EPT Barcelona: Day 1A, levels 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)


2.05pm: Wendt picks off Pinho
A quick European geography lesson for any of our American readers; Spain and Portugal are right next to each other, with the latter part being the thinner part on the West. While this isn't a home game for Portugese Team PokerStars Pro Henrique Pinho it isn't too far. He isn't letting that go to his head though with a simple raise and fold to Martin Wendt. Pinho made it 400 from middle position, possibly encouraged by the dead stack occupying the big blind, and was called by Wendt in the cut-off. The flaccid 4♥Q♦4♠ flop did nothing to excite Pinho who quickly check-folded.

The very next hand Wendt limped in from the hijack and was raised by Artem Litvinov from the button to 625. Wendt decided it was too much and tossed his hand in. Makes one wonder why he decided to limp in the first place. -- RD

1.58pm: Playing it like a set
A flop of 6♣A♣8♠ and some four way action, largely between players only known to the Lotze, Shnayder and Passy families.

Mathias Lotze, Evgjeny Shnayder and Alejandro Passy each checked to the fourth player in the hand, Lex Veldhuis, who had to remind the dealer he was still there ready to act. His act was to check to, prompting a 7♣ turn. More checking from both Lotze and Shnayder but Passy made things interesting, betting 1,775.

At this point Veldhuis passed while Lotze and Shnayder each called for a 8♣ river card. Lotze checked once more while Shnayder bet 3,550. Not to be out done Passy did not intend to run around like a wet hen, riffling a bit and then tossing in a raise to 8,650. An easy pass for Lotze perhaps but Shnayder leant forward with a decision to make. He made it, he called. Passy showed 6♦6♥ for a set but Shnayder showed him 7♦7♥ for a better set.

He's up to 44,000 while Passy slips down to around 19,000.

1.50pm: Fatima downed
Shortly after running into that royal flush Fatima Moreira de Melo was eliminated. She had two-pair by the river but an opponent had caught up and overtaken her by making a straight to end a frustrating couple of hours for her. -- MC

1.45pm: Gomes is royal
It didn't take long for Alex Gomes to take on Fatima Moreira de Melo in a monster pot where he laid a pretty bad beat on her. The action started with a button raise from Gomes and a small blind three-bet from De Melo. Gomes called to see the J♣A♣J♦ flop where he faced a 1,525 c-bet from the diminutive Dutch lady. Call.

The turn came T♣ and De Melo continued the aggressive line with a 2,750 bet. Gomes called once more before the river came Q♣. The fourth club didn't slow down De Melo who emptied the clip with an 8,500 bet.

Gomes quickly peeked at his holding once more and then played with his chips; counting how much he had on top of the amount needed to call. He eventually moved all-in for around 21,000 and De Melo shrugged and called with T♠T♦ for a full-house. It was no good though as Gomes hit a one-outer royal flush with his K♣9♣.

De Melo was left with 7,000 chips and berated herself for not seeing the potential royal flush on the board. Gomes said "Unlucky" and stacked up his chips, now worth around 53,000. -- MC

1.34pm: Standard action from Veldhuis
Lex Veldhuis isn't a man that normally needs to be given an invitation to bet at a pot but after getting flatted pre-flop in two spots - by Evgjeny Shnayder on the button and Roman Makhlin in the big blind - and being given a 2♦2♥8♦ flop it was inevitable. The Dutch Team Pro fired 1,050 at the flop and found two insta-folds. Easy game. -- RD

1.24pm: LEVEL UP
We're into level two now with blinds at 75/150.

1.21pm: Sihvo nearly sunk
Lari Henrik Sihvo just won some high roller event in Finland, as I've been (somewhat) reliably informed by a Finnish colleague. His chances of winning here have been scuppered as he's down to just 2,000 or so from his starting 30,000 stack after running K♥6♥ into A♥Q♥ on a 2♥5♠T♥5♥8♠ board.

The Finn had bet the turn from the button and been called by Vasil Medarov. The Bulgarian had quickly checked the river allowing Sihvo to all but move all-in by betting 10,250. Medarov called almost as quickly as he had checked with the nut flush. -- RD

1.16pm: Skampa gives it up
Amir Sonsino had a tough opponent in Jan Skampa, who won EPT Prague last year soon after final tabling EPT Vilamoura. In a three-way limped pot, the flop was K♥5♥2♠ and Sonsino bet 325. One player folded but Skampa re-raised to 1,025. Call. The turn was K♦ and Sonsino seemed happy enough with that, betting a meaty 2,700 that forced a fold from Skampa. -- SY

1.15pm: Get in, Gomes
Alex Gomes has arrived to take his seat on what is one of the darkest tables in the room. Were I the type to go for cheesy sentimentality I'd say the table was lit up by Fatima Moreira de Melo, but I'm not.

Gomes creates his own light, however, most of the time blazing a trail at the table he occupies (end of analogy). He just opened a pot for 300 against Thor Stang two seats along.

On a flop of T♦T♥4♥Gomes bet another 425. Stand then began what would be a series of quick calls, all while wearing a hood and covering his face with his hand, not unlike someone talking on a mobile phone. After the bet on the flop he called Gomes's 1,500 on the 4♦ turn. Then a change of habit, a pause after Gomes bet a last 1,500 on the 2♣ river. A bit of umm-ing, some ahh-ing, and finally a fold.

Gomes up a few thousand as the first level ends. - SB

1.14pm: Go back to where you came from
These might've been the thoughts of many at table 24 shortly after Stephen Chidwick sat down. The young Brit was originally sat at another table but was moved to table 24 where he found himself in the big blind in his first hand.

Darjan Radenkovic raised to 250 from the hijack and was called by two players before Chidwick bumped it up to 1,200. All three players stared at Chidwick with hatred in their eyes but ultimately folded. -- MC

1.12pm: Pinho picks up pot
Team PokerStars Pro Henrique Pinho just made a crying to call on the river to Gerlando Alba and was right. Around 4,000 chips had made it into the middle by the river with the board reading K♠K♥2♠5♠4♦. Pinho was under-the-gun and led for 2,025 only to be put to the test by Alba with a raise to 4,525 from the next seat along. He made the reluctant looking call with A♠K♦ and was good against Alba's 9♠9♦. He's up to 37,000 now. -- MC

1.10pm: Levi straight to work
Frenchman Nicholas Levi has started his chip accumulation, something he's no stranger to on EPT day ones. On a [10h]5♦6♣ flop, it was checked to Levi who bet 800. Call. On the 7♦ turn it was checked to Levi who bet 1,000 this time. Again he got a call. Finally, the [10s] scare card slowed both to a check.

Levi turned over 8♥4♦, and the turned straight was good for the pot. Levi up to 34,000. -- SY

1.05pm: Love thy neighbour?
Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo was looking as radiant as ever, and not even the arrival of fearsome Team PokerStars Pro Alex Gomes on her immediate right could break the smile.

Gomes, having flown in from Brazil, soon turned on the aggression. It was folded around to the button who open-raised to 275. The problem for him was that Gomes was in the small blind, and he raised it up to 775. That was enough for de Melo to fold, and the original raiser scarpered as well. -- SY

1pm: Champ in the house
Last year's EPT Barcelona winner Carter Phillips has arrived to take his seat and begin his defence of the crown. He beat Marc Goodwin heads-up last year for a €850,000 pay day. -- SY

12.50pm: Le Grand Slam
Amid the crowds settling in for nine levels today is a man setting yet another European Poker Tour record. Pierre Neuville, the jovial Belgian, is playing yet another EPT event, the 1,000th that he's qualified for in a row, and when we say 1,000th we mean 15th.

That, as Neuville himself pointed out in a post on the PokerStars Blog, makes for an entire season qualified for, something Neuville would like to be called the Grand Slam. Not only that he's won $678,087 along the way.

A big chunk of that came at EPT6 Vilamoura, where, as mentioned earlier, he came second to Antonio Matias. Mathias, to Neuville's right, just won an early pot against PokerStars qualifier Vasili Karpenkou.

Karpenkou opened for 300 which Matias called in the blinds. The flop came J♦T♣7♦ which Matias checked before calling Karpenkou's bet of 650. The turn came a deuce which Matias checked again. Karpenkou made it a further 1,500 to play which Mathias called without delay.

The river card came 4♣. Matias checked one last time and Karpenkou had one last bet, another 1,500 which Matias called. Karpenkou turned over Q♦J♥ for top pair. Mathias looked at his opponent's cards, then at his own before gladly turning over T♦2♠ for the pot.

The Vilamoura man is up to more than 33,000 in the early stages. -- SB

12.47pm: Hairy encounter for Akkari
As usual we have a strong line-up of Team PokerStars Pros playing in Barcelona. Andre Akkari has flown in from Brazil, and for his trouble he is sitting next to a gentleman who has hair and a beard so long it is impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends.

Also spotted in the field are Arnaud Mattern, Ruben Visser, Nuno Coelho, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Michael Keiner, Lex Veldhuis and Ville Wahlbeck. Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville is also here, having qualified for his umpteenth EPT in a row. -- SY

12.42pm: Mattern muddle
Arnaud Mattern has come closer than most to winning two EPT titles, but his early attempts to achieve another deep run have taken a battering, thanks to Gianni Giaroni.

The amenable Italian called a large bet - somewhere in the region of 9,000 - from Mattern on the river of a T♣J♦8♦K♦T♠ board. Mattern showed K♣9♣ and Giaroni tabled A♣Q♠ for the Broadway straight.

Mattern's attempts to blow Giaroni off his hand on the flushed and paired board have cost him around a third of his starting 30,000 stack. -- RD

12.35pm: Here's where we are
Here's the video team's intro to Barcelona...

12.32pm: Filling up
Play is underway but players are still filtering through the door to find their seats. EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani has sat down at the same table as local heroine Leo Margets, the lucky fella.

The French contingent is out in force with Nic Levi, Antony Lellouche and Jan Boubli all searching for their seats. Two players who are already in seats next to each other are Antonio Matias and Pierre Neuville. It was only Matias that denied the Friend of PokerStars an EPT title at Vilamoura in season six after a heads-up battle. -- MC.

12.20pm: And away we go
Thomas Kremser has finished his speech, and someone else has finished translating it all into Spanish. Play is under way, and we'll have nine one-hour levels today with a dinner break after level 6. -- SY

12.10pm: Getting close
As ever, the noon start was a little optimistic. Mind you, Thomas Kremser is telling the assembled field--and it's a big one--about this week's rules and regulations, and that generally means we're not far away from the off.

Meanwhile, Friend of PokerStars Poli Rincon, the former Real Madrid and Spanish international footballer, is doing a roaring trade outside the tournament room signing copies of his new book. -- SY

11.45am: Back to where it all began
It doesn't seem 14 months ago that we were last in Barcelona, for what was a memorable week in the sunshine. Barcelona is where the European Poker Tour all started more than six years ago, and rarely ends with a damp squib finale.

Last year American Carter Phillips endeared himself to the public as one of the game's new talents while runner-up Marc Goodwin from England, played the gracious runner-up. At the same time third placed Santiago Terrazas will forever be remembered for his controversial call for the clock in a hand between the other two (Phillips pulling off a big bluff) that could have ultimately sent the title to the Brit.

That though is all in the past, and several hundred players are arriving now to write a new page to EPT Barcelona's history. It's the longest running event of the tour having been a regular fixture since Alexander Stevic became the first EPT winner back in season one.

Seven seasons along and there's a new feature for the blog, as you'll notice beneath this post. From now on you can add your own comments to each blog entry, brightening up what is typically otherwise morbid prose. As a rule I can't abide exclamation marks, random capital letters, bad grammar, poor spelling and sensationalism (that's our department), but try your luck anyway, I might be in a good mood.

It's all about to kick off in Barcelona. We're in a slightly different venue this year, in what is the overlapping middle bit of a Venn diagram; one circle being the ARTS Hotel, the other being Casino de Barcelona. We're in a roomy, climate controlled room somewhere between them.

Play should be under way shortly. -- SB

Here's what's up for grabs

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Barcelona (in order of oh, whatever you feel like) Simon Young, Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey and Rick Dacey

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour