EPT Prague: Day 1B, level 5 & 6 updates (blinds 200-400, ante 50)
6.45pm: Break time
I know a poker player in Las Vegas who when playing poker in a casino will wash his hands before using the bathroom, so concerned he is about the smorgasbord of germs that have travelled through his hands while riffling.
Elsewhere tournaments have been populated by players from Asia wearing facemasks making the rest of us wonder if there's been a small pox outbreak. Germs are everywhere and you can't avoid them.
One player might be trying though. Huseyin Erbay from the Czech Republic plays wearing white gloves, the kind of gloves that magicians use to make doves disappear. He just moved all-in and, magic or no magic, he's back up to 20,000, which he seemed pleased about. That takes him into the dinner break with a stack to return to.
Players are filing out for the dinner break at the end of level six. Play restarts at around 8pm local time. - SB
6.39pm: Must be nice to be Max
When you get two monsters with two relatively short stacks it's always going to go in. Thatr's just happened between Team PokerStars Pro Max Lykov and EPT Grand Final winner Nicolas Chouity. Lykov had Chouity covered, but not significantly, when it went in with Lykov's K♥K♦ to Chouity's A♥A♣. Lykov caught a set on the 7♣T♠K♠ flop and the outdraw was complete when the Russian turned quads with the final king in the deck. Chouity took it gracefully and the pair knuckle-bumped before he left the tournament floor.
Lykov is back up to his 30,000 starting stack. -- RD
6.32pm: Reinkemeier runs good
Tobias Reinkemeier is up to 155,000 after getting very lucky against Chaz Chattha. There was around 14,000 in the middle and the board read 8♥4♠9♥7♥ at the turn. Chattha led for 10,500 and Reinkemeier called after some thought. The river came an interesting looking 6♥ and the Brit checked to face an 18,000 bet from the German. Chattha shook his head and threw in the call. Reinkemeier tabled K♣T♥ for a straight flush. Chattha flashed the A♥ and looked to the skies. He's down to 17,000 now. -- MC
6.27pm: No push from Puchkov
Konstantin Puchkov finished third at EPT Barcelona just a couple of weeks ago and is cantering along nicely on 65,000. The Russian horse trainer just had to lay a hand down on a J♥4♥4♠9♥ board and didn't look thrilled to do so. -- RD
6.25pm: A Sevo salvo
Vlado Sevo, the man who bears more than a striking resemblance to the former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police John Stalker, just sent Bulgaria's Miroslav Krasimirov Rizov back to Bulgaria after an odd run of events.
Sevo opened for 1,050 and Rizov lobbed in 5,025 intending to call. Only the rules say that's a raise. Rizov conceded and play went on. Very quickly actually. Sevo then announced all-in and Rizov said call in response, moving all-in.
He showed Q♠Q♥ to Sevo's A♠T♣. But the board ran K♦8♦A♥A♦K♠ to send Rizov to the rail. - SB
6.15pm: Sweaty kings
Andreas Berggren from Sweden and Team PokerStars Pro Florian Langmann both got all in with pocket kings. Langmann had Berggren covered and was holding K♥, so a third heart on the 6♦3♥8♥7♥ board gave Berggren an uncomfortable sweat. The river was an uneventful Q♠ and they chopped.
Langmann has been going along nicely all day and is now up to 70,000. -- SY
6.10pm: From Barcelona to Prague
We've already mentioned how Guiseppe Pantaleo, who finished fifth in Barcelona last month for €170,000, is doing well today, up to around 120,000. Konstantin Puchkov, who finished third in Barcelona for €300,000, is also finding life fine and dandy here in Prague - he's on around 59,000. -- SY
6.08pm: Danniel Can't call
Danniel Can is cutting a very disgruntled figure at the moment, thanks largely to Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden. Lodden had raised an under-the-gun limp to 1,500 from the small blind and subsequently barrelled 2,700 and 7,075 into the 6♣J♣3♦3♥ board. Can, who had around 15,000 left on the turn, looked fairly pained and decided to pass. Lodden then flashed him his cards (unfortunately out of my line of sight) and Can didn't seem amused. -- RD
6.02pm: The power of positive thinking
We reported earlier how Praz Bansi has fared very badly in EPTs compared to his tournament record elsewhere. For a long time this played on his mind and he even
blamed joked I was his bok as I was ever-present throughout his misery.
Bansi is a man reborn thanks to wise words from 30-year pro Ben Roberts. Roberts told Bansi that any negative thoughts will attract negativity which as a poker you can't afford. Bansi claims to have done so in regards to his supposed EPT curse and is looking to be Mr. Positive. He was down to 14,000 but is on the right track and up to 25,000. -- MC
6pm: The Grounded Dutchman
Marcel Luske has departed to join Dario Minieri and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier on the rail. Actually, he went a few minutes before them.
On a flop of 9♦2♠6♥ Luske bet 1,100 which Kevin Stani raised to 2,700. Luske called for a 6♠ turn card and then checked. Stani bet again, 3,700 this time which Luske called for a J♠ river.
This time Luske led the betting, 4,000 to Stani who pushed all-in. Luske called for around 4,000 more, showing J♦9♥. But Stani had that beat, showing Q♠9♠ to send the Dutchman out. - SB
5.53pm: Still sparring
Team PokerStars Pro Theo Jorgensen has picked himself up off the canvas with the count at nine to keep his hopes of winning this bout alive. He was all-in with A♣J♥ versus an opponent holding 6♣6♥ and the board ran 7♥Q♦T♣8♠A♠. The Dane found the ace on the river to double-up to 10,000. -- MC
5.50pm: Team Pros in trouble
It's been a tough few minutes for Team PokerStars Pro. Dario Minieri fights on with whatever he can get his hands on, the krav maga form of poker, using everything, including the kitchen sink, against his opponents. While a table away Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, a space-aged man of sparkle and peroxide, betrays his immortality by chewing on his finger nails.
Minieri meanwhile is nothing but mortal and his failings are part of his appeal. Looking exhausted he moved in with his last 4,000, behind a bet of 900 by Brian Jensen.
"Bust me please," said Minieri, desperate. "I can't take any more."
Whether he believed him or not Jensen duly called, showing J♣Q♣ to Minieri's A♣T♠. For a second it looked good for the Italian, but the board A♠5♣T♦K♥2♠ sent him to the rail, disappointed and weary.
A few minutes later ElkY would follow him. After Matteo Taddia opened for 700 in the hijack, Lennart Holz raised to 2,050 before Grospellier moved all-in from the small blind for 4,625. Taddia folded while Holz called, showing K♥4♥ to ElkY's A♦K♣.
The board ran A♣5♥J♠4♦4♣ to send ElkY to the rail, and Holz up to 85,000. -- SB
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 200-400, ANTE 50
Frederik Jensen has just won a 14,000 pot from Marco Bognannni to jump up to 55,000. Jensen had opened from middle position picking up two callers before Bognannni squeezed to 2,525 from the button. Only Jensen called. The square-jawed Dane check-called 3,525 on the 5♣9♠8♠ flop before both players checked through to the 2♦Q♦ river. Bognannni had to show first but could only muster ace-high with A♣3♦. Jensen's pocket sixes were good to take the pot.
Jensen finished sixth in this season's EPT Vilamoura and runner-up at the Aussie Millions in January. -- RD
5.32pm: Word to the wise
Melanie Weisner was one of the many players making waves at EPT Barcelona who happened to not make the money. She's up to around 58,000 at the moment, a fair chunk above average, and certainly putting herself in a good position for another run at the cash. She just forced a fold from Antonio Battisti with a 4,450 bet on a J♥4♦9♣ flop from the button and is unlikely to sit back. -- RD
5.30pm: Rivermanl on the river
Laurence 'rivermanl' Houghton made a straight on the river against Dmitry Stelmak before picking up another nice pot on the next hand to send him up to 73,000.
The PokerStars player had bet then called a raise from Mikhall Shakhnovich to see a 2♠[10h]5♥ flop. Houghton check-called the Russian's 2,500 bet before both checked the 9♥ turn. On the 2♥ river Houghton again checked, then made a great call with 8♠8♦ when Shakhnovich bet 5,000 with Q♦J♦. -- SY
5.25pm: Wahlbeck gone
The seat once belonging to Team PokerStars Pro Ville Wahlbeck is now empty. That tells the sorry story of the man from Finland's demise from EPT Prague. Short-stacked, meanwhile, are Team PokerStars Pros Dario Minieri and ElkY, both on around 4,500. -- SY
5.20pm: Comeback kid
I was expecting to rejoin the tournament floor minus one John O'Shea but he was still in his seat. A quick glance at his stack highlighted something was a miss as he had a pile of chips in front of him. How could this be as he had just 500 ten minutes ago?
He now has over 11,000 after winning five hands in a row. He found kings the first hand and won the pot with top set versus a lower set. The next hand he doubled-up with ace-eight versus sixes and the one after with king-nine versus king-queen. Then he won a couple by stealing the blinds and antes.
"I have nearly 40 big blinds now and can actually play through the streets," joked O'Shea. -- MC
5.14pm: Keiner v Jorgensen?
Team PokerStars Pros Theo Jorgensen and Michael Keiner could be stepping into the ring at this rate. Keiner had just picked up the 800 button raise from Oskar Silow by shoving all-in for 9,425 while Jorgensen was talking about boxing.
'It took me three months just to learn the hitting,' said Jorgensen slowly demonstrating a solid left jab, shoulder close to chin. Jorgensen was, of course, discussing the training he undertook for the boxing match he had against fellow Dane Gus Hansen back in February 2009.
'How many brain cells are dying there?' asked Keiner. It was a comment which could be taken the wrong way so Keiner should be careful, Jorgensen won last year's bout
convincingly after all. -- RD
John O'Shea just had his aces cracked and is left with one purple chip worth 500. There was an early position limp before the Irishman raised to 1,175 from mid-position and Paul Knebel four-bet to 2,800 from the big blind. The limper folded but O'Shea called to see the J♣T♠9♦ flop.
Knebel led for 3,600 only to face a 24,375 all-in shove from O'Shea. Knebel tanked and then made the call all-in with Q♣Q♠. He was behind to his opponent's A♥A♠ but caught up and over took when the turn came 8♠ to make him a straight at the bottom end. To rub salt into the wound the river K♦ made a straight at the top end too. -- MC
4.55pm: The man Minieri
I didn't start off intending to write "A round with...", the pioneering what-shall-I-write-about-now? device first employed by Howard Swains during a quiet spell on the PokerStars Blog. I had intended to watch Dario Minieri, the Latin wonder, play only a few hands. He played ten of them. In a row.
It all followed Artur Wasek being crippled by the pocket tens of Peter Roche, a hand that left the big Pole with just 700 chips. Then Minieri got to work.
Minieri's process is a simple one. He waits in turn to look at his cards, using a unique hand guard, apparently, as one veteran has said, not used in a generation. While his left hand curves up the corner of the cards, his right hand makes a loop over the top, a peep-hole through which he can see the cards, confident no one else can. He follows that with a bet of 725.
During all this Friedrich Paul Raz sat opposite him in seat one, a man who would prove something of a nemesis to the young Italian. Twice Minieri's size, and with at least twice the chips, Raz called from the small blind for a flop of K♥T♦4♠. Both checked for a 6♣ turn card, Minieri taking the pot when he dropped 1,500 into the middle, forcing Raz out.
In the next hand, Minieri folded to a bet from Alessandro Gabriele in the small blind, then raised to 725 pre-flop in the hand after that. Wasek moved all-in and when Erst Mike Erstenyuk called along with Minieri, the two competed for the side pot, until Erstenyuk bet to force out Minieri. Wasek would depart, his Q♣4♥ topped by Q♦7♦. Minieri on around 10,000.
Hand four, another 725 from Minieri, under-the-gun now. Again Raz called in the cut off and would win the hand, betting on a board of A♣7♦4♥3♠7♣. Then hand five, Minieri limped this time, taking the pot with a bet on the flop of 9♦7♦T♣, forcing out Raz and the seat five plater. Minieri back up to 11,500.
Hand six, Minieri takes the pot having completed his small blind and betting on the flop of T♣5♣A♦. Next, Minieri peeks through the loop and re-raises Raz's bet of 600 to 1,700 for a flop of 9♠8♣K♦. Raz bet, Minieri called then both checked the 9♥ turn and T♣ river, Raz taking the pot, Jack-Ten to Jack-Six. Minieri down to 8,500.
Still with me? Hand eight and Minieri keeps plugging away, headphones on, head down, but another pot to Raz, a reminder that sometimes simple good cards will work. Hand nine, Novem, another 725 from Minieri in late position but a pot destined to go to Boris Kotleba when everyone folded to his bet on the turn. Minieri down to 8,000.
Then, on the tenth hand, Minieri rested. He'd finally looked down through that loop of his and found something he didn't like.
The several thousand lost in that little run may ultimately force the end of Minieri's EPT Prague. But while some might doubt the need for such performances, urging caution instead of relentless aggression, Minieri remains unrivalled when it comes to these magnificent Quixotic escapades. Forget winning, everyone should try busting out with such style. -- SB
4.46pm: And welcome back
After that short intermission, play is under way once more. Blinds are now 150-300 with a 25 ante, and 320 of today's 372 starters remain.
One of those is Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo, whose picture I just happen to have chosen completely at random. She's on around 40,000, by the way. -- SY
PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of insubordination today): Marc Convey, Rick Dacey, Stephen Bartley and Simon Young