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February 12, 2009 10:04 AM

Introduction to Day 2, EPT Prague, Season 5

Watch EPT Prague S5: Introduction to Day 2 on

November 19, 2008 5:44 PM

EPT Warsaw: Birthday boy Barbosa brilliant in Warsaw

Yesterday Joao Barbosa was 25-years-old and one of the hottest rising stars on the European Poker Tour. Today Joao Barbosa is 26-years-old and €367,141 richer. On the day he celebrated his birthday, the kid from Porto, Portugal, also underlined his serious talent. Barbosa's EPT record now reads: one title and two other cashes from four events played. Here is our Best Newcomer-elect.

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Joao Barbosa, Portugal's first EPT champion

Barbosa out-gunned one of the highest-quality final tables in recent memory, featuring the reigning EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern and the Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri. Minieri and Barbosa had previous. They tangled in one of the most spectacular pots of the tournament late on day two, when Minieri called a massive bluff from Barbosa with second pair, which was good against the Portuguese's seven-high. But Barbosa earned his revenge today, dispatching Minieri in third place with pocket nines to the Italian's sevens.

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Three-handed action (from l-r): Joao Barbosa, Dario Minieri, Nico Behling

That left Barbosa to do battle with Nico Behling, another young player rapidly making a name for himself on the poker circuit. The German made the final table of the Aussie Millions earlier this year and is now the nearly man of EPT Warsaw. Behling scaled the heights of a monstrous chip lead mid-way through the final table, ousting Ludovic Lacay, whose aces lost to a set of eights in the German's hands. And although he took a huge hit later on, his set of sixes no good against Minieri's straight, he was even in chips when they went down to two.

But Barbosa had the run of it heads up, picking off the bluffs and rarely getting caught with his own. After doubling up once, and a couple of dramatic split pots, Behling was all in with J-7, but Barbosa's A-10 was not to be outdrawn. Behling has €205,270 with which to soothe his wounds. Barbosa has more than 360,000 reasons not to forget his 26th birthday.

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How they lined up

How we got down to three was a familiar tale of brutal aggression sprinkled with suck outs. The short-stacked Michael Muheim was first out, running into Sergey Shcherbatskiy's cheekily-played aces.

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Michael Muheim

Muheim's A-9 never caught up and the PokerStars qualifier took €21,114 for ninth. Lacay's aces weren't quite so lucky, running into a set of eights as described earlier. And then Andrea Benelli's day was ended by his friend and countryman Minieri. That was an A-Qh v J-J affair, the flush turning for Minieri.

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Andrea Benelli

Shcherbatskiy was next to go, forced back to the Urals by Barbosa, whose pocket queens were better than Shcherbatskiy's A-5. Still, the €57,475 prize for sixth represented a massive spin up on his $7.50 buy-in to a step one tournament on PokerStars.

After that it all got a little grim, for Mattern and another PokerStars qualifier, Atanas Gueorguiev, in particular. "Three-outered and then two-outered," muttered Mattern as he went to the cage for his fifth-placed money, referring to two outdraws -- A-K beaten by A-8 and pocket 10s undone by eights. It was arguably even worse for Gueorguiev, who got it in good on a king-high flop with ace-king. But Barbosa, way behind with K-Q hit the magic queen on the river. He made €87,973 for fourth, another PokerStars qualifier in the money.

And that, really, was that. We wondered if might be the first two-time champion. We wondered whether Dario Minieri might take his first EPT crown. We wondered if a PokerStars qualifier might win another major tournament having qualified online for peanuts. In the event, we got none of those things. But we did get another terrific final table and another hugely talented winner. Congratulations Mr Barbosa, and happy birthday.

Watch EPT Warsaw 08. The Winner of the Final Table on

Take a blow-by-blow look back at the final table with any of the following links.

Final table introductions
Level 18 updates
Level 19 updates
Level 20 updates
Level 21 updates
Level 22 updates
Level 23 updates

Not enough unlikely clumps of consonants? Try the Hungarian coverage. Or even the Polish. How about nice little graphics of cards? You can find that on the German final table wrap. And if small circles above letters is more your bag, the Swedish blog has it covered.

Moving images are available, as always, on the peerless All the peerless photography on the PokerStars blog comes from Neil Stoddart. And the next stop on this peerless poker tour is in Prague next month. Please join us.

Thank you and goodnight from Warsaw.

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November 19, 2008 4:12 PM

EPT Warsaw: Level 24 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 24 with blinds at 12,000-24,000 (3,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

11.20pm: Joao Barbosa wins the EPT Warsaw and €367,141. Details to follow...

11.20pm: Nico Behling of Germany, eliminated in second place for €205,270
The last hand came from out of nowhere, a 60,000 bet from Behling pre-flop, re-raised to 200,000 by Barbosa before Behling said “all-in”. That made Barbosa bounce back in his chair, composing himself enough to call, showing Ah-Th to Behling’s Js-7s. The flop hit both hands, 7c-As-3h. The turn 6h gave Barbosa more outs and the 6d made that irrelevant. A new EPT Warsaw champion is crowned, his name is Joao Barbosa.

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Nico Behling

11.10pm: This is it!
Some people aren’t surprised. An all-in, called, a defining hand that would swing the momentum one way or end it the other. As-Jh for Behling, Ac-9h for Barbosa, behind but safe on a split pot board of Qc-3h-4s-Ah-3s.

11.02pm: Pre-flop action
A couple of big bets have been enough to see off the other. Then a big pot developed pre-flop. A Behling bet of 60,000 from the button, re-raised by Barbosa to 170,000. Behling thinks but mucks.

10.50pm: Stalemate
A pot to sum up the current stalemate. Checking all the way to the river on a board of 7c-Td-3h-7h-7d. Behling bet 60,000 and Barbosa called. Each showed an ace and a kicker lower than a ten for a split pot.

10.35pm: All-in called
Ten hands, mostly folds pre-flop, all-ins not called. Then an all-in called, all the chips in the middle with Barbosa showing pocket sixes to Behling’s Q-9 which on the flop finds another nine to see him double up.

10.15pm: Chip counts
Joao Barbosa -- 1,794,000
Nico Behling -- 376,000


One of the many video blogs available on includes this one with Nico Behling earlier in the tournament...

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Interview with Nico Behling Final Table on

November 19, 2008 3:10 PM

EPT Warsaw: Level 23 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 23 with blinds at 10,000-20,000 (2,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

10.15pm: Final hand action
The last hand before the break again yields some action. Nico Behling completes the blind but Joao Barbosa accepts his option and makes it 70,000 more. Behling calls. The flop is 8s-2d-Kd and Barbosa bets 85,000. Behling likes it too and bumps it up to 175,000, but he can't like it as much as Barbosa, who announces all in. Fold.

That leaves Behling with 376,000 as the players go to a 15 minute break. Barbosa has 1,794,000.

10.05pm: What was that?
A flop of 2s-7h-3h and a bet of 80,000 from Behling. Barbosa thinks for a while and announces a raise. It wasn’t clear by how much because Behling had already folded.

10pm: Grinding away
The very slow progress continues, with Nico Behling taking a series of small pots and Joao Barbosa taking the only notable offering. Behling made it 51,000 pre-flop and Barbosa called. The flop came 5d-5s-6s and Barbosa sprang into action, betting 65,000. Behling called. Barbosa bet 130,000 at the 7s turn and Behling gave it up.

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Joao Barbosa

9.48pm: Big pot for Barbosa
On a flop of 7s-8s-6s Barbosa made it 70,000 which Behling called, adding to the pile of yellow chips already in the pot. The turn comes 9c which Barbosa bets at, 165,000 total. A long pause follows but Behling can’t bring himself to call.

9.39pm: A quick all-in
A bet of 50,000 by Behling pre-flop, raised by Barbosa to 140,000. Behling then announced he was all-in. Barbosa got out of the way.

9.32pm: Another swing to Barbosa
In a change from the advertised programme, Behling bets 60K pre-flop rather than the expected 44,000. What’s more it’s called by Barbosa. We have a hand to report. On the flop of Kd-7s-8h Behling checks to Barbosa who makes it 75,000 to go. Behling then raises, two tall towers of yellow chips worth 200,000. Barbosa counters that by moving all-in, forcing a fold from the German.

Barbosa – 1,670,000
Behling – 500,000

9.30pm: Copenhagen anyone?
This heads up is shaping up to be one of those long ones -- two in Copenhagen always spring to mind in these moments, when Tim Vance played Soren Jensen on season four and Mads Andersen played Edgar Skjervold in season two. So while we wait for action, here's a video. It's Kara Scott's top five final table tips:

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Kara Scott Top Tips Final Table on

9.12pm: Current chip counts
Nico Behling -- 740,000
Joao Barbosa -- 1,430,000

November 19, 2008 1:48 PM

EPT Warsaw: Level 22 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 22 with blinds at 8,000-16,000 (2,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

9.10pm: Barbosa the bully
Joao Barbosa takes a small pot, raising pre-flop to 44,000, which is called by Behling.The flop is 7h-5s-7h and both players check. The turn is 10h and Behling bets 45,000. Barbosa thinks a while but then raises, making it 190,000. Behling folds.

9.06pm: Coming back
Behling has begun to claw some chips back, from 600K to 730K to 790K. He now has roughly 830K after some smallish pots. That puts Barbosa on around 1,470,000.

9pm: Behling takes one down
Nico Behling just took down a small pot, betting all the way, including pre-flop, on a flushing (hearts) ace-high board. Barbosa got out the way at the turn.

8.50pm: No major moves
A lot of pre-flop betting and folding. This hand is slightly different. Barbosa bets 44,000 in the standard way pre-flop before Behling raises to 120,000. The second Barbosa announces all-in Behling folds.

Approximate chip counts:
Behling – 600,000
Barbosa – 1,590,000

8.40pm: Heads up chip counts
Joao Barbosa: 1,240,000
Nico Behling: 950,000

8.35pm: Dario Minieri, Italy, Team PokerStars Pro eliminated in third place, earning €123,162

That's the end of the road for Dario Minieri. One hand after he gets a walk in the big blind but looks at pocket jacks, flipped in anguish, Joao Barbosa gives him the action he craved. Barbosa raises from the button, Minieri moves in over the top, his last 180,000 and Barbosa calls. The Portuguese has two black nines, Minieri has two black sevens and the flop helps neither. "Nice hand," says Dario as he shakes Barbosa's hand. "Nice to play with you, Dario," says Nico Behling and he offers his paw. Minieri departs, but it's a airly safe assumption that he'll be back.

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Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri

8.30pm: Nothing drastic
Nico Behling wins a pot by virtue of re-raising Dario Minieri, making the Italian think for a while before folding. Another 80,000 to the German.

8.20pm: You win some, you lose some
Dario Minieri picks up the first two pots, first open raising from the button to take the blinds, then re-raising from the big blind after Nico Behling opens for 42,000. Minieri then gives Behling a walk in his big blind, before open raising again from the button. This time Jaoa Barbosa announces that he's all in and Minieri goes into his talking mode. Barbosa keeps schtum, refusing to confirm or deny that he'll show if Minieri folds. Then Minieri says, "OK, I have one more question. If I fold and show, will you show as well?" Barbosa nods his head and that's what they do: Minieri has A-3o and Barbosa pocket sixes.

Then we actually see two flops in a row, both between Minieri and Behling. Minieri calls Behling's pre-flop bet of 44,000 and they see 7h-3s-Qh. Behling takes this one with an 80,000 bet. Then the two players, in an unraised pot, see 5d-Ah-7s and Miniri bets 16,000, which is called. The 10d turns and Minieri this time shakes off Behling with a bet of 38,000.

8.15pm: Under way
Play finally restarts after an extra long dinner break.

8.10pm: Empty seats
Still no sign of the players. No, wait. They're here. We should be playing again within a few minutes.

7.55pm: Long dinner
Players were spotted in the bufet room about an hour ago, but are yet to return to the tournament area. We're expecting them imminently for the resumption in play.

November 19, 2008 11:36 AM

EPT Warsaw: Level 21 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 21 with blinds at 6,000-12,000 (1,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

6.40pm: Chip counts at the dinner break
Joao Barbosa -- 1,140,000
Dario Minieri -- 267,000
Nico Behling -- 707,000

6.38pm: End of the level
We've reached the dinner break. Play will resume in one hour.

6.30pm: Battle of the blinds
In a battle of the blinds between Joao Barbosa and Dario Minieri for a flop of 6h-5d-8c. Barbosa makes it 21,000 which Minieri raises to 78,000. Barbosa announces “all-in” and gets a pretty quick fold from Minieri as the dinner break approaches.

6.15pm: Behling bouncing back
In an unraised battle of the blinds, Dario Minieri and Nico Behling see a scary flop of Ah-10s-As. They both check it, then Minieri bets 14,000 on the 2c turn, which Behling calls. The river is the 7s and after Minieri checks, Behling bets 40,000 and Minieri calls. "Flush," says Behling and shows 9-4s. "Super good," says Minieri.

6.12pm: Behling all-in.
Barbosa made it 34,000 from the button pre-flop which was called by Behling for a flop of 8h-Ac-2c. Behling then led the betting, making it 45,000 which Barbosa called. Another bet, 60,000 this time from Behling on the 2d turn. Again Barbosa called, taking it to the river, a 6d. Now Behling moved all in, another 151,000. Barbosa was not long in calling, but was only able to show Js-8s to Behling’s Ad-9c, good to double him up.

6.05pm: Three-handed chip counts
Joao Barbosa - 1,620,000
Dario Minieri - 320,000
Nico Behling - 275,000

5.55pm: I think the word is "sick"
Atanas Gueorguiev, PokerStars qualifier from Bulgaria, eliminated in fourth place earning €87,973
Joao Barbosa is on a hot streak and when you're hot, you're hot. Atanas Gueorguiev raises from one off the button and Barbosa flat calls. The flop comes 3c-4s-Kd and Barbosa tickles 35,000 at it. Gueorguiev doesn't hang around before announcing that he's all in and Barbosa is equally sharp in calling. Gueorguiev's A-K is miles ahead of Barbosa's K-Q and the 9h on the turn doesn't change that. But there are two outs left in the deck and one of the queens - hearts, for the record - rivers to send the final PokerStars qualifier in the field back to Sofia. He'll take €87,973 - and one shocking bad-beat story with him.

5.52pm: Arnaud Mattern of France, eliminated in fifth place for €72,724.
It started with a 36K Arnaud Mattern bet from the small blind but the hand finished with his elimination, ending hopes of a first double-winner. Barbosa then raised, 92K total and it wasn’t long before the chip were in the middle. Eights for Barbosa, tens for Mattern. The flop missed both but Barbosa caught an eight on the turn, doing well to suppress a huge cry of relief. Mattern had his coat though and was soon on the rail.

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Arnaud Mattern

5.40pm: Chip counts at the start of level 21
Arnaud Mattern – 340,000
Joao Barbosa – 755,000
Dario Minieri – 495,000
Nico Behling – 300,000
Atanas Gueorguiev – 265,000


Arnaud Mattern spoke to the video blog team about his hopes for the final. you can find more from Arnaud and hundreds of others at

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Interview with Arnaud Mattern Final Table on

November 19, 2008 10:33 AM

EPT Warsaw: Level 20 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 20 with blinds at 5,000-10,000 (1,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

5.38pm: The Bulgarian battle plan
Atanas Gueorgeuiev moves all-in with A-8 on the last hand of the level, a total of 130,000 which Arnaud Mattern called with A-K. It looked to be the last hand for the Bulgarian until the turn brought a rescue eight which doubled him up.

5.30pm: Mineri on the charge, Barbosa slows him down
Dario Minieri raises five hands on the spin and only gets one big-blind defender, Arnaud Mattern. But Mattern checks to the turn and then folds to Minieri's bet. The board reads 10s-Ac-6c-10d. Joao Barbosa, who seems to be the only player who enjoys tangling with Minieri, then has the audacity to raise the Italian's blind, making it 33,000 from the small blind. Minieri defends. The flop comes As-10c-Kc and Barbosa bets 39,000. Minieri calls. But both check the turn (7h) and the river (5d) before Barbosa shows pocket fours, which are good.

5.20pm: Latest chip counts
Arnaud Mattern – 410,000
Joao Barbosa – 630,000
Dario Minieri – 610,000
Nico Behling – 310,000
Atanas Gueorguiev – 168,000

5.15pm: Behling taking hits
Joao Barbosa and Nico Behling both check the flop of Ad-Ts-8d. The turn brings a 5s which Barbosa checks, allowing Behling to bet 40,000. Joao immediately check-raises, a raise of 300,000. Behling folds another hand, taking another hit while Barbosa shows Js-9s.

5.05pm: Dario doubles up again
It's the rarest of beasts - an unraised pot pre-flop - with Dario Minieri making up Nico Behling's big blind. The flop comes 8s-2s-6h and both players check. The turn is 9s and then it goes crazy: Minieribets 15,000, Behling makes it 60,000, Minieri maes it 143,000 and Behling moves all in, covering Minieri. The Italian is committed and insta-calls, asking Behling: "You got the flush?" Behling shakes his head and shows pocket sixes for a set, Minieri shows T-7 for a straight, but the German still has loads of outs. One of his sixes is a spade, so he's got the flush draw and the full house draw, but the Ad is a brick. And Minieri is right back in this.

5.01pm: Barbosa building
Minieri was first to bet pre-flop, followed by a raise from Nico Behling, using blue chips to make it 80,000, before Joao Barbosa re-raised all-in to bring the hand to a sudden halt. Barbosa adds 100,000 to his stack.

4.50pm: Quiet period
With five left, things have slowed somewhat. The table short-stack Atanas Gueorguiev just made the only move he really can - all in - after Nico Behling had raised from the button pre-flop. Behling folded. There's some good table banter, with Joao Barbosa and Dario Minieri reminiscing about that huge hand at the end of day two when Minieri made a hero call with a pair of jacks (second pair, no kicker) to snap off Barbosa's huge bluff. Other than that, it's raise and take pre-flop.

4.42pm: Sergey Shcherbatskiy, a PokerStars qualifier from Russia, eliminated in sixth place for €57,475.
Five minutes ago Sergey Shcherbatskiy was in the buffet having dinner at the break, five minutes later he’s out. He moved in with Ad-5h only to be called by Joao Barbosa holding pocket queens. Shcherbatskiy stood as the flop came Js-7h-Tc. The turn card Kc switched what each player was hoping for but the river was a blank. Handshakes and Shcherbatskiy was gone, with a €57,469 improvement on his $7.50 Steps buy-in.

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Sergey Shcherbatskiy

4.35pm: The players have just returned from the break and their full, official counts have been added to the chip counts page.

November 19, 2008 9:21 AM

EPT Warsaw: Level 19 updates

Play on the final is underway. We're in level 19 with blinds at 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

4.25pm: Last hand thriller
Excitement on the last hand before the break. Arnaud Mattern made it the standard 21,000 pre-flop with Minieri next to act. He announced all-in, a second before Nico Behling asked for a count. As officials started counting Minieri got up to stand by the rail. He has 119,000 left.

“I wanna gamble” said Minieri, and then added “I’m not sure it’s a gamble...” Then, “how much money for sixth?”

Behling now asks Mattern how much he has, about 460,000. We’re five minutes into the break and Behling is still thinking. Shcherbatskiy left when he folded his cards and has no idea his payday may be about to improve.

Behling says all-in, Mattern folds and Minieri says “aces.” He’s up against Behling’s pocket tens.
Minieri started texting right away. “Good timing” says Behling as they watched a flop of blanks miss both hands. Minieri gets a welcome boost to his stack.

4.20pm: Break on its way
With the break about to be taken any minute, a full official chip count will be on its way soon.

4.17pm: Mattern puts jacket on, takes jacket off
Nico Behling makes it 22,000 from mid-position and Sergiy Shcherbatskiy calls. Arnaud Mattern, in the big blind, squeezes all-in, and after Behling gets out the way, Shcherbatskiy asks for a count. It's 225,000 in total. He doesn't think too long before calling and shows A-Ko. Mattern has pocket tens and puts his jacket on. The board comes Qc-5c-Jc (no one has any clubs) meaning Mattern's 10 would now make Shcherbatskiy a straight. But the Russian misses everything on turn and river and Mattern doubles up.

4.12pm: Another hit for Dario
It's a spell of a 22K raise followed by folding. That was until a pot developed between Sergey Shcherbatskiy in the small blind and Dario Minieri in the cut off. It got to turn card with the board reading 3h-6d-Qh-Ac. The Russian checked to Minieri who bet 39,000 before Shcherbatskiy check-rasied him, forcing the Team PokerStars Pro out of the hand. Minieri is now down to 120,000.

4.10pm: Minieri talks
Things haven't been going precisely according to plan or Dario Minieri at this final table. But getting here was another remarkable achievement for the Team PokerStars Pro, a process he described to the video blog team last night:

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Interview with Dario Minieri Day 3 on

4pm: Joao Barbosa doubles up through Dario Minieri
A big suited ace was god for Minieri against Andrea Benelli, but it's just cost him all those chips and more against Joao Barbosa. The Portuguese makes it 22,000 pre-flop from the cut off, Minieri says 66,000 and Barbosa pushes for another 170,000. Minieri runs through a few calculations and calls, tabling A-Jd. Barbosa has jacks. Minieri checks around the table, asking if anyone folded an ace, and they they didn't, so he has three live outs, plus flush possibilities. But there's only one diamond on the board, and none on either turn or river. The ace stays away too. Barbosa is now a threat with close to 400,000. Minieri is down to less than hal that.

3.56pm: Chip leader
The current chip leader is Nico Behling who has 850,000 in front of him.

3.49pm: Andrea Benelli of Italy, eliminated in seventh place for €45,746.
Andrea Benelli moved all-in pre-flop and Dario Minieri called from the button, turning over Ah-Qh to Benelli’s pocket jacks. The hearts would prove crucial for Minieri with the flop coming 4h-8c-5h. The 3h turn made him a flush and sent Benelli to the rail. Minieri up to 320,000.

3.40pm: Behling bossing
Having taken such a big lead, Nico Behling is throwing his weight around, most recently at the expense of Andrea Benelli. The Italian has been quiet so far, but raised to 22,500 from early position and it was folded to Behling on the button. He asked for a count and was told that Benelli had another 130,000 behind. Behling called. The flop cam 6h-8-9d and after Benelli checked Behling bet 40,000, which was enough to chase the Italian out.

3.25pm: Behling assumes chip lead
After the bust out of Lacay, Nico Behling has taken over a convincing chip lead. The German has more than 600,000, after hoovering up Lacay's stack. The counts are something like this:

Behling: 620,000
Shcherbatskiy: 398,000
Minieri: 290,000
Mattern: 220,000
Gueorguiev: 185,000
Barbosa: 160,000
Benelli: 155,000

November 19, 2008 8:05 AM

EPT Warsaw: Level 18 updates

Play on the final table begins in level 18 with blinds at 3,000-6,000 (500 ante).

This post contains the latest action from the level, and will also include approximate chip counts throughout play. The official counts, taken at the end of each level, are on the chip count page.

3.18pm: Ludovic Lacay of France, eliminated in eighth place for €32,843.
A few hands later Nico Behling made it 17,000 pre-flop from late position. The action was folded to Ludovic Lacay who re-raised from the big blind, making it 56,000 in total. “300 more?” asked Behling. Lacay replied he had closer to 220,000 left behind and Behling called. Lacay re-checked his cards again, like he was tightening the straps of his parachute, before jumping onto the flop of 5d-8h-7s.

First to act, Lacay bet 75,000 before Behling re-raised, 160,000 in total. Back to Lacay he looked again before announcing all-in. Behling agreed for a showdown, Lacay’s pocket aces to Behling’s pocket eights which put him ahead. Lacay needed help. It didn’t come, and he was gone from the tournament room before the polite applause had stopped.

3.13pm: Lacay pushed around
Ludovic Lacay made it 16,000 from early position pre-flop and the action was folded to Dario Minieri who, face half covered with his scarf, calmly re-raised, forcing out Lacay.

3.10pm: Approximate chip counts
Shcherbatskiy: 398,000
Behling: 360,000
Minieri: 290,000
Mattern: 220,000
Gueorguiev: 185,000
Lacay: 180,000
Barbosa: 160,000
Benelli: 155,000

3.05pm: Minor skirmishes
Sergey Shcherbatskiy finds pocket fives again and calls Benelli's bets all the way to a checked river, finding the small pair surprisingly good on the 4d-9h-7d-9s-6h board. He's forced to muck the next hand though, when Ludovic Lacay, who re-raised from the button pre-flop, bets at a jack high board. On the hand after that, Lacay is forced into a fold. The Frenchman raises pre-flop to 16,000 and both blinds come along - Joao Barbosa and Dario Minieri. The fop is Jh-2d-Kc and Barbosa leads 30,000 at it. Minieri folds in silence but Lacay angrily flips A-Q as he lets it go. Barbosa shows a king.

2.55pm: Andrea Benelli doubles up
The Italian finds himself all in with K-9 and is racing against Sergey Shcherbatskiy's pocket fives. It's looking bleak for Benelli and sunny for Shcherbatskiy all the way through a blank flop and turn. But a nine falls on the river and the always-vocal Italian contingent give the first major whoop of the day.

2.50pm: Barbosa doubles up through Minieri
The Portuguese player Joao Barbosa open shoved from the button and Dario Minieri called from the small blind. Barbosa was at it and tabled Q-2; Minieri had A-9. But a queen flopped and stayed good through turn and river and Barbosa doubles up.

2.45pm: Michael Muheim, Switzerland, eliminated in ninth place, earning €21,114
Sergey Shcherbatskiy limps from early position but Michael Muheim doesn't see anything suspicious and shoves his short stack all in from the big blind. Shcherbatskiy insta-calls and has two black aces. Muheim has A-9 and although there's a nine on the flop, he gets no more help and is our ninth place finisher.

Muheim spoke to the video bloggers about his progress to the final table:

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Interview with Michael Muheim Day 3 on

2.43pm: Gueorguiev asks the question
Joao Barbosa makes it 17,000 pre-flop. It’s folded round to Atanas Gueorguiev who announces all-in. Barbosa thinks about it for a few moments before wincing and then folding.

2.40pm: All France
Here's how it's gone for the past four hands: Arnaud Mattern raises pre-flop, picks up blinds and antes. Ludovic Lacay raises pre-flop, gets re-raised by Nico Behling in the small blind, folds. Arnaud Mattern raises pre-flop, picks up blinds and antes. Ludovic Lacay raises pre-flop, called by Arnaud Mattern. The board is checked all the way to the river -- 2h-2s-9h-Kc-Js -- and then Lacay fires. Mattern folds. The standard pre-flop raise is 16,000, by the way.

2.30pm: Minieri begins his day
Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri fires his first shots in anger, re-raising a pre-flop bet by Arnaud Mattern to force the Frenchman to fold.

2.25pm: We're off, and it's Nico Behling firing first. He makes it 16,000 to go from mid-position and then calls Arnaud Mattern's button re-raise. The flop is ten high and Behling fires at it. Mattern folds. First pot to Germany.

2.15pm: The tournament director is introducing the players and action will begin imminently. As we wait for the action to begin, here are Kara Scott's tips for final table play:

Watch EPT Warsaw 08: Kara Scott Top Tips on Final Table Play on

November 19, 2008 7:35 AM

EPT Warsaw: The final table

Last night in the PokerStars lounge, as reporters, staff and players celebrated an early halt to tournament proceedings, a small sit and go broke out for that most costly of buy-ins: pride and bragging rights. Several hands in, and with the tension at its peak, Dario Minieri popped his head around the door to see what the commotion was all about, prompting one of the players to pipe up: "How are you getting on in the side event?" Minieri looked quizzical. "You know, because this is the main event. How are you getting on in the side event downstairs?"

Eventually Minieri cottoned on and laughed. By that point, of course, the Team PokerStars Pro had bagged up 359,000 chips in that "side event" and was the chip leader going into the final table. Yet again the young Italian had blazed a trail to the summit of a tournament leaderboard and today has his sights fixed firmly on claiming his maiden EPT victory, a matter of months after claiming the first World Series bracelet of his career. It might only be a "side event" but it's worth €367,141 to its winner.

In order to get there, the champion will have to outlast one of the toughest EPT final tables in recent memory, and one that ticks all the right boxes. We have a previous champion in the form of Arnaud Mattern; we have two PokerStars qualifiers -- Sergey Shcherbatskiy and Atanas Gueorguiev -- hoping to turn minute online satellite fees into monstrous bricks-and-mortar payouts. We have players from all across Europe from the Urals to the Algarve.

Putting it another way, we have these nine:

Seat 1: Arnaud Mattern, 29, Paris, France – 328,000 chips

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Before taking up poker in 2004, Mattern's main game was backgammon. In his own words, he ''crushed the tournament circuit and cash-games all around the world''. The switch to poker has been very successful, both live and online. He is known for his mathematical approach to the game and has been described as "disciplined, cold and calculating". He first came to international attention when he took down the inaugural EPT Prague event last season for €708,400. Now playing in his 14th EPT, he is hoping to make history as the first player to win two EPT titles.

Seat 2: Ludovic Lacay, 23, Toulouse, France – 296,500 chips

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Lacay has played 13 EPTs to date, and has cashed twice before – his best result being 11th place at EPT Dublin last season. Like many other players, the 23-year-old got into online poker after enjoying success in the video game world where he played for one of the best French "Counter Strike" teams. Lacay now finds himself on a final table with his great friend and fellow Frenchman Arnaud Mattern. His best result to date was second place at the WPT Spanish Championship in October last year for €295,200.

Seat 3: Andrea Benelli, 27, Prato, Italy – 100,000 chips

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A former computer sales rep, Benelli has been a professional poker player for more than a year. He has competed in several EPTs – in Warsaw, San Remo and the Monte Carlo Grand Final last season – and cashed at EPT London in October, making 36th for £11,419. He is being supported here in Warsaw by his girlfriend Astrika but is also being cheered on by his great friend Dario Minieri, who is also on the final table. Minieri said: "He's a very good player and one of my best friends. It's great we are both on the final table."

Seat 4: Michael Muheim, 21, Zurich, Switzerland – PokerStars qualifier -- 89,000 chips

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Currently studying medicine in Zurich, Michael won his seat to EPT Warsaw on PokerStars. It's his first major live event as he normally plays heads-up online cash games at $1-$2 limit – plus the odd online multi-table tournament. He believes he has been playing well, making good decisions, and is enjoying the tournament. Although the short stack at the start of the final table, the guaranteed €21,114 payday makes EPT Warsaw his best result so far.

Seat 5: Joao Barbosa, Porto, Portugal – 123,000 chips

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Only two weeks ago, Gino Alacqua celebrated his 47th birthday with an appearance on the EPT Budapest final table. Now it's Joao Barbosa's turn. The Portuguese professional turns 26 tomorrow. The former computer engineering student is enjoying great success on the EPTs – he has played four so far and cashed in three of them including here, 48th place in Barcelona and 26th place in London. Barbosa mainly plays cash games online but loves tournaments for the competitive element. Back home in Portugal, he divides his time between his family home in Porto and his girlfriend in Lisbon.

Seat 6: Dario Minieri, 23, Rome, Italy – Team PokerStars Pro – 359,500 chips

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Dario Minieri is one of Italy's best known poker players following a lightning-quick rise to the top. Aged 16, he started playing the card game Magic: The Gathering and swiftly discovered a talent for online gaming, before turning to poker. He started with low-stakes heads-up games at PokerStars but before long had become an online legend – the first player to earn a Porsche with his PokerStars Frequent Player Points. His online success has also translated to live tournaments. In 2006, Minieri came 3rd at EPT Baden and made the top 100 at the 2007 World Series. He joined Team PokerStars Pro soon after and things got even better in 2008 when he came 3rd in EPT San Remo and won his first WSOP bracelet in the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed event in the summer.

Seat 7: Nico Behling, 23, Jena, Germany – 343,500 chips

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Behling is one of the most successful German "Young Guns" and a good friend of's ShootingStars player Sebastian Ruthenberg, who won EPT Barcelona in September. Behling has a lot of live poker experience and cashed for more than $130.000 in January, when he finished eighth in the Aussie Millions. EPT Warsaw is his ninth EPT but his first cash. He also played LAPT Rio de Janeiro and APPT Macau. Online, Behling is grinding the short-handed cash games but he also sometimes plays multi-table tournaments on PokerStars. His biggest online cash was $43,000 as runner-up in the PokerStars Super Tuesday tourney in July. The only important thing for Behling on tomorrow's final table is "to play my best poker. Then everything is fine."

Seat 8: Sergey Shcherbatskiy, 24, Russia – PokerStars qualifier - 349,000 chips

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All the way from the city of Ufa in the Ural Mountains of Russia, Sergey Shcherbatskiy will carry 349,000 chips to the final table, a mere 10,000 fewer than the chip-leader Dario Minieri. "I don't believe it," he said. "I'm surrounded by all these professional players!" It's already a remarkable story for Shcherbatskiy: he qualified via the PokerStars "steps" tournaments, buying in at level one for only $7.50, and is playing in his first major live tournament having taken up the game a little less than two years ago. Married to Antonina, who is hearing his progress in regular phone-calls home, Shcherbatskiy will also find some support from the punters in the two sports bars he owns in his hometown.

Seat 9: Atanas Gueorguiev, 38, Sofia, Bulgaria – PokerStars qualifier - 186,500 chips
A former taxi driver, Gueorguiev has been playing poker professionally for more than three years and has qualified for several EPTs. He came 42nd in the EPT Season 3 Monte Carlo Grand Final for €19,000 and came 17th in the EPT Prague £2,000 side event last season for €4,500. His best result to date – aside from reaching the final table here in Warsaw -- was last May when he final tabled at the WPT Spanish Championship, coming eighth for €37,897. Married with an 18-month-old son, Gueorguiev says he has been gambling all his adult life and, like many players, came into poker via backgammon. He said: "I prefer playing live cash games but I have to admit I'm a better tournament player than cash player."

Final table play is due to begin at 2pm. So make that about 2.20pm, allowing for the inevitable delays, and we'll be off. Join us here for English, here for Hungarian, here for Polish, here for Swedish and here for German.

The best place for chip counts is the page you're looking at right now, although we'll post official updates over at the chip count page.

And click here, here, here, here or here for a list of the prizes. Not here though.

Video blogs and interviews from the EPT and LAPT

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