EPT San Remo: Levels 1 & 2 live updates (75-150)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.29pm: Break
That's the end of level two and players are on a 15-minute break. We'll be back shortly for level three. -- SY

2.29pm: Brown fighting back
It's been a tricky start for Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown. He was down to around 11,000 but just got a few back. He bet 1,100 and got a call from Michele Sigoli. Brown bet 1,500 on the [10d][10h]3♥ flop, and that was enough to force Sigoli out. - SY

2.28pm: None shall sleep
Marie-Lawrence Brosolo opened for 350 which Mario Puccini called. While Puccini looks keen and happy to be playing here Brosolo looks asleep, regretting every breath.

Still, there's a hand to be played and a flop of K♦5♠A♦ to act on. Brosolo mustered the energy to check and with little effort Puccini did the same for a J♦ turn. Now Brosolo made it 450 to play. Again Puccini called for an A♣ on the river which made Puccini grin a little and shrug. Brosolo, still asleep, made it 800. Puccini, more awake now than he'd ever been, shrugged again and passed. -- SB.

2.27pm: Thang's for the memories
Sitting next to Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson is Thang Duc Nguyen, winner of EPT Baden back in season 3. Nguyen and Ricardo Suosa saw a 3♥7♣4♥ flop, and Nguyen check called Sousa's 1,100 bet. On the K♠ turn, Nguyen again checked, Sousa bet 2,200 and now Nguyen re-raised to 6,000. Sousa looked a little miffed about that - and mucked. Nguyen on around 19,000. -- SY

2.25pm: King kicker plays
Five players saw a 5♦4♦3♦ flop after a pre-flop raise. It was checked to Michael Tureniec on the button who bet 1,450 and was only called by Riccardo Mazzitelli. The Italian check-called a 3,350 bet from his Swedish opponent on the 9♥ turn before both checked the J♠ river. Tureniec reluctantly tabled A♥K♦ but he needn't of worried as Mazzitelli could only muster A♠7♦. --MC

2.20pm: Plans for the (long) day
Already more than 600 players have joined today's field and the tournament officials have announced that we will play nine one-hour levels, and have three dinner breaks. That gets us out of here some time tomorrow. We're too disheartened to figure it out precisely. -- HS

2.15pm: Pugliese betters the chess masters, for now
Almira Skripchenko, on the button, and Vincenzo Pugliese, in the big blind, had contributed about half each to a pot of 2,300. They were heads up to this flop: 6♣5♠8♥. Pugliese bet 2,100 and Skripchenko called. They both checked the A♣ turn and then Pugliese bet 2,100 on the 6♥ river. Skripchenko called but then mucked when Pugliese showed A♥Q♥.

Skripchenko is one of the top chess players in the world, an International Master and Woman Grandmaster, with a FIDE rating of 2449. Marc Naalden, also on that table, came to poker via the chess route too. Naalden's current rating is 2022, lower than Skripchenko, but he has a World Series bracelet and a couple of EPT final tables. So that's a draw. -- HS

2.05pm: Lucky and good
Maximilian Heinzelmann had the perfect chance to claim the scalp of the Team PokerStars Pro and all round Italian superstar Dario Minieri when the two of them got it all in pre-flop. Heinzelmann had A♣A♠ to Minieri's K♠K♦.

However the gods were smiling on Minieri and a king on the flop gave him all the help he needed. Minieri has more than 60,000 already and Heinzelmann is scratching the felt. -- HS

1.55pm: We are the champions
On a board already showing 6♣9♦K♠T♥ Max Lykov and Julien Nuijten were locked in a battle of wits from which only one could thrive.

In the small blind Lykov, headphones on, the first of this season's champions winning €330,000 at EPT Kyiv. Next to him sits Nuijten on the button, curly hair shorn away, an LAPT Rio winner back in 2008 here to rubber stamp his decision to postpone studies to chase the EPT dream.

