EPT Vienna: Day 1A, level 1 & 2 updates (75-150 blinds)
2.25pm: End of level 2
Players are now taking a 15 minute break.
2.20pm: Scripcenco makes Fabion Quoss
Almira Scripcenco just won a few thousand from the big blind. After Michael Degilio opened for 350, Jakob Karlsson flat called and Fabian Quoss in the small blind, bet 1,375. Here's where Scripcenco came in, raising to 2,950. Degilio folded, despite going for his chips, then Karlsson did the same. After tanking for a while Quoss let the chips go to Scripcenco. -- SB
2.15pm: Vila turns into bungalow
Steven Thompson Vila is down to 11,000 chips after folding to Marc Naalden on a 3♦6♠9♠ flop. John O'Shea started proceedings with a raise to 400 from early position that was called by Naalden and a player on the button before Vila three-bet to 1,625 from the SB.
All three called before Vila led for 2,825 and he only met resistance from the Dutchman who bumped it up to 7,300. Vila responded with a raise to 17,000 only to face a snap all-in from Naalden. Vila agonised for a while then slid his cards into the muck. Naalden up to 67,000 as a result of the encounter. -- MC
2.10pm: Nachansky collars the wolf
Team PokerStars Pro Michael Keiner, who recently won the Austrian Classic, just won a few thousand chips.
On a board showing 9♠9♥J♦6♣2♠ Keiner bet 1,100 from his spot in the big blind which Ilkin Amirov called from the button. He performed a long exhale as keener showed A♣J♥. His stack up just a bit to 30,700.
Next to Amirov is Dragan Gallic who opened the next pot for 350 on the button. Vlado Sevo, who bears more than a passing resemblance to former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, John Stalker, called from the big blind but mucked on a J♥A♠5♠ flop, when Gallic bet another 500.
Elsewhere Vitaly Meshcheriakov was being told not to "bluff the wolf". What did this mean? Well I'm glad you asked.
The self-proclaimed wolf is Elmar Dirnberger, an Austrian player who chews on a long thin cigar and opts for elaborate gestures rather than subtley when doing something as basic as checking or folding: checking he does with his elbow, banging it on the table like a wounded bird trying to fly; folding he does with great sweeps across the table. Dirnberger, or the wolf, had made a straight with his five-deuce which had cost Meshcheriakov.
A few hands later he tangled with the brilliantly named Flip Nechansky, a former hard-talking homicide detective from the Bronx*, who on a flop of 9♠6♦2♣ bet from the button, which Dirnberger called from the blinds. He did the same again on the Q♥ turn, making it 2,000. Dirnberger performed his flamboyant fold. -- SB
*Nechansky is not a former hard-talking homicide detective.
2.05pm: Ascari scares off Chidwick
Serial steps qualifier Stephen 'Stevie444' Chidwick just got involved in a pot with Fabrizio Ascari. The Italian has a reputation for being loud and eccentric but in this pot he was as stoic and quiet as Chidwick, who always seems to have his game face on.
Chidwick made a traditional three times the big blind raise to 450 and picked up two callers, Ascari from the button and the big blind. The flop fell 9♣9♦3♠. The big blind checked to Chidwick who bet 1,000 and Ascari was the only caller. The turn was the 6♠ and Chidwick check-folded to a bet of 5,000. Despite winning that pot, Ascari had taken earlier hits and has around 14,000. -- NW
2.03pm: Crawling rather than Marcin
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki only turned up five minutes ago and quickly went about turning his 30,000 stack into 5,000. To be fair though there was not a lot he could've done about it as he ran pocket kings into pocket aces on a flop containing both a king and an ace. Ouch! -- MC
1.55pm: Lellouche makes a big call
There was just over 4,000 in the pot when we arrived at the table with Antony Lellouche looking deep in thought. His opponent had shoved 7,000 into the pot from the small blind and Lellouche eventually made the call with 7♥7♠ only to be shown pocket queens. No help for Lellouche and he's down 19,000. -- RD
1.48pm: More action from the fun table
The title 'Table of Doom' is so depressing on a dreary October afternoon that I'm going to rechristen the table with Cody, Visser, Sarwer et al as the 'Table of Fun.' It's quite appropriate given that there seems to be plenty of smiling after almost every laydown (mainly from the player that was at it). Jeff Sarwer was the most recent culprit of this when he had to muck a three-bet to Michel Abecassis.
The Frenchman had opened the button to 375 and Ruben Visser had passed in the small blind before Sarwer made it 1,150 to go. Abecassis four-bet to 2,650 and Sarwer instantly started smiling then sighing before throwing his hand away, much to the amusement of Jack Ellwood across the table. Abecassis flashed an ace. It hasn't all been bad news for Sarwer though, he had scooped the blinds the hand before with an under the gun raise with pocket eights. -- RD
1.45pm: Showing them a thing or two
As was mentioned earlier Michael Abecassis is surrounded by aggressive young guns in the shapes of Jack Ellwood, Jake Cody, Ruben Visser and Jeff Sarwer, but he's not letting them get away with their usual antics right now.
First we witnessed him three-betting a Jake Cody button raise from the SB to take the pot down and then he was seen four-betting from the button after Jeff Sarwer three-bet from the BB. Sarwer folded and was shown the 3♣ by the Frenchman who's up to 32,000, -- MC
1.39pm: Lose some, win some Baekke
EPT Snowfest winner Alan Baekke was just involved in a couple of pots, losing one then winning the next.
In the first I caught the action on the river of a A♦5♣3♠Q♦J♥ board. With roughly 4,000 in the pot, Baekke (small blind) fired out a bet of 2,500, Armind Zoike (button) made it 8,000 and Baekke tanked. Eventually he made the call but in a manner that suggested he thought he was beat. Indeed he was as Zoike showed the nutty K♥[10s].
He took a rest the next hand but in the one after Baekke was in the thick of it once more.
Yuriy Nesterenko limped from middle position, so Baekke popped it to 600 total from the cut-off, everyone else got out the way and Nesterenko made the call. To a flop of A♦3♣K♥, Nesterenko took the lead betting 600, a bet Baekke called. The turn was the 2♠ and Nesterenko check-called a bet of 1,500. The 5♠ completed the board and Nesterenko decided to lead again, this time for 3,500. Baekke made a reasonably swift call with A♣[10c] which was well ahead of Nesterenko's Q♠[10h]. Baekke has around 24,600. -- NW
1.36pm: Bartlog the battler
You can't keep a good Bartlog down, as Mark Bartlog just demonstrated. After Antony Lellouche bet from middle position he called, leaving himself with 1,800 behind on a flop of 7♥9♦A♦. Lellouche obliged with a bet of 1,800 which Bartlog called all-in.
The Frenchman showed A♠9♣ to Bartlog's A♥Q♣. At this point Barny Boatman watching made an "oof," sound, then made another on the Q♦ turn. Funnily enough he'd made similar sounds when Bartlog had lost the earlier hand to Michael Skender, which had left him in this predicament. Boatman made no sound on the 6♥ river.
Bartlog back up to nearly 10,000. Lellouche absorbed the minor hit by taking a cigarette break. He still has a little more than the starting stack. - SB
1.30pm: Doh for Dolezal
Not long after doubling-up, Thomas Dolezal is back down to 32,000 after doubling up the dangerous Manole Mihai. The turn was out to leave a 8♥3♣T♣5♥ board and 2,350 had found its way into the middle before the rest of the chips went in. Mihai was the all-in player but he was on the right side of this cooler with T♥T♣ for top set to Dolezal's 3♦3♥ for bottom set. The river came J♦ before the Romanian stacked his shiny new tower of 58,000 chips. -- MC
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 50-100
1.20pm: A hand with some meat in it
A board of 5♣2♥T♥Q♥ on the Boatman table and two all ins. Suddenly this was more like it.
German player Mark Bartlog had started it, moving all-in, before his countryman Michael Skender next to him, "the best German" at this year's WSOP, called, raising some eyebrows around the table.
Andre Coimbra's eyebrows, however, remained calm. He was in early position, thinking things over, having been involved in the hand so far. Eventually he folded, later admitting to having pocket fives.
Bartlog, sitting with a copy of Gomorrah in front of him, (a look into organised crime in Naples) turned over 3♥6♥ while Skender flipped up 9♥J♥, a hand accompanied by no small amount of joy from him. The river came a harmless J♦ to skend the chips to Skender, who moves up to the 60k mark. Bartlog shrugged and stacked up his last 4,000. - SB
1.18pm: 'Queens are good'
Jeff Sarwer opened from the cut-off for 250 and was called by young Brit Jack Ellwood in the hi-jack. Ellwood - jackellwood on PokerStars - who finished fifth in the WCOOP Main Event for $510,000, is no easy mark and a small 300 bet and call was made on the 9♦T♦3♦ flop.
Both players checked the T♠ turn before Ellwood made what looked like a small blocking bet on the 4♥ river. Sarwer made the call and was shown a slow played Q♦Q♠ by Ellwood. "Your queens are good," said a slightly surprised looking Sarwer. -- RD
He first came to prominence when he won the EPT6 Deauville and with his recent win in London Jake Cody has well and truly moved into poker's executive box. The young Brit is certainly to be respected and although he's at a tough table, when he raised to 250 from under-the-gun his tablemates folded quicker than origami experts. -- NW
1.13pm: Payday with aces
Thomas Dolezal is happy bunny right now after agonising over whether to put his stack in with pocket aces on a 6♣J♣9♦ flop. We missed the pre-flop action but 1,500 chips had made it in the middle and Dolezal had 10,900 chips in front of him, from the SB. But his neighbour (button) had 27,500 committed out of a 35,000 stack. He eventually moved all-in for around 30,000 total and his opponent called after asking for a count.
Dolezal tabled A♦A♣ and needn't have worried as his opponent tabled A♥9♠. The board ran out 7♠J♥. -- MC
1.08pm: Sarwer overbets the pot
There wasn't much going on in this pot until the river when Jeff Sarwer overbet the flaccid pot for 850 on a Q♥3♣Q♣6♥K♠ board. A quick re-raise to 2,000 from Armed Idrizi was enough for Sarwer to exit the pot with a small giggle to Team PokerStars Pro Ruben Visser. -- RD
1.05pm: Reichstein releases
EPT2 Monte Carlo winner Jeff Williams is in the field today. The young American bullied his way to that title back in 2006 but if a recent hand at his table is anything to go by he's got some competition in the aggression stakes today. Thomas Reichstein and Vitaly Meshcheriakov put around 2,000 apiece in the middle in a four-bet pre-flop pot. They saw a flop of K♠4♣5♠, Reichstein checked to Meshcheriakov who bet 3,000. Reichstein considered his action for around 30 seconds before electing to fold. -- NW
1.02pm: Back to where we started
An early pot with no showdown to get your teeth stuck into. Daniel Dodet took a few thousand chips from EPT7 Vilamoura poster boy Fabrizio Ascari, less animated in Vienna so far. Their table also features Steven Chidwick and LAPT Florianopolis winner Mathias Habernig.
Elsewhere Barny Boatman appears to have lost a few grand. Details of the hand are vague, with Boatman's 6♦4♦ no good against Philip Gruissom's K♥4♥. Boatman mentioned it had been a good turn for Gruissom, who takes neither a step up or step down, still on around 30,000. That's also about the size of Boatman's stack, enough to make you wonder if I'd imagined the whole thing. - SB
12.52pm: Levi holds on
When Nicolas Levi flopped top pair with J♣T♠ on a 3♦2♠T♥ flop, he had to hold on for two bullets from Piotr Majewski; one on the flop and another 1,425-sized shot on the 9♣ turn. Both players checked the blank 5♠ river, Levi's top pair trumping Majewski's pocket sevens. -- RD
"I think you had aces," said Marc Naalden to John O'Shea after the Irishman scooped in a nice early pot to move up to 41,000.
"Obviously," responded O'Shea after Alexey Nikolenko folded to his 6,000 bet on a 4♠2♥9♥ flop.
The action started with a Nikolenko under-the-gun limp before O'Shea made it 375 from two seats along and Andrey Saenko three-bet to 950 from one more seat along. The raising didn't stop there though as Marc Naalden put in a four-bet to 2,200. Nikolenko flatted but O'Shea five-bet to 8,200 to force folds from everyone but Nikolenko. The rest we know. Table 21 is playing like a blackjack table in these opening moments. -- MC
12.35pm: Early aggression
While many players are likely to sit back and blind themselves for an hour or two while looking to pick up nut hands, others are far more likely to go chasing early pots. Those players include Paul Berende, Toby Lewis and Allan Baekke. But it's only the first of those names mentioned who have picked up a pot. Berende raised a limp to 350 to take a pot heads up and then fired a winning 575 into the T♣T♥3♠ flop.
Lewis and Baekke - both EPT winners in their own right - are sat just a few seats away from each other.
Lewis opened the action for 250 and picked up one caller before Baekke three-bet to 850. Heinrich Quadrizius called on the button, as did Lewis who checked the J♦7♠2♣ flop. Baekke fired out 1,600 and was quickly raised to 6,200 by Quadrizius. Lewis wasted no time in folding and Baekke thought for a short while before passing, having either missed the flop and making it seem like he had a decision on his hands, or having actually held something of value, fearing a monster. -- RD
12.25pm: Tough tables
Play is split into two rooms here at the Kursalon and as luck would have it two of the toughest and tastiest tables are situated in the back room, along with the bloggers and the bar. Sat in a row, occupying seats five through ten on table 24, are Jack Ellwood, Jake Cody, Michel Abecassis, Team PokerStars Pro Ruben Visser and Jeff Sarwer. And right next to media row on table 28 are Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis, Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman, Antony Lellouche and PokerStars Team Online member André Coimbra. --NW
11.58pm: And all is well in the world
The voice of Tournament Director Thomas Kremser just announced that we're about to start, snug in the confines of the Kursalon. Just a smoking area between players and the seven degree, overcast skies. -- SB
11.50pm: Austrians call it Wien
The "intro", complete with moving pictures, courtesy of the video blog team.
11.45am: Welcome to Vienna
Players are arriving and the familiar intro music is on its sixth or seventh run through. We should be under way around about on time, ish. -- SB
The Kursalon, in Vienna's Stadtpark
9.30am: Morning Papers
London is now just a distant memory. Today the European Poker Tour moves back to mainland Europe, to Austria, for the fourth leg of the EPT's season seven.
It's more than five years since the EPT was last in Vienna, back in the days when a buy-in would set you back only two grand and when the prize pool, rather than the first place payout, was close to seven figures.
Back then (and younger readers may have to ask a parent about this) there was no such thing as a one-time chip, Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer was the reigning World Champion and being a PokerStars qualifier (there were 350 during the course of season one) meant you had likely never before held a real poker chip in your hand.
Vienna was also where a certain Pascal Perrault took honours and a winner's check for €184,000 back to his native France, a figure we expect to be several times that when the new winner is crowned on Sunday.
A lot has happened since Perrault became only the tour's sixth winner. Not least 54 players have since become EPT champions themselves, their spoils showing a steep increase in value. The EPT has become richer, bigger, more lavish and unrivalled for its prestige anywhere in the world. Now it's back to Vienna to give the Austrian capital a second go, a retro-event if you like, and several hundred players are already in situ to welcome in its return.
But in the city where Mozart dodged landlords to compose Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, where Beethoven shook his fist at fate in his Fifth Symphony, and where Brahms looked in awe upon Strauss's Blue Danube, they and we turned instead to the Ministry of Sound for entertainment at the BOX Club last night; the pounding youthful beats of the night to accompany a free bar, that provided pounding youthful beats in the head this morning.
Ministry of Sound
So, while Vienna may be the spiritual home of classical music, there' still an invitation to the dance for poker, which takes the floor at the magnificent Kursalon today. The lavish neo-renaissance locale, famous for its waltzes, and situated in the heart of the city's Stade Park, today hosts a waltz of a different kind; one of nine levels, 30,000 starting chips, featuring some of the most talented performers in the business.
They're all tuning up now ahead of the noon start, a few hours from now. Five days of play will follow until the fat lady sings on Sunday night. Squeeze back into your Tux and grab your opera glasses - you're welcome to join us all the way. -- SB