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


4.20pm: End of level
It's the first break of the day and the wurstel* stand has been swamped. We'll be back in 15 minutes. -- RD

* That's sausage to you.

4.18pm: Messing around in the blinds
You'd think that playing a €5,000 tournament would make play serious and studied. That doesn't seem to be the case with Josh Prager and Andrey Gulyy.

Prager had tried to raise from the small blind but having said nothing it was ruled as a call when he tossed in a 500 chip. "I tried to raise," said Prager, who didn't seem too bothered it was being treated as a call.

Perhaps Gulyy thought it was an angle shoot looking for a check behind and he raised to 550. Prager quickly came back over the top for what looked like 2,650 and Gulyy passed before both players had a chuckle about it. -- RD

4.14pm: Mattern off to the slopes
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern can get his hips working on the slopes now as he busted just as the level was coming to an end. I caught up with him just outside the tournament room and he said, "Some guy wanted to call off 15,000 with ace-queen."

That guy turned out to be PokerStars qualifier Aleh Plauski and his hand got there versus Mattern's ace-king. -- MC

ept snowfest_day 1a_arnaud mattern.jpg

Hitting the slopes: Arnaud Mattern

4.05pm: She's the one
As far as I can tell, and admittedly my methods were basic (stand next to Kolobekora Zhaterina and from there look across the tournament room), there is only one woman in today's field. Funnily enough she was just in action.

Following a bet by Nandor Csaba Solyom in middle position, Zhaterina raised to 1,200 which Solyom called for a flop of 4♣2♣7♥. Solyom checked to Zhaterina who bet another 1,600 which Solyom then raised to 5,000 even. Zhaterina called for a 5♣ turn.

Solyom checked and Zhaterina bet another 5,600. Solyom called once more for a T♠ river card. At this point Solyom lumped his chips in, a disorderly mess worth a few thousand in change. He then stood up, removed his sunglasses, put them in their case and called over to a friend. Zhaterina folded. Solyom has yet to put his glasses back on suggesting that it could have been coincidence that he removed them in the first place. -- SB

4pm:The Challenge is on
PokerStars SuperNova and 2010 WCOOP bracelet winner Alexis 'J0hnny_Dr@m@' Zervos, 25, is one of three Greek PokerStars "Challengers" and is competing today at EPT Snowfest. The Challenge is a new promotion in which PokerStars is bankrolling three top Greek players to the tune of €25,000 to compete against each other to determine the best player of 2011.

Zervos is up against George 'gkap13' Kapalas and Stavros 'IDOLLS' Kalfas and the three of them will be judged in various categories including highest EPT Finish, most live tournament cashes, best online tournament ROI and best performances in the SCOOP and WCOOP leaderboards.

His day isn't going too well as he's already lost most of his starting stack, but we did just witness him winning a hand to get back to 13,000 chips. Michael Körner raised to 475 and called when Zervos three-bet to 1,500. The flop came down 9♠T♣Q♦ and both players checked. The turn was the 6♦ and Zervos took the pot down with a 2,600 bet. He's going to need more of those winning pots if Snowfest is going to be his best recorded EPT finish. -- MC


Alexis Zervos is getting his tournament back on track

3.56pm: One eye on the slopes?
Maybe Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern is thinking about the slopes a little too much. When I saw him at the party last night he was very excited about getting back on his snowboard over the next few days. The Frenchman broke his leg playing tennis at the World Series last year and was forced to use a crutch for some time, most notably when finishing third at EPT Tallinn at the beginning of the current season.

"Is your leg up to the stress, Arnaud?" I had asked.

"You don't really need to use your legs much on a snowboard, it's all in the hips," he said, swivelling his midriff around, oblivious to the fact that it made him look like an embarrassing uncle dancing at a wedding.

Mattern is down to 18,000 and might be hitting the slopes sooner than he'd like. -- RD

3.47pm: Duthie shaking and baking
Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie is here with his whole family (we saw them having a cosy dinner last night) and it seems to have helped his focus. He's up to 60,000 after shoving a straight and flushed board in the first hour of play and is generally being a bit of a nuisance.

I've been told by our Dutch blogger that Riekus Hein Wijermars just called him down with bottom pair and was good. -- RD

ept snowfest_day 1a_john duthie.jpg

John Duthie is picking up a lot of chips

3.35pm: Medic!
Still a big crowd gathered on the double jump where one skier, arms and legs in all sorts of directions, landed in such a way that will keep chiropractors in business indefinitely. As far as we can tell he's still laying on the snow. -- SB

3.32pm: A nice turn of events for Cimpan
PokerStars qualifier Cornel Cimpan came 42nd in EPT Deauville after being among the chip leaders for a long period. He's off to a good start here as well as he has 40,000 chips after taking a pot off his neighbour. There was a raise to 500 and a flat call before Cimpan raised to 2,000 from the button. The original raiser passed but his opponent in the cut-off called.

The flop came Q♠T♣A♦ and Cimpan continued for 3,500. Call. Both players checked the T♠ turn to see the A♥ river. The player in the cut-off checked to face a 5,000 bet that he tank-called. Cimpan tabled K♠T♥ for a full house. His opponent complained that he had been sucked out on and proved so by tabling K♦Q♥. -- MC

3.20pm: Chasing the leaderboard
Day 1A is traditionally the quieter starting flight; the less successful sibling of the tournament family. Today is no exception, while we have some good names and a few Team Pro's it's looking like tomorrow will be the day a lot of the stars choose to shine. On the upside it does mean that we get to hone in on some players that have made an impact in previous EPTs, but aren't the bandstand names that usually demand our close attention.

One such player is the behemoth Artur Wasek. The hulking Pole made two final tables in 2010; EPT Berlin and EPT London, finishing fourth in both for €280,000 and £240,000 respectively. Wasek tends to play on the rockier side of things so my time railing him was relatively uneventful. Two other players clashed at his table though; Riku Koivurinne and Yury Kerzhapkin. It was the Finn, Koivurinne, who came out on top picking up a 5,600 pot after turning trips with A♥4♥ on a A♠K♥J♦A♦9♠ board. -- RD

ept snowfest_day 1a_artur wasek.jpg

Artur Wasek: Double final tablist in 2010

3.10pm: End of the level
That's the end of level one. We're into level two with blinds of 75-150.

3.05pm: The latest from the slopes
A shocking landing for one poor soul on the double jumps visible to us from the opposite side of the valley. After one snowboarder flipped and twirled mid-air before landing gracefully, the chap behind him tried to mimic this, but instead managed to land slap bang on his spine, right on the very crest of the second jump itself. He crumpled up, then tried to get up, then laid back down again. A crowd has gathered and a St Bernard dog with a barrel of schnapps around its neck has presumably been unkennelled to go find him. -- SB

3pm: One house, two streets of value
Martins Adeniya just took a tidy little pot off PokerStars qualifier Martin Nikolov to get back to his 30,000 starting stack. The Brit raised from mid-position and was called by the Bulgarian in the next seat along. The flop came down J♥J♦K♠ and both players checked through to the 9♣ turn. Adeniya checked again to face a 350 bet that he raised up to 1,350. It seemed to take Nikolov by surprise but he made the call despite that. Adeniya led the river for 3,000 and Nikolov called after some deliberation but folded face down after being shown K♥J♠ for a flopped full house. -- MC

ept snowfest_day 1a_martins adeniya.jpg

Adeniya off to a good start

2.50pm: Been to Australia lately?
Among those playing today is Casey Kastle, who looks like he's just recently converted to Australianism, dressed as he is in an Australian soccer shirt, Australian flag scarf and a floppy cork hat. He has a mascot in front of him, a toy version of The Donkey from the Shrek films which, unless I miss my guess, is from a McDonalds Happy Meal. He also has his laptop on a table besides him, which he pays a lot of attention to.

Throwing another shrimp on the bar-bee, Casey Kastle

While he checked emails Anton Sinel and Rens Van Meegen played a pot.

On a flop of J♣6♠J♥ Van Meegen bet 750 from the small blind which Sinel raised, eventually, after a brief mix up about how much that needed to be. Van Meegen called the raise to 1,500 for a 4♣ turn. Then he checked. Sinel made a fast sweeping motion, betting a long line of chips worth 1,775. Van Meegen nudged his cards slowly towards the dealer so as no one would notice he was in the hand to begin with. -- SB

2.42pm: Chasing the leaderboard
John O'Shea is currently sitting in second place on the EPT Leaderboard with 2,225 points, some way behind current flag bearer Fernando Brito on 3,450. Brito, who is also playing this event, has had a lot of success in the side events as well as having a deep run in the Prague main event. O'Shea has also been beating up on the side events, notably mixed Hold'em and Omaha tournaments. He also made 17th at EPT London. The Irishman has got off to a quiet start but should he go deep he'll be able to close that gap significantly. -- RD

2.37pm: Better to the left
Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki won't be happy with his table draw as he has to deal with Giuseppe Pantaleo and Dmitriy Stelmak as he tries to build a stack. The only silver lining to this cloud is the fact they're sat directly to his right and not his left. -- MC

2.30pm: Mystery man busts
Mattias Kurtz is the early chip leader with around 60,000 chips after busting an unknown table mate. "Seat open, table six" was the cry of the dealer and our mystery man made a quick exit after running pocket kings into the pocket aces of Kurtz. -- MC

2.25pm: Early to rise
If anyone actually bothered to note this kind of thing officially, we might be able to confirm that table five is perhaps the most pleasant table at which to play poker. Tucked into the corner, table five enjoys natural light from two sides, with spectacular views of the slopes from each window. I have no clue about such things but you imagine the feng shui to be simply buzzing. No wait, the player in seat four has just closed the curtains.

John Duthie is at this table nonetheless. The Team PokerStars Pro, partial to a bit of the old winter sport, is up by around 10,000 after an early hand. On a board of 7♣K♦5♦2♥ Duthie bet a further 6,550 to which his opponent, who looks a little like Peter Stormare, tank-folded. - SB

2.12pm: And they're off...
After the usual 10 to 20 minute delay play has begun. The tournament room - of which we will supply some snazzy snaps shortly - is a spacious affair with a high ceiling and wide windows spanning the length of two walls. The sunshine may necessitate some curtains being drawn later but for the moment it looks glorious. You should be here. Players that actually are include Team PokerStars Pros John Duthie and Alex Kravchenko, Jamie Mitchell, Stephen Chidwick, Jack Ellwood, Casey Kastle and, I think, Tony G. I'm sure I saw him in the lobby anyway.

Player list to come shortly, of which the named and notables will work their way into our chip counts page. -- RD

1.55pm: The video version of the text a bit further down...

1.50pm: A fine line
There's a theory, of no particular weight, that suggests that a player can maximize their effectiveness at the table by consuming their optimum amount of alcohol. Too little and you'll fall short of playing like a champion, too much and you won't remember anyway.

One proponent of this practice is Josh Prager, who has had success this season on the EPT, who was just spotted ordering two glasses of champagne at the bar. He plays today. -- SB

1.30pm: The afternoon start
These late starts are ideal for morning skiiing, snowboarding, and goulash, as we've just experienced. The goulash that is.

Players are gathering in the lobby, a large communal space with a bar, lounge, open log fire and a sausage stall. In terms of welcoming environments this place might just top the list. The doors of the poker room will be flung open shortly to the first day field, expected to number around 170. -- SB

1pm: EPT Snowfest about to start
Welcome to live coverage of the European Poker Tour Snowfest main event, the most unusual setting for a poker tournament since those people played a few hands under water or up a mountain somewhere. We're up our own mountain here in Hinterglemm, Austria, a small town tucked in between three, well, massive mountains in a partial winter wonderland. Look one way and you'll see the first signs of spring; flowers and the bright colours of trees beginning to blossom. Look the other way and you'll find the last signs of winter, monochrome slush and snow and the bright colours of people who want to ski on it.

The view across Hinterglemm this morning

If you want a picture of healthiness you need look no further than the downhill colour-coded death-traps that attract so many thousands of fun lovers to these parts every year. Where I come from we tackle snow topped slopes with wellington boots and mum's tea tray. Here they use state of the art equipment, courage and panache to slalom headlong into the whiteness, shining with energetic vigour before merrily taking in the après-ski and perpetual loud music from the 1980s. Marlene Dietrich is also probably better off not knowing what a disco did to one of her greats last night.

Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki dashing through the snow

The reason for all that, along with the mugs of wine, the fireworks and mirth at the Goat Stall welcome party last night, is the opening day of EPT Snowfest which, if you were here last year, presents poker players with the opportunity to ski in the morning and play poker in the afternoon, with ample time over lunch to have sprains wrapped and X-ray's developed. While they'll be a sizeable pay out to the winner at the end there's an experience to be had as well, even if that's one of putting your hand on your heart, looking your friends in the eye, and swearing you'll never try to look cool with a snowboard ever again.

Fireworks at the party last night

And so to Day 1; a few hundred players, a few levels, and 30,000 chips. You can't win an EPT event on day one, you can only lose it, and you'll find all the action from those losers and not-yet-winners right here on the PokerStars Blog. Along the way you'll find what extras crop up and, if time permits, live coverage of what's taking place on the giant silver Alpine Cresta run we can see from the press room window. I can see one of those fearless buccaneers now. He's taken the first turn well, dodged the lamp station well on the second. Too bad he didn't see that other skier around the third.

That's all ahead of us. Play starts at 2pm local time. -- SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Snowfest (in order of suitability to snowy conditions): Marc Convey (skied once, when 14 years old in 1992, described as "a natural", by his mother), Rick Dacey (went skiing last year, described as "unnatural" by his girlfriend) and Stephen Bartley (likes ice in his gin and tonic).