PokerStars Championship Prague: Tsugunari Toma leads Day 1B, Mrakas keeps the overall

Day 1B in Prague looked a lot like any other Day 1B in Prague. A big room, a vast crowd of players, the occasional gust of cold wind coming from a cigarette break, and by the end of play, some 12 hours after it started, a tournament room that still looked full.


NEIL8331_PSC_Prague2017_Tsugunari_Toma_D1B.jpegChip leader on Day 1B: Tsugunari Toma

And that, despite the elimination of hundreds of players, as 655 individuals registered, adding their names to the 193 who played yesterday on Day 1A.

Some 24 hours ago it was Michal Mrakas, bagging up 200,000 for the lead. Today that name is Tsugunari Toma of Japan, with 181,600.

He'll be pleased. But then at this stage of the tournament so will the other 331 players who ended the day with chips. They might not have won anything but they have not lost either. It's a simple plan really, and if you can keep it going through to next Monday it'll mean you've done quite well.

For now, we dwell on what is to come. Day 2 starts at 12 noon tomorrow, with registration open until then for any late comers. Among the leaders tomorrow will be these notable finishers from today.

Tsugunari Toma - 181,600
Xixiang Luo - 174,900
Matas Cimbolas - 171,500
Michael Dattani - 167,800
Narcis-Gabriel Nedelcu - 167,500
Petr Svoboda - 146,400
Dean Hutchison - 137,000
Marcos Regonaschi - 128,000
Daniel Barriocanal De La Iglesia - 124,300
Marcin Horecki - 110,400
Igor Kurganov - 100,000
Fatima Moreira de Melo - 74,200
Jake Cody - 66,400
Luciana Manolea - 57,000
Jasper Meijer von Putten - 49,500
Maria Konnikova - 46,200
Liv Boeree - 27,200
Felipe Ramos - 16,900

Click here for a full list of the counts for the 331 players who made it through Day 1B.

For everything else scroll through the hand updates below. They include details of big hands, small hands, men dressed as crocodiles and, other assorted stories. Then, join us here at 12 noon tomorrow. - SB


Day 1B coverage archive

• DAY 1B PLAYERS: 350 of 648 TBC (DAY 1A: 77 of 193)
MICHAL MRAKES LEADS AFTER DAY 1A
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11:55pm: Play coming to an end
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The last four hands of the day are being dealt.

11:45pm: The best time to lose with aces
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Petr Svoboda was desperately disappointed to see his aces cracked a moment ago. He got up, wandered over to his friend on another table, then came back tutting and shaking his head with a full funk on.

But he will no doubt simmer down very quickly when he looks at a stack still worth around 150,000 and the overnight leader board that, pending disasters, will have his name in the top five.

It was, you see, quite a small pot. It seemed as though Svoboda had opened in early position and picked up a call from Andrea Iocco in the big blind. The two saw a flop of 3♣6♥5♦ and Iocco checked.

Svoboda bet 3,000 and Iocco moved in. The check-raise was for about 15,000 but Svoboda didn't need a count. He called instantly and turned over A♣A♦. It was ahead of Iocco's Q♠4♠.

It moved even more ahead after the A♥ turn, but the same straight draw outs remained live. And yep, there was the 2♠ on the river and the life-saving wheel for Iocco.

Svoboda wasn't happy at all at the run-out, but better to have your aces cracked with a huge chip-leading cushion than when you're clinging on for dear life. -- HS

11:40pm: Kurganov busts Miller
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The hand began with a 2,000 open from Maxim Klopotok from under the gun and Ori Miller three bet shoved his 11 big blinds from middle position. Action then folded round to PokerStars Team Pro Igor Kurganov on the small blind who clicked to 15,800. This was enough to push off Klopotok and the two put their cards on their backs.

Kurganov A♦K♦
Miller 7♠7♣

It was a good ol' fashioned race, until the flop brought out 6♦T♦Q♦. Kurganov flopped the flush, which meant only a runner runner combo could save Miller's tournament life. The 5♦ saw the end to his hopes and the 9♣ river was redundant.


8G2A7767_PSC_Prague2017_Igor_Kurganov_13dec17.jpegIgor Kurganov

Whilst Miller made his exit, Kurganov added to his already healthy stack. -LY

11:35pm: Luo's king of the Hardcastle
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

After a cutoff open to 1,800, Jack Hardcastle called on the button, as did Xixiang Luo in the small blind and Ismael Bojang in the big. The quartet went to a 4♣J♣5♥ flop, and it checked to Hardcastle. He then led for 3,500, only for Luo to bump it up to 8,500. The other two folded.


NEIL8018_PSC_Prague2017_Jack_Hardcastle_13dec17.jpegJack Hardcastle

After some thinking time Hardcastle moved all in for what looked to be around 20,000 more (things moved pretty fast from here so it was hard to see), and Luo called with the bigger stack.

Luo: K♣9♣
Hardcastle: A♦J♥

Luo was flushing but Hardcastle was ahead at the time with his top pair. However, his hopes were almost flushed away on the A♣ turn, as Luo made his hand. Only another ace or jack could save the young Brit, and the 8♦ river wasn't one. --JS

11:30pm: Baumann takes a hit
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Gaelle Baumann finds herself in the danger zone now with less than 20 big blinds. She opened to 1,800 only for countryman Sylvain Damian to shove to 16,200. Back to Baumann, she made the call but was in bad shape with her A♠Q♥ versus A♦K♣. She couldn't improve and drops to 15,000. --JS

11:20pm: Cimbolas looking for the lead
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Matas Cimbolas was very keen to know if he was the chip leader. "Am I the chip leader?" he said, which gave it away.

There was good news and bad news for the Lithuanian crusher. The good news is that yes, judge against his Day 1B peers, his stack of 183,000 is the biggest in the room.

The bad news, which seemed to affect him profoundly, was that yesterday's leader Michal Mrakas bagged a small amount more than 200,000. So Cimbolas was not yet the overall daddy.

"I'm going to have more than you by the end," Kristen Bicknell said, adding insult to injury.

At this stage, with 45 minutes left on the day, Cimbolas leads Petr Svoboda (160,000), Vlado Banicevic (140,000), Marco Regonaschi (130,000) and a whole host of players on around 120,000.

The Team Pro duo of Marcin Horecki and Igor Kurganov have about 110,000 apiece, while Fatima Moreira de Melo has 95,000 or so, Jake ody has 90,000. Liv Boeree and Felipe Ramos are also still involved, but neither is in the top 40 percent of stacks at this stage. -- HS


NEIL8138_PSC_Prague2017_Liv_Boeree_13dec17.jpegLiv Boeree still in the running

11:15pm: Tedeschi wins versus Dores
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Paul Tedeschi has just scooped a pot against Rui Manuel Dores. Play was already on the river with the board showing J♦2♣5♥J♥2♥.

Dores had bet out 6,500 and was facing a three bet of 21,000 and the decision was proving difficult for him. He finally made the call and didn't look happy when Tedeschi showed the top boat with J♠K♦ and we'll never know whether it was the low full house, the flush or even something else that Dores had.

Tedeschi now has around 90,000 in play. -LY

11:10pm: Out of Luca
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Ivan Luca is out, as is Jimmy Guerrero and Mustapha Kanit.

Igor Yaroshevskyy is now the sole recipient of a massage at Kanit's former table. --JS

11:05pm: It's Toma time
Level 8: Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Earlier on in the PokerStars Championship Prague we saw Tsugunari Toma take a shot in the €50K Super High Roller, an event we haven't seen him in before.

We're more used to seeing Toma in the Main Events, and his comfort in these tournaments is really showing today. He's having a great time, and why shouldn't he when he's managed to spin his 30,000 up to 160,000 with another level to go?

Just now he opened to 1,700 and picked up one caller. He continued on the 7♠J♦T♦ flop, but his opponent folded quickly. Toma peeled up his holding so his neighbour could see, and then slammed it face up for all to view: K♦K♠.

He may not have got much action in that one, but judging by the smile on his face it didn't seem to matter. --JS

11pm: River shove from Sarwer
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

More chips for Jeff Sarwer, who is now definitely the right side of a starting stack. They didn't come easily. Nikolay Fal made him sweat after Sarwer shoved the river. But eventually the fold came to ship the pot to the former chess prodigy.

The majority of the pre-flop action took place before I arrived, but there was 4,500 in front of Jeff Sarwer (UTG), Fal (UTG+2) and Mikhail Surin in the big blind. It looked like an open from Sarwer, a three-bet from either Fal or Surin and two calls.

They saw the flop of K♦Q♦7♥ and they all checked. Then the turn brought the 7♦. Surin checked, but Sarwer now bet 6,700. Fal called and Surin folded.

The river was the 5♥ and Sarwer, with 19,500 behind the line, clearly said, "All-in." The dealer duly tossed the red triangle in front of him.

Fal didn't have much more in his own stack but was clearly tempted to go boom or bust. However, he eliminated the last option when he came to the decision to fold.

"Interesting run-out," Sarwer said as he stacked his newly-acquired chips. We're getting close to the final level of the day now, so there may be some clinging on around the room, and some others prepared to exploit it. -- HS

10:50pm: Final hand of the penultimate level
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Players are about to enter the last level of the day. Just before they do though, Andrew Headley and John Magnusson went to showdown in a hand that began with a 1,400 open by Headley and two flats behind.

After a flop of 8♠Q♣6♦ saw no further chips go in, the dealer laid out a 9♠ turn. This prompted a 1,900 bet by Headley and only Magnusson made the call.

The Q♠ river was an interesting one, as it brought out a number of big hand combinations. Headley opted to check and flat called the 5,300 raise by Magnusson. He mucked when Magnusson turned over A♠J♠ for the nut flush. -LY

10:45: Keeping up with the Joneses
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

If one great player starts value betting a certain hand in a certain spot, soon all the others want to do it too. And if one great player starts investing in cryptocurrencies, soon they're all doing it.