Nuijten was edging chips into the pot each time Lykov checked to him. First 3,000 on the T♥ turn then 4,600 on the A♥ river, bets which Nuijten signalled to the dealer by holding up multiples of his fingers.

Lykov tanked for a while as the others at the table looked on. It's an eclectic mix of old and young, Italian and not so Italian, each with varying amounts of lacquer in their hair and chips in front of them. At the point at which one of them looked about to call time Lykov called, showing 6♠8♠. Nuijten just folded as another player banged the table in appreciation of the Russian.

"I guess you really didn't believe me," said Nuijten to Lykov. The Russian did nothing but stack his new chips. - SB.

1.45pm: French tales of woe
You have to get used to losing pots if you're a loose aggressive player. It goes with the territory of being involved in lots of pots. The aim of this approach is to make sure you win more pots that you lose and hopefully the lost pots will be small and the winning pots big. Two Frenchman of this ilk are Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern and Ludovic Lacay. Both are involved in a lot of pots but both lost the last ones they played.

Mattern was up against two opponent's when he bet 1,800 on a 7♥4♥9♦J♠ and was only called by one opponent to go to the T♦. Both players checked and Mattern mucked upon seeing his opponent's 2♥2♠. He's on 29,500 right now.

Lacay's lost pot was almost a carbon copy of Mattern's. The turn was out to give a 6♠5♠6♥T♦ board and Lacay's 2,8000 bet was only called by one of his two opponents. Both checked the 2♠ river and Lacay declared he had nothing. His opponent tabled pocket jacks and took the pot. Lacay still going well on 40,000. --MC

1.35pm: Here's Rocky
When we move up a level at the EPTs, a catchy jingle over the speakers heralds the change. But things are different in Italy. We're not sure if it's typical Italian machismo, but the music to welcome a new level here is the Rocky theme tune... or Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. -- SY

1.25pm: Dario Minieri: have hang, get paid
If Dario Minieri is popular across the world - and he is - he is positively a god here in Italy. But they don't respect his bets any more than your average foreign national, which means Minieri gets paid if he makes a hand.

Just recently, he extracted three streets of value on a board of [10d]9♣[10h]7♠5♦, the final two bets of 1,125 and 3,650 called in two spots. Minieri had 9♠9♦ and unsurprisingly the flopped boat took it down, moving Minieri to about 42,000 early on.

LEVEL UP
Blinds up to 75-150 for level 2.

1.20pm: Ichim 444'd
Team PokerStars Pro Italy Elena Ichim has lost out to online phenomenon Steve "stevie_444" Chidwick in a pot. They were heads-up to the turn where the board read A♦K♠7♣3♠. Chidwick check-called a 1,500 before both players checked the 5♦ river. Ichim revealed K♦Q♦ but Chidwick took the pot with A♥J♠. Chidwick back up to 24,000 after what must've been a shaky start. --MC

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Elena Ichim

1.15pm: More names, names, names
See that list of names in the 12.50pm update? Add these too: Harrison Gimbel, Matt "ch0ppy" Kay, Scott Montgomery and Julien Nuijten.

1.10pm: Can't beat nine high
Riccardo Lacchelli and Alain Medesan were at a flop of 6♣K♥8♦ and it seemed as though Lacchelli had raised pre-flop. He followed up with a bet of 625, which was also called by Medesan. The turn was Q♥ and Lacchelli slowed down, checking. That allowed Medesan to bet 1,550, which Lacchelli called. The river was J♣ and after Lacchelli checked, Medesan bet 4,225. Lacchelli said: "I think you have seven-nine," but then tank-folded, either not backing his own read or having lower than nine high himself.

Medesan made the final table at Snowfest last month, so is continuing his good form so far here. -- HS

1.08pm: Thanks for playing
So it's a looong event and players start with a healthy 30,000 chips. But that does not slow anyone down in this part of the world. We just lost probably our first player of the day, who had flopped the nut straight, was called down (15,000 on the turn) by a player with a set of fives, which made a full house on the river. All in, call, get out. -- SY

1.04pm: Steicke situation
With the board showing 7♠6♥6♦9♣, David Steicke put in a re-raise to 3,025. His opponent, who had first bet 1,025, called. Both then slowed down to check the Q♣ board, and Steicke found that his 7♦4♥ was way behind seat seven's pocket jacks.
Steicke, with more than $1.7million winnings to his name, is still just over his starting stack. - SY

1pm: Great for Scott
Such is the reputation of EPT San Remo that some people will travel half way across the world to play it. One EPT first-timer is Australian Andrew Scott, no stranger to the tournament circuit, being a regular on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, Scott was persuaded to make the journey from his base in Macau for a taste of Italy and a shot at one of poker's richest prize pools. So far things are going well.

He just won a pot worth more than 6,000 that was five-way to the flop of A♠4♥8♥. Scott check-called the J♠ turn before betting the T♠ river which was good for the chip boost.

His stack just increased again. There wasn't even the need for a showdown as he called a mid position raise from the big blind. On a board of K♠9♥4♣Q♦A♠ Scott called some bets, but ultimately won the hand when his opponent conceded without a showdown. Up to 38,000. -- SB.

12.55pm: Team Pro, the Americas
Chad Brown and Humberto Brenes are both here, representing the Americas and Team PokerStars Pro, and buried deep in the middle of the main tournament room. Brown took down a small opening pot: raising 250 from the cut off, called in the big blind, for a Q♣2♣5♣. Both players checked that, then Brown's bet of 700 on the 9♠ turn was good enough.

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Chad Brown on Day 1A of EPT San Remo

Brenes has started quietly, but all hell might break loose when he finds his way to the other end of the tournament arena. There he might find another as-yet unnamed player sitting with a shark as a card protector. That's surely &;copyHumberto Brenes. --HS

12.50pm: Names, names, names
Of all the events on the EPT, this is the one of the most populated by local players. But with all those Italians swarming around - designer sunglasses, perfectly tailored sweaters thrown over shoulders, chasing draws and then folding on the river - the best of the internet generation from North America, Scandinavia, Russia and the UK has also decided to make the trip.

On a quick stroll through the tournament room, the following faces were beaming back from the felt: Claton Mozdzen, Alex Fitzgerald, Andrew Chen, Matt Marafioti, Max Lykov, Stephen Chidwick, Yvgeny Zaytzev, Kristoffer Thorson, Gustav Ekerot and Allan Baekke.

Baekke is on the early contender for "toughest table in the room". He also has Stefan Matsson and Rui Milhomens for company. -- HS

12.30pm: Opposite starts
Barny Boatman has Ludovic Lacay for company today and their stacks have started moving in opposite directions already. Lacay is on the up after five-bet bluffing an opponent off a jack-high flop before showing ace-ten. Boatman is down a few thousand after leading for 2,000 on a A♥2♠T♣J♠ board. His opponent called and then bet 3,500 on the 6♥ river. Too much heat for Boatman who folded. -- MC

12.22pm: Superstar DJ... here we go
We're up and running at EPT San Remo. Just before tournament supremo Thomas Kremser announced shuffle and deal, players were treated to a video with loud music that I'm sure the younger members of the audience appreciated. All I heard was a lot of bass and someone singing "Superstar DJ... here we go." Anyway, cards are in the air - let the chaos begin. -- SY

12 noon: Play due to start
The clock has just ticked past noon and play is due to begin. As we write every day, the difference between "due to begin" and "has begun" is usually in the neighbourhood of 15 minutes on the EPT. This being Italy, I see no reason to think otherwise.

That gives you time to read today's introduction, then acquaint yourselves with PokerStars.tv. Then bookmark PokerStars Blog, both mentally and literally, and we're ready to go.

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Fountain in San Remo

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour