EPT Prague: Level 21, 22 & 23 updates (blinds 12,000-24,000, 2,000 ante)

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4.20pm: End of level
It's a 15-minute break as we play down to the final table.

4.20pm: Bevand busts Hollink
Kevin Macphee is the sole standing former winner after Manuel Bevand eliminated Rob Hollink. Bevand had queens to Hollink's jacks and the board ran nine high. -- MC

4.19pm: Hollink also out
Rob Hollink also busted on the last hand of the level. Details to come.

4.18pm: Tothed out of the tournament
After losing that huge flip with nines to ace-king Richard Toth was forced to shove his button for around 250,000 with T♥8♠. Skripka called with A♦7♥ in the big blind. Toth hit the Q♠4♥8♥ flop and a 6♥ on the turn helped to cut out one of Skripka's ace outs (although he picked up a gutshot as well) but the A♣ on the river sent the Hungarian Team PokerStars Pro to the rail, so close to the final table. -- RD

4.13pm: Sanchez falls in 16th
Peter Skripka has added another 205,000 chips to his stack by eliminating Sergio Rodriguez Sanchez in 16th place. The Spaniard open shoved for 153,000 with 4♦2♦ and Skripka made the call with J♦J♥. The board ran J♣8♠A♦4♥5♥ to send the Spaniard packing and increasing Skripka'a stack. -- MC

4.05pm: Toth nearly Toast
Emilliano just scored a dramatic double up to move past the million mark, to the great cost of Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth.

Bono moved all-in for 600,000 which Toth went on to call. He showed 9♥9♠ and after a short pause for effect Bono turned over A♠K♦ before placing a black tissue on his head.

If this was meant to spell doom for Toth it worked. Both players leaned over the table as the flop was dealt 7♠Q♠T♠. Bono began calling for a spade while Toth called for his nines to hold.

8♥ turn. 6♠ on the river.

Bono erupted. He dashed around the tournament area punching the air as back a the table Toth prepared to pay him off. A big blow for the Hungarian, now down to 250,000. Bono meanwhile moves up to 1.1 million. - SB

3.56pm: Salvatore Bonvena out, down to two tables
Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonvena has just been knocked out in the most horrible of ways. Marco Leonzio opened the pot for 60,000 from the hijack and Peter Skripka raised to 140,000 from the cut-off. Salvatore Bonavena counted out the 140,000 before thinking the better of it and moving all-in for 1.15 million. Leonzio passed and Skripka made the call.

Skripka: A♠K♠
Bonavena: A♣K♥

'Spades,' said Skripa quietly. He was given one on the 2♦8♣6♠ flop and requested another, a little louder this time: 'One more spade.' His wish was granted with the 8♠. 'One more spade,' asked Skripka for a third and final time. The 9♠ hit the river shattering Bonavena's dreams of winning for a second time here in Prague. Skripka's hopes, on the other hand, have bloomed as he's taken a huge chip lead into the final two tables with a mammoth 3 million stack. Table redraw. -- RD

3.50pm: Nuli and nearly void
Roberto Nulli just got very lucky against Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth to double-up. Toth raised from the hijack and the Italian defended from the big blind to see the 5♠5♥2♠ flop. Nulli check-called a 75,000 bet, leaving himself with just 154,000 back. The turn came 9♥ and Nuli checked again and Toth bet enough to put him all-in. Nuli stood to his feet and made a reluctant sounding call with 6♥3♥ for a gutshot and flush draw. Toth was ahead with 9♦8♣ but Nuli spiked a 2♥ on the river to complete his flush. -- MC

3.42pm: Footnotes
The short stacks seem intent on battling it out on table two. There have been several non-contested all-ins, usually involving some elaborate thought process followed by a fold and then a redemptive showing of the victors hand, reaffirming their immortality. Then will follow a short discussion in their native tongue. It's poker with footnotes to explain everything at the bottom.

So it was no surprise that Jean Sami Souleiman's departure was played out with this standard melo-drama. He shoved and was called by Ion Pavel. Neither of them wanted to turn their cards over but finally Souleiman relented and showed A♠T♠. Pavel showed A♣Q♠.

The board ran K♦6♣K♥8♦2♠. Souleiman didn't move. His four days of poker were at an end but he didn't want to leave just yet. But he had to. Handshakes all round. Down to 17. - SB

3.37pm: Skripka stretches chip lead
Peter Skripka has just taken 350,000 from Marco Leonzio to push his stack beyond 2 million. Skripka had called Leonzio's cut-off raise from the button and had bet 105,000 into the A♦Q♥3♦ flop. The Italian check-raised to 300 and Skripka three-bet to 550,000. Leonzio wasted little time in passing. -- RD

3.34pm: Toth calmly chipping up
Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth must be happy with his seat at the moment. He is at arguably the weakest table of the three left (Jean Souleiman, Roberto Nulli, Ion Pavel and Emilliano Bono) and has slowly and steadily built his stack from 680,000 up to 1.4 million. The other tables look far harder propositions right now. -- RD

3.26pm: The Bonavena boom
Salvatore Bonavena opened for 64,000 from under-the-gun and two seats along Denis Kipnis called. The action as then folded to Peter Skripka in the big blind who also called for a 6♠4♥[qg] flop.

Skripka checked before Bonavena bet another 96,000. Kipnis called as Skripka folded. The turn came 7♣ which both players checked for a 3♦ river card.

Again Bonavena came out betting, 100,000 this time which after a short pause Kipnis called. Bonavena immediately flipped over 6♥6♣ to take the pot and move up to 1,150,000. - SB

3.20pm: Nulli makes big call, loses
Roberto Nulli shook his head with exasperation when Jean Souleiman's 72,000 shove with K♠T♠ out flopped his A♠5♦ for top pair. It was an intriguing call from Nulli who matched the 72,000 leaving himself with 250,000 and three players to act behind him. -- RD

3.10pm: Vidal washed away
PokerStars qualifier Haykel Cherif Vidal is our 19th place finisher. The action folded around to him in the small blind and he shoved for around 125,000 with ace-eight and was called by Marco Leonzio in the big blind with ace-four. He didn't manage to stay ahead through the K♦4♠K♣3♥Q♠ board. He gets €15,000 for his efforts this week. -- MC

2.55pm: End of level
That's a 15-minute break and we believe that Peter Skripka may be the chip leader now with 1,681,000 above Kevin MacPhee's 1,648,000. -- RD

2.45pm: Ferrari to the pits
Andrea Ferrari is out. He opened for 50,000 which Richard Toth raised to something in the region of 200,000. Ferrari turned to Toth, shook his hand, and pushed all-in. Toth made the call showing A♥A♦ to Ferrari's Q♣Q♠.

With lots of noise the board ran 6♠6♥7♣5♣7♠ sending Ferrari to the rail. Down to 19 players. -- SB

2.42pm: Nulli dragging his feet
Roberto Nulli started the hand with 200,000 and rather than just ship it in he opened to 45,000 from the small blind and was called by Ion Pavel in the big. Nulli bet 40,000 into the 4♣Q♥2♠ flop and then folded to a shove. He has left himself with 100,000 - five big blinds. -- RD

2.40pm: Horecki in the mix
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki is in the mix but he's not getting it all his own way. He played three hands in a row but only won the first one after he three-bet all-in over the top of Kevin MacPhee's opening raise.

The next hand he opened to 41,000 but folded to a 107,000 Melanie Weisner three-bet. The very next hand he raised to 41,000 again and MacPhee defended from the big blind to go to a 5♠A♣T♥ flop. MacPhee check-called a 42,000 c-bet but that was the last chips that went in as the two checked the 9♥3♥ turn and river. MacPhee turned up T♦7♦ and took the pot as the Pole folded. -- MC

2.30pm: Helloooooooo New Caledonia!
The PokerStars Blog has many readers from across the world, including one lone soul in New Caledonia, an island in the middle of the Coral Sea, who we can only assume finds it murder to arrange a home game. Hello down there, and thanks for reading. -- SB

2.25pm: No more Pragers
The last of the Prager's is gone. After he departure of Helen Prager on the last hand of Day 3 her husband Josh now joins her on the rail.

Denis Kipnis opened for 40,000 in the hijack which Prager (spell check name Prayer) raised to 110,000 from the cut off. With the action back on Kipnis he raised to 196,000 and Prager called for a flop of 2♦9♣A♦.

Kipnis immediately bet 77,000 and Prager moved all-in with pocket nines. Kipnis wasted no time in calling and turned over what to Prager would be dreaded aces. The turn J♠ and river A♣ were effectively irrelevant. Prager out in 21st-place. - SB

2.20pm: Bevand v Hollink
Rob Hollink opened the pot with a raise to 55,000 from the hijack and Manuel Bevand called in the big blind. Hollink c-bet 85,000 on the A♣T♠9♠ flop before both players checked the T♥ turn before Hollink bet 115,000 after riffling his chips in a way I've never seen before (chopping the stacks and then ever so quickly sorting the remaining chips one by one on top of the split stack).

Bevand then check-raised to 300,000 and Hollink passed. The Dutchman is down 400,000. Bevand is up to 1.1 million. -- RD

2.15pm: Two little ducks
Andrea Ferrari is trying to double-up but no one wants to play with him. He just shoved from under-the-gun and everyone folded and he showed the 2♥. The next hand the action folded around to Ion Pavel in the small blind who completed only to see Ferrari move all-in for 166,000. Pavel folded. -- MC

2.05pm: Ferrari gaining speed
Despite an earlier set back Andrea Ferrari is still here. After being reduced to 40,000 he pulled back to more than 100,000, but remains there are moving all-in. Emilliano Bono thought about it, discussed it, then passed. Ferrari still alive. - SB

2.02pm: Hollink hates poker
No one really likes folding and Rob Hollink is no exception. He's shaking his head after folding two hands in-a-row. The first hand he raised under-the-gun but folded when Kevin MacPhee three-bet him from the next seat.

The next hand he called a Melanie Weisner button raise whilst sat in the big blind. The flop came down 2♦T♣Q♣ and the Dutchman check-folded to a continuation bet. -- MC

2pm: Toth stepping up
Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth has moved up the gears and become by far the most active player on his table since the break, picking up small pots to build up his stack. Ion Pavel raised to 46,000 only for Toth to re-raise to 110,000. Call. On the A♣9♥J♣ flop, Pavel checked and Toth bet 135,000, sending Pavel deep into the tank. So deep that he did not come out for at least five minutes. And that was to fold. -- SY

1.58pm: Skripa skipping along nicely
Nikolay Losev has just managed to lose a chunk of the chips that he took from Marcin Horecki to Peter Skripka. Losev opened for 45,000 on the cut-off and was three-bet to 130,000 from Skripka on the big blind. Losev took an eternity (okay, a couple of minutes) to call.

Skripa led 130,000 into the T♣7♣2♣ flop and Losev made the call. At this point Kevin MacPhee changed what he was listening to on his iPad and started bobbing his head as he silently sang along to whatever it was he was listening.

The 7♦ turn was good enough for Skripa to bet 250,000 and it was too much for Losev who mucked his hand. -- RD

Kevin, if the poker career takes a turn for the worse do not try and become a pop/hip-hop/rock star. Really.

1.48pm: Two bullets needed
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki could stand the heat he was receiving from Rob Holllink until the turn but gave up at that point. Hollink raised to 45,000 from the cut-off and Horecki called from the big blind to see the 3♠J♦6♦ flop. The Pole check-called a 55,000 bet but check-folded to a 120,000 bet on the Q♠ turn. -- MC

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Marcin Horecki

1.35pm: Blind battle
The action folded Roberto Nulli in the small blind and he completed before Ion Pavel checked his option. The flop came 6♦9♣5♦ and Nulli check-called a 35,000 bet before both players checked down the Q♥Q♠ turn and river. Pavel tabled 9♥2♥ for the pot as Nulli had a smaller two-pair with 8♣6♠. -- MC

1.15pm: Break
That's the end of the level. There will now be a 15-minute break while Team PokerStars Blog scoffs some delicious biscuits brought to us by an angel disguised as EPT boss Kirsty Thompson. -- SY

1.12pm: Bono crashes Ferrari
Andrea Ferrari is down to just 40,000 after moving all-in with pocket sevens. He turned them over, then watched Emilliano Bono call and perform an elaborate overarm show, cartwheeling his arm to slam down pocket queens. In terms of etiquette it was like bringing a sub-machine gun to a knife fight. The queens held, the board running 8♥K♦5♣Q♦. At this point Bono cried "Go papa, go!" A 7♥ on the river was useless to Ferrari now close to the felt. -- SB

