Cannes, France (Sunday, September 30, 2012) -- The opening playing session at WSOP Europe’s Main Event Championship has closed with several exciting developments.

But first, the basics.

The Main Event’s first of two starting sessions drew 215 entries.  Following 12 hours of intense action at the Hotel Majestic Barriere, only 115 players remain. Atop the pyramid of survivors is a superstar known to poker fans worldwide – rightly so, since he’s one of the few players to have won WSOP gold bracelets on two continents, both in North America and here in Europe.

Indeed, three-time WSOP title holder Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, from the Miami area has returned to the French Riviera with a vengeance.  Hoping to relive the ecstasy of his previous victory last year in Cannes, when he won his second gold bracelet, Mizrachi is now poised to make a deep run again, which not only has huge personal significance (this would be victory number four for “the Grinder).  Moreover, a Mizrachi victory could push him into the lead in the one of the final events in the 2012 WSOP Player of the Year race, with the World Championship final table still pending at the end of October. 
This has already been a monster year for Mizachi, who won his second career Poker Players Championship victory at the 2012 WSOP in Las Vegas last June, universally considered one of the most prestigious titles in the game.  Many eyes will be focused on the global poker superstar when Day Two gets underway on Monday, with the restart.

Mizrachi is hardly alone when it comes to players to watch.  Here’s the top ten players listed by chip count at the end of Day 1A:

1. Michael Mizrachi (USA) -- 234,850
2. Stephane Girault (France) -- 172,850
3. Sergii Baranov (Ukraine) -- 1,520,000
4. JC Alvarado (Mexico) -- 140,675
5. Martial Blangewitsch (France) -- 129,800
6. Denis Biscaldi (France) -- 122,625
7. Michael Kolkowicz (France) -- 122,150
8. Dan Smith (USA) -- 110,525
9. Joao Barbosa (Portugal) -- 101,925
10. Jean Noel Thorel (France) -- 101,000

After last year’s shutout of French players at the inaugural in Cannes (none won a gold bracelet), the home team is clearly having a banner year in 2012.  Not only have French players won two of the six gold bracelet events completed so far, they represent half of the players in the top ten.  Five players from France are within striking distance of the leader.

The rest of the 115 survivors reads like a “Who’s Who” of poker jet setters:
Dan Shak, Steve O’Dwyer, Alexander Kravchenko, Phil Ivey, Scott Seiver, Salvatore Bonavena, Isaac Haxton, Chance Kornuth, Robert Ballande, David “ODB” Baker, Adrien Allain, Ben Roberts, Justin Bonomo, John Monnette, Noah Schwartz, and others.

Then, there’s a certain player currently ranked in 23rd place by the name of Elio Fox.  If his name sounds familiar, it should.  Fox, from New York City, won last year’s Main Event Championship, here at Cannes.

The thrills and excitement of WSOP Europe 2012 are only just beginning.  Four more days of action remain, with Monday’s session expected to play down near the money.  But the next chapter in what promises to be an exciting story will be written Sunday, with the play of Day 1B.  The field size for the coming session is expected to exceed the opening number, which promises to raise the stakes for those who run deep.

The Main Event concludes on Thursday with the play of the final table, which will be televised later on ESPN and several other broadcast outlets around the world.