EPT Monte Carlo: Day 3, level 17 & 18 updates (4,000-8,000, 500 ante)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg3pm: Break time
And so ends level 18. Join us for level 19. It'll be here in 15 minutes. -- HS

2.58pm: Lauri Maidla hand
James Mitchell opened for 18,500, starting off a hand that seemed to take an hour to play.
Lauri Meidla from Estonia was next to him, his head in his hands, a position he'd play most of the hand from. He called, with about 125,000 behind, for a flop of T♣T♥8♠.

Both checked for a Q♥ turn. Mitchell bet 21,000 and after a bit of thought Meidla called. The river came 6♣. With 90,000 now in the pot Mitchell checked. Now Meidla tanked for several minutes before making it 30,000 to go. A few more minutes later Mitchell folded. He's down to 310,000 while Meidla moves up to 200,000. - SB

2.55pm: The full details on the Channing bust. (Not that bust)
Neil Channing has gone from the fringe of getting into contention to busto in less than half an orbit. Channing raised from the button into Lex Veldhuis' big blind making an over raise to both isolate the Dutchman away from Josef Klinger in the small blind and to commit himself to the call if Veldhuis moved all-in. And move all-in he did with A♠Q♦ for 110,000. Channing made the obligatory call with A♥6♣ and Veldhuis ran out the winner putting him on 240,000. Channing was down to five big blinds with just a shade over 40,000.

Aleh Plauski raised to 18,000 a couple of hands later with A♠J♥ and Channing jammed his short stack into the middle with A♠Q♠. A safe flop of 3♦4♥5♣ seemed great for Channing until the J♣ appeared on the turn. No queen or deuce on the river and Channing was sent to the rail. -- RD

2.45pm: Jelassi chipping up
Ramzi Jelassi bet 50,000 at a Q♥2♣K♠ flop and got a call from Jerome Zerbib. That made it around 170,000 in the pot. They saw the 8♥ turn and when Jelassi checked Zerbib fired out another 50,000. The Swede's response was to check-raise all in. He had Zerbib well covered, and the man from France folded. Jelassi is now on around 900,000, Zerbib down to 110,000. -- SY

2.40pm: Velduis doubles
Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis doubled up through Neil Channing to 225,000. Channing had made it 70,000 and Veldhuis pushed for 40,000 more. Channing called but Veldhuis' A♠Q♥ was good enough on the 2♥8♠A♦5♥3♣ board.

Just a few hands later, Channing, who was down to 55,000 after the Veldhuis hand, was busted by Aleh Plauski. -- SY

2.35pm: Betting the huis
On a board reading J♣7♠K♠6♣ Aleh Plauski bet 32,000 from the button. Lex Veldhuis called in the cut off for a 2♠ river card. At this point Plauski bet 65,000. Veldhuis thought for a while and then called, immediately regretting it, folding his hand to Plauski's K♥J♥.
Veldhuis drops down to 100,000 chips while Plauski moves up to 540,000. - SB

2.30pm: News from the Giaroni front
Gianni Giaroni is still here, despite a series of all-ins. Well, they're almost all-ins, the Italian tends to keep 10,000 chips back - a strategic reserve for emergency use - that remains unused when his opponents pass. He hovers around the 100,000 mark.
"No, no bluff," said Giaroni when asked. "Never bluff. Never."-- SB

2.25pm: Let me do it
Everyone has their off day but after Pierre Neuville doubled up through Nick Schulman, the dealer miscounted Neuville's stack three times, prompting the defeated Schulman to step in. Schulman took over the chip count - no doubt wanting to end the pain of getting it all-in with A♠J♠ on a J♥5♥2♠T♣ board against Neuville's Q♥Q♣. Neuville caught a set on the river just to add insult to injury and the serial PokerStars qualifier up to 400,000. -- RD

ept6_mc_dag3_09.jpg

Nick Schulman helps the dealer determine how much he must pay Pierre Neuville

2.20pm: 'I promise I go all-in!'
You have aces in 100,000 pot that was three-bet pre-flop and you now have an excitable Frenchman who has bet 70,000 telling you that he promises he will call if you move all-in on the K♠9♠K♣ flop. What do you do? Mikhail Shalamov looked a lot like he was going to fold and seemed to believe Gilbert Diaz when he asked him if he had king. Diaz told him that of course he had a king and that he would call. "Go all-in, come with meeeeee," beckoned the Frenchman.

Diaz either had the king or was doing the most enthusiastic and convincing acting performance of his life that he did. Either way Diaz talked Shalamov into moving all-in for around 300,000. Shalamov showed A♦A♣ and Diaz K♦Q♣. A turned full house left Shalamov with just two outs on the river. Neither arrived and Diaz is up to 700,000. Shalamov is out. -- RD

2.15pm: Smirnov iced, Eyster over a million
There was a huge pot already of around 200,000, when on a J♣6♠A♠Q♣ board (so wet the cards were curling up at the edges), Kevin Eyster bet a hefty 182,000. Mikhail Smirnov was the man with a big decision - and he elected to move all in for around 200,000 more. Call!
Eyster: A♣6♥ for two pair
Smirnov: Q♥J♦ for worse two pair
Smirnov needed help, but he missed on the K♥ river. After that little lot, Eyster is approaching 1.3million. -- SY

2.11pm: Randall (not Hopkirk) deceased
We did not see this one until the end, when Randall Mccowan was picking up his coat to leave and Kenny Hallaert was stacking his chips. Another one down. -- SY

2.10pm: Table to table
Matt Perrins opened for 16,5000 from the cut off. He was re-raised by Matthew Szymaszek on the button to 41,000. When the action returned to Perrins he passed.

It's typical of a number of hands that have fizzle out to a raise. Neil Channing moved all-in but got no takers. He took the blinds and antes and hovers around the 140,000 mark.

Melanie Weinser opened a hand for 18,500, called by David Peters in the big blind. The flop came K♣5♥8♠. Peters checked before Weisner bet 23,500. Peters passed, leaving Weisner with close to 300,000. - SB

2.08pm: Crowe's wings clipped
Owen Crowe moved all in for 90,000, but before the dealer even confirmed the stack size David Paredes announced call. It's easy to see why:
Crowe: 8♦8♣
Parades: A♠A♣
The board ran 6♣6♣K♣J♥[10h] and Crowe was grounded.
"Nice call!" Stephane Benadiba joked to Parades. "Yes, it's an easy game," he replied. -- SY

2.05pm: All ins, no takers
First Mel Judah re-raised all in for 111,500, but the initial raiser Josef Klinger, who had bet 22,000, folded. Next Roger Hairabedian made it 20,000 from the button but let it go when David Peters, a PokerStars player from the USA, moved all in for 200,000 from the big blind. -- SY

mel_judah_monte_carlo_day3.jpg

Mel Judah: Enjoying his first EPT cash

2pm: Information superhighway
"I will tell you after the tournament," said PokerStars qualifier Aleh Plauski to Lex Veldhuis after forcing the Dutchman out of a large pot. "We don't want to know after the tournament," said Neil Channing. "There's no point. You think he (Veldhuis) wants to know what hand you had when he busts in 24th after pulling some retarded move with 10-4 off-suit?"

Veldhuis had raised to 19,000 from mid-position and had been called by Plauski in the cut-off. The Dutchman fired again on the 3♥Q♦J♣ flop for 27,500 and was raised to 65,000 by Plauski. Veldhuis called but folded to protect his last 243,500 when Plauski shoved the T♣ turn. -- RD

1.55pm: Kevin MacPhee out
The EPT Berlin champion faced a 18,500 opening raise from chip leader Nick Shulman and moved all in for 161,000 more. Schulman asked for a count, and after doing the math came out with a call. "I have a pair," MacPhee said. Unfortunatelty for him, so did Schulman. And his was bigger.
Schulman: 9♥9♠
MacPhee: 4♣4♥
MacPhee needed a good deal of hope, but he bricked the 3♥5♠Q♦7♠8♣ board. That sends Schulman on to approaching a million. All EPT season six champions are now out. -- SY

kevin_macphee_monte_carlo_day3.jpg

Kevin MacPhee, the longest lasting season six winner at the Grand Final

1.50pm: Munz munched
Simon Munz, who led at the end of day 1A, is now on the rail. He's the latest player to have been Gomes-ed, with the Team PokerStars Pro from Brazil avenging his own ill fortune of last night by wreaking havoc in these early levels.

Gomes opened for a standard raise from mid-position and Munz shoved from the big blind for what was only about 50,000. Gomes called. Munz was ahead with his A♣J♥ to Munz's Q♦[10d], but the flop was fairly convincing. It came: Q♥Q♠8♦ and the K♠6♥ changed nothing.

alexandre_gomes_monte_carlo_day3.jpg

Alex Gomes

"Good game, brother," said Gomes as Munz left us. -- HS

1.45pm: Back to it
We're back to the action with the blinds at 4,000-8,000 and a 500 ante. The board tells us that we have 88 players remaining, and the identities of those players out already will appear on the prizewinners page as we know them. At the moment, there's a huge line at the cage so we don't know those players. But we're on it. -- HS

1.25pm: Level up
That's the end of level 17. We're on a 15-minute break and then we're back for, er, level 18.

1.20pm: The Eyster have it
Kevin Eyster and Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker have just been at it but it was the young American that won the pot. That's Eyster, by the way, who appears to be sinking deeper into his chair as his chip stack grows larger.

Eyster pushed 23,000 into Moneymaker on the A♦7♣6♣ flop. The 2003 Main Event winner called. As usually happens at this stage in a tournament when a danger card arrives both players checked the 5♣ turn. And when a four card straight arrived on the river with the 4♥ both players checked again. Eyster had to show first and his A♣K♦ was sufficient to win the pot. -- RD

chris_moneymaker_ept_monte_carlo_d3.JPG

Chris Moneymaker

1.15pm: Schulman regains the lead
Don't go thinking Nick Schulman is taking it easy in these early stages of day three. He's up to 850,000-ish and has just sent our last Moroccan player El Mostafa Bel Khayate to the rail. Mostafa was last seen pegging it towards the cash desk as Schulman was stacking chips; the cards were already mucked. -- HS

1.10pm: Leaving on a Jett plane
Konstantin Puchkov is out, having run his Q♥9♥ into Melanie Weisner's 9♦9♠. The board ran 2♥9♣7♥5♥3♦ and we were down another player.

David Sesso just added another 300,000 to his stack, eliminating Peter Jetten, A♣K♥ against Jetten's A♠T♦. The money went in on the flop of A♦Q♣7♣ and the turn 9♥and river 3♣ did nothing for Jetten. -- SB

1.07pm: Video
Here's the video intro to the day...

1.05pm: You've made your Lebedev, now lie in it
This was almost a straight flush, but it was actually quads, and it ended up doubling up Sergey Lebedev, who has now taken a big chunk out of Nathan Tuthill. Tuthill opened from the cut off and Lebedev three-bet, 24,500 more, from the button. The blinds and everyone else folded it back round to Tuthill. He four bet to 66,500 and Lebedev moved all in for about 330,000.

Tuthill thought for a while, but called and showed [10c][10d]. Lebedev opened K♥K♣. The flop brought possibilities of a spectacular outdraw 7♣6♣9♣ - Tuthill could now win with the 8♣ - but the turn was actually the K♠ and the river the K♦ meaning quad kings, and a stack of about 700,000 for Lebedev. Tuthill is trimmed back into the pack. -- HS

1.04pm: Wigg out
Mel Judah just moved all-in for 71,000. Josef Klinger asked how much but passed. Then he tangled in the next pot that would see EPT Copenhagen winner Anton Wigg depart for the rail.

Klinger made it 16,000 pre-flop. Wigg was in the big blind and moved all-in and Klinger called showing 7♣7♠. Wigg turned over A♣Q♦ and awaited his fate. The board ran T♣T♦J♥6♣7♥. Wigg out. -- SB

1pm: Mutrie can't catch
Eric Mutrie shoved under the gun for 104,000 with A♠K♣ and Kevin Eyster moved all-in over the top of him with 9♦9♥. The board blanked out with 5♠7♥2♥J♥4♦ as Eyster moved past the 500,000 mark. -- RD

12.57pm: Wrestling Frenchman
Nicolas Levi raised under the gun to 12,500 and was called by Vicky Coren (button) and Herve Costa (big blind). Costa, Frenchman number one, leads out for 17,000 on the 2♣2♦6♦ flop. Frenchman number two, Levi, slid forward a two twenty deep stacks of red (20,000 apiece) crowned by a smattering of yellows and a blue. It totalled 55,000 and was enough for Costa to grudgingly fold his medium pocket pair hand. -- RD

nicolas_levi_monte_carlo_day3.jpg

Nicolas Levi in Monte Carlo

12.55pm: Sheringham...off!
Anthony Guetti has just sent Teddy Sheringham to his early bath today. Owen Crowe started things off, raising to 15,000. Sheringham moved in for his last 80,000 and Guetti moved all in over the top of that.

Crowe folded, as did everyone else, leaving Guetti's K♠K♥ to dominate Sheringham's 9♠9♣. The board ran [10h]3♣8♠J♥J♣ and that was the equivalent of a red card for the former footballer. -- HS

teddy_sheringham_ept_monte_carlo_3.JPG

Teddy Sheringham

12.50pm: Guerro sliding
Everyone is getting their chips in the middle in true early day style. Cristiano Guerra has just doubled up Bjorn Verbakel when the two of them went at it pre-flop from the blinds. Guerra's A♦8♣ wasn't good enough against Verbakel's A♣K♥ and that cost the Italian 163,000, which went over to his neighbour. -- HS

12.49pm: All-ins
Gianni Gioroni just moved all-in with ace-king behind a raise from Mikhail Shalamov. The Russian passed, leaving modest spoils to Giaroni.

A table along Matthew Szymaszek moved in, as did Andrey Zaichenko. Szymaszek showed K♣K♠ to Zaichenko's A♦Q♣. He was looking for an ace but the board of 5♥K♥9♥8♠4♠ didn't help. After a count Szymaszek had him covered. Zaichenko out. -- SB

12.45pm: Tables breaking
We've had two tables break as some of the shorter stacked players get knocked out (we'll bring you a full update on that at the break if not before) but it's not only those in shoving territory that are seeing chip swings.

On a board of 8♣2♦J♥Q♣7♥ Kevin Eyster decided to check as first to act. Peter Jetten then made a large 120,000 bet which Eyster called. Jetten showed A♥J♠ for top-pair top-kicker on the flop... but not the turn. Eyster showed Q♦T♦ for top pair. Jetten is down to 250,000 and Eyster is up to 430,000. -- RD

12.40pm: Two hands, two knockouts for Team Pro
Lex Velduis just accounted for Daniel Groth at almost the same time that Alexandre Gomes was felting Guillaume Darcourt.

First things first, here's the RasZi hand: Groth raised under-the-gun and Veldhuis three-bet to 35,500. Groth shoved for around 100,000 and Veldhuis took his time but had priced himself in and so called.

Veldhuis: K♣J♣
Groth: A♣K♦

The flop was gross for Groth. It came 3♥J♥8♣ followed by 4♠4♣ and that jack took it for Veldhuis. Better to be lucky than good, but when a good player gets lucky, well...

Onto Gomes. The Team PokerStars Pro from Brazil took a huge hit to his stack during the bubble period last night, where his pocket kings weren't good enough to beat Gianni Giaroni's A-7. But Gomes has just got those chips back in a pretty standard A♠Q♠ (Gomes) versus A♣9♣ Darcourt coup.

Darcourt opened to 19,000; Gomes made it 30,000; Darcourt shoved, Gomes called. The board came 8♣8♦7♦8♠4♥ and Gomes moves back to more than 220,000. -- HS

12.35pm: Estonia: The new poker frontier
Last year's Baltic Poker Festival in Tallinn was one of the success stories of the calendar, won by the British player Thomas Partridge ahead of his compatriot James Keys. There was also a good showing from local players, bringing them the wider attention their talents demand.

Imre Leibold and Henri Kasper are two of the top three most monied Estonian players, and each of them are still going very strong here at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Leibold and Kasper have 159,500 and 50,000 respectively - and they are also joined in the day three field by another Estonian, Lauri Meidla, who has 139,000.

To put this into perspective, the USA has 10 players in the last 116, but has a population of more than 300 million, compared with Estonia's 1.3 million. Finland - a near neighbour of Estonia and an established poker hotbed - only has one representative going into day three, from a population of 5.2 million.

They punch well above their weight in the Baltic States and Tallinn might one day make a good EPT stop. In the meantime, the next Baltic Poker Festival is June 16-19. -- HS

12.30pm: Oh, Teddy Teddy
Teddy Sheringham just moved all in and was called by Anthony Guetti, who had one of only two stacks shorter than his own. Sheringham turned over 9♣9♥ to Guetti's J♣J♠. The board ran 7♦A♥T♣J♥6♦. Sheringham looked frustrated, handing over around 50,000 to Guetti. His own stack is down now to around 80,000. -- SB

12.25pm: Schulman not blessed by Santos
This table started with the most amount of chips and before the table breaks we could well have our first player to break the million mark. After this last hand it became a little less likely to be Nick Schulman and just a little more to be Andre Santos.

Santos raised from the button to 14,000 and was called by Laurent Olive in the small blind and Nick Schulman in the big. Schulman check-called 22,000 on the K♠4♥2♣ flop. With no action on the Q♥ turn Schulman felt well placed to fire 35,000 at the K♥ river. Santos instantly called and showed J♣J♦ to take the pot after Schulman admitted: "You got me." Schulman is down to 670,000. Santos more than creeps up to 530,000. -- RD

12.20pm: Tuthill to the top
A huge hand in the opening level has eliminated two of table nine's most solid players - Chris Bjorin and Rino Mathis - and sent Nathan Tuthill into the chip lead. They got it in pre-flop, three way. Bjorin had pocket nines, Mathis (the Team PokerStars Pro from Switzerland) had pocket queens, and Tuthill, with a covering stack, had A♣K♠. The flop brought a whoop from Tuthill. It came: 7♥8♣A♥ and the 3♦ turn and [10h] river sealed it.

Tuthill takes 120,000-ish from Mathis and 180,000-ish from Bjorin to build his stack up to about 800,000. -- HS

12.15pm: Stefano Digennaro
Prior to the start a moment of silence was observed for Italian player Stefano Digennaro who died in a motor scooter accident earlier this week. Digennaro, who was 18-years-old and from Controguerra, in the province of Teramo, played in the EPT San Remo event last week and was considered one of Italy's young online prospects. -- SB

12.10pm: We're under way
Cards are in the air as the players move one hand closer to the €1.7m first prize.

11.55am: Chip distribution
After hours slaving over a blackboard and abacus we've totted up the chip distributions across these last tables. Okay, we just used Excel. The lightest table has just 1,186,000 and unsurprisingly is one of the 7-handed rather than 8-handed tables. The heaviest table is table 15, which will be the first table to break, has a massive 2,392,000 and more surprisingly is also one of the shorter-handed tables. It does have the 742,000 chip leader Nick Schulman however. -- RD

11.50pm: Schulman in front
Nick Schulman returns today as chip leader with 742,000 chips, nearly a full 100k ahead of second placed David Sesso. Check out the full chip count list here and a report of yesterdays action here.

11.35pm: Welcome back
The roof just opened on the tournament floor and a few minutes later closed. We're beginning to think organisers open it purely to see if they still can. But we're back in the dark again, curtains closed, ahead of day three on the Grand Final, one that will reduce the field of 116 into one of 24.

How long that lasts is pure guesswork, but with a first prize of €1,700,000 you can hardly blame a player for wanting to get it right and stick around for a while. Expect high drama, high tension and high bar bills by the end of play.

Chris Moneymaker looks to be the first player to arrive in the Salles des Etoiles. Has the first player to arrive on day three of a tournament ever gone on to win? Find out right here. Play starts at noon.

_MG_5841_Neil Stoddart.jpg

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Monte Carlo (according to arrival at work this morning): Howard Swains and Stephen Bartley (neck and neck), Simon Young (neck on the line), Rick Dacey (pain in the neck), Marc Convey (up to his neck).