EPT Prague: Day 1, level 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.15pm: Anyone for the deuce-seven game?
You always get a few loudmouths chatty sorts at the beginning of a tournament that you can hear from anywhere on the floor. The two that have leapt out to us are Tim Kahlmeyer and Mike Adamo. Kahlmeyer is talking to his neighbour Jeff Sarwer about strategy and snippets such as 'jack-ten' and 'four-bet jam' keep floating across.

Adamo is more of a banterer; 'If this had been a cash game and we'd been playing the seven-deuce game I'd either be broke or have a lot of cash,' he chuckled. Maybe he's just building an image and letting everyone know.

That's the end of the level, folks and a 15-minute break for everyone. Join us in a new post shortly. -- RD

2.10pm: Horecki takes a breather
Marcin Horecki has left the room for a prolonged break just before the end of the level after suffering something of a beat. Jeff Sarwer had started it with a raise to 400, and Horecki had re-raised to 1,200 before Guillaume Darcourt made it 3,000. Only Horecki called.

The flop was 9♦J♥K♦ and Darcourt made it 4,000 before Horecki moved all-in for around 30,000, easily covering the Frenchman. After a short dwell, Darcourt made the call:

Horecki: Q♦J♦ for middle pair with a flush draw and gutshot straight draw
Darcourt: 9♣[10s] for bottom pair with gutshot straight draw

Horecki, the Team PokerStars Pro from Poland, was is great shape, but the Q♣ turn gave Darcourt the straight. He doubled up to around 29,000, leaving Horecki with 14,000. -- SY

1.59pm: Tanking for Affleck
'Bad card for me,' said Matt Affleck of the Q♥ that rivered the 5♠4♣Q♦4♥Q♥ board, 'I wanted him to barrel another 7,000.'

The him was Jurgen Wenigwieser who had limp raised to 1,350 after Affleck had raised to 450 from the big blind. The button and small blind fell away leaving Affleck and Wenigwieser to go to the flop heads up.

Affleck checked and Wenigwieser c-bet another 1,350. Affleck waited a few moments before making the call. The turn, however, was a different matter as the table was left to wait for significantly longer. Wenigwieser bet 3,100 after Affleck had checked to him on the pairing 4♥ turn. Affleck, who was giving his Austrian opponent quite a stare-down throughout, took a good two minutes to make the call. Conversely he could barely have checked the Q♥ river any quicker. Wenigwieser also checked and as the last aggressor had to show his hand first; A♦K♥. Affleck then tabled 9♣9♠ to scoop in the 11,900 pot to take him a little over his 30,000 starting stack. -- RD

1.58pm: Hear for yourself
Your introduction to Day 1A in Prague brought to you by Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern and our colleague, the "very tasty" Rick Dacey. May cause hyper-tension. -- SB

1.57pm: Another Mattern mishap
Regular readers may remember Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Matter spent much of the WSOP in plaster after breaking his leg playing tennis (not normally the most dangerous of sports, I think you'll agree). Well, he's shown up today with bandages around one elbow and plasters on both hands. The cause of this latest accident? He fell off a quad bike. Doh! -- SY

1.55pm: Swedish House Poker Mafia
The early EPT seasons were dominated by Swedish and UK winners before the former saw the wins dry up. Anton Wigg put a stop to that by clinching last season's EPT Copenhagen title and the drought was well and truly quenched when Kent Lundmark took down EPT Barcelona two weeks ago. Jakob Carlsson is another Swedish player to make a splash. He was runner-up to Liv Boeree in the largest EPT ever held - at San Remo in season Six.

Carlsson finds himself at the same table as Wigg and just attacked his big blind with an early position raise. Sean Nolan stole the initiative, and the pot, with a three-bet which made both Swedish players fold.

In the next hand Kosta Kalinov Kantchev raised to 500 from mid-position and was called by Wigg in the small blind. The flop came 2♣4♠8♣ and Wigg check-called a 600 bet before both players checked the 2♦ turn. The river came K♣ and Wigg led for 1,350 sending Kantchev into tank mode. He took two minutes to make the call and it was good as Wigg mucked to give up the pot.

Wigg has 27,500 chips at present. -- MC

1.50pm: Buying into the legend
EPT Prague has been a testing ground for new talent. Arnaud Mattern for example, in season four, and who could forget Salvatore Bonavena in season five? Well, how about Elmar Dirnberger as a candidate for that role in season seven?

Hear me out.

Dirnberger, known to his close friends as The Wolf, cuts an imposing jib at the poker table. Black glasses, bandages around his wrists, and a cheroot jammed into the corner of his mouth. He's of the confident breed. He watches the cards being dealt like a dog might watch a child's train set going around in circles. Then, when opponents show their cards, he looks down on them with similar incredulity.

Elmar "The Wolf" Dirnberger

On a flop of T♥9♦K♦ he took a pot from the big Russian Maksim Kocheshkov. Then in the next hand he was one of six players to the 5♣J♦K♠ flop.

Dirnberger karate chopped the table, signalling his wish to check. Others did the same up to Adam Chalupnicek in seat six who bet 400; called by the button and Dirnberger in the small blind.

The turn came 5♠. This time Dirnberger, arms folded, bashed his right elbow against the table edge, again checking. Chalupnicek did the same, gently tapping the table with his fingertips, while the button checked simply by nodding.

The river card 8♦ changed all that. Dirnberger bet 1,125 which Chalupnicek called with some reluctance. The button passed leaving it to Dirnberger to show his 5♦9♥, good for the pot and a stack of 28,000.

He said something to the dealer in clipped English, and then said something else in clipped German. Dirnberger, excuse me, The Wolf, now up to 28,000. -- SB

1.40pm: All talk and no substance
Martin Kabrhel tried his best to get some information. With 10,000 on the pot and after the turn on a 8♦4♠A♠6♣ board, Kabhrel had bet 6,200 and Thomas Peterson called. Then, on the dangerous-looking 5♠ river, Peterson moved all-in for around 18,000. Kabrhel did not like it. Not one bit. He checked back on his cards, took his glasses off, straightened his back. Then he started to talk.

"You have it, right? Nice river. Must be nice." No answer from Peterson, a PokerStars player.
"I flopped it, but now I might have the second best hand. Where are you from?" Kabrhel asked.
"I am from Sweden. How about you?" replied Peterson, perhaps unwisely.
"Me? Oh, I am from here. Prague. Hmm, so you are from Sweden. I may have to think a little more. K♠Q♠, K♠[10s]?"

With that, Kabrhel open-mucked his 8♥8♣ for the flopped set. "One for me?" he said to Peterson, hoping the Swede would show his winning hand. He was disappointed. "Oh, so you are not my friend," said Kabrhel ruefully. He's back down to around 40,000. -- SY


Martin Kabrhel

1.25pm: Sustenance for Soulier
Fabrice Soulier has won just shy of $1m in live tournaments this year and even a min cash here in Prague would break him through that seven-figure mark. He has certainly set off in the right way.

I came to the action as Soulier made a 2,800 bet into the river of a T♦7♥5♥K♥7♣ board. His opponent, Kent Ove Rod, asked: 'You are so hungry?' before deciding that he was fairly peckish himself and making the call. Soulier showed A♥Q♥ for the nut flush and raked in the pot. Onwards and upwards for the Frenchman who is now sat on 35,000. -- RD

1.20pm: Three hands with Sorel Mizzi
Sorel Mizzi is a man on a mission. He's certainly come here to play and as he seems to be in every pot we thought we would follow him for three hands.

Hand one - Khanali Allahverdiyev raised from mid-position and was called by Mizzi in the hijack. Allahverdiyev continued on the flop and was called again. The board read 5♥6♠2♣Q♥ at the turn and Allahverdiyev fired again, for 1,500, and was called by the Canadian before both players checked the 6♦ river. Allahverdiyev tabled 3♥3♦ but lost out to Mizzi's T♠T♥.

Hand two - Mizzi raised to 300 from mid-position and took the blinds.

Hand three. - Mizzi raised and received two callers for a 4♦7♣J♣ flop. Mizzi c-bet for 1,050 and was only called by Cristiano Viali in the BB. The 8♣7♥ turn and river were checked down before Viali tabled J♥T♣ for two-pair. It was good for the pot as Mizzi mucked and the Canadian was left with 38,000. -- MC


Sorrel Mizzi

1.15pm: End of the level
Blinds have now gone up to 50-100.

1.14pm: Happy landings
As if to demonstrate that there's not need to concern yourself too much with early hands a player on table five played Flight Control on his iPad, and was up to 149, while Kevin MacPhee bet 1,650 on a flop of 2♠Q♠A♠.

IPad man wasn't in the hand but Vladimir Vorobiev was, calling for a turn card 7♣. MacPhee bet 1,750 before handing the dealer a tissue. She'd been sniffling and didn't want to jeopardize the cards, or anyone's health. MacPhee the gent, Vorobiev the caller, for a 6♦ river card.

MacPhee, eyes shielded by mirrored sunglasses - the appearance of a man who could have arrived here onboard a police motorcycle - announced a bet of 3,800. Too much for Vorobiev, who handed his cards to the dealer.

"Give the dealer a tissue," said MacPhee. "She'll give you a little love."

It worked for MacPhee who is up a little. Vorobiev is down a little as we approach the end of level one. - SB

1.10pm: Kabhrel running well
Martin Kabrhel, the local Czech pro, is sitting on more than 50,000 already. He took a big pot away from PokerStars qualifier Ankush Mandavia from the US, moving all-in on the river of a 9♣6♦5♠2♠Q♥ board, and then followed that by pushing another player off a hand, re-raising on the river of a [10d][10c]9♠K♣3♣ board. -- SY

1.05pm: Donev lets it go
Ivo Donev kicked this one off with a bet of 250, getting calls from Fernando Brito and one other. The flop was J♣4♠2♦ and Donev quickly made a continuation bet of 450. Only Brito called. On the 3♣ turn, Donev slowed down to a check. Had Brito been floating (calling in position with the intention of taking it down on the next street)? Well he bet now, a chunky 975, and that was enough to force a fold from Donev.

"A suck out?" Donev asked, more in hope than expectation of an answer. "A jack," replied Brito, who is currently leading the race for EPT Player of the Year Award. -- SY


Ivo Donev, left, and Fernando Brita

1.03pm: Early numbers
As an early indication of player numbers I would say we have a little over 200 players here for Day 1a. There are 25 nine-handed tables that are occupied with players with the final one some 20 metres from the stage that we have set ourselves up on.

I can see Matt Affleck, yes he of the moment of this year's WSOP, is sat front and centre of that table. The lad deserves a little luck so let's hope we're still scribbling about him in a few days. -- RD

1pm: Martin versus Martinoli
Bejewelled baseball hat, white chunky head phones and a hoodie: Martin Jacobson can account for all these and is also an uber-aggressive player to make up the necessary components needed to be a young Scandi pro. Yan Martinoli just felt the full force of this aggressiveness to drop to 22,000 chips.

The action had reached the T♠A♦6♥ flop where Jacobson's bet was raised to 2,800 by Martinoli. The Swede's response was to re-raise to 6,200 causing Martinoli to dwell before calling. The turn came 8♦ and Jacobson turned the pressure up to 11 with a 31,500 bet - effectively an all-in bet. Martinoli dwelled once more but didn't have the goods to call for his tournament life and folded. -- MC

12.51pm: Flashy Falaschi
Bless those Italians and their self promoting ways. In the early stages of a tournament, when player ID cards are yet to be introduced and the field is still awash with swathes of players that are gracing the EPT field of battle for the first time, those southern Europeans really help us out. Approximately one-in-three Italian players here seem to have their name stitched into or onto their clothing somewhere. One such latin is Luca Falaschi (it's splashed across his back next to a heart-shaped Italian flag) and he's running hot in these early skirmishes.

'You going to get all your monsters today?' asked one of his tablemates after Falaschi showed down his second set of the day.

'I hope tomorrow [Day 2] is the same. It is not easy,' replied Falaschi knowing all too well that hitting big hands at the 50-100 level is for naught if you lose the flips at the 3,000-6,000 level. Falaschi has cashed three times in the EPT with 33rd, 34th and 83rd place finishes for a total of $50,660. A run of monster hands later on in any one of those tournaments could have seen that total multiplied many times over. -- RD

12.40pm: Nothing to it
Minutes into level one what real benefit is there to winning a pot? Well sometimes hardly nothing. At such an early stage, and with blinds so low, hands are taken down with only a modicum of action. And big pots? They're few and far between.

But scooping a pot, albeit one full of green chips worth just 25, isn't a bad thing, particularly if you're playing your first EPT. A small pile of treasure can be a vital confidence boost while proving to the others that you're not here to mess about, by god, you're here to win. Or something.

The flip side of that is more inconvenience that drastic disadvantage, as Martin Kabrehl just found out. He lost a small pot on a board of 4♣5♣Q♥J♠ to Andreas Chalkiadakis. A good start for one and a poor start for another? Hardly. -- SB

ept prague_day 1a_hotel exterior.jpg

The Hilton, Prague: Stare too long and you will lose your sight

12.30pm: Pros feeling and applying pressure
Jeff Sarwer and Martin Kabrhel both have fond memories of this tournament. Sarwer made his first EPT cash (54th for €7,000) here two seasons ago before going on to be the stalwart that he now is, and Kabrhel took down the €2,000 NLHE side event here last season (the second of three side event titles in-a-row) for a cool €100,000.

It's the latter who has made the best start here today. He's always a player to pressurise opponents right from the off and we saw this just now. He was sat in the small blind and three-bet an early position raise. His opponent called to see the J♥7♠5♣ board where he min-raised Kabrhel's 1,800 c-bet. Kabrhel called before leading out for 2,875 on the A♥ turn. It was too much heat for his opponent to handle and he folded.

Sarwer meanwhile had made it to the river in a heads-up hand. He was also in the small blind and the board read 2♠J♥8♠9♥3♥. He checked to face a 5,500 bet (8.5k in the middle) and he gave it al lot of thought before sliding his cards into the muck. -- MC

12.15pm: And we're off
Thomas Kremser has announced shuffle up and deal. Day 1A in Prague is under way. Kremser surprised us by announcing we would play nine levels today, and have a one-hour dinner break. With breaks every second level, that means one thing... another very long day. -- SY

12.05pm: Filling in forms
Most of the players have made it to their seats and are busy filling in their release forms (permitting oiks like us to use their photos and video them). -- SY

11.45am: Back in Prague for a cabbage poker diet
It seems like only yesterday that we said adios to the warm sunshine of Barcelona. Today we woke up in the frozen land of the Czech Republic in Central Europe, a place awash with snow but warmed by a seemingly endless display of beautiful women.

If that was not wonder enough, a walk around Prague will unravel architectural delights, Christmas markets, and so many restaurants and bars that a hungry/thirsty blogging team would be spoiled for choice. As it was, we settled on a 'local cuisine' joint last night, and all had far too much cabbage than was probably good for us (red and white cabbage, no less).

We're back in Prague for the EPT, the sixth stop of Season 7. It's here that we've had some of our best tournaments. Who can forget the brilliant Arnaud Mattern win in Season 4, or Salvatore Bonavena's run in Season 5? And then last season it was local lad Jan Skampa who walked off with the title and €682,000.

Today is Day 1A and Team PokerStars Pros Mattern and Bonavena are back at the felt. Play is due to begin at noon. Of course it won't. It never does. It'll probably be around 12.15pm once Thomas Kremser has done the formalities.

Keep hitting that F5 refresh button, folks. -- SY


Jan Skampa

PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of cabbage eaten last night): Rick Dacey (bowfuls), Simon Young (a lot of the white stuff), Stephen Bartley (a smidgen) and Marc Convey (failed to come out for dinner)

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in European Poker Tour