And if one great player at your table starts getting a massage, soon all your tablemates will want one as well.


8G2A7777_PSC_Prague2017_Massage_Table_D1B.jpeg

That certainly seems to be the case right now. Of the entire poker room, there are only three masseuses currently and they're all around one table.

One player at the table decided to get one, and then Mustapha Kanit decided, 'y'know what? I want one too.'

Igor Yaroshevskyy was the next to fall in line. If another masseuse walked in the room, she's going to have the remaining tablemates fighting over her services. --JS

10:40pm: A very confusing hand
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

A dealer error led to rather a lot of confusion and in the end the floor was called to sort it out.

Vladimir Andjelic, who was sat on the button, had only been dealt one card and hadn't realised until someone had bet and another had called. It looked as though the dealer had then dealt a second card but this was disputed by others at the table. Once the floor arrived, no one was sure which card was Andjelic's original hole card and which had been dealt after, so the ruling given was that the hand couldn't play. Andjelic protested and said he had pocket jacks as he grudgingly sent his cards into the muck.

The second ruling given was that as 'significant action' had taken place, the hand would be played out. So back to that...Ivan Zhechev opened to 1,400 and was twice called behind.

8♦2♣3♦ The flop saw checks all round and the dealer placed a 6♦ turn. The third diamond saw a delayed continuation from Zhechev of 2,800 and only Norbert Szecsi made the call. It was a 9♣ river and Zhechev made a final bet of 10,500, which was also called. Zhechev turned over A♦Q♦ for the nut flush and Szecsi mucked. -LY

10:35pm: Fisher is staying put
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

"Does anybody know when's the next flight to London?" said Gary Fisher, who got his last 7,400 in the middle as a three-bet shove but was called in two spots--a cold caller from the big blind (Ghassan Yared) and Paul Castrillon, who was the original early-position raiser.

Cards were kept face down as the dealer dumped the 7♠6♦3♥ on the flop. Yared bet 4,000 and Castrillon called.

Both active players then checked the 7♥ turn and the last card out was the Q♥. Yared tossed in a token bet of 1,000, but it couldn't shift Castrillon, if that had been the intention. He called.

Yared turned over his 8♥8♠, which might have been good given the way this played. It wasn't. Castrillon turned over his 9♠9♥ which was half-good. He took the side pot.

However Fisher's 6♥6♣ had been third best when the money went in, but was now the winner and there's no need to be looking at Skyscanner just yet.

"Not bad," a table-mate said to Fisher.

"Not bad," Fisher concurred. "I am not displeased."

He then added: "I want to stay here. I don't want to go back to London." And with about 24,000 now in his stack, he may live to fight another day. -- HS

10:30pm: Agerskov stop-and-goes, then just goes
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Vlado Sevo opened to 1,500 from middle position and picked up two callers, Sonny Franco and Youngshin Im. It got to Rasmus Agerskov in the big blind and he was getting a great price, despite being very short stacked. He made the call.

The flop came 8♦T♥J♥ and action was on Agerskov. He played with his chips for a while, and then ultimately decided to just stick his 7,000 in the middle. Sevo and Im folded, but Franco called.

Agerskov turned over the Q♥J♠ for top pair and a gutshot, while Franco was out in front with the A♠J♦. The 2♣T♦ turn and river changed nothing, and Agerskov made his exit. Franco is up to 48,000 now. --JS

10:20pm: The battle of the big pairs
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

It all began with an early position open to 1,300 by Kiryl Radziovonau. Then Sergey Tikhonov, who was on his left upped it to 3,800. It folded round to Foeke Deinum on the button who announced his all in, which was enough to cover the other two. After some deliberation, they both made the call and the cards flipped over:

Radzivonau A♦A♥
Deinum K♠K♥
Tikhonov J♦J♥

It was a classic cooler and, having the best of it, Radzivonau was looking to almost triple as he had Tikhonov covered. He just needed to fade a jack or a king to do so.

8♣2♣8♥9♠7♦

The aces held and Radzivonau is looking much healthier now he is sitting on over 40,000. Meanwhile we say goodbye to Tikhonov. -LY

10:15pm: Sarwer the king
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

A timely double here for Jeff Sarwer, who found K♠K♣ at the same time as Sparrow Cheung found A♦K♦. They got it in pre-flop and Cheung had to pay off Sarwer's 14,900.


NEIL8064_PSC_Prague2017_Jeff_Sarwer_D1B.jpegJeff Sarwer

A table-mate congratulated Sarwer on the timeliness of him finding a big pair when Cheung had another monster hand. "But it's not supposed to happen when I only get back to starting stack," Sarwer said.

Cheung would surely love to be so wealthy. The skirmish has left Cheung, the runner-up in the Asia Player of the Year race this year, with only about 5,000 chips. -- HS

10:10pm: Aidon't know what happened
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Shoddy poker reporting incoming, but Sergio Aido is out.


NEIL8158_PSC_Prague2017_Sergio_Aido_Matas_Cimbolas_D1b.jpegSergio Aido (left) with Matas Cimbolas

The Spanish high roller was seen getting out of his chair and putting on his coat, as his chips shipped to another player, perhaps Matas Cimbolas who sits with around 130,000.

"Go," Cimbolas joked to Aido. "Get back to your high rollers!" --JS

10:05pm: Not that one...
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

We all remember EPT London Season 4 when Joseph Mouawad swept to a sensational triumph. You remember, right? Sure you do.

Anyway, since that dramatic moment, Mouawad has made only fitful returns to the halls of the world's major poker tournaments, allowing another Joseph Mouawad to lay claim to being poker's best known Mouawad.

That Joseph Mouawad (the new one) agreed to be known as Joe Mouawad, so as not to be confused with the original Joseph Mouawad. But it's still confusing, isn't it. How many Joseph Mouawads can the poker ecosystem support?

Anyway, Joe Mouawad (ie, not Joseph Mouawad) is playing here in Prague and just put a move on Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes and Anthony Zinno that Joseph Mouawad (yes, that one) would be proud of.

Lopes raised to 1,500 from under the gun, Zinno called a couple of seats along and then Mouawad (Joe) jammed for about 40,000 from the big blind.

Lopes/Shen thought about it with a scowl, but then passed. Zinno didn't scowl but passed too.

"Big hand," Mouawad said.

"Me too," Lopes said, possibly disbelieving.

Mouawad continues to fly the flag for all Mouawads the world over. -- HS

10pm: The crocodile is dead
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

I just had to do a double take when I clocked this guy's face just now. It was familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. Whoever it was, they looked...different.

Then when I caught a glimpse of his shoes, I knew. He wasn't wearing shoes at all, but rather slippers. And that thing he was carrying under his arm wasn't a coat, but a bright green onesie.

Yep; Ben 'The Crocodile' Bensimhon is out. But at least he had his girlfriend to keep him company. Maybe it was her who asked him to remove the onesie after all? --JS

9:50pm: Welcome, we kept your seat open
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

With a range of high roller events and (whisper it) other sponsors' poker tournaments gradually drawing to a close around the city, some new faces are migrating into the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event.

Christoph Vogelsang was just spotted wandering from the registration desk with a tray of starting chips, while Kristen Bicknell is also now playing this tournament at Hilton Prague.

"Is registration still open?" a dealer on an empty table asked a colleague.
"It's open til the start of tomorrow, I think," the aforementioned colleague replied.

She's right, you know. You can buy in for another two hours tonight or before the bell sounds to begin Day 2 at 12 noon tomorrow. -HS

9:30pm: Into level 7
Level 7: Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Dinner is done. Play resumes with level 7.

8:20pm: Dinner break
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

That's three-quarters of the day completed. The players are off on a 75-minute dinner break and when they return, two more levels will be played before bagging up commences.

NEIL8165_PSC_Prague2017_Food_Service_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Unfortunately, players will have to leave the room to eat their dinner

8:10pm: Moss felts Freek
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

After a 1,200 open and one caller, Freek Scholten jammed for around 13,000 and Matt Moss called on the button. The others folded, and it turned out that Scholten wasn't quite all in yet as he had a 25 chip behind. Despite this, when Moss called Scholten flipped over the T♥T♦, while Moss revealed his Q♣Q♥.

The dealer put out a 2♠A♦8♥ flop and Scholten naturally committed that last chip, but he'd find no help on the 8♦K♦ turn or river.

Scholten said his goodbyes and Moss stacked up 54,000. --JS

8:05pm: Double Davidi
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Davidi Kitai found a nice spot to get his short stack in and it worked out very well for him.

There was a raise to 1,000 and a call form Norbert Szecsi on the button before the Belgian pro moved all-in for 7,400. The original raiser folded but Szecsi made the call.

Kitai: A♦5♦
Szecsi: A♠3♠

The board ran 7♦4♦9♠8♦4♠ to make Kitai a flush. Szecsi dropped to 15,000. --MC

8pm: That's the truth, Luth
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Peyman Luth is out about a half-hour shy of the Day 1B dinner break. All in with a short stack behind A♦K♣, he was up against Dimitrios Kalaroutis's Q♦Q♥.

The 4♣5♠6♣ got Luth up out of his seat, though the J♣ brought a flush draw and stopped his movement away from the table. The 3♦ was no good for him, though, and Luth is out.

Kalaroutis has about 60,000. --MH

7:55pm: Hladilin hangs in
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

When you get low on chips and get a hand like pocket fives -- presto! -- you get your chips in the middle.

Such was Mykhailo Hladilin's thinking after reraising all in over a Danny Tang open just now. Tang called the small push and showed A♦J♠, and after the 8♣T♥6♥K♣2♠ runout Hladilin's 5♥5♠ had held. He's got 15,000 now, while Tang is on 30,000. --MH

7:51pm: More eliminations
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

The following players might be home earlier than expected. Or at least in the line at registration to play whatever tournament comes next.

Omar Lakhdari, Amir Touma, Max Silver, Sebastian Pauli, Avihai Smadga, Mihails Morozovs, Kacper Pyzara, Giuliano Bendinelli, Mazin Khoury, John Kelly, David Llacer, Maxi Lehmanski, Carlos Branco, Florin Pandilica, Boyan Asenov, Gert Zumkehr, Eleftherious Kavoukis, Conor Beresford, Krzysztof Dulowski, Alessandro Luciani, Peter Jaksland, Massimiliano Patroncini, Ana Marquez, Grzegorz Grochulski, Walter Treccarichi, Razvan Dumea, Alberto Borsoi, Lauren Roberts, Thanh Tung Hoang, Dragoslav Timarac, Daria Feshchenko, Aliaksei Ivanou, Zoltan Szabo, Preben Stokkan, Dimitar Danchev, Ioannis Marneros, Alban Borgel, Davide Settecasi, Lijo Lander, Jasper Wetemans, Milan Sasek, Rafal Gontarczyk, Jacques Der Megreditchian, David Calzada, Mario Llapi, Alexandro Tricarico, Michel Abecassis, David Walter, Ibrahim Ghassan, Xiaoyong Liao, Jesper Hansen, Thomas Graupner, David Guay, Andre Morath, Grzegorz Wyraz, Patrick Leonard, Vasili Firsau, Sergej Barbarez, Radek Jantos, Nicolino Di Carlo, Andrew Hulme, Viktor Kovachev, Pascal Baumgartner, and if you got this far well done. - SB

7:50pm: Have a cigar
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Churchill. Castro. Freud. Welles.

Delfoco?

Perhaps if he manages to take this down this Main Event, Italy's Francesco Delfoco will be able to join that list of famous cigar smokers throughout history. But for now, he's just a poker player, holding a huge cigar, calling an all in with a dominated hand.

He'd opened to 1,400 under the gun, and it folded to Michal Schuh in the cutoff. He three-bet to 4,500, and when it folded back to Delfoco he took a few puffs on the unlit cigar before announcing all in. Schuh snap-called with the A♦K♠, while Delfoco was smoked with his A♥Q♥.

The 7♦T♠2♠J♦2♥ board changed nothing, bringing Schuh up to 31,000. Delfoco is down to 23,000 now, and no doubt can't wait for the next break so he can relieve the stress with a few drags. --JS

7:45pm: That's a way to chop a pot!
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Jean-Jacques Zeitoun was hurriedly calling a friend over to have a look at the board that kept him in the tournament. He had pocket kings and only chopped the pot, but was so relieved.

Why?

Well, his opponent - Edgaras Kancaitis - had pocket aces in a cooler of a pot worth around 35,000 but how about this for a board: 4♠]6♠8♠7♠5♠ for a straight flush! As you were, gents. --MC

7:40pm: Branco shot down
Level 6: Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Just outside the tournament room is located the "Stars Fun VR Challenge," a free-to-play game that allows passersby to don a pair of VR goggles, pick up a couple of hand-held trigger mechanisms, and blast imaginary lasers willy-nilly at virtual flying objects.

While the players all seem to be having great fun, it looks a bit weird from the sideline -- sort of like someone wearing a space-age, high-tech blindfold vainly clicking away at unseen opponents.

That scene came to mind just now while watching Carlos Branco play his final hand of the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event. Branco was all in before the flop against two opponents who were vying for a side pot after the 9♠2♠Q♥ flop. Not seeing anyone's hands, it was a bit like Branco was sitting there trying to vanquish foes he couldn't see.

Soon enough one of them, Rui Neves Ferreira, took a shot himself at the pot and the other player quickly got out. That's when things got real for Branco, who saw that with K♥Q♦ his pair of queens had him ahead of Ferreira's A♣K♠.

But the turn was the A♥ to put Ferreira in front, and while Branco didn't duck wildly at the sight of the card he might as well have. The J♣ river sealed it, and Branco headed to the exit, perhaps to look briefly at the VR Challenge as he leaves.

Ferreira is thriving, meanwhile, having chipped up to 105,000. --MH

7:35pm: Deviatov takes out Kavoukis
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

An early position raise by Dmitrii Deviatov saw a middle position three bet jam from Eleftherios Kavoukis. With everyone else moving out the way, Deviatov didn't need much time to think and made the 5,750 call. Kavouskis was a long way behind and looking for a nine to stay in.

Deviatov A♥J♣
Kavoukis J♠9♠

The board ran out 5♦3♠6♥5♣2♠ and Deviatov held. Though not a very large pot, it still pushed him up to around 55,000. Every little helps. -LY

7:30pm: What happened?
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

In the early days of the European Poker Tour, and similar events, players were always campaigning for deeper stacks and longer levels. The argument was that they wanted to be able to play post-flop and avoid inevitable flips too early in the tournament.

The authorities obliged and they now play 75-minute levels (increasing to 90 minutes) with 30,000 starting stacks. In Level 5, that means a starting stack is still 75 big blinds--and you've got to have a death wish if you're getting it all-in on a flip at this stage.

Here's an example of how the game has changed, with a useful comment from a table-mate to underline the point.

Fiodor Martino opened from the hijack and Jacek Pustuła three-bet the button to 3,500. With everyone else folding, Martino then four-bet to 11,500 and Pustuła "just" called.

Both players checked the A♥7♦9♥ flop, then the J♦ fell on the turn. Martino bet 6,700 and Pustuła called in position.

The 8♠ completed the board and Martino checked. Pustuła thought for a moment, then checked behind.

"I think you win," Martino said as he turned over his Q♣Q♥.

Pustuła revealed his A♣K♣ and took the decent-sized pot, but one that might have been far larger.

"Queens, ace-king," one of the other players at the table said. "It used to be all in. What happened?"

We can refer the gentleman to the explanation at the top of this post. -- HS

7:25pm: Ana needs another plan
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 75)

Ana Marquez seemed to have already invested a decent chunk of her stack pre-flop before the dealer spread the A♦8♣T♦. She led for 4,000, leaving herself 6,200 behind, and Georgios Karakousis made the call.

The turn was the J♦ and Marquez waited a moment. "OK," she said, putting in her three remaining chips. Karakousis called with the A♥J♠ for top two pair, but it turned out Marquez had turned broadway with her K♦Q♠.

With a double up imminent, it was all taken away from her with the J♣ river. Karakousis filled up, and stacked up around 100,000 after that one.

"Good luck guys," said Marquez as she grabbed her coat. She now has the whole evening free, and if she plans on heading out into the chilly Prague night, she'll certainly need it. --JS

7:20pm: Queens can't hold for Touma
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Amir Touma felt for sure he was about to score a double-knockout and collect a nice-sized pot at the end of Level 5. But a rude river card dashed those dreams for the player from Lebanon.

We arrived at the end, though it was easy enough to piece together how Jonathan Roy of Canada had committed a short stack with K♠J♦ and Elvis Petcu was committed as well for more with A♠K♦. Touma had both covered with his Q♣Q♠, and was still in front after the 7♦J♣9♥ flop and 2♥ turn.

But the K♣ river messed everything up for Touma, and both of his opponents kept his seats. Put Petcu on 35,000, Roy on 22,000, and a disgruntled Touma on 18,0500 now. --MH

7:15pm: Pau Davy doubles through Geilich
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Ludovic Geilich bet 3,600 in position on a Q♥8♥9♠ flop into two players who checked to him. Guillaume Pau Davy who had been dealt into the big blind, paused before shoving all in for 16,900 total, pushing out a third opponent and leaving the action back on Geilich.

The Scottish pro called and Pau Davy turned over his cards first, showing 9♥T♥ and Geilich sighed. 'There were only two hands...' Geilich said as he turned over 6♥7♥. Both players had flopped massive draws but Pau Davy was a long way ahead with a gutshot straight flush draw and a pair, to Geilich's counterfeit flush draw and an open-ended straight draw.

The J♣ made a straight for Pau Davy on the turn and the best Geilich could hope for now was a chop. The 2♥ gave both players the flush but Pau Davy's was the higher of the two. He pushed up to about 38,000 whilst Geilich dropped to less than starting stack with 25,000 or so. -LY

7:10pm: Two-thirds starting stack, two-thirds starting man
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

I'm not gonna lie, Niall "Firaldo" Farrell looks a little peaky. I'm sure it's got nothing to do (or everything) with celebrating his good friend Ludovic Geilich's second place finish in the National Championships last night.

He lost two small pots while we were standing by his table, his stack shrinking to around 20,000. The former EPT Malta champion raised to 900 from under the gun and was called in three spots en route to a 8♣3♠A♣ flop. Farrell continued for 1,500 and was called by the button before Sergey Tikhonov check-raised to 5,000 from the big blind. Only Farrell called but he folded to a 7,000 bet on the 2♠ turn.

Farrell was in the big blind the very next hand and peeled after Kiryl Radzivonau raised to 1,000 off the button. A Q♥9♥T♦ flop came down and Farrell folded before Radzivonau's c-bet had touched the felt. --MC

7:05pm: Out of Stokkan
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Sometimes you only write a blog post because of a stupid headline you think up, even though the information presented in said post isn't all that exciting.

This is one of those posts.

Preben Stokkan is out. --JS

7pm: Bojang's better start
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Right at the beginning of play today we told you how Team Pro Jake Cody enjoyed an excellent start to see him almost double up in his first hand.

Well, it's almost seven hours later and Ismael Bojang has gone one better by securing the full double up in one of his very first hands. The player who did the doubling? That'll be Cody.

Bojang's pocket kings held up against Cody's pocket queens, and Cody shipped 30,000 over Bojang's way. Cody is back to the 50,000 he had earlier, while Bojang is instantly up to 60,000. --JS

6:55pm: From Macau to the Czech Republic
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

There are a few Macau stalwarts making their debuts in Prague this week. Stanley Choi played the Super High Roller, and today the Main Event field features Sparrow Cheung, Ping Lin and Vivian Im, among others. Juicy Li was also spotted on the stairs earlier today, but given that it wasn't a break, she may well be out. -- HS

6:50pm: Jack busts Abecassis
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Michel Abecassis should seek out Marcello Miniucchi as a drinking partner tonight. A jack on the river accounted for Miniucchi's tournament earlier (see 3:15pm post) and Abecassis has just perished in very similar fashion.

Abecassis got his last few thousand in on the turn with the four exposed cards reading K♠9♠2♣4♥. Sweden's Christopher Andler called him and Abecassis was bossing with A♠K♥ to Andler's K♣J♣.

But that was only until the J♥ on the river swung the pendulum definitively in Andler's favour and sounding the death knell for Abecassis. -- HS

6:45pm: Marneros among the day's KO's
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The big board is showing 631 Day 1B players having registered to this point. It's also reporting that a little over 100 of those who did begin their PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event runs also ended them today.

Ioannis Marneros was the most recently knocked out of the event. He'd been sitting next to Bart Lybaert for much of the afternoon, but Lybaert just beat him in a hand for the last of his chips and Marneros is out. Lybaert is on 60,000 now. --MH

6:40pm: Ben Heath meets Ben Bensimhon
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

There was an empty seat on the right of Ben Heath, and we happened to be around when its new resident arrived.

Of course it was Ben Bensimhon, the guy dressed as a crocodile.

"Hello guys!" he said loudly. Heath glanced up at the adult at a poker tournament wearing a onesie, and at first he was not impressed. His face remained stoic.


NEIL8078_PSC_Prague2017_Ben_Heath_D1B.jpegBen Heath

"How are you?" continued Bensimhon, with an undeniable warmth and charm. With that, Heath began to warm to the Croc. A few seconds later and the two were deep in conversation. Another guy at the table was even taking photos on his phone.

There was a meaningless hand in amongst all that. Alexandr Resko had opened and Heath defended his big blind to see a 6♠J♦7♥ flop. Resko continued for 1,600, and Heath laid it down to talk to his new buddy.

Heath's short with 8,000, while Resko sit with 40,000. --JS

6:35pm: Aces versus queens...again
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

There were several players with bets/calls in front of them by the time I arrived at the table. Jacques Der Megreditchian was in early position and has made (what is most likely) a four bet of 15,500 over a 2,700 three bet and two flat calls. Alexandru Papazian, who made the 2,700 bet, went all in and after two folds behind, Megreditchian called the rest.

Papazian A♦A♥
Megreditchian Q♠Q♥

It was a battle of the big pairs, with Megreditchian looking for a queen to keep him in the tournament. The runout was 4♠2♣K♥8♥7♣ and it was not to be for Megreditchian. Meanwhile papazian has built up to over 60,000 in play. -LY

6:30pm: T-minus five cards until Hulme's rockets get cracked
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

You might know the UK's Andrew Hulme from poker, or - if you're at home watching daytime TV on weekday afternoons - you may know him from his appearance on British letters and numbers game show Countdown.

A quick google shows that Hulme began his Countdown career at the tender age of 11. He then returned seven years later as an adult, ultimately finishing as the runner-up of Series 61. During his time on the show, he became only the third contestant to score centuries in all eight heat games, and with 930 points, Hulme has one of the highest octochamp totals of any series runner-up.

If all of that means absolutely nothing to you and you just want me to get back to the poker, then tell me how many consonants and vowels you want me to use and I will.

It was worth mentioning though, because a second ago Hulme was enjoying a Countdown until his pocket rockets gave him a double up. Unfortunately for him, he had a problem.

Maxim Panyak opened to 900 and Hulme sneakily just flatted with his A♥A♦. That let another player call, before Mauricio Sanchez three-bet squeezed to 4,000 from the small blind. Back to Panyak, he made the call, only for Hulme to shove his entire stack for 9,200 total.

It folded to Sanchez, and he slid in 35,000 worth of blue chips, enough to put Panyak all in. He'd let it go though, and Sanchez turned over the Q♦Q♠.

The T♥2♦3♠ flop was safe for Hulme, as was the K♥ turn. But the Q♣ river gave Sanchez a set, eliminating Hulme and his chances of taking off with a good stack.

The Countdown legend left, while Sanchez's stack launched up to 57,000. --JS

6:25pm: Great hand for Grecu
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Kamil Dobosz liked his hand enough to raise to 1,400 from middle position. Thanh Tung Hoang then figured his was good enough to three-bet to 3,000 from the cutoff. But Virgil Grecu on the button really liked his hand -- he went all in for 15,300!

That made Dobosz less enamored with his two cards, so he pitched them away. Hoang hung in there, though, and called before showing A♣K♠. That needed help against Grecu's K♦K♣, but the community cards came 8♥7♥9♦5♠4♦, because the cards don't care nothing about nobody.

Gercu is back to 33,000 now, while Hoang slips to 23,000. --MH

6:20pm: The Departed
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Four levels are now in the books, approximately one eighth of the tournament's total duration, but none of the following could last even that long. Here's the list of the departed*:

Mark Schmidt, Marek Grzeska, Ilia Mikhailov, Man Youhadapieceov, Robert Askarov, Jaagup Luhakooder, Gaby Livshitz, Eric Sfez, Vitalii Pankov, Bad D Cision, Tue Ullerup Hansen, Basem Hamed, Stanislav Koleno, Claudio Di Giacomo, Nathan Gozlan, Edgard Raffoul, Wers Thebar, Stefan Vagner, Thomas Hueber, Alexander Greenblatt, Yordan Petrov, Ihad Nochanz, Paul Linton, Luigi Shehadeh, Mamouni Smain, Luigi Grisa, Walid Ali, Iplay Bad, Amar Begovic, Bartlomiej Swieboda, Matias Arosuo, Mitch Johnson, Simon Mattsson, Eugene Katchalov, Onur Unsal, YR Memoney, Reza Doomun, Janos Kurtosi, Salvatore Camarda, Knead Ahug, Zoltan Ban, Asim Mumtaz, Chanracy Khun, Sergei Petrushevskii, Przemyslaw Piotrowski, Pasi Sormunen, Onebeat Afteranother, Razvan Gherghe, Antoine Saout, Anton Bertilsson, Marcello Miniucchi, Alexander Lakhov, Chip Zargon, Mihai Niste, Konstantin Puchkov, Borge Sandsgaard, Hulya Pehlivanlar, Icall Ilose, Kfir Ivgi, Roman Skudar, Guillaume Marcellesi, Athanasios Fergiatakis, Rifat Palevic, Asker Aloev, Andrea Cortellazzi, Davis Mihelsons, "Old" Kent Roed, Viktor Kudinov, Andrey Andreev, Georgios Karakousis, Tom Hall, Adrian Ionescu, Kenny Hallaert, Iam Out, Majid Noubarian, Vasyl Zabrodskyy, Baad Swäp, William Kassouf, Ivan Gabrieli, Ivan Terribli, Ivan Badli, Ivan Mimummi, Terence Jordon, Mourad Tounnouti, Osman Aksu, Jose Latorre, Adam Daniel, Richard Dromzee, River Gotme, Luis Cruz, Roman Emelyanov, Marcin Wydrowski, Louis Cartarius, Van Thach Vu, Marek Blasko, Sigurd Carlsson, Yan Shing Tsang, Eric Wasylenko, Kostiantyn Tupalo, Florin Illies and Thangud Thatsofer.

*May not all be actual players. -- HS

6:15pm: Bensimhon bluffs the blogging team and Ghassan doubles
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Our resident crocodile Ben Bensimhon grabbed the attention of the blogging team by stating that a 'very big hand' was about to take place. He proceeded to open to 900 from early position and got just one call in the big blind, from Foeke Deinum.

It came Q♠8♠9♣ on the flop and both players checked. The A♥ turn and 9♥ river, saw more checks all round and the cards were turned over:

Bensimhon K♥J♥
Deinum K♦4♥

The tiny pot was chopped up but the good news was that all that checking allowed time to watch an all in taking place on the next table.

It was between Ibrahim Ghassan who held A♦K♥ and Vasili Firsau A♠Q♦. Ghassan was the all in player and had the best of it.

6♠A♣3♦3♥2♠

The board held for Ghassan and he doubles to around 25,000, whilst Firsau is down to the felt with only 2,000 left. -LY

6:10pm: Killeen-ing up
Level 4: Blinds 200/400 (ante 75)

Kevin Killeen flopped a flush, got paid, and has a stack worth 40,000. That's a nice welcome back from break for the Irishman.

He was one of three players who took to an 8♣9♣T♣ flop where the aggressor continued for 625 from middle position. Killeen was in the hijack, raised to 2,500 and it was actually Elie El Feghali in the small blind who called, with the aggressor folding.

The board paired with the 8♦ on the turn and it slowed the action to a check. That changed on the 4♠ river as Feghali led for 2,000 and called after Killeen raised to 7,500. Killeen opened K♣Q♣ and Feghali said nice, showed the J♣ and mucked. --MC

6:05pm: Fatima forlorn following felicitous fifth street for Felicio
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 75)

Passing by Fatima Moreira De Melo's table just now, it looked like a harmless little value bet. She'd put 1,050 out in front of her cards, something like half of what was in the middle, with the board showing T♠A♠3♠7♠4♥.

But Wagner Da Gloria Felicio's rapidly-delivered raise to 4,000 didn't look so harmless, and a disappointed De Melo had to let her hand go. She has about 21,000 now, while Felicio is up to 55,000. --MH

5:55pm: Play resumes
Level 5: Blinds 200/400 (ante 75)

Well that's that. They're back.

5:25pm: Take a break

The players have gone on a 20-minute break, so we'll do the same. --JS

5:25pm: They rap a good tweet
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Part-time hilarious Twitter guy and full-time poker player Sam Grafton is sat at a table with Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes and Irish pro Gavin O'Rourke. He played a pot with both of them, won the bigger one and lost the smaller one.

Grafton opened to 700 from second position before O'Rourke three-bet to 2,600 from the cutoff. Grafton came back with a four-bet to 7,000 and that got the job done.

Two hands later, Lopes raised to 725 from the hijack and Grafton peeled from the big blind. The board ran out 8♣K♦J♠9♣T♣ with Lopes waiting until the river before betting 1,4000. Grafton made a quick fold.

Grafton - 52,000
O'Rourke - 22,000
Lopes - 61,000
--MC

5:25pm: Double for Calamusa
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

There was a red triangle in front of Pierre Calamusa and 25,625 in chips. He was holding A♥A♠ and Georges Hanna had called with A♦K♣, giving Calamusa the monster lead preflop as the dealer laid out the board.

The flop T♣Q♦2♥ brought something of a sweat for Calamusa, as it gave Hanna a gutshot for broadway. The K♦ turn meant that the gutshot would only give the players a chop, so Hanna's outs were down to just the two kings.

It was a Q♣ and the aces held, pushing Calamusa up to over 50,000 now. --LY

5:20pm: Welcome aces for Lauren Roberts
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Having just arrived at the table, Roberts min-raised to 600 from under the gun and watched the action fold all of the way around to Andrew Hedley on her right. He defended his big blind with a call, then check-called her continuation bet of 700 following the 4♠9♥Q♥ flop.

The turn brought the T♣ and another check from Hedley, then Roberts bet 1,400 and Hedley let his hand go.

"I have to show," said Roberts as she turned over her A♣A♥, and the table chuckled in response, noting how that was how she was being welcomed to the table.

"Welcome aces," she smiled, and others nodded before recalling they hadn't gotten their welcome aces just yet! -- MH

5:15pm: It's button versus big blind...twice
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Back to back hands on one table involved a clash between the button and the big blind. First off Tomas Soderstrom had opened and Gert Zumkehr had defended in the big, taking them to a Q♣A♥2♦ flop. Zumkehr check-called the 500 continuation and so they went to the K♥ turn.

Again, Zumkehr check-called the 1,100 bet. As if the flop and turn weren't interesting enough, the T♥ river brought both a flush and a one card straight. Zumkehr decided to take the lead and bet 3,500, which was swiftly called by Soderstrom, who showed A♣J♦ for broadway, beating Zumkehr's A♠7♥ top pair.

The next hand saw Ran Ilani open to 750 on the button and Yan Shing Tsang three-bet to 2,500. Ilani asked to see how many chips he had behind (approximately 15,000) before pumping it up to 6,200 and Tsang wasted no time in getting it all in.

Ilani: T♠T♦
Tsang: A♠5♦

The 7♣Q♠T♥ flop left Tsang drawing extremely thin and the A♦ turn locked up the hand. The 5♠ river, just rubbed salt in the wound, giving Tsang two pair to Ilani's set. --LY

5:10pm: Two Red Spades
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Marcin Horecki started today with fellow Red Spade Maria Konnikova for company. And though she has moved on (just switched tables; she's not out), Liv Boeree is now alongside Horecki. It's as though there's a strict two Red Spade policy in that particular corner.

Boeree has around 35,000 in her stack, even after losing a small recent pot against Manilo Iemina.

Iemina began it with a raise to 800 from mid-position. Boeree called in the hijack and Boyan Asenov called on the button. Iemina, first to act after the 7♣5♦8♥ flop, checked it to Boeree. She bet 1,500, and both opponents called.

The 6♣ scare-card resulted in three checks, before the T♣ river made things slightly more co-ordinated still.

There were, however, another three checks, which probably frustrated Iemina more than anybody else. He showed down his 9♥9♦ (a straight, with a couple of blockers) and it was good. The others mucked.

Horecki, it should be noted, sat this one out. He still has around his starting stack too. --HS

5:05pm: Davidi Kitai-ng another deep run
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Another late arriver to tell you about -- Davidi Kitai whose recent poker accomplishments include a seventh-place finish in the PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo Main Event. That's just one of many scores that have helped the Beglian earn over $8 million in tournaments over the years.

While Kitai is eyeing the prize of another deep PSC Main Event run like everyone else, he's currently in a challenging spot from which to do so -- down to half a starting stack already and with Igor Yaroshevskyy on his left. --MH


NEIL8086_PSC_Prague2017_Davidi_Kitai_Igor_Yaroshevskyy_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Two sharks: Davidi Kitai (l) and Yaroshevskyy (r)

5pm: Vojtech? Check!
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

They've crested the 600-player mark as far as Day 1B is concerned, with the big board showing 606 having registered thus far with less than half an hour to go in Level 4. Among the latest to join the fun is one of the Czech Republic's most accomplished players, Vojtech Ruzicka.

Remember that late registration remains open all day, and continues to be open right through to the start of Day 2 tomorrow. --MH

4:55pm: Boeree started it, Jeppesen ended it
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Robert Askarov got his chips in good but couldn't stay ahead.

Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree started proceedings with an under-the-gun raise to 800 and Carsten Jeppesen called on the button before Askarov squeezed all-in for 4,225 from the small blind. Boeree folded but Jeppesen made the call.

Askarov: A♥J♥
Jeppesen: K♣Q♠

The board ran 8♥K♦4♠4♥5♠ to make Jeppesen two pair. --MC

4:50pm: Not always bluffing
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

"Bluff" is still a word closely associated with poker, for some fairly obvious reasons. But more often than not, if someone is piling chips into a pot it's because they have a good hand. Sometimes some players seem to forget that.

Here are two examples of that simple truth, which played out simultaneously on neighbouring tables. The first hand featured a spell in the tank from Ihar Soika that was so long, it was possible to watch the second hand play out in its entirety and still return to catch the denouement.

So, hand one: Conor Beresford opened to 750 from early position and Soika, his closest neighbour, called. The rest of the table left them alone to see a flop of T♠2♦4♥.

Beresford bet 1,100 and Soika called. Then the 5♥ came on the turn and Beresford bet again, this time 4,300. After the Q♠ fell on the river, Beresford gathered the remainder of his chip-stack, worth 12,550, and stuck it over the line.

Soika now began his tanking, and he tanked for a very long time. Eventually he called, however, and Beresford showed the hand he had been representing all along: A♦A♠.

Soika sighed, turned his beaten 9♣9♠ over, and sucked it up.

On the next table along, Luigi Grisa got involved in a strange hand against Marco Regonaschi. It's a little tricky to follow what happened pre-flop, but I think Grisa raised from under the gun, Regonaschi called from a couple of seats to his left, a third player than made it 3,000 on the button, Grisa called and then Regonaschi squeezed to 8,400.

The button folded, but Grisa called and the two remaining players saw the K♥9♦3♠ flop.

At this point, Grisa's remaining 8,000 (approximate) went in the middle, matched by Regonaschi. It might have been a shove/call or a check/shove/call, but either way Grisa's 9♣7♣ was a long way behind Regonaschi's K♣K♠.

He didn't catch up through turn or river and so hit the rail, paying the price for being a non-believer. --HS

4:45pm: Panka and a pink rabbit
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Eyal Bensimhon -- the player with a green crocodile hoodie -- also has an alternate pink rabbit cap, it turns out. He was wearing the latter just now when he opened with a raise to 1,400 from under the gun, and 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Dominik Panka called from a few seats over.

The big blind came along as well to the 7♦J♠A♦, but got out after Bensimhon continued for 2,500 and Panka called. The Q♥ followed and Bensimhon backed off with a check, and when Panka put out a bet Bensimhon quickly released his cards.

Panka is up to 42,000, while Bensimhon is at around 30,000. --MH

4:40pm: Duta and Sperling get tangled
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Arriving on the turn, Fabio Sperling and Florian Dimitrie Duta were heads up looking at a 3♦8♥J♥2♦ board. Duta was in late position and Sperling had defended his big blind, then check-called Duta's 3,000 bet.

The K♥ river saw another check from Sperling and another bet from Duta, this time to 5,700. We'll never know if the minute or so Sperling spent thinking before making the call was deciding whether to raise or not as he turned over K♣8♠ for top and third pair. Duta would unlikely have called with ace high, having missed his flush draw with A♦Q♦. --LY

4:30pm: Silly, cold and multi-way
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

With over 500 players in the main room, the air-conditioning has to be turned up high to stop it becoming a sauna. The problem with that it that some tables directly under an air-vent get the full force of the cold air. The table containing Eyal Bensimhon, Tobias Peters and Jan Bendik is one of the unfortunate ones. All of them are wearing whatever they have to keep warm: hoodies, jackets, scarfs, hats and onesies.

The hat and onesie belong to the colourful Bensimhon and he opened a pot to 450 from under the gun. After he was called in three spots, he said, "That's what happens when you have a silly image, no one believes you!"

The flop fell 7♥T♦6♣ and Peters was first to act, betting 1,150. The button called but Bendik, in the big blind, check-raised to 2,800. Only Peters called to the 9♠ turn where he called another 3,500. The Q♦ came down last and Bendik opened Q♣T♣ for two-pair after both players checked. Peters gave the reaction that he was ahead until the river before mucking, and dropped to 36,000. --MC


NEIL8001_PSC_Prague2017_Eyal_Bensimhon_Thomas_Lentrodt_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Bensimhon - the one in the onesie

4:20pm: Botond over Ionescu, a poker play
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Adrian Ioan Ionescu opened with a button raise, then Balazs Botond three-bet to 2,500 from the small blind. The action returned to Ionescu who pushed back, macbetting 6,200, but Botond took approximately one second to jam all in over that for 20,500 total.

It was a big, rhinoceros-sized reraise, but Ionescu had a hand with which he could call it -- A♥K♠. Botond showed T♥T♦, then the 7♦T♣4♣ flop improved him to a set. The 5♣ on the turn then left Ionescu drawing dead, and he's now down to 14,000. Meanwhile Botond bounces up to more than 40,000. --MH

4:15pm: The multi-talented Mr Shen
Level 4: Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

French rapper Kool Shen (birth name: Bruno Lopes) is one of the recent arrivals to the tournament room. There aren't many native English speakers who are connoisseurs of French rap, which means Lopes hasn't got the attention he really deserves in the poker media.

However, I recently saw a film called Heal The Living in which Lopes played a bereaved father in what I think is his feature film debut. It was excellent, and Lopes was superb. Well worth putting in the Netflix queue, IMO. --HS

4:10pm: Soap opera
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

I have absolutely no idea what is going on on Igor Yaroshevskyy's phone. He is watching a TV show or a film, with wireless ear-buds keeping him abreast of the action, but it is absolutely insane. In the 30 seconds or so it took for the following hand to play out, the following all happened in Ukrainian soap land:

-- A woman eating mashed potato at a wedding reception started crying, and waved her forkful of mashed potato in the air
-- A man hoisted a different woman on to his shoulder and carried her into a hotel room
-- A man sat in a radio studio gave a to-camera talking head
-- A man with an obviously false moustache drove a car
-- The man and the woman above began doing hotel-room things in soft focus
-- The man with the false moustache began expounding philosophically on a subject unknown

Anyway, as all of that was happening, Yaroshevskyy was also playing some poker and won a hand against Brian Landesman.

Landesman started it with an open to 450 from the hijack. Yaroshevskyy put out a three-bet to 1,500 from the cutoff (this was as the woman with the mashed potato was crying) and only Landeman called.

The two of them saw the flop of T♦5♦9♥ and Landesman checked, Yaroshevskyy bet 1,650 and Landesman called.

The pattern repeated on the K♣ turn, with the bet from Landesman now 3,400. The river card was the J♦.

Landesman checked and, after a moment's thought (and about four scene changes in the soap opera) Yaroshevskyy checked behind.

This pot might have been much bigger on a slightly different run-out. Landesman showed T♣T♠ for a flopped set. Yaroshevskyy had 7♣8♣ for a rivered straight.

Yaroshevskyy could go back to his TV watching with a few thousand more chips. --HS

4pm: Yaroshevskyy takes a bite
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Igor Yaroshevskyy might reasonably be categorized as a "shark" by his opponents. His aggressive, effective style would earn him that designation, for sure. Heck, he could be said even to resemble a shark (a little), with his distinctive features adding to the impression that he's once more at work carving his way through treacherous tournament waters.

The Ukrainian player has proven his mettle mightily many times over in PokerStars events, with many final tables and a silver spade among his accomplishments while earning nearly $3 million in tournaments over the last several years.

Yaroshevskyy is back for more today, and after just now pushing Bernard Haider off a pot with a turn bet is sitting with about 40,000 as Level 3 nears its end. --MH

3:55pm: Lukasz Wojtaszek writing his own script
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Lukasz Wojtaszek won two pots on the bounce to see his stack swell to 47,000.

He was battling famed journalist Maria Konnikova in the first pot, and we picked up the action on the turn where the board read A♣3♣5♥4♣. Konnikova was under the gun and check-called 1,100 from Wojtaszek in middle position. The T♠ completed the board and Wojtaszek had another 3,000 called with 7♥6♥ for a straight to beat her two pair with A♦5♣. She dropped to around 40,000.


NEIL7941_PSC_Prague2017_Maria_Konnikova_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Two-time New York Times best seller, Konnikova

Wojtaszek was still in middle position when he raised the next hand. He was called by Rui Manuel Does in the next seat before Jack Hardcastle squeezed to 2,100 from the hijack. Both opponents called to the 3♠3♦5♦ flop where they called another 2,400 from the young Brit. From there, no more chips were committed through the 2♥7♥ turn and river. Wojtaszek opened 9♣9♦ and took the pot as both opponents mucked. --MC

3:50pm: Sorrentino rises to almost 50,000
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Raffaele Sorrentino, PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo champion, has won at showdown in a hand versus Kliment Roussev Tarmakov.

It all began with a cutoff open by Tarmakov, who saw his 500 open raised to 1,600 by the Italian.

On a 3♣5♠A♥ flop, Tarmakov check-called the 1,500 continuation from Sorrentino. The 6♥ turn saw more of the same, with Sorrentino making it 4,800 this time, which Tarmakov check-called.

On to the 9♠ river and when Tarmakov checked again, Sorrentino made it 11,000 to see his cards. This decision proved a little more difficult with Tarmakov tanking a while before making the call. Sorrentino wasted no time in turning over A♣K♠ and it was good enough to take the pot, putting him on almost 50,000. --LY

3:40pm: Chanracy takes chance, and Karnapp snaps
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

After an under-the-gun raise Chanracy Khun three-bet to 1,800 from the hijack seat, then action folded to Knut Karnapp in the small blind. Karnapp is a part-time player from Germany best remembered by the PokerStars Blog from his last cash -- and his biggest one (by far) -- a third-place showing in the 851-entry LAPT Bahamas Event in early 2016.

Karnapp studied the situation for a moment, then put in his own reraise to 5,300. The big blind and original raiser quickly skedaddled, and after a medium-length pause Khun made it 11,800 to go. Karnapp sat quietly another 15-20 seconds, then announced he was all in and Khun called to put his stack at risk.

Khun: K♦K♣
Karnapp: A♣A♠

It was a bad spot for Khun, and five cards later -- 8♠J♣J♠6♥J♥ -- he'd lost his spot in the tournament. Karnapp's last push of 25,000 or so was just a little more than what Khun had left, which means after nearly a full double Karnapp is now up over 50,000. --MH

3:35pm: Dani Juncadella races off to a great start
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Dani Juncadella's one of the early movers here on Day 1B having already tripled up his stack. That's pretty impressive going as he had to win them off a bunch of pros at his table: Dean Hutchison, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Jonathan Proudfoot, John Eames, Lawrence Bayley and Mitch Johnson to be precise.

What makes his early feats even more impressive is that by day he's a professional racing driver. The Spaniard has been a reserve diver for Formula 1 team Force India in the past and next year will race for HWA Team in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, which is the prestigious German Touring Car Championships. It's s good job he's playing poker now as he won't have much time in 2018 as he's also planning to race in the Daytona 24 hour race and the British GT Championships. --MC


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Fast start for Juncadella

3:25pm: Three-handed showdown
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Action was on the river and there were still three players with cards in front hoping to take the pot. They were Said Michailidis, Stefan Vagner and Vitaliy Li.

The board read 5♠K♣6♦A♦J♦ and Michailidis had bet 6,225 which garnered calls from both his opponents, although Li took some time before calling behind. Michailidis quickly spun K♦T♦ over for the nut flush and Vagner and Li mucked their holdings. --LY

3:15pm: Sickener for Minuicchi
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Someone find a bucket for Marcello Miniucchi. You can mutter "That's poker" as you carry its swilling contents away.

Miniucchi's PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event has come to a screeching halt in Level 3 and he has every reason to be consigned to a sick bed for a little while.

What proved to be Miniucchi's final hand played out like this: Valentin Messina opened to 500 from under the gun and Miniucchi called from mid-position, with Rui Ferreira also calling from the cutoff and Carlos Branco calling in the big blind.

The four of them saw the flop fall 8♣8♥7♠ and both Branco and Messina checked, allowing Miniucchi to push 1,300 over the line. Only Ferreira called.

The 5♥ fell on the turn and Miniucchi slowed to a check. But that check was revealed to be a trap after Ferreira bet 3,500 and Minuicchi moved all-in for 15,675. Ferreira quickly called and here's why.

Ferreira had J♠8♠ for flopped trips, but Minuicchi had turned the straight with his 9♣6♣.

Do you have that bucket ready? We're about to see the river.

Out it popped: J♦

That's a boat for Ferreira and a sickener for Minuicchi. All together now: "That's poker." --HS

3:10pm: A screeching halt for Saout
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

There's a sound in the tournament area with which all who enter it and remain a while are quite familiar, that of chair legs scraping on the floor surface. With hundreds of players the sound gets repeated frequently, and can be conspicuous if you isolate your attention upon it.

It sounds a little like a small, comedic car crash sound. You know, the one meant to signify a surprising twist or development. Match that with table talk and it can become a humorous sound effect.

"I bet 2,500," he said. "How much...? All right, then. I raise...!" Er-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-uppp.

We just heard that sound again from Antoine Saout's chair as he got up from his table. After committing the last of his chips in a three-way pot, the two-time WSOP Main Event final tablist's hand ended up third-best and he exits early here in Level 3. --MH

3pm: Welcome back... and hello
Level 3: Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Players are back from the day's first break, and their numbers are increasing with Ana Marquez and Christopher Frank among the latest to join in this PokerStars Championship Main Event quest.

A check of the big board here at the start of Level 3 shows a total of 532 players registered so far on this Day 1B, with late registration open all day today and right up to the start of Day 2 tomorrow. --MH

2:35pm: Play pauses for the break
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

So that's it for Level 2. Stay tuned for more action coming up shortly.

2:30pm: Silver returns with another mouth to feed
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Max Silver is making a welcome return to poker after the birth of his first child in October. He won the PokerStars Festival Dublin High Roller on the eve of Lauren Silver's birth, and after a "couple of months of daddying" he's back for a packed schedule in Prague.

He just won a recent pot just as players went for the first break of the day. Silver opened under the gun (he put a 500-value chip out there, but announced something less than that). Only Amir Saeid called and the two saw the K♣5♣A♣ flop. Silver checked, Sarid bet 1,100 and Silver called.

The turn was the T♦ and brought two checks. Then the 7♥ fell on the river. Silver bet 3,200 and Saeid tank-called. He also then tank-mucked after Silver showed his A♥K♥.

The local papers in Ireland were delighted by Silver's win in Dublin just before he became a dad. They may yet need to write a follow up after the week's activities in the Czech Republic. -- HS


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Silver (left) hoping for another headline

2:20pm: Pehlivanlar's nines squashed by Soshnikov's kings
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Arriving amid preflop battling between Hulya Pehlivanlar and Ivan Soshnikov, Pehlivanlar had 3,500 sitting in front of her and Soshnikov had just made a last reraise all in. Pehlivanlar tanked for a short while before finally calling and committing her last chips.

Alas for Pehlivanlar, her 9♦9♠ were well behind Soshnikov's K♦K♣. The board ran out J♥4♦Q♠8♥K♥, and Pehlivanlar is out. Soshnikov has about 55,000 now. --MH

2:10pm: Small win for Warburton, small loss for Johnson
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Steve Warburton and Mitch Johnson are good buddies from back in the UK. Both got involved in small pots on their respective tables, but only one scored the win.

There was no big blind seated when Alessandro Luciani raised to 350 from early position and was called by Ouri Cohen (button) along with Warburton (small blind). The 9♠7♣6♣ flop was checked to the 9♦ turn where Warburton led for 700. Cohen called and the 7♦ river was checked. Warburton opened A♠Q♦ and took the pot after Cohen mucked. That got him back up to 28,500.

Moments later on nearby table, Youngshin Im opened from early position, picking up calls from Johnson on the button and Dean Hutchison in the big blind. The flop spread A♠7♣Q♥ and the action checked to Johnson who bet 800. Im was the only caller and the two remaining players checked the T♣7♠ turn and river down. Im opened A♣3♣ and Jonson mucked. --MC

2:05pm: Panyak back in the hunt
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Maxim Panyak has gradually become a bit of a fixture at PokerStars events and followed up ninth place in a €10,000 High Roller in Barcelona a couple of years ago with a fourth place in the Monte Carlo Main Event in April, then an outright victory at a High Roller in Sochi in May.

He's here again in Prague and beginning what might be a long journey to another decent score.

That said, he lost the following small pot, with Wagner Da Gloria Felicio taking the spoils.

Panyak started it with an early-position raise to 400. Felicio called in the big blind, taking them to a J♣K♠7♠ flop. Felicio checked, Panyak bet 600 and Felicio called.

The turn brought the A♠ and Felicio checked again. Panyak bet again, this time 1,100, and now Felicio sprang a trap. He bumped it up to 3,000. But Panyak was agreeable. He called.

The 6♦ completed the board and Felicio kept with his story. He bet 3,000. Panyak wasn't convinced and called, but he mucked upon seeing Felicio's Q♠4♠ for a flush. -- HS

2pm: The usual banter
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

It's taken less than two whole levels for Will Kassouf to get involved in a long, chatty pot.

As usual though, Kassouf was the only one chatting. On an 8♠4♥2♥7♣J♥ board, Kassouf had bet 8,000 into a 10,500 pot only for Jean Montury to put him all in. Kassouf had 15,000 behind, and the tanking/talking began.

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Mr Chatty, aka William Kassouf

"Why would you shove? You must have the nuts, right? I have a flush. I flopped top pair with a flush draw. What do you have? Do you want me to call? Nut or nothing. Nuts or nothing. Nuts or nothing."

After a couple of minutes the clock was called, and Kassouf continued to talk until there were ten seconds left.

"OK, OK, I fold. Nice hand. Show the nuts!"

Montury offered Kassouf one card to look at while mucking the other. Kassouf flipped the 7♥.

"Ahhh yep, ace seven of hearts. You had it right? He had it." --JS

1:55pm: A partial information game
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

There was 8,000 in the middle and the board showed 2♠7♠2♦, with Ang Li first to act postflop.

Look back at those blinds and compare the size of the pot -- that's some serious preflop action we missed, yea?

Li put in a bet of 3,600 in an effort to win those chips, but after a pause his opponent Elvis Petcu reraised all in for about 16,500.

Li tanked for some time, then finally folded his hand face up -- K♥K♣. That partly explained the preflop back-and-forthing. Petcu then decided to share a little information as well, but only a little, and turned over one of his cards -- the A♠.

Intriguing! Quite the showman, that Elvis.

Petcu moves up around 30,000 after that one, while Li sits with 26,000 and a puzzle to continue sorting out in his head. --MH

1:50pm: Return to Prague for the defending champ
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Who is that sitting quietly at Table 37, wearing earbuds and folding to a small turn bet to concede a modest pot to Raul Martinez? Why it's last year's Main Event champion Jasper Meijer Van Putten, that's who.

Meijer Van Putten memorably outlasted a huge field and tough final table that included runner-up Marton Czuczor and third-place finisher 2016 Global Poker Index Player of the Year David Peters to win the EPT13 Main Event title and nearly €700,000. He's already enjoyed his return to Prague this week, too, having won a €10K NLHE event here already for another €150,000.

As noted, he's done nothing too conspicuous here so far and remains hovering around the starting stack. Goes without saying though, that he's one to watch. --MH

1:45pm: Three times pot shove works for Camarda
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

This was a battle born in Italy and it wasn't that friendly.

The action was three-way but the two main players were Salvatore Camarda and Micky Blasi . Around 4,000 lay in the middle at the turn stage where the board read 4♦6♥T♦9♥. The action checked to Camarda on the button who moved all-in for 12,000. Blasi was under the gun and went deep into the tank. After a few minutes he apologised to the table but Camarda lost his patience and starting protesting to Blasi in Italian.

He was told English only and continued to Blasi, "Come on! If you win - no problem!"

Blasi had the calling chips in his hand and looked as if he was trying to find the bravery to call, a similar look to someone scared of jumping off a five metre diving board. Then all of a sudden he slammed in the call. After the third player mucked, Camarda opened 6♠4♠ for two pair and shrugged while giving off the look of someone saying, "Well, what do you think I would make that move with?"

Blasi opened Q♦Q♠ and failed to improve as the river came 7♦. --MC

1:40pm: I know that he knows but what do I know?
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

There's an especially aggro corner of the tournament room this afternoon where Anton Bertilsson, who is aggressive even by Swedish standards, sits beside Antonin Duda, who is aggressive even by Czech standards.

Both men have previously shown how valuable such skills can be: Berltilsson was runner up to Stephen Graner at EPT Prague in Season 11, while Duda made the final table in both Barcelona (Season 9) and Malta (Season 11).

It's not clear as yet which of them is having the best of it today, but they were both present to watch an interesting hand play out between Romania's Florin Pandilica and Lijo Lander, from Spain, who occupy the seats to Duda's left.

The hand began with a button raise from Duda. He made it 450 to go. Then Pandilica three-bet from the small blind, making it 1,175, only to be met with a four-bet to 3,000 from Lander in the big blind.

At this stage it looked like it may have been one of those, "I know that you know" moments, ie, Pandlica knowing that Duda is open raising any two on the button and Lander knowing that Pandlica may be three-betting light in the circumstances.

Duda folded, suggesting the first part of the assumption may have been accurate. But Pandlica called and the mystery deepened.

The flop came Q♠Q♥T♥ and Pandlica checked. Lander bet 2,200 and Pandlica called.

Then the fizzle out began. They both checked the 7♣ turn. And they also both then checked the J♣ river.

We'd see both hands. Were they at it?

Well, no. Pandlica turned over K♥K♦. But Lander was sitting behind with A♣A♥.

Both players knew they might have lost/won significantly more with those two hands in different circumstances and with a different run-out. As it was, hold 'em's grimmest set-up was worth only about 11,000 chips. -- HS

1:35pm: Marcin a one-man Horecking crew
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

"You are the number one aggressive player at this table," said Vasyl Zabrodskyy to one of his opponents, and everyone grinned in response.

Hard to say if Zabrodskyy is correct about Table 49, but nearby at Table 47 Marcin Horecki seems to be the one deserving of such a designation in the early going.


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Marcin Horecki with Maria Konnikova

Just now Horecki opened for 450 and after one player called he saw Charles La Boissoniere three-bet to 2,200.

The action back on Horecki, he leaned forward to ask "how much?" and La Boissoniere said "15 and change." Then Horecki made it 5,000 to go, and his opponent quickly stepped aside.

Horecki's up around 50,000 already as the second level gets going. --MH

1:30pm: Kassouf takes one down
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Will Kassouf has returned to Prague with what can only be fond memories of the place. After all, last year he won the €10K High Roller for €532,000 after a heads-up deal with Patrick Serda. Not only that, he'd satellited in for just €1K. And better still, it happened on his birthday.

The divisive Brit is in the field today, and just took down a small one to get the ball rolling. Michal Lubas had opened to 400 from middle position and Kassouf called from the cutoff. Dan Borlan defended his big blind to see a 9♠Q♠K♥ flop, and it checked to Kassouf, who bet 1,025.

Both players folded. "Easy," said Kassouf as he dragged the pot. --JS

1:25pm: Bluff or thin value?
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Nicholas Galtos made it 400 from the cutoff, which got a call from Walid Abdi Ali on the button and brought in Jason Wheeler too from the big blind. When the K♣9♠9♣ flop was dealt, it checked to Ali who made it 500. Wheeler insta-called, and Galtos came along too.

The turn was the J♥ and it checked around to the 7♥ river. Wheeler opted to lead out for just 375 into a pot of almost 3,000, and Galtos made the call while Ali let it go.

Wheeler turned over the J♠T♠ for pair of jacks, but that was no good against Galtos' Q♣Q♥. Was Wheeler turning his hand into a bluff? Was he betting for value? Or was he blocker betting to try and get to a cheap showdown? You'll have to ask him. --JS

1:20pm: Jordan for three points
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Terry "The River" Jordan won a pot off three opponents, but it was the turn rather than the river that helped out the British player.

Another Brit, Ben Jackson, opened the pot with an early position raise to 400. He was called by Andre Moth in the next seat, Jordan (small blind) and Liran Twito (big blind). It looked as if no one wanted the pot as it was checked all the way to the river where a K♥2♦K♠Q♦J♥ board rested. There, Jordan casually tossed in a 1,000 chip and found a caller in Moth.

Jordon showed just the Q♠ at first, before showing the 4♥ after Moth mucked. --MC

1:15pm: A crocodile or a fish?
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Eyal Bensimhon has already established his presence during the first level of the day. He caught the eye right away, frankly, thanks to the fact that he's wearing a bright green hoodie with a comic crocodile's head up top. But rather angrily snapping at his tablemates, his amiable table talk has everyone grinning and laughing.

A little while ago Sarah Herzali sat down a couple of seats to Bensimhon's right, and when he got sight of a patch signaling she's sponsored, he sat upright.

"Floor... seat change!" he cried, and table chuckled.

Just now the smiles turned serious for a bit during a three-way hand involving Bensimhon, Eric Wasylenko, and Majid Ejlal Noubarian. With the board showing A♠9♠K♣3♦ and 2,100 in the middle, Noubarian checked and Bensimhon bet 1,250. Then Wasylenko raised to 5,000, chasing Noubarian.

Bensimhon sat quietly for about a half-minute, then perked up to ask Wasylenko if he were afraid of what Bensimhon might have. Then he raised to 11,000, and Wasylenko folded immediately.

"Ohhh," cried Bensimhon. "My heart is beating so fast," he said, turning to Noubarian. "Here, feel it!"

As he collected chips, he continued to talk.

"You're a pro," he said to Wasylenko. "You know when the fish has a big hand." --MH

1:10pm Saout in trouble early
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Antoine Saout was facing a tough decision when we got to the table. There was a 5♥4♠9♠A♥ board out there, on which Saout had led for 2,200. He'd then been three-bet to 6,300 by Montenegro's Vlado Banicevic, and after another minute Saout called.

The dealer completed the board with the K♣, and Saout checked it. Banicevic fired for 9,200, and Saout went into the tank for around two minutes before eventually letting it go.

A rough start has left Saout with 12,500. --JS

1:05pm More for Cody
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Jake Cody's great start has continued, having taken down another nice pot from the player to his left, Eugene Katchalov.

Picking up the action on an A♠7♦9♠6♥ board, there was 3,500 in the middle already and Cody decided to make an overbet. He put out 4,000, and after some thinking Katchalov called.

The river was the 2♦ and Cody led again, this time for 4,300. Katchalov let it go, bring Cody up over 60,000. --JS

1pm: More arrivals
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

About an hour in now, and more than 400 players are seated and playing here on Day 1B, including Kenny Hallaert, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Kiryl Radzivonau, Ihar Soika, and Juicy Li. --MH

12:50pm: Early days, friendly pots
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

The first level of tournaments usually don't get out of line too much unless some sort of aces versus kings, set over set cooler happens. Sorry, this isn't one of those hands.

Maksim Paddubniak and Artem Metalidi are both from Northern Europe and seem friends. They're at the same table as James Rann played out a small, friendly pot.

Metalidi opened to 250 from under the gun and Paddubniak defended his big blind. Both players checked the 9♣8♥7♦ flop before Paddubniak led for 200 on the 7♠ turn while saying, "Thank you, thank you."

Metalidi called and the 6♠ river was checked. Paddubniak confidently opened 9♠4♠ but Metalidi smiled and said, "I win!" and opened K♥9♦. --MC

12:40pm: Red spade brigade fashion report
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

My colleague Jack Stanton just shared an early hand played by Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody. He's dressed in a white shirt today, suggesting a minimalist approach to fashion. So, too, are Cody's fellow teammates Igor Kurganov and Felipe Ramos both wearing white.

We'd suspect some sort of plan-ahead conference call, but then we spot Fatima Moreira de Melo seated and playing dressed all in black.

And wait a minute... there at the door Marcin Horecki is entering the tournament room to disrupt any possible patterns. The Polish pro is donning a nifty multi-colored jacket, thoroughly proving his sartorial independence. --MH

12:30pm Incredible start for Cody
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Jake Cody just played what was very likely his first hand in this Main Event, and while it wasn't a full double up he couldn't have asked for a much better start.

Xixiang Luo had opened to 250 in the hijack, and when Cody looked at his cards he quickly three-bet to 800 from the cutoff. Everyone else folded, and when it got back to Luo he wasn't done raising. He came in for a four-bet to 2,750 and after ten seconds or so Cody made the call.

The dealer spread a 2♠3♦9♦ flop, on which Luo continued his aggression for 2,700. The PokerStars Team Pro didn't budge, bringing the 2♦ on the turn. It went check check.

We saw the T♦ complete the board, putting four diamonds out there. Luo came in for a bet of 2,675, and Cody paused for around 20 seconds before raising it to 13,000. Luo quickly tossed in a single chip to call.

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Jake Cody: Pictured in Barcelona

Cody confidently flipped over the 9♣9♠ for a flopped top set that filled up on the turn. A safe presumption would be that Luo had the A♦ in his hand, making that particular turn and river cruel for Luo but amazing for Cody's hand.

That incredible start brings Cody up to almost 50,000 after his first hand, while Luo is down to 13,000. --JS

12:25pm: Early pot to Zabrodskyy
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

More familiar faces to tell you about as we make our first few circuits around the spacious tournament room here at the Hilton Prague. Knut Karnapp, Pierre Calamusa, and Eugene Katchalov are all here and trying to spin up their starting stacks.


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Pierre Calamusa joins the field

Katchalov's fellow countryman, the Ukrainian Vasyl Zabrodskyy, has arrived as well, the mustachioed political journalist. He was in action just now as we passed by, check-calling a flop bet of 2,000 from the Canadian Jonathan Bussieres after the first three community cards came J♠8♣7♥.

Both checked the 4♦ turn, then Zabrodskyy led for 4,000 after the K♦ completed the board. Bussieres called quickly, and when Zabrodskyy showed K♣J♣ he won the pot with his two pair. --MH

12:20pm: Brits on tour
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

While plenty of players are still making their way into the tournament room to find their seats, we couldn't help but notice a strong British contingent who have turned up early on Day 1B.

Among them are the likes of EPT10 Barcelona winner Tom Middleton, PokerStars Festival Bucharest champ Sam Grafton, recent WSOP bracelet winner Max Silver, and high stakes cash game player Matt Moss.

Then there's James Akenhead, John Eames, Steve Warburton, Harry Lodge, Mitch Johnson, and Andrew Hulme, while high roller regular Ben Heath is out in the sign-up area, yet to register.

Scotland's Ludovic Geilich and Niall Farrell are also in Prague and expected to play today. While Farrell has been on fine form of late, winning his first bracelet in the €25K at the WSOPE and final tabling the Main Event just a couple of days later, it's Geilich who has the most recent success. He finished runner up in yesterday's National Championship event for a healthy €184,000. --JS

12:15pm: Let's play some poker
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

"Good luck... we can play now, yes?"

So asked Jimmy Guerrero of the dealer over at Table 39. The Frenchman and his tablemate Ionel Anton of Romania are the only two players seated at their table so far, and as the tournament director explained just before play began, they'll need at least three for hands to begin to be dealt.

"Do you play Chinese?" asked the dealer, and both players laughed.

There are 300-plus already seated as Day 1B gets underway, and with late registration open all day (and until the start of Day 2 tomorrow), every seat at all of the tables in the main tournament room will likely soon be filled to capacity.

Among the others here and rarin' to go are Tsugunari Toma, Dermot Blain, Uri Reichenstein, Andrey Andreev, and Maria Konnikova. --MH

12pm: Off they go
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Players have taken their seats and are fidgeting with their 30,000 starting stacks. Cards are now in the air and play has begun. Remember, registration is open all day, and into tomorrow. If you can find €5,000 before midday Thursday, you can still play this event in Prague. -- HS

11:30am: Welcome to Day 1B!
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

The second and final flight of the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event is due to commence in around 30 minutes time. A total of 193 players took part yesterday and 77 made it through, led by Michal Mrakes on 202,700.

We're expecting a bumper day full of notables and Team PokerStars Pros. Liv Boeree, Jake Cody, Filipe Ramos, Igor Kurganov, Fatima Moreira de Melo and Marcin Horecki will all be taking to the felt. This event last year offered up the opportunity for someone to win the last ever EPT, and this year we'll crown the first ever PSC Prague champion.


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Fatima Moreira De Melo in today's field

A reminder that eight 75-minute levels are scheduled for today, with a 75-minute dinner slotted in after level six - at around 8pm. Join us back here soon for all the day's action and talking points.

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Ramos playing the Right to Play charity tournament last night


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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the €5,300 Main Event: Marc Convey, Martin Harris, Jack Stanton, Howard Swains and Lisa Yiasemides. Photography by Tomas Stacha and Neil Stoddart.


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Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Live Poker