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December 13, 2008 7:43 PM

EPT Prague: The Italian job

When you think of poker in Italy - and on the boisterous EPT these days you rarely have the opportunity not to - you probably think of the Team PokerStars Pro duo Dario Minieri and Luca Pagano, with notable mentions to Max Pescatori and Dario Alioto. But as from this evening, and the second-longest final table in the tour's history, there's another contender proudly draped in Il Tricolore and drowning in chips. His name is Salvatore Bonavena and he is the latest EPT Prague champion, €774,000 richer.

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Our champion: Salvatore Bonavena

The 44-year-old Bonavena emerged victorious after 264 hands of play over 12 hours in the Czech capital, beating an Italian-heavy final table from which Massimo Di Cicco finished second and Francesco Cirianni fifth. All three were vociferously supported from a now fully-expected packed rail of supporters, and their success can only further inflate the extraordinary bubble of interest in Italy.

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They already have the best food, some pretty spectacular scenery and a habitually world-beating football team. Can they seize the upper hand in poker too? Or is it already too late?

Certainly Bonavena played a terrific game today, riding waves of fortune, ill-fortune, and then fortune again to go from chip leader overnight, to short stack, and then chip leader once more. By the time he emerged as our winner, he had overcome all the inherent variance attendant on this game and turned in a thoroughly skilled performance. Congratulations to him, and well played.

The final hand came at 1am local time, when Bonavena's 7-8 beat Di Cicco's A-4 on an eight-high flop. By that point, the final two Italians had outlasted Raul Mestre, of Spain, who busted on the second hand of the day, then Nasr El Nasr, of Germany, whose K-J couldn't beat Andrew Chen's 10-10.

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Nasr El Nasr

The lone Nordic representative at the final table, Fredrik Nygard from Finland, then busted in sixth, running a two pair (kings and sixes) into the flopped quads of Konstantinos Alexiou and then perishing when his A-8 was outdrawn by Chen's Q-2.

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Fredrik Nygard

Chen had the stack by then to make the move with such a meagre holding and for a good while both before and after that, this arena indisputedly belonged to the young Canadian. At only 20 years old, Chen was giving away decades in worldly wisdom to the majority of his adversaries, but was arguably the most experienced poker player of the bunch.

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Andrew Chen

Chen recently made the final table on an LAPT event in Costa Rica, and was the class act for long periods here. One call in particular, against the aggressive and inpenetrable Alexiou, was inspired. Chen took a near million-chip pot with ace-high when he correctly put Alexiou on a busted draw. It looked like the kind of moment to encourage engravers to etch Chen's name on the trophy. But there was still much, much more action to follow.

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Francesco Cirianni

Cirianni had allowed himself to get short-stacked, but continually showed a fighting spirit by repeatedly moving his short stack all in during level 26. However by the time he did so for the third time in quick succession, Chen had found a genuine hand. The Canadian's A-Q was unthreatened by Cirianni's A-8 and one Italian fell; two to go.

Alexiou was the next out, but it would be profoundly unfair to dismiss his contribution to this tournament in a few flippant words. The Greek player had been one of the railbirds' favourites throughout the final couple of days, always having chips, always having a smile, always having a manner around the table that fascinated, confounded, entertained and baffled players and spectators alike.

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Konstantinos Alexiou

Alexiou's duel with Minieri yesterday kept everyone engaged, and his glasses schtick today - switching spectacles whenever he was about to announce all in - belied the tension of a tournament boasting a million-euro prize pool.

Perhaps his big mistake was not to alternate the specs when he shoved for his final 600,000-odd holding pocket threes. Bonavena, who was by then wielding a sizeable stack of his own, made the call with K-Q and spiked a king on the river. Alexiou took his leave.

Three handed, we might as well have been in a Roman coliseum. The plucky Canadian Chen was surrounded by hordes of rambunctious Italians and they threw everything they had at him, baying for blood. They had already wounded him - Bonavena's A-5 had outdrawn Chen's kings all in pre-flop, which would have given the Canadian the chip lead. And in the end, he simply could not overcome the numerical advantage, or Bonavena's A-6 armed only with K-Q.

Chen departed and we were left with a guaranteed Italian winner, the first ever on the EPT. Bonavena had three-to-one chip lead as they entered heads up play, and definitely had the momentum after his fluctuations throughout the day belatedly took a steep upward slant. But Di Cicco, the lone PokerStars qualifier on the final table, who qualified in an $8 re-buy satellite on PokerStars, undoubtedly had the game to rescue the situation, and take play past midnight and into the early hours.

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Massimo Di Cicco

He doubled up once, emulating Doyle Brunson when his T-2 bettered Bonavena's Q-T on a board of Tc-4c-2h-7d-5c, and the stacks were level for an extended period of heads-up play. But then Bonavera found pocket eights and swung it back into his favour, and then as the 12th hour ticked around the players got to a flop of 8h-3h-2h, which was ripe with bluffing potential. Di Cicco seized the initiative and stabbed at it hard, but Bonavena was going nowhere and made what turned out to be a championship winning call.

Di Cicco had A-4, no heart. Bonavena had 7-8d and top pair. And as soon as the turn and river bricked, that 7-8d was being waved around Bonavena's head as the winning hand of the first Italian EPT champion.

Bonavena got there ahead of Messrs Minieri, Pagano, Pescatori, Alioto, Ferrari, Bugatti, Dante, Garibaldi, Marco Polo, Antonioni, Botticelli, Canaletto, da Vinci, Pavarotti, Maldini, Pasta, Pizza, Linguini, Spaghetti, and Caesar. "I'm really happy; I feel like up going to cry," Bonavena said. "I've done something no Italian has ever done. I feel very proud."

And rightly so.

Take a look back at how things panned out in Prague with any of the following links.

The final table contenders
All set for new Czech champion
Level 21, final table updates
Level 22, final table updates
Level 23, final table updates
Level 24, final table updates
Level 25, final table updates
Level 26, final table updates
Level 27, final table updates
Level 28, final table updates
Level 29, final table updates

And here's the same thing in a number of languages, including the all-conquering Italian; the unusually under-represented Swedish; the seventh-placed German, and the must-try-harder, much harder, Hungarian.

Plenty of video blogs, plus a full archive of previous action, can be found at As ever, the wonderful photography at EPT Prague has come from the camera of Neil Stoddart. Next up, it's the Bahamas. Join us then. Goodnight from Prague until next year.

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December 13, 2008 5:20 PM

EPT Prague: Level 29, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 29, with blinds at 40,000-80,000 (8,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated regularly during each level. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action from the final is available on EPT Live.

1am: PokerStars sponsored player Salvatore Bonavena of Italy wins the EPT Prague and €774,000.

12.59am: Massimo Di Cicco from Italy, eliminated in second position, collecting €445,000.
12 hours, almost to the minute, Salvatore Bonavera wins the EPT Prague. There was a bet and call pre-flop before the 8h-3h-2h was dealt. Cicco moved all in and was called, although Cicco didn't look happy, showing Ad-4s which was overshadowed by Bonavera's 7d-8d. The turn 6c and the river Js put an end to this marathon show.

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Massimo Di Cicco

12.55am: Cicco bets 180,000 pre-flop and Bonavera raises 800,000 more. Cicco wants none of it and folds.

12.52am: On a board of Jh-2c-Qs-Qh Bonavera made it 200,000 which Cicco called. The river brought a 6c which both players checked. Ten high for Cicco, pocket eights for Bonavera who picked up a pot worth 560,000.

12.50am: Massimo takes the chip lead - slightly - betting 210,000 and then moving all in for 2.2 million after Bonavena re-raised 600,000 more.

12.45am: With blinds so big the chip stacks change each hand by hefty amounts. Cicco helps himself a bit by moving all in to win the blinds but still trails Bonavena.

12.42am: Latest chip counts
Salvatore Bonavena - 3,349,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 2,348,000

12.38am: On a board of Tc-4c-2h-7d Cicco bet 120,000 which Bonavena re-raised to 300,000. Cicco moved all-in with Ts-2c and was called by Bonavena with Qc-Th. The river, a 5c, doubled up Cicco.

12.33am: Current chip counts
Salvatore Bonavena - 4,293,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 1,404,000

12.30am: Bonavena wins a 660,000 pot in a cautios pot on a board of 7s-6s-2h-Qc-7h. Cicco bet on the end with Jh-5d and Bonavera called showing 9h-2s. That was enough.

12.25am: Play starts and it's first blood to Cicco who raises pre-flop before Bonavena folds.

12.20am: While players are still preparing to return, it's worth remembering what's at stake. First place pays €774,000 whilst the runner up will receive €445,000.

12.06am: Heads up situation
There's a pause in play as the final two players prepare to go head to head. The chip counts look like this...
Salvatore Bonavera - 4,123,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 1,574,000

12am: Chen eliminated in third place.
We're guaranteed an Italian winner after 20-year-old Andrew Chen moved all-in with K-Q and was called by Bonavena with A-6. The 3-7-5 wasn't good for Chen and the turn ended all hope, a four, giving Bonavera a straight. Chen's last hope was a chop on the river but an eight ended that hope - the Canadian was out.

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Andrew Chen

11.55pm: Basically, the three remaining players are passing blinds around.

11.50pm: Latest chip counts.
Salvatore Bonavena - 2,896,000
Andrew Chen - 1,494,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 1,307,000

11.40pm: Play resumes with blinds at 40,000-80,000 with an 8,000. That's big.

December 13, 2008 4:02 PM

EPT Prague: Level 28, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 28, with blinds at 30,000-60,000 (6,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated regularly during each level. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action from the final is available on EPT Live.

11.22pm: Players take a ten minute break from the action.

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11.20pm: Andrew Chen's all-in is good for blinds and antes.

11.18pm: Latest chip counts
Salvatore Bonavena - 3,172,000
Andrew Chen - 1,305,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 1,220,000

11.10pm: Chen makes it 140,000 pre-flop which Cicco calls. On the 9d-3d-Th flop both players check. On the 2s turn Cicco makes it 220,000 and Chen folds.

11.05pm: On a flop of Ks-Kh-3s Chen made it 70,000 which Bonavena called. With an Ah on the turn Chen made it 180,000 and again Bonavena called. The river, an 8h, and the big guns came out. Chen made it 500,000 which it seemed would end the hand but Bonavena called with either sheer brilliance or total madness, showing Q-3 for bottom pair which was met with "nice hand" by Chen. The 1.1 million pot goes to the Italian.

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Andrew Chen

10.55pm: Three-handed, and it's very very cagey. Andrew Chen is alone among the Italians, and it's difficult not to regard him as some kind of lone gladiator battling against the odds in a packed coliseum. But he's got some game, and is taking it to his opponents. Just recently, he flat called from the small blind, then watched Salvatore Bonavena raise his big blind 200,000 more. Chen was not frightened and bumped it up another 200,000 and Bonavena let it go. The latest chip counts have been updated over at the chip count page.

10:38pm: Bonavena makes a pre-flop bet of 270,000 and Cicco moves all-in. It's not much more for Bonavena to call but he takes his time before putting his chips in, showing pocket fours. Cicco showed As-Ts for a race. The board ran Jd-Ah-6h-Ac-8s. Sections of the crowd went crazy, so did Cicco. We play on.

10.31pm: Konstantinos Alexiou, Greece, eliminated in fourth place, earning €199,000
The roller-coaster show from the novelty-bespectacled Greek player Konstantinos Alexiou is over. Bonavena raises and Alexiou shoves in. Bonavena dwells for a good long while before calling the extra 580,000.

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Konstantinos Alexiou

It's pocket threes for Alexiou; K-Qo for the Bonavena. It's looking good for the small pocket pair through flop and turn: 2d-2h-6d | 7c but the river is the killer. It's the Ks. Alexiou gets one grand shy of 200,000 and then there were three.

10.30pm: Three players get to the flop, Chen, Bonavena and Alexiou. The flop is Jc-8s-9c and there's a triple check. The turn is the Ah and there's a triple check. The river is the 10d and there's a triple check. "This is what we're dealing with," says one press-room wag. Salvatore Bonavena wins it with a cunningly disguised straight, holding 7-8.

10.25pm: These are the counts at the start of this level:
Salvatore Bonavena, Italy, PokerStars sponsored player, 2,213,000
Andrew Chen, Canada, 1,679,000
Konstantinos Alexiou, Greece, 1,055,000
Massimo Di Cicco, Italy, PokerStars qualifier, 750,000

10.25pm: Take that back, the red chips are still very much in play and the blinds in the new level are 30,000-60,000 and a 6,000 ante, hence the need for that red 1,000 denomination chip.

10.10pm: Players take a very brief break at the end of the last level as the red chips are coloured up. We've now gone beyond the published EPT structure so we're still waiting for official confirmation of what the new blinds will be.

December 13, 2008 2:45 PM

EPT Prague: Level 27, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 27, with blinds at 25,000-50,000 (5,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated regularly during each level. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action from the final is available on EPT Live.

10.10pm: That's the end of the level and we now start level 28 with four players remaining.

10.05pm: Konstantinos Alexiou open raises all in for 1,075,000. Massimo Di Cicco, in the small blind, ponders and ponders and sizes up Andrew Chen's stack behind him. He gets no reads from Chen, who hasn't looked at his cards, and eventually Di Cicco lays it down. Chen then has the tough decision, but he also lays it down and Alexiou picks up the blinds and antes, worth 95,000.

9.55pm: Konstantinos Alexiou raises to 125,000 from the button and Massimo Di Cicco reraises all in from the small blind, for 665,000. Chen folds, Alexiou thinks, Alexiou folds.

9.50pm: After all that drama, the tension has ramped up again in Prague and the play has tightened. Perfect time, then, for a video blog special, entitled: "Tension".

Watch EPT Prague S5: Final Table Tension on

9.40pm: Bonavena doubles up. Again!
This is a harsh game. Or a great one, depending on who you support. Andrew Chen and Salvatore Bonavena get them all in pre-flop and Chen has the massive Kc-Ks. Bonavena's charge looks like it's going to end here, when he tables Ac-5h. But an ace flops, the king stays away, and Bonavena now takes over the chip lead. Here's what they have:

Bonavena - 2,068,000
Chen - 2,014,000
Alexiou - 825,000
Di Cicco - 780,000

9.37pm: Bonavena doubles up
Having moved in pre-flop again - the third time in a row - Salvatore Bonavena gets a call. He actually has the goods this time and shows As-Qd and Alexiou, his caller, has Ad-10h. The board comes Ah-6s-5h and the turn and river are also blanks - Js, Kc. He doubles up.

9.35pm: Salvatore Bonavena is now the one who moves all in pre-flop. He is the short stack, with only 340,000. Di Cicco thinks and thinks but keeps his stack intact and folds.

9.30pm: Massimo Di Cicco moves all in pre-flop for 730,000. Andrew Chen looks anguished as he folds, but fold he does. Di Cicco tries the same on the next hand, and this time everyone folds much quicker.

9.25pm: Andrew Chen follows up his breathtaking call with a reraise of Alexiou pre-flop. The Greek player, who has recently relinquished his chip lead for the first time during this final table, mucks dismissively. Chen is the first to pass three million and he has seized control of this final table in emphatic fashion.

9.20pm: Ace high wins
Chen makes it 115,000 pre-flop which Alexiou calls for a flop of 5s-9h-Qh. Alexiou checks and Chen makes it 120,000 to play which Alexiou calls for a 3s turn card. Both check that but things get more interesting on the river, a 7c. Alexiou bets 215,000. Chen thinks for a good while and makes an incredible call, showing Ac-6c to Alexiou's Th-8h. Chen allows himself a smile and rockets into the lead. Chip counts that reflect those changes are now on the chip count page.

9.15pm: Some chip swapping going on with Di Cicco and Chen moving all in getting no takers.

9.05pm: Players return and Alexiou Konstantinos raises straight away. Massimo Alexiou reraises all in and Alexiou calls. The all in player has found A-A and Konstantinos has a meagre 5-7d which has the potential to crack aces. Not this time, though, as the board runs out dry. Di Cicco is up to 830,000 and that's right up close to the third-placed player.

Players have taken a 15 minute break, and when they return they'll be sitting behind these stacks:

Konstantinos Alexiou, Greece, 2,443,000
Andrew Chen, Canada, 2,019,000
Salvatore Bonavena, Italy, PokerStars sponsored player, 847,000
Massimo Di Cicco, Italy, PokerStars qualifier, 378,000

December 13, 2008 1:42 PM

EPT Prague: Level 26, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 26, with blinds at 20,000-40,000 (4,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated regularly during each level. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action from the final is available on EPT Live.

8.50pm:Players take a 15 minute break at the end of the level.

8.45pm: Francesco Cirianno eliminated in fifth place, earning €166,000
Cirianno has been raising all in pre-flop with great regularity recently, but he is finally looked up by Andrew Chen. His stack is about 480,000 when he makes the move, but he only has A-8h. Chen has found a dominating A-Q and the board this time runs out completely blank, meaning the best hand stands up for once. Cirianno's charge is thwarted and we have lost our first Italian. Chen continues to be the dominant force and is closing in on the chip lead. Meanwhile Cirianno departs into the night.

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Francesco Cirianna

8.40pm: Di Cicco makes a bet of 110,000 pre-flop. He doesn't have much left behind suggesting that this might be his all-in moment. Cirianni folds, Chen folds, Bonavena folds and Alexiou does the same. Di Cicco wants to keep his cards and it's no surprise when he showed aces.

8.37pm: Alexiou makes a minimum raise from the button and Andrew Chen calls from the big blind. They check the flop of 7s-Qs-5d, then Chen bets 70,000 at the 10h turn. Alexiou calls. The river is the 2d and Chen bets 200,000. It's too rich for Alexiou and he folds.

8.35pm: A strange hand causes confusion everywhere. Cirianni moves in for a third time in three hands and it's thought Alexiou called, showing pocket threes to Qc-Jc. But no, it seems Alexiou said fold. The dealer thought it was a call, but apparently not. More blinds for Cirianni.

8.30pm: Cirianni moves all-in two hands in a row, picking up the blinds each time uncontested, good for a stack of 410,000.

8.20pm: Di Cicco moves all-in for 334,000 which is folded round to Alexiou who begins chatting with Di Cicco about how much he'd like the call. It's 294,000 to the Greek who opts instead to fold.

8.10pm: Bonavena opened the betting for 270,000 and finds Alexiou moving all-in behind him, a total of 1,926,000. For anyone to call it would be for all of there chips and it was folded back to the Italian making for a heads up hand. Bonavena thought about it, chatted with Alexiou before folding Ad-Kd face up. Alexiou showed A-Q and promptly celebrated with a drink.

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Konstantinos Alexiou

8.05pm: Francesco Cirianni moves in, stares at the others and gets no callers, taking the pot.

7.55pm: Another weird hand ends with the short-stacked Massimo Di Cicco doubling up. The chip-leading Alexiou Konstantinos raises, Di Cicco re-raises Alexiou shoves, Di Cicco calls. The show A-2 (Di Cicco) and 8-6 (Alexiou). The flop has an ace on it and Di Cicco's supporters go wild. He is now no longer the short stack.

7.50pm: Blinds are up, and we're away again.

December 13, 2008 12:36 PM

EPT Prague: Level 25, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 25, with blinds at 15,000-30,000 (3,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated when official counts are taken at the end of each level; approximate counts will appear on this page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action is also available on EPT Live.

7.45pm: Salvatore Bonavena raises pre-flop and Konstantinos Alexiou reraises all in. Bonavena calls! It's Ad-Jh for the Italian player, K-10d for the Greek. There are two diamonds on the flop and one of them is a jack, giving hope to each of them. But the turn and river run out blank and Bonavena's A-J holds up, putting him back to more than a million and taking a slice out of Alexiou.

7.40pm: Fredrik Nygard, Finland, eliminated in sixth place, earning €130,000
Andrew Chen puts Nygard to the test for his tournament life when he shoves all in with just the two of them remaining. Nygard calls and he has A-8. Chen was at it with Q-2. But the flop has a deuce on it, which gives Chen bottom pair. And it's enough as the board blanks. Nygard is out, and Chen adds the Finn's 300,000-odd to his stack.

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Fredrik Nygard

7.35pm: Quads!
Massimo Di Cicco raises to 85,000 and Francisco Cirianni has a while to think, as is his style, but eventually folds. The next hand, Fredrik Nygard raises to 72,000 from the cut off and Konstantinos Alexiou calls from the button, as indeed is his style. The flop is Ks-6s-6c and Nygard bets 85,000. The turn is the Jc and Nygard bets 130,000. Alexiou calls again. The pot at this point is 637,000 and the 2d seems innocuous on the river. Nygard checks and Alexiou bets 200,000, which Nyard calls. A delighted Alexiou shows pocket sixes for the flopped quads and gets up close to 3 million.

7.30pm: Nygard raises to 72,000 and Konstantinos Alexiou calls rom the big blind. The flop is 3d-6h-2d, which they both check. The turn is the As and after Nygard checks, a bet of 80,000 is good enough for Nygard to win it.

7.25pm: Massimo Di Cicco moves all in for 328,000 from the cut off. Everyone folds. He is still the short stack, with 391,000; at the other end Konstantinos Alexiou has about 2.4m.

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Massimo Di Cicco

7.20pm: Three players get to a flop of Kh-3d-3c and all check. The turn is the Jh and they all - Bonavena, Chen and Alexiou - all check again. The river is Qs and the all check that too and Alexiou wins with a jack.

7.15pm: Chen raises pre-flop - no surprise there - and Salvatore Bonavena calls again from the big blind. The flop is nine-high and Bonavena check-raises all in. Chen lets it go.

7.05pm: Nygard doubles up
Andrew Chen raises pre-flop and Fredrik Nygard reraises all in from the button, for about 320,000 more. Chen insta-calls after the blinds get out the way. Chen shows A-10 and Nygard shows a dominated A-5. But for the umpteenth time in a row, the best hand loses as the board shows Ac-6d-3d-7h-4c, which fills Nygard's straight. He doubles up.

7pm: Konstantinos Alexiou raises to 200,000 pre-flop, described by William Thorson as "sick". Everyone folds, including Fredrik Nygard in the big blind. Alexiou shows A-K behind the over-bet and he takes the blinds and antes.

6.55pm: Massive pot for Chen
Andrew Chen hasn't changed his strategy since the break and raises pre-flop twice in a row. He takes down the first one, but Salvitore Bonavena re-raises to 135,000 on the second attempt and Chen has to find 64,000 to call. He finds it. The flop comes 2s-10s-Kd and Chen checks. Bonavena, who has position, fires 220,000. Chen calls and the pot swells to 773,000. The turn is among the most dangerous cards in the deck - Ks - filling flushes and/or boats and they both check. They also check the 8d river and Chen wins it when he shows K-J for three kings. Bonavena takes a huge hit and is down to 510,000. Chen has 1,600,000 and is closing in on the chip lead.

6.45pm: With the larger blinds, it didn't take Massimo Di Cicco long to move his short stack all in. It was 233,000. Fredrik Nygard seemed to have a genuinely tough decision and pondered for a long, long time. And then he did call: and it turned out to be a good one. He had Ks-Js and he was up against Kc-9c. The flop, though, changed things: it was 3s-9s-3h, and although Di Cicco had hit his miracle 9, there was still a spade draw. The turn and river was good for Di Cicco, though - 4d-5h - and Di Cicco doubles up, leaving Nygard now the short stack.

6.40pm: We're back, and the six remaining players have taken their seats. The chip count page has been updated with their counts at the break, and Andrew Chen gets a walk first hand back.

December 13, 2008 10:23 AM

EPT Prague: Level 24, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 24, with blinds at 12,000-24,000 (2,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated when official counts are taken at the end of each level; approximate counts will appear on this page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action is also available on EPT Live.

Players take a one-hour dinner break. We will return will full counts and the remainder of this tournament soon.

The approximate counts at the break are:

Konstantinos Alexiou, Greece, 2,026,000
Andrew Chen, Canada, 1,166,000
Salvatore Bonavena, Italy, PokerStars sponsored player, 928,000
Fredrik Nygard, Finland, 670,000
Francesco Cirianno, Italy, 658,000
Massimo Di Cicco, Italy, PokerStars qualifier, 242,000

5.30pm: Cirianni doubles up Salvatore Bonavena raises pre-flop, the first time he's done so in a long while. But then there's an even rarer occurence: Francesco Cirianni moves all in. Bonavena knows he has to think a bit, and duly takes his time. But eventually he calls and has A-Qc, well ahead of Cirianni's miraculous J-8. The flop gives the agressor his miracle card though: it's 5d-8c-3s and there's no redraw. Cirianni doubles up!

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Francesco Cirianni

5.25pm: Andrew Chen again raises to 57,000 pre-flop and again he gets it through. No one wants to confront the young Canadian, and he's making hay. The next hand, Massimo Di Cicco moves all in pre-flop and everyone folds. He shows 6c this time.

5.20pm: Fredrik raises to 57,000 from under-the-gun. And even Andrew Chen in the big blind lets it go. This has entered another slow period as we approach the second break of the day.

5.16pm: Andrew Chen makes a button raise and Salvatore Bonavena calls. The flop comes king high and Bonavena's check prompts Chen to bet 70,000. But Bonavena now check raises and Chen insta-mucks. He's flashed a king. Undeterred, he raises pre-flop next hand and this time gets it through.

5.15pm: Progress is slow in Prague, which gives us the opportunity to take a look at the latest video blog coming our way. What do poker players want for Christmas? Here's the answer:

Watch EPT Prague S5: Christmas gifts the Players Want on

5.11pm: Action. Of sorts. Salvatore Bonavena opens for 70,000 and Massimo Di Cicco moves his short stack all in. It's about 250,000 more and it seems that Bonavena can't fold. But does, and Di Cicco stays alive.

5.10pm: Andrew Chen makes a small raise pre-flop and it's folded around to Cirianno in the big blind. He takes a long time over it, but folds.

5.08pm: Konstantinos Alexiou makes up the big blind of Massimo Di Cicco. The queen high flop is checked and then the 5c prompts a tickle from Di Cicco. Alexiou loses all interest.

5.05pm: Massimo Di Cicco moves all in from under the gun for about 140,000. And he gets it through, living to fight another day. He flips a 5d.

5pm: In a battle of the blinds, limped, Andrew Chen and Fredrik Nygard sees a flop of Jc-10d-Ac. Chen bets 25,000 and Nygard calls. The turn and river, both checked, are a 7 and a 6, and Nygard's Q-J is good.

4.55pm: Massimo Di Cicco calls a small pre-flop raise from Alexiou. It's about a quarter of his stack, but he still lays it down on an ace-high flop when the aggressive big stack bets out. Di Cicco is now in big trouble.

4.52pm: Bonavena and Alexiou get to another flop together and it runs out 8-6-K-10-7, checked all the way. Alexiou ends up winning with pocket fives.

4.48pm: Fredrik Nygard moves all in pre-flop; he has about 400,000. Andrew Chen seems vaguely interested in calling, but ends up folding. Nygard says that he has his favourite hand - a suited 10-7 - and claims he has won ten times in a row with that hand. A likely story.

4.45pm: A quiet period, with Francesco Cirianno and Konstantinos Alexiou taking small pots pre-flop but not much more than that. Massimo Di Cicco is the short stack and will have to make some moves soon.

4.38pm: Cirianni and Alexiou wake up and go beserk on a board of 6c-2h-7h. The Italian player had raised the Greek's big blind pre-flop and then Alexiou shoved all in on the flop, close to two million. Alexiou has a decision for his tournament life and eventually folds, claiming he is letting A-K go. Alexiou flashes J-J. "Good fold," he adds.

4.35pm: Andrew Chen raises to 57,000 from the button and attacks Salvatore Bonavena's big blind. But the Italian has none of it, and re-raises about 150,000 more. Chastened Chen lays it down. The approximate counts at the end of that last level were:

Konstantinos Alexiou, Greece, 2,075,000
Salvatore Bonavena, Italy, PokerStars sponsored player, 1,148,000
Andrew Chen, Canada, 1,054,000
Francesco Cirianno, Italy, 733,000
Fredrik Nygard, Finland, 589,000
Massimo Di Cicco, Italy, PokerStars qualifier, 230,000

4.30pm: Andrew Chen begins the new level as he finished the last, with a strong right arm. After Nygard raises pre-flop, Chen shoves, which asks the question of Nygard's short stack. Nygard folds and Chen shows A-Qd. That puts Chen second in chips; he now has more than a million.

This has been the Andrew Chen show so far, and he started his day off with a chat to the video bloggers:

Watch EPT Prague S5: Interview with Andrew Chen Final Table on

December 13, 2008 8:59 AM

EPT Prague: Level 23, final table updates

Play on the final table has entered level 23, with blinds at 10,000-20,000 (2,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated when official counts are taken at the end of each level; approximate counts will appear on this page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action is also available on EPT Live.

4.26pm: Andrew Chen breaks the million chip mark in a pot against Fredrik Nygard. Betting 48,000 pre-flop Nygard called for a Jd-8c-Jc flop. Chen made it 80,000 which Nygard called for a turn card Ad. Now Chen bet 200,000, good enough to make Nygard fold.

4.14pm: Alexiou bets pre-flop again, 60,000 this time. PokerStars qualifier Di Cicco thinks and makes what looks like a painful fold before the action gets to Andrew Chen who calls. Chen checks the 6h-9d-4h flop but Alexiou makes it 65,000. Chen raises to 200,000 using a tower of blues. Alexiou thinks about it but folds.

4.05pm: Andrew Chen, by far the busiest player here, raises to 48,000 from late position but Nygard, on the button, calls, as does Alexiou in the big blind. The flop is Ac-3s-4h and after Alexiou checks, Chen countinuation bets 75,000. Nygard snaps into action at that point and re-raises another 200,000. Alexiou says "Easy fold" and does just that. As does Chen.

_MG_9832_Neil Stoddart.jpg

4.02pm: Massimo Di Cicco moves all-in tow hands in a row and gets no takers on either occasion. Next, after a bet of 49,000 by Alexiou, Bonavena moves all-in for a million. Not surprisingly Alexiou folded.

3.56pm: Nasr El Nasr eliminated in seventh place, earning €99,500
Andrew Chen makes a pre-flop raise of 48,000. Nasr El Nasr moves all-in and Chen calls, showing pocket tens to Nasr's Kd-Jd. The flop of 2c-4d-Td gives both players hope but no further diamonds arrive to save Nasr, who exits in seventh place for €99,500.

3.51pm: Andrew Chen raises to 48,000 and Alexiou calls in the big blind. The flop is 8c-10c-As and both players check. They also check the 8h turn, and the 3h river. Alexiou shows A-J and wins with his pair of aces.

3.50pm: The first flop in a while after a bet from Bonavena from teh small blind, called by Alexiou in the big. The flop Th-3c-7s and Bonavena made it 100,000 to go which the Greek called. Both checked the 6c on the turn and Bonavena checked again on the Ks river. But Alexiou made a bet of 230,000 which after a pause for consideration ending the hand. A 564,000 pot for Alexiou.

3.40pm: Alexious breaks the 2 million chips mark with another pot played out pre-flop, re-raising an El Nasr raise.

3.35pm: Chip counts at the start of this level are as follows:
Konstantinos Alexiou - 1,883,000
Salvatore Bonavena - 1,259,000
Francesco Cirianno - 735,000
Fredrik Nygard - 612,000
Andrew Chen - 424,000
Nasr El Nasr - 504,000
Massimo Di Cicco - 270,000

3.25pm: Play resumes after the break. El Nasr makes a pre-flop bet to resume the action but gets no action.

December 13, 2008 8:02 AM

EPT Prague: Level 22, final table updates

Final table play has entered level 22, with blinds at 8,000-16,000 (1,000 ante). The chip counts page will be updated when official counts are taken at the end of each level; approximate counts will appear on this page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action is also available on EPT Live.

3pm: Bonavena and Alexiou again get to a flop in a raised pot. It's 8d-Qd-3s and both check. The turn is 9d and after Bonavena checks, Alexiou bets 50,000. Bonavena folds and Alexiou shows the Ad-4d, otherwise known as the nuts. That's the end of the level, or thereabouts. Players take a 15 minute break.

_MG_7943_Neil Stoddart.jpg
Konstantinos Alexiou

2.55pm: Nasr El Nasr raises from the cut off and Massimo Di Cicco reraises all in from the big blind. It's 177,000 more than El Nasr's original raise. El Nasr thinks for a while, but folds, and Di Cicco shows pocket eights.

2.51pm: Nygard refuses to slow down and makes a standard pre-flop raise of close to 40,000. Nasr El Nasr shoves all in for another 224,000 from the big blind and the Finn goes into the tank again, where he has spent a good deal of this final table so far. El Nasr seems confident, but that doesn't stop Nygard calling. He's got A-J and is way behind against El Nasr's A-K. The flop has plenty of action on it: 10h-Jh-Ks, but the turn and river brick and El Nasr doubles up to 556,000. Nygard has fewer than 600,000 now.

2.50pm: Konstantinos Alexiou is now the comfortable chip leader with 1,700,000 in chips after taking down that 700,000 pot from Fredik Nygard.

2.45pm: Di Cicco gets his short stack in pre-flop, but no one fancies taking it on. He stacks the blinds and antes. Soon after, Fredrik Nygard tries another pre-flop raise and Alexiou re-raises 190,000. Nygard never seems to fold to a re-raise and doesn't this time either. He calls and sees 6d-Qs-Kh, which both players check. The Jc turns and they check it again, then the river is 5s. Finally someone bets - it's Alexiou, who casually throws in 120,000. Nygard is visibly baffled - that's one hell of a furrowed brow - and after a good deal of staring he calls. Alexiou has J-7 and it's good.

2.35pm: Massimo Di Cicco makes a minimum raise and Nygard calls from the big blind. The flop comes Qs-3c-6d and after Nygard checks, Di Cicco bets 100,000 into an 86,000 pot. Nygard looks mighty confused, so decides to put the question back at the Italian, re-raising all in, which covers the Italian. But it looks like he's made a decent read here as Di Cicco folds. Nygard is back with more than a million, Di Cicco has 211,000 and is the short stack.

2.32pm: Nasr El Nasr tries a button raise, tossing in close to 30,000-odd. But Massimo Di Cicco wants none of it and re-raises all in from the big blind, forcing the aggressive young German to rethink. He folds and is now the short stack.

2.30pm: Andrew Chen is getting involved with his newly acquired stack. He raises to 39,000 from mid-position, and Nasr El Nasr seems interested from the small blind. Interested, well, not that much. He folds.

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Andrew Chen

2.25pm: Andrew Chen is all in again, with his stack now at 224,000. It's still short, and he has no option. Bonavena calls with K-Qd and Chen is again staring at the abyss with K-9c, another dominated hand. But this time the flop is another miraculous one for the young Canadian: it's A-9-9. "Wow," he mouths. There's no further action through turn and river and Chen can now play poker again.

2.10pm: Andrew Chen doubles up. He is forced to get his chips in pre-flop with just about any two, and he finds Q-7. Alexiou calls with K-Q and Chen is dominated. But the young Canadian sees a seven on the flop and doubles up, staying alive.

2.05pm: A peculiar hand plays out between the two millionaire chip leaders. Bonavena and Alexiou three and four bet pre-flop and build a pot of 354,000. The first three cards come down 4d-10d-8h and Bonavena suprises just about everyone with an all-in shove for more than a million. Alexiou shrugs and folds.

December 13, 2008 7:13 AM

EPT Prague: Level 21, final table updates

Play resumes on the final table in level 21, with blinds at 6,000-12,000 (1,000 ante). There are slightly more than 30 minutes remaining in the level, and all the action will appear here. The chip counts page will be updated when official counts are taken at the end of each level; approximate counts will appear on this page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Remember all the action is also available on EPT Live.

2pm: El Nasr raises pre-flop and gets it through. And that's the final hand of that level. We go up to 8,000-16,000 for the next level.

1.55pm: Konstantinos Alexiou takes a sizeable pot from Andrew Chen. They get to a flop of 8s-Ks-2c, which both players check. The 9c turns and Alexiou bets 30,000. Chen calls. The river is 6d and Alexiou has another stab, this time 120,000. Chen seems reluctant, but calls and Alexiou flips 6h-9h for two pair, made through turn and river. It's good.

1.50pm: After Mestre's elimination, the players have slowed down a touch, and we haven't seen a flop. The Greek player Alexiou Konstantinos had found his raising arm and took one down uncontested pre-flop.

1.38pm: Raul Mestre eliminated in eighth place, earning €71,800
Raul Mestre makes a standard raise from mid position and Fredrik Nygard reraises to 100,000 from the small blind. Mestre shoves for 311,000 and that sends Nygard into the tank. Eventually the Finn makes the call and he's ahead with two red nines, beating Mestre's Ac-7c. The flop is no help to Mestre - 8s-Jh-3h - and he stands up ready to leave. But he's glancing to the heavens when the Ah turns, putting him into the lead. But this is a cruel game and the re-suck-out comes on the river, when the Qh gives a flush to Nygaard. We lose the Spanish pro and Nygard is back among the chip leaders.

_MG_7894_Neil Stoddart.jpg
Raul Mestre

1.30pm: After a photo call and the lengthy process of attaching their feature-table microphones, play is due to begin imminently around the final table of EPT Prague. Here's the video introduction to the final table:

Watch EPT Prague S5: Introduction into the Final Table on

Video blogs and interviews from the 2009 PCA

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