EPT London: Day 1A, level 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)

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2.05pm: Break
Join us in a new post shortly (if the internet, which continues to be problematic, obliges). -- RD

2pm: Duthie finds it unpleasant
For some players EPT London will be one of their first events they've ever played and it shows: serious faces, stiff backs, sunglasses masking scared faces. Not so for EPT founder John Duthie who I daresay has attended almost every event, which may be why he's so relaxed.

"Does it have sugar in? Two?" asked Duthie, half kneeling on a turned around chair and pointing at the cup of tea which had just been delivered to his table.

Duthie was still involved in the hand, a 6♣7♦8♠ flop on the table with Tobias Rienkemeier to his left and British submariner* James Wilson to his right in the blinds.

"This is really unpleasant," said Duthie, nose wrinkling after a sip of his hot beverage. He had a similar reaction to the 7♣ turn which he check-folded to a 1,800 bet from Reinkemeier. Wilson made the call and led 3,650 at the Q♦ river. The German passed at around the same time as Duthie passed his cup to the waiting for a replacement. -- RD

*Really. Wilson is a British Navy submariner.

1.55pm: Duthie in action
Yves Boschetti opened for 400 under the gun which John Duthie called from the seat next to him. Tobias Reinkemeier also called, as did Simon Hanninger in the big blind. The flop came K♠6♠2♦.

Boschetti bet 825 which Duthie called before Reinkemeier and Hanninger passed before the turn card T♠. At this point Boschetti removed his headphones and, even though I was standing behind him, I thought I saw him smile as he lumped in a bet of 2,075. Duthie was having none of it and folded immediately. - SB

1.47pm: No silver lining
Max Silver also has Salman Behbehani to contend with at a table that keeps getting tougher the more you look at it. These two just cashed in a pot that we only caught up with on the river.

There was around 6,000 in the pot and the board read 7♣4♣5♣4♥Q♣. Behbehani was first to act, from the small blind, and bet the full pot. Silver mumbled to himself as he pondered a seemingly difficult decision before folding A♣K♣ face-up.

Behbehani tried his best not to react as he raked in the pot and ignored Silver's plea to show one card. Silver is back down to his starting stack and Behbehani is up to 34,000. --MC

1.44pm: There's a bear loose in London
The PokerStars video team catches up with Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein.


1.40pm: Kelly's hero
JP Kelly has just arrived, signing the waiver forms and taking a seat on the immediate left of Lawrence Houghton, while giving a nod of acknowledgement to November Niner Sam Holden, in seat six. He sits next to a player wearing headphones who suffers from frequent visits from Mikael Lundell, who wandered over from a nearby table, his trousers torn at the knee, as if he'd encountered a zealous dog on the way over.
Houghton just won a pot, taking chips from Ilkin Amirov.

Houghton raised to 350 in the cut off which Amirov raised to 900 in the small blind. Houghton called for a flop of 6♥2♥A♣ which both checked for a K♠ turn card. Another check from Amirov before Houghton took the pot with a bet of 850. - SB

1.25pm: All that glitters is not Silver
The opening levels of an EPT are great for player spotting; each table has always got a handful of interesting players. For instance, we have a table with Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero (winner of last year's High Roller), EPT Prague champ Roberto Romanello and UKIPT champion Max Silver.

Silver just took down a small pot against Barbero with king-high after defending his big blind with K♠9♠. Barbero c-bet 400 into the 4♠A♠8♣ flop but neither player opted to put any other chips in across the 2♦ turn or J♣ river.

"Queen high," announced Barbero.

Silver took the pot and with the young Englishman just two seats to the left of the double LAPT winner it should be an interesting matchup, not least of all because Romanello is looking well rested following a 12 day sojourn home to Wales. -- RD

1.15pm: My set is bigger than yours
Fatima Moreira de Melo is over 40,000 chips already after flopping a bigger set than Charlie Combes.

The action was four-way to 2♣8♦3♣ flop and the action was checked to a player on the button who bet 400. Only the Team PokerStars SportsStar and Combes called to see the A♠ turn. Combes took up the betting mantle with a 1,125 bet that De Melo raised up to 2,800. The button folded but Combes called.

The river came T♠ and Combes check-called a 5,600 bet with pocket three only to be shown pocket eights by the Dutch lady. --MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150


1pm: Still standing
As has now become common knowledge, American legend Doyle Brunson is playing his first ever EPT at the age of 78. It's not the only first. It's likely the first time a cowboy hat of such size has been seen in these parts since Elton John played Wembley Arena.

Brunson just took on a youngster in the big blind from his spot on the button. Brunson bet 700 on the 8♥9♠9♦ flop before both checked the K♠ turn. Brunson then folded on the J♥ river, to a bet of 1,600.

A slow start but the man knows how to be patient, unlike the rest of us who are struggling with a troublesome internet connection. -- SB

12.55pm: Applying pressure
Back in the day on the EPT, play used to be very tight in the first few levels as players were deep and the thought process was that there was no need to gamble so early. That is not the case (thankfully) with modern day poker as players now see the early levels as an opportunity to apply pressure as that is when they have the most chips to successfully pull off such moves.

James Akenhead and newly-appointed PokerStars Team Online member Mickey Petersen are two players who like to apply such pressure.

Akenhead had made it to the turn in a heads-up pot. He was in position over his opponent and bet a pot-sized 2,600 when the action was checked to him. His opponent called to see the river of a now completed J♦2♣8♦7♣6♦ board. Akenhead faced a check once more and fired 7,300 into the middle. It was too much for his opponent, who folded.

Moments later on a nearby table, Petersen raised to 300 from the small blind when the action folded to him, and the big blind called quickly to go to a 3♣8♦9♦ flop. Petersen bet 400 and he was called to the 6♦ turn where his 650 bet got through. -- MC

12.40pm: Woe update
I'm going to disclose this up front: I'm English, born and bred in London. Therefore I might, just maybe, have a bias towards this event - not least of all that I didn't have to board a plane to get here.

Now that admission is out of the way - showing that I'm all too willing to just see the good side of this event - you should understand that the following statement is hard to admit: we are seeing "Oops! Google Chrome" more than "PokerStars Blog" on the tabs on our laptop browsers. London internet providers, why are you failing us at this early juncture?

While coverage is not exactly the most fluid at the moment we have been assured that it's being sorted. In the meantime do sign up to follow @PokerStarsBlog on Twitter which we can access. Hold tight, people. -- RD

12.30pm: Internet woes
We are experiencing serious internet issues. Updates will begin as soon as we have connection!

12.20pm: This one's on us, Doyle
Doyle Brunson is apparently playing his first ever EPT today and he's very welcome. He's sat with WCOOP High-Roller Champion Ash Mason and just showed he can still mix it up with these "kids".

Mason raised to 300 from under-the-gun and was called by a player in the cut-off before Brunson stamped his seniority with a three-bet to 1,300 from the small blind. Mason passed with a smile but the third party called to see a 9♠A♦Q♥ flop.

There was no stopping Brunson as he led for 2,000 chips which was too much for his opponent to call. It would have been best if the American legend of the game tabled three-high here but second best was A♠A♣, and that's what he had. -- MC

11.55am: London Pride
Welcome to EPT London, a unique event of the world poker stage. If the casinos of Monte Carlo, Paris and Vienna represent Europe's gaming aristocracy, London is Europe's plucky working class cousin, never shy in doffing a reverent cap, while at the same time providing the tour with a certain degree of backbone upon which to depend.

Since the European Poker Tour began, the London leg has been ever-present on the tour, from the old days at the Grosvenor Vic - that comforting cup-of-tea-and-fried-egg-sandwich hideaway - to the present-day opulence of the Hilton Metropole which once again becomes official Grosvenor turf for the duration of the EPT London Festival, which starts today.

'Opulence' is perhaps too strong a word; more 'practical'. But what the King's Ballroom lacks in majesty, it makes up in spirit; a place where poker players, spanning several generations, once more, in the home of Savile Row, Noel Coward, James Sherwood, Fortnum & Mason and the Duchess of Cambridge, dress in flip flops, vests, cheap hats and comfort-fit trousers, and remove the "fragile" labels from their egos. They then swagger into the tournament room to be humiliated by some 21-year-old foreigner with infinite talent, who got lucky, obviously.

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The Houses of Parliament, and a red bus

That said, London has proved a happy hunting ground for numerous Brits. John Shipley, Mark Teltscher, Vicky Coren and David Vamplew each tasted victory here, and their appetite for repeat success remains strong.

London doesn't rely on extravagance to attract the several hundred players who will arrive today and tomorrow, nor does it rely on location, with Edgware Road providing a gritty picture of the capital. But it is still technically the EPT's home, the place where staff and bloggers alike, hang their hats; or thereabouts.

So with such frivolity in our hearts, it's time to start day one. Play will be under way at 12 noon. It's good to be home.

PokerStars Blog reporting team in London: Rick Dacey, Marc Convey and Stephen Bartley.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour