The twelfth season of the World Poker Tour (WPT) has gotten underway in the small European nation of Cyprus, where the bwin WPT Cyprus is taking place.
The starting flights of the bwin WPT Cyprus’ main event, the bwin WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, are now over, with 262 players turning out on Days 1a and 1b. Just 103 of those players made the cut to the second day of play, with Lebanese player Bernard Samaha holding a commanding chip lead over the rest of the remaining field.
He will go into Day 2 with a stack of 293,700 chips, which is almost 60,000 chips more than the second highest stack, which belongs to Albert Daher. Daher finished the first starting flight with 234,000 chips, putting him in a good position for the rest of the event.
Two other players in the remaining field will start the second day of the Classic with over 200,000 chips. They are Alexey Rybin, who currently has 216,500 to his name, and Asaf Avci, who is not too far behind with a stack of 200,200.
WSOP Gold Bracelet winners Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi and Simeon Naydenov took part in the event, but both were knocked out before the starting flights ended. Mizrachi was eliminated after going all in with a flush draw against German pro Jamila Von Perger, who had Pocket Queens. Unfortuately for the Grinder, his flush did not come and his time in the tournament was over almost as quickly as it had begun.
Naydenov was eliminated on Day 1b after he went all in with a pair of Aces with a King kicker. He was called by the chip leader, who turned a Full House to win the hand and knock the Bulgarian out of the Classic.
Samaha is a relative unknown on the live professional poker scene. According to the Hendon database, Samaha has just four in the money finishes in previous events, all of which were held in Cyprus. That may have made given him a comfort advantage over some of the other competitors as he is currently on track to win his biggest poker event yet.
It is still very early days though, with four days left in the event, meaning that all 103 players could very well take over chip lead and win the tournament.
Day 2 of the bwin WPT Merit Cyprus Classic takes place today at the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino.