World Cup of Poker VII: The nine-handed round
2.35pm: France in the lead after the nine-handed round
It's official, the French have the lead at the end of the first round of matches, amassing a total of 37 points having scored a win (Arnaud Mattern), two second places (Lucien Schemann and Laurent Francois) and a third (Alexandre Petitjean), not to mention a sixth place (Marillaud Jessy).
Arnaud Mattern congratulated by his team mates
Close behind at the Philippines and Slovakia, tied on 30 points each, then it's close between the United Kingdom (26 points), Spain (26 points) and Italy (24 points). Argentina are not far behind them while Ukraine has some work to do. Those of an American disposition look away now...
France - 37
Philippines - 30
Slovakia - 30
United Kingdom - 26
Spain - 26
Italy - 24
Argentina - 21
Ukraine - 17
United States - 8
2.25pm: Wins for Philippines, France, Italy and Slovakia
Arnaud Mattern just brought the fifth and final table to a close, winning in emphatic style, defeating the hard-fighting Spaniard Joan Cercela, much to the delight of his team mates.
There's a good atmosphere to the the event with those already eliminated crowding round the tables to watch their team mates bring it home for the motherland, and maybe pick up a thing or two.
On table two there was a first win for Slovakia where Peter Koplinger got maximum points while David Scafati got the ten points for Italy on table five.
Players now get a 20 minute break to discuss tactics and get re-acquainted. We'll have the full results and standings once I get my old math teacher on the phone. -- SB
2pm: Two down, three to go
Amazing scenes in the World Cup of Poker. The Philippines took down the first table that finished, then blasted their way to a another win in the next - well done Michael Victor Jose and Edward Garcia. That's 20 points for those of you keeping score back home
A happy man: Philipinnes captain Geoffrey Pamatian
There are still three tables still in play though. It's heads up between Spain and France on table five, while on table two Jose Barbero's elimination in third leaves France and Slovakia to battle it out. The French team captain Arnaud Mattern is still playing on table one, but then so are most people. That's the slow one.
Full results to follow once the last of the matches are complete. Will it be the Philippines or the French getting a bye to the final tomorrow and heading to the beach? -- SB
1.25pm: USA all out for eight
Well that's that for the Americans. All five of the USA team are now on the rail, the first team to lose all of their players, scoring a total of eight points.
So far it's Ukraine leading but numbers are deceptive. They have three players out, including captain Dovzhenko, with two still playing. France are in good shape with four players still involved and four points already on the board.
1pm: The end of the beginning
Slow and steady wins the day, although not in the case of Douglas Summers from the Philippines, the first faller in the nine-handed round. Also out is Mark Larsen of the United States, but if you need a poster boy for what the World Cup of Poker is about then he might be your man.
Not only is this his first major event, it's the first time he's played a live poker tournament. From Kalispell, Montana, Larsen, here with his wife, plays online back home but hasn't even seen a poker table before. Despite crashing out with kings against ace he's getting into the spirit of things. "So what happens next," he said. "When do we play again, this is great."
Also getting into the spirit of things is Italian captain Luca Pagano. The Team PokerStars Pro is a veteran of the World Cup and between hands is out of his chair rubbing the shoulders of his team mates. An experienced leader who guides his team from the front, Luca also knows that, when it comes to the rules, the easiest way to remember them is to work on the premise that you keep playing until someone stops dealing you cards.
The rules are taking some getting used to for some. Vanessa Selbst, skippering the Americans, needed a little clarification, citing one rule that if correct would make it beneficial to everyone to try to finish last. A slight correction sent her back to her table with her A-game. -- SB
12.15pm: Big draw. No, not that kind
Just to highlight the draw this event has the rail for the World Cup if bigger than that of the High Roller taking place a short distance away. Among them Salvatore Bonavena, supporting the Italian team.
So just to recap, a round of nine-handed sit and gos is under way, results of which will be posted here as they happen. -- SB
12.05pm: Cards in the air
After a moving speech in which an emotional Neil Johnson welcomed players to the seventh World Cup of Poker, seats were drawn and cards are now in the air. A couple of notable seat draws place captains alongside each other.
Jose Barbero and Luca Pagano share a table, as do Vanessa Selbst and Juan Manual Pastor. Finally Alexandre Dovzhenko and Dag Palovic will also play together. -- SB
Slovakian captain Dag Palovic
11.55am: Who's playing?
Good question. The teams are beginning to arrive now, assembling around their national flags which are draped majestically along the tournament area. Those flags are of follows...
The World Cup of Poker in full force
ARGENTINA - Team captain: Jose Ignacio Barbero
Daniel Cesar Chaulet
Edgardo Ariel Mazzarola
PHILIPPINES - Team captain: Geoffrey Pamatian
Michael Victor Jose
Douglas Chiquito Summers
UK - Team captain: Olivia Boeree
Priyan de Mel
SPAIN - Team captain: Juan Manuel Pastor
Rafael Planelles Vasquez
Adolfo Dieste Bouzas
Daniel Ortega Alamo
SLOVAKIA - Team captain: Dag Palovic
ITALY - Team captian: Luca Pagano
FRANCE - Team captain: Arnaud Mattern
UKRAINE - Team captain: Alexander Dovzhenko
Renat Zufarovich Byeglov
Yurii Alekseevich Korsunskii
USA - Team captain: Vanessa Selbst
Mark V Larsen
11.30am: At last, the World Cup of Poker
The Main Event has been put back in its box until Saturday, the Bounty Shootout is in its second day and the High Roller - the High one, not the Super High one - will stage its first day of play this afternoon. But tucked into a corner, surrounded by a variety of national flags is what at least one person regards as the greatest poker tournament ever devised.
As a fellow member of the media pack once said, it's like the Eurovision Song Contest, understood in its entirety by very few, but watched by millions regardless. You can never predict what will happen as national teams, made up of Team PokerStars Pros, experienced online players and complete newbies clash in a cauldron of temporary patriotism and poker, their exploits kept at a safe distance someway down the PokerStars Blog home page.
As I write this an envelope has been passed to me, on the back of which is scrawled today's rules, structure and line up. It's worth pointing out that the original rules to the World Cup of Poker were discovered in an archaeological dig when it's believed the ancient Europe used it to determine whether or not someone was a witch.
Coming up today will be a round of nine-player sit and gos (five in total), five-player short-handed sit and goes (nine in total), then live heads-up matches. Players will each start with 3,000 chips with levels at a break-neck 15 minutes each.
At the end the results will be sent by email to experts at the CERN Laboratory in Switzerland, who will power up the Super Hadron collider, insert the results, spin them at 22,000mph and in the nanosecond before they collide, capture a precise picture of who's actually winning this thing. They will then beam the results back to us on the Blog.
When the first nine-handed sit and goes are completed the team with the most points will be given a bye to the final tomorrow and the highest starting stack (50,000 chips). The others will play on to determine their own starting stack tomorrow. At this point I was going to suggest you turn to the next chapter in your text books for how tomorrow's final will work, but my head has started to ache and the teams will be here soon.
World Cup of Poker VI winners, Chinese Taipei
Last year's winner were Chinese Taipei who went deliriously nuts when they finally defeated the Croatian team. It was one of the most refreshing moments of poker we've seen. This year should be no different.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in the Bahamas (in order of how they once described the World Cup of Poker): Stephen Bartley ("the greatest poker tournament ever devised.")