PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®: Two Canadians named Daniel, and an American named Kevin Hart


Daniel Dvoress: Chip leader at end of Day 1

Today we learned something that we forgot we already knew. Poker and Monte Carlo go together like hand in glove.

For eight hours, we watched the opening exchanges in the first flagship event of the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®. It was Day 1 of the Super High Roller tournament, where a seat in the game costs €100,000.

That drew the biggest names in poker--Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Jason Mercier, Daniel Colman, Fedor Holz, among others--as well as a wild-card who did everything he could to crack through those poker faces.

Kevin Hart, among the world's best-loved comedians, was a constant, wise-cracking presence in the Salle des Etoiles at the Monte Carlo Sporting today. Not even early elimination could stop him. Hart just bought straight back in.

Play with Hart and Co. Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

Hart finished in the pack of 40 players still involved after eight levels today, bagging 396,000. He is not at the top of the counts of the 47 who entered (plus nine re-entries) but he is not at the bottom of the leader board either.

Top spot is reserved at the moment for Daniel Dvoress, who won a huge pot around about halfway through the day and knocked out Leon Tsoukernik in the process. Dvoress only continued the upward progression from there and bags up 907,000 chips tonight. It's doubly good for him because he won the Super Satellite last night and so is in this event for €10,000.

But as will always be the case in events like this, it's a formidable chasing pack--and there's another Canadian named Daniel breathing down Dvoress's neck.


Daniel Negreanu: Breathing down another Daniel's neck

Negreanu is his name, and he too recovered from losing his first stack to bounce back in outstanding fashion. He went from zero to 250,000 (the starting stack) to 864,000 at day's end. He knocked out Dan Smith as part of his sensational surge, and tweeted tonight, "I got this."

Here's the top ten at this stage, and the full list of the remaining players is on the chip-count page.

Daniel DvoressCanada907,000
Daniel NegreanuCanada864,000
Viacheslav BuldyginRussia827,000
Ali Reza FatehiIran770,000
Steve O'DwyerIreland676,000
Steffen SontheimerGermany661,000
David PetersUnited States591,000
Igor KurganovRussia516,000
Stefan SchillhabelGermany505,000
Charlie CarrelUnited Kingdom443,000

Tomorrow is another day, where registration closes shortly before they play ten levels. That will really sort them out.

Take a look back on all the day's action by scrolling through the post below, then join us tomorrow from 12:30pm.

Day 1 coverage archive:

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9:45pm: "Poker is a science." - Kevin Hart
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

For the third and final time of the day, comedian and actor Kevin Hart called me over to the table for one of his life-affirming, inspirational poker quotes. And once again, he requested I make it look it I was saying it.

But sorry Mr Hart. This one was too good to take credit for. It went a little something like this:

"Kevin Hart says that poker [he pauses, contemplatively] is a science....

And in this science experiment....


9:45pm: Hot dog! Two aces help Hart bust two
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Kevin Hart limped from under the gun, then Nick Petrangelo pushed all in for his last 53,000 from the button. The action reached Dietrich Fast in the big blind who after considering for a short while reraised all in himself for roughly 100,000.

"He's all in, too?" Hart asked. "Call."

Petrangelo had Q♥T♦ and Fast A♦8♠, but Hart had sneakily played A♣A♥, and five cards later -- 9♦5♥J♣J♦Q♥ -- both Petrangelo and Fast were eliminated.

Hart gathered his chips while reporting the news of the hand to Daniel Negreanu at the neighboring table. He's now up around 445,000.

He then called over your humble scribbler, which means the PokerStars Blog must dutifully report that Kevin Hart makes the pros into soggy hot dog water that you don't want to eat or even want to taste.

The Blog isn't sure why it thinks that is case, but feels compelled to report it nonetheless.

Hold on... another reporter has been hailed over to the table. The Blog may need to report more things about Hart shortly. --MH

9:30pm: From the outhouse to the penthouse (nearly)
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Daniel Negreanu's first attempt at this tournament did not go very well. His second is going just swimmingly as he's up to 865,000 after winning a pot against Christoph Vogelsang.

When I arrived at the table Vogelsang was deciding if he should call Negreanu's river bet of 65,000. The full board was 8♥4♣3♦T♣7♣ and Vogelsang needed more than 30 seconds to make his decision. He took almost all of the minute that his time-bank chip allowed, and then called. Negreanu rolled over 6♦5♦ for a straight and Vogelsang mucked.

That boost means Negreanu looks to be second in chips with only Daniel Dvoress ahead of him. It's been a good day for Canadian Daniels. --NW

9:25pm: Chidwick and Uskov out
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Stephen Chidwick and Alexander Uskov are new fallers. You can't win them all. There's about 20 minutes to go until the end of Day 1. -- HS

9:25pm: Smith falls to Negreanu in two hands
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

What a second bullet this one has been for Daniel Negreanu. The Team PokerStars Pro has quickly spun the 250,000 starting stack into 683,000, courtesy of all of Dan Smith's chips.

Negreanu doubled through Smith in what might have been his first hand of his re-entry. He four-bet shoved with pocket aces and Smith called with pocket tens but couldn't get there.

A hand or two later, and Negreanu opened. Smith three-bet to 36,000, and Negreanu put him all in. "Time to gamble," said Smith, as he called with the A♦Q♠. "Oh, we're flipping," said Negreanu, revealing the 9♥9♣.

The board ran out 5♠2♥K♠8♥T♥ to eliminate Smith. "One more card!" he pleaded, but alas it wasn't to be. He said he'd be back, meaning he's off to re-enter. --JS

9:15pm: Another reenterer
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Koray Aldemir is the latest to get knocked out and reenter here in the last level, bringing the total entries up to 55 now. --MH

9:05pm: German on German on German action
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Dust off the double knockout klaxon because Steffen Sontheimer just eliminated two players in one hand. They were two of his German compatriots as it goes.

The action was started by Oliver Weis. He opened to 12,000 from the hijack, Koray Aldemir then shoved all-in from the button for 37,000 and the action was now on Sontheimer. He elected to min-click to 62,000 and Weis now had a decision with a stack of 190,000.


Stefan Sondtheimer: Double knockout

He needed almost all of his 30 seconds before he moved all-in and now it was Sontheimer who needed some time. He requested a count and, after mulling it over, made the call.

"Do you both have ace-king?" Aldemir asked, more in hope than expectation, as he showed 4♥4♣. Weis held T♠T♥ and Sontheimer held A♣Q♦.

A 5♠A♠2♣ flop meant Sontheimer took the lead and he held on to it on the 9♣ tun and 6♣ river. Sontheimer now climbs to 575,000. --NW

9pm: Ike gets pushy with Fedor
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

I didn't see the action itself, but when I arrived at the table Fedor Holz had a bet of 78,000 in front of him and Ike Haxton was calling it. I think it's safe to say that Holz had opened, Haxton had three-bet, and that 78,000 was a four-bet.


Isaac Haxton: Jam


Fedor Holz: quick fold

To the flop: the dealer spread the 3♦T♠8♦. Holz continued for 65,000, only for Haxton to jam for roughly 175,000. Holz couldn't have folded quicker and drops to 311,000, while Haxton is up to 450,000 on his second bullet. --JS

8:50pm: Negreanu down, back up; Khoroshenin arrives
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

There's been a knockout and a re-entry here at the start of the night's last level. And another newcomer, too, as late registration (and the re-entry option) remain open until the start of tomorrow's Day 2.

Daniel Negreanu was the bust, but he's bought back in right away. Meanwhile Oleksii Khoroshenin is the newcomer.

That means 40 players from a 54-entry field are in action now, with seven re-entries total. --MH

8:45pm: Dvoress flush with chips
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

The press-up prop-bet talk (see 7:05 pm) is still dominating the room. Dan Smith and Kevin Hart have booked some action - Smith wanted Colman's side. Talk at table Hart/Colman then began on the subject of whether players thought anyone else in the tournament could win the bet. Jason Koon's name came up, but Koon isn't here. "Maybe Ole (Schemion)," said Smith and then Daniel Dvoress, who is at a nearby table, received a mention.

Dvoress is in good shape and looks to have decent upper body strength. He wasn't quite sure of the specifics of the bet, but Igor Kurganov explained it to him and but he thought that due to his height he'd have an advantage over a taller guy.

The two were still discussing this when Dvoress got involved in a hand. Bryn Kenney open raised to 9,000 from the hijack, Dvoress called from the button and Mustapha Kanit put in the extra from the big blind. The flop fell 9♦K♦Q♦ and in turn, each of the three players checked.

The 8♦ hit the turn, it checked to Dvoress, he bet 13,000 and Kenney was the only caller. The 5♣ completed the board and Kenney check-called a further 46,000. Dvoress rolled over A♦J♥ and Kenney mucked. After that hand, Dvoress is up to 815,000 and Kenney is down to 400,000. --NW

8:40pm: Turn bet pushes pot to Peters
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

David Peters raised to 10,000 from early position and it folded around to Charlie Carrel who called on the button. Martin Kabrhel then three-bet to 49,000 from the small blind, prompting a slow fold from Byron Kaverman in the big.

Peters thought a bit, then called the re-raise. Carrel folded, and the flop came 7♥6♣J♠. Both Kabrhel and Peters checked, then Kabrhel checked again after the 9♦ turn card. Peters gathered together a bet of 57,000, and that was enough to push Kabrhel off the hand.

Peters is up around 410,000, while Kabrhel has 190,000. --MH

8:35pm: Kevin Hart does pro things
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Having already made poker cool for the first time, taken poker in a sexy direction, and introduced abs into poker (as reported below), Kevin Hart is now doing pro things.

Ali Reza Fatehi has been chipping up steadily, just recently taking over the apparent chip lead. He raised again just now, Hart three-bet to 24,000, and it folded back to Fatehi who called.

Both checked the J♦Q♦7♥ flop, then after Fatehi bet 15,000 following the Q♣ turn, Hart called.


Ali Reza Fatehi: Big stack

The river was the Q♥, putting a third queen on the board, and Fatehi checked. Hart gathered a bet of 40,000 and tossed it forward, and after a bit of thought Fatehi called. Hart tabled A♥A♣ for queens full of aces, and Fatehi mucked.

"Did I do a pro thing?!" Hart asked the table afterwards. "That river bet was a pro thing," confirmed Nick Petrangelo, congratulating Hart for having gotten value on fifth street. Further questioning from Hart established he'd done earlier pro things in the hand, too.

"Daniel!" Hart called across the room again. "I did two pro things!"

The table laughed as Hart stacked his 320,000. Fatehi, meanwhile, has been doing plenty of pro things, too, it appears, as he's up around 880,000 even after losing that one. --MH

8:30pm: A Bad(ziakouski) fold
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

After Fedor Holz opened to 9,000 and was called by Mikita Badziakouski, the action folded to Charlie Carrel in the small blind who also called. It went three ways to the 6♥7♥J♦ flop, and Holz continued for 20,000 when it checked to him. Badziakouski let his hand go - more on that later.

Carrel then decided to raise it up to 54,000, and Holz had a little think before folding.

"I saw one of your cards," Holz said to Badziakouski after the hand.

"You saw one?" asked tablemate Martin Kabrhel.

"When he folded I saw one," Holz replied.

I think it was safe to say that Holz saw one. I didn't hear this specifically, but Holz and Carrel both seemed to decide afterwards that because Holz didn't continue the action, he was right to not mention it until after he folded.

Anyway, Carrel is now up to 300,000, while Holz has 430,000. --JS

8:25pm: Haxton picks off Badziakouski's bluff
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

As mentioned, Mikita Badziakouski and Ike Haxton are both on their second bullet in this tournament so could probably do with this effort going better than the first. They just played a hand against each other too.

The action up to the river of a J♣6♥5♠9♣7♣ board is unknown but on fifth street Badziakouski bet 46,000. Haxton thought for a while before flicking in the call.
Badziakouski showed 7♠4♠ for an open-ended straight draw that had paired up on the river. Haxton had called with a decent bluff catcher in the shape of J♠9♦ and he took the pot. Haxton is up to 350,000 while Badziakouski drops to 206,000. --NW

8:20pm: Big double for ElkY
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

I only saw the river action, but that was the action that mattered in this hand between Mike Watson and ElkY. There was about 80,000 in the pot by the time the two players reached the river of a K♣9♦J♣Q♥6♠ board.

Watson was first to act and he bet 50,000. There was no call from ElkY, instead, he moved all-in for 109,000 in total. Watson had a tough decision, and he almost ran out of time before calling just one second before he would have been charged a time-bank chip. ElkY showed A♠T♠ for a broadway straight aka the nuts. Watson held T♦9♦ for a king-high straight.


ElkY: Pointing the way forward

That pot means ElkY is now back above starting stack with about 275,000 while Watson still has a healthy stack of some 360,000. --NW

8:15pm: Badziakouski moving in right direction this time
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Two other seats on the Kabrhel/Kaverman table are occupied by Isaac Haxton and Mikita Badziakouski, who are two of only three players to have re-entered this tournament so far today. Haxton hasn't put too many of his newly-purchased chips to work just yet, but Badziakouski just played a small pot against Charlie Carrel.

In this one, Badziakouski raised to 9,000 from under the gun and Carrel called in the hijack. Then they saw a flop of 5♣K♣2♦. Badziakouski bet 15,000 and Carrel called.

The Q♣ fell on the turn and Badziakouski's bet of 40,000 forced a fold.

News just reaches us that Christoph Vogelsang is also among the players out and then back in again. -- HS

8:10pm: Kaverman over Kabrhel after two Ks
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Four players were at the flop: Byron Kaverman in the small blind, David Peters in the big blind, Fedor Holz under the gun and Martin Kabrhel on the button. The three cards they had to look at were the 5♣2♠8♥.

Kaverman checked and Peters checked and Holz checked. All that talent and not a bet among them. This was fizzling out. Kabrhel bet, however. He put 20,000 out there and Kaverman was the only caller.

The K♠ came on the turn and they both checked. This was on the fizzle again. Then the K♥ came on the river. Check, check.

Kaverman showed 9♣9♥ and that was good. Peters mucked.

Holz is the table captain there. He has 530,000. Kabrhel has 295,000 and Kaverman 310,000. -- HS

8:05pm: Troyanovskiy felted
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

He'd flopped one hell of a draw, but Vladimir Troyanovskiy just couldn't get there.

The Russian opened to 8,000 and was three-bet to 25,000 by Stefan Schillhabel. Troyanovskiy called and the two saw an 8♥9♣A♣ flop, which checked to Schillhabel. He continued for 24,000, and Troyanovskiy jammed for what looked to be around 90,000. The German snap-called.

Troyanovskiy - 6♣7♣
Schillhabel - A♥K♠

With an up-and-down straight draw and a club flush draw, there were plenty of cards in the deck to help Troyanovskiy. But the board bricked out for him, sending him to the rail (and perhaps the cage to re-enter).

NEIL4076_Vladimir_Troyanovsky_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Vlad not glad about that runout

Schillhabel meanwhile is up to 425,000. --JS

8pm: Back to business
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Level 7 is underway, with Daniel Dvoress the current chip leader with about 700,000. --MH

NEIL4060__PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Dvoress soaring

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

7:40pm: Last break of the day

Level 6 has ended, and players are taking one last 20-minute break before returning to play two more one-hour levels to complete Day 1. --MH

7:40pm: Kanit's house is on the line
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Kevin Hart and Dan Colman are still trying to decide this prop bet. It's now turned into another running bet.

Colman now has to run three miles in 21 minutes on a treadmill. All you maths geniuses will work out that that's three seven-minute miles.

"On a treadmill?" asked Daniel Negreanu. "That's easier because you can track it!"

But Hart felt that Colman wouldn't be able to do it. "I run, man. Trust me. It's not gonna happen!"

Mustapha Kanit wanted to know the details of the bet. After Colman explained from across the room, he shouted to the Italian: "You wanna bet?"

"I bet my house, bro!" Kanit shouted back. --JS

7:35pm: Haxton out and back
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Bad news for Isaac Haxton, Part II: He has now been eliminated.

Good news for Isaac Haxton, Part II: He has now re-entered.

John Juanda and Dario Sammartino have also recently hit the rail. -- HS

7:32pm: Haxton triples to fumes
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Good news for Isaac Haxton: He just tripled up.

Bad news for Isaac Haxton: He tripled up to 14,000.

I don't know precisely what happened pre-flop, but Haxton was all-in under the gun for what must have been only about one big blind. Dan Smith seemed to have raised after that from UTG+1 and then Vladmir Troyanovskiy called in the big blind.

The flop brought three innocuous cards: 3♣6♦9♥. Troyanovskiy checked, Smith bet 26,000 and Troyanovskiy folded. That meant the side pot, which was bigger than the main pot, went to Smith.

Smith showed A♦7♦ but was trailing Haxton's 4♦3♦. Then the 3♠ on the turn left Smith drawing dead. - HS

7:30pm: Chidwick doubles
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Ole Schemion has just doubled up Stephen Chidwick. With 80,000 in the pot already, and the board reading A♦5♠Q♥3♠9♦, Schemion checked and the Brit shoved for 90,000. After a little thinking Schemion made the call, but mucked when Chidwick showed his A♠5♦ for two pair.

Chidwick is up to 260,000, while Schemion drops to 226,000. --JS

NEIL3987_Stephen_Chidwick_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Chips for Chidwick

7:25pm: "Hey Daniel!"
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Not everybody gets to talk to Daniel Negreanu like this. But Kevin Hart does.

"Hey Daniel!" Hart bellowed across the tournament room. (There are three tables between them.) "You in a hand?"

Negreanu said he was not.

"Just trying to figure out why you got that stupid look on your face. Jesus! Relax your face!"

Negreanu looked over plaintively. "I got nothing," he said.

This is a first: Daniel Negreanu speechless. -- HS

NEIL3668_Daniel_Negreanu_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

"I got nothing."

7:20pm: Another official announcement from PokerStars
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Kevin Hart has brought abs to poker. Nobody has ever seen abs like this in poker before.

(Igor Kurganov, Kevin Hart's neighbour, says: "Confirmed.")

7:20pm: Smith continues to surge
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Sergio Aido has barely been in this tournament ten minutes and he's already dropped a chunk of change to Dan Smith.

I picked up the action with a 2♥5♣Q♣6♠ board out and Aido bet 50,300. Call from Smith. The 5♦ completed the board and Aido checked it to Smith. After some deliberation Smith bet 102,000 and Aido immediately released his hand. He's down to 150,000 and Smith is up to 451,000. --NW

NEIL4107_Dan_Smith_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Dan's the man

7:15pm: Schemion wins, starts over again
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

The €10K Opening Event is done, and Ole Schemion was the one ending with all the chips and the silver spade. He's back in action already, having bought into the €100K as Level 6 nears its close. --MH

7:10pm: Haxton halts his slide
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Ike Haxton was all-in pre-flop with Q♥Q♠ and looking to hold against Stephen Chidwick's 8♣8♠. The community cards didn't improve Chdiwick and Haxton survived. After that hand, he's up to 117,000 while Chidwick is down to 127,000. --NW

7:05pm: You've gotta give Kevin Hart props...
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

The famous comedian and actor is keeping right up these big name poker players when it comes to prop bet shenanigans.

Dan Colman has just locked in a bet with Hart that will see the comic have to run 5km in 21 minutes to win $10K. Now Hart is looking to get Colman into some action.

What they're currently debating is a prop bet that will see Colman have to do more than a hundred push-ups, but of course it's not that simple. Colman would have to do one push-up, stand up, then drop down, do two push-ups, stand up, drop down, do three push-ups... and so on. He'd have to do that all the way up to either 14 or 15 consecutive push-ups. We're sure a time limit is involved, too.

Sounds tough. Maybe more tequila is needed to convince Colman. --JS

NEIL3720_Daniel_Colman_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Colman in bathrobe, not necessarily thinking about how the last prop bet went

7pm: Mercier doubles through Watson
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Jason Mercier just found a perfect spot to double up with the nuts versus Mike Watson's second nuts.

Picking up the action on a K♠T♦8♠ flop, ElkY checked it, as did Mercier, but Watson made it 12,000 on the button. Both the Team PokerStars Pros called to see the Q♦ turn, and when it checked to Watson again he continued for 45,000. That shook off the Frenchman, but not Mericer. He jammed for 85,500 more and Watson snap-called.

Mercier - A♦J♦
Watson - J♠9♠

Both had turned a straight, but Mercier's was best. Watson had all the spades as flush outs, but couldn't find one on the 8♦ river.

Afteer that Mercier is up to 230,000, while Watson's stacks dips to a still very respectable 380,000. --JS

6:50pm: Dvoress busts thirsty Tsoukernik
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

There's never a good time to get knocked out from a Super High Roller tournament, but imagine doing so just after you order a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky. Such is the life of Leon Tsoukernik.

Tsoukernik was last seen heading out of the Salle des Etoiles, presumably towards the buy-in cage for another rack of chips for another €100,000. But there was still evidence of him left at the table.

To start with, there was the empty chair. And then beside it a waiter deposited the bottle of Johnnie Walker's most prestigious whisky, with an ice bucket and two glasses. Meanwhile Daniel Dvoress was busy putting together a tower of chips worth about 700,000.


Johnnie Walker: Not a player

Dvoress filled in the details of the hand that eliminated Tsoukernik.

The now departed Czech high roller opened to 7,500 from the hijack and Dvoress three-bet to 25,000 from the small blind. That took them to a flop of 8-7-2 with two spades.

Dvoress checked, Tsoukernik bet 25,000, Dvoress raised to 65,000 and Tsoukernik called. (I think it was this was round, but maybe Dvoress bet-called after Tsoukernik raised.)

The J♠ came on the turn and Tsoukernik jammed for 131,000 (presumably after a check from Dvoress) and Dvoress called. Tsoukernik had A-Q with one spade. Dvoress's pocket jacks held.

There is every chance Tsoukernik will be back to drink that whisky into the night.

Edit: Actually, the whisky has now gone and no sign yet of Tsoukernik's return. -- HS

6:40pm: Kevin's taking his shot
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

What's a man to do when he's on his second bullet in a €100,000 event? Encourage his table to do shots of tequila, that's what.

Kevin Hart has cajoled most of his table into partaking. John Juanda was one of those imbibing, and just now he asked Sergio Aido -- who was waiting for his seat assignment -- to take his photo. Igor Kurganov, Daniel Colman and Ali Reza Fatehi joined in the merriment.

"Let's loosen these tight-ass guys up," said Hart after the shots were finished.

"Thank you Kevin, I will play better now. No more fear," joked Juanda.

NEIL4087_John_Juanda_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Juanda joins in

We'll be keeping a close watch on the table, if Hart's wish is granted we should see some action. --NW

6:35pm: Level 6 begins
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Blinds up. Antes, too. It's all happening. --MH

6:30pm: Schillhabel picks off Vogelsang's bluff
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

In the pot that delayed the start of action on the new table, Stefan Schillhabel opened to 6,000 from the hijack and Christoph Vogelsang called in the hijack and Leon Tsoukernik called on the button.

The three of them saw, and checked, a flop of K♠A♦7♦.

The turn brought the 5♣ and Schillhabel led 16,000. Vogelsang called and Tsoukernik folded.

The river was the 8♣ and Schillhabel checked. Vogelsang put a green 25,000-denomination chip over the line, but said, "Seventeen."

Schillhabel took close to his full 30 seconds but then called. He was rewarded when Vogelsang showed his airball J♦9♦, meaning Schillhabel's A♥2♥ won the day. That leaves Vogelsang with 80,000 and sends Schillhabel to his new table with 325,000. -- HS

6:25pm: Another reshuffle
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Sergio Aido showed up with a tournament ticket, and that meant tournament staff needed to open a new table. Koray Aldemir, Steve O'Dwyer, Nick Petrangelo and Viacheslav Buldygin were randomly harvested from the remaining players to take a seat at the new table, and then Patrik Antonius walked in the room, too, and got himself ready to play.

8G2A2311_Viacheslav_Buldygin_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

"I'm moving? No problem," says Viacheslav Buldygin

"Are we getting PA?" Petrangelo asked. It doesn't seem as though they are, but they are getting Stefan Schillhabel. He had also been picked to join the new table but was deep in pot against Christoph Vogelsang and so the table had to wait for that to play out. Details of that one coming, too. -- HS

6:20pm: Tsoukernik and Carrel increase
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

On one table, Leon Tsoukernik was winning a pot. On another, Charlie Carrel was doing the same. Plonking myself in the middle, here's both hands:

On a 3♦5♠2♥ flop, Christoph Vogelsang led out for 26,000 into an already healthy pot. But Tsoukernik wanted to play higher. He raised it to an even 100,000, which got a fold from the German. Tsoukernik turned over the 2♣2♦ for a set.

Over on the adjacent table, a Q♥J♦7♣ flop was all that stood between David Peters and Carrel. Peters checked it, and Carrel made it 6,000 to go. Call.

On the J♣ turn, Peters check-called a 13,000 bet before the 4♠ river landed. Peters insta-checked, and Carrel went big with a 42,000 wager. Peters let it go.

Their counts after that look like this:

Carrel - 275,000
Peters - 324,000
Vogelsang - 115,000
Tsoukernik - 248,000 --JS

6:10pm: Three small pots
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 300)

Three small pots, two rivers, one showdown. That's the tl;dr summary of what's about to follow.

In hand number one Davidi Kitai opened to 6,500 and picked up calls from Erik Seidel, Koray Aldemir and Mustapha Kanit. No one moved a chip on the A♣K♣Q♠ turn and the 3♦ rolled off on fourth street. The action was checked to Seidel, he bet 15,000 and everyone else folded.

A couple of tables over Nick Petrangelo was the man driving the action. He made it 5,500 to play and only Alexander Uskov was interested in taking a flop. The dealer fanned K♠7♣T♣, Petrangelo fired out a c-bet of 11,000 and Uskov made the call. The 5♠K♦ turn and river were both checked through and Uskov's Q♠T♠ proved best at showdown.

Meanwhile over at Fedor Holz's table, he was heads-up in a pot against Byron Kaverman. The latter called a bet of 15,000 on the turn of a J♦6♣5♠Q♠ board, but folded to Holz's wager of 42,000 on the 8♦ river. --NW

6pm: An official announcement from PokerStars
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Kevin Hart is making poker cool for the first time ever. He is taking poker in a sexy direction.

(This is an official announcement from PokerStars and not in any way a solemn instruction from Kevin Hart himself.)

NEIL3759_Kevin_Hart_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Poker finally cool, becoming sexy

5:55pm: Jason Mercier, from Sanremo to the Super High Roller
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Until Kevin Hart retweeted something we had written earlier to his 32 million followers, the most traffic to PokerStars Blog today was coming because of a recent excellent piece about Jason Mercier and the hand that launched his career. Give it a read. Here, here's another link to it. Right here. (But not here.)

NEIL3983_Jason_Mercier_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Read about Mercier here

Mercier is now playing the Super High Roller event and made a good call in a recent hand. It wasn't quite as spectacular as that one in Sanremo, but you can't always pick off bluffs to win EPT Main Events. (In fact, you can't ever do it anymore.)

But back to the hand. Sam Greenwood opened to 6,000 and Mercier called in big blind. What a call. The flop then came 8♦A♠K♣.

Mercier bet 4,000 and Greenwood called, before both players checked the 6♥ turn and K♥ river. Mercier's A♦7♣ won the pot.

OK, OK. Not a very exciting hand. But it's just an excuse to get you to read the article about Jason Mercier's Sanremo win, because it's a fine piece of work. -- HS

5:50pm: Mr Whoopass, busting ass
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Earlier on, Kevin Hart told me his nickname was The Little Tsunami. But it turns out he has a couple of poker nicknames:

Mr Whoopass himself just took down a pot from Dan Colman. The latter had opened to 7,000 under the gun, and Hart called on the button to see the T♣6♠2♣ flop. Colman made a continuation bet of 5,000, and Hart called quickly, tossing a blue 5K chip so it landed right on the board.

The turn was then the 4♥ and Colman checked. Hart checked back.

On the 5♥ river, it looked like Colman came very close to betting before eventually checking with a smile. Hart turned his hand over having checked, too, and showed A♠Q♣ for ace-high. Colman smirked and mucked.
"I'll take it, I'll take it, I'll take it!" said Hart. "If you bet I was 100% folding. C'mon, man!"

"Everyone has a price!" replied Colman.

As Hart was raking in his new chips, he answered a Facetime call on his phone. "Brother, I'm down here drinking and busting ass! I feel a rush coming!"

His second bullet is certainly going better than his first so far. Mr Whoopass is up to 270,000 now. --JS

5:45pm: ElkY "up" but down
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

ElkY is a recent arrival to the tables, even though he was one of the first players to register for the event. He has been sitting on a chip count of 250,000 for most of the day because he wasn't actually sitting at the table.

But he is now, and he just won a pot from Justin Bonomo. It's also simple to deduce that he lost a few pots earlier, because is now "up" to 200,000 after this latest hand.

ElkY opened the cutoff, making it 5,200 to go, and Bonomo three-bet to 17,500 from the big blind. ElkY called.

They both checked the 5♥A♦6♠ flop and then Bonomo bet 25,000 at the 9♠ turn. ElkY called.

The 3♠ completed the board and Bonomo checked. ElkY took the initiative again and bet 66,000. Bonomo tossed them away.

ElkY's 200,000 is more than double Bonomo's 90,000. -- HS

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

5:20pm: Break it up

Players are now off again on the second 20-minute break of the day. --MH

5:20pm: Mustapha, feel player
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

With Level 4 about to end -- and the next break of the day nearing -- Mustapha Kanit has joined the field, bringing the total number of entries to 44 (including Kevin Hart's re-entry).

"Entering just in time for the break," said Martin Kabrhel to Kanit as he sat down and began stacking his chips.

"That's the way I like it," grinned Kanit. "You have to play when you feel." --MH

5:15pm: Negreanu and Tsoukernik go at it
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu opened it up to 4,500 from the UTG+1 seat, but that open didn't get much respect. Leon Tsoukernik called to D-Negs' immediate left, as did Alexandros Kolonias (cutoff) and Daniel Dvoress (big blind).

The four saw a 6♥2♠A♠ flop and it checked to Negreanu who continued for 10,000. Tsoukernik called, but the others let their hands go.

Heads up to the turn, it came the T♣ and both checked. The Q♣ river brought another bet from Negreanu worth 17,000, but Tsoukernik had ideas other than calling. He raised it up to 42,000.

"Do you have ace jack?" Negreanu asked. "Possibly ace queen?"

Kid Poker let his hand go quite quickly. I was standing just behind Tsoukernik at the end of the hand, but I think he said something like "Better". "OK..." said Negreanu, "maybe king jack of spades."

Negreanu is on 210,000 now, while Tsoukernik is up to 315,000. --JS

5:10pm: Hart back
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

And Kevin Hart bought back in. The fun with the Little Tsunami/Mr Whoopass continues... --HS.


Kevin Hart is back

5:05pm: Killjoy Kurganov
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Igor Kurganov has only just sat down, but quickly decided to ruin everyone's fun. One of the first things the Team PokerStars Pro decided to do was knock out Kevin Hart.

Hart had nine-seven on a nine-high board and got it all in against Kurganov's aces. Adios.

Right about that time, a video appeared showing Hart's arrival to the tournament room. Just imagine it played in reverse.

-- HS

5:02pm: Ready or not - A 20-year head start for Tsourkernik
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Leon Tsoukernik, winner of the Super High Roller at EPT Prague in December, just called out across the tournament area to Charlie Carrel who finished second in that tournament.

The pair had been seated next to one another for much of the tournament, and so developed a friendship over the course of the event. Leading up to today's tournament, Tsoukernik had sent a message to Carrel asking if he was ready for a rematch, and he echoed that question just now.

"Charlie... are you ready?" asked Tsoukernik. Carrel looked up and smiled.

"Are you ready?" he replied.

"I was born ready!" grinned Tsourkernik.

"Well," said Charlie, "you were born a bit before I was," he said, conceding that Tsourkernik has necessarily been ready longer than he possibly could be.

A quick look-up confirms that not only does the 43-year-old Tsourkernik have a couple of decades on the 23-year-old Carrel, they in fact share the same birthday, meaning the Czech player is exactly 20 years older than the U.K. phenom. --MH

5:01pm: Hart-ache and Juanda-spair
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

"Call," said Kevin Hart, putting out 2,000 from early position. John Juanda then raised to 5,500.

"Oh god, oh no," said Hart as it folded back to him. Juanda immediately started expressing displeasure as well. "Oh no, no, oh no," he said. "Don't call, don't... oh, no."

Hart did call, continuing to express misery as he did, and the pair kept it up after the 5♣K♦T♥ flop with Hart checking, Juanda betting 5,000, and Hart calling.

"Oh man, oh no... no, don't oh man oh don't do it DON'T oh god okay oh man oh no..."

The turn was the Q♣ and Hart checked again. "Checking two pair I know oh no oh god oh no," said Juanda who nonetheless bet 13,500.

"Oh no," said Hart. "No. I fold."

As Juanda collected the pot, both players shook their heads as though shaking off the distress -- real or feigned -- of the hand. Hart claimed he had a pair of fours.

"Oh no," said a disbelieving Juanda. "No."

Juanda has 175,000 now, Hart 135,000. --MH

5pm: Fast start for Dietrich
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

As the players approach the halfway point of the day it's Dietrich Fast who leads the way. You can see the top 10 below, but head over to the chip count page, to see the full list.

Dietrich FastGermany556,000
Mike WatsonCanada490,000
David PetersUnited States380,000
Daniel DvoressCanada315,000
Martin KabrhelCzech Republic294,000
Adrian MateosSpain293,000
Daniel NegreanuCanada280,000
Ike HaxtonUnited States280,000
Erik SeidelUnited States273,000
Koray AldemirGermany270,000

4:55pm: Elky is in
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

That man behind the mask is indeed Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, having also joined the field today. --MH

NEIL3949_Elky_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

'Ello ElkY

4:50pm: Holz in the house
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Fedor Holz is the latest poker player to join the field (yep - poker player, not "former" poker player or "retired" poker player).

After his runner-up finish to Steve O'Dwyer at the Super High Roller at the PokerStars Championship Macau (good for $850K) the German wizard is back here in Monte Carlo looking for a repeat performance.

Before taking his seat, he went to say hello to everyone at the table next to his. He gave Christoph Vogelsang, Daniel Negreanu, Leon Tsoukernik, Alexandros Kolonias, Stefan Schillhabel and Oliver Weis a handshake; everyone except Daniel Dvoress. Dvoress was in a hand you see, although who it was against I don't know. Everyone else shook Holz's hand!

"How are you, retired businessman?" Negreanu asked him.

"We do the same thing!" Holz replied.

"I've been there for 20 years!" Kid Poker said.

Note: neither of them are retired. They can't keep away from the Super High Rollers. --JS

4:45pm: Super High Roller goes bananas
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

A waitress came over to the Super High Roller tournament and gave Charlie Carrel a tray of sushi and a banana. She then gave Byron Kaverman a drink. They were clearly ordered previously, and everything was fine. That is, until Kaverman asked if he could have a banana too.

"When you come round next," Kaverman said.

This too was fine except for the fact that the waitress did have one banana on her tray still and she clearly thought Kaverman was making a play for that banana, which wasn't his.

"This is your banana?" the waitress said, dubiously.

Kaverman admitted that it wasn't, but restated his desire to have a banana when the waitress next came around. But again she offered the banana to Kaverman, not fully believing she should be, but clearly wondering why this man kept talking to her about bananas when she had a banana on her tray if the banana on the tray wasn't this man's.

"That's his banana," Charlie Carrel said, pointing to Orpen Kisacikoglu, his neighbour. Kisacikoglu probably would have done his own banana claiming had he not been involved in a hand against David Peters.

Ironically, Kaverman had begun this hand, with a raise to 4,000 from the cutoff, which Peters called on the button. Kisacikoglu then three-bet the small blind to 16,200.

Kaverman quickly folded, turning his attention to beginning Bananagate, but Peters called and kept Kisacikoglu quiet.

The waitress now knew that Kisacikoglu was the rightful owner of the banana, so went around to him and was about to deliver it. She clearly had the look of someone who was going to shake this statue out of its torpor too, a catastrophe Carrel wanted to avert.

Carrel stopped the waitress just in time and said, "It is his banana, but..." Carrel then did the sensible thing and took the banana from the tray and put it on Kisacikoglu's table.

That was just about the end of it, and the waitress moved a couple of paces away, with a mental note to bring Kaverman a banana next time.

"Madam, madam," said Martin Kabrhel, calling the waitress back to the table. "Can I have two bananas please."

That was beautifully Kabrhel-esque -- he loves chaos -- and so the waitress amended her mental note and skittered away.

NEIL3854_Martin_Kabrhel_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Kabrhel, cheeky monkey

The hand then played out. The flop fell 9♦6♦2♥ and Kisacikoglu bet 20,000. Peters called.

They both then checked the 8♠ turn and the 5♠ came on the river. Kisacikoglu bet 35,000 and Peters made a tank-fold.

Kaverman now had a question. He wanted to know what would have happened if he'd have taken Kisacikoglu's banana. He said something like, "Would you have left your hand and punched me?"

That got a decent laugh from the table and prompted Kisacikoglu to say, with due degree of menace, "I was aware of what was going on." -- HS

8G2A2221_Bananas_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

"D'accord... maintenant... who else here ordered bananas?"

4:40pm: Mr Super High Roller arrives
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Steve O'Dwyer made the final table of the €10K (obviously) but, having busted from that in fourth for €100,300, he's now hopped into the Super High Roller.

NEIL3993_Steve_O'Dwyer_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

O'Dwyer takes a seat

Leon Tsoukernik has also entered. Forty-one runners are now in and we've yet to have a single bust out so far. --NW

4:30pm: Haxton's back, son
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

After a topsy-turvy start, things are back on the straight and narrow for Ike Haxton. Meanwhile, after a pretty solid start, Stephen Chidwick has now slipped down the ranks.

This hand started with a 4,000 open from Vladimir Troyanovskiy in the hijack, which Haxton called in the cutoff. Over to Chidwick on the button, he three-bet to 15,000 and both called.

The dealer spread an 8♠8♣5♦ flop and it checked to Chidwick who continued for 12,000. Troyanovskiy flatted, only for Haxton to now take the aggressive route with a raise to 34,000. Chidwick called, but Troyanovskiy got out of the way.

They saw the 4♠ on the turn and Haxton continued for 45,000, which Chidwick called. The board was completed by the K♠, and Haxton moved all in for 61,200. Chidwick used up his first 30 seconds so tossed in a time bank chip. After 40 seconds or so had passed he tossed in a chip indicating a call, and mucked when Haxton showed him the 5♥5♣ for a flopped boat.

That boat sails him up to a 300,000 stack, while Chidwick drops to 150,000. --JS

4:10pm: Greenwood gets some
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Sam Greenwood made it 3,500 to go from middle position and got two callers in Jason Mercier (small blind) and Mike Watson (big blind). The A♥8♠7♥ was checked around to Greenwood who bet 8,000, and after Mercier folded, Watson called.

Both remaining players checked the 6♥ turn, then Watson checked again after the 3♥ river. Greenwood took his time, then bet 24,000, and after a short time in the tank Watson called. Greenwood tabled A♣J♥ for a flush, and Watson mucked.

Watson still has about 355,000, while Greenwood chips back to 190,000. --MH

4:05pm: Badziakouski bounces back
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Mikita Badziakouski was down to just 28,800 and when the action folded to him on the button he moved all-in. Martin Kabrhel asked for a count and then made the call. "Good luck fish," said Charlie Carrel, he was sat to Badziakouski's left. "I don't mean he's a fish, it's his online name,"he then clarified.

The cards where then turned over and Badziakouski was in good shape with A♥T♠ against Kabrhel's A♠9♠. The 8♦6♣2♣K♥8♥ board meant Badziakouski got his double up, but he's still short on chips. --NW

3:58pm: Vogelsang wins with the ace high
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

A curious hand just played out between Christoph Vogelsang and Oliver Weis and it went like this. Vogelsang made it 4,200 to play from UTG+1 and it folded to Weis, who was in the small blind. He three-bet to 15,800 and Vogelsang called.

The flop fell 2♥2♣T♣, Weis continued for 13,000 and Vogelsang smooth called. The 9♠ fell on the turn and Weis fired again. This time it was 34,000 for Vogelsang to continue in the hand and continue he did.

The 6♦ completed the board and Weis took 29 seconds before checking. Vogelsang also needed almost his entire timebank before he too checked. Weis showed K♣Q♥ but Vogelsang had him beat with A♠K♦.

After that hand Vogelsang is up to 244,000 while Weis slips down to 189,000. --NW

3:55pm: Say it loud, say it proud
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

"RAISE!" said Ali Reza Fatehi while setting forward a 5,000 blue chip. Kind of loudly.

"CALL!" said Kevin Hart who was next to act, matching the decibel level of Reza Fatehi. "FOLD!" hollered John Juanda, getting in on the act as well.

The action was on Daniel Colman in the big blind who checked his hand, then looked up.

"DE-FENSE!" he chanted, matching the football cheer as he, too, set forward calling chips.

Things quited down after the 5♠8♦K♥ flop, after which Reza Fatehi continued for 5,000 more and only Colman stuck around. Both checked the 6♦ turn, then after the T♥ river Colman bet 40,000 and Reza Fatehi stepped aside.

Reza Fatehi has 270,000, Colman has 260,000, Juanda about 180,000, and Hart 155,000. --MH

3:45pm: No one told Kitai
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

There are disadvantages of turning up late. For one thing, you start with less big blinds than everyone else did. Another, you've missed the dynamics which have already developed. And finally, if there have been mutual rule changes, you need to be filled in.

Unfortunately for Davidi Kitai, in this land hand nobody had told him that the time bank chips were extended from 30 seconds to 60. Not that I think it would have made that much difference.

Kitai opened to 3,500 under the gun, and David Peters three-bet to 13,500 from the cutoff. The Belgian made the call and they went to a T♥9♠8♠ flop. Kitai checked and Peters made a 19,000 c-bet, which was called. The turn came the 2♦ and Kitai checked again before calling a 52,000 bet.

When the 4♦ river landed, Kitai checked once again only for Peters to move all in, essentially putting Kitai all in as Peters had the bigger stack. Kitai counted out his chips (163,000) and started staring at Peters. After 30 seconds, he tossed in a chip, but folded before the first 30 of his 60 seconds were done.

It seemed like he would have liked more thinking time, but as he told the dealer afterwards, "I thought it was 30 seconds. Nobody told me." The floor were called and the matter was settled.

Meanwhile, Peters increases to 435,000. --JS

NEIL4009_David_Peters_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Peters picks up more

3:35pm: €10K update -- Will Schemion ship another one?
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Right next to the Super High Roller the final table of the €10K Opening Event continues to play out, now down to heads-up between the German Ole Schemion and Murad Akhundov of Azerbaijan.

Schemion currently holds a big chip lead, giving him an edge to claim the silver spade sitting between the pair and the €274,750 first prize awaiting the winner. --MH

3:25pm: The Weiß stuff
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

For a second or two Oliver Weis's backwards baseball cap made it difficult to ascertain that it was he who'd just bought into the Super High Roller. He's taken the field up to 37 and will be looking to build on good results in Panama and Macau where he cashed for a combined $574,382. --NW

3:15pm: Troyanovskiy takes one from Chidwick
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

There was a straight on the board -- 6♦8♠9♠T♣7♥ -- sitting there beside a decent-sized pot. Stephen Chidwick checked, though, then watched Vladimir Troyanovskiy challenge for the pot with a bet of 57,000.

Chidwick considered for a while, but decided he couldn't call and released his hand, conceding the pot to Troyanovskiy. Chidwick has 325,000 still, while Troyanovskiy bumps back up to 280,000. --MH

3:10pm: Colman collects from Juanda
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Daniel Colman lost the first hand of Level 3, a smallish-pot to Ali Reza Fatehi who is now close to 300,000. He just got some back, though, in a hand versus the recently-arriving John Juanda.

After Juanda opened to 3,500 from the cutoff, Colman reraised to 10,500 from the button and the blinds stepped aside. Juanda responded with a four-bet to 33,300, and after thinking about 15 seconds Colman called.

Both checked the 3♥J♥8♣ flop, then Juanda fired 35,000 after the T♥ turn card fell. Colman sat quietly for a moment again, then announced he was all in. Juanda exhaled, rechecked his cards, then let his hand go.

Colman is back up around 270,000 now, while Juanda slips to 195,000. --MH

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

2:58pm: Break time
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Two levels are in the books and that's the first 20-minute break of the day. -- HS

2:55pm: The Charlie Carrel countdown
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

"I don't have to throw the chip in, do I?" Charlie Carrel asked as he faced a big river decision in a hand against Ali Reza Fatehi. He didn't, but it did jog the memory that Carrel had missed the two previous Super High Roller tournaments that took place in Panama and Macau, where the rules over the time-bank chips were established.

Let's rewind to the A♦J♦J♣ flop though. That's where I picked up the hand. Carrel bet 10,000 at this juncture and Fatehi called. Fatehi called a further 14,000 on the 8♥ turn and the 4♦ completed the board. At this stage Carrel slowed down, but Fatehi sped up. He bet 41,500 and Carrel immediately knew he was going to need a time-bank chip.

He took about 80 seconds to make his decision and it was to call. Fatehi showed Q♦9♦ and Carrel said, "Nice hand," and then mucked. After that hand Carrel is down to 210,000 while Fatehi is up to 320,000. --NW

NEIL3891_Charlie_Carrel_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Carrel concedes one

2:50pm: Haxton pays Chidwick
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 100)

Picking up the action on a T♦5♠7♥ flop, Ike Haxton and Stephen Chidwick were heads up and building a healthy pot. Haxton led for 13,500 which Chidwick called, followed by the Q♦ on the turn. Haxton didn't slow down, firing again for 44,000. Again, Chidwick called to see a river.

That came the A♦ and play slowed down. Haxton used up his shot clock 30 seconds before tossing in a time bank chip. That gave him another 60 seconds, and after 40 of them had gone he quietly checked. Chidwick then came in for a 50,000 bet, and Haxton's face instantly winced. He made a pretty quick call though, but mucked when Chidwick showed the Q♣Q♥ for a set.

Chidwick is up to 370,000, while Haxton has dropped to 160,000. --JS

2:45pm: A grateful Negreanu
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

2:40pm: Peters trips Kempe
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

David Peters (button) and Rainer Kempe (big blind) just tangled in a hand. Picking up the action on a 4♣4♥8♥ flop, Kempe checked, Peters bet 4,000, Kempe check-raised to 13,000, and Peters called, bringing the pot to about 37,000.

The turn was the 5♣, and Kempe led for 26,700. Peters thought for about 20 seconds and called, then the river brought the T♠ and a check from Kempe.

Peters paused again, then pushed out a bet of 53,000. The shot clock ticking down, Kempe went through a rapid bit of tanking.

Kempe furrowed his brow, his eyebrows raising up from behind his sunglasses as he riffled and thought. Finally he called, and when Peters tabled J♠4♠ for trip fours, Kempe mucked.

With Level 2 winding down, Peters is up to 375,000 while Kempe is down to just under 140,000. --MH

NEIL3858_Rainer_Kempe_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Rainer Kempe

2:30pm: The Little Tsunami
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 100)

Forget your red carpets, your E! TV channels, and your celebrity chat shows. If you really want to get the best out of Kevin Hart, you just stand near him at the poker tables.

"Hey man, you want your quote of the day?" Hart asked me. Naturally, I did.


Kevin Hart and Jack Stanton: Naturally, he did

"Kevin Hart is here. And he is the most attractive guy in the room. He has...the attitude of a winner. And he's going to take the poker world by storm."

He even gave christened himself with a new nickname.

"They call me...the Little Tsunami! And I only play pocket fives and pocket eights."

Stay tuned to see how the Little Tsunami gets on here today. --JS

2:25pm: Beginner's luck?
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 100)

Mike Watson's first hand was pretty good as they go. There was about 80,000 in the middle by the time I caught the action and a 6♠9♠3♣5♣ board was out. Watson (big blind) checked it over to Alexandros Kolonias, he also checked and Sam Greenwood did likewise. The A♦ completed the board and again all three players checked. Watson rolled over A♣Q♠ and it was good.

"That your first hand Mike?" Watson nodded.

"I wouldn't have three-bet that hand until at least two orbits in," joked Justin Bonomo, while inadvertently giving us some information about how the pot had got so bloated. --NW

2:20pm: Carrel counts it down
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

"Fifteen seconds until I show the bluff!"

Charlie Carrel and Kevin Hart have been exchanging quips frequently during this level. Just now they were in a blind-versus-blind hand, and with 20,000 in the middle and the board showing K♦2♠3♣K♣, Hart had checked and Carrel bet 8,000.

As the clock counted down on Hart, Carrel added the above narration.

"Ten seconds to show the bluff!" he continued before Hart finally folded. Carrel then complied, turning over T♠9♥, and collected the small pot as Hart nodded with a grin.

Both continue at around the starting stack of 250,000. --MH

8G2A2186_Charlie_Carrel_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

"Countdown" Carrel

2:15pm: They keep super-high-rollin' in
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

The second level of the day has begun, and with it comes the arrival of the current leader in the 2017 Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, Bryn Kenney.

NEIL3886_Bryn_Kenney_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Bryn is in

Kenney's entry brings the total up to 31 players so far. Remember, there are unlimited re-entries in this one, with both late registration and the ability to buy back in available up through the start of Day 2.

Erik Seidel has just sauntered into the tournament room as well, soon to grab a seat as well as the Super High Roller field continues to grow. --MH

2:10pm: Bonnie Prince Charles
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 100)

I don't know what history Charlie Carrel and Kevin Hart have with one another, but Hart is calling Carrel "Charles" already, which pretty much nobody (with the possible exception of Carrel's mum) does.

Carrel recently raised from under the gun and Hart called in the big blind. "Calling with ace-high against me?" Carrel said. This is exactly how I envisaged this going."

"Yes Charles," Hart said.

The flop came T♥8♦7♣ and they both checked. Then they both checked the 5♥ turn and the 9♥ river too.

Hart turned over A♠9♠ so that was a good read from Carrel, but he lost the small pot to Hart's rivered pair.

"Woo! Yes!" Hart shouted, in perfect disproportion to the size of the pot he had won.

"This is souped up aggression, fellas!" he added, in perfect disproportion to the amount of souped up aggression he showed through the pot. -- HS

2pm: Third time lucky?
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 100)

Both Justin Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu are now at their third different table of the day. The poker gods deemed that Negreanu and Kevin Hart at the same table was just too much and moved Kid Poker to a fresh table, which Bonomo was also part of. Bonomo had now been moved twice, but this was Negreanu's first move of the day.

A masseuse arrived on the scene, she and Negreanu embraced, exchanged small talk and Negreanu then joked. "You want to touch my body?" He sat back down and the massage began. He didn't have time to enjoy it for very long before he again was on the move.

Alexander Uskov had slid into his right and that created an imbalance in the tables. As Negreanu was the next big blind he had to go and he now sits to the left of Christoph Vogelsang. --NW

1:55pm: Carrel takes a seat
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

As the day's first level came to a close, Charlie Carrel arrived to take a seat in between Kevin Hart and Daniel Colman. Carrel explained his late arrival by saying he'd thought initially the tournament began tomorrow, then -- as others have done -- he duly took note of Colman's robe (see below, 1:30pm).

"Just couldn't be out-relaxed, could you?" cracked Carrel, himself attired as usual in especially comfortable (and colorful) clothes.

Carrel did a quick scan of the table as the chatter continued all around him, noting eventually that Dietrich Fast was the only one significantly up from the starting stack with about 340,000.

Carrel also noted Fast was currently the quietest of the bunch.

"How can it be I arrive at a table and you're the only one not talking?" asked Carrel. Fast grinned and noted that since Kevin Hart had arrived, he'd been the one carrying the conversation.

"Ah... you gave the captain's badge to him," nodded Carrel as he took his first hand. --MH

1:50pm: Peters doing what Peters does
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Would it really surprise you if I told you that David Peters has quickly recovered from his earlier losses? If it does, you clearly haven't been following much poker over the past year or two. However, the surprise does come when I tell you it's Dan Smith who has given Peters a large chunk of change in this opening level. He's another high roller who has been in recent good form.

Peters opened to 3,000 in the cutoff and Smith three-bet it to 12,000 on the button. Back to Peters, he bumped it up with a four-bet to 33,000, and Smith called. Heads up to the flop, it came T♥9♥T♣ and after his 30 seconds ran down Peters checked. Smith waited a little before betting 20,000, and Peters called quite quickly.

The 5♦ turn brought another check from Peters, and Smith paused. He looked over at his countdown as it ticked, and with three seconds remaining he said "check".

That brought the 2♦ river and Peters checked a final time. Smith checked back quickly, and mucked when Peters showed the Q♠Q♣. That brings Peters back up to 260,000, and Smith down to 190,000. --JS

1:40pm: Hungry hippo
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Martin Kabrhel can be a tricky customer, one who doesn't always do things the "normal" way. At the poker table, this manifests itself in how he stacks his chips. Sometimes he keeps the biggest denomination chips to his right and everything else to his left, which makes it hard to count his stack. Sometimes it's the other way around, but always, always, always they are protected by his hippo card protector.

NEIL3876_Martin_Kabrhel_Hippo_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Hip, Kabrhel's ever-vigilant hippo

Today, he's flagrantly flaunting the "Keep the big chips at the front" rule as his 1k and 5K chips are further forward, while his six green 25K chips lurk behind with the hippo, naturally, protecting them. He just had to move the hippo though as he collected a seventh 25K chip after winning a pot against David Peters.

I picked up the action on the turn with 8♠6♣Q♦5♦ out. Peters bet 4,300. Kabrhel check-raised to 16,900 and Peters stuck around. The 5♣ river paired the board and Kabrhel reached for chips. He bet 36,900 and Peters needed to use one of his time-bank chips.

"You know he has a minute right?" asked Nick Petrangelo to the dealer and he nodded in return.

Peters didn't need his full allocation and flicked in a single 5k chip to signify a call. Kabrhel showed Q♣Q♥ for a full house and unsurprisingly it was the best hand. He's up to 340,000 while Peters slips to 190,000. --NW

1:35pm: Fast start for Dietrich
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Mikita Badziakouski opened for 3,000 from early position, and it folded around to Dietrich Fast who three-bet to 9,500 from the blinds, getting a call from Badziakouski.

Both checked the 8♣7♥3♣ flop, then Fast led for 19,000 at the J♠ and Badziakouski called. The 9♠ river elicted another bet from Fast, this time for 42,000, and after a bit of a think Badziakouski called again.

Fast tabled Q♠T♠, that river having filled a straight for him, and Badziakouski mucked. Fast jumps up to around 325,000 already, while Badziakouski slips to 185,000. --MH

1:30pm: Here comes Hart
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

"Where are your clothes, m-a-a-an?"

Kevin Hart has arrived, just about a half-hour into the day's first level. His first question to his table was directed to Daniel Colman, and it was a reasonable one. After all, Colman has arrived to play today wearing a robe.

The explanation? Colman lost a bet playing FIFA to a friend ("I'm bad at video games," he said). Thus the robe, but only for today.


Daniel Colman: Not great at video games

Hart meanwhile appears plenty comfortable taking his seat, needing no robe to do so. Daniel Negreanu, sitting a couple of seats to Hart's left, had a question for him.

"Sleep at all last night?" asked Negreanu. "That's my business," Hart shot back with a grin. "Trying to get an edge?"

Hart received his first hand. "Message to the table," he declared before looking. "If I bet it, I got it." --MH

1:25pm: Deja vu for Colman
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

It's early days, but Dan Colman hasn't quite had the start he was hoping for. He opened to 2,500 from the cutoff, only for the recently seated Adrian Mateos to three-bet to 9,000 on the button. It folded to Colman who made the call to see the 5♥Q♣5♣ flop. Mateos continued his aggression for 6,000 when it checked to him, and Colman called.

When the J♣ turn landed, Colman checked again. Mateos didn't slow down, making it 24,000 to go, and that resulted in a fold from Colman. Mateos raked in the pot.

Two hands later and now Colman was under the gun. He came in for the same open (2,500), only for Dietrich Fast (in the cutoff) to three-bet to 9,000. Not wanting a repeat of the aforementioned loss, Colman gave it up pre-flop this time. --JS

1:22pm: More for your list
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Mikita Badziakouski, Adrian Mateos, Dietrich Fast, and the latest entry - Byron Kaverman - have all now taken their seats. --JS

1:20pm: Smith's trips lose to Vogelsang's flush
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Rainer Kempe (under the gun), Christoph Vogelsang (button), and Dan Smith (big blind) all saw a flop come 3♦Q♣Q♦, and it checked around to Vogelsang who bet 2,700. Smith then check-raised to 9,500. That cleared out Kempe, but Vogelsang stuck around with a call.

The J♥ came on the turn and after Smith checked Vogelsang bet 15,000, and after taking the full 30 seconds Smith called. The river 5♦ completed the board with a third diamond, and Smith quickly checked. Vogelsang hesitated, then rapped his knuckles on the table behind as well.

Smith flipped over A♣Q♠ for trips, but Vogelsang had made a flush with 9♦7♦ and he took the pot. Vogelsang is up around 295,000 early on, while Smith is at about 220,000. --MH

1:15pm: Kempe causes musical chairs
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Rainer Kempe didn't know it, but he was about to cause a bit of a kerfuffle. Simply by entering the tournament and picking his seat he caused a new table to be formed. He wasn't even part of this new formation. Instead Paul Newey, Justin Bonomo, Nick Petrangelo and Ike Haxton were plucked from their current seats and asked to move.

Meanwhile, Kempe took the eight seat at a table that already housed Dan Smith, Stephen Chidwick, Sam Greenwood, Christoph Vogelsang and Martin Kabrhel. --NW

1:10pm: Game-changer
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

The rules have already changed, ladies and gents.

Instead of giving the players an additional 30 seconds to think, the time bank chips will now give each high roller an extra one minute to deliberate.

Daniel Negreanu was the main driving force of the change. "Sorry to interrupt, gentleman," he said approaching Table 2. "Do you guys prefer one minute or 30 seconds?"


Negreanu wants, Negreanu gets

Martin Kabrhel said 30 seconds, but everyone else at the table - including Nick Petrangelo and Dan Smith - were game for it to be one minute instead.

"Am I the only person who said 30 seconds?" said Justin Bonomo, leaning back from his seat at table one.

He wasn't, but it looks like Bonomo isn't going to get his preference here in this one. --JS

1:05pm: Grab a seat
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

More names have arrived, meaning our two starting tables have started to flesh out.

On table one, you've got Justin Bonomo, Paul Newey, Daniel Negreanu, Alexandros Kolonias, and Dan Colman. On table two sits Martin Kabrhel, Ike Haxton, Sam Greenwood, Stephen Chidwick, Dan Smith, and current No. 1-ranked tournament player in the world according to the Global Poker Index, Nick Petrangelo.

NEIL3689_Nick_Petrangelo_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Petrangelo, GPI pace-setter

Meanwhile, Christoph Vogelsang, David Peters, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Manig Loeser, and Rainer Kempe are all hanging around - it looks like they're about to hop in. --JS

1pm: Riess, O'Dwyer, Schemion battling in the €10K
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Just to the side of the area reserved for the €100K Super High Roller, the final table of the €10K opening event is playing out where seven players remain from a 110-entry field (81 uniques, 29 re-entries).

The 2013 WSOP Main Event champ Ryan Riess returned to the chip lead in that one today, with Koray Aldemir and Lucas Greenwood his nearest challengers. Murad Akhundov, Steve O'Dwyer, Ole Schemion, and Jonathan Bensadoun are also still in contention for the €274,750 first prize.

We'll keep an eye on that one as it plays out nearby, and let you know who from that final table makes his way over to the €100K (as we expect a few will probably do). --MH

12:55pm: The "shot clock" returns
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

We're still waiting for the tournament start. While we do, let's talk a little about time.

The 30-second "shot clock" will be used again with this event, which means once they do get going things should move along at a brisk pace throughout the tournament.

A sheet on each table describes how the clock will be administered. That takes a little longer than 30 seconds to read, actually, but we'll try to summarize it quickly for you:

* Each player has 30 seconds to act. When there are five seconds left, the dealer will verbally count it down.
* Players get three time bank chips to use if needed, each of which allot them an additional 30 seconds to make a decision (although this is subject to discussion right now). If they use up their first 30 seconds without acting, a chip is automatically spent to give them another half-minute.
* Those making Day 2 will get an extra time bank chip, as will those making the final Day 3.
* Run out of time bank chips? You get 10 more seconds to act (verbally counted down), or your hand is dead.

Got it? Good. That didn't take too long, did it? --MH

12:50pm: Still we wait
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

No cards in the air here in Monte Carlo just yet. The trickle of players is gathering pace though, so hopefully we'll be getting started soon. Martin Kabrhel, Sam Greenwood and Stephen Chidwick are three of the usual Super High Roller crowd who've now bought into this one. --NW

12:45pm: Dvoress in on the cheap
Level 1 - Blinds 500-1,000 (ante 100)

There was a €10,000 Super Satellite to this event last night, in which Daniel Dvoress won his seat for one tenth of the stated buy-in. Jack Salter was the runner up and won €74,600. There's a high chance he'll find the additional €25K or so to get in the game at some point. -- HS

12:35pm: Players seated
Level 1 - Blinds 500-1,000 (ante 100)

Daniel Colman, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Dan Smith, Nick Petrangelo and Alexandros Kolonias are among the players already seated in the tournament area for the start of the €100K Super High Roller. Paul Newey is currently watching something on his iPad in the adjoining room, but Paul Newey doesn't fly to Monaco specifically to watch things on his iPad. I expect he'll start playing too soon. -- HS

12:30pm: Cards have started their engines, tray tables are up, in the air soon
Level 1 - Blinds 500-1,000 (ante 100)

Righto, it's time to leave the "comfort" of the press room and head out to the tournament floor to see who's in this thing.

We play eight one-hour levels today. Starting stack is 250,000. Blinds are 500-1,000 (ante 100) to kick off with. -- HS

12pm: A special guest

Preparations are under way for the start of play today. Strong rumours* have it that we'll be having a special guest taking part this afternoon.


"I think I know that guy," says 32 million Twitter followers

*confirmed press release

11:30am: Welcome back to the Principality

Good morning everybody and welcome back once again to Monaco--specifically to the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®.

As ever, we're in the Salle des Etoiles of Monte Carlo Sporting for an annual highlight on the poker calendar. We have in front of us nearly two weeks of poker at the highest level, kicking off today with the €100,000 Super High Roller event.

A great many of the game's best players are in town for this one. Some of them are already in the thick of the action, having played two days already of the €10,000 kick-off event. That final table features Ryan Riess, Ole Schemion, Steve O'Dwyer and Koray Aldemir, among others.

But our focus today will be on the Super High Roller, which gets started at 12:30pm. Registration is open all day and this is an unlimited re-entry tournament, so the prize pool will swell pretty rapidly.

We'll play eight one-hour levels. We'll follow it here from start to finish. --HS

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 €100,000 Super High Roller: Martin Harris, Jack Stanton, Howard Swains and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Live