EPT London, Day 1A: Level 1 & 2 (blinds 75-150)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.30pm: End of level
That's the first of many, many, many breaks. Fifteen minutes R&R for the players. -- RD

2.27pm: Hit for Heitmann
On a flop of 8♠7♣J♣ Jan Heitmann was leaning forward, head table high looking over at the chips Arjanit Kondaj had just pushed forward and had counted by the dealer. That all-in shove had come after Heitmann had bet 3,375 and it was another 18,000 to call. He did, watching Kondaj turn over 9♠K♠ for a flush draw before turning over his own J♥7♥ for two pairs. Heitmann gritted his teeth when the 5♠ hit the turn. He did nothing on the 3♦ river. Kondaj doubles up, while Heitmann slips down to 15,000. -- SB

2.25pm: Quick one for Coren
Team PokerStars Vicky Coren is a previous winner here and is a stalwart of the London poker scene (the London Victoria Grosvenor is a home away from home and just a few minutes walk from here). A quick bet on a K♠3♥K♦6♦5♥ board was enough to take a small pot and keep Coren moving in the right direction. -- RD


ept london_day 1a_vicky coren.jpg

Coren is one of the many previous winners looking to do the double


2.18pm: Czech mate
I think it would be fair to say that Martin Kabrhel is a lively player. Frenchman Cherif Zacca has been the most recent grinder to find that out. In a three-bet pot the Czech fired 1,625 at the 2♠4♣6♠ flop and was called. Zaccca opted to check-call again on the A♣ turn, this time for 4,425. A relatively blank 7♥ dropped on the river and Zacca checked again. Kabrhel wasted little time in moving forward a chunky 6,250 stack across the bet line. Zacca quickly called. Kabhrel showed J♥8♦ for a triple barrel bluff and Zacca turned over A♠K♦ for a top pair, top kicker. It's unlikely to slow Kabrhel down. -- RD

2.05pm: Mattern strikes gold
The decision to play was on Allyn Shulman, who has the same long blond hair as Jani Sointula a table along. Alexander Debus had opened for 500, getting calls from Leon Campbell in the cut off and Arnaud Mattern on the button. Now Shulman called from the small blind for a flop of 7♦3♣9♠.

As if wondering what on earth they'd all done, each checked one-by-one for a T♥ turn. Then more checking; this time from Shulman and Debus before Campbell bet 1,000. Mattern doubled that, forcing out Shulman and Debus and leaving the option of calling with Campbell. Call he did.

The river came 2♣. Campbell checked again and Mattern wasted no time in betting another 1,300. Campbell thought for a while then called. Mattern showed A♠T♠. Campbell folded, showing T♦ and a gold tooth. Mattern back up to where he started. -- SB

1.50pm: Kravchenko cracking aces
Team PokerStars Pro Alex Kravchenko is up to 66,000 after cracking Gianni Direnzo's aces and eliminating him in the process. All the chips went in on a 8♣2♥9♥ flop with Kravchenko holding 8♠8♥ to the Italian's A♣A♦. The board ran out 2♠K♥ and after a count down of the stacks and a hand shake the Italian left the room. -- MC


ept london_day 1a_alex kravchenko.jpg

Cracking skulls and aces: Alex Kravchenko is off to a flier


1.40pm: Kassela woes
We have two Kasselas in the field today but neither are enjoying the EPT experience that much. WSOP player of the year Frank Kassela has lost half his stack already. He's sat at the same table as Allen Baeke and Jeff Sarwer and all three were debriefing about why Kassela lost the hand. "You should've shoved the river" said Sarwer.

"I thought he was calling the river if he called the turn" responded Kasella. This type of conversation went on for a while but none of it was going to get those lost chips back.

Christopher Kassela is fairing even worse though as he's been eliminated by Luigi Caramatti. All the chips went on the turn with the board reading 7♥3♥5♣9♠. Kassela tabled 3♦3♣ for a set but his Italian opponent opened the massive 6♥8♥ for a straight with a flush re-draw. The river K♦ failed to pair the board and Kassela made his exit. -- MC

1.30pm: Demidov wakes up
Ivan Demidov is still jet-lagged from the flight back from the World Series final table in November 2008. At least that's what his appearance suggests. Hovering between consciousness and the dream world, the Russian can fool anyone into thinking he's just folding hands to get some rest. The reality is a player permanently focused on what's going on, as Jani Sointula just found out.

Demidov put in three red chips after Mattias Lannermark three-bet from the button. Sointula did the same in the small blind for a flop of 6♠7♥K♦. All three players checked for a 4♣ on the turn. Sointula threw in a chunk of chips, a big handful worth 3,375.

Demidov was next to act and blinked for a bit. Eventually he called, pushing in one chip at a time with a finger tip. Lannermark folded using all his fingers.

On the 7♦ river Sointula bet out again, 7,200 this time. Demidov made a moaning noise and then began quietly asking rhetorical questions. "Why would you three bet..." he said, cutting himself off, grinning. Then; "you have ace-king..." Again not really looking for an answer. Finally he called. Sointula showed K♥J♣. Demidov's was a good call. Sitting up slightly he turned over K♥Q♣, taking him up to 51,000. -- SB

1.25pm: Slam dunking in London
Jerry Buss is known to poker fans for his appearances in early seasons of High Stakes Poker and is also the owner of a small west coast basketball franchise known as the Los Angeles Lakers. The keen recreational poker player is making his first appearance at an EPT here in London but he's been drawn at a tricky starting table. If he's going to make progress he'll have to navigate his way past the likes of Chris Moorman, John Juanda and Marc Goodwin. Best of luck to you Mr Buss. -- MC


Chris_Moorman_Jerry_Buss_EPT7LON.jpg.jpg

Chris Moorman and Jerry Buss


1.20pm: Tighter than a player in the hole
Cash game players are understandably tight in tipping when they're deep in the hole and some of the tables here are just as tight - not in style of play but in terms of space between tables. So if you're looking for updates on some players, such as Jamie Burland, then you're out of luck. We can barely wave at him let alone see what he's betting. -- RD

1.10pm: Happy meals all round
Table five has an average age of about 19 right now, thanks to the likes of Dylan Linde, Andrew Chen, Jonathan West, Joe Serock and a few other fresh faced youngsters. Serock and Linde just played a hand together with all the urgency of teenagers on a Sunday morning.

On a flop of J♥3♠3♦ Linde bet and Serock called, then both checked the 7♦ turn and 9♦ river. Linde, with mock smugness turned over A♠9♠, leaving Serock to slowly fold, but with a smile. -- SB

12.55pm: UKIPT and EPT fusion
Now you may think of EPT London as, well, EPT London but here on the PokerStars Blog we* also think of it as the UKIPT Grand Final. The £5,000 main event here caps the end of a jam-packed first season of the PokerStars UK and Ireland Poker Tour. Each winner of the eight regional legs not only pocketed a large chunk of cash but they also won entry into this event (mbn). Playing today we have UKIPT champs Andrew Coulridge (Nottingham), Femi Fakinle (Killarney), Jamie Burland (Brighton), Gilles Augustus (Coventry), Joeri Zandvliet (Manchester) and Nick Risk (Edinburgh). Max Silver (Dublin) and Padraig Parkinson (Galway) are playing tomorrow. -- RD

* When I say we I mainly mean I having been the lead reporter on the UKIPT.

ept london_day 1a_gilles augustus.jpg

UKIPT Coventry winner Gilles Augustus is looking to prove himself on a bigger stage


12.45pm: Who?
I was going to do a full list of "who's here," but there are too many of them, and a lot of seats yet to be filled. Instead, here's who I can see without moving:

Sorel Mizzi, Arnaud Mattern, newly minted WCOOP bracelet winner Alex Kravchenko, Luca Pagano, Jeff Sarwer, Allan Baekke, John Juanda, Marc Goodwin, Antony Lellouche, Marcel Luske, Vanessa Rousso, Ivan Demidov, Sam Trickett, Barry Shulman, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Kristoffer Thorsson, Barry Greenstein, Nicolas Chouity, Bertrand Grospellier, Celina Lin, Anton wigg, Teddy Sheringham, Greg Raymer, Jim Collopy and Allan Cunningham. If that's not enough for you try Gianni Giaroni, Talal Shakerchi, Pusztai Balint and Ilias Lalounis. -- SB

12.35pm: Luca Pagano
The smiling Italian has a record 15 (yes, one-five) cashes at the EPT and has grabbed a handful of final tables along the way. He appears to have cranked up the aggression in the early levels over the last couple of seasons but passing and flashing the K♥ on a 3♦J♦A♥8♠J♣ isn't the searing start he's looking for. Hour long levels and a slow structure means there's plenty of time to get rolling though (which is good news for the many players that are yet to take their seats). -- RD

12.30pm: Whistle finally blown
Play has kicked off. Thrills, spills and table turns to follow.

12.05pm: Still not ready
When was the last time that a tournament started on time? It's not a rhetorical question. I personally can't remember and here in London things are no different. Most players are in their seats staring down at a sheet of disclaimers (the event is being televised and will be streamed at the business end of the tournament). This £5,000 event is the highlight of a busy poker season in the capital and the six day tournament (if you include the two Day 1's) will start shortly. Stay with us for all the big action. -- RD

ept london_day 1a_aaron gustafson.jpg

Last year's winner Aaron Gustavson bagged £850,000 here in London


PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT London (in order of sense of shame): Simon Young (looks like a naughty puppy), Marc Convey (simper of a petulant child), Rick Dacey (surprisingly clear conscience) and Stephen Bartley (clean shaven and freshly croppped). Photos by Neil Stoddart.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour