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

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4.22pm: Eames shows uptick as the break is rung in
John Eames finished third at EPT Copenhagen last month for $257,011 and is attempting back to back cashes. The Brit is a threat at any table and is up to 36,000 after betting Sofi Lovgren off of a hand on a 5♥7♦8♣7♠9♣ board. It was the last thing to happen before the players went off on break, the first of the day. -- RD

4.18pm: Starting where he left off
EPT Copenhagen was three weeks ago and was won by the fearless and aggressive Michael Tureniec of Sweden. He showed both of those attributes just now to move up to around 40,000 chips. He was three-way to a K♣6♥3♥ flop with Jose Ruben Zurilla and Julian Herold. Herold led for 1,450 but was raised up to 4,050 by Tureniec in the big blind. Zurilla called from under-the-gun and Herold folded.

The turn came J♠ and the Swede led for 6,550. Call. The river fell T♣ and Tureniec moved all-in for around 20,000. The Spaniard tank folded and Tureniec gave a small smile to himself. -- MC

4.12pm: Minieri breaks the Law
With bets of 400 pre-flop, called, there was a flop of K♣A♠7♦. Dario Minieri bet 650, speaking it "six-fifty" from early position, which the moustachioed Francisco Torres, whistling, called from the hijack before Nicholas Chouity raised to 1,800. Minieri confirmed the amount with the dealer, then passed, as did Torres, still whistling.

On the next hand, with Minieri in the small blind, Gaurav Law, from the United Arab Emirates, attempting an audacious raise to 425 from the cut-off. Minieri dealt with this in the standard way by re-raising to 1,450, spoken of course "fourteen-fifty". Law got the message. -- SB

4.05pm: News from the slopes
Amazing scenes on the slopes visible across the valley. Having descended the piste at high speed, one dashing lycra covered dynamo suddenly eased off to the side of the run before lining up for a run at the ski jump.

This is a ramp of snow which yesterday claimed at least one casualty. But rather than performing a "reverse osteopath", this chap glided effortlessly towards the ramp, went airborne, performed a somersault and landed perfectly, to an ovation from everyone watching. He could only have improved on it by removing his overalls to reveal a neatly pressed dinner jacket underneath. Remarkable. -- SB

4.02pm: More Dutch news
Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo is up to 57,000 after being the grateful recipient of a full double-up. She was on the right side of a set over set scenario. -- MC

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Fatima Moreira de Melo

4pm: Not a great start for Naujoks
Team PokerStars Pro Sandra Naujoks is down to 25,000 after being forced to fold a 6,100 bet on a 4♥8♦8♥ flop. Julian Herold min-raised to 12,000 and Naujoks, looking even more irritated, tossed here hand away. -- RD

3.50pm: Veldhuis = Dutch for pain in the neck
Team PokerStars Pro Lex Velduis is a player you do not want to your left as he'll drag you into the most uncomfortable places and Umberto Vitagliano just found this out to his detriment.

He raised to 400 from mid position and called when Veldhuis three-bet to 1,300. The flop came down 6♥J♣3♦ and Vitagliano check-called a 1,600 bet. The turn came 5♦ and Veldhuis fired in 4,500 when the action was checked to him. Call.

The river came 4♦ and Veldhuis emptied the clip with a third bullet, worth 11,800. The Italian tanked for several minutes before reluctantly letting his hand go. Word came back to us from a Dutch colleague that Velduis didn't have it, but what he does have is a 42,000 stack. -- MC

3.41pm: Stani tilting, Pagano winning
Kevin Stani has just lost another pot to Luca Pagano and looks like he may be losing his composure too.

On a 7♠T♥J♠8♣ board Stani had bet 5,250, leaving himself around 17,000 behind, and Pagano had clicked it back to 10,600. Stani quickly threw his cards away in frustration, accidentally exposing a queen while doing so. It's not been the dream start for Stani. Things are looking up for Pagano who has something approaching 45,000 chips. -- RD

3.32pm: Lykov and Veldhuis eyeing each other warily
Max Lykov and Lex Veldhuis, Team PokerStars Pros both, are sitting at opposite ends of a table situated at the far end of the tournament floor. In fact it's almost exactly where Lykov was sat last year when he busted out of the tournament in 13th place having been a dominant and terrifying chip leader for a long period of play. The Russian has notched up $1,442,554 in live winnings in just a couple of years. He's a ferocious competitor.

Lex Veldhuis, who is currently in training for a kick-boxing bout against ElkY, was raking in a pot as I walked by. A loose aggressive player not afraid to fire multiple bullets and bluffs, Veldhuis won't be afraid to tangle with the Russian machine. -- RD

3.25pm: Pagano picks off a Stani bluff
Luca Pagano really, really wants to win an EPT title so being sat with three title holders is just a reminder to him of that desire.

He just taught a lesson to one of them though. Pagano and Kevin Stani had made it to the turn and Stani led out from the big blind. Pagano then called from his early position. The river fell to leave a J♦2♦3♠5♦6♣ board. Stani bet 4,200 and Pagano called once more.

"Ace high", said Stani and revealed A♦T♥. It was no good though as Pagano tabled 2♣2♦ to move up to 34,500. Stani is down to 24,000 chips. -- MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 75-150


3.15pm: Pot to Pagano and five thousand somethings...
Action on the "crikey, look at that" table. On a flop of J♥T♥J♠ James Sudworth bet 1,500 which Luca Pagano raised to 3,00 total. Sudworth thought for a moment before folding, sending a few thousand to Pagano.

Between that hand and the next local nightclub impresario Herman Muller stood up, neatly dressed in a pinstripe suit, his grey hair slicked back neatly. Addressing the room in German he mentioned something about "Funf thousand..." then stopped. One man then applauded from the far side of the room and Muller sat down again.

There were three players to a flop in the next hand. With 3♣3♥J♥on the board Kevin MacPhee checked in the big blind before Kevin Stani bet 550. Luca Pagano, in the hand up to now, passed and the action moved back to MacPhee, mid massage.

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Kevin MacPhee, man

The American called for a 9♣ turn card which both players checked for a 3♦ river card. MacPhee, sporting what some would call a Fu Manchu moustache but more familiar to Easy Rider fans, agonized for a few seconds, then folded. The chips went to Stani with just a few minute remaining in the first level. - SB

3.05pm: Stani joins the party
EPT webcast commentator and UKIPT host Nick Wealthall has a lot of bugbears and table draws is one of them. I've been on the receiving end of several rants from Wealthall, usually in front of a roaring fire with a glass in hand, about the importance/variance of a good/bad table draw, which is something that is largely glossed over. The conclusion is that; a) it makes a huge difference, and b) that you can't do anything about it. Largely a wasted conversation.

This point has been very much illustrated by the Boeree-MacPhee table. Joining that pair, as well as Luca Pagano and James Sudworth, is Kevin Stani, winner of EPT Tallinn. That's three EPT champs there now. There are some longing glances at tables adjacent to them which seem largely populated by unknown players.

Poker's egalitarian so get on with it, ladies and gents. And that's exactly what MacPhee did. Sudworth opened from early position to 275 and was called by Pierre Fehner before MacPhee three-bet to 900 from the cut-off. Sudworth moved out of the way and Fehner made the call. Both players checked through to the A♦T♦T♣2♠ turn which MacPhee bet 1,125 into. Fehner made the call. The 9♦ river was checked by both with MacPhee's A♠Q♠ taking the pot. -- RD

2.50pm: That's how they roll
The EPT structure is so good that it's possible to be very patient early on and wait for good spots rather than rushing and playing the event like a turbo. Not so for Team PokerStars Pros Lex Velhuis and Dario Minieri. They are both maverick players who made their reputation by throwing out the rule book. They are both up to around 33,000 chips after successful squeeze three-bet plays into multiple opponents. -- MC

2.35pm: Boeree, MacPhee, Pagano and Sudworth all play today
That smattering of names alone shouldn't be something to particularly marvel at (beyond the fact that it contains two EPT winners, two Team PokerStars Pros and the overall EPT Leaderboard's second place player in Pagano) but the fact that all four are sat at the same table certainly is.

You should know Team Pro Liv Boeree and Luca Pagano as well as EPT winner Kevin MacPhee, but you may not know James Sudworth. A confident young cash game player from the UK - and by confident I do mean that he has a big mouth, nice chap though - Sudworth could certainly provide some thorny problems for the assorted big names at this table. We'll be following this one closely.

Interesting table draw, Liv? "Yeah," Boeree fired out as a quick reply while rolling her eyes.

She's taken this seat draw a lot better than the brutal table draw at this year's PCA though. That was truly ridiculous and can be read about by clicking on the link 12.51pm: The undisputed table of death. -- RD

2.30pm: From the video team
Gloria Balding introduces Day 1B of EPT Snowfest, with a little help from Team PokerStars Pro Jan Heitmann...


2.26pm: Man down already
It took only eight minutes to lose our first player today. The unfortunate victim was Johan Berggren, from Sweden. The player who took all his chips is the now very happy Zultan Gal. There was betting on the [7][7][j] flop before the rest of the chips went in on the [6] turn. Bergren said to Gal, "Do you really have jacks?"

He sure did, for top full house beating out Berggren's smaller full house with seven-six. -- MC

2.25pm: Before the start
Prior to the start Tournament Director Thomas Kremser and Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano read short statements about the death of Gianni Giaroni ten days ago.

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Luca Cainelli (foreground) and Massimo Di Cicco listen on...

With the room hushed, a short video was played of the screens around the room showing Giaroni at his best on the Italian Poker Tour, notably in the 2009 high roller event in Nova Gorica, where he finished second.

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Gianni Giaroni at his best

With applause from everyone in the tournament room seats were re-taken and a draw was made for the button. Play is under way.

2.20pm: On your marks. Set....
.......Shuffle-up and deal. The cards are in the air a little later than planned. -- MC

1.30pm: Lobby filling up
Players are arriving in numbers at the Alpine Palace, congregating in the hotel lobby before the 2pm start. -- SB

12.30pm: Welcome to Day 1B
Yesterday marked the start of this unique event, one that combines poker in the afternoon with some leisurely winter pursuits for those able to drag themselves from bed in the morning.

Today will be a repeat of the last, with eight one hour levels and a room full of players each equipped with 30,000 starting chips.

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Hinterglemm in the sunshine

However, there will be one change from what we'd usually expect on a day like this, that being the absence of Italian player Gianni Giaroni, who died on 11 March after a short and sudden illness.

Giaroni, nicknamed "The Professor", belonged to a particular breed of poker player. From an older generation he was able to play the game free from the restraints of financial obligation having spent years proving himself as a profitable sports bettor. Then, as a poker professional, he amassed tournament winnings of more than $1.1 million across Europe and the World, and only last December Giaroni finished runner-up in the Peoples Poker Tour in Slovenia, earning €69,300.

As far as the EPT goes Giaroni had four cashes, the high water mark being a tenth place finish on home turf in San Remo in 2009, narrowly missing the final table. Four months later he would finish second at the Partouche Grand Final, earning more than $500,000.

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Gianni Giaroni busting on the bubble at EPT Vienna last year

Giaroni was part of a wave of Italian players whose enthusiasm and spirit was made clear to all following Salvatore Bonavena's first win for Italy in Prague, Season 5. Since then Italians have tuned into the game like no other nation, and with big results.

It's sometimes easy to dismiss any player who isn't less than 22-years-old and who doesn't like to be known for their six-betting, but Giaroni demonstrated that it's not just raw aggression or characterless stereotype that ensures success, but that a little experience can serve you just as well.

Giaroni was a well-liked player and familiar face on the EPT which, staffed by the same people and played by the same players, can become a long and tiring bandwagon. To those on the inside the faces you recognise add a comforting continuity when the view through the window changes so often.

We will no longer see Gianni in the tournament rooms of the EPT, but he'll always be missed.

Now it's back to poker and Day 1B of EPT Snowfest. Play starts at 2pm. -- SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Snowfest (in order of most memorable experience involving an Italian poker player): Marc Convey (told to call the police by one Italian rail-crasher if he invaded the TV stage one more time), Rick Dacey (watching Dario Minieri claim all five bounties in the six-max Bounty event at this year's PCA) and Stephen Bartley (watching Fabrizio Ascari's face turn from glee to one of sheer terror when he picked up Bartley's panama hat "for a joke").