EPT Prague: Day 1B, level 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)
1.15pm: End of the level
Players are taking the first break of the day.
1.14pm: Sointula and Lykov in action
A flop of 4♠A♥K♠. Jani Sointula flicked back his long blond hair and was ready to play. Opposite him sat Max Lykov, riffling his chips in a regular motion. He was ready too and checked, as did Steven Devlin, also in the hand. When the action reached Sointula he bet 800.
Lykov then raised in the small blind to 2,000, forcing out Devlin and Sointula called for a 3♠ turn card.
Lykov sat riffling, in a way that the dealer thought meant check. When he turned to Sointula he asked Lykov if he'd checked which the dealer took to mean he'd checked also and was moments away from revealing the river. Luckily he was stopped just in time. I say lucky. Both players checked anyway.
The river came 5♣. Lykov bet 3,125 this time and it was Sointula's turn to riffle his chips, hidden somewhere behind his big arms. He called, showing 8♠9♠ to Lykov's A♦K♦. He's up to 46,000 now while Lykov slips to 36,000. - SB
1.11pm: Pantaleo piling them up
Giuseppe Pantaleo finished fifth for €170,000 at the recent EPT Barcelona. He built up a big stack and for some time looked like the likely winner. Although events conspired against him the German did show himself to be a fearless player and not afraid to get his chips in the middle. For that reason it comes as little surprise to find that he already has 70,000 in his growing stack.
Our German language PokerStars blogger has informed us that he built up this stack in a series of three hands. He didn't stack anyone but did bite large chunks out of his tablemates. Here's how one of them played out.
Following a middle position raise to 300 and call, the button, Andreas Bauer, squeezed to 1,100. Pantaleo, who had found A♦A♠ in the big blind, four-bet to 2,900. Bauer made the call. Pantaleo flopped the nuts with A♣T♦4♦ and duly fired 3,800. Bauer called. Pantaleo checked the Q♠ turn allowing Bauer to thrust 9,500 into the pot. Pantaleo shoved all-in and scooped the 33,500 pot. Must be nice. -- RD
1.57pm: Sal Bon
Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena won this event two years ago for €774,000 and since then he's come come close to three significant victories this year alone; 11th at the EPT Grand Final, fourth in a WSOP event and third at PokerStars IPT Nova Gorica.
Sal Bon, as we like to call him, opened the last pot for 400 and found customers in Tobias Pickhard (cut-off) and Mikhail Petrov (big blind) but swiftly left the field of battle when Pickhard bet 800 into the J♠A♣9♦ flop. Petrov called and was the only player to put more chips into the pot with a 1,025 lead on the 3♥ river. The 8♠ turn had been checked. As Sal Bon knows, you can't win them all... -- RD
1.52pm: Two streets in Value Town
Another EPT season seven winner has joined table Lodden/Luske and it's the most recent too. Kent Lundmark took down EPT Barcelona two weeks ago and he's just taken a pot off Johnny Lodden.
He opened to 450 from the cut-off and Lodden defended to see the J♦6♥7♦ flop where he check-called a c-bet. Both Scandies checked the A♥ turn before Lodden check-called a 2,400 bet on the 3♠ river. Lundmark tabled K♦J♠ for the pot as Lodden mucked. -- MC
1.48pm: Cleanliness and virtues
An update on the spilled drink situation. The issue was taken care of during a hand between Kevin Stani, Johnny Lodden and the victim of this mess Marcel Luske.
While Stani and Lodden limped, Luske bet 450 pre-flop which the others called for a flop of 6♥9♣J♣. The action was checked to Luske who bet another 1,100 as a lady with a big sponge arrived to work on the floor. Stani passed while Lodden called for a 8♣ on the turn.
Both players checked for a T♦ river card. The mess now cleared Luske seemed suddenly liberated and when Lodden bet 675 he unleashed a raise to 2,100. Lodden thought and called, mucking when Luske showed A♥Q♣. - SB
1.45pm: Artur Wasek and the horse
Wasek, the man mountain from Poland who, quite frankly, terrifies the hell out of us, has an amusing habit of letting out a sort of horse noise when under stress. We first heard it in London, where he final tabled the EPT, and he's just given me his first horse impression of the day.
On a J♥5♣Q♣ board, Wasek bet 1,500 but Friedrich Raz, who had been the aggressor pre-flop, then re-raised to 4,500. Wasek folded A♣Q♠ face-up, letting out the horse noise as he did so.
Giddy-up! -- SY
1.40pm: Showing the bluff
Roger Hairabedian, who final tabled EPT Monte Carlo last season, is sitting on the same table as Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree and PokerStars player Laurence Houghton.
