EPT Deauville: Day 1A, level 1 & 2 updates (75-150 blinds)
2.25pm: End of level
2.22pm: Brammer lays down to a Russian pop star
Now I could be wrong here but I think we might have a Russian pop star playing in this field. It's not his looks or dress sense that give it away but that he goes by just one name; Bokdan. Who else but a pop star goes by just one name? I asked him his name. "Bokdan," he replied. Your full name? "Bokdan," he repeated suddenly looking a little irritated by the whole scenario. I passed him my notebook hoping, perhaps foolishly, that he might write his whole name out if he had pen and paper in front of him. He did not, so for now he is simply Bokdan.
Anyway, Bokdan and Chris Brammer, the UKIPT Season 1 Leaderboard champion no less, just tangled with the one-named wonder coming out on top. Brammer had opened from under-the-gun and had been check-raised by Bokdan from 325 to 1,200 on a 2♠2♣7♣ flop. Brammer slowly made the call but passed to a quick 2,000 bet on the 9♠ turn. -- RD
2.20pm: Portal shown the Porte
Alexia Portal is out. The details are basic, a board of [j][a] and aces beating a pair of jacks and Portal's pocket fours. "That's poker," she said, gamely, as she gathered her things and walked a few steps to the rail, stopping by to explain herself to Manuel Bevand on the way.
The beneficiary is "Mr Dubureau*", or something like that. We're working phonetically when it comes to names right now, until they can be confirmed with the player list due any minute. -- SB
* That would be Arnaud Debureaux.
2.13pm: Laying down kings
Mikka Anttonen just showed a lot of respect to Xuan Liu by laying down an over pair to the board. There were two limps before Liu raised to 400 from the button and Anttonen three-bet to 1,525 from the small blind. Liu called after the two limpers folded to leave it heads-up to the J♦5♦Q♠ flop. The Finn led for 2,225 and his Canadian female opponent called to see the T♠ turn card. This time Anttonen checked before open folding K♠K♥ when Liu bet 3,625. -- MC
2.04pm: Bichon can't bring himself to call
Team PokerStars Pro Thomas Bichon looked like a man trying desperately to find the call button. The pot-sized lead into the 5,000 pot was just too much for him on the T♦K♥9♦K♠T♠ board. Maybe he was considering a bluff raise, maybe he was making a biggish lay down. Either way, he didn't hit the button, timing out with a slight huff. -- RD
1.55pm: Nasr grounded (and in Australia)
Nasr el Nasr* opened for 150 from under the gun plus one, getting four callers, among them Vytautas Mikvydas on the cut off and Theo Jorgensen in the small blind.
The flop came 9♥6♥8♠. Jorgensen checked, as did everyone until Mikvydas bet 1,200. Suddenly everyone began folding and before you knew it there was nothing left of this hand. Mikvydas kindly wrote out his name for me in capital letters. - SB
* NOTE: Are their two Nasr el Nasrs? Well, no. My mistake. It's not Nasr el Nasr, it just looks like him, Apparently the real Nasr el Nasr is in Australia. As a colleague of mine helpfully pointed out: "It would be pretty impressive to multi-table two events in different continents."
1.45pm: Wings clipped
Praz Bansi, as we noted, enjoyed a good first level to take charge of his table but he won't have things all his own way if Tristan Clemencon has anything to do with it. The young Frenchman has history here as he placed third in season 5 for €284,800 and he'll be hoping to make a similar charge this year. He has position on Bansi too and just used that position to good effect.
The two players and one other saw a 6♦J♥A♠ flop and 1,725 chips had found its way into the middle. Bansi was first to act and bet 1,200 which was enough to force out one opponent but not Clemencon who raised to 2,850. Bansi sat on his decision for a while before letting his hand go. -- MC
1.35pm: Thor Stang is in the hood
Norwegian Thor Stang made the final table at EPT Barcelona earlier this season and I don't think he was dealt a single hand where he wasn't covered by a hood of some sort. He's opted for a wide, almost triangular, dark grey affair that makes him look like a Jedi on a descent to the dark side. My personal favourite, from the penultimate day in Barcelona, was a tightly pulled striped number which made him look like a Russian cosmonaut.
He's still on his starting stack. -- RD
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150
1.20pm: Lellouche up
Frenchman Anthony Lellouche has never one an EPT, although he is one of those players you think should have done by now. He's reached three final tables and only narrowly missed a few more. Will this be the one he wins? Well, impossible to say, but the addition of a few thousand more chips to his stack can't hurt.
With the board already reading T♠7♦5♣2♥ and with 2,000 in the middle, he bet another 1,000 into the button player who eventually folded his pocket fours. Lellouche didn't show, although his face suggested the fours weren't exactly what he was expecting. Either way he's up to beyond his starting stack of 30,000 as the blinds go up.
1.10pm: Pro Bono
EPT Prague runner-up Emiliano Bono is here but there's no sign of his little black cloth yet. That, of course, will make absolutely no sense to you unless you were following our coverage in Prague. Bono, who really couldn't lose a flip in Eastern Europe - bar the very last one against Roberto Romanello, would place a small square of black cloth on his head every time he was involved in a large all-in. It seemed to do the trick for the first five and a half days.
Cloth or not, the Italian is already getting involved here in Deauville leading 1,250 into a 4♥7♦6♦ flop and a further 1,475 into the Q♠ turn. His opponent passed and Bono flashed the Q♣ which he connected with on the turn. Kenny Hallaert, a few seats around from Bono, looked on with interest. -- RD
1.05pm: Up, up or away?
It's the first level of play, so what exactly can you expect? Well, there will be a few hands to detail, small ones that will have no great effect on the outcome of this event. We may even have an all-in by some eager player looking to hit the rail running, and then the odd pot that registers in the thousands, like the one Michael Aceba just won, showing A♠4♠ on a board of J♠5♦7♣8♠K♠.
Aceba showed that while one poor chap flipped up what he thought to be the winning T♥7♦. We all waited the two or three beats before he re-engaged with reality. The player then swore a bit, apologised, and then swore some more. Aceba up to nearly 40,000. -- SB
12.57pm: It's a lonely job
This is a pretty rammed field, with well over 400 players. While most tables are nine-handed, spare a thought for those on table 48. Here sits the German Tim Kahlmeyer and only two others. They're playing a lonely three-handed game right now, and would probably like to break up pretty soon. -- SY
12.53pm: Bansi off to a flyer
Praz Bansi, the aggressive Brit, does not need much encouragement to rumble in big pots. With the nut flush on a 2♣[10d]Q♣8♣7♣ board he had bet 5,000 on the river, near enough matching the amount in the pot already.
His opponent, Radolph Lampe, thought for so long that the clock was called. As the suited tournament staff announced 30 seconds remaining, Lampe called dramatically. He was shown A♣3♣ by Bansi and mucked. Bansi is up to 40,000. -- SY
12.50pm: De Muelder builds early
Christophe De Muelder, the Team PokerStars Pro, scooped a nice early pot, betting and getting called by one player pre-flop, on the Q♠9♣Q♦ flop, the 8♣ turn and the J♦ river. The man from Belgium turned over A♦Q♣ and that was good. -- SY
12.47pm: From the video team
Gloria Balding introduced Day 1A of EPT Deauville and talks to French Team PokerStars Pro Julien Brecard about the week ahead.
12.45pm: Transference of skills
France has a history of sports stars trying their luck over the felt of a poker table. Team PokerStars SportStar Sebastien Chabal (Rugby), Gael Monfils (tennis) and Vikash Dhorasoo (Football) are three names that come to mind. What about the brains behind the sports stars? The management on the sidelines strategising for their charges. Surely they have the right competitive spirit with tactical savvy to be a success at this game of ours.
It's lucky we have the most famous name in French football management playing today to try out this theory. Raymond Domenech took the French nation team to two World Cups including the final in 2006 where they narrowly missed out on winning after losing a penalty shoot out to Italy. Lets see if he can transfer those skills here in Deauville. -- MC
12.34pm: They call them frites here
The usual EPT chips are not in use here in Deauville. No doubt it's some kind of French regulatory nonsense that demands the use of pastel coloured chips. So gone are the bold and bright splashes of the PokerStars chips and in are the light seashell washes of the French Barriere frites.
Sandy yellow - 25
Sky blue - 100
Coral pink - 500
Seaweed green - 1,000
Cloudy grey - 5,000
However they may look the game remains the same; gather in as many as you can however you can. -- RD
12.24pm: Play begins
Cards in the air.
12.20pm: About to start
Announcements are being made in both French and English and players are at their tables. We're about to get under way. -- SB
We're late starting. -- SB
We're going to be late starting. -- SB
11.50am: Welcome to Deauville
Welcome to Deauville, France, and the Normandy town that this week performs its annual festival of welcome for the holy game of poker. During this unofficial ceremony shops and hotels, which had otherwise been mothballed for winter, are re-opened in all their splendour, the dust sheets removed, to cater to every poker player's pleasure.
You can expect both the great and the good to be here, along with a few of their not so good friends, hung-over from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure perhaps, but no less enthusiastic in their pursuit of EPT silverware, not least the hundreds of French players who see victory on home soil as their grail. And they mean it this time.
In contrast to some other EPT destinations, Deauville is a quiet town not used to crowds of this size during the fur coat season. Quaint little streets, of elegant - mostly shuttered-up - shops; ladies walking extraordinary-looking dogs while their menfolk, blazerered and wearing slip-on shoes, drive Porsches along the well-tended streets.
Then at night the town goes quiet, save for the odd 21-year-old from 15 hours away trying to find someone to sell him a cheese burger. And the lonely cursing of a man, scraping his feet on the well-manicured lawns of the town square, who has just stepped in the by-product of one of those wretched dogs.
But I'm over that now, and our attention quite rightly turns to poker on this cold and blustery afternoon. It's a new look EPT Deauville this season. We're in the Deauville International Centre, accessible via the seafront, or the secret underground tunnel that we were spirited through by casino staff on our way to work. It makes for a new look and slightly roomier version of what normally proves to be a great tournament.
Local transport on show outside the casino
Before us are lined dozens of poker tables while across the road stands the Casino Barriere, where the final 24 players, a point we'll reach by the close of play on Saturday, will return to for a champagne and chandelier finale.
As always you'll find the very best live updates right here on the PokerStars Blog, complete with the best photography, the odd comment about dogs and no sign of the spirit-breaking bureaucracy we just endured to find our seats.
Play starts soon, and by soon we mean later. Stand by. -- SB
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Deauville (in order of ability not to crack under pressure): Simon Young (reaches for the phone to sort it out), Rick Dacey (reaches for Simon Young to sort it out), Marc Convey (reaches for a cup of coffee) and Stephen Bartley (bursts into tears).