EPT Berlin: Day 1A, level 7, 8 & 9 updates (blinds 500-1,000, 100 ante)

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11.40pm: Play ends for the day
Four of the last five hands passed without incident. The last hand at table eight had a lot of drama though. We don't have the details of the hand but Cristian Dragomir eliminated Benny Spindler and in doing so leap-frogged Martin Jacobson (177,000), Maximilian Heinzelmann (186,400) and Mayu Roca (190,000) to claim the overnight chip lead on 205,500. -- MC

11.32pm: Winding down
Some tables are now bagging up. Chips counts and wraps will come soon(ish). -- RD

11.25pm: Last five hands
The clock has stopped and we're playing five more hands. There's currently 162 players left, according to the board. -- RD

11.20pm: No friends at the poker table
Kevin Stani and Jeff Sarwer have built a close friendship after meeting on the poker trail but the two play hard against each other when facing off over the baize. There was an under-the-gun raise to 2,800 that drew in Sarwer from mid-position and Stani from the big blind.

The flop came down 7♣T♠8♦ and it was Sarwer who bet first for 4,800. Stani was the only caller to the 8♣ turn where he check-called an 8,500 bet from Sarwer. The river came T♦ and Stani checked again. Sarwer checked behind saying, "I flopped the nut straight, do you have a full-house?"

Stani nodded and revealed A♥8♥. "So sick," added Sarwer who tabled J♦9♦. He's down to 82,000 and Stani is up to 62,000. -- MC

11.14pm: Linde defies positional advantage to claim pot
Per Linde just took a pot off Benny Spindler when out of position. The Swede raised to 2,300 from under-the-gun and called when Spindler three-bet to 5,300. The two were heads-up to a dangerous looking A♠T♠K♦ flop, and both checked. The turn came 6♠ and Linde led for 6,500 to take the pot, Spindler wasn't interested in hanging around. He drops to 63,000 whereas Linde is up to 74,000. -- MC


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Per Linde


11pm: El Nasr holds fast
When players get involved in the blinds it can lead to some of those situations where a player is left scratching their head and wondering what the hell happened. Then again, playing Nasr El Nasr probably does that to a man.

The German is back up to 100,000 after picking off an optimistic river bluff when El Nasr held top pair - his opponent had fired 17,000 with bottom pair. To save the player's embarrassment, I won't name him*. -- RD

* This, of course, is not the reason. I realised he wasn't who I initially thought it was when I returned to my desk and by the time I made it back to the table he was busto.

10.50pm: Spinks wins in the battle of Britain
Jon Spinks had just gotten the better of Dean Sanders in a battle of two players from the British Isles. Spinks raised to 2,400 and called when Sanders three-bet to 5,400 from the small blind. The flop came down T♥4♠T♣ and Sanders continued for 6,500 only to face a raise to 14,300 from Spinks. He thought for a few minutes before folding and dropping down to 34,000. Spinks meanwhile climbs up to 57,000. -- MC

10.38pm: Last level of the day
The last sixty minutes of today's play is upon us. -- MC

10.22pm: Van Til takes more from Hallaert
Johannes Van Til has just taken another chunk out of Kenny Hallaert, this time a little larger. Van Til called two bets from Hallaert on a 4♥3♣Q♣Q♥7♥ board; 3,700 on the flop and 8,500 on the turn, before both players checked the river. Van Til's Q♦J♦ trumping Hallaert's pocket nines. Van Til is on close to 70,000 now.

Break time. -- RD

10.12pm: Big names re-raising each other
Two separate tables and four different notable players all tangling in a pre-flop raising wars.

The first to succeed was Martin Jacobson, over Marvin Rettenmaier. He raised to 1,725 from mid-position before Rettenmaier three-bet to 4,325 from the cut-off. Jacobson then four-bet to 10,225 and it did the job as the German prospect tank-folded. Jacobson is up to 155,000, whereas Rettenmaier drops to 38,000.

Three tables along and three minutes later Kenny Hallaert raised to 1,000 to face a big 5,700 three-bet from PokerStars qualifier Johan van Til. Hallert thought for a while but smiled and let his hand go. He's on 44,000 to Van Til's 40,000. -- MC

10pm: Changes at the top
Jeff Sarwer continues to drop off the lead, down to around 110,000. He also just made a small donation to the Kevin Stani fighting fund.

Right now Stani is a player difficult to fault. Down to 20,000 earlier he's now back up to 50,000 after first winning the pot against Sarwer, forcing a fold from the Canadian on a board of 9♣6♣Q♥A♥5♥, then a another off chip leader Antonio Buonanno, who passed to Stani when the Norwegian bet on a flop of 5♦2♠K♠.

It's getting easy to think that, with an hour-and-a-half to play, Buonanno might not be the chip leader by the close. - SB

9.55pm: Mattern glutton for punishment
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern is a bit of a sadist, or so it would seem. Not only is he continuing to get beaten up in the tournament, he's on a half chip stack average of around 20,000, but he's also getting the most painful looking massage I've seen at a poker table. The masseuse has both of his arms behind his back and is yanking them back with no little amount of force. Through the grimace of pain Mattern said: "Can you believe I'm paying for this?" -- RD

9.50pm: Sarwer loses some back
Jeff Sarwer's charge has been dented somewhat after he doubled-up his neighbour to drop to 115,000 chips. The action folded to the Canadian on the button who raised to 1,700 only to face a 4,500 three-bet from the small blind. With the action back on Sarwer, he made it 13,000 and then called when the small blind tank shoved for 28,250.

Sarwer tabled A♠K♠ to the small blind's J♦J♣ and the board ran 6♣8♦J♠9♥5♥. The hand was over by the turn. -- MC

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Jeff Sarwer, still happily chipped up

9.48pm: Big stacks keep grinding
Nasr El Nasr and Cristian Dragomir are doing their best to keep the chip leader in sight. El Nasr is sat on 130,000 despite losing a small pot to Torsten Brinkmann when the German raised and fired two bullets at a T♣3♠9♣5♦ board. Dragomir, yes, he of that famous Hellmuth rant and final table at EPT Snowfest, is up to 125,000 after a peculiar hand against Nemes Silviu-Virgil.

Dragomir had called from the small blind after Silviu-Virgil opened from the cut-off. The Romanian check-called 2,500 on the 7♠5♣T♣ flop and check-raised from 3,000 to 6,000 on the 3♣ turn. The A♦ on the river was enough for Dragomir to bet 11,725 and also enough for Silviu-Virgil to call. Dragomir showed A♣K♠ for top pair and raked in the large pot. -- RD

9.40pm: Stani and deliver
Kevin Stani just got stuck into the chip leader Antonio Buonanno to take his stack up to 33,000.

The Italian opened for 1,700 in early position which Stani called for a flop of 8♦2♣A♠. Buonanno then continued his series of bets, making it 2,100. Stani, pressing buttons on his iPhone, called, stifling a yawn.

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Kevin Stani

On the 3♠ turn card Buonanno bet another 2,100 which again, Stani called while fiddling with his phone. On the T♠ river Buonanno changed tack, checking to the Norwegian who reached for his chips and bet 3,600. Buonanno, with chips to spare, called, showing K♣K♥. But Stani's A♣J♠ had that beat. Jeff Sarwer, sitting at the opposite end of the table, tapped the table. -- SB

9.30pm: Thorson hammered by Vitkind
Dmitry Vitkind is up to 90,000 after eliminating William Thorson. Thorson explained from the rail that he flatted a 1,300 raise with 4♥2♥ before Vitkind squeezed to 4,200 with K♦9♦. The original raiser folded but Thorson called to go to the 2♦3♥8♥ flop.

Thorson check-called a 4,200 c-bet from the Russian to see the K♥ turn. Thorson checked to face a 7,200 bet that he raised another 15,000 in an all-in push. Vitkind called and faded all Thorson's outs to claim the pot and the scalp. -- MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 400-800, ante 750


9.20pm: Nasr collapsing, Buonanno the new leader
What news of Nasr El Nasr? The German pro has slipped somewhat, down from 150,000 to around 110,000 after what our German correspondent suggested was not one big hand but several smaller ones. He's now moved from the upstairs tournament room to a seat on Jack Ellwood's table. Former EPT winner Jaoa Barbosa is also at that table.

Several other players are now stepping forward to lead. Jeff Sarwer has a little more than 150,000, as does Antonio Buonanno on the same table. But the likely leader right now is Mathias Kuerschner, a PokerStars qualifier from Germany, who is on more than 150,000.

No, scratch that. Buonnano is now the clear chip leader with more than 175,000. He just eliminated Juha Helppi, calling the Finn's all in with A♠9♦ with A♦2♥ on a flop of [a][x][2]. -- SB

9.16pm: Thorson wins three-way dance, EPT winners concede
William Thorson opened the action from middle position to 1,300 and was called by two of this season's EPT winners; Lucien Cohen (Deauville) in the hijack and Toby Lewis (Vilamoura) on the button.

Thorson c-bet 2,400 into the 4♦9♠4♥ flop and was called by both players. The J♦ slowed all three players down as the action checked around. There was no further betting on the 3♠ river either. Cohen showed T♦9♥, Lewis mucked and Thorson showed A♣J♣ to take the pot. A simple raise and take took the next pot for Thorson too who is now sitting on 35,000. Lewis is on 40,000 and Cohen down to 16,000. -- RD

9.10pm: Short stack battle
PokerStars qualifiers Kevin Stani and Nicolas Hahn plus French pro Antony Lellouche are all sitting in-a-row and all on or around 20,000. The three just played a hand out that could of seen any of them bust - but none did.

The hand started with a Stani button raise to 1,200 and flat calls from the other two players in the blinds. The flop came J♦4♣6♦ and Stani c-bet for 1,600. Hahn called quickly but Lellouche raised to 4,700 (12,000 behind). The decision was back on Stani and he thought for a good few minutes before moving all-in for 17,000. Both his opponent folded quickly, and surprisingly.

Lellouche and his remaining 12,000 didn't last long as he was seen taking the walk of shame a few minutes later. -- MC

9pm: Rinne runs close to 100,000
Garlef Konstantin Rinne was all set to move up to around 120,000 chips before a turned flush for Mark Hirleman put an end to his fledgling leadership bid. Instead Rinne has been knocked back to 65,000.

Hirleman meanwhile has doubled-up to more than 55,000 having opened for 1,700 and then re-shoved after Rinne raised to 6,250. Rinne called the all-in, turning over A♣Q♠, ahead of Hirleman's T♥Q♥.

But fortune was good to Hirleman, the board running 3♥6♥7♦K♥3♦ to keep him in the tournament. - SB

8.55pm: Wice rolls the dice
Alex Wice has dropped down to 47,000 after he took a gamble that didn't pay off against Jean Paul Pasqualini.

The Canadian player raised to 1,500 from early position and was called by Pasqualini in the next seat before a player on the button three-bet to 4,375. Wice flat called but Pasqualini quickly moved all-in for 25,025. The player on the button folded but Wice called after he worked out some maths in his head. He said, "Okay, I'll gamble with you".

Pasqualini: 9♣9♠
Wice: 5♠5♣

The board ran T♣9♦6♦4♦A♥. Wice had turned over and mucked his cards after the turn left him drawing dead. -- MC

8.51pm: Lyall wins at showdown
Dean Lyall is now sitting at the Pantaleo-Blain table and has chipped back up above his starting stack after showing down K♠J♠ on a 2♥6♦K♦A♠5♦ board. Guiseppe Pantaleo had check-called on the flop and turn but still found himself behind to the king. -- RD


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Dean Lyall


8.48pm: Sarwer keeps up the pressure
Jeff Sarwer's assault on the chip lead has continued with a small pot taken from EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani. Sarwer dipped into his large stack to pluck out a 1,300 open raise. Stani defended his big blind and passed to a 1,750 c-bet on the 9♦7♠9♠ flop.

Stani is down to 20,00, Sarwer up to 130,000. -- RD

8.43pm: M.I.A.
Andrew Teng and Tim Finne were sitting next to each other at a table at the far end of the room. Both their seats are now filled with different players. We can assume, for now, that the two of them are out.

Another player who is definitely out is PokerStars qualifier Pierre Neuville. He was just heard bemoaning his luck with ace-king on the rail. -- MC

8.38pm: Sarwer souring
Jeff Sarwer's Day 1A campaign just got another boost after he eliminated Nicolas Hahn, who had open shoved for 11,000 from middle position which Sarwer called from the cut off. There was another caller but he check-folded on the 7♣3♦Q♠ flop when Sarwer bet another 10,000.

Hahn turned over A♥J♥ against Sarwer's 9♥9♦. The turn 8♣ and river 2♣ did nothing to save Hahn. Sarwer increases his stack yet again. - SB

8.32pm: Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria Balding talks to Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth in part one of his spotlight interview...


8.30pm: No chance of leading
Two players who won't be toppling Nasr El Nasr are PokerStars qualifier Dominik Nitsche
and Jonathan Weekes. The two were neighbours at table three but both are eliminated, and their table will be much happier for that. -- MC

8.22pm: Back from dinner
All the players are back in their seats for Level 7. All the players bellies are full of ribs, tapas or most probably burgers from the McDonalds across the street. As we already mentioned we have this level and two more to play before the close. German pro Nasr El Nasr still leads the way with around 150,000 but he has work to do to keep it that way. -- MC

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All these players want to be the end of day chip leader

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Berlin (in no particular order of what we ate for dinner): Stephen Bartley (Schnitzel and very nice it was too), Marc Convey (A very tasty prawn stir-fry and rice) and Rick Dacey (Sushi which he thoroughly enjoyed). All pictures (c) Neil Stoddart.

Marc Convey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour