EPT Monte Carlo: Day 1A, levels 7 & 8 updates (400-800, 75 ante)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg10.24pm: Level up
That's the end of level 8. We're on a 15-minute break before we play the last level of the day. -- SY

10.22pm: Records to be broken and family support
There are players you look at in a field and think: "Will you ever win an EPT?" They're here because they satellited in or have deep pockets and want to play for the experience - but have no real expectations of winning. Of course, some of these players did go on and win and surprised everybody including themselves.

Now the question is; "Will they ever win another EPT?" For some of the previous winners the answer is most probably a "No". Season six of the EPT moved the goal posts by introducing a new 30,000 starting stack and a better structure. This is to enable the 'skill factor' to shine through more, especially when the tournament gets down to the filmed stages.

It's also provided a greater opportunity for so called 'better' players who have won an EPT to win another. It's the record that hasn't been broken yet after nearly six full seasons and the one we're all hoping gets broken, and more importantly gets broken by a player worthy enough.

EPT Berlin winner Kevin MacPhee is being supported by two members of his family here today. His dad, John 'Daddio' MacPhee, and brother Craig have been watching his progress all afternoon. They are obviously enormously proud of him and his achievements in poker. His greatest achievement so far is obviously the recent win in Germany and no-one would argue he would be a worthy double EPT champion. He currently sits on around 50,000 after a steady day and is still in with a shout of breaking that record this season.-- MC

10.20pm: Champing on a bit
Mike Sowers of the United States opened for 2,000 in early position and was called by Jens Kyllonen before Mike McDonald raised to 6,550 from the small blind. Sowers passed by Kyllonen called for a flop of 4♦3♣9♦.

McDonald kept the momentum up, betting 6,125. Kyllonen had a plan though, raising to 32,000 with a long stream of chips that including some scary blue ones. McDonald tanked for a while and eventually passed, his stack down now to 28,000. A boost for Kyllonen though who ends level eight with around 60,000. -- SB

10.15pm: Follow this closely
The table in the far, far corner of the tournament room (at least from the perspective of media row, which is all that really matters) is rapidly becoming the most exciting, and the most chipped up. Greg Dyer (about 80,000), Scott Montgomery (about 80,000), David Sesso (125,000) and Antonio Palma (133,000) are all there and although there are a couple of short-ish stacks, one of them is in front of Patrik Antonius. Hmmmm.

Dyer and Montgomery just got involved in a pre-flop raising battle, and it's probably safe to say that when your five-bet all in shove is called pre-flop by a stack of similar size to your own, you probably don't fancy your A♦J♣ is ahead. But that is precisely what happened to Dyer recently - and it turned out he wasn't in that bad shape at all.

Here's the scene when I arrived at the table: there was about 3,500 in the middle, precisely 6,600 in front of Dyer (in the small blind position) and exactly 18,500 in front of Montgomery (in the cut off). This seemed to mean that there might have been another player involved at some point, who had folded, and that Dyer had three bet Montgomery, who had four-bet Dyer right back.

Anyhow, the action was back on Dyer, who asked for a count. Montgomery said that he had around 80,000, which was marginally less than Dyer. Dyer moved all in. (That's the five bet mentioned above.) Montgomery tanked for a while but then called, at which point Dyer clearly thought he was beaten and showed his A♦J♣. But he was left chuckling when Montgomery tabled A♥J♥.

The board ran 5♥7♠[10c]5♦A♣ and they split it. But there's got to be some history there, and it's hotting right up. -- HS

10.10pm: Chip race
When this level ends there will be the tournament's first chip race when all the green 25 chips will be taken out of play. -- SY

10.09pm: Major Melodrama
Tournaments rulings happen at every major competition in the world and it always leaves at least one player throwing their metaphorical chips out of the pram. This time round it was courtesy of Sergiy Baranov and Michael Friedrich whose post pot tussle necessitated three levels of tournament directors to negotiate a ruling. Baranov had check-raised all-in for 72,825 on the turn of a Q♣K♦J♦5♠ board after Friedrich had bet 16,000 on the turn. Friedrich questioned the dealer, 'Is it 40,000 more?' The dealer replied, 'Yes,' and Friedrich called and put four blue chips across the line.

Baranov: A♥T♥
Freidrich: K♠Q♠

The river was a blank T♠ and Baranov demanded more chips than the 56,000 Freidrich had bet. Cue the argument and tournament ruling. Greg Raymer calmly informed the stack of tournament directors exactly what happened and left them to fight it out. "We know the facts. The question is what is the right ruling. I don't know," said Raymer to the growing horde of railers. The ruling was made that Freidrich has to meet the all-in. The German is running low on chips, down to around 10,000. The explosive Ukrainian is up to 150,000. -- RD

10.04pm: EPT champions corner
Joao Barbosa's table has just broken, sending the EPT Warsaw season five champion to sit on the same table as fellow champions Mike McDonald (Dortmund season four) and Jens Kyllonen (Copenhagen season five). -- HS

9.55pm: Hymns and Arias
Jorge Arias of PokerStars Team Online opened for 2,100 in middle position. The action was folded to Greg Raymer in the big blind who made it 6,000 and put his lizard eyes glasses on. Arias called for a flop of 7♥J♥4♦. Raymer immediately made it 7,000 sending Arias into the tank.

"I think I'm gonna lay it down," said Arias. "Nice hand." Raymer up to 63,000. -- SB

9.50pm: Sesso unmasked
You can only be a mystery man for so long, and once you amass yourself more than 125,000 chips during day one, the journalistic imperative to put names to (hidden) faces will win out over even the most impenetrable disguise.

The mystery man who clipped Thomas Partridge's wings (see 9.25pm) has now been revealed as David Sesso who, according to some hasty internet research (thanks Google), won a World Series circuit side event last November and is known as "The Knight" because he used to work in a medieval themed restaurant. He was forced to wear a costume there, and although his get up here is more "contemporary poker star" than Sir Galahad, he is no less ruthless.

"What's your online name?" quizzed Greg Dyer, from Sesso's immediate right, the worst seat in the house at the moment. "I'll tell you later," Sesso said.

This joust will rumble on. -- HS

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David Sesso

9.45pm: ElkY makes final
While all this frenzy continues around us we are not forgetting the $5,000 Heads Up event that is reaching its climax in the neighboring room. Latest news is that Team PokerStars Pro ElkY has defeated Andrew Feldman in his semi-final and is now playing Andrew Pantling in the final for the $120,000 first prize. It's a best-of-five affair, and Pantling has taken a 1-0 lead. -- SY

9.40pm: News in brief
Phil Ivey never recovered from running into quads and was seen leaving the room a short while ago. Fellow high-stakes pro Patrik Antonius is starting to fair much better and has seen his stack grow from a low of 12,000 to a current 42,000. Talking of high-stakes (blackjack not poker), Andrew Scott seems a lot happier with his progress. His stack is up to 40,000 after raking in a pot after a blind-on-blind battle. --MC

9.37pm: A groan from Graydon
Mick BigMickG Graydon, Ireland's first Supernova Elite, had raised under the gun to 1,600 and was called in two spots; Jason James in the hijack and Filip Nechansky on the button. All three players checked the ace high A♣4♦5♥ flop. Graydon then check-folded the 3♣ turn after James bet 3,000 and was called by Nechansky.

James spent some time counting out chips and then bet 7,000 which Nechansky called. James showed K♣Q♥ for a naked bluff and Nechansky tabled 6♦6♣. Graydon couldn't help but groaning having obviously folded the best hand. -- RD

9.34pm: Steindl up when the sparks clear
Here's what happens when you get two uber-aggressive players going at one another pre-flop, but with genuine hands. It's kind of similar to what happens when un-aggressive players go at each other pre-flop with genuine hands, but the sparks somehow seem sharper.

Johannes Steindl opened to 2,000 and Alex Roumeliotis three bet to 5,400. Steindl four-bet to 16,500 and Roumeliotis five-bet all in, covering Steindl. Steindl insta-called all in for what amounted to 69,000.

Steindl: A♣A♠
Roumeliotis: A♥K♠

The board ran: A♦7♥Q♠5♣9♣ and that doubled up Steindl, who now has close to 120,000. Steindl perhaps doesn't get as much coverage here as other Team PokerStars Pros. But after a terrific showing in Snowfest, and a move close to the chip lead in the early stages here, perhaps we should hold the front page more often. -- HS

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Johannes Steindl

9.25pm: Patridge downed by man of mystery
There's a player here buried so far beneath shades, baseball cap, hoodie and claustrophobic seat draw that it really is impossible to find out his name from the tried and tested tap on the shoulder route. He also has a cast on his left arm, so if he swings it in the right direction, it could knock your block off. (Please report anyone fitting this description to the usual address.)

Anyhow, this guy has just taken a big chunk out of Thomas Partridge's stack. Partridge led at the flop of 6♦[10h]Q♠ and turn 9♠ but then check-called a 13,500 bet on the A♥ river.

He was shown ace-queen for rivered top two, and judging by the colour of rage that sent Partridge, it seemed as though the ace had been crucial.

Partridge now has about 15,000, while our mystery man is another player bothering six figures. -- HS

9.17pm: Men going to war
Men Nguyen is a player who has had a big stack many, many times before and knows how to use one. Heinz Kamutzki raised under the gun to 1,450 and Nyugen blasted it up to 4,500 from the small blind. Kamutzki quickly passed but doesn't seem like the kind of player that will keep doing so, and with approaching 90,000 to his name - and with position on The Master - could prove to be the player to wreck Nyugen's 100,000 stack. Or be the one to push his towards 200,000... -- RD

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Men Nguyen

9.16pm: Level up
We move seamlessly into level 8. Blinds are now 400-800 with a 75 ante. Just 233 of our 351 starters remain. -- SY

9.15pm: All yours, Barbosa Barbosa Barbosa, yah yah
Joao Barbosa was a darling of the poker media's geek element this time last year. Winner of EPT Warsaw in season five the Portuguese cashed seven times in a single season. No leaping for Barbosa, no high fiving or fist pumping. I'm not even sure he'd know how. What you get instead are calm, deliberate and thoughtful acts that usually haul in a load of chips and leave the opposition thinking they just got unlucky.

This year just the three cashes for Barbosa but right now he's already up to 65,000 and in his typically understated fashion. -- SB

9.12pm: Check but not mate
Jeff Sarwer has hit a two-outer on the river to stay alive. He was heads-up at the turn with the board reading 7♣9♥4♦7♠. Sarwer bet 4,500 before his opponent set him all-in. He had around 12,000 back and after computing what he needed to compute he made the call with 8♠9♠ but had run into K♠K♣. Big trouble for Sarwer but he got out of it on the 9♣ river to double-up to around 47,000. --MC

9.10pm: How to beat Phil Ivey? Flop quads
Just like there are some things even money can't buy, there are some things even Phil Ivey can't beat. That includes quads - and running head long into them has just cut Ivey down to his last 8,000 chips.

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Phil Ivey

The board showed Q♣8♠6♣8♣ and Ivey led at it. Eric Sadoun raised, Ivey moved all in, and Sadoun called. With good reason. Sadoun tabled 8♥8♦ and Ivey had A♣[10d] for the nut flush draw. But he was already drawing dead against that quartet of snowmen and the [10d] river didn't change anything. It's a long way back for Ivey from here. -- HS

9.07pm: Canada and France resume hostilities
There's a lot of history between France and Canada and it looks like another page is being written at this tournament. Canadian Russell Carson raised to 1,500 from the cut-off and was three-bet to 4,500 by Frenchman Alain Roy. Carson tossed his hand away but looked more than a little disgruntled. -- RD

9.05pm: Pick your way through this
There are the kind of tough line-ups you'd associate with a television tournament - a lot of "named players" who may or may not be any good - and then there's the kind of tough line-up you'd associate with real poker tournaments, where you know these guys can all play.

Sitting beside one another this evening, for instance, are Erik Seidel, Kevin MacPhee and Cristiano Blanco. Those three can all play. And then on another table nearby are Matt Marafioti, Heinz Kamutzki, William Ross and Men Nguyen. When you consider that table has also lost Jonathan Aguiar, you can tell how difficult this tournament really is. -- HS

9pm: Limping action from Ivey and co
Alain Roy called under the gun for 600 setting up a chain reaction of limps with John Cernuto and Phil Ivey calling in behind. Antonio Buonanno, who has enjoyed a few cashes in recent EPTs, then made it 3,600 from the button squeezing out everyone but Ivey who called the additional 3,000. No action on the flop. Following a check from Ivey on the 3♦A♥K♠2♦ turn Buonanno decided to make a delayed continuation bet of 5,500. Ivey instantly folded leaving himself with a playable 40,000. It was the Italian however who was guilty of the limp fold the next hand. Russell Carson pumped it up to 2,800 from the small blind following the Italian's flat call from the cut-off. -- RD

8.57pm: Far from his starting stack
Neil Channing is up to 95,000 after flopping set-over-set. He raised to 1,500 pre-flop and was called by his unfortunate opponent. We say unfortunate as he was holding J♥J♦ and the flop came J♠A♦3♥ with Channing holding A♠A♣. Channing led for 2,800 here and 6,600 on the 4♣ turn and was called both times. The river came 3♠ and Channing bet 23,000 to set his opponent in. Call and out. --MC

8.55pm: Hung up
No phone call, no text message, but Arnaud Mattern is out of the main event. Looking forlorn, Mattern recounted how he was left with 20 big blinds. Finding ace-queen he then lost a bundle when his opponent showed ace-king, then was sent to the rail when David Sands, one of the more lively players at the table, called Mattern's jack-eight suited shove with ace-jack. It was a hand that summed up Mattern's day. -- SB

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End of the line: Arnaud Mattern

8.50pm: Aguiar left feeling queasy
In modern poker terminology, this one might have been known as a "sick coup". As it turns out, it was only moderately "sick", perhaps the equivalent of a Monday phone call to the office saying you'll be in by lunch.* Except if you're Jonathan Aguair, because he is out.

Anyhow, this is what happened: there was a raise from the cut off position to 1,500 and the player on the button called. Aguair, in the small blind, moved all in for 11,350 but must have been dismayed to hear William Ross, in the big blind, moving all in over the top to 23,200. The cut off, Slobodan Bjelobrk, thought a long, long time before folding, and the button showed K♦[10d] and let that go too.

"Oh, that's OK," said Aguair as he saw that hand. "I don't have either of those." Aguiar showed his A♣7♣. Ross was ahead, but one of his "outs" had been folded. He showed [10c][10s]. However, the window card on the heads up flop was the case [10h] and, as Aguiar noted: "Oh, that's bad."

The rest of the board filled 9♥6♦5♦5♣ and that was the end of FatalError.

*And then not turning up, obviously. -- HS

8.45pm: Waterman getting his grind on
American Dennis Waterman knows how to grind an EPT. EPT San Remo in April: 165th for €7,500. EPT Snowfest in March: 52nd for €6,200. EPT Berlin also in March: 59th for €15,000. That's three consecutive cashes for the American pro and we wouldn't bet against him doing the same here. As we walk by we see Waterman open-raise from the cut-off and scoop the blinds to add to his 35,000 stack. -- RD

8.40pm: Dial B-L-O-G for emergency
Arnaud Mattern is one of the most conscientious Team PokerStars Pros. On elimination his first thought is to inform one of the PokerStars bloggers, recounting his demise. Even in times of obvious pain and when you'd forgive the man for a few expletives and assaulting a wall with a baguette.

But it's been a bad day for the Frenchman, who now sits with a little more than 10,000. So bad that he just asked if he could text his elimination to me as, come that last hand, he might not be in no mood to hang around.

Not that the former EPT Prague winner has departed just yet. He moved all-in a short while ago, picking up the blinds, antes and a bet of 1,200 from Senol Karahasan. It's something. But Mattern remains on the critical list.-- SB.

8.35pm: Jack-the-lad
It's been a much better time for Nick Binger post dinner break. He got it all-in dominated but came out with a much needed double-up. His king-jack was looking awfully small versus an opponent's king-queen but he was saved on the 2♦J♠9♦J♣7♦ board. Binger was out of his seat and ready to leave but this reprieve soon had him firmly sat back down in his seat. 11,000 and counting for Binger. -- MC

8.22pm: More details from the dinner break
If you take a look at the last post (at the top) from the previous level coverage, you'll see Dennis Phillips filling us in on the hand that sent him to a leisurely dinner. Our PokerStars.nu blogger heard about that hand too, but it was from the Swedish player Chris Bjorin. Bjorin had the aces to Phillips' kings, so the story was not one of woe, but one of delight. Bjorin is now up to 160,000. -- HS

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Chris Bjorin

8.20pm: Back they come
That's dinner done and dusted. Of the 351 starters today, 270 survived long enough to come back from their 90-minute food and drink break. But some notable names were not among them - Barry Greenstein, Gavin Griffin, Phil Laak and Barney Boatman are just some of the early fallers.

Blinds now are 300-600 with a 50 ante and the average stack is approaching 40,000.

Let the action begin, but not before you admire this picture of a certain Mr Gregory Raymer. He's on 80,000 or so chips right now....

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Greg Raymer

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Monte Carlo (in order of time taken off for dinner): Howard Swains and Stephen Bartley (94 minutes), Marc Convey and Rick Dacey (90 minutes), Simon Young (zero minutes - repeat, zero minutes. Takes one for the team. Again.)

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in European Poker Tour