EPT Madrid: Day 1A, level 1 & 2 updates (blinds 75-150)
2.13pm: End of the level
Two levels down already and the first 15 minute break of the day is upon us.
2,12pm: Durrr, of course he was bluffing
Tom Dwan was the latest player to attempt a river bluff and yet again today, the move failed.
He raised to 400 from under-the-gun and was called by Joe Cada in the next seat and two other players en route to a 9♦6♦9♣ flop. All four players checked to the 4♣ turn where Dwan led for 1,250. He was called by Cada and Tomer Berda with other other player folding.
The river fell J♠ and Dwan fired 4,125 at the pot. Cada thought for three minutes before folding but Berda called quickly. Dwan flashed 7♥3♥ and threw his cards into the muck, giving up the pot to Berda and his winning K♣J♣. Dwan is down to 25,600 chips. -- MC
2.10pm: Mattern up against Dude and Crazy Guy
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern is up to 67,000, detailing his escapades via text message. Some detail is vague, but let me recount the news as Mattern relayed it.
The Frenchman raised under-the-gun with 7♣8♣, getting one caller. The "usual squeezer" in the big blind re-raised to 1,200. Mattern called, as did the "other dude," for a three-way flop of Q♣4♣5♣.
"Crazy guy" then made it 1,750 which Mattern raised to 4,850. "Dude" folded, leaving "crazy guy" to call. Mattern made it 7,250 and "crazy guy" shoved 25,000. Mattern snap-called. "Guy" showed A♣K♥ and got nothing in return. The Team PokerStars Pro is sitting now with more than double. -- SB
2.05pm: Ainsworth takes one down
This is a tournament with plenty of talent, as this table illustrates.
Last season's EPT Snowfest runner-up Russell Carson opened to 275 and was called by Team PokerStars Pro Jude 'j.thaddeus' Ainsworth in the cut-off and WSOPE final tablist Daniel Steinberg on the button. Konstantin Puchkov, third place finisher at EPT Barcelona this season, made the call from the button. Ainsworth tossed 725 into the A♠5♥T♠ flop and took the pot. No major action there so far but it just goes to show that there really aren't that many soft spots in this tournament. -- RD
1.55pm: Who will be the Champion of Champions champion?
The EPT Grand Final main event is the last opportunity to win entry into one of the most exclusive poker tournaments in the world, the Champion of Champions tournament, to be played on Friday.
The event does exactly what you think it might, uniting ever winner (well, most of them) over the past seven seasons on the tour, for one big jamboree, with $100,000 worth of EPT buy-ins up for grabs.
A little curious to see which champions will be taking part (a list which includes the first ever winner Alexander Stevic)? Check out the current list elsewhere on the PokerStars Blog.
1.48pm: The river bluffs don't work, they just make your stack worse
Fabrice Soulier and reigning EPT Grand Final champion Nicolas Chouity are up to 33,000 and 34,000 respectively after picking off river bluffs from opponents.
Soulier raised to 350 from the cut-off and was called by both players in the blinds. The flop came down 9♥2♥2♦ and Soulier's 575 c-bet was only check-called by the small blind. The 6♦ turn was checked before the small blind led for 500 on the 8♠ river. Soulier called and the small blind mucked.
Chouity meanwhile made it heads-up to the river with 11,500 in the pot. The board read 3♦4♦T♦Q♥3♣ and he faced a relatively small 3,000 bet. He must have smelled weakness, as he raised to 10,600. The life seemed to drain from his opponent's eyes only to be replaced by a look of fear. He didn't have the goods and folded. -- MC
1.35pm: Lundmark makes an appearance
If there was such thing as Swedish ninjas then Kent Lundmark would be among their highest order.
Since winning EPT Barcelona earlier this season Lundmark has cashed in three main events Berlin (47th), Copenhagen (30th) and Deauville (128th). At each of these he has ghosted through the field like a deadly flitting shadow, often escaping our notice until we're deep into the money. It's quite a talent.
Lundmark just checked behind when his opponent attempted to trap him with a rivered straight. That's Lundmark for you, elusive. -- RD
1.24pm: Behind the scenes
We're currently trapped in the press room thanks to a bureaucratic process involving tickets, cards and passports, and without a combination of these, which have temporarily been whisked away, we can't access the main tournament floor. So I'll give you a little glimpse into the press room in the meantime.
We have four banks of desks, approximately ten seats longs each for a twenty person capacity. Most of the seats are occupied or have a laptop on the desk at the very least. That equates to a lot of media and staff, as it should be given that this is the EPT Grand Final. To my immediate right sits the rest of the PokerStars Blog team (Simon Young, Stephen Bartley and Marc Convey) and further down sit our snappers, video blog team and foreign language correspondents.
More importantly, to my left is a table covered with tea, coffee and tasty little pastries. Ahhh, the passports have returned. To the tournament room! -- RD
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150
1.20pm: Now now, don't get angry
Don't forget you can comment on all the action from today, be it about the main event or the High Roller final table. Simply type in your question, or whatever it might be, in the box below. We'll do our best to respond. - SB
1.15pm: Not a Dag, man
Team PokerStars Pro Dag Palovic is all smiles, despite his table draw, after taking down a nice pot to move up to 37,000 chips. He was heads-up to the turn and led out for 1,000 and called when an opponent on the button raised to 4,000. Palovic called quickly and then led for 5,000 on the river when the board read K♠T♦3♥7♠3♠. His opponent tank folded and Palovic snap showed 3♦3♣ for quads.
He then asked his opponent, "If I check back, you bet?"
"For sure", came his reply. "I had king-ten", he continued. -- MC
1.05pm: Teenage poker player's dream
Last night just after arriving at my hotel I stuck my head into the bar - the de facto common room and social hub of any EPT - to say hello to the troops. Shortly after (are they following me?) Liv Boeree and Kevin Macphee arrived to put out an open offer of two free tickets to join the pair of EPT winners at a rock concert here in Madrid. Any takers? No.
I imagine that hundreds, if not thousands, of online poker players reading this are now gnashing their teeth and pulling at their hair at that missed opportunity. Boeree is playing today, rock concert or not, and has on-form Belgian and EPT Snowfest runner-up Kevin Vandersmissen directly on her left and Fabrizio Cataldi, who finished 20th at San Remo just a few days ago, on the other side of the table along with fellow Team Pro Dag Palovic. -- RD
12.55pm: Aren't you that guy?
If you've ever seen Around the World in 80 Days (we're talking David Niven here, not Steve Coogan), you might recall that the film included cameos from the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Gielgud, Noel Coward, headliners who played minor roles to boost the line and the ticket booth. Here there are faces that played similar roles in season seven of the EPT.
Look one way and there sits Luis Rufas-Acin, who narrowly missed out on the final table in Barcelona, and Konstantin Puchkov who did. Kevin Vandersmissen of Snowfest is here, as if Lucien Cohen, winner in Deauville.
Pierre Neuville plays today, not far away from previous winners Ben Wilinofky of Berlin and David Vamplew of London. Fabrice Soulier is back for one last go, while Michael Tureniec, the King of Copenhagen, plays today. While Sinatra had his hat on slightly askew Tureniec wears those big glasses. A near perfect analogy. - SB
EPT London winner David Vamplew
12.45pm: Man down already
EPT London champion David Vamplew and Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier are at the same table today and the early signs are that it's a lively one.
A Spanish player, who we don't have the name for, busted from the table already. He was all-in with king-queen on a  flop versus a player holding pocket fives. He did have a back door flush draw but a five on the turn ended the hand for him. He was left with just 400 chips and departed soon after. -- MC
12.40pm: Walking the room
This will no doubt be rammed down your throats by us over the next few days but before it gets old let me point this out, the Gran Casino Madrid really seems to be a great setting for an EPT Grand Final. Marble floors, high star-lit ceilings, impeccably attired security inside the building, furiously armed security outside and a roll call of the biggest names in European and World poker sat at the tables.
There are at least two world champs here, Team PokerStars Pros Joe Cada and Jonathan Duhamel, who are sitting just a couple of tables away from each. It was at Cada's table that Casey Kastle made the first three-bet of the day (that I've seen anyway) popping it up to 1,000 over a 350 open.
Kastle fired the 3♦9♦7♠ flop for 2,500 but stalled on the K♦ turn and stopped fully on the K♣. Kastle performed a lot of face scrunching and crunching on the river before checking back with his aces. He was shown a defensively played pair of queens. -- RD
12.30pm: The free-rollers
Along with the usual illustrious list of Team PokerStars Pros and top notch poker talent from around the globe we also have have four free-rollers in the field. To call five Season 7 champions that is a little unfair perhaps, but David Vamplew (London), Kent Lundmark (Barcelona), Michael Eiler (Vienna), Ben Wilinofsky (Berlin) and Rupert Elder (San Remo) and won their seats to this event by taking down an EPT this season. -- MC
12.15pm: Shuffle-up and deal
The final main event of this glorious Season 7 is underway. The plan for today is to play nine 60 minute levels with dinner break slipped in somewhere. -- MC
12pm: Roll camera
Gloria Balding introduces the opening day of the EPT Grand Final main event, with a little help from Fatima Moreira de Melo.
11.50am: Welcome to the Grand Final
And so it arrives. After 12 hard fought main events, as far away as Tallinn and Paradise Island, the seventh season of the European Poker Tour arrives in Madrid, Spain, for the Grand Final.
It's been a tough year for some, a crippling one for others, but for a select dozen, it was a year in which their names were etched onto the EPT honours list, to be forever associated with poker greatness.
There is of course room for one more. The best players in the world are in Madrid for this one, half of them currently joining one of several queues they'll be obliged to stand in before taking their seats. Although some, so keen to get started, jump the queues, such is the sheer excitement in Casino Gran Madrid.
It's the first time the EPT has been to Madrid, the Grand Final switching from its previous home of Monte Carlo. We're in typically plush surroundings, with the air fragranced with what we put to be vanilla.
We're about to start, slightly delayed, natch, but stand by for what will be (if you'll excuse some early hyperbole) a spectacular finale to a great season. - SB
Casino Gran Madrid yesterday, it's pouring down with rain today...