EPT Vilamoura Day 1B: Levels 1 & 2 updates (blinds 50-100)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.16pm: Break time
It's a 15-minute rest for the players. Only another six levels left to play. -- RD

2.15pm: Into the Black
"Do you know how many months you live on average? 960 months... Something like that."

This is Andy Black. Irishman, raconteur, jester. Black travels the world playing the world's biggest tournaments tormenting players in this way and seeking that first EPT title. He's come close before; seventh in Monte Carlo in season three, tenth in Dublin in season four. Now he's talking longevity.

"Seventy years is a long time, but 960 months... not so long it it?" he says to a table of grinning players. "I don't want to upset you."

In between all this Black is urging his tablemates to hurry up. With two minutes left on the clock he thinks another two hands are possible. If everyone plays quick.

On a flop of T♣J♣T♠ Black made it 150 and no one showed any sign of taking him on. Black slammed down the 2♦.

On the next hand Ciaran Burke raised while Pascal Hartmann three-bet. The action was on Black.

"They didn't have four-bets in the old days," he said. "There was a three bet and if you didn't have queens you folded."

Black didn't have queens and folded. We're into the first break of the day. -- SB

2.12pm: Aces best for Lykov
Salman Behbehani informed the blog that he lost a 40,000 pot to EPT Season 6 POY Max Lykov. Behbehani held ace-king to Russian's aces and after three-betting and four-betting pre-flop the flop came king high. This was enough to ensure chips went in on every street. -- MC

2.05pm: de Meulder cut down by Sarwer
Santiago Terrazas has occupied the chair left vacant by Matthias de Meulder and already he's fairing better than the Team PokerStars Pro did. William Thorson opened from the hijack to 350 and was called by Terrazas on the button and ElkY on the big blind. ElkY and Thorson checked and Terrazas bet 1,200. It was enough to win the pot. -- RD

2pm: Maisto the maestro
Giacomo Maisto now has a stack of more than 40,000 thanks to a daring all-in raid. With the board showing 5♠Q♠9♠9♦ Bertrand Grospellier had bet 3,275 from the small blind before Maisto moved all-in.

Nuno Coelho was also in the pot but passed, looking a little confused. Grospellier looked the same, unable to decode Maisto's logic and folding, shaking his head as if he'd just watched a man cross a busy highway without looking left or right. Either way chips went to the Italian. -- SB

1.55pm: Rubbish drawing time
As we are not allowed to take any photos inside the tournament room, we've been drawing the occasional action shot for you. Some are better than others - but this one of Daniel Negreanu is possibly the worst in history. -- SY


1.50pm: Thorson lays the hammer down on ElkY
William Thorson put a big bet in on the river versus ElkY forcing the Frenchman to open fold a set. 3,600 had managed to find it's way in to the middle pre-flop before both checked the K♠4♥T♥ flop. The turn came J♣, ElkY led for 2,525 and the Swede called from mid-position. The river came A♥ and ElkY checked to face a chunky 7,600 bet from his opponent. He took one last look at his cards and open folded J♠J♥. ElkY's on 26,500 to Thorson's 38,000. -- MC

1.42pm: De Meulder cracked
Team PokerStars Pro Matthias de Meulder has just crashed out, his pocket aces cracked by Jeff Sarwer. William Thorson had opened things, De Meulder then raised and Sarwer moved in before Thorson folded. De Meulder called with his aces against Sarwer's pocket kings but the third king on the turn ruined everything for the Belgian. De Meulder looked crushed and Sarwer was not far off appearing the same.

"Would anybody fold my kings there?" asked Sarwer. -- SB.

1.37pm: Cagey play
After the early treble up of Jonathan Weekes things seem to have slowed down to a more natural rhythm. Daniel Negreanu raised from middle position and took the blinds. ElkY took a pot with a 725 c-bet on a flat looking 3♦2♠T♣ flop. Fellow Team PoekrStars Pro Richard Toth opened under the gun and saw the action fold all the way around to Fatima Moreira de Melo in the big blind who passed. Things may feel a little more mellow at the moment but it's only a matter of time before things blow up. -- RD

1.30pm:Table tougher still
We've referred to this table as it gets progressively tougher throughout the early stages. Already housing ElkY, Nuno Coelho, Jeff Sarwer, Matthias de Muelder and EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani, EPT award winner William Thorson has just sat down as well. Phew! -- SY

1.25pm: I ain't scared of no pros
Josef Birchler is at a very tough table today with the likes of Evgeniy Zaytsev, John O'Shea, Ruben Visser, Roberto Romanello and Will Reynolds for company. So far so good though and he's just taken pots of the latter two from this formidable list.

The first hand he opened to 300 from under-the-gun and then called Romanello's three-bet to 725 from mid-position. Both players checked the 9♦A♥Q♥ flop before Birchler led for 675 on the 8♠ turn. Call. The river came 7♦ and both players checked. Birchler tabled A♦K♥ and the Welshman flashed A♠ and mucked.

The very next hand he took a small pot of Will Reynolds. Reynolds min-raised from the button and Birchler called from the BB. The action was checked to the river where the board read A♦Q♣5♠J♥6♣. Birchler led out for 125 and Reynolds folded showing the J♣. Birchler flashed the A♥ and scooped in the small pot. "Yes, already making pro folds," commented Reynolds on his remarkable fold. --MC

1.15pm: Arresting Aristides
Sebastian Ruthenberg opened a pot for 250, getting a call from Aristides Couto in the small blind. Brandon Meyers also called in the big blind for a 9♣Q♦4♣ flop.

Couto bet 500 and then looked at his cards once more, just to reassure himself perhaps. He needn't have worried. Meyers passed but Ruthenberg called for a 5♥ turn card which both players checked. They checked again on the 2♥ river. Ruthenberg's A♦6♦ trumped by Couto's A♠9♠ at the showdown.

Couto was not done there, betting 425 from the button in the next hand. Meyers was also not ready to sit idly by, calling in the small blind for a 3♣4♠6♦ flop. As if resting momentarily both checked for a 2♣ turn. Meyers bet 550. Couto leaned forward a little to think then called. On the 9♥ river Meyers bet 1,100. Couto had had enough, for this hand at least, and passed.

He'd do the same in a third hand seconds later, raising to 300 from the cut off only for Meyers to re-raise to 950 from the button, forcing Couto to fold. -- SB


1.08pm: Williams shows down fours
David Williams opened for 225 from early position and was called in three spots. The debut Team PokerStars Pro led for 500 on the 3♥K♥Q♦ flop forcing the play heads up where the action was checked through the 2♦ turn and 7♣ river. Williams' pocket fours weren't good enough to beat J♥Q♠. Would another bullet have been good enough? -- RD

1pm: Girls just wanna have fun
A battle of the ladies here. On the 7♣A♥J♠ flop Liv Boeree made it 800 and Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo called. On the 8♥ turn Boeree check-called de Melo's 1,500, and on the A♣ river she check-called de Melo's 3,000. De Melo mucked when shown the impressive A♠Q♣, adding: "Wow!" -- SY

12.58pm:Table gets tougher (twice)
The table featuring Team PokerStars Pro ElkY and Nuno Coelho, plus Jeff Sarwer, got trickier when Team Pro Mathias de Muelder sat down - followed by recent EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani! -- SY

12.57pm: Easy game
Well if your name is Jonathan Weekes it's an easy game. He's up to 90,000 chips after knocking out another player at his table. The flop came out [t][j][a] before chips went flying. PokerStars qualifier Gary Bain had pocket aces for top set but lost out to the Brit's straight with king-queen. -- MC

12.54pm: "I should have 4x'd it"
Jeff Sarwer opened from early position and was called in two spots; the hi-jack and Matthias de Meulder on the button. Sarwer bet another 600 on the A♣K♦2♠ flop and was called by the hi-jack as de Meulder mucked his hand. Both players checked the 2♣ turn before Sarwer led 2,100 into the J♥ river. His opponent quickly called and Sarwer said: "It's a split pot probably." Very astute. Sarwer tabled A♥3♠ and his opponent showed A♦5♦. "I should have made it four times the pot on the river," said Sarwer half-joking. -- RD

12.52pm: Weekes benefits from first bust-out
It didn't take long for our first player to fall and he fell at the hands of Jonathan Weekes. Weekes was long time chip leader in the recent EPT Tallinn (finished 9th) and he's at the front of the pack here now. The river was out and the board was queen high before he Fernando Brito got all their chips in the middle. Weekes had a top set of queens that was crushing his opponent's ace-queen. --MC

12.50pm: Bertrand calling
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has taken his seat, alongside Nuno Coelho and two seat from Jeff Sarwer who will be defending his big blind against the Frenchman. Where ElkY goes there follows a sense of mystery. His shoulders seem bigger this year and his arms are muscled. The same sunglasses but less of the Ed Hardy glow.

He called a bet of 325 from the button from Mohamad Kowssarie, deep in the middle of a massage, his folded body lurching forward ever two seconds.

The flop came 6♥Q♣4♦. Both checked, circling each other perhaps before embracing in combat or dance, whatever. On the 9♥ turn the first blows. Kowssarie bet 725. ElkY called for a K♣ on the river and then lazily rolled out 3,300 when Kowssarie checked to him. Kowssarie called, sitting up suddenly, then tensing, then mucking as ElkY showed his J♣T♦.

ElkY stacked his new chips and was in action again on the next hand, betting 250 from the cut off. This time Jeff Sarwer got in on things, raising to 825 from the small blind. ElkY passed with a grin, and Sarwer showed his hand, suggesting the fold was good.

"I was alive," said ElkY. "And I had position." -- SB

12.44pm: Minor hit for Pagano
Luca Pagano, the serial EPT cash specialist, lost a few thousand on this one. We picked up the action on the [10c]9♠J♦ flop, when Pagano checked, his opponent bet 450 and Pagano raised it up to 1,150. Call. The Italian then bet 2,125 on the 8♠ river and again got a call. On the 8♦ river, Pagano bet 3,925 but then had to lay it down when faced with a re-raise to 12,075. -- SY

12.37pm: Trick on the river
Sam Trickett has more than 35,000 chips already after hitting trip tens by the river to snatch a pot away from an opponent.This player raised to 250 from under-the-gun and was called by Trickett on the button and the SB. The flop came 3♥7♣T♦ and both players called the aggressor's 475 c-bet. The turn came Q♠ and only Trickett called the aggressor's 825 bet. The same player emptied the clip on the T♥ river but his 1,200 bet was raised up to 3,700 by the Brit. Call. Trickett tabled A♣T♠ for trip tens and the pot as his opponent tabled K♥K♦. --MC

12.32pm: What is it with old guys and young chicks?
Okay, the title is roundly offensive to both players involved but, hey, while it was meant to be tongue in cheek it is also contains a pertinent point. Players like Liv Boerre and Fatima Moreira de Melo (who you will know are seated together if you read the post below) seem to be given a greater opportunity than most in picking off large river bluffs made by gentlemen of a certain age. By certain, I mean middle-aged and above. It might be old school chauvinism or just a deep-seated Neanderthal instinct but there's always plenty of old guys that try to batter these accomplished young female players down. Big mistake.

Here is a perfect example of this condition: on the turn of a 9♥8♥Q♠J♥ board Liv Boeree check-called 1,200 from one, ahem, older player. Boeree considered her options on the T♣ river which she checked. Her opponent put out a large 6,300 bet and Boeree called. Her opponent mucked and I don't think that Boeree even flashed a card - despite the board showing a natural straight. An early head explosion and an easy 8,000 chips for the Season 6 San Remo winner. -- RD

12.25pm: Early (bad) action for Negreanu
On the first hand of the day a gentleman in middle position raised to 300 when Team PokerSars Pro Daniel Negreanu was in the big blind. He, like everyone else, got out of the way. But when the same player raised to 300 again on the second hand, Negreanu said: "What, again?" And made the call.

The flop was 9♠9♦5♠ and Negreanu check-called 500. He also checked-called 1,000 on the 8♦ turn - and 2,000 on the 3♥ river. But the Canadian mucked pretty sharpish when shown 9♥[10h] for flopped trips.

Negreanu is wasting no time trying to tease out info from his tablemates by engaging them in conversation. To the gentleman to his left:

"Do you have a job?"
"Are you a professional player?"
"So you are a paid criminal?"

Not sure how useful that info will be, but Kid Poker will keep it stored away. -- SY

12.18pm: Table of note #2
Three former EPT winners Antonio Matias (Vilamoura last year) Christophe Benzimra (Warsaw last year) and Rob Hollink (Monte Carlo Season 1) are all on the same table. -- SY

12.17pm: Table of note #1
Here we have formidable Team PokerStars Pro ElkY, plus his team mate from Portugal Nuno Coelho and Jeff Sarwer. Action to be expected right from the off. -- SY

12.10pm: Table draws
Only a slight delay to the start as players heard introductions from Thomas Kremser. A few notable line-ups include an early toughie, featuring Team PokerStars Pros David Williams and Richard Toth, EPT San Remo winner Liv Boeree and Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo. Elsewhere Lex Veldhuis sits opposite Jan Skampa.

11.55pm: Coming in off a sea breeze
Portugal this time of year is hot. Not Vegas desert hot, but certainly toasty enough to wilt even the sternest Northern European in its midday sun. So for most players coming into the cool tournament room at the Casino Vilamoura it's quite some relief. Among the players that will be wiping their brow are Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Noah Boeken, ElkY, Nuno Coelho and João Nunes. The last two mentioned are Portugese and will be looking to follow their fellow Team Pro and countryman Henrique Pinho in making it through to Day 2. Pinho finished Day 1A with 71,400. EPT winner Liv Boeree and last year's winner Antonio Matias are both here looking to be the first player to score an EPT double.

David Williams also starts today, his first EPT tournament as a Team PokerStars Pro, and we're expecting big things from him. Williams finished as runner-up to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP Main Event.

Players start with a large 30,000 stack at the 50-100 level (that's 300 big blinds, folks) and play a slow moving structure operating on an hour long clock. Players are seating themselves and the shuffle up and deal mantra will echo out across the tournament floor before long (in seven minutes according to tournament director Thomas Kremser).

ept vilamoura_day 1b_casino vilamoura.jpg

The action is about to start here at the Casino Vilamoura

PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT Vilamoura (in order of improvement of constitution from yesterday morning): Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Simon Young and Rick Dacey. Photos by Neil Stoddart.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour