Online Qualifier Mihaita Croitoru Leads Main Event

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The first of four starting days for the PokerStars Festival London Main Event got underway at 2 p.m. at the Hippodrome Casino in the West End of London. A new chapter started for PokerStars as the era of the ‘UK and Ireland Poker Tour’ was ushered out and a new series of events rostered in.

Online qualifier Mihaita Croitoru (photo) leads after 12 levels of play in the inaugural London edition of PokerStars Festivals. The Romanian bagged up 340,000 while Lam Van Trinh sits second with 291,300. Third is Lucian Tartan on 216,500.

Position Player Country Chip Count
1 Mihaita Croitoru Romania 340,000
2 Lam Van Trinh United Kingdom 291,300
3 Lucian Tartan United Kingdom 216,500
4 David Johnson United Kingdom 201,300
5 Bappie De Haas Netherlands 184,600

The event attracted plenty of big names, some of whom played the record-breaking High Roller yesterday. They included PokerStars Team Pro Felipe Ramos, Niall Farrell, Adrian Mateos, Chris Moorman and Philipp Gruissem.

Other familiar faces included the ever popular Barny Boatman and Chaz Chattha and a few of the younger faces on the scene in Ben Winsor, William Davies and Steven Game.

There were a total of 26 online qualifiers in the field with; all got in cheaply and had the plan to make away with a bumper payday. One of them, Mihaita Croitoru from Romania, qualified for just $66 at PokerStars and ended up as the Day 1a chip leader.

IT WAS A FIERCELY FOUGHT POKER GAME ALL DAY WITH VERY FEW EASY TABLES.

The £990 freezeout attracted 169 players in total, all of whom set out with high hopes and 30,000 chips continuing the successful start of the eight-day series.

It was a fiercely fought poker game all day with very few easy tables. Gruissem was one of the chip leaders towards the end of the day and at various stages in the last two levels, it looked as if Lucian Tartan, Brett Kennedy or Sander Sol could grab the lead. In one of the last five hands, though, Lam Van Trinh flopped a full house against his opponent’s set and won a huge pot to propel him to the top. Another late twist saw him lose a pot to end up in second place and it was Croitoru who was end-of-day leader.

At the close of play, 45 players had made it through to Day 2 from the 169 entrants. Some of the notables to bag include William Davies (175,0000), David Docherty (127,000), Slaven Popov (95,700), Philipp Gruissem (70,800) and James Dempsey (40,500)

Day 1b is set to take place at the earlier start time of 11 a.m. tomorrow and will follow the same format as today; 12 levels of 45 minutes each with a 75-minute dinner break after level 6. Anyone who played and busted today will not be eligible to enter as the turbo on Friday is the only chance of re-entry.

Check in with the PokerNews Live Reporting team throughout the day for more action from the inaugural PokerStars Festival at the Hippodrome Casino.