San Remo is named after Saint Romulus of Genoa, a man of the warrior clergy who died in a cave at Villa Matutiae which stands near the town that now bears his name. The picture depicting him shows Romulus in Episcopal dress with a sword in hand ready to fight, as he did opposing enemy attack.

It seems fitting then to close day 1a with reference to the namesake of this town, and to mark the spirit many players used today – notably those currently bagging up chips, still in with a chance at the EPT San Remo title.

Romulus aside today found no shortage of warrior types, dressed in the Episcopal dress of poker – sunglasses, baseball cap, slick haircut and vast jewellery, and several even found that the Mediterranean climate suited them well. Despite the trappings of the outside world – a world of pizza, ice cream and cocktails by the sea, the atmosphere in the casino was gladiatorial, the attitude fierce as the inflated field would ultimately mean a beefier prize pool.


Team PokerStars Pro Tom McEvoy

Team PokerStars Pro Tom McEvoy started as he intended to continue, getting out of hands when the going was poor, taking pots when the chance came about. However, sat opposite PokerStars Passport winner Dustin Mele for much of the day it would ultimately not be Tom’s day, and after losing a few in a hand against the nuts “My mistake was that I paid him off!”, he succumbed to chronic chip shortage after the dinner break.

Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri had a more volatile day, a turbulent ride across home soil which had him struggle at one stage with a loose change stack of 3k, to suddenly spout wings and in the space of 20 minutes turn that change into 30k.


Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieiri

His countryman Luca Pagano opted instead to stick to one plan and one plan only. Distracted by his own admission by the detail of organising an event of this magnitude, Luca was quickly past his 10k starting stack, a little while later he was up to 38k, then 48k and then 55k before levelling out at somewhere around 45k. For a man with other commitments on his mind he was playing a blinder, setting a sporting pace that some others were unable to match.


Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano

Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Katja Thater was one of them…

Katja had had the best start of anyone, doubling up in the first level when her set busted a pair. But from there things swung out of her reach and whilst she battled to get back into the zone the tournament out ran her, sending her to the rail a few levels from the start.

The same went for one of the celebrity players on hand in San Remo. As detailed in the blog Alberto Tomba is a former World and Olympic Champion at slalom skiing. There was nothing this man hadn’t achieved on the slopes which he treated with a brash contempt that won the plaudits and hearts of many during his ten year career that saw him set records around the world. He found poker a little tougher today but fought a noble rearguard that found him still plugging away past the dinner break and against some formidable opposition – the type that would normally chew up novices.


Alberto Tomba

PokerStars qualifiers continued to excel, notably Ville Nyman, who ended the day with the chip lead, and Brandon Schaefer who strong armed his way to a stack of nearly 50k, ending level nine in joking mood alongside Dario Minieri. The same could be said for Raymond Rahme. The third place man at the WSOP main event last year left it to level eight to really turn on the heat, cooking on gas to a temperature of 43k by the close less than two hours later. The Team PokerStars Pro’s plan had been to survive with around 20k – a plan I’d say was over 200% successful.

It left less than 100 players from a starting field of 337 who turned up this afternoon with all the optimism you should feel with the sun shining and beaming summer in your life. Chips are bagged, the bar is closed and players have headed off into the San Remo early hours – that brief period where the Vespas and cars give way to slow walks, the sound of good cheer and the distance one-way chatter of a bad beat.

Among the leaders tonight is PokerStars qualifier Ville Nyman on 107,100 whilst German player Henrik Brockmann is not far behind on 100k.


Day 1b starts tomorrow at 3pm local time, 2pm GMT and 9am ET. You can find links to all of the days stories and video blogs below, and a list of chip counts here.

Sea, Sun and Poker

Lessons in poker inside and outside the cardoom

The cast of characters

Some good, some bad, some ugly

At the break with Tom McEvoy and Luca Pagano

Uphill task for downhill champ

Dinner over, it’s into level six

Rahme up, Sonnert down and Dario somewhere in the middle

Tomba La Bomba

Tomba La Bomba

Nine levels done and play stops for the day

Kara Scott and the video blog team wrap up the day…

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