EPT Monte Carlo: Day 1A, Levels 1 & 2 updates (75-150)
2.15pm: Level over, break
That's the end of level 2, which means players are now off on their first 15-minute break of the day. -- SY
2.13pm: Railing the table of death
We've just spent a few minutes railing the table of death and here's a little summary of the action:
Hand 1) Ivey raises from early position to 450 and is called by Italian Fabrizio Baldassarri. Both players check through to the 7♥8♠A♣9♠ turn where Baldassarri bets 500 and is called by Ivey. A further 1,100 on the 8♣ river is enough to get Ivey to release his hand and give the Italian a story for the grand kids.
Hand 2) Ivey raise under the gun to 450 and takes the blinds.
Hand 3) It's one for de Wolfe. The Brit calls behind in a heads up pot and fires at the A♦7♣4♥T♣ board after it's was checkity-check on the flop. It's enough to scoop a small pot.
Hand 4) Steve Sung gets a walk. Yes, you read that correctly.
Hand 5) James Dempsey makes a good laydown on the river of a J♣5♦K♥8♦9♠ board. An early position raise was called in four spots pre-flop but only Dempsey stayed in post the flop. A suspiciously large 5,000 chip was tossed in on the river and Dempsey was shown Q♣T♥ for his troubles. -- RD
2.10pm: Shane Schleger and exposed queens
Shane Schelger was just involved in a strange-ish pot with his countryman Anthony Guetti. They were all the way to the river and the board read: Q♦7♠9♥4♦5♣. Guetti - first to act (small blind pre-flop) - bet 5,000, which was a little less than pot-sized. It took just one yellow chip. Schleger raised to 11,000 - two yellow chips and a red one - and Guetti tabled his cards, thinking Schelger had simply called.
"Ah, is that a raise?" Guetti said. It was all completely accidental, but Guetti had now exposed A♣Q♠ for top pair. He could now only call or fold, but wasn't certain about that either. "You wanna take a vote?" Guetti said to the table.
Eventually he folded - and Schelger congratulated him on a good pass. "Come on, show the bluff," said Guetti. But Schleger couldn't. He showed the table his Q♣Q♥ and took down the pot. -- HS
2.07pm: €250 please
Luke "FullFlush" Schwartz rolled-up 40 minutes late and wasted no time in going down to 10,000 before doubling-up to 20,000. Then he got involved in a very amusing hand with Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick that left him €250 out of pocket.
Schwartz raised to 350 from the cut-off to face a three-bet from Chidwick in the next seat to 1,000. His response was to four-bet to 3,500. Call. The flop came [j][j] with two spades and both players checked to see the 9♣ turn. There were two flush draws out there now and Schwartz led for 3,500 only to face another raise from Chidwick, this time to 8,000. Schwartz took out €250 and placed it on the table and said to his opponent: "If you can't beat this (and open folded pocket kings) then the money's yours."
Chidwick tabled ace-queen off and took the money and the pot. Schwartz down to
13,000 but Chidwick up to 47,000. --MC
2.05pm: Wice up
Dennis Phillips just won a hand against Alex Wice from Canada. Phillips opened for 500 from the cut off which Wice called from the small blind. The big blind was also in for a flop of J♣2♥J♦ which was checked to Phillips who made it 750. Just Wice called for a turn card A♣. Both checked that for a K♥ on the river. Wice bet 2,400 at this point which Phillips called, winning the hand showing A♦3♥ to Wice's 3♠3♣. Phillips up to 39,000. -- SB.
1.55pm: He's behind you
It's no surprise to see EPT Copenhagen winner Anton Wigg in an aggressive mood. He was a little sleepy when we first spoke to him but the next wander past his table saw him back in raising mode. He won a nice three-handed pot when his aggressiveness took both opponents off a pot on the flop.
The next hand he raised from the cut-off and took the blinds and antes. His stack was reaching 34,000 at this point but the next hand saw him drop back to his starting stack. The player to his right raised to 450 and he and the player to his left called. The flop came 9♦7♣3♦ and the original aggressor led for 1,000 but folded when Wigg raised to 2,850 and was called by the third party. Wigg was so wary of the player to his left that he check-folded to a 7,500 bet on the 2♥ turn. --MC
1.50pm: Steindl stays on track
Team PokerStars Pros Johannes Steindl and Benjamin Kang both call into a four-way pot. The 2♣7♠3♠ flop seems to be fine for Steindll who check-calls 600 but not so good for Kang who flicks his cards away. Steindl check-calls 1,000 on the Q♠ turn before both the Autstrian pro and his opponent check the river. Steindl's 9♠9♥ is good enough to win the pot over A♥T♠. -- RD
1.46pm: Champion Matias eliminated
We're another EPT champion down - and this time it's the winner from Vilamoura earlier this season. Antonio Matias, for it is he, had aces but they weren't good enough to beat Rocco Palumbo and his flopped two pair.
Palumbo raised from the button, making it 400, and Matias re-raised to 1,000 from the small blind. Palumbo called. The flop came K♣8♥3♥ and Matias bet 2,500. Palumbo raised to 6,000 and Matias shoved for his 22,000 stack. Palumbo had Matias covered - and called. Palumbo had K-8 and Matias's aces had been done. The turn and river were blanks and out went Matias. -- HS
1.43pm: Aleh all-in
A flop of A♠Q♣9♠ and an all-in for Aleh Plauski of Belarus. Jennifer Tilly, who'd just seen her other half Phil Laak busting out on the horizon, was kneeling on her chair ready to call. When she did she showed queen-nine for two pairs, but Plauski had pocket queens. They were rendered close to useless though by a A♣ turn and A♥ river card which split the pot.
Plauski couldn't believe it. Neither could Tilly.
"I was bad and then I sucked out," said Tilly to a friend on the rail. "That's what American's do." Tilly still on around 15,000. - SB.
1.36pm: Shoving with bottom pair
Martin Kabrhel has got 'it' whatever you want to call it; game, heart or balls. We joined the action on the river of a Q♣8♥K♣9♣4♦ board that had a pot was already stacked with chips of a rainbow hue. Kabrhel moved his stack across the line putting Phillip Gruissen to the test on an incredibly wet board. Gruissen grimaced before going into the tank long and hard before passing. Kabrhel playing the baddy character to perfection in a pressed black shirt flips A♦8♦ for a veritable air-ball.
In case you didn't know this is what it takes to win a high roller event as Kabrhel did for €250,000 in Deauville earlier this year. -- RD
1.32pm: Thew! What a relief
We've just inadvertently given Team PokerStars Pro Julian Thew a minor panic attack. 'Hi Julian, late arrival?' 'No, I'm playing tomorrow.' 'Errmm, are you sure? You're down on our list as playing today.' After a quick scrabble around for his buy-in receipt it turns out that he is playing tomorrow after all as he's a bounty in a PokerStars freeroll for UKIPT Nottingham tonight. -- RD
1.30pm: Dempsey masters aces
James Dempsey is up to 35,000 after taking a chunk out of Men Nguyen's stack. Nguyen raised to 400 from mid-position and was called by Dempsey on the button and Phil Ivey in the big blind. The flop came 3♣7♥T♦ and Nguyen's 400 c-bet was only called by Dempsey. The turn came 4♣ and Nguyen really upped the pressure with a 3,000 bet. Call. Both checked the 2♥ river and Dempsey picked up the pot with [a][a] to Nguyen's [t].
The very next hand Dempsey raised to 300 from the cut-off before being three-bet to 1,100 by Steve Sung in the small blind. He made the call but check-folded to a 1,600 bet on the 9♠5♣A♣ flop. That put him down to just below 34,000. --MC
1.25pm: Griffin roasted early
Gavin Griffin, who won here in season three, will not be repeating. He is one of the super-early departed. All we saw were a pair of pocket queens and a pair of pocket kings and although there was no queen on the board - and Griffin seemed to have the kings - he has gone. That might have been a four-flush or four-straight. We will try to sketch in the details as we find them.
Anton Allemann is also now out. His backdoor straight and flush draws both missed and he ran into top pair. Allemann, who does love a cash game, is off to find one in Monte Carlo. -- HS
1.20pm: Laak attempts to hijack Chen, loses, is out
Phil Laak's time in Monte Carlo is over - at least in this Main Event. Again it was Andrew Chen who came out better in a huge pot with Laak, vaulting him up to around 60,000 and sending the Unabomber to the rail.
Chen raised to 300 from the hijack and Laak, on the button, bumped it to about 1,100. Chen called. The flop came K♥7♠A♠ and Chen checked. Laak bet 1,400 and Chen now came alive, raising to 4,500.
Laak dumped a handful of chips over the line. It wasn't all in, but was as good as. Chen did move all in (all this happening in a flash) and although Chen tabled pocket kings for a flopped set, he clearly wasn't certain he was ahead. Laak might have flopped a set of aces after all. However, Laak winced the minute he saw Chen's hand and showed his own A♥7♦. The 3♣6♥ on turn and river were not the miracle outs for Laak, and his day comes to a premature close. -- HS
1.16pm Level up
That seemed like the fastest level ever. But it was your normal 60 minutes, meaning we're now in to level 2 and blinds of 75-150. -- SY
1.15pm: Chen the younger
Andrew Chen and Phil Laak united to play a hand. Chen had been in action the hand before, taking a pot with bets pre-flop and on the river to force Team PokerStars Online player Ta-Chih Geeng to fold.
Chen looks exactly the same as he did at the final table in Prague two seasons ago - white t-shirt, blue baseball cap jaunted slightly for a Brooklyn Dodger look, and young, a not-yet-shaving-but-successful-young. Phil Laak is hardly old but is perhaps more recognisable by his pioneering disguise of hoodie and glasses.
Chen led out for a second time, 350 pre-flop which Laak raised to 1,025 from the cut off. Chen called for a flop of 8♦9♣6♠.
Chen's eyes flicked right to check the board. He tapped the table, as did Laak for a turn card A♦. Laak had his face resting on his hand, weirdly pulling his nose and mouth to one side, and when Chen checked he made it 1,625. Chen called.
The river came 3♠. Chen tapped the table with his finger tips, eyes looking left at Laak who bet 5,625. Chen called. Laak mucked his cards before Chen finished putting chips into the pot. "You got it," said Laak. -- SB.
1.10pm: Some other interesting table draws
No table can compete with the "table of death" involving Ivey, Men The Master, Steve Sung and Roland de Wolfe, but the draw had thrown up some interesting match-ups:
way around or through the choppy waters that Jens Kyllonen is sure to create.
PokerStars Online player Randy Lew and Phil Laak.
1.07pm: Sarwer pressure
After calling an early position raise from the button, Jeff Sarwer bet, bet and bet on every street of a 9♠4♣K♦8♦Q♦ flop, turn and river - incrementally 900, 2,000, 2,500. It was third time lucky as his solitary foe was persuaded to fold. -- HS
It's that time of the day when our words make way for moving pictures. Here's the intro video for Day 1A..
1.05pm: The Channing charm
British pro and major staker Neil Channing may just have claimed the title of first five bet of the 2010 EPT Grand Final. Channing raised to 850 from the cut-off over an early raise to 300 and call in the hijack. The button and small blind wisely moved out of the way to the big blind who pumped it up to 2,450. Channing pulled his chips in and five bet to 6,450. It was enough to take the pot down and Channing tapped the table before comically raising his eyebrows in a 'Of course I was at it' kind of way. -- RD
1.02pm: Team PokerStars Pros just warming up
The EPT Grand Final is a 30,000 starting stack event. That means you start with 300 big blinds at the 50-100 level. Put it this way, you can afford to see some flops from the outset and a lot of the Team PokerStars Pros have been doing just that... and the folding on the flop. So far we've seen unsuccessful speculative punts from Chad Brown (USA), Leo Fernandez (Argentina), Dennis Phillips (USA) and Arnaud Mattern (France).
In these early stages when there are still a lot of players that *ahem* aren't necessarily final table material it's certainly worth taking a flyer when you're 300 bb's deep. -- RD
12.57pm: Joker in the pack
Literally. Layani Mickael was just dealt a joker during the first couple of orbits. Slapped wrists for the (always excellent) dealers; on we go.
Roland de Wolfe, playing on the table next door, grabbed the offending joker for this pic... -- HS
12.55pm: Van Zadelhoff targets Dyer
Greg Dyer - a familiar American face on the EPT - has found himself in a spot of early bother at the Grand Final. It was a battle of the blinds and Dyer (in the small blind) was at a flop with Steven van Zadelhoff (in the big). It looked like it had been raised pre-flop, although I'm not sure who did the raising.
The flop was A♣9♦4♠ and Dyer led for 400. Van Zadelhoff called. The turn was 3♥ and Dyer bet 1,000. Van Zadelhoff raised to 3,300 and Dyer called. The river was [10d] and after Dyer checked, Van Zadelhoff bet 10,000 - a third of the starting stack, not yet 30 minutes into the day. The tension was momentarily broken by a waiter arriving to deposit a cappuccino in front of Van Zadelhoff and handing a water to Dyer. He unscrewed the bottle cap and folded.
That 10,000 bet wasn't really that much, on reflection. The call of "Seat open!" has already echoed through the tournament room at least twice. Their $10,000 buy in has gone in a flash. -- HS
12.52pm: First table of death
It didn't take us long to find our first table of death. On the higher tier of this huge, tournament room sits these fellows: Phil Ivey, Men 'The Master' Nguyen, Steve Sung, Roland de Wolfe and James Dempsey. There remains two empty seats at this table - pity the poor souls who arrive late to sit down here. -- SY
12.48pm: The inevitable neighbourly duels
Here are two tasty tables - among countless. If Barry Greenstein looks to his right, he sees Arnaud Mattern. Peering around the dealer to his left is Jens Kyllonen. He'll take no consolation from that.
Meanwhile the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Ben Kang and Johannes Steindl are neighbours in more ways than one. Their countries - Germany and Austria - border one another, and here they're sitting right next door. (Last year's final table player Peter Trapley also shares that felt, as does Michel Abecassis.) -- HS
12.45pm: 'Those crazy Russians'
Team PokerStars Pro and former world champion Greg Raymer is also sitting at the table involving Alex Kravchenko (see hand below). "What is it they say about those crazy Russians?" joked Raymer as the dealer dealt out the cards. On this one Kravchenko mucked, but Raymer in the small blind called to see a flop with the big blind.
The was was 9♠J♥[10c] and Raymer check-folded when faced with a bet of 250. He mucked his cards, showing 8♥. "I might have been drawing live, but then again I might not," the Fossilman said. -- SY
12.42pm: Grin and bear it
Alex Kravchenko was grinning. I could put a full stop right there and move on. But he was playing a hand against a Ukrainian who was trying, with a big grin, to suggest he'd not looked at his hand, betting 1,025 on a board of 9♦8♣A♥5♣.
Kravchenko was still involved and raised to 3,000 from the button to see what effect this would have on the Ukrainian's face. It had no effect and he called for a 9♥ on the river then threw out a 5,000 bet which Kravchenko called, throwing his  straight against a fully housed A♠9♣. No more laughing for Kravchenko. - SB.
12.40pm: Four-handed action
Any live tournament you go to will have at least one table that has a few no shows and it can occasionally lead to some crazy early action. The table we've spotted most likely to do this has just four players at the moment and three of those are triple crown winner Roland De Wolfe, Men 'The Master' Nguyen (13th on the all time money list for live tournament winni ngs) and Steve Sung. The five remaining seats had best be filled up soon as these three aren't likely to sit back.
Team PokerStars Pro Gavin Griffin - the only other player to score the triple crown of EPT, WPT and WSOP wins - is also playing today. Griffin won the EPT Grand Final three years ago in season three. -- RD
12.35pm: Allemann runs into early aces
Anton Allemann, never one to hang around, has hastily bluffed off half his stack and is down to 13,000. He called a bet of 1,500 on a flop of 4♣8♦5♦. He bet 4,200 on a turn of K♥. Called. And he bet 11,000 on a river of 8♠. Call. Allemann had Q♦7♦ and his obdurate opponent went nowhere with his A♦A♣. -- HS
12.30pm: Dampened his opponent
Ross Boatman first came to fame as a fire fighter in a popular long running series in the UK before he found fame across the baize and he's just dampened an opponent to win his first hand. The flop was out as K♦5♥2♣ and Boatman check-called a 700 bet before both players checked through the 2♥ turn. The river came 5♦ and Boatman led for 1,200. Fold. Boatman showed A♣K♥ and raked in the pot. -MC
12.25pm: Shaniac on the up
Shane Schleger is on the up early after forcing two opponents off a hand. He saw a K♦5♥2♣ flop three-way and his 700 bet was only called by one player. The turn came 5♦ and Schleger's 1,200 bet was good enough to win this one. Good job he won this one as Team PokerStars Pro Florian Langmann just sat down to his left. Life just got a lot harder for the American. --MC
12.15pm: Champion takes an early one
From our spot on media row, it's possible to see three champions from this season without even adjusting the gaze. Jan Skampa (Prague) sits directly in front; Antonio Matias (Vilamoura) is at 3 o'clock, and Aaron Gustavsson (London) is at 2 o'clock.
It was Gustavsson who took down a small early pot. Playing on a table against three others and five television release forms in front of empty seats (they'll be here soon), Gustavsson bet 550 at a flop of K♥6♥5♣. Andrew Li folded.
Like a goalkeeper getting a safe early touch in a football match, it's always good to win your first pot, no matter the size. -- HS
12.10pm: We're off
That might be the shortest faffing around of all time. Play has begun!
Noon: Play due to begin
Welcome one and all to Monte Carlo. Suddenly it's summer - and the big roof of the tournament room here at the Monte Carlo Bay Resort has just opened us all to the elements. There's only one element this morning: beaming sun and we've just spent the past 15 minutes squinting as the glare on the screens and typing with fingers imitating the feet of desert lizards - skittering across roasting keys.
As all this happened, a few players made their way into the sun and signed release forms. They then sat and bathed in the rays as they waited for play to begin.
That was due at noon, but it will probably be ten or 15 minutes after that. In the meantime, read today's introduction, then come back here for all the action.
We're playing either eight or nine one-hour levels today, with a 15-minute break at the end of every other level. Check out the EPT tournament structure page for details of what we'll be playing.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Monte Carlo (in seat order, from left to right): Simon Young (far left), Marc Convey, Rick Dacey, Stephen Bartley and Howard Swains (far right)*
*Please note: these are not political leanings.