EPT Barcelona: Day 1A, level 3 & 4 updates (blinds 150-300)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg4.40pm: Break time
The end of level 4 brings with it a 15 minute break.

4.40pm: Never afraid
Team PokerStars Pro Matthias de Meulder has had a great level and ended it on 41,000 chips. Just before the end of the level he called an early position raise fro the cut-off to see a T♦6♦A♦ flop where he called a c-bet. The 7♠2♣ turn and river were checked to him and he bet 2,425 and 3,325 each time. Both times he was called but he took the pot after revealing A♣Q♠.

"I guess you weren't afraid" asked his opponent. "I'm never afraid" responded De Meulder. -- MC

4.38pm: Squeezing Abecassis
Michel Abecassis is one of the EPT's nearly men of the last two years. He finished 26th at EPT Deauville in January 2009, 21st at EPT Warsaw in October 2009, 6th at EPT Vilamoura in November 2009, 27th at EPT San Remo in April 2010 and 89th at EPT London this September just gone.

Whether Josef Klinger had knowledge of this or not we don't know but what we do is that Klinger couldn't muck his hand fast enough after opening from early position for 800 and getting three-bet by Abecassis out of the big blind to 3,050. Julian Lange had called on the cut-off and was the anvil upon which Abecassis dropped the hammer. Another little pot for the Frenchman. -- RD

4.35pm: Estrellas squabble
While to most people this event is EPT Barcelona (as in European Poker Tour), it is also EPT Barcelona (as in Estrellas Poker Tour). Confused? Don't be. The Estrellas Poker Tour is the series of tournaments organised by PokerStars in Spain, and this event doubles up as its final as well as being the regular European Poker Tour event.

The Estrellas tour has a leadboard to recognise the season's best players, and right now Álvaro Marino, who is top of the leadboard after bagging two final tables, and Vedast Sanxis, winner of Estrellas Poker Tour Malaga and third on the leaderboard, are sharing the same table in Barcelona.

The winner of the leaderboard, which will be determined after this event, will get sponsorship for the whole of the second season of the Estrellas Poker Tour. -- SY

4.30pm: New kid on the block
We recently welcomed a new Team PokerStars Pro in the shape of Theo Jorgensen. Here, in the first of a two-part interview, he tells all to our video team... -- SY

4.28pm: The right attire
Satirist PJ O'Rourke once wrote, "Never wear anything that panics the cat." Stephane Albertini may well have taken that advice, wearing a plain zip-up top. But it's the fact that the zip is open, exposing full frontal chest hair that would frighten animals, and most right-thinking people.

But it's not Albertini causing discomfort, as he gets a massage, nipples to the wind. Instead it's Jonatan Risueño, himself dressed in a hooded top in a aqua coloured pattern not out of place on a bathroom wall.

Antoine Saout opened things off, betting 750 which Richard Toth called, as did Risueño and Cristiano Blanco.

On a K♥3♣8♦ flop all four players scorched into action, checking for a 3♦ turn. Saout, looking like he was fighting off a recent general anaesthetic, checked again, as did Toth, before Risueño reached for a bet of 1,700. Blanco and Toth would fold while Saout called for a J♣ river card. First Saout checked then Risueño turned over T♥J♠. Enough to force the Frenchman to fold, down to 23,000, and send Risueño up to 34,000. -- SB

4.23pm: Giaroni sprint
He may be one of the more 'mature' players today, but Gianni Giaroni is putting on an impressive sprint up the leaderboard. He now sits on around 53,000.

Giaroni is no stranger to stacking chips--he came tenth at his home EPT in San Remo in 2009 for $103,000, and has three other smaller EPT cashes to his name. -- SY

4.15pm: Stani-ma of a champion
EPT Vilamoura champion Kevin Stani was down to 6,000 chips not long ago but he has shown his winner's spirit and battled back up to 22,000.

First he managed to double-up to 12,000 after shoving from the BB with ace-eight over the top of a button raise. The button player called with pocket threes but couldn't stay ahead on the 5♥2♦A♥T♠T♦ board.

A short while after that Stani saw a A♦8♠2♠ flop with Guram Rcheulishvili and one other player. Rcheulishvili led for 500 and was called by Stani. The turn brought the 5♠ and Rcheulishvili led again, this time for 1,000. Stani called once more to see the J♥ river. Rcheulishvili fired 1,500 and called when the Norwegian raised to 6,350.

Stani tabled Q♠J♠ for the flush. Rcheulishvili slammed own the losing 8♣8♦ for a flopped set and got up and left the table - maybe to blow off some steam. -- MC

4.01pm: Hallaert left rolling his eyes
Some players sit at the table trying to look emotionless, others talk the ears off of their opponents. Kenny Hallaert's approach seems to flip between a look of general disinterest and that of someone with a mildly disapproving point of view. It was the look of general disinterest he modelled when he raising Artem Litvinov's small blind limp to 900 from the big blind. Litvinov made the call before quickly checking down all three streets of the 5♥J♥3♣K♥3♠ board.

Hallaert decided to make a thin 500 value bet on the river. Litvinov made the call with J♣9♠ to beat Hallaert's T♥T♣, also making the Belgian break out his mildly disapproving look with a slow eye roll. -- RD

3.50pm: Look for one thing, find another
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern is back up to 21,000, getting there versus Mathieu Battikha. Battikha limped from late position and picked up two callers before Mattern checked his big blind option.

The flop came 5♦A♣9♦ and Mattern led for 550 and was only called by Battikha. There was no slowing down Mattern on the 2♣ turn as he fired again, for 1,250. Fifth street brought the 3♣ and Mattern bet 2,875. Battikha chuckled and threw in the calling chips but mucked upon seeing Mattern's J♦4♦. Mattern was looking to hit the flush but backed into a hidden straight. -- MC

3.49pm: Skampa skewered
EPT Prague winner Jan Skampa is missing from his seat. Nick Binger, who was sitting next to the man from the Czech Republic, confirmed he was an early victim and has bust. -- SY

ept barcelona_day 1a_nick binger.jpg

Nick Binger: 'I think Jan scampered off that way.'

3.45pm: Stani survives
EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani is used to having a big stack, so found himself a little ill at ease with just 4,000 left. But he now has 8,000 after doubling up with A♥8♦ against an opponent's 3♣3♠ on a 5♥2♦A♥[10s][10d] board. -- SY

3.40pm: Chidwick on the move
Nuno Coelho tried to get someone else to join him in a pot he'd raised to 550, but got nothing. It might have been because Spanish Team Pro Juan Maceiras was doing his rounds, checking in on every Spanish player he could see, having a word with Guillermo Garcia Gomez De Barreda (Guillermo Gomez De Barreda for short) in seat three, before walking up to Javier Martinez to warn him that he was sitting next to Stephen Chidwick.

Chidwick would soon be in action. After Walid Bou Habibatrubin limped pre-flop he raised to 650, which both Dimitar Danchev and Habibatrubin called for a J♣8♠4♣ flop.

Habibatrubin checked to Chidwick who bet another 1,500. Danchev, a PokerStars qualifier from Bulgaria, called while Habibatrubin got out of their way. Both Chidwick and Danchev checked the 7♠ turn for a T♠ river. Chidwick, solid posture, headphones hanging over his shoulders, checked one last time, gently tapping his fist on the table. Danchev seized the moment, betting 3,200. Chidwick passed without fanfare, down to 12,500. Danchev moves back up to his starting stack of 30,000. -- SB

STOP PRESS: Chidwick now appears to be out.

3.35pm: Klinger making his own luck
Josef Klinger finished runner-up at the EPT Grand Final last season winning €1m and he certainly doesn't appear to be the sit-and-wait-for-cards type. He's certainly not at the moment anyway. 'He had five-eight last time,' grumbled one player after losing with pocket aces to the Austrian's 6♣2♣ on an A♣3♣7♣4♦8♣ board.

Frankly he should be cheering the fact that a fourth club dropped to force Klinger to adopt a more defensive strategy. Klinger is up to a little over 41,000. -- RD

3.23pm: Sarwer spots the Hollywood
Jeff Sarwer was just check-raised off a extremely juicy Q♥A♣K♥ flop by Spaniard Vedast Sanxis. Sarwer had bet 1,200 from his late position seat after being checked to by two opponents, including Sanxis.

Sarwer's opponent sat playing with his chips for some time. He counted out five red 1,000 chips and put them just on the safe side of the bet line, topped with two stacks of 25 and 100 chips to total 5,600, and slid them forward. Sarwer passed. It was either a huge Hollywood from Sanxis or a spectacular bluff out of position. Given a choice I'd veer towards the former. Either way Sanxis took the pot down. -- RD

ept barcelona_day 1a_tournament floor.jpg

Into level four and already players are falling

3.15pm: More straight flushes
Earlier we reported how Team PokerStars Pro Alex Gomes made a straight flush (of the royal variety nonetheless) and now his good friend and fellow Team Pro Andre Akari has been involved in a hand containing a straight flush, but on the wrong side of it.

He and Atanas Gueorguiev made it to the river with 5,500 in the pot and a board reading 6♠K♥9♠7♠A♣. The Bulgarian bet 3,025 from the cut-off and after some thought Akari called from the big blind. Gueorguiev tabled T♠8♠ for a straight flush. Akari mucked and drops down to 16,700. -- MC

3.10pm: Number's up for Neuville
Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville enjoys the distinction of being called the Serial PokerStars Qualifier thanks to his habit of getting to EPT events via satellites on PokerStars. Recently he informed us of his Grand Slam--qualification to 15 events (in other words, all of 'em).

As a result, Mr Neuville, from Belgium, is today sporting a new sticker on his shirt - a bright red number 15 to go with this 'Friend of PokerStars' and 'Serial PokerStars Qualifier'. He's on around 33,000 right now. - SY

2.55pm: Leo's all roar
Leo Margets is down to 21,000 after trying but ultimately failing to get an opponent of a hand. She called a raise in position pre-flop to see a 6♦A♥5♠ flop. She bet 625 when checked to her and then called when this bet was raised to 1,550. The turn came 2♠ and her opponent checked again and called when faced with a 2,600 bet. The river fell as 2♦ and Margets had more bullet in her - 5,000 when checked to her. He quickly called with A♣9♣ and took the pot as Margets tapped the table and mucked. -- MC

2.45pm: What the papers say
Is it foolish to read the newspaper while you're playing a hand, or does it bestow upon you a dash of finesse? Ville Wahlbeck just tried to make his case for the latter.

Tom Aksel Bedell opened from under-the-gun for 450 and both Wahlbeck and Frenchman Nicholas Levi called for a K♦8♠K♠ flop. They each checked the flop for a 7♠ turn. Bedell bet 850, called by Wahlbeck (reading a broadsheet, but with a tabloid at his feet) but raised to 3,000 by Levi, face firm against the back of his seat, while his back is massaged.

Bedell tanked for a while, eventually calling. Wahlbeck looked up from the finance page and did the same in less than half the time for a 7♦ river card. All three players checked, Levi turning over Q♣A♥, Bedell 8♥9♥ and Wahlbeck a winning J♣J♠. -- SB

2.35pm: We're back
Players have had their first break of the day and are returning for level 3, with blinds of 100-200. Play should be under way again shortly. -- SB

Fish, inside and outside the casino

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Barcelona (in order of shame):Stephen Bartley, Stephen Bartley, Stephen Bartley, Simon Young, Rick Dacey and Marc Convey

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour