, the 2010 tournament totals out to 848 entries, creating a total prize pool of €8,480,000 and awarding a first place prize of €1,700,000.

After nine levels of play, the chip lead decidedly belong to Brazilian Thiago “XTheDecanoX” Nishijima, (pictured left) who somehow amassed 264,200 over the course of the day. To put that number in perspective, day 1A chip leader Simon Munz only left the Salles des Etoiles with 175,200.

Other notables with big stacks entering day 2 include Joseph Cada (123,600), Vicky Coren (114,000), Paul Berende (195,000) and Salvatore Bonavena (156,300).

Much like the first, the second starting day saw roughly half of its players hit the rail before the end of play. Among the notable fallen were Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Peter Eastgate, Dario Minieri, Luca Pagano, Bertrand Grospellier, Boris Becker and reigning champion Pieter de Korver.

Perhaps the biggest elimination of the day came thanks to Leo Margets (119,000), who had the pleasure of knocking out one Viktor Blom, (pictured right) who has long been rumored to be the high-stakes online mystery Swede, Isildur1.

A little over 400 players will merge to form the day 2 field, but with 128 players getting paid, it will take a near miracle to reach the money bubble in the allotted time.

Be sure to tune into CardPlayer.com when the action resumes at noon (6 a.m. EST).

*Photos courtesy of PokerStars Blog.