EPT Monte Carlo: Day 1B, level 1 & 2 updates (75-150)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.14pm: Level up, break
That's level 2 out of the way and the players now take a 15-minute break. -- SY

2.13pm: Weisner is on fire
Off the back of one winning pot she's straight into another, this time against John Tabatabai. Weisner opened and was called by Tabatabai on the button. Weisner bet the flop and was raised by Tabatabai on the T♦8♥2♠ flop. The American called. It was Tabatabai that then adopted the calling position as he called down 2,650 on the 2♦ turn and 4,875 on the 9♠ river. Weisner's queens were good and Tabatabai went off to 'meditate' at the break. He's back to 30,000 and Wesnser is up to 58,000. -- RD

2.12pm: Service
A bet of 300 and three callers to a 9♣J♥T♦ flop. To non tennis fans the original bettor was the chap from France in seat three, for others he is Gael Monfils who can apparently whack a tennis ball better than all but 13 people in the world.

The flop was checked four ways for a turn card 4♥. Salvatore Pengue bet from the button, 825 in total. Monfils called for a river card 4♠. Check, check. Pengue turned over T♠6♠ but Monfils served an ace, showing A♣J♠. - SB

2.10pm: "Show me your set." How about a king-high?
Melanie Weisner didn't have the demeanour of someone who thought they were going to win this hand. In fact, she seemed resigned to shipping half her stack to Ognjen Sekularac. They were at the turn, looking at a board of 7♣8♦[10s]3♠ and Sekularac had check-raised Weisner.

She had bet 3,225 and he'd made it 7,000. Weisner called, albeit reluctantly, and after a good long riffle of two towers of chips.

The river brought the 5♦ and Sekularac bet 7,775. Weisner slumped further in her chair - almost reaching the horizontal - and pounded at the chips some more. Eventually she said: "Call, call, call. I call. Call, call, call," with the clear expectation that she was about to be shown a winner. "Show me your set," she said.

Sekularac didn't. Instead, he sheepishly tabled K♦J♠ and Weisner showed A♠A♥. "That was the fourth time you have aces," Sekularac said.

"Fifth actually," said Weisner, a mixture of relieved and delighted. -- HS

2.05pm: Thew double checks his aces
Team PokerStars Pro Julian Thew has an outstanding live tournament record with over $2.5m in cashes to his name. He's a player who's not going to go unnecessarily mental over aces post-flop on a wet board (many players here have gone mad with less). He raised from the small blind to 550 with A♠A♣ following a cut-off limp and then fired another 500 at the 8♥4♠5♠ flop. A raise to 1,400 was flat called before both players checked through the T♣ turn and K♥ river.

Thew's opponent had to show first as the last active player in the hand and showed T♥7♥ for a flopped gutshot and turned pair but it was enough to beat Thew's pocket rockets. -- RD

1.55pm: Velduis misses freeroll
Although, as we've established, this is a stacked field today, I award the prize to the most immediately recognisable table line up to table two. There, in a row from seats one to six, we have Katja Thater, Matt Woodward, Bruno Fitoussi, Salvatore Bonavena, Liz Lieu and Lex Veldhuis. The table is finished out by Vlad Mezheritsky, Florence Allera and Mikhail Ustinov, who each have the chance to claim a prize scalp.

Ustinov might have thought he was going to do just that within the first two levels when he got involved in a raising battle with Veldhuis. They were at the turn and the board read: [10h]J♥K♦3♣. Ustinov bet 6,000 (about pot-sized); Veldhuis raised to 15,200 and Ustinov shoved. Veldhuis insta-called.

"Freeroll!" chirruped Veldhuis when they showed down. He had A♥Q♥ for the made straight, plus royal flush draw. Ustinov had A♣Q♠ for the straight, no draw. The river came [10s], which didn't hit Veldhuis. Ustinov retains his chance to pluck down a star. -- HS

1.50pm: Overspill
Demand for today's tournament has exceeded expectation. All the 50 tables in the main Salles des Etoiles room have been filled so six extra tables in the side room have been allocated to please all late arrivals. Notables away from the rest of the field include Yevgeniyy Timoshenko, Richard Ashby, Carlos Mortensen, Patrick Bueno, Rob Hollink, Ryan Franklin and the lovely Leo Margets. --MC

1.45pm: Coren forces a big fold
Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren's 11,000 lead into Maria Maceiras on the river of a 4♦T♣Q♠3♥9♥ board had the Spaniard staring long and hard at the board. There was a definite moment of "I know I shouldn't call but I want to see at which point I was beaten" from Maceiras who finally passed giving Coren the 22,000 pot. -- RD

1.35pm: Are you experienced?
Reigning World Champion Joe Cada is having his first Dag Palovic experience today; the Slovakian seated to Cada's right. The two of them were joined by Matej Capon for a hand that deflated pretty quick. But we're reporting it anyway.

On a flop of 3♥6♠9♣ Capon checked the big blind, as did Palovic and Cada did the same on the button. The turn came 5♥. Capon snapped into action and checked and both Palovic and Cada did the same. On the T♠ it was all getting a bit predictable. After checks all round Cada showed A♦K♣ but Palovic's 9♦7♦ was enough to haul in the pot. - SB

1.30pm: A sporting chance
It's normal to stick with people from your own peer group, especially in big crowds, which can only explain* why table one this afternoon is packed with ex or current sport stars. Boris Becker is the most recognisable in a wider sense, but Poli Rincón is a Real Madrid legend (that's soccer), while Petter Northug is a double Olympic champion in cross country skiing. He's also won four gold medals at the World Championships, which is getting close to Becker's six Grand Slams. (Northug is only 24-years-old, so plenty of time.)

Northug just took a small pot from Rincon, betting 600 on a flop of 6♥8♥3♥. Rincon called that but folded to Northug's 1,200 bet on the 7♣ turn. Gold medal stuff there.

*That and a random table draw, of course. -- HS

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Poli Rincon

1.25pm: Roche riding into town
The board was showing Q♦6♠7♦5♠5♦ and Charlotte Roche was staring at Robin Keston like she was listening to his life story. She didn't know it was her turn to act, Keston had checked quietly, but when she did realise she snapped into action immediately, announcing a bet of 15,000.

This done Roche, hair in braids and wearing an elegant dress, gold necklace and cowboy boots, returned to staring at Keston, her arm raised as if about to signal a waiter for the cheque. With nearly 20,000 in the pot Keston was taking his time, but went on to fold. Roche took her chips and nudged the button along, up to 55,000 chips. -- SB

1.20pm: Sheringham scores a scorcher against Russia
It seems that it's the former sports stars that are being targeted for big hands at the moment so expect Boris Becker to get involved in a quads versus straight flush coup soon. In this case it was former England and Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham that was banging one away.

Erica Schoenberg limped under the gun before Nikolay Evdakov raised from the cut-off to 500. The Russian picked up callers in both Schoenberg and Sheringham in the small blind. Schoenberg fell away as Sheringham check-called a 1,000 continuation bet on the 9♦J♣6♠ flop. On the 3♥ turn Sheringham started to shape up to shoot by check-raising Evdakov's 2,000 to 5,100. The Russian called.

A 5♠ on the river didn't dissuade Sheringham from moving all-in for 16,700 which Evdakov tank called with A♠J♦ for top-pair top-kicker. Sheringham turned over 9♠9♥ for a flopped set and is up to some 60,000. Evdakov is on fumes. -- RD

1.12pm: Level up
That's the end of level 1. We move to level 2 and blinds of 75-150. -- SY

1.10pm: Two pair no good
JP Kelly, in the cut off, called an early position raise to 400. Mikail Tulchinskiy also called in the small blind. The flop came 7♣5♦Q♠ and after two checks, Kelly bet 800, which only Tulchinskiy called. The turn was J♦ and the two remaining players checked that, taking them to a K♠ turn. Tulchinskiy led for 1,250, Kelly raised to 3,000 and Tulchinskiy called that. Kelly confidently tabled K♦J♦ for two pair, but Tulchinskiy had been sitting with 7♠7♦ all along. -- HS

1.07pm: Twin pair for De Meulder
Craig Bergeron lost out on a pot to Team PokerStars Pro Matthias de Meulder on the river. Bergeron raised to 250 from the hijack and was only called by the Belgian in the next seat to go to a 2♦7♣5♦ flop. Bergeron c-bet for 325. Call. He continued to push with a 625 bet on the 8♦ turn. Call. Both checked the 6♦ river and Bergeron's K♠8♠ fell behind on the river to De Meulder's 6♣8♣. --MC

1.05pm: Fatima Moreira De Melo passes kings
You'd be forgiven for thinking that members of Team PokerStars SportStar might not be quite as good as your average player but that's simply not the case - especially in Fatima Moreira De Melo's case. The Olympic gold medallist (in field hockey) has cashed for over $86,000 since October last year including a tough 3rd place finish in a €1,000 no-limit event at EPT Snowfest and a final table finish at the Masters Classic of Poker. Not too shabby.

It's often said that the sign of a great player is someone that can lay down kings pre-flop and if that is the case then Moreira De Melo has entered that canon. The Dutch Olympian raised to 300 from the cut-off and was three-bet from the button to 700 by Haykel Vidal. Moreira De Melo then made it 2,000 and was swiftly five-bet to 7,000. Moreira De Melo sat and stared then pushed forward a total of 17,000. Vidal wasted no time in moving all-in for his 30,000 starting stack.

Moreira De Melo looked a little sick and asked Vidal: "Do you have aces?" "Yes, I have aces," replied the Spaniard. The Dutchwoman eventually folded kings face-up and was shown the bullets for her troubles. Moreira De Melo is down to 12,000. -- RD

1.03pm: Spare seat?
The table close to media row that already seats Daniel Negreanu, Thomas Bichon, Christophe de Meulder and Jan Boubli has now got a new addition. His name is Bertrand, but you might know him as ElkY. Jeez. -- HS

1pm: Monfils fills up on river
With the possible exception of Boris Becker, Gael Monfils could be confident of beating every single person in this room in straight sets on a tennis court. Demanding physical sports like that don't tend to favour the underdog versus anyone in the top 20. Poker, as we know, is not quite the same, and even though the likes of Harrison Gimbel, Michael Keiner and Fabrice Soullier would be confident of defeating Monfils around the poker tables in the long run (and they all share a table this morning) no one can be certain of anything in the poker short term.

All of which is a lead up to saying that Monfils has just taken a pot of about 9,000 from Soullier, betting out 3,000 on a board of 6♣5♥6♦3♦[10h]. That was about the pot size at the time and Soullier took a while to make the call. But call he did and Monfils showed his [10d][10c]. Soullier mucked and Monfils finds his feet on this particular hard court. -- HS

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Boris Becker and Gael Monfils

Here's Gael Monfils talking about his new relationship with PokerStars...

12.55pm: Lavelle made of Gould
It turned out that Peter Gould lost those chips in the first hand of the day when his straight was bettered by a rivered flush. The later hand against Brenes was only a small reprieve for the Brit as he's just been eliminated by Jason Levalle in very unfortunate circumstances.

Both saw a 9♥6♣8♣ flop where there was some betting before the rest of the chips went in on the Q♥ turn. Gould turned up pocket sixes for a flopped set but Levalle tabled pocket queens for a turned bigger set. The river came K♠ and Gould said his goodbyes and left. This is a day he'll want to forget very quickly. -MC

12.50pm: The hand of champions
Put two young EPT champions against each other and you're likely to get fireworks, or at the very least a hand. Carter Phillips and Jason Mercier just moved their chips around, Mercier getting the better of it. On a flop of 9♣9♠5♥ Mercier checked to Phillips on the button who bet 400. Mercier then raised to 1,125 from the big blind which Phillips called. They both checked the 8♠ turn before a 6♣ river card. Here Mercier bet 2,250 and sent Phillips into the tank for a while. He came out eventually but only to pass. -- SB

12.45pm: No nastiness
Peter Gould was involved in a pot with Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes and hit the river to take the pot away from the Costa Rican. The board read 9♠6♥J♠T♣ and Gould check-called a 700 bet. Before the river came Gould said to the dealer: "No nastiness this time." It fell 8♣ and both players checked. In fact it was a good river for Gould as he made a straight with K♠7♠ to take the pot away from Brenes with his K♦J♥.

Gould must've got off to a bad start as the pot put him up to 21,000. Brenes down to 28,500. --MC

12.40pm: Tricky tables
The upper level of the Salles des Etoiles room has thrown up some interesting table draws. The ever vocal Andy Black has Erick Lindgren and John Juanda to contend with. Team PokerStars Pros William Thorson and Johannes Strassmann will have to contend with each other. If you're talking about two players with playing styles at different ends of the aggressiveness spectrum then you won't get two players more polarized than Victor Blom and Mel Juada. It'll be interesting to see how their styles clash today. --MC

12.35pm: More match ups
From the middle of the room, how about these table match ups?

Humberto Brenes v Mats Sundin v Mikhail Tulchinsky v Peter Gould (That's Team Pro v SportStar v third place last year v high stakes UK player.)

Shaun Deeb v Fatima Moreira De Melo v Alexander Dovzhenko (That's PokerStars
passport holder v SportStar, top-ranked Ukrainian.)

Daniel Negreanu v Thomas Bichon v James Mitchell v Jan Boubli (That's Team Pro v Team Pro v Irish Masters champion v EPT Barcelona champion.)

Julian Thew v Matt "ch0ppy" Kay (That's Team Pro v online tyro.)

Sebastian Ruthenberg v Tom Marchese v Guillame de la Gorce (That's ludicrously aggressive German Team Pro v ludicrously aggressive NAPT Venetian champion v ludicrously aggressive French pro.)

Antony Lellouche v Ivan Demidov v Jorn Walthaus (That's French EPT star v Team Pro (in a bathrobe) v emerging Dutch star.)

Joe Cada v Ruben Visser (That's Team Pro and World Champion v Team Pro.)

Ben Grundy v Allan Baekke v Adam Lounis (That's online high stakes cash sensation v EPT Snowfest champion v French sponsored player.)

George Danzer v Julian Gardner (That's German Team Pro v WSOP runner up.)

Alexandre Gomes v Robin Keston v Charlotte Roche (WPT Champion and Team Pro
v British stalwart v best-selling novelist.)

Richard Toth v Johnny Lodden v Masaaki Kagawa (Team Pro v Team Pro v Japanese high stakes nightmare.)

And this table gets the special prize: although it's currently playing three handed with six seats yet to be filled, two of those players are Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth and Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron. -- HS

12.32pm: Tabatabai already confusing his table
WSOPE Main Event runner-up John Tabatabai likes to mix things up and is likely to have a lot of players at his table scratching their heads. Tabatabai calls a 300 button raise in the big blind check-calling 500 on the 9♠9♦J♦ flop, 700 on the 4♣ turn before checking and winning with A♦K♠ on the J♣ river. Do you think you're going to last the day? "Of course, I'm pure focus," replies Tabatabai with a grin. -- RD

12.25pm: Opening salvoes
Good starts for Erica Schoenberg and Andy Black. Schoenberg was calling all the way to the river where she raised to take a pot worth a few thousand, while Black flopped a straight for similar results on his table. -- SB

12.20pm: Unholy trinity
Gazing across the tournament floor there's no shortage of big name players and online young guys so scattering to the four corners of the compass we've picked up some of the best early action. The cream of the crop in my segment being Team PokerStars Pro Marcel Luske (seat 6), EPT Barcelona winner Carter Phillips (seat 7) and fellow PokerStars big shot Jason Mercier (seat 9).

And the winner of the obligatory 'who-lost-a-prop-bet-last-night' award is Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov who is sat at his table in a bathrobe. -- RD

12.15pm: Here we go!
After the usual announcements and a quick 'shuffle up and deal' from Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, Day 1B of EPT Monte Carlo is under way. Nine levels, plus a dinner break, is all it takes today. -- SY

11.55pm: Opening up
The roof is opening again, for what you imagine is for one of only two occasions each year. Below, several hundred poker players deal with it as if they were extras in Lost Boys, not quite convinced that the big glowing ball of light in the sky is entirely friendly. But it is and the open top environment is thoroughly pleasant.

11.33pm: We just clicked
And while you're in clicking mood check out the overnight scores and the list of notable characters on their way into the tournament room to play today.

11.32am: Day one, part two
While you're waiting you can read today's introduction by clicking here.

11.30am: Just another manic Monday
We're half an hour, several hundred players and an opening ceremony away from getting day 1B under way.


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PokerStars Blog reporting team in Monte Carlo (in order of whose skin handled the blast of sunlight best): Howard Swains (drab olive), Simon Young (olive drab), Marc Convey (joyous pink), Rick Dacey (English rose), Stephen Bartley (sun stroke).