EPT Berlin: Day 2, level 10 & 11 updates (blinds 800-1,600, 200 ante)

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3pm: The chip leader is dead, long live the chip leader!
Overnight chip leader Sander Berndsen has not had a good day. He started with 242,900 and was down to 130,000 when he busted to Nima Ahrary, who with 330,000 has become the new chip leader.

Berndsen had called an open raise to 4,000 before getting three-bet squeezed by Ahrary to 13,800. Berndsen came back over the top to 29,000 and then called Ahrary's shove. Ahrary held queens to Berndsen pocket nines with the board running out J♥3♦A♦J♦A♠. The Dutchman had started the day with four times the chip average and now, less two levels later, is busto. Good work.

That's a break. Join us in a new post in 15 minutes.-- RD

2.58pm: Eames' flight over as Bichon soars
Thomas Bichon is up to 285,000 after knocking out John Eames and another player. The Brit opened with jacks before Bichon three-bet with aces. Another player four-bet all-in for 32,000 with ace-queen and Eames re-shoved behind. Bichon made the call and the board ran nine high. -- MC

2.55pm: Eames' wings clipped
EPT Copenhagen third place finisher John Eames got off to a great start today as he grew his 78,300 stack up to 150,000 in quick fashion. He's back down to 121,000 now after an opponent bluffed him off a pot.

Eames was in the big blind and called a 3,500 raise to see a 9♥8♣6♣ flop where he led for 5,000. His opponent called to see the 5♥ turn where he raised Eames' 8,600 bet up to 17,800. Eames tank folded and was shown A♣K♠. -- MC

2.53pm: Judet busted
Team PokerStars Pro Tony Judet is out. Our photographer Neil told us that he got the last of his chips in with ace-queen and made two-pair but his opponent made a set of tens to take the pot and the scalp. -- MC

2.50pm: Dragomir slayed
A huge hit for the now former chip leader Cristian Dragomir, who just lost half of his stack in a hand against Jason Helder.

I didn't see the hand, and the person who did caught the action from the turn, with the board reading A♠K♣J♦6♦. Dragomir had bet 28,400. Helder then shoved for 54,400, before a cameraman shoved his way to the front - 54,000 being about the going rate for television interest.

Dragomir tanked for five minutes or so, eventually telling Helder that he was good but calling anyway, the confession being a kind of insurance policy against looking ridiculous.

Dragomir showed K♦7♦ for top pair and a flush draw against Helder's 8♦8♣ set. The river turned that into quads, coming 8♥ and Helder shot up to 220,000, leaving Dragomir with around 150,000. - SB


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Dragomir's stack dented by quads


2.45pm: Ugly nit-roll knocks out Horecki
I just managed to wriggle through to one of the back tables to see Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki move all-in for 19,600 over two early positions limps. The blinds, George Danzer (140,000) and Jack Ellwood (105,000), both passed as did the initial limper. The second limper, Marco Morales, asked for a count and took a few seconds before announcing call... with A♥K♦.

Horecki showed J♥2♥ and did not look happy about the situation, not so much that he was a 35/65 dog but for the amount of time it took for the slow-roll/nit-roll* to take place. Horecki picked up a good draw on the turn of the Q♠4♦5♠3♣T♥ board but failed to catch the river. -- RD

* delete as you see fit

2.40pm: The story of Fabrizio Ascari
One day someone will write a film about Fabrizio Ascari. A story of individual style in the face of overwhelming convention, it will come complete with a soundtrack by Etta James, featuring slow motion montages of the animated Italian in a variety of poses, his face pictured in a variety of expressions, playing poker with the flourish of an 17th century cavalier, the flamboyance of an American wrestler and the killer instinct of a delegation from the United Nations.

This being just the second level of the day all is quiet on the Ascari front, for the time being. Last night he ended the day with a double up and every now and again would laugh the laugh of the contented, a deep infectious growl that brought him back today with 77,500 chips. He has 55,000 of those left.

That spirit is missing today though. After Julien Labussiere opened for 3,700 in the hijack Ascari called from the button for a 6♣8♥4♣ flop. Labussiere , young, fresh-faced, keeping himself to himself, bet another 4,600. Ascari, grizzled, bearded, called. No problem.

The turn came Q♠ which both players checked, then the A♥ river. Another 12,700 from Labussiere who waited as Ascari peered over his sunglasses at the chips before Labussiere , then removed his glasses completely, making it easier for him to rub his face. No, nothing to be done here. Ascari, not yet in gear, down to 45,000. - SB

2.30pm: Top set no good for Sanders
Dean Sanders was just telling some interesting stories about how his table has been going so far today. We've already covered how Sebastian Ruthenberg won a big three-way pot (see 1.15pm) but a little extra information is that he fell behind to one of is opponent's who flopped an ace before the German backed into a flush.

Sanders himself has dropped to around 54,000 after doubling-up Heinz Kamutzki. He raised with kings from the button and called when the German moved in with A♠3♠ from the big blind. The flop came king high but all spades and the board failed to pair on the turn and river. -- MC

2.18pm: Anna's card Marquez
PokerStars qualifier Ana Marquez was chip leader with three tables left at the PCA in January, but ended up exiting in 10th for $155,000. She has failed to repeat her success here after busting to neighbour, Sven Reichardt. The two were very short with around 30,000 chips apiece and they all went in preflop.

Reichardt: Q♦Q♠
Marquez: 4♣4♠

The board ran 6♥J♣6♠K♠J♦ to seal her fate. - MC

2.09pm: Upstairs, downstairs
I've just taken a quick promenade around the tournament floor upstairs, which is fast compressing down to just a few tables.

Cristian Dragomir is still on 260,000, Henrique Pinho has chipped up to 150,000 while Sebastian Ruthenberg is scarily running up a big stack, some 240,000. The German Team PokerStars Pro is a previous EPT winner and of many that would make a very worthy candidate for being the first double winner. Still a long way to go for that though.


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Sebastian Ruthenberg: stacking up and smiling


Other players are having trouble getting started today, Salvatore Bonavena has 48,000 and is looking a little resigned to being card dead at the moment. Still, he's doing better than Jon Spinks who is one of the many players that have taken the trip to Bustoville this afternoon. He ran king-jack into ace-queen and failed to get there. -- RD

2pm: Table 13 unlucky for some
Table 13 wasn't a lucky table for EPT Vilamoura champion Toby Lewis today. He was just seen making his exit with a resigned look upon his face.

The same can't be said for Giuseppe Pantaleo since he moved there. He's up to 160,000 after forcing PokerStars qualifier Philipp Uhrig to fold on a 6♥J♣6♠K♠J♦ board. -- MC


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No EPT joy for Toby Lewis this time around


1.50pm: Return to Sander
Well, it was fun talking about ties and stuff while it lasted. Sander Berndsen is not out but his once mighty stack is now just a shadow of its former self, reduced to 71,000. Details are unclear, even from our Dutch correspondent, who broke the news to us. Does Berndsen have what it takes to turn his tournament around? - SB

1.45pm: Play resumes
The remaining 305 players are back in their seats for level 11. -- MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 800-1,600, ANTE 200


1.40pm: Smooth moves
Gloria Balding looks at the relation between chess and poker. Really, it's not as dull as it sounds.

1.30pm: Heitmann still on the up
Jan Heitmann was one of the players I found myself following for large swathes of time yesterday, given his penchant for destroying his own stack before ever so swiftly rebuilding a large chip monolith in its place.

In a game where many players sit stony-faced, staring at the centre of the board, Heitmann is one of those refreshing players that plays an open, expansive game while (often) retaining a relaxed demeanour. And he likes to stick chips in his eyes.

The German Team PokerStars Pro talked about riding a rollercoaster yesterday, which he finished on a high, but could it possibly be on the downwards corkscrew today? Not so at the moment. He just barrelled a 4♣8♣2♥4♦ board to push Morten Kjaer off the pot.

It's the first 15-minute break of the day. -- RD


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Eyes on the prize, Jan Heitmann yesterday


1.28pm: More for Dragomir
Cristian Dragomir's EPT charge is showing no signs of slowing down. He just won a 130,000 pot against Simon Charette and eliminated him in the process. His ace-king got there against the Canadian's pocket jacks. The Romanian is up to 260,000 chips. -- MC

1.25pm: Blain flushed his chips
Dermot Blain is up to 135,000 chips after doubling-up through Nedzib Suman. All the chips went in on a K♣T♣7♠ flop with the Irishman holding a drawing A♣Q♣ to his Swedish opponent's K♥7♥. The board ran out 2♣6♥ making a flush for Blain. Suman hadn't seen that the flush had come and starting shouting in celebration but soon quieted down when his mistake was pointed out. -- MC


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Dermot Blain


1.15pm: Ruthenberg double knock out
Sebastian Ruthenberg is up to 170,000 after getting in kings against queens and ace-king for a 75,000 pot. Nice way to start the day. -- RD

1.10pm: Berndsen burned
Sander Berndsen just re-engaged, although the result didn't go according to plan. On a flop of 6♣J♥4♦ his opponent Alessandro Laubinger in the small blind checked, allowing the Dutchman to bet 5,200 which Laubinger then raised to 12,000. Now it was Berndsen calling.

On the 2♥ turn Berndsen called Laubinger's bet of 11,000 then on the A♥ river paused before calling Laubinger's bet of 16,000, draping his arm over the back of the chair a while before eventually calling.

But like so many calls made int his way it had hallmarks of being more optimistic than effective. Laubinger showed K♥J♣ to win the hand, Berndsen left nodding his head, as if he'd agreed with Laubinger all along, and down now to 186,000. - SB

1.05pm: Lights, camera, Geshkenbein
Vladimir Geshkenbein is getting his first experience of having the EPT television cameras pointing at him. As anyone who watched him in Snowfest would expect, he's treating it with the ambivalence he usually reserves for his opponents.

He's raised to 7,300 from the small blind after an opener from Matthias Neu, and was staring out into space while Neu took his time calling. When he did the flop came A♣5♥5♣. With equal disregard Geshkenbein, who has the expression of a man who knows something the rest of us don't, bet another 7,300 as a matter of course, a cover charge that Neu would have to pay if he wanted to continue.

He didn't. Geshkenbein was down a little, now back up a little to 150,000. - SB


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The TV table


1pm: Spinks on Dragomir
Some players come back on Day 2 with a big stack, others not so. Jon Spinks is one of the players less well endowed (in terms of today's starting stack) while Cristian Dragomir is pumped up with 205,000. That's no coincidence either.

Spinks lost a large pot to Dragomir towards the end of Day 1A just before the Croatian hit a one-outer on Benny Spindler for a 190,000 pot at the death to leap into the chip lead. Dragomir is an emotional player but don't take that as a veiled comment to say that he's not good or just plain lucky, "Although some people might not think it, Cristian has got game," said Spinks, a respected young online grinder before adding "he's actually a pretty nice guy."

There's been little movement for either of them so far today. Spinks is nursing 34,000, Dragomir has taken a small hit but isn't far off 200,000. -- RD

12.52pm: Mattern on an Elky style comeback
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern was just kind enough to text Team PokerStars blog about his recent double-up. It read:

Double up blind battle. All in pre king-seven versus ace-eight. 35k. Starting an ElkY run good comeback. - MC

12.50pm: Introducing your overnight chip leader
Sander Berndsen has let the first dozen hands or so pass him by. The chip leader is in no rush to consolidate, and his stack of 240,000 remains largely untouched.

There's something appealing about Berndsen. It could be the collar and tie. Like yesterday Berndsen is dressed formally, somehow adding a welcome thread of continuity from days of yore, days of big collars, hefty man-jewellery and gaudy panache, in a room filled with mail order elastication, XXXL t-shirts and shoes that don't require laces.

Could Berndsen be that golden era's reincarnation? Ties striped left to right, hair patterned on the Italian footballer of the early 1990s, a silver ring on his left ring finger which three hands later reappeared on his right pointy finger. He's a jumble of manicured precision, his every move deliberate, unhurried and successful. Could he indeed?

Whatever, he just folded another hand, the 13th I'd watched him play. Come on man, loosen up. - SB

12.45pm: Strassmann manoeuvred off a hand
Team PokerStars Pro Johannes Strassmann is down to 110,000 after folding to a river bet from Filip Verboven.

The German was out of position and this seemed to prove critical. He raised from the cut-off and was called by Verboven on the button to go to the J♦9♥2♣ flop. Strassmann continued for 4,000 and was called by the Belgian. The turn came A♣ and Strassmann fired again, for 10,000. Call. The river was 6♥ and the German check-folded to a 18,000 bet. -- MC

12.34pm: Mattsson happily squeezed
Stefan Mattsson is up to 70,000 chips after PokerStars qualifier Maksim Semisoshenko attempted a squeeze play gone wrong. Matsson raised with ace-king and was flat called by Nino Wagner in the next seat before Semisoshenko moved all-in from the big blind. Mattsson re-shipped to isolate and it worked as Wagner folded. The board bricked and Mattsson has got just the start he was looking for. -- MC

12.26pm: Rollercoaster of love
Gloria Balding romances interviews Team PokerStars Pro Jan Heitmann before play.

12.22pm: Table draws
There are always plenty of brutal looking table draws on Day 2. At this point you still have plenty of well known players in the game, whether sponsored pros or solid online grinders, and fate can often pitch many of them together.

We have one such table just in front of us with Martin Jacobson, Jeff Sarwer, Team PokerStars Pro Vadim Markushevski and Ramzi Jelassi occupying four of the first five seats of table three. All are above average with Markushevski the shortest with 68,300, Jacobson the largest with 177,000. Those two have already tangled with Markushevski opening to 2,500 from early position and getting a call from Jacobson in the small blind. Markushevski c-bet 3,300 into the A♣9♣Q♥ flop and Jacobson check-raised to 8,100. It was enough to win the pot.

Check the full Day 2 seat draw here. -- RD

12.15pm: One down already
Two minutes into the day's play and we've lost a player already. The cry of, "Seat open, table 11" was heard loud and clear from across the room. It turned out to be Irish Open champion James Mitchell who failed to spin up his six big blind stack. -- MC

12.12pm: Cards are in the air
Tournament director Thomas Kremser has taken care of all the formalities and play is now under way. -- MC

11.58am: Where am I?
The seat draw for today is available on the Seat Draw page, listing where all players will start today, along with their chip counts.

11.55am: Day 2 of EPT Berlin
Welcome back to Day 2 of the European Poker Tour Berlin main event. We started with a field of 773 players, a figure that, with the first day field united, stands at 353.

As is the form on the second day of play strangers are meeting each other for the first time, survivors of Day 1A are getting their first glimpse of what happened on Day 1B and vice-versa. The curtain has been pulled back, revealing those still in contention. Like some bizarre mass dating show, defying any shadow of logic on Saturday night television, we're about to see how they get on together.

Those same players are filing into the tournament room (upstairs and downstairs) some wearing the same clothing as before, hoping that the garish track suit inspired by canal boat art, the ballsy pair of polystyrene trousers or the baseball cap made of sashimi, will bring them the luck they need to steer a course into day three.

Of course others know this is not about luck, it's about playing the best poker you can for the next six 75-minute levels. That includes the half-Windsored chip leader, Sander Berndsen.

There's the added complication of the television cameras being on duty today, weaving through the tournament floor, presumably for Fabrizio Ascari out-takes, and filming for television on the feature table, impossibly squeezed into the far end of the room.

It all starts in just a few minutes. -- SB

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Rick Dacey and Gloria Balding in action last night