2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Ismael Bojang Leads Event #1, Defending Champ Ryan Hefter in Top Five
20 October 2017
PokerBrave (3284 articles)
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If it is an odd-numbered year, it means that the World Series of Poker is taking its show to Europe. This year the WSOP-E has landed at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, where the next fortnight will see 11 bracelets contested. Up first for the players is Event #1, the €1000 No Limit Hold’em Monster Stack tournament.

Thursday afternoon saw the first of three-Day Ones take flight, with the players holding the option of playing in all three in an attempt to build a stack. Those three-Day Ones were going to be long ones, with 14 levels of play and late registration open until the start of Level 8. As Day 1A hit the felt, it was a bit of a surprise how many top players were a part of the proceedings.

John Racener, who is vying with Chris Ferguson for the WSOP Player of the Year award, was in his chair from the start of action. He was joined by six-time WSOP bracelet winner Jeffrey Lisandro, Felipe Ramos, Ryan Hughes, James Akenhead, and Roland Israelashvili, with each player getting a generous 20,000 chip stack to start the day with. As the afternoon wore on, Racener’s main opposition Ferguson made an appearance on the tables along with Maxim Lykov and Kristen Bicknell as the first break of the day saw the tournament clock informing the field that 63 players were already in the game.

As the sun began to set on Rozvadov, more top pros came out for their first appearance of the WSOP-E. Former “November Niner” Pierre Neuville, Erik Cajelais, Roberto Romanello, Mike Leah all came to the tables, but Bicknell and Ramos exited at least the Day 1A proceedings. By the time that the clock ended Level 8 and the late registration process, 90 entries were in the books and dinner was served.

Now set in the fact that no other players would be joining the festivities, players got about the work of building a respectable stack to move to Day 2. With only 47 of those players coming back from dinner, a slight change was made to the schedule for Event #1, with the plan to play until either 15 players were left or go all the way through the full 14 levels scheduled. As it turned out, that was a solid decision by WSOP officials as the field whittled itself down to 15 just after Level 14 began:

1. Ismael Bojang, 268,500
2. Jeff Cormier, 265,000
3. Micky Blasi, 213,000
4. Ryan Hefter, 208,000
5. Oleksandr Shcherbak, 140,000
6. Hannes Neurauter, 106.000
7. Ricardo, Chauriye, 96,000
8. Mike Leah, 96,000
9. Ryan Hughes, 81,500
10. Theodoros Aidonopoulos, 75,000
11. Yaniv Botbol, 72,000
12. Carlo Savinelli, 55,500
13. James Akenhead, 46,500
14. Romain Follet, 44,500
15. Zdenko Slavik, 33,000

Bojang, despite having extensive experience in international poker, has never won a major tournament. Hefter, however, has, earning the championship in this very event in 2015 when it was last played.

Although Ferguson, Lykov and plenty of other players were eliminated on Day 1A, they all can come back on Day 1B and/or Day 1C to attempt to build a stack. The short stacks from Day 1A, Slavik and Follet, are unfortunately locked into Day 2 with their stacks, but the Top Five will be comfortable in their positions for Sunday’s Day 2 play.

Day 1B will kick off at 2PM in Rozvadov (8AM Eastern Time) and the field should be much larger than the 90 players who showed on Thursday. This tournament will be the only action around the King’s Casino for the weekend as Event #2, the €500 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, is not set to begin until Monday. The action will definitely heat up as the players drift into the Czech Republic and the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe hits its full stride.