EPT Copenhagen: Day 1A, levels 1 and 2 (75-150)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg4.20pm: Break time
That's the end of the first two levels of the day and that means a break for 15 minutes.

4.15pm: Reality sets in
That's 400 all round for the small blind Philip Kalin, the big blind Cornel Cimpan and Janne Nevalainen. Cimpan, wearing a woolly hat with 'Denmark' written across the front, seemed pretty confident, unlike Nevalainen who called with an expression that betrayed a complete lack of faith in what he was doing.

8♦A♠K♣ on the flop. A bet of 300 from Kalin, called by Cimpan and by Nevalainen once more. A J♣ on the turn. Now what. Kalin put the brakes on, checking, while Cimpan, still showing the same confidence that got him into all this, made it 1,500.

Despite earlier woe Nevalainen called it as the small blind Kalin, who had instigated this whole deal, let them both go. A 3♣ on the river and some checking all round. A♣J♥ for Cimpan. Nevalainen, who again looked like he knew something like this would happen, mucked his cards.

4.12pm: That's enough of that
"Race". This is Jakob Brun announcing "raise" in thick Danish from under the gun. Arnaud Mattern to his left called as a matter of routine and Stephen Vollers at the far end and on the button did the same. The flop came A♠8♦Q♣. Both Brun and Mattern checked sharpish before Vollers made it 1,500 from the button. Brun was up for calling but it was too pricey for Mattern and he passed.

A J♥ on the turn. Check-check. It was the same on the J♦ flop. Deflating like an early morning air bed this hand was ready to end. Brun pointed to Vollers who was first to show. Going down with the ship Vollers mucked without showing. With no real need Brun didn't show his cards either and took his chips instead.

4.10pm: Jack Eames
John Eames is down to 8,000 after running J♣J♥ in to Kenneth Kromann's A♥A♠. There was a raise and a call before Eames made it 2,250 from the small blind. The action wasn't finished there as Kromann four-bet to 12,150 (7k back). The two original players folded but Eames put Kromann all in and was quickly called to take it to showdown.

The board ran Q♠7♦A♣7♠7♣. Kromann more than doubled-up to over 40,000.

4pm: 'I got away cheaply!'
Stefan Mattsson is down to 5,000 and Rifat Palevic is now on Jan Skampa's heels with 55,000. Both players are sat at the same table and if you're thinking they clashed, you'd be correct in that assumption. Palevic opened with a raise before Mattsson three-bet. Palevic then four-bet and Mattsson called. The flop came A♣T♣6♣ and somehow Mattson managed to get to the river with 5,000 left. The hands? Mattson had ace-king and Palevic had pocket aces. Neither had a club but it was probably that fact that saved Mattsson and he mused "I got away cheaply."


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Rifat Palevic on the up


3.50pm: Minieri's scary board
On a dangerous 4♣A♣5♣ flop, Philippe Vaillergues checks, Dario Minieri bets 650, Vaillergues re-raises to 2,000, and Minieri fires again to 6,150. Call. Both then check the Q♦ turn and also the 2♣ river, which completes a board of many horrible possibilities. Minieri turns over Q♥Q♠ for a set that would normally see him getting all his chips in, and Vaillergues had A♥K♠ for top pair. Not a club in sight, and Minieri chips up to around 35,000.

Minieri was right back at it soon after as well. Pieter Jong opened to 600 from the hijack, Preben Stukkan made it 1,750 from the cut off, and Minieri four-bet to 5,150 from the button. It took a while, but both others folded.

3.35pm: Skampa's mate makes his own name
Jan Skampa, who has taken an early lead here in Copenhagen (see 2.45pm update), has been one of the undisputed "stories" of this season's EPT. He won in his home city of Prague just weeks after making the final table in Vilamoura, and might have expected to be a shoo in for "Player of the Year" - if it hadn't have been for a man named Martin Kabrhel.

Ironically enough, Kabrhel first came to our attention as a member of Skampa's cheering section. The two are good friends and when Kabrhel took down a side event in Vilamoura, he was widely referred to as "Skampa's mate". And as Skampa was again surging to the final table in Prague (and then the title) Kabrhel was again surging to final table of a side event - and then the title. There was a nice moment at the very end of that festival, as tournament staff were beginning to dismantle tables in an empty conference room when Skampa and Skampa's mate stood together, trophy in each of their hands, and seemed to be discussing who was driving home.

Skampa's spectacular run came to an end in Deauville when he fell short of the cash. But Kabrhel certainly wasn't finished. After busting out of the Main Event there, finishing 60th for €11,600, Kabrhel darted over to the High Roller side event, where registration was just closing. He ponied up €25,000 to buy in and three days later was champion, taking €250,000 for his third EPT side event success of the season. That's a total of €408,000 from three first places since November - and he also won a major tournament in Baden in October, worth €190,000.

Side events here don't start until Friday, so Kabrhel is taking part in the main event until then. If he goes deep in another big dance, Skampa and Skampa's mate could wind up being Kabrhel and Kabrhel's mate - and sharing that Player of the Year title between them.

3.25pm: Raise for value
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern's good start to the day sees no sign of slowing down. He's by far the most active player at his table. He just won another small pot when his early position raise to 250 was called in two spots. All three checked the A♦Q♣7♠ flop before Mattern took it down with a 675 bet on the T♥ turn.

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Arnaud Mattern

His stack's up to 44,000 now and he informed the blog team that a lot of that came from a hand where he made a wheel on the river with A♦2♦. His opponent, the aggressor in the hand, led into him and Mattern raised it up. He described it as a "Thin value raise" seeing as there were three hearts on board. It was the right decision though as his raise was called and his straight stood as his opponent's card were into the muck quickly.

3.20pm: Lodden picks off a bluff
If you're going to try a bluff on the river, then perhaps doing so against the aforementioned Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden is not the best option. On a board showing 3♠K♦4♦7♠Q♣, and after calling down Lodden in every previous street, Nadir Yusupov put out a large bet of 7,000. Lodden was not convinced, and called with [10h][10c], enough to beat Yusupov's A♣5♥. Lodden up to 48,000 after that.

3.30pm: Lodden lands
Johnny Lodden arrived late, but it wasn't long until he was tangling with Gianni Giaroni.

After Mikko Vahatorma tentatively flipped in his minimum bet from under the gun, Giaroni played along and called. Here's when Lodden sprung into action, announcing his arrival with a full on trumpet fanfare, re-raising to 1,200.

Interesting. Vahatorma paused a second, calling, and sending the action back to Giaroni who was ready to do a little raising himself, 7,000 in total. Lodden paused. Moshe Haliva in seat three, thinking he was helping to reminded Lodden that the bet was 1,200, said so, promptly corrected by the polite but firm dealer.

"I'm sleeping," said Haliva, to himself more than as an apology to the dealer. "I've started the tournament asleep," repeating out loud the voice in his head. "I'd better get up. Drink some coffee." Haliva got up and drank some coffee.

Meanwhile Lodden passed, as did Vahatorma. Giaroni up now to nearly 43,000 chips.

3.10pm: Mattern on the up
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern is not one to sit back, and today is no exception. Involved in many little pots, as his tower of black 100 chips would testify, he's up to 42,000. A little of that came his way on this hand, where he called a 1,200 bet from Jogvan Glerfoss on a Q♥2♥4♣J♦ board. Both checked the 4♥ river, and Mattern's A♦J♣ was good against Glerfoss' 7♠7♥.

3.05pm: Dario rolls out of bed into tournament
Dario Minieiri has arrived. He was on the list at the start of the day, but was nowhere to be seen. But now his distinctive presence has taken its place on table 23, and he's either trying to bore his eyes out with his knuckles or is rubbing the last remnants of a deep sleep away.

3pm: The Gianni Giaroni exception
The standard of play at EPT Copenhagen is arguably the best of all events on the tour. "Local" players frequently provide the value at most destinations, but that rule of thumb stops here. As a rule Nordic players are active, aggressive and exceptionally bright, and they're probably all already making millions online, or will be in a few months from now. There are also loads of them, droves, and that means that although they're excellent players, we might not have seen them before. They're simply the latest from the production line that shows no sign of stopping.

This is a long-winded way of saying that there are very few established "names" in today's field. We were recently compiling the embryonic chip count page, where all the stacks will be at 30,000 and all the names will be "notable". The affable Italian player Gianni Giaroni is playing today, sitting to the right of Johnny Lodden. But although Giaroni has had some excellent recent results, and has become an establishment figure on the EPT, he would not under normal circumstances be in the clutch of "notable" players. He is today, though - an indication that today is the perfect opportunity for an as-yet unknown to break into that "notable" category. Once they're there, they're there for good.

2.55pm: Not so cagey a start
If it's the optimal strategy not to be cagey, why be cagey on the first level? If you figured out the best play is to look for three streets of value for with a marginal hand then do it. One man with that power of conviction is Jeff Sarwer.

Csaba Toth opened to 250 from under-the-gun and was only called by the Canadian in the hijack position to go to a Q♣7♣7♦ flop. Toth check-called a 450 bet here, a 725 bet on the 3♣ turn and a 1,125 bet on the 6♠ river. Sarwer revealed Q♥T♣ for two-pair and it was good as Toth folded. Sarwer up to 33,000 now.

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Jeff Sarwer

2.45pm: Early fatality in Skampa skirmish
Oh well. €5,000 is a lot to pay out for a tournament if you only last a few minutes. Aleksandr Beresnev has that sinking feeling after falling in an early monster with young Czech tearaway Jan Skampa.

We picked up the action with the board showing [10d]2♠8♠3♣, and Skampa, who won EPT Prague, his home event, just a few weeks ago, had bet 2,300. That was called by Jannik Laigaard and Beresnev.

On the 6♠ river Skampa made it 3,500, and again got a call from Laigaard. But Beresnev was having none of it, bumping it up to 10,000 total. Skampa eyed him up with a stare that we saw used to such great effect in Prague. After a moment or two, he moved his entire stack over the line. Laigaard got out of the way, but Beresnev gave a shrug: "I call."

Beresnev: K♠Q♠ for the second nut flush
Skampa: A♠9♠ for the nut flush

Ouch. Skampa soared to 68,000, Beresnev sat in his seat shocked for a moment of two before calmly standing up and walking out of the room.

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Jan Skampa: focused as ever

2.35pm: Cagey starts
Annette Obrestad and Rasmus Nielsen are both feeling their way carefully in the early stages.

Obrestad opened to 300 from the cut-off when all passed around to her and she was called only by Lennart Nyestrom on the button. The flop came down 9♦A♥8♥ and the young Norwegian had seen enough as she check-folded.

Nielsen, who finished 6th here last year, meanwhile managed to get all the way to the river. He made it 300 to go from third position and was called by Nicola D'Alessio in the next seat. Both checked it all the way down. The final board read 5♣2♣6♠7♥T♠ and D'Alessio took the pot with ace high.

2.25pm: We're off
The tournament room may only be two thirds full as players trickle in, with few tables topped up with their full complement of nine, but two players still found good enough reason to lump it in gladly within four minutes of the off.

Over on table 33, snug between the rail and the orange juice and coffee urn mobile drinks bar, sit Johnny Jensen and Jean-Pierre Perez, the latter having just conceded 12,000 from his stack to the former whose queen-jack was superior to ace-ten. Too late for a glimpse of the board but Jensen reacted with understated nonchalance while Perez got up for a walk.

2.10pm: Day 1A due to start
It's the first level of the first day of the sixth season at EPT Copenhagen and, as is often the case, we're a little delayed. Players are still in line waiting to register and once everyone is in, we will begin.

That could take any amount of time, in truth, but we're hopeful that there will be action before 3pm.

In the meantime, there's an introductory post already written, so you can read that if you like. Or there's a picture to look at. There, that passed the time.

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Copenhagen. In the sun.

PokerStars Blog reporting team: Words: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Howard Swains and Simon Young. Pictures: Neil Stoddart.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour