EPT Berlin: Day 1b: Levels 5 and 6 (200-400 50 ante)
We now pause for 90 minutes and some scoff.
7.05pm: Thew and Lodden
Team PokerStars Pros Julian Thew and Johnny Lodden are sat at different tables but if they stretch out their arms they could hold hands. Thew is new to the team and one might think he'd need that kind of support from a team mate but you'd be wrong. Thew's been on the EPT trail since the beginning and is a former winner and fierce competitor. He's also one of the nicest and most popular players on tour. It's just not fair is it?
Thew managed to take a pot down from his neighbor to put him up to 29,000. There was a flat call before Thew's neighbor raised to 1,800. Thew called and then bet 2,200 on the 8♥7♠8♦ flop when it was checked to him. His opponent quickly gave it up.
Lodden meanwhile was just three-betting Salvatore Bonavena's under-the-gun raise. Lodden was sat on the button and flashed an ace to the Italian when he gave up the pot. Lodden on 32,500, Bonavena's on 40,000. --MC
7pm: Blom bombs
Viktor Blom is out. You know what that means. -- HS.
6.58pm: Gutteck catches Deimann in the Bazevics
Somehow three players got themselves all-in in a hand Ramzi Jelassi, otherwise sat reading Business Weekly, would later say he'd been waiting his whole life for. Jelassi didn't feature in this one though, instead he just watched as Fabian Deimann and Janis Bazevics got their chips in on a flop of A♥7♥8♦ and were called by Jonas Gutteck.
Deimann showed A♠6♥, Bazevics showed A♣6♣ and Gutteck showed 7♣8♣.
After the 4♦ turn and J♠ river both stood to leave, not quite sure what to do with themselves. So to make it easier they shared a laugh, then did that fist pump thing and got out of the way, leaving a gaping hole at the table.
Gutteck up to 85,000 and looking quite pleased with himself. -- SB.
6.55pm: Welcome to the table, William
Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson has been toiling away at the side of the room all day, sharing the felt with Jan Heitmann. Now their table has broken and Thorson has picked up his 31,000 chips and settled down at his new table - a tough one right in the middle of the crowded room.
Sitting here already is Carter Phillips, winner of EPT Barcelona earlier this season, who has a menacing 71,000. Also here is Marcus Golser with around 60,000.
As if to give Thorson an idea of the aggression that awaits - which will suit him just fine - Golser just faced an all-in bet of 21,150 from Benjamin Wilinofsky on a 4♦6♥4♣ flop, with around 11,000 in the pot. Golser folded.
6.50pm: Six figures?
No one seems to have seized today by the neck yet and there are few, if any, players beyond 100,000 in chips. Conny Eriksson, a PokerStars qualifier from Finland, was once at 110,000. And even though he's now got 95,000, he's still likely to be our chip leader. -- HS
6.45pm: Weisner wins with aces
One of the oldest bluffs in the book is the tank-raise, the agonising for ages over a decision, looking like you might be folding, only to finally make it, but raise. Received wisdom says that this is a monster. Received wisdom is an ass.
On a board of Q♥9♥9♠ and a raised pre-flop pot, Melanie Weisner bet 2,075, which put Chris Dombrowski into the tank. He took a good long while over it, but eventually came out with a raise, making it 5,100. Weisner wasn't scared by the circumstances and announced she was all in; Dombrowski insta-called. "Where's the nine?" wondered reporters.
Weisner showed A♣A♦; Dombrowski had A♥Q♠. The turn and river were 7♦4♥ which meant Weisner doubled up to more than 45,000 and leaving Dombrowski o the ropes. -- HS
6.35pm: Raising machine
If you saw some of the early coverage from this year's WSOP main event you'll know all about Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis and how he's capable of running over a table no matter who's at it. Since he's been moved to the Grand Ball Room he's been in a very similar mood. The last ten minutes saw him raise every pot he was able to open. The last hand witnessed he wasn't able to but that's not because he'd had enough of open raising it's because he was in the big blind and despite a lot of action in front of him he managed to find a way to be the dominant force in the hand and took the pot down with typical panache.
There was an early position raise to 1,650 that was flat called before Varahram Vardjavand three-bet to 3,500 from mid-position. Veldhuis then made it 9,500 to go from the big blind. The early position players folded but Vardjavand made the call after some deliberation. The flop came down 3♠A♥7♦ and both players checked to go to the 9♠ turn. The Dutchman led out for 4,500 with a big smile on his face. Quickly Vardjavand raised it up to 11,000 with only 13,500 back. Just as quickly Veldhuis moved all-in. When there was no immediate and expected call Veldhuis commented "Ah ha, I must have the best hand."
Vardjavand continued to think and this prompted his opponent to say "Oh, I had a bad experience with a slow-roll in Germany before"
Vardjavand laid his hand down and said to Veldhuis "Pocket nines?"
Veldhuis responded in a squeaky voice "Aces!" He's up to 72,000 now.
6.20pm: Do not pass go
Michael Martin opened for 1,100 and was called by Clayton Mozdzen on the button before Taner Catakli raised to 3,000 in total. Martin folded and after a short pause Mozdzen moved all-in. Catakli called but there was not much to get excited about as both players turned over ace-king. The board was inoffensive and each returned to where they'd started from. -- SB.
6.15pm: Don't walk away Rehne
The former WPT five Diamond champion Rehne Pedersen just moved up to 66,000 when, on a board of 6♠T♥K♥8♦6♣ he called a bet of 3,500, showing Q♦T♦ and beating Q♠8♥. -- SB.
6.10pm: Faure straightens out press pack
Poor old Nicolas Faure. He won the pot and all, but he moved all in on the river against an Italian opponent, Luca Cainelli, which meant he had to tolerate at least two cameras with flashes bursting in his eyes as he tried to keep a poker face while Cainelli pondered his decision.
The board was 8♥3♠J♥9♠5♠ and Faure's all in was for 21,500 - into a pot of something similar. Once the Italian press noticed Cainelli with such a major decision, the flashes started. Faure put his hand over his mouth and continued to look calm despite garnering the kind of attention reserved for a Hollywood starlet.
Eventually Cainelli called and Faure showed Q♠[10c] for the straight. Cainelli mucked - and Faure blinked his eyes clean of flashbulbs as he stacked his chips. -- HS
6pm: Roche destroys another
Charlotte Roche, the TV presenter and author who is playing here under the PokerStars flag, is havinga great time of it. Just now she busted another player to take her stack to just under 50,000. She had limped in with [10h]J♣ and was mighty pleased to see the flop come [10d][10c]J♦, a full house that could not be matched when her opponent made a flush on the river. -- SY
LEVEL UP. BLINDS ARE NOW 200-400 50 ANTE.
5.50pm: You win some you lose some
Some tables are more familiar than others. Anton Wigg, Johnny Lodden, Michel Abecassis, Davidi Kitai and El Bona himself, Salvatore Bonavena. This lot had gathered at a table wedged in along the wall, although one would soon be heading to the rail.
Rüdiger Brüsch took on two pots in a row, losing the first from the button to a determined Bonavena who raised him on the 7♠A♦9♦ flop. The on the next hand he raised pre-flop from the cut off getting no takers.
Johnny Lodden opened the next for 750. Joost Poelhuis called before Abecassis bumped things up to 2,550. Lodden, though, was unafraid and called to see a flop with the Frenchman - Q♠4♥5♠.
Lodden checked and Abecassis bet 3,300. Lodden then re-raised to around 9,000 in total, getting an insta-fold from Abecassis. Lodden's stack now up to around its original 30,000 mark.
Then the end came for Anton Wigg. The EPT Copenhagen champion moved all-in for 4,550 with 2♥2♦. Thomas Decierck did the calling with A♦Q♣. The board ran 6♣T♥5♣A♥J♠. Wigg was out.
"Can't win them all," said Lodden as Wigg departed for the rail. -- SB
5.30pm: Not the best of days
Nicolas Levi is having a hard enough day as it is with having to wear lingerie but things have got that little worse for him. He had aces by the PokerStars qualifier Fergal Nealon. Nealon at least did it in style, going on to make quad queens. Levi led out on the queen high flop and then called Nealon's all-in push of 16,300. The case queen fell on the river to send Levi's stack down to 23,500. --MC
5.20pm: Keeping Van den Berg quiet
It's not often that Thierry van den Berg is kept quiet, but today he's sitting opposite Peter Hedlund. "I don't usually listen to music," Van den Berg said, fiddling with an iPod. "But today, well..." He nodded over at Hedlund, who was in the middle of one anecdote or another.
"I don't mind. It's usually me," Van den Berg added. "But Noah (Boeken) said today that I looked like him too! That's too harsh." Here are the two of them, so judge for yourself. --HS
5.15pm: Nielsen the table bully
Everything about the way this hand played out suggested that Rasmus Nielsen might have been playing a lot of pots this afternoon. Firstly, it's Rasmus Nielsen, and he always plays a lot of pots. But there are several other indicators along the way that he perhaps hasn't got the tightest of table images.
Nielsen opened to 800 from under-the-gun (Aggressive Player Indicator Tally: 1). He was called in four spots (APIT: 2), including Nico Behling in the cut off, Fabian Gentile on the button, Thung Duc Nguyen in the small blind and Peter Bosen in the big blind.
The flop came A♠4♠5♦ and after both the blinds checked, Nielsen bet 2,450 (APIT: 3). Behling folded, but Gentile took one more look at his cards before moving all in, slamming 19,700 chips forward. (APIT: 4)
Bosen also seemed very interested at this point, but folded. Nielsen peered over to his opponent Gentile, who was now standing up and seeming goading Nielsen into a call. (APIT: 5).
Nielsen folded (APIT: 6) and Gentile defiantly flipped 9♠3♠ (APIT: 7) to widespread cheers from all the table, who seemed to be celebrating a bully supposedly being taught a lesson. (APIT: 8)
Nielsen didn't seem bothered in any way whatsoever. (APIT: 9).
Next hand... "Raise!" (APIT: 10) -- HS
5.10pm: Tough decision for Thorson
Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson just had to make a tough lay down against Christopher Kolla. Five players were still involved on the flop and they all checked before Thorson bet 3,000 into a 7,000 pot on the turn with the board showing T♦8♥4♥8♠. Kolla then moved all-in for 16,525 and it was left only on the Swede to make a decision as all other were now out of the way. Thorson thought for a good while and really seemed to struggle to put his opponent on a hand. This seemed to be the deciding factor in him folding. He sits on 34,000 right now.
5pm: It's level five
It really is. That means the introduction of the ante. It will cost a green chip worth 25 for every hand. At least.
The plan is to play another two levels before dinner, and then another two levels after food. We, of course, will be here for the duration.
Among those still fighting hard is the Team PokerStars Pro Jude Ainsworth. It's his first season in the PokerStars colours but he's gone deep in every event he's played. Here's to another good run.
PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of EPT events attended): Stephen Bartley (45); Marc Convey (34); Simon Young (33 - seven as a player; Cashes: 0); Howard Swains (28 - one as player, one as "hosted journalist", one as card caller.)