EPT Vilamoura Day 2: Level 11 & 12 updates (1,000-2,000, 200 ante)
6.01pm: Break time
The head-long rush to the exits can only mean one thing - that's the end of level 12 and players are off on a 15-minute break. -- SY
6pm: Cantu Can-do again
Brandon Cantu up to more than 400,000 after he eliminated PokerStars qualifier Julian Stuer. Stuer got his chips in with A♣K♠ with Cantu showing J♥J♠. The board ran 6♣3♠9♦T♦4♥ sending the chips to Cantu who now has a big stack in size and in value as we approach the end of the level. -- SB
5.59pm: Race lost for Pagano
Rumen Nanev was all in for 15,000 with A-K and got a willing caller in the shape of Luca Pagano with pocket sevens. But the Italian lost his one, with the board bringing an ace - and then a king for good measure. Pagano is down to 65,000. -- SY
5.58pm: Mattern back
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern, who has had a rough day of it, finally won a decent pot and has got himself back up to 100,000. He was all-in with A-A against pocket queens, and in his words there was "no accident". -- SY
5.55pm: Oscar for Ascari
The Fabrizio Ascari show is still in full swing and will continue to be as long as he keeps hoovering up chips the way he is. His latest victim was Nikolay Evdakov who moved all-in for 22,600 from the SB when the action folded around to him. Cue the amateur dramatics from the Italian as he pondered the call and call he did after about 30 seconds with A♣A♥! Evdakov burst out laughing and was soon on his way when his Q♣8♠ failed to improve on the 4♥6♠6♦J♣7♦ board. Ascario up to a mountainous 315,000 now. -- MC
5.50pm: A chip and a chair?
5.45pm: Cantu Can-do
Brandon Cantu is up to more than 300,000 after eliminating 2707. Cantu made a straight with J♦T♥, moving in on the flop with a board reading Q♦9♦9♥3♦8♣ by the end. The pot worth 200,000 sends Cantu up towards the chip lead. -- SB
5.43pm: The longest sweat
"That's the longest sweat I've ever had," said Antoinio Esfandiari to the PokerStars blog. Esfandiari was left staring at the felt for "at least five minutes" after shoving in from the big blind over the top of Michel Abecassis who had opened the pot to 7,100. The Frenchman was the player at risk and had gone deep into the tank before a clock was finally called. The floor man counted out the minute mark, the 30-second mark, the 20-second mark and then down from ten to one at which point Abecassis mucked his hand. It was a fitting end to the table which broke immediately after. -- RD
5.40pm: No lee-way from Lewis
On a board dealt to the turn, showing T♥8♥J♦9♠, Filipa Cerqueira from Portugal, just one of two ladies still in this event (the other being Carolyn Gray from the United Kingdom) bet 22,000 from under-the-gun. Toby Lewis called with 70,000 or so already in the pot. The river came A♠. Cerqueira checked and Lewis bet another 28,300. Cerqueira tanked for a while but then called. Lewis had turned over his two red queens and was making room for his new chips before Cerqueira had even mucked. He's up to 270,000. -- SB
5.33pm: Lykov short
Max Lykov won last season's EPT Kyiv for €330,000 and went super deep at EPT Snowfest so he knows how to play these tournaments. At the moment he's having to use his short stack strategies rather than his usual big stack bullying. He just shoved for 34,000 from the cut-off to pick up 4,600 in blinds and antes, which he then used the next hand to open raise to 4,500 from the hi-jack to steal the blinds.
The Russian is up to 43,000 and his got himself a little breathing room. -- RD
5.25pm: Who needs two names?
Goncalves from France certainly doesn't but he does need two cards to win a hand. The two cards he used in a hand against EPT Tallinn finalist Nicolo Calia were A♦K♥. They served him better than the Italian's J♦J♥. Goncalves raised and then called Calia's three-bet to see a 3♦K♣5♦ flop. Goncalves led for 8,500 and was called. Both players were happy to check through the 7♥ turn and 2♣ river before the Frenchman picked up the pot. Goncalves up to 78,000 whereas Calia down to 67,000. -- MC
5.20pm: Facts among all the confusion
As a point of dubious general interest Michel Abecassis is the last remaining player in the event from last year's final table. -- SB
5.15pm: Proudfoot kicks back
Jonathan Proudfoot and Toby Lewis have been trading some big blows with each other and this time it was Proudfoot who came out on top. Lewis opened from early position for 4,700 and Proudfoot, who was his only caller, entered the action from the small blind. Both players checked the T♥3♠7♠ flop. Proudfoot checked the J♥ turn to Lewis who laid out a 6,300 bet. Enter the check-raise with a pot bumping a raise to 18,700. The move left Proudfoot with approximately 40,000 behind. Lewis made the call before both players checked the river.
Proudfoot opened A♣J♦ to the table. Top pair, top kicker was enough to take the pot and Proudfoot moved up to 88,000. -- RD
5.08pm: From Russia with love
Vyacheslav Goryachev is happily sitting on 125,000 chips after doubling through PokerStars qualifier Olivier Mallet. He was fortunate though as he held pocket queens on a queen high flop to Mallet's pocket kings. Mallet down to less than 20,000 as a result. -- MC
5.05pm: Mizzi floored
Two successive hands sent Sorel Mizzi to the rail. First, with the board showing A♦5♣2♣9♠, Mizzi bet 13,000 and EPT Monte Carlo winner Nicolas Chouity moved all in for 43,500 more. Mizzi thought for only a moment and made the call. But he was shown the bad news - Chouity had 5♦5♠ for the flopped set. Mizzi had the small-by-comparison A♥Q♠.
That left the Canadian with only 8,300, and when Patrick Carron open-raised to 4,600 on the next hand, Mizzi shoved his stack in.
Carron made the call, and his A♦6♦ was ahead of Mizzi's K♥Q♣. The board ran an ace-safe J♦J♣7♥2♥J♥ and Mizzi's Vilamoura adventure was over. -- SY
5pm: Chidwick keeping his foot down
Online crusher Stephen Chidwick has got a lot of chips and doesn't look like he's going to be shy in using them. I've twice seen him three-bet late position raises in the last couple of orbits. -- RD
4.55pm: Williams to the rail
Fabrizio Ascari continues to race towards the lead having just dispatched Team PokerStars Pro David Williams. Williams had tangled with the Italian earlier today, not with great joy, and now was given the ultimate send off.
Williams opened for 5,200 on the button which Ascari raised to 20,000 in the big blind. Williams then pushed for 45,200 sending Ascari into the tank. He came out calling, showing A♥J♠ to Williams's A♠9♣. The board ran J♣5♣J♦5♠Q♣. Ascari up to 270,000 as Williams departs his first EPT as a Team PokerStars Pro. -- SB
4.53pm: Changing world
How things change. Within half an hour of the start today we were reporting on the plight of Antonio Esfandiari who lost three hands that took him from 130,000 to around 30,000 before he'd got comfortable in his chair. Well, Esfandiari has rallied somewhat, restoring his stack to a working 100k.
Just to provide a nice contrast to that, our day two chip leader Leonid Bilokur has just 42,000 remaining after an active first three levels. At one stage it seemed he could do no wrong and was powerfully racking up a stack from a table unable to match him chip for chip. Not anymore. -- SB
4.50pm: Hungry for chips
Karolis Grybauskas has been eliminated by Hungarian player Andras Nemeth. Nemeth raised from early position and then quickly called the 28,000 all-in push from Grybauskas. Grybauskas opened T♠T♦ to Nemeth's K♣K♠ and the board ran K♦2♣5♦A♦Q♠. The door card pretty much did it for the Lithuanian. --MC
4.45pm: Playing again
Cards are back in the air.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 1,000-2,000, ANTE 200
4.30pm: Break time
Players are on another break at the end of level 11.
4.25pm: Torque or talk of an Ascari?
In real life an Ascari is a six-speed 625 bhp British sports car (yes, at least one still exists) built in Oxfordshire, that can reach speeds of 60mph in less than three seconds and 100mph in less than six. At the EPT Vilamoura Ascari is a player with the first name Fabrizio, who can reach similar speeds with his mouth in less than two.
You don't have to see Ascari to know he's there so sitting next to him is an ordeal unique right now to PokerStars qualifier Fergal Nealon. Or at least it was before the Irishman walked into a trap, set by Ascari, which now finds Nealon on the rail.
On a flop of 3♣J♣J♦ Ascari made it 1,600 from under-the-gun before Nealon, on his immediate right, raised to 8,100. Ascari then moved all-in and at that point the hand seemed at an end. Ascari had pushed for around 100,000, easily covering Nealon who held his cards just off the felt ready to fold. Or so it seemed.
Ascari held his hand out flat for Nealon to see, as if to suggest strength, no nerves, as he bounced to the music pumping through his earphones. Then he did something that changed everything. He openly congratulated Nealon on the fold he was about to make.
"Nice fold," said Ascari, holding his own cards outstretched, ready to pass un-shown to the dealer. Suddenly Nealon had lost face and, with his ego bumped, pulled back on his folding idea, which he seemed about to do, and began examining the alternatives. He turned around in his seat to look at the board - 130 players remained, still a good way from the money.
"Nice fold," said Ascari again, and Nealon shifted uneasily again, as it became clear he now didn't want to fold, at least not against this guy.
But if you hadn't already figured it out for yourself, that was Nealon's mistake. Suddenly he announced "call," then almost simultaneously announced that word American TV stations don't like very much, as he realised his A♣5♣ looked desperate against Ascari's 3♥3♠.
The turn Q♦ and river 8♦ changed nothing for Nealon, who gathered his belongings as Ascari cheered his success.
"Very difficult," yelled Ascari. "The psychology," yelled Ascari. "Come on," yelled Ascari, before finally shaking Nealon's hand before the Irishman presumably sought treatment for Post-Traumatic shock.
A big hand for the Italian, who is now up to 220,000. -- SB
4.22pm: Lucky for Lewis
Jacks. They're frequently cited as a player's most difficult hand to play but maybe that's because people aren't playing them like Toby Lewis. He has a simple strategy; get 'em in and suckout. Lewis raised from middle position to 3,700 and the big blind, fellow Brit Jonathan Proudfoot, three-bet to 11,500. Lewis put the pressure back on with a raise to 23,600. Proudfoot then raised again to somewhere in the region of 35,000. Lewis shipped it in for 90,000 and Proudfoot made the call.
It was not the board that Proudfoot was looking for. In fact it was pretty far from what he was hoping for. The 2♥J♣3♣6♦8♦ board gifted Lewis top set and boosted him up to 180,000. See, playing jacks is easy. -- RD
4.15pm: Kelly finds the flush handle
JP Kelly must've had enough of the golf chat as he has eliminated James Dempsey to move up to 225,000. Dempsey raised, Kelly three-bet, Dempsey four-bet, Kelly five-bet jammed and Dempsey called all-in for a big showdown:
The board ran A♣2♦9♠8♣T♥. Kelly said: "Unlucky," and Dempsey wished everyone good luck and made his exit. -- MC
4.06pm: Thang punishes limpers
Joao Oliveira limped from early position and got three callers. But when it got around to Denmark's Thomas Thang in the big blind, he moved all-in for 28,000 and all the limpers scarpered quickly. -- SY
4.02pm: Lykov all or nothing
EPT player of the year Max Lykov is tryng to make things happen to improve his 60,000 stack. The Russian opened for 3,500 and got calls from Dara O'Kearney and Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki in the big blind. On the 9♣J♦4♠ flop, Lykov, who won EPT Kyiv last year, bet 5,600 but O'Kearney re-raised to 12,200. Horecki got out of the way, but Lykov then moved his remaining 50,000 into the middle. O'Kearney mucked in an instant. -- SY
3.58pm: Moving on
On a board of K♦5♥3♥5♠9♥, and a bundle of chips in the middle, William Thorson bet 11,600 with only JP Kelly left to take him on and the floor staff waiting to break the table. All eyes were on him. Call? Yes. Thorson showed J♦5♦ to win the hand as Kelly mucked. Thorson back up to 53,000 and on his way to a new table. -- SB
3.53pm: No Faulting Foltyn
Herve Lefevre moved all-in with pocket nines only to run into a pair of kings. He lost, but had just covered his caller, meaning he had to be called back from his walk to the door to play his last 500. Two hands later he through what was left of it into the middle.
Juan Barros immediately raised to 4,500 while Paul Foltyn did the same for a flop of A♠Q♦9♦. Both checked for a turn card T♠. Barros then bet 9,000 while Foltyn raised to 20,000 before Barros shoved all-in for a little more. Foltyn snap called and turned over what would be a victorious K♥J♥. Barros showed Q♠Q♥ while Lefevre made his second walk to the exit of the day after showing 7♣8♥. Two more players gone. -- SB
3.49pm: Vicky Coren out
"I'm not even going to sit down," said Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren as she planted one knee upon her chair at her new table (already populated by the likes of Max Lykov, Antonio Esfandiari and Jonathan Weekes). Coren was lacking in ammo with just 11,900 left in her stack desperately searching for a good spot to get her chips in.
Hand one: No dice for Coren as Esfandiari opened from early position to 3,100 picking up a solo caller in Jonathan Weekes from the big blind. Esfandiari's 5,300 continuation bet did enough to push Weekes off the T♦5♦9♥ flop.
Hand two: The action folded to Coren in middle position and she quickly flung her 11,500 stack into the middle picking up two calls in the process - a good spot to treble up for the Season 3 EPT London winner . Per Martin Jacobson and Felix Alves checked the flop down to the A♠6♠A♥Q♦4♥ river at which point Jacobson bet 13,000. Alves passed and Coren knew she was in bad shape. Jacobsen tabled K♥Q♠ for top two-pair as Coren said: "I was ahead on the flop," and flipped 6♦2♥. -- RD
3.42pm: Best of British
Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly, Toby Lewis (178,000) and James Dempsey (92,000) have all found their way to the same table and are in great spirits. Their chit-chat is consisting mostly of golf right now but the former of these ducked out of the conversation to win a pot from Jonathan Proudfoot, who also happens to be British.
The action folded to Proudfoot on the button who raised to 4,000 and was only called by Kelly in the SB. The flop came J♠Q♣7♥ and both checked to the 8♥ turn. Kelly led for 7,000 and was called by his fellow Brit to go to the 5♥ river. Once more Kelly led, this time for 14,000 only to face a raise to 42,000. Kelly counted his stack then counted the extra to call and threw the chips into the middle. Proudfoot mucked and Kelly scooped the pot without having to reveal his hand. He's up to 150,000. -- MC
3.35pm: More luck for bloggers!
Another email drops in to email@example.com that has us scratching our heads. How can we get so much good fortune in one day? So far we've been promised around $3million, and now a lovely lady called Benita says she is looking for a handsome, god-fearing man to look after her.
We don't actually recall registering on a site called Arab Dating, but clearly we must have done because Benita says she found us there. We've just got to send her some pics, and then introductions will surely follow.
"May God bless you as I wait impatiently to read you," she says breathlessly. Wooohoooo! -- SY
3.30pm: All the ladies in the house
It's not all about the players. Spare a thought for the wives too, many of whom stand watching from a rail set up too far away for them to actually see anything, but are expected to be on hand to comfort and encourage when called for.
They do that up to that moment when their man (and it's rarely a man watching his girlfriend) is eliminated. As they curse and swear their way out of the tournament room their sweetheart follows hoping to be able to find the right words. The ones who've done this before know to say nothing.
We salute you, wives and girlfriends of players. -- SB
3.28pm: Kamutzki catching
"I was just saying to someone at the break that I'm doing a good job of grinding my stack down and then getting it in bad and winning," said Heinz Kamutzki. Very true, Herr Kamutzki. The German had squeezed over the top of a 3,600 button raise from Valdemar Kwaysser. Viktor Jensen had called in the small blind and Kamutzki had shoved 30,500 into the middle. Kwaysser called and Jensen passed.
It was a good call from Kwaysser who must have known Kamutzki, a very active player, would be squeezing light but that didn't mean he'd be rewarded for it. The flop put the German ahead with 9♦8♣3♠ and Kwaysser never caught up. Kamutzki is up to 64,000. -- RD
3.25pm: Boeree bashed up
Liv Boeree has Tweeted that she lost a 250k pot with eight-seven to an opponent with pocket queens on an  flop. Her opponent must have got there. She was down to 19,000 after this and news has just reached us she's busted and is off to the beach. --MC
3.20pm: This high-roller's stop rolling
PCA High-Roller champion Will Reynolds has been eliminated. He was down to his last 16,000 when he pushed from the button with king-ten when the action folded around to him. Janos Toth was sat in the SB and called with ace-eight and Reynolds failed to improve. --MC
3.15pm: And we're off again
Players are back from the break,. We're due to play another four levels or down to the money, whichever comes first. One man enjoying his break is Team PokerStars Pro Pieter de Korver, up to 195,000. -- SY
3.05pm: More riches for bloggers
Following the 1.52pm update in our last post, where we described how an Elizabeth Johnson had kindly offered us millions to get a fortune out of her deceased father's African bank account, we're overjoyed to receive another email at firstname.lastname@example.org offering us a $2million cut of a $10million fortune.
This time the very generous offer comes from Miss Finda Fallah from Nigeria, who is grieving the loss of her parents - but has recovered enough to try and get her hands on their fortune. She just needs the PokerStars bloggers' help, and as requested we've sent off our bank account details to her to get the ball rolling. We really are having a very lucky day. -- SY
PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of hot curries consumed last night): Simon Young (lamb vindaloo), Marc Convey (chicken madras), Rick Dacey (chicken jalfrezi), Stephen Bartley (prawn biriyani)