A pair of Parisians top the leaderboard heading into Day 2 of the 2011 World Poker Tour (WPT) Amneville event, with Jean Francois Rigollet just ahead of Nicolas Babel.
Two Day 1 strings were played before Rigollet emerged atop the chip pile in the €3,200+€300 buy-in Texas Hold’em event on 164,700, which is just ahead of Babel’s 163,600.
Rigollet made his way to the top spot from the second opening day, replacing Babel in pole position following the latter’s splendid Day 1a performance at the Seven Casino in northern France.
The top five is completed by another two Frenchmen in Riad Mounir (154,400) and Thibaut Durand (147,300) and American Jamie Rosen (145,300).
Babel’s progress is particularly notable as he aims to go deep again in Amneville after his 16th place finish for €13,120 last year, while the Frenchman – who has accumulated more than $445,000 in live tournament earnings – also cashed in the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event with a 38th place finish that earned him $206,395.
A healthy total of 379 players signed up for the main event, with 203 starting Day 1b and 176 signing up for Day 1a to produce a prize pool of €1,164,288.
However, the field was cut by 161 over the two days as 113 survived Day 1a and just 105 made it through from Day 1b.
There had been some concern that few big-name pros had appeared on the first day of the event, but Day 1b had some pleasant surprises in store for the gathered railbirds as the participants chase down the €310,633 first prize that also includes the added bonus of a $25,500 WPT Bellagio package.
There was not one but two well-known poker-playing couples on show as Liv Boeree and Kevin MacPhee were joined by Catherine Hong and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier.
Certainly, Boeree and Hong added some glamour to the event, but more importantly the two women outlasted MacPhee and Grospellier to make it into Day 2.
Elky faired slightly better than MacPhee when crashing out fairly late in the day when Bastien Faessen, in the small blind, raised him and big blind Grospellier shoved all-in.
Faessen called to show J♠ J♦, while Grospellier held A♥ Q♥. It was a coin-flip, but the former’s pair held – and the Frenchman bagged up and said his farewells to girlfriend Hong.
Four other Brits will join Boaree (36,500) for Day 2, and they are Sandiep Khosa (106,400), Mathew Frankland (44,200) and Fields.
Other notable players to make it through from Day 1b include Marvin Rettenmaier (112,000), Joseph Cheong (124,200), Nesrine Kourdourli (84,700), Arnaud Mattern (114,280) and Jamie Rosen (145,300), as well as renowned French rap star Bruno ‘Kool Sheen’ Lopes (112,000).
Also surviving from Day 1a were Marc Inizan (94,300), Steven Van Zadelhoff (58,800), Antonin Teisseire (57,200), Almira Skripchenko (51,900), Remy Biechel (51,000) and Pierre Canali (30,900).
As well as the €310,633 and $25,500 WPT Bellagio package available to the event winner, second place will garner €170,365 and a €10,000 WPT Paris package, while third will take home €113,580.
Additionally, players finishing as low as 36th will pick up €8,518 for their troubles.
Top 10 standings and chip counts after Day 1 of the 2011 WPT Amneville:
1. Jean Francois Rigollet (France) – 164,700
2. Nicolas Babel (France) – 163,600
3. Riad Mounir (France) – 154,400
4. Thibaut Durand (France) – 147,300
5. Jamie Rosen (USA) – 145,300
6. Erik Von Buxhoeveden (Austria) – 142,700
7. Luke Fields (UK) – 129,900
8. Edouard Sadoun (France) – 125,500
9. Joseph Cheong (South Korea) – 124,200
10. Anders Bisgaard Rasmussen (Denmark) – 117,000
The first World Poker Tour was held in 2002, so next year it will be their 10th anniversary.