1.10pm: The Sal Bon fashion report
Today's Sal Bon fashion report is brought to you by PokerStars Blog fashion editor Simone Young:

Salvatore Bonavena today showcases his grey, short-brimmed trilby hat, a blue and checked casual shirt and complementary pastel blue scarf. He has blue tracksuit bottoms in the Chelsea Football Club style. -- SY

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Salvatore Bonavena, multi-tasking

1.08pm: Kings a winner for Losev
Nikolay Losev has just doubled through Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki to over 800,000. Losev had opened the pot to 37,000 and was three-bet by Horecki to 88,000 from the small blind. Losev instantly reached for chips and re-raised for most of his stack and Horecki moved all-in.

Losev: K♠K♥
Horecki: 8♥8♣

The board ran out 3♦9♣9♠3♣5♠ and Horecki dropped to 600,000 as Losev closed in on 900,000. -- RD

1.05pm: Party time
PokerStars knows how to throw a good party and last night's Christmas celebration went down a treat. Held in a nice little place I know down by the river, players and guests enjoyed a Christmas dinner, free-flowing booze and dancing girls. Aww, the dancing girls. -- SY.

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Dancing girls

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Place I know by the river

1pm: Premature celebration
Never ever celebrate too early as the poker gods frown at such things, just as Marco Leonzio found out. Jan Bendik opened the pot with a raise to 36,000 before Josh Prager moved all-in for 395,000. Marco Leonzio was in the small blind and cold called the shove which was enough to scare off Bendik.

Prager: K♠K♦
Leonzio: A♥J♠

The door card flashed as A♦ prompting the Italian to shout in celebration but his celebrations were premature as the other two flop cards were 9♦K♥ making Prager a set. The 9♥2♥ turn and river came and went to double Prager up to around 850,000. -- MC

12.55pm: Fighting talk
Josh Prager and Roberto Romanello are either set to become drinking buddies for life, like Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole, or become the first pair to be disqualified from the final 21 players of an EPT for brawling.

The action passed to Prager on the button and he open shoved 400,000 (25 big blinds).

'You being serious?' said Romanello in the small blind. He'd only recently sat down and still had most of his chips in a rack. 'Come on, make a proper raise.'

The dealer confirmed that Prager had announced all-in.

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Josh Prager

'What's going on? Really? I suppose I'm going to have to fold,' said Romanello, who by this point had actually looked at his cards.

Prager, who has rivalled Romanello, Peter Hedlund and Mike Adamo as the most vocal player in the tournament, then broke radio silence with a simple, 'Come on, man.'

'I didn't understand. I thought you were joking,' claimed Romanello, now having tossed his hand into the muck. 'That hand wasn't real, was it?'

'You saying I'm crazy or stupid or something?' asked Prager, hackles rising, now into the next hand. As Romanello opened his mouth to reply time was suddnely called on him.

'Who called the clock?' demanded Romanello. The dealer, a barrel-chested chap by the name of Charlie, indicated Jan Bendik. Romanello thought he was pointing at Denis Kipnis. 'Why did you call the clock on me?' he asked.

'I didn't call the clock,' replied Kipnis with a slight panic, understandably not wanting to be in the Romanello firing line.

Charlie chopped his hand out to Bendik in seat seven once again. 'Ahhh, the guy with all the chips,' said Romanello before tossing his hand into the muck.

'I see what you're doing,' said Prager, 'Trying to get five thousand more euros. I like the speeches, just not when I'm playing.'

While we on the PokerStars Blog are professionally impartial I must admit to hoping for a Prager-Romanello heads up. It would be a classic. -- RD

12.45pm: Tanking on the river
A flop of 4♦8♥7♠ and a bet of 53,000 from Kevin MacPhee in the big blind. Manuel Bevand called from the hijack while Rob Hollink folded on the big blind. The turn came 5♦ which both checked, the a 5♠ on the river. MacPhee moved a bet of 106,000 into the middle and waited for a response. It didn't come.

Bevand went into the tank, occasionally moving chips around but not acting. MacPhee waited. When he's made a bet MacPhee sits still, staring forward, his face relaxing into what could be a sulk. After four or five minutes Bevand passed. MacPhee showed 3♠ and raked in the pot. - SB

12.40pm: River action
This one is a book-ended action hand. Emilliano Bono raised from the cut-off and was called by Sergio Rodriguez Sanchez on the button and Roberto Nulli in the big blind. There was no more betting until the river where the board read Q♦3♥J♦A♣9♠. Bono decided to have a stab with a 45,000 bet but couldn't stand the heat when Sanchez raised another 80,0000. There were shouts of "Vamos" from the rail when Bono folded. -- MC

12.36pm: Horecki power
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki is up to one million. On a board of J♠A♠9♦8♥ he bet 101,000 and Nikolay Losev, the Russian PokerStars qualifier, called. On the 3♥ river, Horecki, huddled under a black hoodie, asked to see how much Losev had left. It was around 300,000. "I bet 200,000," Horecki said, seemingly forgetting that he had to push the chips over the line. He obliged, pushing two towers of yellow, 5,000 chips. Losev folded. --SY

12.34pm: Chop chop
Jan Bendik opened with a bet of 35,000 with A♥8♠ before John Prager re-raised all-in with A♣4♦. That was trouble for Prager, but the board ran J♣Q♣3♦9♥K♦ for a chop. Move along. Nothing to see here. -- SY

12.32pm: So Leonzio Szabo
Zoltan Szabo was the latest to move all in, and the most recent to depart. He shoved with J♦J♠ for 256,000 chips and was called by Marco Leonzio of Italy with A♠K♥.
The board ran 6♠A♦6♥K♦A♣ much to the delight of Leonzio who celebrated with casual disregard for the feelings of Szabo. Anyway, down to 21. - SB

12.30pm: Video interlude
We apologise for the break in our usual written coverage. There will now be a video intermission. -- SY

12.29pm: The shape of things to come
Roberto Romanello has just three-bet Jean Souleiman from 42,000 to 99,000 and taken the pot down with a 81,000 c-bet on a 4♦7♣9♣ flop. I expect that Romanello will rinse and repeat this play as often as possible. -- RD

12.25pm: Romanello plays it safe
Roberto Romanello just took a small pot off Roberto Nulli after he raised from the button and Nulli called from the small blind. The flop came A♦A♥J♦ and Nulli check-called a 34,000 c-bet before both players checked down the 9♦Q♣ turn and river. Nulli tabled 6♦6♥ but lost out to Romanello's A♠4♠. -- MC

12.15pm: Woman up
Another elimination? No, a double up. This time for Melanie Weisner. She moved in from the button for 224. Next to her was Nikolay Losev in the small blind who announced call. Rob Hollink was next to act in the big blind. He thought about it but passed, later saying he folded pocket fives.

Weisner showed A♣K♦ to Losev's A♥8♦. The board ran out 4♣Q♠A♦2♥3♦. Weisner moves up to nearly 500,000 chips. - SB

12.10pm: Man down
Well, that didn't take long. We're down to 22 after Ludovic Marguerat lost out to former EPT Monte Carlo winner Rob Hollink. Hollink had raised to 35,000 and Marguerat moved all-in for around 167,000 total. Hollink called instantly:

Hollink: J♥J♦
Marguerat: 2♦2♥

The board ran an uneventful 8♦8♥4♣3♦7♦, and Marguerat stood up, shook Hollink's hand and headed off to the cash desk to collect €15,000. Nice. -- SY

11.55am: Start you engines
Thomas Kremser gives the order to players to take their seats. We're minutes away.

11.45am: I did what?
It's the morning after the Christmas party. Party hats are strewn everywhere, plates of cold sprouts lying around and Christmas sweaters are stained red with cranberry sauce. In the corner someone's grandfather is asleep and a bowl of eggnog has an ashtray in it. Welcome to Day 4 of EPT Prague.

Today the task at hand is simple. The 23 remaining players will be reduced to eight finalists who will return tomorrow to compete for that €640,000 first prize. Those about to depart will be guaranteed €15,000.

We're still in level 21, our chips leader is Kevin MacPhee. Play gets under way at noon. -- SB

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Chips, on day four

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Prague (in order of condition): Stephen Bartley (Brilliant, could have driven to work this morning), Simon Young (Fine, could have given directions to Bartley), Marc Convey (Not too bad, but would need a lift) and Rick Dacey (Massive physical collapse.)

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour