Joris Ruijs
Joris Ruijs leads the EPT Mystery Bounty Event in Paris after a Valentine's Day to remember.. at the poker felt.

Chips were in the air on Valentine’s Day in Paris as Dutch player Joris Ruijs led the remaining 46 on Day 1 of the EPT Paris Mystery Bounty event. Costing €10,200 to play, this opening event on the European Poker Tour’s first stop of 2024 has been well populated, with 71 entries building a prizepool of €333,700 and an even higher ‘bounty’ pool of €355,000. With late registration and one re-entry still open until the start of Level 11, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll win the first ‘Spadie’ trophy this year.

Opening Numbers Show France’s Strong Hand

Over the course of poker’s glorious history, French poker tournaments have played a huge part in the narrative so far. From an epic WPT triumph at the Aviation Club de France for Matt Salsberg to the Partouche Poker tour pulling a guarantee and being caught out by poker players’ ability to screenshot webpages, through early legendary EPT Deauville denouements, France has a magic all of its own when it comes to poker.

These days, the capital city of Paris is the destination and the venue is Le Palais des Congrès – a new and improved location from 2023, where too many players came. This year, PokerStars are ready and they’ve made the wise move to make the €10,200 Mystery Bounty the opening event of the festival.

This year, EPT Paris has been put on in conjunction with Club Barrière Paris, and players need to be a member of that club to play, although they can easily do that at the Le Palais des Congrès venue inside which is the cardroom. With cash games taking place near the Champs-Élysées, it’s truly a stunning backdrop for poker tournaments that have already begun and will run until February 25.

Ruijs Ruling After Day 1

After a frenetic Day 1 at the felt, it is Dutch player Joris Ruijs who holds the chip lead and a decent one at that. With the average chip stack worth 154,348, Ruijs has a pile of 405,000 chips to return to on Day 2, with his closest challenger being Spanish high roller regular Sergi Reixach (375,000).

Elsewhere in the top five stacks, home country hero Jeremie Zouari (358,000) has 119 big blinds with which to make his ascent when play resumes. He is followed by one of two Spanish players in the upper limits of the leaderboard as Maria Navarro will begin Day 2 with 353,500 chips. Taking a 324,5000-chip chunk of the 7,100,000 in play is Ruijs’ fellow Dutch player Michel Molenaar, with the equivalent of 91 big blinds.

Also making the top ten was Japanese player Daisuke Ogita (273,500), Swedish poker professional Joakim Andersson (266,000) and Chinese EPT regular Quan Zhou (251,000), with the ebullient Frenchman Jean-Noel Thorel (235,000) and Bulgarian Boris Kolev (233,000) rounding out the official top 10.

Le Palais des Congres
There is a new venue for EPT Paris in 2024 – Le Palais des Congrès.

Survivors or Rebuyers

Several big names made the cut while others did not. Turkish professional Orpen Kisacikoglu (209,000) ended Day 1 in 13th position on the leaderboard, followed by Mike ‘Sir Watts’ Watson (154,500) in 18th place, Chris Brewer (141,000) in 19th and Niklas Astedt (136,000) in 21st. French Unibet pro Alexandre Reard (124,500) was just three places back in 24th.

Into the second half of the remaining players and Russian GG MILLION$ legend Artur Martirosian (100,000) is well positioned for a deep run, while Daniel Rezaei (88,000), Alejandro Lococo (77,500) and Sam Greenwood (60,000) will all be hopeful of the same if they can get off to a good start upon resumption.

There was no place in the end-of-day counts for Daniel Dvoress, Pablo Brita Silva, Rayan Chamas, Aliaksei Boika, Morten Klein or Sam Grafton, as the PokerStars Ambassador was unable to make the cut on Day 1. Who knows what drama awaits on the second and final day of the opening event of EPT Paris 2024.

EPT Paris 2024 €10,200 Mystery Bounty Day 1 Top 10 Chipcounts:
Place Player Country Chips Big Blinds
1st Joris Ruijs Netherlands 405,000 135
2nd Sergi Reixach Spain 375,000 125
3rd Jeremie Zouari France 358,000 119
4th Mario Navarro Spain 353,500 118
5th Michel Molenaar Netherlands 324,500 108
6th Daisuke Ogita Japan 273,500 91
7th Joakim Andersson Sweden 266,000 89
8th Quan Zhou China 251,000 84
9th Jean-Noel Thorel France 235,000 78
10th Boris Kolev Bulgaria 233,000 78

Want to stake a player at EPT Paris? Check out the official EPT Paris Staking Page right here.