PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®: Speranza shines to bag Day 1B lead

NEIL6486_Gianluca_Speranza_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Speranza's the Day 1B leader

When the roof was open and the sun was beaming into the stunning Salle des Etoiles poker room just before midday today, all of the early Day 1B arrivals must have felt like this was going to be their day. Because this was the €5,300 PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®, damn it. This was everyone's time to shine.

But after twelve hours and eight 75-minute levels of play, the sun shines brightest on Italy's Gianluca Speranza. His ace-queen beat Arseniy Meshcheryakov's pocket kings for a big pot earlier, and his spin-up didn't stop after that. He ended with 201,500.

Roughly 480 players would enter throughout the day, and just after midnight when play ended only 282 remained. The other biggest stacks on the night belonged to Michael Kolkowicz (197,300), Xavier Rouayroux (192,000) and David Urban (188,700).


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Antonius' local card room

When he entered at around the day's midway point, Patrik Antonius immediately made himself feel at home. He pretty much is home, after all. Monaco is where lives with his family, and while he doesn't often take to the live tournament felt these days, he still makes a big impression when he does. Over two levels of play, he spun his 30,000 starting stack into the room's biggest, going into the dinner break with 210,000. When all was said and done though, he bagged up 102,200.

Of the red spades out in the field, PokerStars Team Pros Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov and Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier all made it through. Negreanu didn't enter until the penultimate level of the day, but bounded into the tournament room full of energy after the dinner break. However, some slow action at his table must curbed his enthusiasm. Despite all that, Kid Poker ended the day with 27,600.


NEIL6366_Liv_Boeree_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Great day for Liv

Boeree on the other hand was bullying her opponents on the felt and finished with 128,000 while ElkY cruised through the day to bag 50,800. Kurganov bought in right at the bitter end and so did well to bag 76,000. Sadly, Felipe Ramos couldn't make it. He even folded pocket aces face up in one hand (and was probably right), but lost a 600-big blind with a flush draw, straight draw and two over cards before busting.

Other notable names who made it through the day include Maria Ho (fresh from hosting a TV cash game for almost the entirety of the day), Dan Colman, Andreas Hoivold, Thomas Muehloecker, Davidi Kitai, Jack Salter, Tom Hall, Maria Lampropulos, Benny Glaser, Jason Wheeler and John Juanda.

We'll have the full chip counts for you ASAP here.

Tomorrow will be Day 2, during which today's 222 Day 1B survivors will merge with their 107 Day 1A counterparts. Those who aren't invited (not because we don't like them, just because they lost all of their chips during the day) include Mikita Badziakouski, Kenny Hallaert, Ami Barer, Conor Beresford, Ryan Riess, and Paul Newey.

It's bonsoir for now though. Join us back here tomorrow at 12pm Monaco-time (GMT+2) for what's sure to be an exciting Day 2. --JS

Day 1B coverage

11:55pm: Stop that clock!
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The clock has now been paused, which means there's just a few more hands left to play before the bags come out. We'll have a full report of the day shortly. --JS

11:53pm: A bit more for Boeree
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree raised to 1,800 from the button and Bas De Laat called from the small blind. The flop came 9♥J♠4♣ and Boeree bet 2,500 when checked to. De Laat called and an 8♥ came on the turn. Boeree upped the bet to 4,800 and De Laat thought for a bit before calling.

A 9♠ completed the board and Boeree didn't slow down. She made 11,000 to go and De Laat gave his stack a peak. He decided it wasn't worth it. Boeree took down the pot and is now well above average with 125,000. --AV

11:52pm: Frank the tank rolls over two
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Louis Salter -- brother of Jack -- opened with an all-in bet of 9,500.

Sam Greenwood -- brother of Lucas -- reraise-pushed for 22,500.

It folded to Christopher Frank on the button. And oh, brother... he was reraising all in, too!

The blinds got out, and the trio showed their cards:

Salter: K♠Q♣
Greenwood: A♣Q♥
Frank: J♣J♦

Salter and Greenwood stood up, but Frank was mid-massage and kept his seat. He still had a nice view of the 7♥7♦J♥ flop that made a full house for him, and a deuce on the turn meant he'd flattened the stacks of both his opponents to reduce the field by two.

Frank has 120,000 now with about 15 minutes left in the day. --MH

11:50pm: Sanjaasuren's aces slow Salter
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Louis Salter just got kind of slow-rolled, although it quickly became apparent that there was no malice. Shijirbaatar Sanjaasuren was the "guilty" party, at least on paper, but this was clearly mainly owing to inexperience.

Sanjaasuren opened, Salter three-bet to 6,000, Sanjaasuren four-bet to 17,200 and Salter jammed for right around 50,000. That was about 9,000 more than Sanjaasuren had and he checked his cards again, then made a call that was slightly slower than instant.

Salter showed his A♦K♦ and was crestfallen to learn that he was up against A♠A♣ in Sanjaasuren's hand.

The board ran 8♦Q♥6♠5♦J♣ and Sanjaasuren doubled to close to 100,000. Salter is left with 9,200. But then the inquisition started.

One player, who I won't name, was angry with the apparent slow-roll and turned to Aleksei Istomin and said, "Why did he take so long?"

Istomin said, "Why are you asking me?" and the inquisitor said, "Because you speak English." (This conversation was in English.)

"Your English is perfect," Istomin said, and it was. But the angered player then said, "Where are you from?" to Istomin, who answered that he was from Russia, before adding, "But that doesn't mean I know everything."

The inquisitor then turned to Sanjaasuren and asked something in English, but Sanjaasuren indicated that he didn't understand. "Where are you from?" came the follow-up question, to which Sanjaasuren said he was from Mongolia.

Now, of course, Istomin could help, because Sanjaasuren spoke Russian. So those two had a quick chat in Russian and all animosity was forgotten.

Well, perhaps not by Salter, whose day has taken a distinct turn for the unfortunate. Sanjaasuren, who I think might be a Spin & Go qualifier to this event, is now stacked. --HS

11:48pm: Zabukas zaps Gyldenkilde
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

I arrived at the table to see a raise of 2,300 in front of William Saad and a all-in bet of 17,900 of Matti Gyldenkilde also across the line. The action was on Victor Zabukas and the Brazilian smooth called Gyldenkilde's shove. Saad, who hails from the Ivory Coast, folded and it was time for the showdown.

Gyldenkilde: T♦T♥
Zabukas: A♦A♥

It was grim reading for Gyldenkilde as even his suits were covered. A clinical 3♥K♣6♣A♠9♠ board later and Gyldenkilde was on his way. He wished the table good luck as he left. --NW

11:45pm: Lampropulos stops Schwippert
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Jan-Eric Schwippert was just all in with A♠6♣ and at risk -- and in dire shape -- versus Maria Lampropulos who had A♥K♠.

The K♦3♠4♠ made things worse for Schwippert, and by the 3♦ turn the river was no longer any matter. Schwippert's out, and Maria Lampropulos is up to 50,000. --MH

11:40pm: Speranza keeps spinning upwards
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Sextupling your starting stack over the course of a single Day 1 flight requires certain things to happen for you. You've likely played well and made good decisions, but you've also likely avoided the poker pitfalls at a higher clip than usual, too.

Case in point, Gianluca Speranza just picked up A♦Q♣ and found himself engaged in a preflop challenge with short-stacked Arseniy Meshcheryakov who held K♥K♣.

The board came 2♦2♠J♣, then T♦, then... A♣! There's an example of what we mean.

Meshcheryakov is out, and with less than a half-hour to go tonight Speranza is up to 184,000. --MH

11:36pm: A hope for Ho
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

There was one poker player that's been at the feature table all day, but who just played her first hand of poker of the day a few minutes ago. Maria Ho was working at the televised cash game all day, but she was presenting, not playing.

The itch must've been too great for Ho. As soon as the TV cameras and lights powered off, she rushed to the tournament in her presenting dress, threw her chip rack behind her back and got behind a stack. Ho still has about 40 minutes of play left in the day.

While Ho arrived late, she outlasted hundreds of players already. The field is quickly shrinking and several short stacks are trying to make a rally before the end of the day. One of them is Dan Coleman, who's currently short-stacked with 10,000. --AV

11:34pm: Top 10
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

There are just 30 minutes left on Day 1B and we're starting to turn our attention to who'll be the end of the day chip leader. The top 10 is as below and straight in at number one is Michael Kolkowicz. The French player has 210,000 which is someway short of the 305,300 that Day 1A chip leader Jeffrey Hakim bagged last night.

NameChips
Michael Kolkowicz210,000
Xavier Rouayroux165,000
Makram Saber160,000
Gianluca Speranza156,000
David Urban155,000
Thiago Crema145,000
Raffaele Sorrentino139,000
Shakhabiddin Muradov135,000
Liv Boeree120,000
Patrik Antonius115,000

11:30pm: Kenny Hall-aert
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

It's never unpleasant to bump into Kenny Hallaert. The November Niner is a genial guy. But these were unpleasant circumstances, at least for him. Hallaert was just spotted in the hall, heading out the door away from the tournament room. He is not going to win this Main Event.

Philipp Gruissem was not far behind him. The German High Roller won't be troubling the cashiers at the end of this tournament either. --HS

11:28pm: Buky busts
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Robert Buky is out after losing the last of his chips in a blind-vs.-blind hand against Gediminas Kareckas.

Kareckas had 4♣3♣ in the small while Buky had A♥T♣ in the big, but community cards reading 5♦5♣A♣8♣Q♥ made those little suited connectors into a flush, and Buky is out. Kareckas is at 45,000 now. --MH

11:25pm: Even more for Boeree
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Barring a last-hour calamity, Liv Boeree will be happy with her day's work. The Team PokerStars Pro has just built her stack to around 105,000--a three-fold increase on the starting stack--winning a pot from Aleksandar Tomovic.

I didn't see the pre-flop action, but I'm confident in guessing that Boeree raised from late position and Tomovic called in the big blind. They then saw a flop of 9♣Q♥J♦.

Tomovic checked, Boeree bet 2,500 and Tomovic called. They then both checked the 3♥ turn.

The board completed with the 2♠ Tomovic put 4,500 over the line. Boeree called instantly.

Tomovic had Q♦6♦ but Boeree was never behind with her A♣Q♣. --HS

11:20pm: Toma squeezes, earns big boost
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

From the small blind Tsugnunari Toma watched an under-the-gun open and a call from late position, then looked down at J♦J♠ and decided to squeeze-shove. The original raiser folded, but the caller -- Danut Chisu -- called.

When Chisu turned over 4♦4♥, Toma stood and gave a little fist pump, glad at the favorable circumstances in which he'd found himself.

The premature response didn't jinx Toma, as the board ran out 8♥6♣7♠2♣8♣, and he sat back down with an "everything is going great" look on his face, now up to 55,000. Meanwhile Chisu slips to 15,000. --MH

11:15pm: GG Felipe
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

11:10pm: Oh boy!
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

"I need to take a photo," said David Lascar. Given that he'd just busted out of the tournament you can probably tell that his exit was a bit of a sick one.

I only saw the action from the flop onwards but with 4♠7♣2♣ exposed Lascar moved all-in for 26,500. Makram Saber was the man with the decision and he tank-called.

Lascar: K♣K♦
Saber: Q♣J♣

Lascar was ahead with the cowboys but Saber had plenty of outs. The J♦ landed on the turn, can you tell what's coming on the river? Yep, it was the Q♠ giving Saber two-pair and a runner-runner outdraw (ok he had the flush draw too). As Lascar took a picture Saber said. "Take two pictures." Emin Aghayev, who's also at the table though that this comment from Saber was rude and a bit of a needle and the two of them engaged in some spiky verbals. Needle or not, Saber is now up to 170,000. --NW

11:05pm: Teatum hits the rail
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Arne Coulier hit a jack on the river in a pot against Richard Teatum but there were three different opinions of what that card represented.

It came about after Teatum open-jammed for 14,300 from the cutoff and Coulier called on the button, leading to a straight race situation. Teatum had 7♣7♦ to Coulier's A♣J♣.

The first four community cards were bricks. They were 6♠8♣2♥T♠. But then there it was, the J♦ on the end. Teatum stood up and took his leave.

"When you've just got an ace or jack to hit on the river, that feels like a one or two-outer," one of the remaining table-mates said to Coulier.

"They're the easy ones," Coulier said. "It's when you've got to hit a flush draw that it's tough."

Those two agreed to disagree on how hard busting players on the river tended to be. But for Teatum, it was clear. That jack was a £?!#$. --HS

11:02pm: Zeitoun whacks Wilf
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

After being all in with his last chips, Saar Wilf whiffed, and Jean-Jacques Zeitoun was the beneficiary. Cross Wilf off the list of remaining players, and put Zeitoun at 40,000. --MH

11pm: Boeree getting big
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

A chunk of those chips came in the last hand of level seven. The hand started with Boeree raising to 1,500 from middle position. Then Robert Buky three-bet to 4,500 from the small blind and Boeree called.

The flop came 5♦7♠7♥ and Buky bet 5,000. Boeree thought for a few seconds and called. The turn brought a 6♣ and another bet from Bukey, this time for 7,500. Boeree thought for a bit longer that time but still called. Then the 4♠ came on the river to make the board very straighty. Buky slowed down to a check and Boeree fired a 20,000 bet. Buky only had 8,500 behind and quickly folded. Boeree took down the pot and chipped up to about 100,000. --AV


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Serious Liv...

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...Fun Liv

10:55pm: Koran KOs Colautti
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

It was a multi-way situation with Michael Koran having raised from the button, and without being too precise about it Daniele Colautti viewed it all as a more or less favorable spot to get his last few big blinds in the middle. That left just him and Koran, with Colautii hoping to get lucky with 8♠3♣ versus Koran's J♣J♥.

The flop came 8♣7♣7♥, pairing Colautii's eight, and he began moving his eight back and forth on the table hoping to draw out another one. But the turn was the 4♥ and river the 5♣, and Colautti is out.

Koran is up to 55,000 now. --MH

10:52pm: Antonius slips out of the lead
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Contrary to previous reports, Patrik Antonius is not actually still in the chip lead. He now has slipped to around 170,000 and the presence of Levan Iselidze and a stack of 112,000 to his right is possibly related. --HS

10:50pm: Badziakouski can't beat anything, and certainly not that
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Mikita Badziakouski had three chips. Then he had four chips. Then he had no chips. That's the general sequence of the Belarusian's slow but entertaining final moments at the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® Main Event.

Action folded to Badziakouski on the button and he had 15,000-worth of tournament tokens in his account, represented by three 5,000-denomination blue chips. He shoved them in and got folds from the blinds.

I stepped away from the table for a while, but came back to see Badziakouski in the hijack and in another pot. This one started with a raise from Makram Saber to 1,200 from UTG+1 and a three-bet from Badziakouski in the cutoff to 3,500. Saber called.

The K♦K♥7♣ flopped and Saber checked. Badziakouski bet 2,000 and Saber called.

The Q♦ fell on the turn and Saber checked again. Badziakouski bet 2,500. Saber called.

The river was the 2♠ and Saber asked Badziakouski, "How much do you have?" Badziakouski showed four chips: two blue 5,000 chips and two brown 100-value chips. That was 10,200 in more applicable currency.

"All in," Saber said.

Badziakouski had seen it coming, but still didn't really know what to do. He said, "Why bluff me?" and got no response. Then he said, "Will you show if I fold? At least one?"

This time he got a response. Saber turned gruff barman and said, "Time please."

A floor supervisor arrived to the side of the table and Badziakouski said, "Could be my last minute in the tournament."

He allowed the clock to run down to 30 seconds the said, "Last minute in tournament. It was nice to play with you guys."

His monologue continued with the exasperated confession that, "I have no idea what I can possibly beat."

But then with less than one second left, he called.

Saber turned over K♣Q♠ and Badziakouski said, "Good game. Goodbye." He revealed his J♣J♠ and disappeared into the night. --HS

10:45pm: Small and steady for ElkY
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has been grinding it out all day. He's been playing a lot of small pots throughout the tournament so far and we haven't seen one amount to something massive yet. Despite that, ElkY has been chipping up and is currently above average with about 65,000.

One recent small victory started with raise to 1,400 from middle position. Christopher Chaudey called from the button and all three players saw a 4♥A♥7♥ flop. There was a round of checks and a T♥ on the turn. Players checked again and a 7♦ completed the board. ElkY bet 2,200 and got one caller, Chaudey.

ElkY turned over J♠7♣ for rivered trips and Chaudey shook his head and tabled A♣T♦. ElkY took down the pot and chipped up to about 65,000. --AV

10:40pm: Not a good day for...
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

...Walter Treccarichi, Mikhail Korotkikh, Denis Timofeev, Ludovic Geilich, Felix Bleiker and Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos. They all busted out during the penultimate level of the night. --NW

10:35pm: Juanda goes clubbin'
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

There were a couple of limpers, including Davidi Kitai on the button, when Matti Gyldenkilde came along from the small blind and John Juanda checked his option in the big.

Gyldenkilde then led into the field for 2,000 after the 7♠4♣J♣ flop with only Juanda calling. The turn was the T♣ and Gyldenkilde checked. Juanda bet 4,200 and Gyldenkilde called. The river then brought the 3♠ and another check from Gyldenkilde, and Juanda pushed out a bet of 8,800.

Gyldenkilde thought for about 15 seconds and then called, and Juanda turned over A♣6♣ for the nut flush. Gyldenkilde showed his hand as well, J♠4♥ for two pair -- a small blind special that turned out to be not so special.

Juanda jumps to 55,000, while Gyldenkilde has 32,000 now. --MH

10:30pm: Hoivold takes out two in 12-minute marathon hand
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

"This hand has been going on for 10 minutes," said Daniel Negreanu, who had stood up and was leaning on the back of his chair. They'd only reached the flop at this stage too. Let's rewind.

The hand began with Masbah Ben Baba shoving all in from under the gun for 4,000. Next to act was Thomas Muehloecker and he flat called. Andreas Hoivold (cutoff) and Mudasser Hussain (small blind) also called. There was then a pause while Marc Trijaud decided what to do. He had just 6,700 in total and seemed flummoxed as to how he should proceed.

He tanked for so long that the clock was called but before the floor staff arrived he'd decided to call. So that was one all-in player, and four callers with one of those callers virtually all-in. Got it? Good.

A 6♥K♥T♣ flop fell and to no one's great surprise Trijaud moved all-in. His bet was 2,600 and it's one that Muehloecker raised to 7,200. It took Hoivold around one minute to make his decision and it was to raise. He made it 30,000 to go and now it was Hussain's turn to tank. He thought for a couple of minutes and it was at this point that Negreanu commented on the length of time that the hand had taken to this point. Hussain eventually folded but Muehloecker was not so swift to act. "At least you know that I'm not bluffing," said Hoivold as Muehloecker was working out what to do. The Austrian came to the conclusion that folding was the best option and eventually we had a showdown.

Ben Baba: A♥3♣
Trijaud: A♠6♠
Hoivold: T♥9♥

The 6♦ turn gave Trijaud trips and he pleaded for them to hold. However, the Q♥ river completed Hoivold's flush. That double elimination means he's up to 108,000. Muehloecker has 44,000. --NW


8G2A6554_Andreas_Hoivold_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Nice hand for Hoivold

10:25pm: Sweet Barra-chin music
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Patrik Antonius is still sitting pretty at the top of the counts, but Gianluca Speranza is now running him close. Speranza just won yet another pot to boost his stack to about 180,000 and end Bertrand Barrachin's day.

Picking up the action on the turn, the J♠J♦4♥6♥ were on the table and there was about 12,000 in the pot. Barrachin, who was in the small blind, checked and Speranza bet 5,600. Barrachin called.

The 8♣ fell on the river and Barrachin checked again. Speranza moved forward a fistful of blue chips, putting Barrachin all-in for his last 27,400. Barrachin called it off.

Speranza showed A♦J♥ and Barrachin wanted to muck before heading home. But they had to turn them over--the rules for a called all-in bet--and his pocket nines seemed especially pitiful.

Speranza will now look to build further over the coming level and a bit to threaten the overall chip-lead for the day. --HS

10:20pm: Nedelcu eliminates Esses
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Narcis-Gabriel Nedelcu of Romania has been chipping up steadily today, and he just grabbed some more after taking the last chips from Habib Esses to lessen the field by one.

Nedelcu is up to 115,000 now. --MH

10:15pm: Kossler smashes Nakache
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Patrick Nakache's tournament is over after he got his last chips in with K♣T♠ versus the A♦Q♠ of Florian Kossler. The board fell Q♦Q♣7♥T♣4♦, and Nakache was already up and out of his seat before the last couple of community cards had hit.

Kossler has 32,000. --MH

10:10pm: Paul to the rescue
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Harry Lodge has got a new friend named Paul. "Thanks Paul," Lodge said at the end of a recent pot, and his gratitude was well placed.

Lodge had the last of his chips in the middle--it looked to be about 10,000--with K♣J♣ and Robert Stanev gave him a spin. Stanev had K♦Q♦.

Paul, of course, was the dealer, who kept Lodge in it with a 6♣9♦5♠7♦8♣ run-out. --HS

10:05pm: Cheery nighttime entrance
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu walked into the tournament with more energy than you'd expect from most people at 10pm. He came jaunting into the room, talking and laughing with players on his way to the table.

He joked that we was all-in while he was taking his seat. Then he filled his table with questions and smiles.

"Anybody limping?" Negreanu asked. Then he asked some players if they were good at poker. After that, Negreanu asked the dealer if the blinds were 600 or 6 million (it's 600 in case you were wondering). Negreanu also asked Andreas Hoivold if he'd married anybody recently (the answer to that was no in case you were wondering).

Then he sang.

"I wear sunglasses at night...to hide my eyes from the rest of the table," Negreanu sang slightly offkey to a player wearing sunglasses at his table. We're not sure if Negreanu wrote those lyrics himself, but if he didn't, we've yet to find the original composers. --AV

10pm: Jerome and Jerome
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

In the battle of the Jerome's only one could triumph and it was Jerome Brion who came out on top against Jerome Sgorrano. The former raised it up to 1,200 from the button and Sgorrano then three-bet to 4,100 from the big blind. Brion had just over 16,000 behind and he elected to flat call.

The flop fell T♠J♠8♣ and Sgorrano went into the tank. It was one of those blank starring tanks where you wonder if the player realises the action is on him. Evidently Sgorrano did because he eventually fired out a bet of 4,000. Brion didn't need long to decide that he was all-in for his final 12,200 and Sgorrano swiftly called it off.

Sgorrano: A♠K♦
Brion: K♠Q♠

Sgorrano was ahead, but Brion had an open-ended straight flush draw, but he couldn't make a royal flush as Sgorrano held the A♠. This was pretty close to a coin-flip though with Sgorrano a 50%/49% favourite with a 1% chance of a split. The 3♦ turn was a blank but the 9♥ river filled Brion's straight. He doubled to around 34,000 while Sgorrano was left with just 9,000. --NW

9:55pm: By George!
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

The dubious honour of table short-stack just swung from Christopher George to Patrick Nakache after both found big pairs but only one could win.

Nakache got the ball rolling with a raise to 1,500 from early position. Luc Greenwood, recently re-located to Nakache's left, three-bet to 4,400 but then George pushed from the big blind. He had 9,600 in his stack.

Nakache re-shoved for about 10,000 more and all the action persuaded Greenwood to bin whatever he had.

On their backs:

Nakache: T♦T♣
George: Q♠Q♣

The queens held through a board of 5♥3♠7♠9♣A♦ and George doubled, with the added sweetener of Greenwood's three-betting chips. It left Nakache shorter now. --HS

9:50pm: The look of a champion
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Among the post-dinner arrivals is John Juanda, winner of five WSOP bracelets and the EPT12 Barcelona Main Event. He took his assigned seat to the left of Vasyl Zabrodskyy, and when the Ukrainian writer recognized him he immediately dug out his iPad to snap a photo of the two of them.

Juanda obliged, and Zabrodskyy chuckled while pointing around the table that he hadn't taken anyone else's photos. "Only champion!" he said.

"They are all champions, too," Juanda said with a smile as he sat back in his seat. "I am just a journalist," said Zabrodskyy while shaking his head. We are still believing him when he says that, despite the fact that he does sport the biggest stack at the table with 126,000.

Meanwhile the button was to Juanda's right, and he saw the dealer look his way.

"I will just sit and watch this one," Juanda said, jokingly referencing the fact that he was going to have to wait for the button to pass him. "I'll get an idea about them for a hand and then I'll play."

The dealer grinned.

"I didn't say a word," she said. "Because you you look like someone who knew." --MH

9:45pm: Shoving stacks
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Players sometimes use the dinner break to come up with new strategies. Or, more accurately, they use it to reinforce what they already know.

