Day 1b of the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic Main Event has been completed after 10 one-hour levels were played out in the luxurious Merit Casino, Kyrenia, Cyprus.
By the time registration had closed at the end of Level 6 there were a total of 164 players who had exchanged $4,400 for 30,000 tournament chips and the chance to become a WPT champion. Just before 1:00 am local time renowned tournament director Matt Savage call time on proceedings and just 65 players had chips that needed bagging and tagging; the dream of WPT glory had ended for 99 of our starters.
The title of end of day chip leader is one that every poker tournament player want to lay claim to and it was a fiercely fought contest here on Day 1b. From the moment he sat down at the felt, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi terrorized his opponents and quickly found himself sat behind a pile of chips worth over 120,000. Mizrachi dropped off the pace towards the latter part of the day but he still finished with a respectable 54,300 stack.
Others who were flying high included the relatively unknown Hüsnü Sincar (247,500), the loose-aggressive Giuseppe Pantaleo (191,300) and the hyper-aggressive former WPT Amneville champion Sam El Sayed (214,300); all three of those players crossed the 200,000 chip barrier in the last couple of levels of the day. But as is usually the case in tournament poker, only one player can be the chip leader and tonight that honor went to David “Chino” Rheem and his 291,500 chips.
Rheem is a well-known figure on the poker circuit having reached the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event (he finished seventh), having won the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic; also in 2008 and more recently winning the inaugural Main Event of the Epic Poker League. Rheem was his usual vocal self through the day but he was backing up his table talk with his poker skills; and he also ran amazingly well. At different points throughout the day he cracked pocket jacks with pocket tens, then later cracked pocket aces (again with a pair of tens.) Then on the last hand of the night he had a 6,000 turn bet and a 20,000 river bet called on a board whilst holding to put him well clear of the chasing pack.
Other notable players to safely navigate through to Monday's Day 2 include the man who reached the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event Kelly Kim (92,200), a WSOP bracelet winner in Dominik Nitsche, and a former EPT Grand Final champion in Nicolas Chouity (42,100).
The 65 survivors from Day 1b will converge with the 67 who made it through from yesterday's Day 1a meaning there will be 132 of poker's finest returning to the all-inclusive Merit Casino on Monday at 1:00 PM local time to play out Day 2. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there bringing you all of the action, as it happens, so be sure to tune in and follow all of the fun and frolics !
We leave you with this interview with our overall chip leader Chino Rheem and the delectable Lynn Gilmartin.