EPT Vilamoura Day 1A: Levels 3 & 4 updates (150-300)

ept-thumb-promo.jpgBREAK TIME
15 minute break for one and all.

4.40pm: A break from What Lodden thinks
Antonio Esfandiari took a break from playing What Lodden thinks to snatch two pots off his neigbour Maikel van Leeuwen to put him up to 60,000.

The first hand saw Esfandiari call a flop and turn bet from the Dutchman before betting 3,000 on the river. The board read 3♦A♥8♣T♣3♣ and it was too much for Van Leeuwen to call.

The very next hand Esfandiari raised and was only called by Van Leeuwn to see a T♣J♥7♥ flop where a c-bet from the American was enough to force another fold. --MC

4.30pm: Minieri in the tank
José Vicente Besalduch opened for 875 which Dario Minieri called. Allan Baekke was on the button and raised to 3,150 which only Minieri called for a flop of J♠7♦4♠.

Minieri checked the flop before Baekke raised to 4,200. Minieri countered this with a two-handed raise to 15,150. After only a brief pause Baekke pushed his chips in, making it 31,900. The dealer counted Baekke's stack and Minieri sat thinking with his arms crossed, his jaw tensing every few seconds.

"I fold you show?" he said. Baekke grinned, tilted his head slightly but said nothing. After a few more minutes of thought Minieri announced "I fold." Then added "Show?" Baekke passed his cards to the dealer.

"I had you beat." -- SB

4.27pm: Almost a perfect river
Vicky Coren opened with a raise to 750 and got a call from Derek Lerner, Barny Boatman and Liutauras Armanavicius. On the Q♦[10d]2♥ flop Coren made it 1,200 and only Lerner came along for the ride. Both then slowed down and checked the 6♥ turn and 7♦ river. Q♣J♣ for Lerner, and that was enough to see off Coren's A♥[6]. "That was very nearly a perfect river," Coren said, "if only it was the 7♥." -- SY

4.25pm: Video time
Here's your video intro to Day 1A...

4.21pm: Pinho doubles up
Henrique Pinho was one of three players to call an under-the-gun raise. He held 7♦[10d] and was rather pleased to see a 9-8-6 rainbow flop. It all then kicked off, with one player holding 8-9 getting all in with Pinho. The turn and river blanked, and our man from Portugal is up to 50,000. -- SY

4.17pm: Magic man
We haven't written that much about Antonio Esfandiari but that's not to say that he's not making some good progress in these firsts few levels. He's up to circa 70,000 and using those chips well. He's just picked up another pot with a 3,300 squeeze from the button. -- RD

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High Stakes Poker: Esfandiari at EPT Vilamoura

4.12pm: Short feature
The PokerStars blog has officially bokked Stephen Thompson. Last year in Vilamoura we featured Matt Johns and he made it to the final three tables but alas the same fate was not in store for the Costa Rican. The poker gods must be balancing their PokerStars Blog featured qualifier in Vilamoura luck range as he just busted to Dan Heimler. Both saw a nine high flop with two diamonds before all the chips went in. Thompson had nine-four to Heimler's middle pair and flush draw. As you've probably guessed by now the flush came in to send Thompson packing. --MC

4.05pm: Carter and Lewis
They may sound like a presidential running couple but Dan Carter and Toby Lewis are in fact two members of a large UK contingent that are aiming to make their mark on this tournament. They've been drawn on the same table and at the moment it's Lewis who seems to be running better and appears to be up to 70,000.

Carter isn't far from his starting stack but isn't a player to sit back and wait for aces , even if he played his last hand like it was. Dan Heimiller opened the action to 300 and was called in one spot before Patrick Renkers made a small three-bet to 650 from the button. Dan Carter made a large four-bet to 3,000 and picked up1,700 for his troubles. -- RD

4pm: The world according to Fabrizio Ascari
Fabrizio Ascari is the talky type, or could his cheeriness be down to the chips he has in front of him? He's at a table not short of might, with both James Dempsey and Annette Obrestad part of the scenery. Obrestad doesn't say much, just raises, making it 500. That's not enough for this hand though when Alexander Isaev bumps things up to 1,500, taking what's in the pot.

Ascari is still talking, occasionally leaning back in his chair to laugh about a joke no one else is in on. He wears a baseball cap, an easy rider moustache and a three inch leather strap around his wrist which may or may not have been attached to a restraining chain this morning. He added a few more chips to his stack in the next hand, started by Konstantin Bucherl who looks like a young Melody Nelson era Serge Gainsbourg.

Ascari called the 800 from the button, as did Dempsey in the small blind, for a flop of K♥J♣2♦. Dempsey checked, as did Gainsbourg, but Ascari went for his stack, making it 1,700, enough to add a few more chips to his stack and for another laugh. He also likes t touch people.

Ascari up to 52,000. -- SB

3.50pm: Kravchenko in smile shocker
Yes, it's true. In fact it was a very broad grin for Alex Kravchenko as he welcomed fellow Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie to his table. -- SY

3.45pm: Juan for Maceiras
Moroccan PokerStars qualifier Wassim Chaouki raised to 625 and got a call from Annette Obrestad and Alexander Isaev before Team PokerStars Pro Juan Maceiras bumped it up to 2,100. Only Isaev, a PokerStars qualifier from Russia, called. On the 3♠Q♦4♠ flop, Isaev checked then folded when Maceiras wasted no time in firing out 3,625. -- SY

3.40pm: In need of a comeback
As mentioned at the start of the day the blog team is following the progress of PokerStars qualifier Steven Thompson today (we often champion an online qualifier that we meet and like from the welcome party). Unfortunately Thompson hasn't got off to the best of starts and is down to 8,000 chips. We witnessed him lose the last pot he played but he explained he lost many before this failing ot find a single pair in the first three levels of play.

Antony Lellouche was the player to snatch the last pot from his hands. Three players saw a 2♣T♠9♠ flop which was checked through to the Q♣ turn. Thompson led for 1,000 and was only called by the Frenchman on the button. The river came 9♣ and Thonpson check-called a 2,500 bet. Lellouche revealed A♠Q♦ for the pot as Thompson opened Q♥J♦. --MC

3.32pm: Quad quads
José Vicente Besalduch has just won a nice pot from reigning EPT Snowfest champ Allan Baekke with quad fours. Besalduch made a pot-sized 12,975 bet on the river of a A♣4♣4♠4♦J♣ board. Baekke had a long dwell before tossing in three yellow 5,000 chips only to be shown the bad news in the suited connector form of 6♥4♥. Baekke still has some 25,000. -- RD


3.25pm: Minieri for the win
Minieri is winning this tournament. That's it. I've called it. Bold words, I know, but if the Italian Team PokerStars Pro continues to tear apart tables as he is now then there's no way he can fail to take this tournament title. After getting his stack paid off with aces against Jan Petersen he just bluffed José Vicente Besalduch off a T♠3♥6♥ board with a 1,850 bet from the big blind. He flashed the 5♦ afterwards. -- RD

3.20pm: King of the Kastle
Casey Kastle was sitting and staring at the table. He'd already bet 1,550 but was now faced with a raise to 5,525 from James Mitchell in the cut off and a call from Florian Desgouttes on the button. Now things were back on him.

Eventually he called for a flop of K♦Q♣J♣. Kastle checked before Mitchell bet another 2,400. Desgouttes immediately raised to 8,000 which forced Kastle out after a lengthy tank and a neat fold. Mitchell called for a J♦ turn. Then he bet 15,000, getting Desgouttes to call for his stack. The tension petered out though when both players showed ace-king. Back to square one.

"I hate poker," said Kastle as the dealer divided up the chips. -- SB

3.14pm: One for Pinho
Team PokerStars Pro Henrique Pinho is playing in his home EPT event today and is by far the most active player at his table. So far that has not equated to any sort of stack, although he picked up a few chips on this hand. Nuno Capucho raised to 500 from late position and Pinho called from the big blind. Both checked the 3♣[10d]6♣ flop and the 4♠ turn. On the J♣ river Pinho tossed in 850 and Capucho called. 4♥3♥ for Pinho and the two pair was good for the pot and a 29,000 stack. Capucho mucked. -- SY

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Henrique Pinho: trying to keep the title on home soil

3.04pm: Minieri mash up
How does Dario Minieri do it? Three- and four-betting is second nature for him and when he gets action he (almost) always seems to have it. This is another prime example of that happening. Jan Petersen of Germany opened under the gun to 500 and got one call before before Minieri three-bet to 2,000 from the cut-off. Petersen called and then check-raised Minieri's 3,100 c-bet on the 8♠Q♠2♦ to 7,625. Minieri moved all-in covering Petersen's remaining 18,000. Petersen huffed and puffed then made the call.

Petersen: K♦Q♠
Minieri: A♥A♦

Now, this may look like an awful call and against an ABC player it would be but, according to the PokerStars German language blogger, Petersen claims that he couldn't fold to Minieri in that spot. After playing with him in an EPT High Roller event the German had studied the Italian and believed he would shove in that spot wide. Petersen wasn't exactly drawing dead but no king or queen on the river and Minieri is up over 65,000 . -- RD

2.50pm: Four to a flop
Four players to a flop of 3♥T♥2♦ and Juan Maceiras leading the betting. Annette Obrestad had checked in the small blind leaving Maceiras to bet 1,225 from early position. James Dempsey called, as did Obrestad leaving three players at the turn card 4♠.

Maceiras led the betting again, making it 3,000. Dempsey sat with his head resting on his hand for a few moments before passing, leaving it to Obrestad. She called for an A♠ river card and then checked once more to Maceiras. He bet 6,500 which Obrestad called, mucking instantly when the Spaniard turned over 2♠2♥. -- SB

2.40pm: Nice value bet
Three players and 5,375 chips made it into the middle before the flop came K♣K♦3♠. All three checked to the J♦ turn before Oleg Epp bet 2,000. Allan Baeke was the only caller to the J♦ river where he bet 3,200 when his German opponent checked to him. Epp studied the EPT Snowfest champion's face and then made the call but mucked upon the seeing his Q♣Q♠. Baekke's up to 39,000 now. --MC

Now we obviously don't want to subscribe to any stereotypes here but when Irishman Liam Flood startied shouting out: "WHERE ARE MY CHIPS?" across the tournament floor we did wonder if he'd been on it all night and was announcing that he had lost his 30,000 starting stack. Flood called out to Antonio Esfandiari, some three tables away: "Antonio, have you got my chips?" Esfandiari told him he hadn't. "Well then, can I have some?"

It turns out that there had been some confusion regarding dead stacks and Flood's had been removed at the break. Flood and chip stack are now back where they should be. -- RD

2.30pm: Returning from break
The players are back in their seats and the cards are in the air.

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Sunny EPT Vilamoura is in full swing

PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT Vilamoura (in order of exhibited post-welcome party stamina): Rick Dacey (90% recovered), Simon Young (another coffee should do it), Marc Convey (shakey) and Stephen Bartley (a shadow of his former self). Photos by Neil Stoddart.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour