EPT Prague: Day 1A, level 7, 8 & 9 (blinds 500-1,000, ante 100)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg11.25pm: A cold end to the night
Normally this is where we write that last three hands passed without incident and the wrap will be with you shortly as will the official over night counts. Not tonight.

The wrap and chip counts will be up shortly but there was an incident to report from the last hand of the night on table five. Dermot Blain raised to 2,700 from under-the-gun and it looked as if all were going to fold and they did until the action reached Vitaly Lunkin in the big blind who three-bet to 10,000. Blain responded by four-betting to 23,000 and Lunkin moved all-in. Blain seemed a little shocked and double checked his cards before making the call. Cooler alert:

Lunkin: K♦K♣
Blain: A♠A♦

The board ran a bricky 5♣T♦J♥6♥2♥ to bust Lunkin and send Blain up to 153,800. What an end to the night! -- MC

11.20pm: Oh dear
Jon Weekes opened from middle position to 2,500 and was called by Oskar Ojaveer before Dominik Nitsche three-bet to 8,200 from the cut-off. Ronan Monfort appeared to wake up with a hand and cold four-bet from the big blind to 17,200. The action folded back to Nitsche who moved all-in putting Monfort to the test for his remaining 30,000.

This didn't seem to be the reaction Monfort was after and after having time called on him he passed. Nitsche showed K♦K♣. -- RD

11.12pm: Three more hands
The clock has been stopped with 9 minutes and 14 seconds of the level remaining. Rather than playing the rest, we'll be playing just three more hands at each table and then we're done for the night. -- SY

11.10pm: Maceiras out
Maria Maceiras was down to just 3,000. "I don't want to have to come back tomorrow with this," she said. On the next hand, she moved all-in from under the gun. Martin Kabhrel then raised it up to 7,000 before Nicolas Babel re-popped to 19,000. Kabhrel did not like the look of that and got out of the way.

Babel: A♠J♥
Maceiras: K♠4♣

The board ran a dry 5♦8♣Q♣3♥Q♥, and Maceiras was out of the door. -- SY

11.02pm: Cruise control
It's the last level of the day and PokerStars qualifier Kevin MacPhee has kicked into "cruise control". He spent almost all of the day taking notes on every hand he played in an attempt to help him get his first cash of the season but now he's supping a cold beer.

He lost a pot to Dermot Blain before convincing the Irishman to join him. MacPhee raised from late position and called when Blain three-bet him from the small blind. Blain led for 7,500 on the J♥2♥Q♣ flop and took the pot as MacPhee folded.

"Peace of mind?" asked MacPhee hoping Blain would show him his holding before folding. He didn't get his request.

"If I wasn't drinking I'd have four-bet you there" added MacPhee. "I had tens. I'm in cruise control though. That's what's the beer is for - to stop me running any stupid bluffs" he continued.

Blain didn't need anymore convincing on the merits of "cruise control" and promptly called over a waitress and ordered two more beers for him and MacPhee. The Blog team is very jealous. "Waitress!" -- MC

10.59pm: Lull in the action
Is fatigue kicking in or is there just a strange synchronicity across all the tables that has conspired to create plenty of raise folds? -- RD

10.46pm: Nice hit for Neuville
Pierre Neuville has just doubled through to 57,000 after turning the nuts. Neuville opened the pot from the middle position to 2,600 and was called by the button, Thomas Finneran. Neuville fired 3,600 at the Q♥4♥2♠ flop, which was called, before checking the 6♥ turn. Finneran shot 5,000 at the pot and Neuville check-raised to 11,200. The Irishman shrugged and put the Belgian all-in for another 10,000 and Neuville insta-called with A♥K♥ leaving Finneran drawing dead with A♦Q♦. Finneran was left was just 13,000. -- RD

10.40pm: Enough to show down
Dominik Nitsche is up to 87,000 after betting a draw but winning with a pair. He raised to 2,100 from the button and was called by Matt Widdoes in the BB to see the 4♦K♥5♦ flop. Here he check-called a 2,700 Nitsche c-bet and did the same for 6,400 on the T♥ turn. The river came J♣ and both players checked. Nitsche tabled J♦6♦ for a rivered pair of jacks and it was good for the pot as The American folded. -- MC

10.30pm: First past 200,000
Nicolas Babel is the first to reach the 200,000 mark. The Frenchman has been rising consistently and just won another pot, this time against Oleksandr Vaserfirer to hit the landmark. The flop was 3♦4♦5♥ and Babel check-called Vaserfirer's 9,500 bet. On the Q♣ turn Babel came to life and made it 19,500, too much for Vaserfirer who got out of the way. Vaserfirer is on around 80,000. -- SY

10.20pm: Affleck back to average
The players are back in for the last level of the day, but let's wind things back a second. In the last hand before the break big stack Fabrice Soulier opened under the gun to 1,800 and was called by Jeremy Nock in late position before Matt Affleck three-bet to 5,000 from the button. Soulier called, Nock passed.

Both players checked the A♠7♥2♣ flop but a 6,000 bet from Affleck on the J♦ turn was enough to win the pot. Affleck is up to 51,000, just under average. Soulier is still flying high on 128,000. -- RD

10.08pm: Level up
That's the end of level 8. There's a 15-minute break and then we'll begin the last level of the day. -- SY

10.07pm: Kabrhel's Big Bang Theory
Maria Maceiras just made an astute observation: Martin Kabrhel looks like Sheldon Cooper, geeky star of the Big Bang Theory. A quick check of images on Google confirms there is a passing resemblance.

At any rate, Kabrhel continues to stack chips. He faced a raise from the button and then moved all-in from the big blind, more or less talking his opponent into a fold. Kabhrel over 55,000. -- SY

10pm: A death has occurred
There is no point naming a table "table of death" if no blood was spilled and there has been blood. It came from the most dangerous seat, naturally, but it was tainted with a touch of misfortune.

Mihai Manole had all the dangerous players to his left and got the last of his chips in with ace-queen versus Kevin MacPhee's ace-ten and was looking good for the double-up after the [a][k][2] flop came down. The turn changed that though as it paired the board meaning the pot would be chopped if a blank fell on the river. Somehow MacPhee found a ten though to snatch the lot and a bloody Romanian scalp to move up to 86,000. -- MC

9.50pm: A table to avoid
A new table of death has emerged after players whose tables had broken were redistributed around the room. Sharing the felt on one table next to the wall is EPT Berlin winner Kevin MacPhee, APPT Macau winner Dermot Blain, current EPT Player of the Year leader Fernando Brito, double WSOP bracelet winner Vitaly Lunkin and Mihai Manole, who has more than $1.5million in tournament winnings.

That's quite a collection. Right now they're all doing quite nicely as well:

Blain, 110,000
Lunkin, 60,000
Brito, 57,000
MacPhee, 53,000
Manole, 20,000

Brito just raised to 1,600 and got a call from MacPhee before both checked down the 8♥4♣2♦3♥2♠ board. A-Q for Brito, a pip ahead of MacPhee's A-J. -- SY

9.45pm: Johnny Lodden
In part one of a revealing interview Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden talks about how he started out in poker, how he built up his bankroll and how he found himself playing in the biggest games online.

9.42pm: Free rolling
Martin Kabrhel is down to 84,000 after doubling-up Ionel Anton. There was some talk between the two as if this is the second time he's doubled him up recently and Maria Maceiras wasn't too happy about and said she was thinking about calling the floor.

Kabrhel raised to 1,550 from under-the-gun before Anton moved in for 17,350. "Ah come on my friend. Oh wait, I have 50% of you, right? So it doesn't matter if I give you my chips" said Kabrel before calling.

Kabrhel: A♣T♣
Anton: A♥A♦

The board ran 3♠8♥9♥2♣5♠ to see the aces hold. There was no floor called as it was realised by all that the comments were tongue in cheek. -- MC

9.35pm: Felix rising
Fabrice Soulier has been flying, not just today but of late. In a little more than 52 weeks he has won side events at the Five Diamond at Bellagio, then at the EPT Grand Final, and earlier this year he finished third in the Partouche Grand Final.

Things are going largely to plan in Prague, although to see Soulier is to see a man rueing a bad hand against Felix Bleiker.

On a flop of 2♥7♦9♦ Soulier bet 6,125 from the cut off which Bleiker then raised to 20,425. Soulier, on Bleiker's immediate right, looked at Bleiker, not a foot away, who stared intently at the board. All Soulier could see was the side of his head, but he looked anyway, then called.

The turn came 9♣ which both checked for a Q♥ river card. Soulier sent in a bet of 8,500 which Bleiker called.

"You got me," said Soulier, and Bleiker had. The Frenchman turned over J♦8♦ to Bleiker's A♣5♥. Soulier winced as he saw his opponent's hand. "Dammit," he said in whispered rage. He dropped down to 126,000 while Bleiker moved up to 84,000. - SB

9.28pm: Weekes rakes in another one
Jon Weekes made the final table of EPT Tallinn, the first stop of this season. If he carries on at this rate he stands a great chance of making his second. Oskar Ojaveer has just shipped a chunk of chips to him for the second time that I've seen since the dinner break.

A middle position raise to 2,000 was called by Jon Weekes on the button and by both blinds (Ojaveer on the big blind). The action checked all the way round on the 2♦J♣A♥ flop before Ojaveer bet 3,800 into the 3♣ turn. Weekes decided to raise and tossed in two yellow 5,000 chips and Ojaveer made the call. Neither player seemed thrilled by the Q♥ and the action was checked down.

Ojaveer showed A♠5♠ for top pair and a missed gutshot but Weekes took the pot with A♣9♣ for top pair with a better kicker (and missed nut flush draw). That pot takes Weekes up to around 60,000. -- RD

ept prague_day 1a_jon weekes.jpg

Jon Weekes is looking for another deep run in the EPT

9.17pm: Still defending
Jan Skampa is still in and so far he's doing more than a 50% better than average job at defending the title he won just 12 months ago. The average stack at present is 47,000 and he just took a pot off Marvin Rettenmaier to move to 62,000.

The action folded around to the German in the small blind and he saw his raise called by Skampa in the big blind. The flop came 5♥9♠6♥ and Rettenmaier's 1,825 c-bet was called by the local player to see the 3♥ turn. Rettenmaier check-called a 3,800 Skampa bet to see the A♠ river appear on the river. Both players checked and Skampa revealed J♦9♦ for the pot as Rettenmaier folded. -- MC

9.07pm: Tureniec knocked out
Michael Tureniec has just been knocked out by Jozef Hancin Hentz in a late position tussle. Tureniec opened from the cut-off and was three-bet to 3,400 from the button by Hentz. The Swede answered by four-betting to 7,000 and then decided to play for his entire stack, which looked to be a little over 20,000, when he was five-bet to 17,000.

Tureniec no doubt hoped to be against a hand like ace-king at this point and not the pocket aces that Hentz turned over. The ace-high flop left Tureniec drawing super thin as the board ran A♦7♦Q♥T♠J♠ to knock the high stakes player out. -- RD

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 400-800, ante 75

9pm: Sheer Kabrhel
The thought of playing Martin Kabrhel must be an uncomfortable one. To begin with there are the black glasses, emerging from behind his stack only to do business. Then there's the stack, currently measuring 80,000, which is having the knock on effect of making him chatty. His confidence is on show, born out of a strong of side event successes last year that almost took him into Player of the Year contention.

So this is who Andreas Chalkiadakis was looking at when the flop came K♦8♣6♠.
Kabrhel had bet 1,200, peeling off chips from his stack and sliding them forward, a red chip, topped by two black chips which were aligned slightly off centre. Somehow it added menace.

Not that Chalkiadakis cared. He raised, making it 3,225 total which Kabrhel called for a 9♣ turn card. Both players checked it for a K♥ river. Then they checked that too.

Chalkiadakis showed A♣2♦ but Kabrhel had that pipped with A♦6♦. A few words, accompanied by a grin, suggested Kabrhel was in charge all the way. Will it be main, not side event success for the Czech this year? - SB

8.55pm: Massage the woes away
Sorel Mizzi is at a new table getting a massage while fiddling with his I-Pad. It's a pretty picture but it's not a tournament table. A short while ago he was still in the tournament, so something was up. He explained to us how he was eliminated.

He raised to 1,400 from under-the-gun plus one with Q♠J♠ then called when an opponent three-bet to 3,200. The flop came down [8][9][4] with two spades and the aggressor c-bet for 4,000. Sorel check-raised up to 11,000 and was quickly called.

The turn came an off spade ace and Mizzi shoved for his last 14,000. This time his opponent tanked before he called with ace-king. The river was a brick and Mizzi had to settle for a massage. -- MC

8.52pm: Vaserfirer firing
Oleksandr Vaserfirer and Fabrice Soulier are two more men past the 100,000 mark. Vaserfirer, who final tabled EPT Warsaw last season, is up to 116,000, while Soulier has 106,000. -- SY

8.49pm: Sarwer out
After losing most of his stack against Guillaume Darcourt in the hand described at 8.40pm below, Jeff Sarwer is now out. Losing to the same man. This time the pair got in a pre-flop raising war and all of Sarwer's remaining 20,000 got in the middle:

Sarwer: A♣J♣
Darcourt: Q♦Q♣

Sarwer was in big trouble, the first card on the flop was a handy A♥ but the other two were Q♠ followed by 9♠. The 4♠ turn and 2♥ river failed to help, and Sarwer is no more. Darcourt, meanwhile, is now up to 139,000. -- SY


Jeff Sarwer

8.45pm: Neuville short-stacking
Friend of PokerStars Pierre Neuville is up to 18,000 in his struggle to get back in the thick of things. He open-raised to 1,500 and got one call to see a 9♥3♥2♦ flop. Neuville then fired out a 2,125 continuation bet, and that was good for the pot. -- SY


Pierre Neuville

8.44pm: Not for Nitsche
Dominik Nitsche doesn't tend to waste much time folding, presumably because he's already thought about what he's going to do should his opponent take a certain action. Or perhaps he's just impetuous. Either way he just passed to a second barrel on a A♥8♣9♠A♣ board. Nitsche is still chipping along on some 60,000. -- RD

8.40pm: Guillaume got there, again
Marcin Horecki found out to his cost earlier what Guillaume Darcourt is capable of calling with and Jeff Sarwer has just tasted some of the same medicine. Much to his frustration I might add.

We got there at the river when the board read A♣5♠T♥K♠T♣ but there was a story to tell up to this point. By all accounts Darcourt raised from the button and called when Sarwer three-bet from the big blind. Sarwer led the flop before check-calling to a bet from the Frenchman. Sarwer checked again on the river and called when faced with a 13,500 bet whilst saying "I hope you didn't river me".

He had been though as Darcourt tabled rivered trips with his J♠T♠. Sarwer tabled A♥K♥ for a turned two-pair and vented his frustration some more. That left him with 20,000 to Darcourt's mammoth 120,000. -- MC

8.38pm: Kings full
Jon Weekes is up to 44,000 after getting a nice 3,000 value bet called on the river of a A♠A♦T♥8♣K♠ board. Oskar Ojaveer who was left with close to 80,000 at the end of the hand, was the player to pay him off. -- RD

8.35pm: Oleksandr on Vaserfirer
Evgenii Aleksandrov's tournament just came to an end thanks to the might of Oleksandr Vasifirer.

After Peter Podsedly bet 6,500 on a flop of 6♣A♣8♦ Aleksandrov moved all-in for around 21,000, counted after Vasifirer, acting after Piero Mormina folded his hand with contempt, asked for confirmation. The Ukrainian then moved all-in himself, easily covering Aleksandrov with a stack weighty enough to force Podsedly to fold.

Oleksandr Vaserfirer

Vaserfirer turned over 6♦6♥ against Aleksandrov's 4♣5♣. There were no further clubs on the A♠ turn and 3♠ river. Aleksandrov was out while Vaserfirer moves up to a stack of 105,000. - SB

8.30pm: Random quote overheard
"He's a good player, you're not. Stop giving me advice." - SB

8.25pm: French river tales
Nicolas Levi and Fabrice Soulier are on tables next to each other and both made river bets into opponents at almost exactly the same time. Both won their respective pots as one opponent called with the worst hand and one folded.

Soulier will undoubtedly be the happier of the two. His board read J♠6♣J♦6♠4♠ and he bet 5,600 from under-the-gun. His big blinded opponent made the call but mucked upon seeing Soulier's A♣J♣ for a full house. That pot has helped him to a dizzy 110,00 in chips.

Meanwhile Levi was betting 5,000 on the river of a 7♥3♠Q♥T♥9♠ board. His opponent dwelled and folded. That put Levi up to 22,000 from a low of 7,000. He's still keeping up the hopes of a victory though. -- MC

8.15pm: Kipnis gains more ground
Sitting on Marcin Horecki and Jeff Sarwer's table is Denis Kipnis, a quiet Russian PokerStars qualifier who has got together a stack of around 75,000. As I walked up he was involved in yet another pot, seeing a 7♠A♠7♦ flop with Guillaume Darcourt. Kipnis wasted no time betting 1,500 at that, causing Darcourt to fold.

Kipnis, perhaps aware that he has been active, showed A♥K♠ in a "Look, I had it" fashion. -- SY

8pm: Back from break
The players, including last year's winner jan Skampa, are back in their seats and the cards are in the air (well, the dealers are shuffling anyway).

ept prague_day 1a_jan skampa.jpg

Last year's champ Jan Skampa here at this year's EPT Prague

PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT Prague (in order of dinner fanciness): Stephen Bartley (swanky restaurant with Big Deal author Anthony Holden), Rick Dacey (Chicken Ceaser salad in his hotel room), Marc Convey (chicken soup in the bar) and Simon Young (JoJo gummy bear sweets on the tournament floor). Photos by Neil Stoddart.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour