EPT Snowfest: Day 1A, levels 5 and 6 updates (200-400, 50 ante)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg10.15pm: End of the level
That's level six in the books. There's a quick break and we'll be back for the for the last three levels of the day. -- SY

10.10pm: Victory for Villeneuve
Jonathan Villeneuve has just had a dream 6♥8♦8♣ flop for his 8♠T♥ and a willing customer in Joni Jouhkimainen who paid him off for three streets of value, 600 on the flop, 1650 on the Q♥ turn and 3,450 on the 2♠ river. Not a huge pot but it's all helping Villeneuve who has built his stack up to 85,000. -- RD

10pm: Negreanu steady
Daniel Negreanu is still on around 29,000, just shy of his 30,000 stack. He just can't seem to find a decent spot to help build his stack right now. It's not for want of trying, however. Xavier Detournel had bet 1,000 and Negreanu bumped it up to 3,800 from the small blind. No action, though, as the Frenchman folded.

A little earlier Negreanu had to lay down A-K to a 4-bet pre-flop. He was shown pocket tens. "I figured he had a pair or AK so no sense gambling there," he said.
-- SY

9.55pm: Folding the best hand
Darko Babic faced a 4-bet all-in shove from Jesper Hougaard - around 25,000 extra. After some deliberation he mucked J♥J♣ face up. Hougaard went to muck his hand, then checked one of his cards and showed... J♠.

"I had pocket jacks as well," claimed Hougaard.

"Then why did you have to check one of your cards before turning it over," replied a knowing old hand in seat nine.

"Erm, because I had to make sure it was the jack of spades," came the rather unconvincing reply. -- SY

9.50pm: McFadgen sets landspeed record
We didn't get the whole story of McFadgen's exit but we can kind of guess given that the Canadian had 7♦8♦ against pocket Aces and the flop had given him the nut flush draw. When the draw didn't get there the young Canadian was pratically out of the door before you even realised he was out of his seat. -- RD

9.40pm: Bye-bye, Bodo
German pro Bodo Sbrzesny has fallen on his tournament sword 3-betting all-in with A♥8♥ and getting called by down by pocket tens. A quick 'Nice hand' later and the German wandered off in the direction of the bar. -- RD

9.30pm: Happy birthday to you
Julien Brecard just enjoyed his table singing him happy birthday. He's 31 today, and the reason for the outburst of song was Brecard being given a large gift of a pot. With the board showing 9-5-3-5 with two hearts, Brecard's sizeable bet was called by a player with 7♥8♥.

Even though a 7 came on the river it was not enough for overtake Brecard's pocket jacks. The Frenchman is now up to 120,000. -- SY

9.15pm: Counting down
There are 200 players left, according to the big tournament leaderboard, and it looks as though Alex Kuzmin is still out front, from Julien Brecard and Johannes Strassmann. News of how Brecard got his chips is on its way. In the meantime, check out the newly updated chip count page.

9.05pm: Chatty Alex
Alex Kravchenko is not exactly the chattiest of players, but this afternoon he's found himself in a remarkable two conversations at the same time. One was started by Slovenia's Casey Kastle and the subject was football. Slovenia knocked out Russia to qualify for this summer's World Cup in South Africa, and Kastle was telling the table about the final match, when "They (Russia) had 18 charter planes flying to our little stadium."

"Russia didn't take Slovenia seriously," said Kravchenko, with a rare smile.

As Denmark's Jesper Hougaard then joined in, talking tactics with Kastle, Kravchenko's smile broadened further when Alex Kuzmin appeared. Kuzmin seems to be a close associate of Kravchenko's, and no wonder the Team PokerStars Pro was happy: Kuzmin still has the lead here, with about 140,000. -- HS

9pm: Level up!
That's the end of level five. There's a short break while the second half of the field to take dinner returns. Back in a flash for level six. -- SY

8.55pm: Strassmann chipped up
Johannes Strassmann is in possession of around 94,000 chips. We're not sure yet how this meaty stack came to be, but the aggressive German Team PokerStars Pro will not be shy to use the power of his big stack against his opponents. -- SY

8.50pm: Kravchenko v Lerga
Team PokerStars Pro Alex Kravchenko is up to nearly 50,000 after this hand. On the [10c]2♦5♣ flop he faced a 1,600 bet from Luka Lerga, and re-raised to 4,000. Call. On the 3♠ turn Lerga checked then called Kravchenko's 5,000 bet. Finally, on the 6♥ river, Lerga made a reluctant call of Kravchenko's 7,000 bet.

Kravchenko turned over 5♦5♥ and that was good enough to take a nice pot. -- SY

8.40pm: Big pair mash up
The board is showing that there are 217 players left today but it seems significantly less given that half the field is on the second shift of the buffet run (a very good buffet at that). As you know well poker has a tendency to bunch up big hands making a slow table suddenly explode and that's exactly what just happened on table 13.

Hand 1
Jens Schmieg makes a standard raise to 900 from middle position which got through to the small blind unopposed. At this point Frederic Penel made it 2,100 to go which simply didn't satisfy Schmieg who duly raised again to 5,600. Penel called and quickly check-raised all-in on a 5♠3♣5♦ flop. Penel shows J♦J♥ and Schmieg tables K♠K♦. No help comes on the turn or river and Penel shows J♦J♥ and Schmieg tables K♠K♦. No help comes on the turn or river and Penel leaves the tournament as Schmieg scoops the 40,000 pot.

Hand 2
And the very next hand the Kings move one seat to the left into the hands of Lauri Pesonen. Unfortunately for him Tomas Brdaric had the bullets and also seemed to deliver a bit of a slow roll when calling all-in by saying 'I have two cards' before showing the bullets. Brdaric doubles up to over 30,000. -- RD

8.40pm: McFadgen in playing a hand shocker
Michael McFadgen has been one of those players that has been rolling along without playing a hand (well, when we've been there anyway) so we were shocked and astounded to see him leading the betting on a 6♥T♠3♠7♦ board. He banged out a 4,050 bet and was called before checking down the river and showing Aces. Oh, so that's why he decided to play the hand. -- RD

8.35pm: Twins
Christophe de Meulder has just lost about 13,000 chips to Mike Gorodinsky, a PokerStars qualifier from the United States. They were at the turn, with these four cards exposed: 5♦9♦Q♠7♦ and Gorodinsky bet 3,600, which De Meulder called. The river was J♠ and Gorodinsky bet 7,800. De Meulder didn't seem keen, but made a crying call. Gorodinsky tabled A♣A♦ and De Meulder mucked. "That was a horrible river for me," he said.

christophe_de_meulder.jpg

Christophe De Meulder

In case you don't know of De Meulder, he and his twin brother Mattias are recent additions to Team PokerStars Pro. The Belgians are big online players and made their debut at the PCA, opting for the biggest field on the EPT to confuse us for the first time. They're not completely identical, but it's not that easy to tell them apart for the uninitiated.

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Mattias De Meulder

Here in Austria, there are two ways to tell them apart, Christophe is wearing glasses and Mattias is not. Secondly, Mattias has more chips: 36,000 to Christophe's 18,000. -- HS

8.25pm: Waterman accounts for Terrazas
Dennis Waterman has just knocked out Santiago Terrazas. The evidence: Terrazas ambling away from the table muttering in Spanish as the dealer announces "Seat open!" Waterman was stacking chips at the same time. -- HS

8.20pm: Local boy shoots down Ravnsbaek
Austrian Jurgen Wenigwieser has just grabbed a nice chunk of chips away from Simon Ravnsbaek making a solid value bet after his draw finally got there. Ravnsbaek had been the preflop aggressor and he took that momentum with him firing 1,650 on the K♥6♦8♥ flop and a further 3,250 at the J♦ turn. When the 5♣ arrived on the river the Dane slowed down hoping to get to showdown as cheaply as possible, which wasn't something that Wenigwieser was happy to give. A 10,500 bet on the river created an insta-grimace on Ravnsbaek's face but he made the call anyway. Wenigwieser turned over 7♦9♠ for the nut straight. 'Yeah, I made two bad calls to get there,' he joked as he raked in the chips. Would he have pulled the trigger if it hadn't? We will never know... -- RD

8pm: A mystery answered
With the early diners now back in their seats, it was time to catch up with the man sitting behind the near-150,000 stack. He's a formidable-looking guy, buried beneath gold-mirrored shades and a hood. But what a cheery fellow Alex Kuzmin, for it is he, turned out to be. "And what's your name?" he asked breezily after providing his identity. I'm now rooting for Kuzmin. -- HS

7.45pm: London champ struggles
Aaron Gustavson keeps a low profile for a man who won one of the biggest prizes in European poker this season - £850,000 for first place at EPT London. None of us had noticed him all day, as he built his stack beyond 40,000. And the bad news for Gustavson is that the first pot I saw him play, he lost it.

Gustavson and Mauro Mancin were looking at a 8♥6♦9♣ flop. Gustavson bet 1,050 and Mancin called. The turn was 7♥, which slowed Gustavson down, although he check-called Mancin's 2,600 bet. The turn was J♠ and Gustavson bet 6,000.

Mancin insta-shoved for about 21,000 and it didn't take Gustavson long to call. Mancin tabled Q♥[10h] for the turned straight, which improved to the nuts on the river. Gustavson mucked. -- HS

7.40pm: Haven't we seen you somewhere before?
Sitting on Arnaud Mattern's table and playing in a loose but presumably calculated manner is a gentleman with a familiar face. After some head scratching it became clear this was Konstantinos Alexiou, who came to our attention at EPT Prague in Season 5.

In that event the fitness club owner from Athens in Greece finished up fourth, winning €200,000. His style of play made him a favourite with the railbirds and the press who were intrigued by his style of play which can easily confuse (though we have to believe he knows what he's doing).

Well, we're happy to say Alexiou does not appear to have changed things too much. He's involved in most of the hands here and has worked his way up to 57,000! -- SY

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Konstantinos Alexiou: pictured in Prague

7.20pm: Refreshment
They don't know it yet, but the half of the field who will return from their break in the coming few minutes will find a bottle of Red Bull, a bottle of Red Bull Cola or a bottle of water beside their stack. It seems to be completely random as to who gets what, but the tournament staff are currently distributing the refreshments.

Many of the biggest stacks belong to those players off on the break. Certainly we're no closer to knowing the identity of the mysterious Russian with the 140,000 stack, although I'll ask him as soon as he's back.

From the players still in the "other" half, we have these few assorted stack-sizes:

Max Lykov: 61,000
Kristoffer Thorsson: 65,000
Michael Keiner: 60,000
Daniel Negreanu: 26,000

7.05pm: Feeling the fury of the Thorsson
Bodo Sbrzesny and Kristoffer Thorsson have just got in an absolute humdinger of a hand. Sbrzesny opened the betting from the cut-off to 800 and was three-bet by Thorsson to 2,400. Sbrzesny put the pressure back onto the Swede by reraising to 5,000. Thorsson slowly made the call to send both players to the 4♣7♠T♥ flop. Both players checked to the 9♦ turn which Thorsson led with a chunky 6,500 bet. Sbrzesny thought for a short while then made the call and will probably wish that he hadn't because on the river Thorsson shoved for his remaining 22,775. Sbrzesny dwelled up and eventually had the clock called on him before making a big hero call with 7♠8♦ for third pair. Thorsson showed the second nuts with 6♣8♣ leaving Sbrzesny with 8,000 and Thorsson up to 65,000.

6.55pm: Half the size
We enter level five with half the field off at the buffet. The size of the field here (now confirmed at 270 for today) means that we'll play nine levels, and have a one-hour dinner break. But the restaurant isn't big enough to house them all, so it's a staggered affair with half of them chowing down right now, and half salivating for another hour.

Among the 240 players left is Zachary Hall, who has brought his umbrella with him all the way from Maryland.

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Zachary Hall: Only happy when it rains

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour