EPT Vienna: Day 1B, level 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)

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2.22pm: Break time
That's the end of level two. Players are now taking a 15 minute break.

2.20pm: Please hold the line
Most players have a phone or iPod with them, David Benyamine is the same. But while most players jab at them occasionally, flipping a Tina Turner track to a Lionel Richie one perhaps, Benyamine seems to be in a constant, vigorous dialogue with his Blackberry, which flashes constantly. Someone, somewhere, always needs to talk to him.

Not that this it's a distraction. The big Frenchman just got involved in a pot against Marc Jaques Zaick and Paul Kristoffersson, opening for 350 from under-the-gun before Kristoffersson called on the button; Zaick calling on the big blind for a flop of 3♠7♦7♠.

Zaick checked before Benyamine bet 500. Kristoffersson called while Zaick passed, taking them to a T♠ turn. Here Benyamine checked before Kristoffersson made it 1,100. Benyamine called, then checked the 8♥ river card. But another 2,400 from Kristoffersson was enough. Benyamine folding, and turning back to his Blackberry.

He's down to 15,400 while Kristoffersson moves up to 33,000. - SB

2.25pm: Pro on Pro action, big pot alert
Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly and Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo just clashed in a huge pot.

The two of them, along with Balazs Csermely, saw a flop of 5♣3♥2♣. Both Kelly and Moreira de Melo checked to Csermely who bet 800. This was where the action took off.

Kelly made it 2,200, Moreira de Melo smooth called and after a short period in the tank Csermely folded. The turn was the 9♥, Kelly bet 4,200 and again Moreira de Melo made the call. The [10s] completed the board and Kelly slid out a pile of chips that set Moreira de Melo all-in. She took little time in calling and Kelly said, 'You win,' and mucked his hand. Moreira de Melo showed 5♥5♦.

Moreira de Melo had 16,425 left on the river so has now doubled up to around 47,750. Kelly, who had Moreira de Melo covered, is down to 10,600. -- NW

2.20pm: Wee for MacPhee
EPT Berlin champion Kevin MacPhee is already up to 62,000 after eliminating Alain Roy.

A third player raised and Roy flatted before MacPhee three-bet to 1,225. Both players called to see the T♥9♥[2] flop where the American c-bet for 2,050. Roy was the only caller to the [7] turn where he checked-raised MacPhee's 4,120 bet up to 10,500. MacPhee moved all-in and Roy made the call with ten-nine for two-pair. Two-pair was no good though as MacPhee had turned the nuts with jack-eight. -- MC

2.15pm: Turns out nicely for Nacho
Nacho Barbero seemed to like the turn of the T♣J♦K♠J♠ board which he had opened under-the-gun. He liked it so much that he bet 2,700 at his remaining opponent, Michael Beyer, who called. The Team PokerStars Pro thumped out a large 8,500 bet on the blank 6♦ river and was swiftly called. Barbero tabled K♦J♥ for a turned full house, and Beyer showed A♣Q♦ for the flopped Broadway straight.

Nice turn for Nacho, but ugly, ugly, ugly for Beyer. -- RD

2.10pm: Surprised to see Suharto
Team PokerStars Pro Darus Suharto is here in Vienna taking a shot at an EPT title. Nothing strange about that you may think, a PokerStars Team Pro playing a PokerStars sponsored event. But Suharto doesn't usually travel to Europe to play that many EPT tournaments. He's already had to travel a little further today as he's been moved tables once, he had a few extra chips to take with him too, as he's on 35,700. -- NW

2.06pm: Kelly checking the nuts
Alessandro Meoni did well not to bet the river on a K♦A♣4♠Q♦6♣ board versus Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly. He raised pre-flop before both checked the flop and Kelly led the turn for 600. Kelly then slowed to a check on the river hoping his opponent would bet, as he had J♠T♣ for the nuts.

Two hands later at the same table, five players invested 400 to see a 3♣9♥2♦ flop where it was checked around. The turn came 7♦ and Balazs Csermely decided to have a stab with a 1,100 bet, and was called by Kelly on the button. The river came Q♣ and Kelly folded to a 1,600 bet. He currently sits on 31,500 chips. -- MC

2.02pm: Negreanu concedes defeat
Daniel Negreanu just extricated himself from a right ol' pickle (A tight spot - Ed). Liviu-Georg Ignat had opened to 350 from the hijack (although the cut-off seat was vacant) and Mr Negreanu decided to three-bet from the button to 1,200. Call.

Negreanu fired 1,400 at the 8♥A♠2♥ flop and 2,800 at the 8♠ turn. When checked to on the 7♦ river he simply smiled and checked behind, tossing J♠7♣ on its back. Ignat showed pocket queens. Negreanu said: "Lucky I made a pair on the river so I didn't have to bluff anymore!"

Would he have picked up a call from a third barrell? Probably. -- RD

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Negreanu: some showdown value saved a costly bluff

1.50pm: High Roller on the up
It's been quite a 2010 for Team PokerStars pro Jose 'Nacho' Barbero. He's won two LAPT events and, at the beginning of October, he won the EPT7 London £20,000 High Roller, pocketing £556,000. He's brought that form to Vienna and has got out of the blocks early, up to about 33,800. He even has enough 500 and 1,000 denomination chips to be able to riffle a large stack of them. -- NW

1.35pm: Luske suited-up
It's been quite hard to track down Team PokerStars Pro Marcel Luske during the opening hour. He's on a table right in the corner of the secondary room here at the Kursalon. In fact he's almost obscured by a couple of giant EPT branding boards that have been strategically placed to block out some of the sunlight that is streaming into the poker room.

Luske made an appearance yesterday and was dressed in running attire, the first time I'd ever seen him without a suit on. Today though Luske is all business and is sporting a suit; jacket off it's sunny after all. Chip wise he's on around 29,350. -- NW

1.35pm: A few hundred here, a few hundred there
JP Kelly just dropped about 1,000 in a pot against young Swiss player Yves Boschetti. Kelly opened for 250 which Boschetti called, as did Alessandro Meoni in the small blind.

The flop came A♠2♠T♣ which all three players checked. Then a 6♣ turn. Again Meoni and Kelly checked but Boschetti, hand over mouth, bet 375. Meoni had had enough and passed but Kelly called, peeling off chips with two hands. The river came 9♦. Kelly checked one last time before Boshetti bet another 650, hand over mouth. Too much for Kelly. He's down to 28,000. - SB

1.30pm: The kid's got heart
Martin Kabrhel is up to 41,000 after calling two barrels before firing a rocket of his own.

There was a raise from Kerill Telezhkia in late position that he called from the BB along with a player on the button. The flop came A♠3♥K♥ and the action was checked to the player on the button who bet 1,800. Kabrhel called before Telezhkia raised to 3,000. The player on the button tank-folded but Kabrhel called to see the 8♠ turn. Telezhkia fired 4,925 and once more Kabrhel absorbed with a call.

The river came J♥ and Kabhrel announced "All-in". Telezhkia looked at his hand once more before sliding his cards into the muck. -- MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150

1.22pm: My name is Luca Pagano, welcome to Value Town
When we first mention Luca Pagano in an EPT blog it's customary to note that the Italian Team PokerStars Pro holds the record for most EPT cashes. Right, that's out the way. Sigh of relief.

Pagano opened the action under-the-gun with a raise to 275 and was called in two spots, both in middle position, by Senol Karahasan and Tóth Béla. Pagano led 550 into the A♠8♠6♥ flop and was called by Béla. A second ace appeared on the turn, the A♦ to be precise.

The plucky Italian pushed forward another 1,275 and Béla called again. The K♥ on the river didn't stop Pagano who bet a larger 3,175. Béla made the call and was shown A♣8♦ for a flopped two-pair which filled up. Béla flipped over A♥Q♥. Pagano climbs up to 35,550. -- RD

1.15pm: Eames lets it go
John Eames has dropped around 1,000 or so from his starting stack. His chips didn't have far to go, being absorbed into the stack of Saar Wilf who is seated to his direct left.

From the hijack Eames raised and Saar called. To a flop of 6♣A♦4♠, where Eames bet 550 and Wilf made a swift call. The Q♠ turn saw Eames slow down as he check-folded to a bet of 1,000. -- NW

1.12pm: Houghton and Negreanu go at it
Daniel Negreanu is a player known to most (no, make that all) poker players. He's arguably Team PokerStars' biggest star, has racked up millions in tournament winnings and just as many hours in TV time. Laurence Houghton is less known but his online name rivermanl is respected enough that Negreanu named him in his blog as part of his tough table (along with ElkY).

Houghton had started the action from early position and found Negreanu willing to contest the pot from the cut-off. Unfortunately we missed the action on the 5♦3♦T♠ flop but we did see Houghton fire 1,150 at the K♠ turn, which Negreanu called. Houghton fired out 2,550 at the Q♥ river card and Negreanu didn't waste much time raising to 8,550. Houghton did not look amused. Far from it. He looked quite pained and finally mucked his hand. -- RD


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The board that made Houghton wince


1.05pm: Late arrivals
Among the late arrivals is high stakes player David Benyamine. The Frenchman is somewhat strangely attired, wearing shorts and sandals, paired with a smart blue and white striped shirt and a brown blazer. -- NW

1.02pm: ElkY folding
It's Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier that's finding it the most difficult at table 18 so far. First he made a lay down to Ramzi Jelassi and now he's laid down a hand after facing up to Liviu-Georg Ignat.

The river was out leaving a 8♥Q♦5♥5♠T♥ board and 5,600 had made it into the middle. The Frenchman faced a 2,800 bet that he couldn't call. He's dropped down to 26,100. - MC

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Anything to find the buy-in: A busker in the Vienna Stadtpark this morning, still a few bars of "Der Fledermaus" short of the line for late registration.

1pm: Becker's serve broken
Team PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker is down to 27,500 after being forced off a hand by an opponent. There was an under-the-gun limp that Becker treated to a 325 raise from the next seat and this was called by the limper and two other players. The flop came 2♦5♥9♥ and Becker continued with an 825 bet. The player in the hijack raised this to 2,375 and Becker called quickly after the other two players folded. The turn came J♦ and Becker check-folded to a 5,700 bet. -- MC

12.55pm: Pro on Pro action?
ElkY and Daniel Negreanu aren't the only Team PokerStars pros seated together today. Near media row, on table 32, are JP Kelly (seat 10) and Team PokerStars SportsStar Fatima Moreira de Melo (seat 3). Kelly is looking to make his third EPT main event cash in a row having finished 29th in Vilamoura and 120th in London; Moreira de Melo meanwhile will be looking for her first ever EPT main event cash. -- NW

12.50pm: Hitting the ground running
It's not just about a good night's sleep, a healthy breakfast. Getting off to a good start depends on all sorts of things, things that vary from one player to another, rituals, outside help, anything to get off to a good start.

Fatima Moreira de Melo is already on-massage, immediately getting her spine worked on and playing with her chip almost resting on the table. Stelyan Georgiev, on table 33, was using more conventional methods, taking regular sips from a miniature bottle of schnapps, while Pieter de Korver hadn't even signed the release form before he was on the Red Bull.

One man looking particularly healthy taking his seat is PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker, and he has a good reason.

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Team PokerStars SportStar Boris Becker

Not for Herr Becker the lifestyle of the fast and furious. Just two days ago the tennis legend was awarded the prestigious "Geniesser des Jahres," prize ("Treat of the Year" in the colourful poetry of Google Translate) in recognition of his healthy living and general bon vivant attitude to life; one Becker himself was proud to receive.

Anyone can whack a ball over a net, but awards for character, previously unheard of in the poker world, mean much more, as I'm sure Boris would agree.

Others arriving including Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena and new addition to the team Toni Judet. Dario Minieri, who, from his coughing and sneezing, may well need a shot of that schnapps, has also arrived. -- SB

12.46pm: Teng and beard on the verge of making a move?
Andrew Teng is either in disguise or has recently grown some kind of goatee-chin strap. What is yet to be known is whether this new bit of facial furniture gives him added insight at the tables, it almost seemed like it in this last hand.

Nicholas Verkaik opened the action for 275 in middle position and was called by Andreas Krause in the hi-jack and Teng in the small blind. Teng checked the 3♦9♣6♥ flop allowing Verkaik to get 525 at it. Krause quickly raised to 1,400 and this sent Teng and his new beard-piece deep into the tank, chopping and re-chopping a stack of his green 25 chips. It really looked like it was going to be a call at the very least, maybe even a raise, until a stumbling photographer from continental Europe knocked over a table which brutally broke communications between player and beard. Teng mucked his cards shortly after, as did the initial raiser. -- RD

12.43pm: From the video vault
It's sunny outside, it's crowded inside, and today looks like it's going to be a good one, as the video blog team will tell you...


12.40pm: Hoping to go one better
Last time out at EPT7 London John Juanda finished second to David Vamplew after a three-hour heads up battle. He's not had the kindest of table draws as he'll have to contend with John Eames and Michael Tureniec. He's currently having some transatlantic knots worked out of him by one of the masseuses. -- NW

12.30pm: Table draws
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu has already tweeted about how tough his table is. He has to deal with a certain Mr. ElkY and Laurence Houghton along with "two tough Romanian players". He may not know who Ramzi Jelassi is but we know him to be a tough player and he's sat to Negreanu's left.

Jim Collopy and Andrew Teng are great friends and are rooming together here in Vienna. It's a good job they get on well as they've been drawn in seats next to each other. -- MC

12.22pm: Play is under way
As the title suggests cards are in the air here in Vienna. -- NW

12.17pm: Kremser doing his thing
Tournament director Thomas Kremser is doing his normal schtick about players, chips and form signing, and that means that play will begin shortly. Stay on target....

12.10pm: The undisputed champion
In the world of boxing there's a champion and there's a challenger. Every few months the challenger is proposed and bravely steps forward to get a good thrashing. If they win, the crown is passed to them. If not, the champion's reign continues, he does a few commercials, and waits for the next time.

American slugger Joe Louis held his title the longest, being heavyweight champion for a record 11 years and nine months. Today poker's equivalent takes centre stage, an unassuming Frenchman with a pony tail. His name is Pascal Perrault and he's been the undisputed EPT Vienna champion of the world five years and seven months now.

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The Kursalon, a bit like the MGM arena

So what if there's some small print and yes, yes, there hasn't been another EPT Vienna event in that time, since Perrault won back in March 2005. But who cares? Certainly not Perrault, who returns today to defend that dusty trophy from season one (a big nylon thing, about the size of a fridge freezer), long since moved into the spare room with the guest bedding, clothes from the seventies, and an old rocking chair.

Out to get him will be the flight of Day 1B which right now is predicted to number more than 300 players. Their job is to survive today's nine levels and join the 117 players from yesterday who made it through to Day 2. You know how it works - the details of all of that will be here throughout the day.

The players are arriving and taking their seats. Perrault, we expect, will jog in, a trainer on each shoulder, before leapfrogging the rail into his seat. It may or may not be a clean fight, but it'll all be right here.

Stand by.

PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of acronym): Stephen Bartley (Stubbornly British), Marc Convey (Mildy Combative), Rick Dacey (Rightfully Dour) and Nick Wright (Needlessly Worried). Photography (c) Neil Stoddart.