This hand was a little odd... The player under the gun limped and five of them called before the small blind woke up and raised to 850. One of the limpers called before Hairabedian fired out 5,100. Everyone got out of the way and the Frenchman turned over Q♦9♣ proudly for complete air. -- SY
1.37pm: Scarf is on
Salvatore Bonavena now has his bright blue scarf wrapped firmly around his neck. He just needs to put his trilby hat on and Team PokerStars Blog will be happy. -- SY
1.35pm: Nacho in the house
Jose 'Nacho' Barbero is playing today, and the Team PokerStars Pro from Argentina is already down to 24,000 - not that he'll let that worry him. On this one the board was Q♦8♣6♣Q♣ and his opponent, former EPT winner Christophe Benzimra had bet 2,100 into a pot of nearly 5,000. Barbero, the serial LAPT winner, thought for a good while before letting it go. -- SY
1.32pm: A sober thought
Peter Hedlund is one chatty fella. In fact, he seems to spend more time talking than not. And he's sober... for the moment.
'It goes better when I have a beer in my hand,' explained Hedlund. 'I'm giving you an advantage by playing sober. I think it is a mistake.'
Now there's some justification to get on it early doors. How long will it be until... I've just glanced up and seen Peter on his feet with a beer in his hand. Applause. -- RD
1.30pm: Who you calling fish?
Pierre Fehner limped from under-the-gun, as did the player next to him. Johnny Lodden was waiting to act and raised to 825 in late position which both limpers called for a T♥3♥Q♠ flop.
All three players checked that for a J♦ turn card. Again, the limpers checked to Lodden who bet 1,550. Fehner called while the other limper passed before the J♣ river card. More checking from both players. Lodden turned over 9♦7♦ but was resigned to losing before Fehner showed his K♥Q♥.
"Fish," yelled someone. It was Bruno Fitoussi. He wasn't talking to Lodden, he was aiming the (good-natured) remark at Surinder Sunar who was filling out his waiver form. But Lodden looked anyway. - SB
1.22pm: After the crash
The board read A♠Q♠T♥3♥8♠, Kevin Stani had bet 1,625 and Marcel Luske was next to act. Suddenly there was an enormous crash, the sound of a metal side table scraping across the floor and a coffee cup smashing into several pieces. The coffee that was in it made no noise but flooded the immediate area and the splash-back made its way onto Luske's sleeve and onto the table.
The culprit, who'd just barrelled his way through this rat run, was long gone before Luske had time to even lob a card protector at him. Luske composed himself, dabbed at his sleeve, and the table, with a tissue to soak up the damage. Good job it was a brown suit. He folded, showing Stani the A♦. - SB
1.15pm: Whipping up a storm
Dragan Galic was voted European Player of the Year in 2009 and he didn't get the award by playing small-ball poker. He's been up to his usual antics again today. He and two players made it to the turn with 3,000 in the middle. The big blind checked as did Galic from under-the-gun before a player in early position bet 2,700. The board read K♥9♦2♣8♠ and Galic liked it enough to raise to 20,000 after the BB folded. The players in early position tanked so long Galic called the clock on him which prompted him to fold. "I had a good hand" added Galic. -- MC
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150
1.11pm: Roy of the Rovers
Alain Roy is one of those players that were often see in and around the money having cashed in three EPT main events over the last three years. The Frenchman has picked up a couple of small pots already the last of which was from defending his big blind and hitting a K♣A♥4♣ flop. It's all small pot poker at the moment but slowly on the incline for Roy.
John Eames who is at the same table just a few seats round is on decline, albeit only slightly. The Brit opened for 250 under the gun and was called Hicham Aouraghe on the button and Roy in the small blind. Aouraghe bet the K♣A♠K♥9♣ turn for 325 and the J♣ river for 1,250. Eames called the turn but looked skywards at the rover bet before passing. It's all fairly harmless stuff at the moment but the blinds will be going up imminently. -- RD
1pm: Aggression pays
Philipp Legath just found out that's it's scary to mess with Theo Jorgensen. These two and one other player saw a A♣A♠5♣ flop. Jorgensen was in the big blind and led for 1,500 to face a raise to 4,300 by Legath. The third party folded before Jorgensen re-raised to 12,300. Legath had the look of a school child being lectured and slid his hand into the muck giving up another hand to the Dane.. -- MC
12.57pm: Cannot Stani the heat
Kevin Stani is getting the better of Team PokerStars Pro Marcel Luske right now. He raised to 250 from the cut-off and Luske defended from the big blind to see the 8♠8♦J♦ flop where the action went check-check. The turn came 3♣ and Luske led for 300. Call. The river fell as Q♣ and once more Luske led for 300 only for Stani to raise to 1,150. Luske quickly open folded K♣J♥.
A few moments later when walking back via the table I noticed Luske leading out on the river only to be raised off another pot by Stani. Stani working well despite his difficult seat. -- MC
12.55pm: Standing out in the crowd
Despite a near capacity field there's not much noise filling the tournament room in this first level. This early stage is more of an orientation exercise; who is sitting where, and any pots that come along tend to be of the mild kind rather than much full on activity. Like paddling along the shoreline getting feet wet before you dive into the surf a little later on.
Those players that stand out do so not for actions but for their clothes. Alfonso Amendola is here once more, bedecked in the outfit of an extra in Bonanza, while Mark Gork, who once played a final table while reading a book of German poetry (not out loud we should point out), wears a baseball cap with the word "Captain" written across it, above three gold stars.
The rest, well they're a mixture of students in Sunday clothes and middle aged men in Sunday clothes. Casey Kastle, dressed in a loose t-shirt performs calisthenics, to improve his grace of movement, away from his table. Then there's the beacon of standards Marcel Luske and that beacon of throwing caution to the wind, Peter Hedlund.
It's a potent mix and one that will be more significant as the day goes on, certainly more significant than the pot Theo Jorgensen just won against Philipp Legath worth 450, after the Team PokerStars Pro made a small bet on the 3♠3♥Q♣ flop.
All to play for! - SB
12.53pm: Eiler straight into the action
Some players like to sit back in the early levels, others do not. One player that seems to like splashing around from the get-go is EPT Vienna winner Michael Eiler. Button? Tick. Heads-up? Tick. Dry flop and turn? Tick, tick. Four ticks is more than enough for a raise and Eiler takes a small 2,000 pot. Will he add to his €700,000 season seven score? -- RD
12.51pm: ElkY here
Team PokerStars Pro ElkY has now sat down at the table of death described below. -- SY
12.50pm: Fancy sitting here?
We always find an early table of death to drool over, but this one really does take the biscuit. As I walked up, sitting together were Manuel Bevand, Team PokerStars Pro Max Lykov, Steve 'allinstevie' Devlin from the UK, and Jani Sointula. Team PokerStars Pro ElkY is also meant to be at this table, but had yet to take his seat.
Just then, EPT Monte Carlo winner Nicolas Chouity arrived to claim one of the empty stacks. What a table!
In early action, Sointula raised to 275 and got calls from Bevand and Lykov. All three checked the Q♣5♠5♦ flop and the 8♠ turn. But on the K♣ river Sointula bet 500 and got a call from Bevand, who showed K♥J♣ for the win. -- SY
12.45pm: Sal Bon fashion report
The good news? Italian Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena has pitched up with his short-brimmed trilby hat AND his blue scarf. The bad news? He's not wearing either of them right now; each garment rests on his lap.
Come on, Sal Bon, put them on for the Blog Team! -- SY
12.40pm: Early Stani action
EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani, sharing a table with fellow Norwegian Johnny Lodden and Marcel Luske, fired out a 250 bet and got a call from the small blind. Both checked the 7♠9♠3♦ flop, but on the 7♦ turn the small blind check-called Stani's 275 bet. Both then checked the 4♣ river - and Stani's A♦8♦ was behind the small blind's A♣[10c]. -- SY
12.35pm: Pairs of Pros
EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani and Nicolo Calia, who also reached that final table, will be hoping to go deep here as well but they will have to navigate past tough seat draws.
Two seats to Stani's left is fellow Norwegian Johnny Lodden and one seat further along is another Team PokerStars Pro Marcel Luske. Calia has a similar problem to deal with as three to his left is Michael Keiner and fellow Team Pro Theo Jorgensen is one more seat further along. Good luck, guys. -- MC
12.25pm: All aboard!
Former train driver James Akenhead was one of the standout players of 2009 making WSOP and WSOPE final tables bagging almost $2m in the process. Although this year hasn't been so flush for him in the live arena, just $248,883, he's always a threat and that's bad news for Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira De Melo who is sat directly to his right. -- RD
12.15pm: Off we go
Cards are in the air, with the button starting in seat 4. That's a win for Marc Convey who bags €5 from each of us in the 'PokerStars Blog Team What Seat Will The Button Start In Sweepstake'. Boy, we know how to have a good time. -- SY
12.05pm: Raring to go
When did an EPT ever start on time? Certainly not today. We're a few minutes late but we look to be only minutes away from the start. Today they'll be nine one hour levels and a 75 minute break after the sixth. -- SB
Judging by the number of tables that have a dealer patiently waiting at them, the field today should be around 120 players bigger than yesterday, around 310. That will give us a total field of around 500. Not bad at all, although that does rely on the altogether unlikely scenario that my math is correct.
Players are beginning to take their seats. Expect to be under way in around 15 minutes. -- SY
11.15pm: Rinse and repeat
Yesterday 191 players paid up, sat down and played nine levels of poker. Well, at least 85 did, the other 106 were eliminated along the way after what was an uneventful but workmanlike day at the tables at the Prague Hilton.
Today, a new field will attempt the same, buoyed by the warmth inside as opposed to the new snow outside, and the prospect of what will today be a much bigger field.
It all takes place in front of us, or, if you can't be here, in the pages you're now reading. We'll have all the action, presented in the best possible way and you'll only have to excuse the odd bolding/italics/centring issue. But let he who is free from guilt cast the first message in the comments box below.
Play starts at 12 noon. -- SB
The Prague Hilton
PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of number of grey squirrels killed): Rick Dacey (two, they were eating wires in his roof), Simon Young (none, but his dog chases them), Stephen Bartley and Marc Convey (none, why would you kill a squirrel?)