EPT Monte Carlo: Day 1B, levels 3 & 4 updates (150-300)
4.31pm: Level over
That's about that for this level. Join us after a 15-minute break in level five. -- HS
4.30pm: Mercier's four-bet fail
It was one of the tables that we'd picked out at the start of the day. When you've got Marcel Luske, Carter Phillips and Jason Mercier you're always right in expecting a big bang and as it happens it was the latter player that had the blow up. Marcel Luske lit the fuse when he raised a solitary 300 limper to 1,300 from the cut-off. Carter Phillips three-bet to 3,150 from the button and Mercier, after thinking for a little, moved his 13,000 stack across the line from the big blind. Luske passed but Phillips didn't take long to call the extra 10,000.
The board blanked out for the Team PokerStars Pro despite picking up gutshot draw on the turn of the 3♥7♠J♣6♥8♠ board. Mercier is gone. -- RD
4.25pm: El Bona on top!
Salvatore Bonavena now has about 125,000 after eliminating last year's Grand Final runner up, Matthew Woodward. Bonavena called Woodward's shove on the river, with the board showing [10s]2♠4♠Q♥4♦. Woodward had missed a draw with J♣9♣ and Bonavena's A♥[10h] was good.
Another notable runner up - the WSOP Main Event second placed finisher Ivan Demidov - is also out. He was just seen leaving the tournament room in his bathrobe - a lost prop bet and then a crucial lost hand. -- HS
4.20pm: Quads for Rutter
Stuart Rutter informed the blog that he just had quads but failed to get paid as much as he would've liked. A player in mid-position raised and he defended with pocket sixes to see a  flop. Rutter felt his opponent was really strong so check-called to see another six fall on the turn. He led on the turn and river and was called down. Rutter felt it would've been a 60,000 pot if he'd check-raised the flop but he was afraid of a flopped straight or a set of nines as the player has such strong physical tells. --MC
4.17pm: To be sure
A message to all the friends, family and fans of Jesus Ramos Vazquez who may be reading. While Vazquez, who qualified on PokerStars, only finished with 12,300 yesterday, he will return to play day two tomorrow. However, he will not return as an Irishman, as we noted on the chip count page, but instead will be listed as Spanish, his true nationality. Despite Vazquez being a traditional name everywhere between Dublin and Dundalk, this Vazquez is actually Spanish. Apologies for the error. -- SB
4.16pm: Hey Jude
Jude Ainsworth just secured himself a vital double up, his money going in with king-queen. Ainsworth flopped a queen and rivered a king to move up to around 19,000. -- SB
4.15pm: Two in a row for Thorson
William Thorson has won small back-to-back pots to see his stack grow to 41,000.
The first hand he limped from first position and then called a raise to 1,100 from a player two seats long. Johannes Strassmann also called so it was three-way to the 7♣4♠3♣ flop. Thorson led out for 2,200 and was only called by Strassmann before both checked the 9♥ turn and A♦ river. Thorson opened T♦7♦ and it was good as Strassman mucked.
The next hand Thorson saw a 3♠J♠9♠ flop three ways, out of position. It was checked to the 3♣ turn and Thorson led for 2,800 and received one caller. The river came 5♣ and Thorson fired 4,800. His opponent folded and Thorson took that down too. --MC
4.10pm: Deeb on the comeback trail
This has been an up and down year for Shaun "shaundeeb" Deeb. After winning the tournament leaderboard on PokerStars, he earned himself a PokerStars Passport, with five stamps, which he gleefully took around the opening stops of EPT season six.
Although final tables eluded him in the main events, he heroically scooped the High Roller event in Kyiv -- yes, yes, there were only three players, but that meant two didn't win -- and everything seemed to be going great as he went deep in Warsaw.
But things weren't happy in Deeb-land, and he soon announced his retirement from poker, citing numerous reasons. And although we haven't seen him with quite such regularity in recent months, he has now returned to the tables, cropping up on the NAPT at the Mohegan Sun and now hitting Monte Carlo.
Could he finish this tortuous year in spectacular style? There's obviously still a long, long way to go, but it's my happy duty to report that at this stage at the EPT Grand Final, Deeb might be our chip leader. Latest counts have him on about 105,000, which is right up there.
Few would begrudge him the massive live score his talents demand. Keep watching. -- HS
4.05pm: Juanda doubles
John Juanda moved all in for his last 9,000 and was called by Andy Black in the big blind.
The race was on, and Juanda won it from the off with the K♣A♦8♠ flop. The [10s] turn and 3♥ river kept him in the hunt. Black is down to 12,000 as a result. -- SY
4pm: JP Kelly winces at the river
In a six-way limped pot Stefan Huber fired 2,225 at a 4♦2♥4♠ flop picking up a single caller in the form of JP Kelly. Both players checked through the 5♥ turn before the A♥ arrived on the river. The Team PokerStars's Pro's 10,000 value bet was called by Huber who showed the nut flush with K♥Q♥ to Kelly's 6♠4♠. A frustrated Kelly is down to 12,000. -- RD
3.55pm: Rolling the El Bona way
Salvatore Bonavena has just dispatched Bruno Fitoussi to the rail. The board was 5-6-4-5-J (suits unknown) and Fitoussi bet 7,500. Bonavena shoved, Fitoussi made a crying call with his 4-5. Bonavena had rivered a bigger boat with his pocket jacks. -- HS
3.50pm: Baekke moving forward
Allan Baekke is on quite a tear at the moment. Following his victory at the EPT Snowfest for €445,000 he finished 12th at San Remo for €50,000. That's two incredibly deep finishes for the heads up specialist and it's little wonder why. When British high stakes cash game player Ben Grundy raised to 600 from the button and picked up a call from Adam Lounis in the small blind it was almost inevitable that Baekke would come in and almost certainly for a raise.
The Dane popped it up to 2,150 forcing Grundy out. Lounis called and then led the 9♥J♣T♦ flop for 2,625. Baekke called and then attacked the checked 5♠ turn with a 3,400 bet and scooped a tidy pot to take him over 43,000. -- RD
The "hijack" seat is unofficially so called as it's the perfect place to hijack the positional advantage of the cut off and the button. Or something. Alessandro Licci attempted to hijack Thew's cut off with a raise to 750, but Thew came back over the top with a re-raise to 2,200. Licci wasn't giving up at the first sign of resistance, however, and called.
That took them to a flop of 3♠9♦[10d] and Licci bet 5,000. Thew folded; hijack complete. -- HS
3.37pm: Battling Boeree
Straight off the back of her EPT victory at San Remo, Liv Boeree is trying to elbow her way through another big buy-in tournament. Marco Leonzio raised under the gun to 700 and was three-bet by Boeree to 1,600. The Italian called the raise. Both players checked the 7♣8♦K♠ flop. Leonzio seemed to like the 8♠ turn and lead into it for 2,000 before firing another 5,000 into a third eight, the 8♣, on the river. Boeree tossed in a raise to 12,000 which was called. Both players tabled ace-king for eights full of kings and a chopped pot. -- RD
3.35pm: Bonavena all the way
Bruno Fitoussi opened for 550 and Salvatore Bonavena called in the cut off. The action reached Vlad Mezheritsky in the big blind who called. The American was about to get his first real taste of Bonavena.
The flop came K♠7♣T♠. Mezheritsky and Fitoussi checked to Bonavena who bet 900. Mezheritsky called but Fitoussi left them to it. The turn came 4♣ and again Mezheritsky checked. Bonavena was waiting with another bet of 3,125 which was again called for a river card 4♦.
Same again, a check to Bonavena who 'emptied the clip' with a final bet of 3,000 on the end. Mezheritsky called but would never show his cards, Bonavena's K♥T♥ taking the lot. El Bona up to 40,000 chips now. -- SB
LEVEL UP. INTO LEVEL FOUR WITH BLINDS 150-300
3.30pm: Champ to chump
Pieter de Korver will not be winning back-to-back EPT Grand Finals. He is an early casualty on day 1B, moving in for his last 16,000-ish on a board of 7♦[10c]2♣ but not hitting his flush draw with 9♣J♣. He was staring at a flopped set of sevens. -- HS
3.25pm: Veldhuis' CRAI fail
Lex Veldhuis had built up a large stack. Emphasis on had . Veldhuis raised from the cut-off to 525 and was called by Vlad Mezheritsky on the button and Mikhail Ustinov in the big blind. Veldhuis dropped 1,200 across the line on the T♣J♠9♠ flop and was called by Mezheritsky alone. Another 2,850 on the pairing 9♦ turn wasn't enough to shake off Mezheritsky who called again.
A final 8♣ on the river was checked by Veldhuis who then check-raised all-in over a 6,000 bet from Mezheritsky. The American thought for a short while before making the call with the nut straight. He showed Q♥K♦ as Veldhuis dropped back down to 30,000 as Mezheritsky jumped to 60,000. -- RD
3.20pm: Crushed by the Roche
Charlotte Roche is up to 90,000 already after crushing her table so far today. One of her casualties has been the online MTT sensation Chris "moorman1" Moorman. She took most of his stack after building up a "crazy" image for herself. Moorman said she won seven pots in a row by raising opponents off hands without going to showdown. Then she lost two hands in a row after showing down eight-high and king-high, altering what everyone at the table though of her.
In the hand that mattered most, Moorman raised to 450 from under-the-gun and she called from two seats along before a player in late position three-bet to 1,800. Both players called to go the ace high flop. Moorman checked to Roche who fired 5,000 at the pot. The player in late position tank-folded but Moorman called to go to the turn - a five - where both players checked. The river was a two and Moorman checked to face a 15,000 bet. He called with pocket jacks but Roche had a hand this time: pocket kings for the pot.
Moorman was left with 2,000 after this and was seen out a while later and telling this particular tale, with a big smile upon his face, to fellow online pros around the room. --MC
3.15pm: Twitter from Kid Poker
Even though he's sitting approximately three feet from us on media row, it's still more efficient to follow the thoughts of Daniel Negreanu via his Twitter account (you can follow him @realkidpoker). Just recently, this made it into the cyber-ether.
"41,100 end of lvl 2 started with 30k. Elky Jan Boubli and two other Team Pros at my table. One from Belgium one from France. Perfect start." The Beligian is Christophe de Meulder and the Frenchman is Thomas Bichon. If anyone wants to RT Negreanu, they can. -- HS
3.10pm: Eastgate heading south
Peter Eastgate's day just took a wrong turn, his stack now measuring around 13,000 after a hand against Vitaly Lunkin.
On a board of T♠5♠Q♥6♦7♦ the money was in the middle. Eastgate turned over pocket kings but Lunkin had flopped a set of fives to take the pot. Lunkin now up to 40,000 chips. -- SB
3.05pm: Well armed
Maria Maceiras was looking at the red wristbands that each player has been given, along with a blue one they need to wear to get into the Salle des Etoiles.
"What's the red wristband for?" asked Maceiras.
"It's for the guest you're allowed to bring to the party," said the dealer, referring to the EPT Awards party on Friday and unconsciously turning to Debabeche Ahmed in seat eight. Actually everyone was looking at Ahmed for he'd fastened his red and blue band around his own wrist.
"Good job buddy," said JC Tran next to Ahmed and pointing at his arm. "There goes your guest."
Ahmed saw the funny side but took his frustration out on Evgeniy Zaytsev, who raised pre-flop to 500. Maceiras had called but Ahmed raised to 1,500. Only Zaytsev stayed with him for a flop of A♣9♠7♥. Both checked for a 5♠ turn. Zaytsev again checked and Ahmed bet 2,200, enough to force the Russian to pass.
Zaytsev may still be permitted a guest on Friday but Ahmed has the cold and lonely comfort of adding some chips to his stack. - SY
3pm: ElkY downed
ElkY's stay in Monte Carlo has been brief. He is now out, getting his last 16,000-odd in with A♦K♣ but finding it rather emphatically behind Viktor Ivanov's 9♠9♥ on a flop of A♥7♣9♣.
There was no miracle runner-runner as the turn and river came 5♠6♣. He came second in the heads up yesterday, but today he was beaten by 400+ others. That's the way it goes. -- HS
2.55pm: Hansen blown off a treble board
Gus Hansen has been known to make some sick calls in his time but this was not one of them. On a 3♣3♠3♥2♦ board he called a chunky 6,200 bet but couldn't quite bring himself to call off his 25,000 stack when faced with an all-in on the 7♥ river. Needless to sat he didn't have the three. -- RD
2.50pm: 'I'm a friendly guy!'
When Thierry Van Den Berg bet 1,300 into a Q♠4♦3♥ flop and picked up two folds the Dutchman showed A♠Q♥ to the table and said, "I'm a friendly guy!" Of course you are Thierry, we're sure you'll check the nuts behind to someone you asks nicely. -- RD
2.45pm: Hot streak temporarily cooled
When you're on form, you're on form, and James Mitchell is on form. He won the recent Irish Open in Dublin, worth €600,000, and yesterday he took down a side event here, a neat €30,000-odd for about seven hours work.
He's going to have to hope for that streak to continue today as he's on arguably the toughest table in the room. Christophe De Meulder is in seat one, Mitchell is in two, Thomas Bichon is in three, ElkY is in six and Daniel Negreanu is in nine.
However, it was Viktor Ivanov, in the seven seat, who just took down a pot from Mitchell. Aces helped.
Mitchell raised to 525 from mid-position and Ivanov made it 1,500 from the big blind. The flop came A♠K♥4♦ and Ivanov bet 2,000. Mitchell called. They both checked the J♣ turn and then Ivanov bet 6,000 at the 7♠ river. Mitchell called.
Ivanov showed A♥A♣ and Mitchell mucked. -- HS
2.35pm: Pieter de Korver
Here's the Team PokerStars Pro describing how he hoped to defend his title at this EPT Monte Carlo...
2.30pm: And on
On we go then, entering level three.
It was a pretty standard first couple of levels: some stars pouring in late, others who took their seats on time, perhaps wishing they hadn't.
Fatima Moreira de Melo, for instance, found kings when her opponent had aces. She got away from it, but is down to about 5,000 going into this level. It's a long way back.
As ever, follow the fluctuations on the chip count page. All the wordy action is here. And the odd picture.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Monte Carlo (from left to right as you're looking at us (or not looking at us (I advise not looking)) on media row): Howard Swains, Stephen Bartley, Rick Dacey, Marc Convey, Simon Young.