In the case of Allan Dyrstad and Arsenii Karmatckii, they knew that with 20 big blind stacks, they were looking to three-bet shove. Fortunately, they both found hands to execute their plans.

First up, Simonet Stephane opened to 1,300 from early position and Karmatckii moved all-in for 12,000. Action passed to Stephane, and he quickly folded. Job done. Another few blinds.

On a neighbouring table, Demosthenes Kiriopoulos opened to 1,300 from the hijack and Dyrstad shipped for 13,500 from the button. Kiriopoulos called, but there was no harm done. The two hands were A♠K♥ and A♥K♠ and a rainbow flop secured a chop.

There will likely be a load of bust-outs in the coming hour or so. --HS

9:40pm: Post dinner additions
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

The post-dinner level is usually known for a litany of bustouts. Well-fed players are hungry for chips and short stacks risk it all for a chance to end the day strong. While there are several all ins across the tournament, there are also a few new additions.

Ivan Luca, Argentina's first WSOP bracelet winner has taken a seat and so has John Juanda, who's nearing the $20 million mark in live tournament earnings. There are bound to be a few more entries since players can register until the start of tomorrow.

9:35pm: Dinner delays
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

For the players at table 24 this has temporarily turned into a 4-max tournament. There are eight stacks at the table but half of the participants were late back from dinner. While that lasts it'll create an interesting dynamic. --NW

9:30pm: We're back
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Hopefully the players have returned from dinner refreshed and ready to focus, and not full up and lethargic. They've got two more 75-minute levels before they'll call it a night. --JS

8:10pm: Counts at dinner
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

With about five minutes on the clock until players head off for their 75-minute dinner break, here's a list of significant chip counts. We call this list the "big stacks and notables" but the man at the very top is in the intersection of the Venn diagram.

patrik_antonius_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Patrik Antonius: Enjoy your dinner

Patrik Antonius - 210,000
Hannes Speiser - 116,500
Raffaele Sorrentino - 116,000
Aleksei Istomin - 103,500
Bruno Lopez - 97,000
Markus Durnegger - 98,000
Geoffroy Combette - 93,000
Andreas Klatt - 87,000
Sebastian Malec - 81,000
Liv Boeree - 88,000
Andreas Hoivold - 78,000
Gilbert Diaz - 76,000
James Mitchell - 72,000
Alexandru Papazian - 77,000
Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier - 65,000
Antoine Saout - 65,000
Alexandros Kolonias - 60,000
Tom Hall - 60,000
Louis Salter - 53,000
Felipe Ramos - 50,000
Adrian Allain - 59,000
Jan Bendik - 58,000
Faraz Jaka - 57,000
Davidi Kitai - 48,000
Alex Luneau - 46,000
Ben Pollak - 44,000
Thomas Muehloecker - 44,000
Philipp Gruissem - 37,000
Kenny Haellart - 30,000
Victoria Coren Mitchell - 22,000
Mikita Badziakouski - 21,000
Maria Konnikova - 19,000
Benny Glaser - 13,000
Luc Greenwood - 9,000

davidi_kitai_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Davidi Kitai: Holding firm with 48,000


8pm: Vidal shove causes consternation for Castaignon
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

You arrive at a table and there's a big preflop something or other happening. You got there late, but from the looks of things there has been a five-bet jam with a second player now deep in the tank.

You look a little more closely. That's Remi Castaignon on the button, winner of the EPT9 Deauville Main Event, and it appears he must have raised preflop, probably an open, then Nicolas Fuentes Vidal in the small blind probably three-bet him. Now Castaignon has 7,900 in front of him -- that's a four-bet, you guess -- and Vidal has shoved all in for 43,575 total.

Castaignon is thinking. Rechecking his cards. Clenching his fist. What could Vidal have? (He thinks.) Someone calls the clock....

What do you think Vidal could have?

Castaignon finally folded, and Vidal let us all know the answer to the question of his hand -- T♣T♥.

Vidal has about 54,000 now and Castaignon 70,000. --MH

7:55pm: Done and dusted
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Guillaume Darcourt is among the latest casualties in this Main Event. Among the other players left potless are: Ami Barer, Lucien Cohen, Dani Parlafes, Ekrem Sanioglu, Jean Pierre Besancon, Beate Deisboeck, Maxim Colom, Kamel Marzouk, Dieter Albrecht and Sebastien Garrasi. --NW

7:50pm: Pentima is sent Saout
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Picking up the action on a J♦8♦T♠ flop, Antoine Saout had checked it to his opponent, Miguel Pentima, who then came in for a 2,000 bet. Saout check-raised it up to 8,500, Pentima jammed for around 34,000, and Saout couldn't have called quicker.

Pentima - T♥T♦
Saout - Q♣9♣

A bit of a cooler, then. Pentima had flopped a set but was behind Saout's straight, and the 9♥ turn and 7♠ river didn't see the board pair. He hit the rail, and when those chips were added to Saout's stack it brought his amount up to 85,500. --JS

7:45pm: Boeree bullies Tomovic
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree is making the most of her late registration - she has already climbed to over 80,000 from a starting stack of 30,000 after raking a recent pot from Aleksandar Tomovic.

Boeree brought it in for a preflop raise to 1,400 and Tomovic defended his big blind before a flop of Q♥K♠6♥. Tomovic checked it over to Boeree and she continued for 1,200. Tomovic called and the 9♣ arrived on the turn.

Another check-call from Tomovic - this time for 3,800 - prompted the dealer to reveal the T♠ river card. A final check from Tomovic was met with unrelenting aggression from Boeree who fired again for 8,700.

Tomovic was torn over the decision and went deep into the tank. He and Boeree exchanged words but unsurprisingly the conversation was drowned out by Sam Grafton yelling about a hand on the nearby televised cash table.

After three minutes Tomovic surrendered his hand and told Boeree that he'd folded two pair. Boeree gave him nothing but a nod as she collected the chips and knocked Tomovic down to 50,500. -- BK

7:40pm: Diamonds are for scaring
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Davidi Kitai opened to 1,200 from under the gun and Ionut Bodogai called from Kitai's left. Dieter Albrecht called as well and so did Vasyl Zabrodskyy. There was a 3♦8♥2♦flop and Kitai bet 2,600. Bodogai folded, but the other two players called.

A 4♦ came on the turn and the third diamond might've spooked players. The three of them checked and a K♠ completed the board. All three players checked again and Kitai was the first to show: 5♥4♥.

Fours were better than Albrecht's A♠Q♣, but it was no match for Zabrodskyy's 9♣8♦. Zabrodskyy won the pot while Kitai dipped to 24,000. --AV

7:35pm: Torbey KOs Khoury
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Jacques Torbey just took out Mazin Khoury, his ace-king besting the latter's ace-ten. That puts Torbey up to 90,000, which is a nice place to be halfway through Level 6.

Of course, anyone with a seat still is in a better place, relatively speaking, than those who are not. The big board says 460 have chosen to play Day 1B (so far), with 352 of them still here. --MH

7:30pm: Two hands from table 13
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Both Sebastian Malec and Antoine Saout know the thrill of going deep in a big tournament. Malec, of course, won EPT13 Barcelona, while Saout finished third in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. This correspondent happened to watch that final table live and most observers were of the opinion that Saout played the best of all the players at that final table.

Those two have been at the same table here too and they just played a couple of pots together. In the first Saout raised from under the gun and picked up three callers, Malec and both blinds. So it was four to a flop.

The dealer fanned 3♥2♣9♥ and Saout went for a c-bet. He fired out 2,100 and Malec called. Luiz Duarte was next to act and he wasn't calling. He was raising. He made it 8,000 to play and three folds followed and he won the pot.

sebastian_malec_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Sebastian Malec: Barcelona champ on the hunt again

On the next shuffle it was Malec's turn to take the role of the aggressor. He opened to 1,150 from middle position, Aya Kagawa called out of the small blind and Saout did likewise from the big blind.

The action checked through on the T♥2♥A♥9♥ flop and turn and Saout then took a stab at the pot on the 8♠ river. Both of his opponents folded and the Frenchman collected the spoils. --NW

7:25pm: The Golden State Warriors.
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

As an NBA fan, I couldn't help but notice that there were two players out in the remaining field wearing Golden State Warriors jerseys. So let's say that Douglas Souza (who sits with 75,000) is our Steph Curry and Felipo Gandini (18,500) is our Kevin Durant, that means we still needed to find a Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala to round out the starting five.

Trust me when I say I looked all over this tournament room (even up to the cash game being filmed to see if Jake Cody was wearing a Golden State cap) but I found no other Warrior merchandise. The "Golden State Warriors line up dream blog post" had died.

And then it got worse. Kevin Durant busted.

Or should I say that Felipo Gandini busted. After Markus Durnegger opened to 900 (this was at the bitter end of the previous level), Gandini three-bet to 2,200 in the cutoff and it folded back to the original raiser. He then four-bet to 5,500, and Gandini just called.

The two saw a 9♦7♣A♥ flop and Durnegger continued for 3,000, which Gandini called to take them to a 6♦ turn. This time both checked.

When the K♥ was laid on the river, Durnegger had a think before slamming down a large stack of blue 5K chips. Gandini only had 9,950 behind, and he went into the tank. After a minute or so of him talking to himself, he made the call.

Durnegger turned over the K♦K♣ for a rivered set of kings, a brutal sight for Gandini who had the A♦2♥ and had the lead until fifth street. Durant, I mean Gandini left, and Durnegger stacked up 90,000.

There's just one Warrior remaining now. No pressure, Douglas Souza, but the entire Bay area is now counting on you. --JS

7:20pm: Antonius on the up
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

This hand took place at the end of the last level.

Patrik Antonius just scooped a huge pot to send Nikolaus Teichert packing and leave Hicham Moussa slightly tilted.

There was a lot of action, so bear with us.

After an under-the-gun raise picked up Artan Dedusha, Antonius and Moussa, Teichert then squeezed to 3,600 from the big blind. The initial raiser folded but the rest of the active players stuck around the flop fell A♣K♣3♥.

It checked over to Dedusha and he led at it for 8,000. Antonius made the call, Moussa called from the small blind, and then Teichert ripped it all in for 33,375. Dedusha dropped out but Antonius moved all in over the top.

Moussa didn't look impressed and he reluctantly folded before the cards went on their backs.

Teichert: A♦Q♣
Antonius: A♠3♠

Antonius had the lead with top and bottom pairs and they'd prove good enough when the T♦ turn and 6♣ river were safe. Moussa slammed the table at the sight of the river and revealed that he'd folded J♣T♣ which would've been good to rake the sizable pot.

As it stands, however, Antonius was the major benefactor - shooting up to 155,000 - while Teichert's tournament comes to an end. -- BK

7:15pm: When you're hot, you're hot
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Andreas Klatt today won the National Championship here in Monte Carlo, beating a field of 1,252 to win €151,445. And when you're hot, you're hot. He hopped into the Main Event and turned his 30,000 starting stack into 80,000 within an hour.

andreas_klatt_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Andreas Klatt: From winner's picture to Main Event

He won about 25,000 of those with aces versus kings, then he five-bet jammed ace-king and his opponent folded. So he may not be done at the cashout desk yet this week. -- HS

7:10pm: Showing aces
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

The cards being dealt, players in early position began to fold when a card accidentally tumbled a little too excitedly on its journey from player to dealer.

What was that... a black ace? Indeed, it was. The dealer showed the A♣ to all. "Ace of clubs exposed," he intoned, and all took note.

When the action reached Radoslav Stoyanov in the cutoff seat he raised and got one caller in Bassel Moussa from one seat over. The flop fell 8♠5♦K♥, Stoyanov bet, and Moussa folded. Stoyanov then couldn't resist showing one of his cards... it was the other black ace -- A♠.

The dealer pushed Stoyanov the chips as the table chuckled. Both he and Stoyanov and Moussa are at around 35,000. --MH

7:05pm: Level 6 begins
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

They say poker is a partial information game, but the title of this post and its significance couldn't possibly be more clear. --MH

7:03pm: Big stack for Sorrentino
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Geani Cosmeleata, Oystein Christensen and Raffaele Sorrentino were faced with a 7♥5♠3♠ flop in a raised pot and action checked to Christensen. Christensen bet 2,200 from the button, Sorrentino called from the big blind and Cosmeleata folded from the hijack.

A 3♣ came on the turn and Christensen bet again, this time he upped it to 4,200. Sorrentino called again and an 8♠ completed the board. Both players slowed down to a check and Sorrentino tabled 7♦5♦.

Christensen mucked and two-pair was good enough to take down the pot. Sorrentino raked in the chips and is now one of larger stacks of the tournament with 160,000. --AV

7pm: Pertea folds queens pre
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

There must have been some pre-flop action prior to Francesco Favia's button raise to 3,800, though we won't pretend to know what it was. In any case, Kirill Ivanov re-raised from the small blind to 8,100 and got a call from Marius-Catalin Pertea in the BB.

Action back on Favia, he made a big re-raise to about 32,000 -- a bet that nearly represented everything he had left. That led to a not-so-difficult decision by Ivanov to fold, but a harder one from Pertea who with some agitation let his hand go, but showed his cards as he did -- Q♦Q♠.

Ivanov has 60,000, Favia about 55,000, and after that tough fold Pertea keeps his 37,000. --MH

6:55pm: Moussa unsure but bests Dedusha
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Hicham Moussa wasn't sure he had the best hand and you can see why. He'd bet 7,500 on the river into a pot of 24,000. The board was 2♠4♠5♦5♥Q♣ and Artan Dedusha tank called. Moussa was reluctant to show his hand. Was he bluffing? Maybe. Well he might have turned his hand into a bluff because he held 6♥4♥.

Dedusha nodded and said: "You're good," and mucked his hand. --NW

6:50pm: Ramos's revenge
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Remember when Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos folded pocket aces face up earlier on? Well, he's just pulled back a few chips from the man who won that hand.

The board showed the 5♥Q♣9♠3♣K♠ and Viacheslav Goryachev had bet 5,000. Ramos then announced all in with the bigger stack, giving Goryachev a decision for his remaining 28,400. He'd eventually fold though, and Ramos stacked up 65,000. Several members of his table then started trying to guess what the Brazilian had, but to no avail. --JS

6:46pm: More for Muehloecker
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Masbah Ben Baba raised to 1,050 from early position and Thomas Muehloecker called from middle position. Andreas Hoivold was on the button and called as well. The blinds decided to do the same and five players saw the 4♠5♦T♥ flop.

Aleksandrs Golubevs checked from the small blind and Mudasser Hussain did the same from the big blind.

Baba bet 2,500, Muehloecker called and Hoivold folded. Both blinds called again and that made it four players to the turn, which was a K♣. All four players checked that one and a 6♠ completed the board. Action checked to Baba and he upped the bet to 7,500. It was too much for the blinds, but Muehloecker, who only had 11,600, called for most of his chips.

Baba showed A♥5♠ for a pair of fives and then Muehloecker showed the winning hand with A♦T♦. The large multiway pot actually doubled Muehloecker up to 33,000. --AV

6:45pm: Antonius feeling fine
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The massage was almost over for Patrik Antonius. The massage therapist stood behind him, chopping her hands against his left shoulder rapidly as he tossed out a raise to 1,200 from under the gun.

Gustavo Lopes called from the next seat over, as did Hicham Moussa from middle position. It folded around to Artan Dedusha in the big blind who called as well, and the dealer spread a flop of 7♠6♣3♠.

It checked to Lopes who bet 2,200, forcing a fold from Moussa. Dedusha gestured to see what Lopes had behind, and the latter raised his arm to show about 12,000. Dedusha called, then Antonius raised to 8,500 before turning around to pay the masseuse.

Lopes tossed his cards away, and with a wary look Dedusha called.

Both checked the 4♥ turn card, then Dedusha pushed out 9,800 after the 8♦ completed the board.

Antonius always looks relaxed, though perhaps seemed even more so in this spot post-massage. His hand probably added to his content as he made the call, then heard Dedusha say "I lose" when he turned over his 9♠8♣ for a pair of eights.

Dedusha had deduced correctly, as Antonius showed Q♥Q♣ and claimed the pot. He's down a few Euros due the massage, but up to 78,000 chip-wise while Dedusha has 58,000. --MH

6:40pm: Hall or nothing
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

After getting lucky to bust Raffaele Carnevale earlier, Tom Hall has been moving his stack in the right direction. He just added a few more chips in this last hand.

On a 8♦4♠4♥T♣7♥ board, Christopher Chaudy checked it and Hall slid out 30,000 (there was already a chunk out there), enough to put his opponent all-in. Chaudy was in the tank for quite a while before making what looked to be a painful fold.

"Aces?" he asked. Hall didn't reply, keeping the bluff suspicions alive. He's up to 72,000 now. --JS

6:35pm: Lubenets lifts
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Rinat Bogdanov was the initial instigator in a recent four-way pot. He opened to 900 pre-flop before Valerii Lubenets made the call. The action folded to Philippe Gellman on the button and he three-bet to 2,400, before Jerome Sgorrano cold-called on the button and both Bogdanov and Lubenets flicked in the remainder.

The flop came down 9♥4♥2♦ and, after three checks, Sgorrano fired at it for 3,400. Bogdanov folded, Lubenets called and Gellman threw his hand away before the K♣ was turned up. Both remaining players checked it to the A♦ river and again checks were seen on the end.

Lubenets revealed K♥T♥ for a flopped flush draw that improved to a pair on the turn and that was evidently enough as Sgorrano proceeded to nod, wince, and muck.

Lubenets builds to 52,500 while Sgorrano slides back to 25,200. -- BK

6:30pm: Zero sum game
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

We're beginning to see starting stacks getting turned into big stacks. But that can't happen unless some starting stacks turn into zero. Among the players who have been evicted from their tables so far are: Joseph Mouawad, Conor Beresford, Raffaele Carnevale, Ryan Riess, Michel Abecassis, Boris Kuzmanovic, Carsten Jeppesen, Paul Newey and Eric Sfez.

Of today's 454 entrants, 395 remain. --NW

6:25pm: Wheeler takes from Lampropulos
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Jason Wheeler may have just finished 14th in the PokerStars National Championship, but Maria Lampropulos's latest score eclipses just about everyone'ss (except Bryn Kenney's and Viacheslav Buldygin's). Lampropulos took down £1 million just a week or so ago after winning a huge tournament in Nottingham.

jason_wheeler_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Jason Wheeler: Getting the best of the new millionaire

Despite recent successes, it was Wheeler who just got the best of this match-up. He opened to 1,000 in the cutoff which the button called, and Lampropulos defended her big blind to see the K♦5♦6♣ flop. It checked to Wheeler who continued for 1,800, and only Lampropulos called.

On the Q♠ turn, Lampropulos check-called 3,200, taking them to the 8♥ river. Lampropulos thought for over a minute before she very carefully tapped the table, but there'd no be halting from Wheeler. He continued his aggression with a bet of 6,000, and after another minute Lampropulos laid it down.

maria_lampropulos_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Maria Lampropulos: The millionaire in question

Lampropulos now has 23,000, while Wheeler is up to 66,000. --JS

6:20pm: Guerra gets Couliered
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The Belgian Arne Coulier has knocked out Cristiano Guerra of Slovenia here in Level 5. The latter put it all in with A♦Q♦ versus Coulier's J♣J♥, but the K♣7♥7♣3♠2♥ board was uncooperative and Guerra is gone.

Coulier is stacking about 50,000. --MH

6:15pm: Briotti building
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Liam Grose kicked things off with a raise to 825 and after the button made the call, David Urban did the same from the small blind. Tommaso Briotti had other ideas, however, squeezing to 3,900 from the big blind.

Grose gave it up and the button mucked his hand but Urban decided to make the call. The flop fell T♣A♦K♠ and Urban checked it over to Briotti who continued for 3,500. Urban decided to take a card off and the dealer turned the 3♣.

It was then checked through once and again on the T♠ river with Urban optimistically tabling 9♥9♦ only to be outdone by Briotti's K♦J♠.

With that pot Briotti builds to 42,000 while Urban is still far from danger on 49,500. -- BK

6:10pm: Back with Boeree
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Players keep on rolling in.

One of the newest additions to the tournament is Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree. Boeree has been in Monte Carlo for some time, but she's been busy with other Monte-Carlean adventures. Yesterday Boeree was playing in the new televised cash game along with Kevin Hart and starred in a few of the celebrity's Snapchats.


Ready to embark on your own poker adventure? Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

That was a small affair though, just one table. Now Boeree has joined the hundreds of runners hoping to take down the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® title. It would be a nice trophy to set next to her EPT Sanremo one. --AV

liv_boeree_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Liv Boeree: Back in action

6:05pm: Manquant down
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Ricardo Manquant of France was a late arriver today, but an early exiter after an all-in confrontation with the U.K.'s Simon Taberham.

Manquant had the pre-flop edge with A♦8♠ versus Taberham's Q♥T♥. But the 9♥J♦Q♦ flop both hit Taberham's queen and gave the Brit a straight draw. Neither the 6♣ turn nor 4♥ river helped Manquant, and he's out.

Taberham is stacking 48,000 now. --MH

6pm: Hallague ships it
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Yucel Eminoglu isn't living up to his nickname today. He's less Mad Turk and more Gentile Turk as evidenced in a recent hand. In the pot in question it was Yves Hallague who started the action. Hallague opened to 1,200 from late position, Rafael Moraes called on the button and Eminoglu then three-bet to 5,100. Hallague was the only caller.

yucel_eminoglu_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Yucel Eminoglu: Not so mad Turk

Before the flop came down Eminoglu said to Hallague, "How much you got? About 10?" Hallague nodded and looked on as the dealer fanned a 4♥6♦Q♦ flop. Eminoglu checked and Hallague shoved for 9,650. There were no histrionics, no table talk and no fuss from Eminoglu. He just instantly mucked his cards. Pot to Hallague. --NW

5:55pm: All the fives
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

On the stroke of 5:55pm, Level 5 begins. -- HS
5:40pm: Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Level 4 is done, and it's break time again. Take 20, everyone, and we'll meet back here after for more cards and conversation. --MH

5:35pm: Mykhaylyuta can't believe it
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25)

Albert Mykhaylyuta stood up and threw his cards angrily onto the table, all but ripping them in the process. He'd just called an all-in from Raffaele Sorrentino and my spidey senses told me that he hadn't won the hand.

There was a complete Q♦8♣9♣9♥3♣ board on the felt and I'd caught the river action live. Mykhaylyuta had bet 8,000 into a pot of 17,500 and Sorrentino had shoved for 21,550. Mykhaylyuta took about 20 seconds to call and it was then that he saw the bad news. Sorrentino had Q♥Q♠ for a full house and it meant Mykhaylyuta, who held A♣7♣, had the second-best hand.

Mykhaylyuta's down to 45,000 while Sorrentino soars to 61,000 as Level 4 comes to a close. --NW

5:32pm: Antonius' room
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Earlier this week, Monaco resident Patrik Antonius announced that was currently in talks to set up a new high stakes poker room right here in the country he calls home. But while that project is still in the works, he's settling for the (frankly amazing) Salle des Etoiles here at the Monte Carlo Casino.

He was on 29,500 when we last grabbed chip counts, but he must have lost a few. Since then, he's doubled up his stack, and now sits with 41,000.

Make that 40,200 actually. He just opened to 800, but folded when Hicham Moussa three-bet to 2,200. --JS

5:30pm: The Riddle of the Ukrainian journalist
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

We haven't yet actually witnessed poker headline-writer's nirvana, when the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Main Event champion sits at the same table as player S319 in this tournament today. Doyle Brunson is the former, as you well know, but S319 is a regular European tournament grinder named Arthur Conan. You figure the rest out.

For all his namesake's chops as a weaver of intricate and dastardly plots, the poker-playing Arthur Conan couldn't figure out the mystery that is Vasyl Zabrodskyy in a recent pot. Zabrodskyy actually could have stepped straight out of Victorian London, with toothbrush moustache, grey mop of hair and silk scarf wrapped around his neck that he shifts over his mouth as situation demands. He may as well be called Moriarty.

This pot began with Conan opening to 700 from mid-position and Arseniy Meshcheryakov calling in the cutoff. Zabrodskyy called in the big blind and Conan, who is from France, was now up against a Russian (Meshcheryakov) and a Ukrainian (Zabrodskyy). The plot thickened.

The flop brought the 3♣4♦2♥ and Zabrodskyy checked. Conan bet 900 and Meshcheryakov folded, but Zabrodskyy called.

The turn brought the 5♥ and Zabrodskyy now led 1,200 at it. Conan furrowed his brow but called, leading to the 9♣ on the river.

Zabrodskyy led again, this time committing all the pink chips in his possession, totalling 5,000.

With more furrowing, Conan called again. Zabrodskyy gleefully turned over 6♦7♦ for the nuts, and then told the table how much he had been praying for Conan to be sitting with ace-six. He never found out as Conan mucked.

Zabrodskyy is a hugely animated guy, and wanted to tell me that he wasn't a professional player. "I'm a journalist," he said and then brought up a clip on YouTube that showed him on Ukrainian television talking about politics.

For all that -- and it's clearly true, I watched a bit of the clip -- Zabrodskyy is sitting with 72,000 at the moment, which will be top five in the room. --HS

5:25pm: Catching up with Konnikova
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25)

Andreas Vlachos raised to 650 from middle position and Maria Konnikova three-bet to 2,575 from the hijack. The flop came A♠3♥Q♦ and both players checked. The 7♠ on the turn brought a bit more action. Vlachos bet 2,000, Konnikova called and a 6♠ completed the board.

Vlachos checked again and Konnikova thought. There was something on the board Konnikova didn't like and so she decided to check behind.

Vlachos turned over T♠T♥, but Konnikova tabled a stronger pocket pair with J♥J♦. Konnikova raked in the pot and is fighting her way back to starting stack with about 25,000. --AV


8G2A6474_Maria_Konnikova_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Konnikova collects

5:22pm: Skommo sent home
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25)

Orjan Skommo will be licking his wounds on the rail after pocket aces weren't enough to keep his tournament alive. Skommo got his last 22,000 or so into the middle and was called by William Saad who let out a loud sigh at the sight of the cards.

Skommo: A♠A♦
Saad: K♣K♦

Saad's tune would quickly change as a king in the window on the 6♠7♠K♠ flop saw him take the lead. Skommo still had outs to an ace or a spade, but the deck wouldn't oblige as the 9♣ turn and 5♥ river bricked off to seal his fate.

It was the end of the line for Skommo but Saad now has 67,000 in chips to play with. -- BK

5:20pm: "Cacho" earns his Korn
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 25)

From middle position Andres "Cacho" Korn raised to 700. He was called in one spot, then Sebastien Compte, who was in position, three-bet to 2,100. Korn was the only caller. On a J♠2♦5♥ flop Korn checked, Compte bet 1,600 and Korn make a quick call.

The 9♦ fell on fourth street and again Korn checked. Compte would bet again, too. He fired out 2,500 and Korn swiftly flicked a single 5K chip into the middle to indicate a call. It happened very fast and in a way that suggested that Korn wasn't going anywhere on the river. Perhaps Compte felt this, too, as both players checked the 8♣ that completed the board.

Korn showed A♥J♥ for top pair, top kicker and he took the pot. He's up to 36,000 and Compte is down to 23,575. --NW

5:15pm: Hall gets there
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Poker bloggers who rely on cheap puns to get people to read their posts tend to get chastised by their colleagues, so you won't find any groan-inducing punnage here. No sirree, Bob. All you'll find is good, solid poker reporting.

In this hand, there was a 2♦T♠6♣ flop on board and two players checked it to PokerStars Team Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. He came in for a bet of 1,400, which was called by Tom Hall. One of the checkers folded, before the other -- Raffaele Carnevale -- check-raised all in for 7,850 total. That shook off ElkY, but after a little think, Hall made the call.

Carnevale - J♠J♣
Hall - A♦T♥

He might have had top pair, but Hall was behind as Carnevale had the overpair to the board. He'd soon fall behind though, as the turn brought the A♥. The 8♣ completed the board, and with two pair Hall secured the bust out.

He's up to 59,300 now, and with so many chips you might say Tom's in it for the long...

...the long....

He's going to be around a while. --JS

5:10pm: Herzali hits Soltanov
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Three players all in a row were active by the turn with the board reading 4♥Q♥3♦3♥. Boris Kuzmanovic checked his option from the hijack, Sarah Herzali did the same from the cutoff, and Mikhail Soltanov made it 4,500 to go from the button.

That was too much for Kuzmanovic, but Herzali stuck around to see the 5♠ river. Herzali checked it once more and Soltanov took a final stab at it, firing for 7,500 after a minute's deliberation.

It took Herzali two minutes of her own to make the correct decision as she called with T♥7♥ for a flush, way the best of it versus Soltanov's A♠8♣ -- also known as absolutely nothing.

Herzali increases her stack to 48,000 while Soltanov is knocked back to just above starting stack with 32,000. -- BK

5:05pm: Assorted chip counts
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

We've just done chip sweep of the main tournament room and the cash game area and this is how some of the names and notables are getting on:

christopher_frank_psc_monte_carlo.jpg

Christopher Frank

Christopher Frank - 66,000
Louis Salter - 57,000
Alex Luneau - 51,400
Tom Hall - 47,500
Benny Glaser - 40,200
Dany Parfales - 39,900
Alexandros Kolonias - 39,000
Ludovic Geilich - 38,500
Morten Mortensen - 38,000
Ami Barer - 37,000
Jan Bendik - 36,500
Andreas Hoivold - 35,200
Jose 'Nacho' Barbero - 35,000
Ryan Reiss - 33,000
Alexandru Papazian - 33,000
Dan Wilson - 31,000
Betrand "ElkY" Grospellier - 30,700


8G2A6639_Elky_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

ElkY still around the starting stack, looking up the leaderboard

Patrik Antonius - 29,500
Jason Wheeler - 28,500
Dermot Blain - 27,500
Luc Greenwood - 27,200
Rocco Palumbo - 26,200
Artur Koren - 26,000
Walter Treccarichi - 25,600
Antoine Saout - 25,400
Dmitry Yurasov - 24,800
Sebastian Malec - 24,000
Victoria Coren Mitchell - 22,200
Paul Newey - 21,500
Davidi Kitai - 20,800
Thomas Muehloecker - 18,100
Faraz Jaka - 15,675

5pm: Another Ramos dip
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos raised to 800 and Xavier Rouayroux called from the big blind. The flop came K♦K♠4♠ and Ramos bet 1,000 when checked to. Rouayroux called and a 7♣ came on the turn.

Bothplayers checked that card and a 4♣ completed the board. This time Rouayroux bet 1,600 and Ramos thought. After about a minute the Team Pro called but then mucked when Rouayroux turned over 8♦8♥. Ramos was left with about 34,000 while Rouayroux's stack grew to 65,000. --AV

4:55pm: Aspas savages Aris
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

If you are expecting the birth of a child soon, toss away the book of baby names. Call it Roar.

I can't say I've ever encountered anybody called Roar before. But now I have -- playing this PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® -- and I can't think of any name I'd rather call a child. That applies to boy or girl.

This particular Roar is Roar Aspas, from Norway. He just knocked out France's Christian Aris in a fairly standard spot to boost his stack to 42,000.

Gavin O'Rourke started things with a raise to 800 from middle position. Aris moved all-in for 9,650 from the cutoff and Aspas called on the button. That call persuaded O'Rourke to let it go.

Aris: 7♣7♠
Aspas: K♠K♥

There was nothing dramatic on a 4♥4♠A♦6♣4♣ board. Aris left the table while Aspas collected his chips with a... with one of these.

4:45pm: Good call for Galtos
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Nicholas Galtos just spent what probably seemed like an eternity in torment, but ultimately he made the right call for a big pot. Armando Collado Lanuza was the man causing Galtos trouble as we found out on the river on a board of 8♠Q♥Q♠5♠T♦.

Lanuza had bombed it for right around pot with a bet of 11,700 which evidently baffled Galtos. It was then time for Galtos to enter a hell of indecision.

"Pocket tens?" questioned Galtos aloud after two minutes of talking to himself inaudibly. "It doesn't make sense," he continued.

Players are often not particularly happy when the clock is called on them, but after another two minutes had passed, Galtos welcomed it -- anything to get him out of the situation quickly. A one-minute countdown began and Galtos stared Lanuza down.

"Should I call? What do you think? I have no idea what I'm doing," Galtos probed.

With around 15 seconds left to act Galtos tossed in calling chips.

"Wow, good call," conceded Lanuza, who sheepishly tabled 3♥3♦.

Galtos had that well and truly covered with A♣Q♦ for three of a kind queens.

The correct call saw Galtos move up to 43,000 while Lanuza's valiant effort went unrewarded -- he drops to 17,500. -- BK

4:40pm: Gandini gathers
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Filippo Gandini is up to around 53,000 after taking on Xixiang Luo.

Luo, from China, is pretty well known in Macau, where he has accumulated most of his nearly $1 million in live tournament winnings. But he also has an EPT final table to his name, achieved in Malta last year.

Gandini may or may not be aware of Luo's reputation, but he certainly didn't believe whatever Luo was representing in the following pot.

Gandini opened to 700 from UTG+1 and got a call from Tony Anderl, his nearest neighbour, then also from Ben Heppinstall on the button. Luo, in the small blind, then pushed up the price to 3,700 in the small blind.

Gandini's quick call persuaded the other two out. They were heads up to the flop of 4♥Q♥Q♣.

Luo led 3,000 at it and Gandini called. But they both slowed on the 4♣ turn, checking for a 3♣ river.

Luo's second check persuaded Gandini to have a stab. He put 6,000 out there and, with a glare, Luo folded. -- HS

4:38pm: Ramos folds pocket aces face up
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

I didn't actually see the pre-flop action, but by the time I saw that Team Pro Felipe Ramos held A♦A♥, it's a pretty safe bet to say that he opened. His only caller was Viacheslav Goryachev, and the two saw an 8♠7♠K♠ flop. Both checked; after all, Ramos had the red aces.

The turn came the 3♦, which was safer for the Brazilian's hand. He led out for 1,150, and Goryachev called. Off to the river.

It came the 6♠, putting four to a flush out on the board. Ramos checked once more, and when Goryachev came in for a 2,600 bet, he had to take a moment to figure him out. Ramos leaned forward and took a look at his opponent, cracking a smile as went. He then turned to the dealer and nodded, as if to say "yep, he's got it."

Ramos folded the pocket aces face up, but Goryachev wasn't willing to show. Ramos sits with 42,000 now. --JS


8G2A6661_Felipe_Ramos_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Felipe finds a fold

4:35pm: Quick drop for Quevedo
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Federico Quevedo is down to just about 3,500 after doubling up Morten Mortensen.

Mortensen had risked it all with 8♥8♣ and Quevedo thought his A♠J♦ would give him the victory. The 4♦8♠2♣7♥4♣ fell heavily in Mortensen's favor, though, and he doubled up to about 40,000 with a full house.

"I still got a chance," Quevedo said after the dealer took away most of his stack.

"I just really wanted to play the €10K PLO," Quevedo added. The table laughed and Quevedo folded the following hand. Apparently he doesn't want to play that PLO just quite yet. --AV

4:32pm: Big names, no chips
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

A combined $7.6 million in lifetime earnings has just exited this tournament.

It's bad news for fans of Anthony Zinno, as the American is one of those who's bitten the dust. He's got over $6.5 million in cashes on his ledger including two WPT wins and one WSOP bracelet. His only victory at a PokerStars tour stop came at EPT12 Malta, when he won a €5,000 pot-limit Omaha event. He's now free to play the side events. There's a €10,000 pot-limit Omaha event that starts tomorrow. My money would be on him making an appearance there.

The other big name player to have busted recently is Josip Simunic. The Austrian player has $1.1 million in cashes to his name. Over 25% of that total was banked when he took down the EPT Deauville High Roller in 2015. He's joined Zinno on the rail and they won't be the last of the big names to fall foul of the poker gods today. --NW

4:30pm: King-high defeated
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

It's getting to that point in the tournament where players are tossing in the last of their chips with king-high, then strolling away in disgust. Well, that's not necessarily a trend, per se, as an isolated incident. But it's exactly what happened to account for the hopes of Nicola Grieco.

Grieco only had 2,300 in his stack just as the big blind went up to 300. He pushed his stack forward, Anil Odemir called behind him and cards were exposed. Grieco had K♠5♦. Odemir had A♠Q♥.

The board ran A♥8♣6♠9♥8♦ and Grieco shoved his chips in Odemir's direction and skulked away, like he'd just been turfed out of a nightclub he never wanted to be in anyway.

Odemir now has about 52,000 so will be staying. -- HS

4:25pm: Double up for Crobu
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

"How much is it?" asked Davor Lanini. A quick glance at the table showed that Andrea Crobu had shoved all in for 15,175 on a 9♠5♠2♥ flop, with around 11,000 in the middle.

Lanini then made the call and flipped the 2♦5♦ for bottom two pair, which trailed Crobu's 9♣9♦ for top set. The turn and river changed nothing, bringing Crobu up to 41,000 and Lanini down to 37,000. --JS

4:20pm: Huber hurts one
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

We may have only arrived at the table to see the river action, but the hand still took several more minutes to play out.

There were two active players and 9♦K♥5♥6♦3♦ was face up in the middle. It had been checked over to Stefan Huber who had moved all in for 33,000. That was enough to cover his opponent's 22,000 and the man with the decision for his tournament life wasn't taking it lightly.

Huber sat stoically as his tablemate in the tank spent several minutes clearly uncomfortable with the predicament. Time was eventually called by another player enduring the wait and a tournament official was hailed over to give a one-minute countdown.

With just three seconds left until his hand was dead Huber's opponent pushed his stack into the middle but soon realized his mistake when Huber flashed 9♠9♣ for a flopped set. The dealer revealed the inferior K♣T♠ and Huber sent his man packing to shoot up to 77,000 in chips. -- BK

4:15pm: Suited three-gapper connects
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

This epidemic of multi-way pots is spreading across the multi-way tournament floor. Previous outbreaks were reported from the main tournament room -- the Salle des Etoiles -- but this one came from the cash-game area.

Turkey's Yucel Eminoglu got it started with a raise to 400 from under the gun. Jean Auberval called in the hijack, Bas De Laat called in the cutoff, Yves Hallague called on the button and Rafael Moraes called in the big blind.

So five players had at least a passing interest in the 8♠8♥6♣ flop, although Moraes quickly checked. Eminoglu bet 700 and both Auberval and De Laat called. Hallague folded and wandered to the bathroom. Moraes folded and looked at an article on his smartphone.

The turn was the 3♥ and Eminoglu checked now. Hallague bet 1,500 and De Laat went into the tank. But his ponderings resulted only in a fold, bringing it back to Eminoglu, who called.

The Q♦ completed the board and Eminoglu checked again. Auberval now bet 3,500 and Eminoglu called.

Auberval had taken a speculative pre-flop punt with Q♣8♣ but it was looking mighty fine now. A full house, in fact. Eminoglu couldn't beat it. He mucked.

Moral of the story: if a lot of people are seeing flops, play your suited three-gappers. -- HS

4:10pm: Kitai-tle chasing
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Yet another high roller regular who has chosen to play the Main Event today instead of the Single Day High Roller is Belgium's very best, Davidi Kitai. Just a couple of weeks ago he was finishing fourth in a high roller at the PokerStars Championship Macau (for $166K), but after playing and busting the €100K earlier this week, he's now got his eyes firmly set on the PokerStars Championship title.

He's on a table with Germany's Christopher Frank, whose biggest career score to date came back in 2013 at EPT9 London where he finished sixth for £112K. You'd be forgiven for missing them, though; their table is crammed over where the cash games usually take place. --JS

4:05pm: Coren comes in
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Vicky Coren has made an appearance at the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®. It's not the first time the former EPT Champion has played here in Monaco, but it's her first appearance in a PSC event. She came in and was directed to a large TV screen to locate her table.

Once she got there, she took out her sunglasses, place them in front of her and folded her first hand at the new table. Then she tried connecting to the internet, but for some reason, the password wasn't working. The table chipped in to try to help her, but it seems like the phone just didn't want to go on.

Coren then asked what the blinds were -- they're 100/200 -- and raised to 425 in her second hand. Georgios Vrakas called from the hijack. Carlos Chang called from the big blind as well, and all three players saw a 2♠T♠8♣ flop. Action checked to Vrakas and he bet 700. Coren folded and Chang called. Both players checked the 4♠ turn and checked again when the 6♥ came on the river.

Chang tabled Q♦9♥ and Vrakas took down the pot with 8♥7♥.

Coren then folded from under the gun and ordered a bottle of water. The wi-fi problems continued when Coren was on the big blind. Chang raised to 475 the following hand and Dimitri Joubert called from the small blind. Coren did the same from the big blind and the three players went to a 8♠T♥A♦ flop. Chang bet 725, Joubert folded and Coren called.

georgios_vrakas_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Georgio Vrakas

"Want me to help you," Chang asked Coren, offering to help her with her wi-fi troubles.

"Let's finish the hand," Coren said.

A 7♦ came on the turn and Chang had another question.

"Will you call me?" Chang said, counting some chips in his stack.

"I don't know," Coren responded. "Depends on how much you bet."

Chang bet 2,000 and that was too much. Coren folded and Chang raked in the pot and also took Coren's phone. Chang, too, was unsuccessful in connecting to the internet.

Isabel Baltazar then raised to 500 the following hand and Coren called from the small blind. Vrakas three-bet to 1,800 from the big blind and it was too much for Coren and she folded.

Her bottle of water then arrived and she folded again from the button the following hand. After her first round PokerStars Championship debut, Coren still has about 28,000. --AV


8G2A6685_Vicky_Coren-Mitchell_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Two-time EPT Main Event champion Vicky Coren Mitchell

4pm: An interesting triumvirate
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Seated together at one of the tables in the cash game area are Jason Wheeler, Ryan Riess and Alexandros Kolonias. You'll find all three rolling high in big buy-in events and it makes for a tough table for the rest of the players seated there.

It's early stages yet, but all three are above starting stack and you sense that if one of them should get a big stack early on then he'll be running the table.


8G2A6625_Ryan_Riess_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Riess not the only beast at the table

While Riess and Kolonias were playing Texas Fold'em during the hands I witnessed, Jason Wheeler did get involved in a pot. He raised it up to 500 from the cutoff and picked up two callers. The Q♥Q♦9♥ flop looked "action-y," but a simple c-bet from Wheeler earned him the pot. --NW

3:55pm: Muehloecker, Sfez and Ben Baba
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Those three names seem entertaining enough for a headline, don't you think? It just rolls off the tongue. There is a hand here, too, though, one in which Thomas Muehloecker just fell right into Eric Sfez's trap. Either that, or he had a genuine hand and made a great fold.

Picking up the action on a 3♣J♥Q♥ flop, Sfez checked from the small blind seat and the wonderfully-named Masbah Ben Baba from France led out for 625 from the cutoff. Muehloecker was on the button and he flatted, as did Sfez.

The dealer then burned and turned the 9♠ and it checked to Muehloecker, who quickly glanced at both of his opponents before checking it back. When the K♣ landed on the river, Sfez checked again, and Ben Baba (I just like writing that name now -- look out for more Masbah Ben Baba hands throughout the day) insta-checked behind him.

Muehloecker tossed in a single blue 5K chip, announcing "sixteen" as did so to indicate a bet of 1,600. Sfez then took his headphones off and asked how much it was, only to then raise it up to 6,600. Ben Baba said Ben Bye-bye, and Muehloecker's decision process began. It took him a minute or so before he decided to make the fold. Did he have a ten for the straight?

Well, if he did and he'd called, he would have still lost. As he raked in the chips, Sfez showed the A♣8♣ for the nut flush. He's up to 29,000 now, while Muehloecker is down to 14,000. --JS

3:50pm: You lead, no you, no you
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Three players were involved in the following hand, and it got through three streets of play. Each of them led the action at various junctures too, but it was the man who was most aggressive latest who prevailed.

Alexandru Papazian, who won the €25,000 High Roller event in this room last year, opened to 600 from UTG+1 and Levan Karamanishvili called from two seats along.

Jan Eric Schwippert also called from the big blind and they saw a low, paired flop. It was 2♣2♦9♦ to be precise. Both Schwippert and Papazian checked and it was Karamanishvili's turn to lead. He bet 900 and both opponents called.

Then the 3♠ appeared on the turn and Schwippert seized the initiative. He bet 2,400 and pre-flop aggressor Papazian quickly folded. Post-flop aggressor Karamanishvili took a little longer, but he folded, too.

Schwippert's post-turn aggression prevailed. -- HS

3:45pm: Duarte takes from Tevis
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The board read 9♣8♣3♥4♠ and Luiz Duarte led out for 2,300 into Vitaly Tevis who was on the button. Tevis decided on a call and the T♦ appeared on the end.

Duarte gave his next move considerable thought before betting another 3,500. It was then Tevis' turn to tank, thinking for around 90 seconds himself, before ultimately relinquishing his hand.

Tevis now has 17,200 at his disposal while Duarte moves up to 41,000. -- BK

3:40pm: Diaz felts Zisimpoulous
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

There was 8,200 already in the middle and a 5♠9♣6♠7♦ board on the felt by the time I arrived at the table. The action was on Georgios Zisimopoulos, and after he moved all-in for 2,375 Gilbert Diaz made the call.

Zisimopoulos held Q♠Q♣ and he was up against Diaz's 5♥4♦. So, the Greek player was ahead but Diaz had a lot of outs. The 3♣ was one of those outs and it sent the talented Zisimopoulos tumbling out of the tournament. Diaz is up to 36,500. --NW

3:35pm: Small-brick builder
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

When a player is sitting with a disproportionate number of the lowest-denomination chips, it's usually a sign that he or she is especially active pre-flop and is picking up a lot of blinds and antes. But given the ante only just came into play, it's a mystery how come Mikhail Soltanov has accumulated so many 25-denomination chips. Perhaps he's just an odd kind of poker numismatist.

Anyhow, Soltanov is not just sitting and admiring his ante collection. He's also betting with it. Just recently he opened pre-flop to 450, all in 25-denomination chips, a bit like the guy at your home game who does that and you all try to send to get the pizza because it's so annoying.

Soltanov was in the cutoff, and Narcis-Gabriel Nedelcu then three-bet from the button to 1,100, perhaps making a point with the use of only two chips. But the pre-flop action was not yet complete. Conor Beresford called in the small blind and then Soltanov then four-bet to 3,250 and dragged back a few of the 25-denomination chips as he did. Nedelcu folded but Beresford called.

Okay, so we could see a flop: 3♣5♠2♥. Beresford checked and Soltanov bet 2,550. Beresford called.

The 4♥ fell on the turn and Beresford checked again. Soltanov now bet 3,525 and, with a deep sigh, Beresford folded. Soltanov continues to build his stack using the smallest bricks. It's worth about 46,000 now. -- HS


NEIL5788_Tournament_Room_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Day 1B continues

3:25pm: Multi-way
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Ruben Stensrod raised to 450 and Morten Mortensen called from the small blind. Federico Queredo called in the big blind, too, and this was an example of a common trend. With the blinds so small still relative to stack sizes, plenty of pots are going multi-way to the flop.

In this particular hand, the three players had to decide their next actions with the K♠T♥8♠ now exposed. Mortensen and Queredo checked and Stensrod bet 800. Only Queredo called.

The 3♠ turn interested nobody, prompting the dealer to show them the 6♠ river. Nope. Not interested either. Stensrod's K♣9♣ was good.

On a neighbouring table, four players contributed equal parts of the 2,600 in the pot as the dealer plonked the J♦7♠9♠ on the table. Henrik Tollefsen, who would have been under the gun pre-flop, bet 1,600 at it, and only Anil Ozdemir, two seats to Tollefsen's left, called.

The Q♣ fell on the turn and Tollefsen needed a bet of 4,200 to shake Ozdemir this time. Ozdemir did indeed fold and Tollefsen picked up a pot of around 5,000, swelled by the family element pre-flop. -- HS

3:20pm: A straighty flushy double-paired board
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Adham Beainy opened from middle position to 500 and got one caller, Martynas Valantiejus in the big blind. They went to a flop which looked a little something like this: T♣8♥8♣. (Okay, it looked exactly like this.)

It checked to the raiser, and Beainy opted to c-bet for 800, which was called. The turn then came the 9♦, adding three to a straight to the board which was already paired and contained a club flush draw. Valantiejus checked once again, and Beainy didn't slow down making it 1,500. Call.

When the 9♣ river landed, well, just about every draw going got there. The straight draws were already there, any nine just filled up, and any club draw was now a flush. Both players checked, though.

Despite the copious draws available, neither were bothered by any of them. Valantiejus turned over the Q♣T♠ for tens and nines, but that was beaten by Beainy's A♦T♥ for tens and nines with the ace kicker. Beainy now has 26,000, and Valantiejus has had the better start to the day, up to around 46,000. --JS

3:15pm: Mitsopoulos makes an exit
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Kyriakos Mitsopoulos was the latest Main Event casualty after a cooler saw his entire stack go to Hannes Speiser.

The pair got all the money in preflop and Mitsopoulos needed a lot of help.

Mitsopoulos: A♠K♥
Speiser: A♥A♣

The T♠5♣4♠ didn't change much, but the K♠ turn was the best card in the deck for Mitsopoulos -- giving him outs to a flush and three of a kind. Unfortunately for Mitsopoulos, the deck refused to save him as the 3♣ arrived on the river to signal the end of his tournament run.

"Thirty-two," Speiser said as the dealer began to count down his stack, and that had Mitsopoulos covered.

Speiser now sits with 57,000 in play. -- BK

3:10pm: Bojang among the busted
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It was a short day for Isamel Bojang, as he's among the players who've been eliminated so far. Joining him on the rail are Sara Nassar, Kyriakos Mitsopoulos, Martin Kus, Emmanuel Terrazzoni, Dimitrios Farmakoulis and Denys Chufarin. --NW

3pm: Back to business
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Players are back from the day's first break and cards are in the air once again. --MH


The road to Monte Carlo starts on PokerStars. Sign up and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

2:40pm: Break time
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

With two levels complete, they're taking their first 20-minute break of the day.

2:36pm: There are worse places to bust...
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Maroun Jazzar, Antonio Scalzi, Vlado Banicevic and Mihails Morozovs are all out. At least they can take solace in the fact that it's a beautiful day outside and they're in a stunning location. --NW

2:35pm: Kings for Aissani
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Mohamed Aissani is stacking some newly-acquired chips after picking up pocket kings but playing it somewhat passively.

Aissani was in the small blind and led for 1,800 on a flop of 4♦4♣J♥. The player on the button was the only other active and he made the call to see the 7♠ arrive on the turn.

Aissani then gave up the betting lead with a check, and called when faced with a bet of 3,300. The Q♣ rolled off on the river and the action was checked through on the end.

Aissani's opponent questioned him about the passive play but smiled as though he knew he would've lost more chips otherwise. Aissani didn't seem too fazed, however, scooping up the pot and building to 39,000. -- BK

2:30pm: An interesting pairing
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Antoine Saout and Sebastian Malec are now seated at the same table, and it's an interesting match up. Saout was just 25 when he made the WSOP Final Table in 2009 finishing third for just shy of $3.5 million, and Malec was only 21 when he took down EPT13 Barcelona last year for more than €1 million. Both became millionaires young, and while Malec is still very much in the early stages of his career, Saout has managed to adapt and evolve to changes in the game over the past decade, and still remains a force in live tournaments. That's the kind of future Malec will be hoping for too.

Or he'll just wish to win this Main Event, become the first player to hold both EPT and Championship titles, and retire a legend. Who knows.

The one hand I saw started with a 400 open from Saout in the hijack, which was then three-bet to 1,100 by the cutoff. The button snap-called, Malec folded his small blind, and the big blind gave it up too.

The flop came K♠8♠4♥, and Saout check-folded to a 2,100 c-bet, as did the button. Both Saout and Malec sit with a little less than the starting stack right now. --JS

2:25pm: Weidner survives
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

I arrived at the table to see Marco Weidner's stack being counted down. He had 5,650 in total and it soon became clear why the dealer was performing this action. The German player had A♦Q♦ face-up in front of him and Xixiang Luo's cards were still exposed too. Luo had Q♣5♣. A quick glance at the T♠Q♥4♠4♥2♣ board made the flop the heavy favourite for when the chips likely went in.

What we can say is that Weidner has doubled up and he's now playing a stack of around 11,500. --NW

2:20pm: Cards with Konnikova
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Maria Konnikova has done a lot of things in her life. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and then got her PhD from Columbia. She specialized in psychology and focused on self-control and decision making.

She's written books like Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and given talks at several conventions. Now Konnikova is trying to take down a PokerStars Championship.


maria_konnikova_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Maria Konnikova: A new chapter

In a recent hand, Konnikova three-bet to 875 after Ivan Glushkov opened to 325 from under the gun. Joseph El Khoury called from the cutoff and all three players saw a 4♥K♠2♠ flop.

Konnikova bet 1,250 when checked to and both players called. The turn brought a T♣ and a 3,300 bet from El Khoury. It was too much for Glushkov and Konnikova and they both folded.

El Khoury, who recently doubled up with aces against deuces, was up to 20,000 while Konnikova dropped to 23,500 after the hand. --AV

2:15pm: A few faces
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Here's a small smattering of images from today's Main Event field:


andrea_rocci_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Andrea Rocci

sara_souhail_nassar_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Sara Souhail Nassar

andreas_hoivold_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Andreas Hoivold

aya_kagawa_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Aya Kagawa

2:15pm: Jaka joins us
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Faraz Jaka has pulled up a seat in today's field after playing in the televised cash game yesterday - and he has wasted no time in accumulating chips.

We caught the tail end of a hand between Jaka and Rony Halimi with the community cards all dealt and showing A♥T♠6♦8♠4♦. The pot looked significant and after Halimi checked it over to Jaka in the big blind, he fired for 6,600.

Halimi let it go before the two of them exchanged smiles.

"You know my hand," confessed Halimi.

"Ace king?" asked Jaka.

"Yeah," came the confirmation.

Jaka collected the chips in the middle and climbed to 36,500 in chips. - BK

2:10pm: Ghassan gets chips
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Ibrahim Ghassan had bet the river, and Nadim Hage Ali wanted to see what hand he held that inspired him to do so with a jack and king and three small cards on the board.

"Can't see without paying," Ghassan said as Ali came up with a call, and the former showed his K-J for two pair and a winner. Ali then showed his hand -- he had A-Q for ace-high -- and Ghassan expressed mock astonishment.

"Ace-queen!" he said, eyebrows raised. Then he smiled. "I need every penny!"

Both Ghassan and Ali are around the starting stack of 30,000. --MH

2:05pm: No rest for Lau
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

The Main Event is just one of 71 tournaments on the schedule at this festival. While it's just getting started there are a couple of big tournaments that are playing to a conclusion today. One of those is the PokerStars National Championship. The €1,000 event began on Wednesday and carried a whopping €1 million guarantee.

It smashed it. A total of 1,252 players entered and they're now down to the final three. The player who finished fourth in that event was Ka Kwan Lau. He picked up €59,700 for his performance and immediately reinvested €5,300 of his winnings by hopping in the Main Event.

Lau's National Championship score is the latest in string of big results. He took down the PLO High Roller at PSC Macau and won the equivalent event at EPT Malta in October last year. He's very handy with two cards too, as evidenced by his fourth place finish at EPT Prague in 2013. --NW

2pm: The Carrel conundrum
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

We've made a mistake. We're human. Despite what is reported below, Charlie Carrel is not in Day 1B of the Main Event today. He played yesterday, jumping into Day 1A at a late stage after finishing the cash game. He is actually playing the €50K today. That's fake news for you, right there. Fake news. Sad. -- HS

1:55pm: One for Glaser, one for Luneau
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Two of the best mixed game players sat on tables right next to each other? That seems like a good place for a poker reporter to plonk themselves. And within a few minutes of being there, I'd seen both Benny Glaser and Alex Luneau take down pots.

On Glaser's table, he was in the small blind and three-bet an open to 1,400, which the opener called. The flop came 8♣4♦8♥ and Glaser continued for 1,100, which was called, before he opted to check on the 9♥ turn. His opponent led out for 2,500, but the Brit didn't go anywhere. When the J♠ river was dealt, both decided to check and Glaser's Q♣Q♠ was ahead of the T♥T♦.

At the same time, Luneau defended his big blind to a 375 small blind open and the flop was the T♣7♥5♣. The small blind check-called a 250 Luneau bet before the 8♣ turn hit, on which both would check. The board was completed by the 3♥ and Luneau called a 625 bet to take it down with his 4♥5♠ against A♦3♠.

Glaser is now on 29,000, while Luneau is doing a little better with 48,000. --JS


8G2A6615_Alex_Luneau_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Luneau eclipses Glaser with better small pair

1:50pm: Field stretching into cash game area
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Players are seated throughout the main tournament room, but there's also 13 tables of Main Event action happening at present in the nearby cash-game room.

We've mentioned the presence of three-time LAPT champion Nacho Barbero and PokerStars Championship Bahamas High Roller winner Lucas Greenwood already -- they're both seated in the cash-game area.


8G2A6596_Lucas_Greenwood_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Luc Greenwood helping stretch field

Also among those playing there are 2013 WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess, 2016 WSOP Main Event sixth-place finisher Kenny Hallaert, and multiple-time Super Tuesday champ Jason Wheeler. --MH

1:45pm: Prokudin sick, Lodge healthy
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

"Pretty sick, pretty sick," said Alexander Prokudin, ostensibly referring to the just completed hand. Although he was also clearly describing his mood.

"Pretty sick," he repeated.

The board read Q♠8♠A♦A♣7♠, and he'd tabled A♠K♣ with what seemed perhaps to be some small confidence he might be claiming the pot.

But his opponent, Harry Lodge, had A♥Q♥ for a full house, and so Lodge had won the big pot. And Prokudin was now out of chips.

"Pretty sick," he said while standing up. "Sick call pre-flop, sir. Pretty sick."

Prokudin is out. And sick about it. Lodge, meanwhile, is pretty healthy with 55,000. --MH

1:41pm: How abSerda
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

In the very last hand before the blinds went up, an interesting hand played out involving Patrick Serda - another guy you might have expected to see in the Single Day High Roller today. Serda's the guy who "finished second" to Will Kassouf in the very last EPT High Roller in Prague, banking more than $750K to Kassouf's $550K.

The hand folded to Vasili Karpenkou in the small blind who limped, and Serda checked his option to see a 6♠6♣7♦ flop. It went check check, and the dealer burned and turned the 2♠ on the turn. Karpenkou checked again, but this time Serda bet 200. Call.

On the 5♥ river, Karpenkou checked once again, and Serda continued down the aggressive road with another bet. This time he bet big: 1,400, more than double the pot.

But things didn't end there. Karpenkou responded with a raise up to 3,100, only for Serda to re-raise up to 8,400. Karpenkou wasn't going to raise again judging by the somewhat deflated look he had, but in the end he made a sighing, crying call. Serda turned over the 5♠6♥ for a rivered full house, and that was good.

That river was a particularly cruel one for Karpenkou, as it had also made him a straight. He showed his 8♣9♦ as he nursed his 16,000 stack, while Serda is up to almost 40,000 now. --JS

1:40pm: Good start for Eid
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

"Ace high" announced Karim Souaid with a sigh. His river bet of 7,500 had been called by Michel Eid. Chances were that it wasn't going to be the best hand. A full board of 9♦6♦8♣3♠3♥ was exposed and Eid then showed the winner. He'd been ahead all the way with K♣K♦ and is off to a fine start. --NW

1:36pm: Berg building
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

We arrived at Table 5 to see over 5,000 in chips already in the pot and the board reading 8♠T♣A♥2♣. The cutoff and Thomas Berg (button) both checked their options and the 7♣ arrived on the end.

The cutoff took a shot at it for 3,000 but almost immediately Berg clicked it back to 6,000. Just as quick as Berg had raised, the player in the cutoff threw his hand away and the pot was pushed to Berg.

Berg now sits with 41,000 at his disposal. -- BK

1:35pm: Good pairs
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Good things come in pairs, just ask Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero.

Barbero became the first player to win two LAPT titles and won them back-to-back in 2010. A few other players matched his achievement as the series progressed, but then Barbero won the last LAPT stop in the history of the universe to get the LAPT hat trick.

Now Barbero is hoping to add a PokerStars Championship to his resume. Barbero is in the field and playing in the room handling the Main Event overflow. It's the same room where half of another good pair is.

Luc Greenwood -- we think-- has taken a seat. And where there's one Greenwood, there's usually another. We haven't spotted Sam Greenwood in the field yet, but he must be around somewhere -- or possibly down the way in the €50K Single Day event. --AV

1:25pm: River helps Glushkov collect from Cohen
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

With about 5,000 in the middle and the board showing 6♦2♦7♠T♣, both Joseph El Khoury and EPT7 Deauville Main Event champion Lucien Cohen checked over to Ivan Glushkov on the button.

His head bobbing to the music playing over his headphones, Glushkov tossed out a bet of 2,650. He kept enjoying the music while El Khoury called, but when Cohen check-raised to 6,200 he stopped moving and removed his headphones. Glushkov thought a moment and called, and El Khoury stepped aside.

The river brought the 9♠, and Cohen didn't waste too much time before pushing his stack all in. Glushkov hesitated just a moment, then called to put his last 12,175 at risk.

Cohen had 6♠6♥ for trip sixes, but Glushkov had filled a gutshot draw with his 8♣8♥ and won the pot.

Glushkov jumps up close to 50,000 while Cohen slips to about 11,000. --MH

1:15pm: Can Chaya card rack again?
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Canada's Nabil Chaya was just overheard telling his table-mates that in a recent side event he woke up with pocket aces seven times in two hours. Not only that but he often looked down at them after a player or two had already moved all in before it was his turn to act.


nabil_chaya_psc_montecarlo_day1b.jpg

Nabil "Aces" Chaya: Nothing to be embarrassed about

Chaya explained that it got to a point where he became embarrassed to turn his hand over. We'll be keeping an eye out to see if Chaya can run as pure today in this Main Event. So far he seems to be off to somewhat of a slow start, dropping to 24,000 from the 30,000-chip starting stack.

Nothing a few turns with pocket aces can't fix. -- BK

1:10pm: Chufarin not faring well early
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

The board read 3♠T♠9♥2♥6♠, and you could tell from the way Denys Chufarin shifted in his seat, twisting slightly as he checked, that the river card wasn't particularly delightful to see.

Then came an outright wince from Chufarin as his opponent, Sergei Petrushevskii, bet 5,500, an amount representing a decent-sized percentage both of the pot and Chufarin's stack.

Churfarin called nonetheless, then his head drooped a bit as Petrushevskii showed A♠Q♠ for the rivered nuts.

Give Petrushevskii 45,000 now, up from the 30,000 starting stack, while Chufarin is trying to get comfortable again while down to 10,000 already. --MH

1:05pm: Get ready for some crazy early action!
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

The beginnings of Day 1s are usually quite timid affairs; the small blind levels not encouraging much big betting. But when you've got players like Ami Barer and Thomas Muehloecker in the mix, anything can happen...


thomas_muehloecker_psc_monte_carlo_day1b.jpg

Thomas Muehloecker: High roller in Main Event

When five-handed play folded to Barer on the button, he opened to 275 and the small blind called to see an 8♦J♠5♣ flop. Barer continued for 200 when it checked to him...and his opponent folded.

Over on Muehlocker's table, action folded to the high roller regular on the button and...he folded. The small blind did too, giving the big blind a walk.

You didn't fall for that headline, did you? --JS

1pm: Germans and monkeys
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

There's a jovial attitude in the air on this sunny Sunday afternoon, even if none of that sunlight is reaching the tournament area.

Players are meeting new people, finding out what they have in common and sharing new stories. Despite wearing a hoodie with a Nordic flag, Allan Drystad surprised a German player at his table with a few German words.

"I've spent a lot of time drinking with Germans," Drystad said. "Five years. So you pick a little up."

Over at another table, Federico Quevedo was telling his table-mates about the wonders of Thai monkeys. He said he saw one using a vending machine. Quevedo said on a recent trip to Thailand, he saw a monkey take a coin, put it in a slot machine and reap the rewards. The interaction left Quevedo with his mouth open and a new appreciation for monkeys. --AV

12:55pm: Heptinstall hammering away
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Tony Anderl brought it in for an under-the-gun raise to 250 and after Benjamin Heptinstall called on the button, the player in the big blind bumped it up to 1,300. Both Anderl and Heptinstall called and the flop brought a connected 9♦Q♣K♦.

Despite the pre-flop aggression, the big blind quickly checked, and once Anderl did the same behind, Heptinstall decided on taking a stab at it for 1,600. That was enough to be met with two folds and Heptinstall was awarded the pot.

Heptinstall continues his good start to the day, now stacking up a total of 44,500. -- BK

12:50pm: Cowboys require courage
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Poker's legacy dates back to the Old West, where cowboys often held sway, including at the poker tables. That legacy continues faintly in the common nickname for pocket kings -- a pair of cowboys -- which is the hand live satellite winner Vitaliy Imertsaki of Ukraine was just dealt here during the day's first level.

Given a chance to open, Imertsaki made it 275 to go from the cutoff with his K♠K♣ and watched the small blind call then Nadim Hage Ali of France three-bet to 1,200 from the big blind.

These are cowboys, thought Imertsaki. They don't slink away under that sort of mild taunting. He reraised to 3,000, the SB bailed, and Ali called.

The flop came all middling cards -- 6♠4♣8♣ -- and Ali check-called a bet of 2,650 from Imertsaki. The turn was the 3♣ and both checked, then the river brought another small card, the 3♦. This time Ali bet 2,500.

Imertsaki looked at the bet and all those little board cards, like so many prairie punks kicking up dust and making things uncomfortable. But he had cowboys. He called...

...and he was rewarded for his courage when Ali showed A♦Q♣.

Imertsaki gave Ali a quick look as he gathered the chips, mentally filing away the hand in preparation for potential later duels. --MH

12:45pm: Sokolow surprised
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Florian Sokolow may not be surprised that he just lost a pot but he did seem surprised at what his opponent was holding.

After an under the gun raise to 225, Sokolow three-bet to 750 on the button. With the blinds out of the way, the initial raiser made the call and the dealer fanned a flop of 4♣8♦6♠.

When checked to, Sokolow continued for 1,100 and was called before the 4♠ paired the board on the turn. Another check saw another bet from Sokolow, this time for 2,200, and again he was called before the A♥ completed the board.

The under the gun player checked a final time and Sokolow couldn't pull the trigger, conceding the pot with a meek check behind. Sokolow was shown 8♥5♦ which he was unable to beat and he looked a little shocked as the pot was raked away from him.

After that confrontation Sokolow moves down to 25,500 in chips. -- BK

12:41pm: Intimate poker
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A few of the tables are still short-handed as poker players wake up from their post-party daze and make their way to the tournament area. This has given some players the opportunity to get quite familiar with players at their three-handed tables.

One of them is Andreas Hoivold, who won EPT Dortmund back in 2007. Hoivold is currently playing a lot of hands with just Massimo Mauri and Michel Pomaret, the only other players at his table. In one raised pot, Hoivold and Mauri were faced with a 3♣K♦2♠ flop and Hoivold bet 500. Mauri called, a 3♠ came on the turn and Hoivold bet another 500. There was another call and a 5♠ on the river.

Both players decided a check would be suffice. Hoivold turned over K♠4♦ for a pair of kings, but Mauri had a slightly better kicker with K♥7♦. The three players kept chatting and playing as they wait for more to arrive. --AV

12:40pm: MIA high rollers
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Over in another poker room just a short walk away from the grand home base, a €50K Single Day High Roller has just kicked off. But two faces you'd expect to see in that field will be missing in action: Paul Newey and Charlie Carrel.

They won't be missing from poker in general though, as they've both taken their Day 1B seats. It's not known why Newey opted to play today instead of yesterday's Day 1A, but Carrel had a pretty darn good excuse. He was playing a €25/€50 cash game (that was being filmed) with Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, Faraz Jaka, and some guy named Kevin Hart. --JS

12:36pm: Warming to the challenge
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Still a slight chill in the air after that momentary opening-and-closing of the roof prior to the start of play. But the play looks like it'll heat things up fast enough.

At a table playing three-handed while players continue to stream in the tournament room, Richard Teatum of the U.K. opened for 300 from early position, then it folded to American player Christopher George who three-bet to 850 from the button.

Teatum wasted no time making it 2,100 to go. George eyed his opponent for a moment then stepped aside, and Teatum rubbed his hands together for a moment -- either to warm them up or perhaps in anticipation of collecting an early pot. --MH

12:35pm: Ireland's finest
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Two of the best Irish players going are out in the field early on. First, you've got Dermot Blain, who sits fourth on the country's all time money list with $2.25 million in live winnings.

Next up, we've got Daniel Wilson, known as NukeTheFish! online. He has just shy of $2.7 million in online tournament earnings to his name, plus $650,000 from the live felt too. --JS

12:30pm: From Central and South America to Monaco
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A quick walkthrough find three familiar faces from the formerly-designated Latin American Poker Tour, where the stops have now become part of the PokerStars Championship and Festival series. In fact the trio are sitting at consecutive tables.

First there is Gustavo Lopez, the Brazilian who has made numerous final tables in the Brazilian Series of Poker and LAPT events and a deep run at last year's WSOP Main Event where he took 159th.

At the next table over is the Costa Rican, Federico Quevedo, who nearly won a High Roller last year at LAPT Panama and who had a big online career highlight last April when as "Majagua69" he topped a 973-player field to win the Mountain Series Main Event for $350,280.

And one more table over it is the well-traveled Andres "Cacho" Korn who has already earned cashes in Macau and his native Argentina this year. --MH

12:25pm: Valantiejus chipping up early
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

We caught the action on the turn with the board showing 6♠7♦6♥3♠ and after Benjamin Saada checked from the small blind, Valantiejus made it 1,050 to go from the button. Saada flicked in a call and the dealer presented the 3♦ river card.

After a final check from Saada, Valantiejus continued for 1,550. Saada double checked the amount before committing to a call and seeing the bad news. Valantiejus tabled 5♣4♥ for a turned straight which was good to scoop the pot.

Valantiejus moves up to a new total of 33,000 in chips. -- BK

12:20pm: Another movie star (not Kevin Hart)
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

How excited would you be if I told you we had a movie star in our Day 1B field?

Whoa, that's pretty excited. Calm down. It's not Kevin Hart.

He might not be a Hollywood A-lister, but Alex Luneau (aka alexonmoon) was one of the focal points of arguably the best poker documentary of recent years, Nosebleed. Made by friend of the PokerStars Blog Victor Saumont, the film follows Luneau and his fellow French high stakes beast Sebastian Sabic as they play the biggest mixed games online and travel to Las Vegas on a quest to bink WSOP bracelets.

[Spoiler warning] They don't manage to capture bracelets in the film despite some deep runs, but who knows; maybe we'll be on hand this week to capture Luneau taking down a PokerStars Championship? --JS

12:15pm: Shuffle up and deal
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

The roof over the tournament room was opened today just before play, a sorta-kinda-spectacular thing to see, actually, as it opens up a crystal blue sky with sunlight shining down on the tables for a couple of minutes.


tournament_room_roofopen_psc_montecarlo.jpg

Salles des Etoiles: Wait, is that the sky?

The roof was then closed, restoring more familiar lighting and poker ambience, announcements quickly made, and cards are in the air to begin Day 1B. --MH


tournament_room_roof_closed_psc_monte_carlo.jpg

Salles des Etoiles: Night setting

12pm: Familiar faces in busy Day 1B line-up
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Our early list of entrants to Day 1B here in Monaco contains a good number of very familiar faces. Victoria Coren Mitchell is here, playing her first event since the EPT became the PokerStars Championships. You might know her as the only two-times EPT champion.

Kenny Hallaert, a recent November Niner, is in the house, as is Antoine Saout, who has played in the Penn & Teller Theatre too. The mixed game crusher Benny Glaser is also having a crack at the hold'em. (He has already won one mixed game side event). Joseph Mouawad, who won EPT London all those years ago, is registered, as is another veteran EPT winner, Lucien Cohen.

That's just a handful of names on the list of early registrants. Plenty more will be on their way. -- HS

11am: Gearing up

It's another beautiful day in the Mediterranean microstate of Monaco and players are gearing up for Day 1B of the first PokerStars Championship on European soil. Hundreds of players are expected to flock to the Monte-Carlo casino today, easily eclipsing yesterday's field of 237 players.

But just like yesterday, we're scheduled to play eight 75-minute levels. Those who make it will join the 107 survivors from Day 1A and continue the hunt for the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® title.

Jeffrey Hakim bagged the largest stack yesterday thanks to a well-timed straight and a pair of quads. Hakim finished the day with 305,300 and is the man to beat. For a full list of Day 1A counts, click here.

Play is scheduled to start at 12pm local time and cards will be in the air until around midnight. If you want to follow all that action, you're at the right place. Follow all the action from the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® right here at the PokerStars Blog. --AV

8G2A4703__PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg


The road to Monte Carlo starts on PokerStars. Sign up and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® and all other Festival and Championship events.

Also all the information is on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the Main Event: Martin Harris, Brad Kain, Jack Stanton, Howard Swains, Alexander Villegas and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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