EPT Snowfest: Day 1B, levels 5, 6 and 7 updates (300-600, 50 ante)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg11.05pm: Ebanks on the up
Joe Ebanks has never had a big stack today, but he's now ground it up to 45,000, almost doubling up in this hand:

Ovidiu Balaj started a limp-fest from under the gun and there were six of them, including Ebanks (on the button) and Gregory Puissant (I think, although apologies Mr Puissant if this turns out not to be you).

The flop came J♥4♥7♣ and Balaj bet 2,000. Puissant raised to 6,000 (with about another 6,000 behind) and Ebanks moved all in, for 28,500-approx.

Balaj got out the way - he had more important things to worry about, such as the location of a Jack Daniels he had ordered - and that left Puissant to make the call.

Puissant had 7♦9♣ and was actually ahead of Ebanks' A♥T♥. But Ebanks had monster draw potential, and the Q♥ on the turn decided it quickly in his favour. Ebanks is up to 45,000.

That's the end of that level, and we'll now take a 15-minute break before the final two hours of the day.-- HS

10.55pm: Italian Stallion
Italian Daniele Amatruda is holding himself in good account at a tough table that includes Nasr El Nasr, Henrique Pinho and Florain Langmann. It was the last of that trio that has been tangling with him the most though and, given that Amatruda has position on the Team PokerStars Pro, it's the Italian who has been coming out on top.

Langmann open raises 1,600 from his 18,000 stack and Amatruda three-bets to 3,700. The German folds and shows 8♥8♠; 'It's the worst hand that I open with,' says Langmann. Yeah, sure-o. -- RD

10.50pm: Romanello bust
Roberto Romanello is out in cruel fashion at the hands of Ivo 'The Chess Master' Donev. Romanello opened with a 1,300 bet, Donev raised to 3,400 and Romanello called. It then went a little mental on the K♠7♥[10h] flop. Romanello checked, Donev made it 4,000, the Brit re-raised to 18,000, Donev announced all in - call!

Romanello: A♥3♥ for the nut flush draw
Donev: 4♥5♥ for a weak flush draw

Romanello, who had committed all his 50,000 chips to the pot, was looking in good shape. But things are not always that simple at the poker table. The 3♠ turn was fine but the 5♠ river gave Donev a pair and the huge pot.

"Good luck everyone," said Romanello as he left. Donev now has around 150,000. - SY

10.47pm: Minieri on film
Our video team caught up with Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, who busted from the event a short while ago. Watch out for the way he announces: "I've never skied in my life."

10.45pm: MacPhee all in...
... no takers. Ville Salmi had opened for 1,500, called by Luca Pagano. MacPhee then made his move for 17,000, but both of the others folded. -- SY

10.40pm: Evolution pauses
Tournament are like living organisms. They develop and react in a way that isn't always easy to predict and at the moment there seems to be a minor pause in the EPT Snowfest's evolutionary story. Players all-in and behind are catching up and elsewhere things seem to have slowed down for a short while. It could well be post-buffet lethargy so let's chalk it up to that. Evelyn Ng appears to be folding hands twice as quickly as normal so she can get back to her Nintendo DS (where, surprise, she's playing cards) while I swear that a couple of players are having a snooze at the table. -- RD

10.35pm: Danzer, Coehlo dashed
Hermann Pascha has now knocked out George Danzer in a monster pot. The two of them were joined by a third player, each paying 21,600 to see a 5♦A♦3♥ flop. Pascha picked up a huge pawful of chips and dumped them in the middle - it was about 50,000 and comfortably covered his adversaries. Only Danzer called - he couldn't really fold his last 3,000 given the size of the pot. But his K-9 and backdoor flush draw never got there against Pascha's A-K and Danzer hit the rail.

Almost simultaneously, Nuno Coehlo joined his Team Pro colleague on the sidelines. He ran jacks into Gianni Giaroni's kings. Done.
-- HS

10.30pm: Who wants chips?
The results from a massive scour of the room for the latest chip counts are now in, and they're all over on the chip-count page and it would be terrific if you'd click through there and show us your appreciation.

Hermann Pascha is still the man at the summit, but the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Luca Pagano and Rino Mathis are breathing down his neck, alongside the PokerStars qualifier Jonathan Schroer, whose day has been excellent so far. Schroer has close to 130,000.

10.20pm: Pinho in pink
Team PokerStars Pro Henrique Pinho hasn't had the best time of it today (neither has Florian Langmann next to him) but both are still in, which is the main thing, right? Pinho moved most of his final stack across the line and even after he got a fold it was differcult to tell whether he wanted a call or not. Perhaps on the A♥4♦9♦9♠8♦ flop he wasn't so sure himself. Pinho is back near his starting stack with 26,000. -- RD

10.15pm: Mark Vos has finally gone
Vos had been hanging on for the last hour or so boucing between 3,000 and 8,000 (from what we saw) but is no more. We didn't see the killing blow but moments before he was looking a little sullen with just 3,125 in front of him. -- RD


10.10pm: Funny old game
Luca Pagano started this one off, raising to 1,100 from under-the-gun. He was called in three spots, including EPT Berlin winner Kevin MacPhee and Markus Golser, before the man in the big blind, Ville Salmi from Finland, moved all in for 16,600.

Pagano looked a little miffed at that and folded, as did MacPhee. But Golser wanted to take a look and called. The man on the button folded. Salmi announced: "I think I am in bad shape," before revealing the rather weedy Q♦9♣. Golser was delighted with that, turning over A♥[10h].

But his pleasure quickly turned to pain when the board ran 3♦2♣9♦2♠4♦, sending an unlikely pot to Finland.

"That was sick," bemoaned Golser. Indeed it was. -- SY

10.05pm: Lilly earns Becker bragging rights
Although Boris Becker was on the wrong end of a Luca Pagano ace earlier in the day (Pagano flopped quads to Becker's ace-high flush), Boris's wife, Lilly Becker, is faring much better.

She is now up to 95,000 and has already seen off Anton Allemann, among others. -- HS


Lilly Becker

10pm: El Bona no mora
Salvatore Bonavena will not be our first two-time EPT champion. Down to about 11,000, he raised to 1,000 from mid position and faced a 5,000 re-raise from Olivier "olivgoal" Delanne. Bonavena thought for a while before committing the last of his chips, but then pushed them forward, knowing he would get a call.

Delanne did indeed call and showed Q♣Q♠, which was ahead of Bonavena's A♦J♥. The board ran 2♦5♥[10s]6♠K♥ and our EPT Prague champion departs. -- HS

9.50pm: Nasr El Nasr can't find fold or call button
Or so it seems. El Nasr is three-betting every pot before the flop (again, or so it seems) and players at his table seem a little hesitant to play back at him. That could have something to do with the fact that the last time someone did El Nasr showed aces. -- RD

9.40pm: Luca Pagano goes marching on
Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano is continuing his big stack charge with some 135,000 chips in front of him. The serial final table finisher has just raked in another healthy pot betting 7,000 on the turn of a A♣J♦4♦4♣ board. He's looking more than comfortable and I swear that another button appears to be undone on his shirt each time I walk by. Navel exposure due by level 8 at this rate.

9.30pm: Cash money marvellous
The full payout structure for EPT Snowfest has come tumbling into the inbox like a banker in a big snowball. The winner will get €445,000 and 80 players will be paid. Head on over to the payout structure and prizewinners page to see how they're carving up the €1,853,680 pool. -- HS

9.25pm: Hermann monster
Hermann Pascha continues to toy and tease with those around his table. He's the chap who you'll recall is rather loud. On this hand the board was A♥5♠3♦8♠[10s] and he was still in with 4♥6♥. With around 10,000 in the pot he added another 4,200 on the river and forced his opponent to fold.

That caused a triumphant "see what I had" as Pascha displayed the missed draw. "Nice hand," was the solemn reply. -- SY


Herman Munster: not Hermann Pascha


Hermann Pascha: not Herman Munster

9.20pm: How is Mark Vos still in?
You'd almost think Mark Vos wasn't taking this tournament seriously. He's sat in most of his skiing gear with a beer in his hand and is driving a short stack in quite a bizarre way. He came back (late) from the dinner break with just 4,000 chips having lost some to unmanned blinds. One of the first things he does is open raise to 1,025 and then fold to a shove. Next he open raises to 2,000 (of his remaining 2,650) and bets 500 into the T♣4♠9♦ flop. An isolation raise comes in behind him squeezing out the only other player in the pot and somehow Vos is ahead with A♠K♣ to A♣Q♠. The board blanks out and Vos is left laughing as he stacks up to 7,000. Is there a miraculous comeback in the making? Unlikely, but you can never rule out a short stack with a devil may care attitude and a beer in their hand. -- RD

9.15pm: Nationality pie-chart time
Some people get their kicks by playing poker for millions of euros; others bomb down black ski-runs under floodlights. For some, a couple of glasses of schnapps with some accordion-playing goats floats their boats, but I'm here to tell them that the only real thrill in Himmelglen has just arrived in my inbox.

Yes, it's the full nationality breakdown for our 546 players here at Snowfest. And it's available in pie-chart form. Check this out (and click the image to make it even bigger):


9.05pm: Queens no good for German Team Pros
Ben Kang got his last 29,000 in pre-flop with pocket queens, but lost a race to ace-king. Bye bye Ben.


Ben Kang

Almost at the same time, Kang's countryman and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jan Heitmann was also losing a massive chunk with pocket queens. Heitmann turned a set, but was already way, way behind of his opponent's flopped set of aces. His last handful of chips went in soon after and Heitmann departs. -- HS


9pm: Cheeky Romanello shows the bluff
Mark Bech of Denmark bets 2,000 into a 3,000 pot claiming that he has more of the Q♥5♣4♣ flop than Romanello. The Welshman has other ideas however and flings a 7,000 check-raise in the Dane's direction. It's enough of a statement for Bech who folds only for Romanello to toss K♣T♠ into the air for all to see. Romanello adds the pot to his stack which is now sat at 35,000.  -- RD

8.55pm: Rasr El Rasr Mk II
True to form, a recent glance at Nasr El Nasr's table found the German in full on aggression mode. And boy did it pay dividends this time. Folded to him on the button, Thomas Dolezal raised to 1,000. The small blind called and El Nasr, in the big blind, scented a squeeze opportunity.

El Nasr duly raised to 3,450 and Dolezal had every right to think that El Nasr might make that move with any two cards. Dolezal shoved - it looked like about 15,000 - and after the small blind folded, El Nasr insta-called.

This time he had the goods: A♠A♦ and Dolezal's pocket sixes were in a world of hurt. The Austrian player picked up some outdraw possibilities on the 7♦5♣Q♥ flop and then 8♠ turn. But the river [10s] sent Dolezal to the rail and El Nasr to about 80,000, his high point of the day. -- HS

8.45pm: Mizzi sucks out with monster draw
To be fair to him Sorel Mizzi had plenty of outs when he sucked out on Romanian Dan Murariu. All the money went in on the turn when Murariu led his 7♥3♣ straight on a J♥5♦6♥4♦ board for 3,200. Mizzi raised to 9,500, leaving just a couple of thousand behind, and Murariu duly put him all-in. Mizzi tabled A♥8♥ for the nut flush draw and gutshot giving himself a nice round 25% shot of staying alive and obviously binked a seven on the river to do so. Mizzi is up to 33,000. Murariu is down to 22,000. -- RD

8.35pm: Meanwhile, out on the slopes...
The whole point of coming here to the Austrian Alps was so that players could enjoy the usual top-level poker and some frolics in the snow.

Many have been taking advantage of the white stuff, getting in some skiing and snowboarding. Judging by the number of aches and pains around the poker room, some have been more successful than others.

A little earlier today, our players were graced with the presence of a ski champion who has god-like status in the sport... Alberto Tomba. The Italian has three Olympic gold medals, two world championships and nine world cup season titles to his name. Phew. He was joined up the mountain by Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Marcin Horecki (himself a former member of the Poland ski team), Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima de Melo, and British snowboarding champ Zoe Gillings. -- SY


(From l-r): Marcin Horecki, Fatima de Melo, Alberto Tomba, Daniel Negreanu and Zoe Gillings


Alberto Tomba and Zoe Gillings


Marcin Horecki: going downhill

8.20pm: Getting it loudly
More for Hermann Pascha. The owner of the, er, gentlemen's clubs in Germany has just accounted for another player, this time making a straight on the river. The usual histrionics followed, with Pascha standing up and informing the rest of the room of his victory in a very loud manner. Mr Pascha is on 115,000 -- SY

8.15pm: Pagano rushes past 100,000; Becker rushes home
Although Dario Minieri has departed, Luca Pagano is prospering, most recently accounting for Boris Becker in what can only be described as a cooler.

It was a four-way limped pot, including Pagano and Becker, and the flop came 8♥8♦2♠. All four checked. The turn was 5♠ and Becker bet 2,500, which Pagano only called. The river was Q♠ and Becker bet, Pagano raised, Becker shoved, and Pagano snapped. Here's why:

Pagano: 8♣8♠ for flopped quads.
Becker: A♠K♠ for rivered top flush.

Bounced. -- HS

Boris Becker

Luca Pagano

8pm: Minieri killed by his own hand
Dario Minieri has departed - it's not been his best tournament, and the arrival to his table of his friend, and hyper-aggressive match Alfio Battisti, can't exactly have cheered him.

Battisti actually had a hand in his elimination. It went like this. Battisti made a standard pre-flop raise and Minieri moved all in for his last 7,500 in the cut off. Alberto Valenti, a third Italian at the table, re-raised sufficiently to persuade Battisti out of it, and took on Minieri for his tournament life.

Minieri: A♣9♦
Valenti: K♠K♥

The board came 2♣6♣T♥7♥J♣ and the lack of an ace was terminal for Minieri.

In a sense, he's knocked himself out there. Minieri (as well as Luca Pagano) has been largely responsible for the remarkable spike in interest in poker in Italy. But that was the gladiators fighting back to slay the lion. -- HS

7.45pm: Dario down and out
Italian poker sensation Dario Minieri is out. The details of the hand will be found in time - mainly by tapping up our Italian colleague - but the key fact is that he put all of his chips into the pot and it was someone else who took them out. As this is a freezeout that means only one thing: TOURNAMENT DEATH! But as with the great cycle of life something else is born anew and in this case it's level 5, part 2 (for the players returning from dinner break).

dario_minieri_ept snowfest_day1b.jpg

Dario out at the end of level 5 (part 1)

7.40pm: JP's yo-yo show continues
We've heard that JP Kelly had a bit of a bump on the head while out on the slopes and he seems to be constantly surprising people at his table each time he has to show a hand down. This time the surprise won Kelly a 24,000 pot when he shoved 8,700 on the river with his set of Aces. He's been up and down like a yo-yo and it's fun to watch. -- RD

7.30pm: De Korver up as Kang goes down
Team PokerStars Pros Pieter De Korver and Benjamin Kang are having mixed fortunes on their current table. Kang is slowly dwindling and is on about 18,000 while De Korver is trying to build up some steam with a little over his starting stack with 32,000. De Korver raises to 850 from middle position and is called by Kang in the big blind. Both players check the flop and Kang folds on the turn.

7.25pm: Otto hot
Paul Otto, who finished 12th in Berlin earlier this month, is back in the mix in Austria - and is clashing gleefully with the Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis, a formidable opponent if ever one existed.

But Otto is unfazed and just took three pots in a row, despite RasZi's rattling. Otto raised to 1,000 from the button and Veldhuis made it 2,050 from the big blind.

"How much do you have?" Otto asked.
"A little more than nine," Veldhuis replied, before counting it down. "Twelve, twelve and a half. Not so much."
Otto was persuaded to make the call.
"Nice call," Veldhuis said. "That's a good call."

The flop came 5♦Q♥6♥ and Veldhuis checked. Otto bet 1,500 and Veldhuis called. The turn was K♠ and Veldhuis checked again. Otto bet 2,500 and this time Velduis said: "Check, please" as he folded.

On the next hand, Otto made it 800 from the cut off and Veldhuis hadn't learnt his lesson, calling from the small blind and saying: "Let's try it this way, huh?" The big blind also came along.

The flop was 7♠2♠J♣ and after two checks, Otto bet 1,500, which was enough to take that down. Easy.

Although not as easy as the next hand. That time, Otto raised to 800 and picked up blinds and antes.


Lex Veldhuis

At the end of those three hands, Veldhuis was down to around 8,000. But moments later he more than doubled up when he flopped top-pair eights to beat pocket sevens. Veldhuis has about 20,000 now and is still alive and kicking. -- HS

7.15pm: Blow up number 2
We've just had our second emotional moment of the day this time when (we think) Lukasz Wasek called all-in with a made straight against a set with just one card to come. When the board paired on the river Wasek slammed his fist into the table making much of the tournament room spin their heads to see where the bang was coming from. The reason we haven't 100% corroborated whether it was Wasek is that the player knocked out had arms the size of alpine trees and stormed out the room before we had a chance to catch him. Not that we were chasing that quickly, of course.

7.10pm: Italy v Italy
Dario Minieri and Alberto Valenti were staring at a J♠7♠[10d] flop. Valenti was first to act and made it 3,000 and Minieri called. Both checked the 9♦ turn, but on the A♥ river Valenti made it 5,000. Minieri called but was shown K♠Q♠ for the top straight. The Team PokerStars Pro showed just an 8 for the lower straight. -- SY

7pm: We're up and running
The 15-minute break is over, and now the half of the field not tucking in to the buffet are back at the tables. -- SY

6.45pm: Dinner break - and level six
The final number of players today has been confirmed as 276, six more than we got yesterday. That makes a total field of 546, which is not at all bad for a tournament originally capped at 500. Credit crunch? Pah.

At the end of level four, half of today's field headed off for their one-hour dinner break, hitting the buffet at the Alpine Palace, which yesterday was arguably the best-ever player buffet in the six seasons of the EPT. (Baden, season two, still takes some beating.) Today it's Italian themed, and I for one am excited.

But let's not get too carried away. Half the field remains, including this man, Kevin MacPhee, who was last knocked out of an EPT Main Event in February.


Kevin MacPhee: EPT Berlin champion

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Austria: Rick Dacey, Howard Swains and Simon Young.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour