EPT Snowfest: Final table, level 24 (cont.) & 25 updates (blinds 20,000-40,000, 4,000 ante)


4.52pm: End of the level
Players are now on a 15 minute break.

4.51pm: Philip Meulyzer eliminated in sixth place, earning €65,000
Kevin Vandersmissen opened what would be a five-handed pot for 80,000, which Giacomo Maisto missing with three minutes to play in the level. Philip Meulyzer then moved all-in for 317,000.

"It's going to be close," said Vandersmissen. "I think it's close."


Vandersmissen turned over Q♦J♦ while Meulyzer was ahead with A♦K♠. The flop was fine for Meulyzer, coming 7♦J♥A♣, so too the 4♣ turn, and both players joked with each other during the hand. But then the Q♣ river card gave Vandersmissen two pairs.

Philip Meulyzer

Meulyzer was out, giving handshakes all around. From out of nowhere a man, wearing what looked like pyjama trousers and wearing baseball cap wrong, rushed up to Vladimir Geshkenbein to rub his shoulders. Meulyzer meanwhile becomes our sixth place finisher. - SB

4.49pm: And again...
Dragomir opened for 80,000 in middle position and Kevin Vandersmissen raised to 192,000 on the button. Dragomir, the action back on him, asked how much Vandersmissen had left (in the millions) and called for a flop of A♦7♦T♠.

Dragomir checked, then folded as Vandersmissen bet 170,000. - SB

4.48pm: Dragomir opens again
Cristian Dragomir opened for 110,000 in the cut off and got no takers. He showed his hand to Koen de Visscher and the dealer insisted he show everyone. Dragomir slammed two tens onto the table. - SB

4.47pm: Short stacked Meulyzer gets it through
Philip Meulyzer open shoved 275,000 from the cut-off and none of the remaining players could find a call. The additional 80,000 puts him up to 355,000 - still less than ten big blinds. -- RD

4.44pm: Geshkenbein snap calls
Vladimir Geshkenbein opened from the hijack to 85,000 and was called in the big blind by Koen de Visscher. Both players checked the flop down to the Q♠A♠6♣A♥7♣ river, which De Visscher tried to steal with a 90,000 thrust. Geshkenbein snapped it off with Q♦J♠. -- RD

4.43pm: Denis Murphy eliminated in 7th place (€49,000)
When you're waiting for a bus, none will come for ages and then two will arrive straight after each other. A similar scenario happened here as a few double-ups started off this final today and now we've had our second bust out, very soon after the first.

Kevin Vandersmissen min raised from mid position and snap called when Denis Murphy shoved for 677,000 from the big blind. Murphy winced when the cards were revealed:

Murphy: A♣J♦
Vandersmissen: A♠K♥

The board ran 7♦K♣2♥4♣Q♠ meaning it was over by the turn. Murphy received a generous round of applause as he left the roped off final table area. EPT Snowfest is now a 6-max tournament. -- MC

4.40pm: Maisto B'Twixed Dragomir
Cristian Dragomir opened for 80,000 from the cut off. Koen de Visscher, on the button, didn't immediately fold and after some thought he called, as someone from the rail hurled a Twix at Giacomo Maisto.

Maisto was in the big blind and, swallowing a finger of Twix whole, shuffled in his seat to look at his cards, then, cheeks full and snapping chips together to make a noise, he called.

The flop came 6♣T♦6♥.

Maisto bet 80,000, swallowing the last of the chocolate, before Dragomir moved 200,000 into the middle without fan-fair. De Visscher quickly folded while Maisto played with his chips, Dragomir staring at him intently. Maisto looked at his cards again, making elaborate facial gestures, then, realizing he was beaten, passed.

A triumphant Dragomir flung down his A♦9♣ with all the grace of prison ballet. Proud, he shouted something in Romanian to pals on the rail. He's has around 2,000,000. - SB

4.35pm: No value bet?
Koen de Visscher opened for 83,000 from the cut-off and was called by Giacomo Maisto in the small blind and Vladimir Geshkenbein in the big. The J♦K♠2♦ flop was checked round before Geshkenbein bombed 100,000 into the 3♠ turn. Both players called.

The 5♠ river was quickly checked by Maisto who did so by leaning forward and loudly wrapping the table. Both of his opponents cautiously checked behind.

Masito tabled J♠9♠ for the flush and pulled in the 550,000 pot. Geshkenbein rolled his eyes. -- RD

4.30pm: Geshkenbein and Dragomir clash once more
Vladimir Geshkenbein opened for 85,000 from early position. The action was folded to Cristian Dragomir, where things stopped. Once more Dragomir wanted to take on the Russian, straightening his cards and dropping a red chip on top. He raised, making it 210,000 total.

Cristian Dragomir

The blinds folded and it was back on Geshkenbein. He took off his hat, elaborately kissed the small monkey he has on top of his stack and with wild abandon announced "All-in."

"What's the name of the monekey?" asked Dragomir from the other end of the table.

"Lucky monkey," replied Geshkenbein.

"I'm scared of it," replied Dragomir folding. "You win."

"Scared, eh?" asked Geshkenbein.

"Of the monkey..." replied Dragomir. - SB

4.24pm: No luck for the Irish
Denis Murphy takes a turn opening a pot, making it 80,000 from the button. Cristian Dragomir in the small blind asked the Irishman how much he had behind (800,000) and took a minute to think, finally raising to 205,000 to win the pot. --SB

4.21pm: Geshkenbein uses his position well
Vladimir Geshkenbein has stopped the rot to his stack by taking a smallish pot down. He called a Giacomo Maisto raise to 85,000 as did Cristian Dragomir in the big blind. The flop came down A♦6♣T♠ and all three players checked. The turn came J♣ and the action was checked to Geshkenbein who bet 160,000 and that was enough as both players folded. He's up to 1,250,000 chips. -- MC

4.15pm: Morten Mortensen out in 8th (€35,000)
Morten Mortensen took his time deciding whether he wanted to shove his pocket pair over the top of Koen de Visscher's early position raise of 83,000. He finally decided that he did and moved all-in for 714,000. It was now the Belgian that had the decision to make for a large chunk of his chips. Call he did.

Mortensen: 8♥8♣
De Visscher: A♠J♣

It was a major flip for the young Dane and one that turned sour on the J♠Q♠J♥ flop. The T♦ turn and 4♣ river did nothing to change Mortensen's fortunes. As well as raking in €35,000 he should take a lot of pride in his performance, he's been one of the breakthrough players of EPT Snowfest in our eyes. One to watch for sure.

De Visscher is now up to 2.7 million. Seven players remain. -- RD

4.05pm: Geshkenbein and Dragomir clash on the river
Vladimir Geshkenbein opened for 80,000 and opened again from under-the-gun. Cristian Dragomir was waiting in the cut off and raised to 200,000 and the action was folded back around.

Interestingly, Dragomir appears to be the player least enjoying himself at the final table, whereas Geshkenbein seems to be the exact opposite, playing with a perpetual grin. He called and the flop came 9♣5♠6♣. Both checked.

The turn came Q♥ and again both checked for a 6♦ river card. Geshkenbein announced "I bet," paused for a moment and arranged some chips. The 200,000 in blue chips he stacked seemed calculated, as did the 50,000 in yellows. But the reds were random, whatever fitting into his hand as he grabbed them. The total bet being 277,000.

Cristian Dragomir

Dragomir replied by going to his stack, assembling his own raise in good order, and making it 690,000 total to play.

Geshkenbein smiled again, not his usual one but a bewildered look. He removed his hat. "What the hell was that...?" he said to himself, before settling in to think, his face showing his complete confusion, as if the natural order of things were falling apart in front of him.

A total of 413,000 to call, which Geshkenbein eventually did. Dragomir showed K♥K♣. Geshkenbein said "nice hand," and mucked, still smiling, rubbing his chin. He's down to around 1,000,000 while Dragomir shoots back up to 2,450,000. - SB

4pm: Slow and steady
Denis Murphy opened a pot for 80,000 from the cut off. Low and behold there were no takers. In the next hand the action was folded harmlessly to the blinds. Koen de Visscher was in the small blind and called, only to watch Kevin Vandersmissen raise 100,000. De Visscher passed, both players seeing the funny side. - SB

3.55pm: Raise and take
There have been three back-to-back raise and takes; Koen De Visscher twice and Vladimir Geshkenbein once. Cristian Dragomir also received a walk. Not much to report beyond that. -- RD

3.50pm: The second barrel works against Geshkenbein
Vladimir Geshkenbein seems like a tough character and one that can't be finished off with a single bullet. Kevin Vandersmissen had two loaded in the barrel though and that was enough.

Vladmir Geshkenbein

He raised to 80,000 from the button and Geshkenbein defended from the big blind to see a A♣K♠7♥ flop, on which he quickly checked. Vandersmissen c-bet for 84,000 and the Russian snap-called. The turn came A♥ and Geshkenbein checked again to face a 122,000 bet. He muttered something under his breath and folded. -- MC

3.45pm: A change for Geshkenbein
There's different element to the final table on the return from the break; Vladimir Geshkenbein's cowboy hat, a battered one that, judging by its unfamiliar shape, looks like it has been used as a dog's toy for some time.

He opened a pot from middle position, getting no takers, as his next drink was delivered, a glass of McCallan's fine oak.

As he paid Cristian Dragomir opened a hand from the button (no takers) before Geshkenbein made it 85,000 from under the gun in the next. Play was folded around to Giacomo Maisto on the big blind who looked at the Russian. Geshkenbein suggested to Maisto that he shove. He didn't. Looked into the eyes of Geshkenbein he mucked his hands. -- SB

3.40pm: Two hands in
Kevin Vandersmissen took the first hand back from the break with a raise to 80,000 and the second was won by short stack Philip Meulyzer, who shoved all-in from the cut-off. He took the blinds and antes which are worth a pick up of 92,000 now. That takes him back up to 550,000. -- RD

3.35pm: Play restarts
We're into level 25...

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 20,000-40,000, ANTE 4,000

3.20pm: De Visscher doubles going into break
All of the players had gone on their first 15 minute break except Koen de Visscher and Cristian Dragomir, who were involved in a heads-up battle.

Dragomir raised to 60,000 and called when his neighbour three-bet to 140,000. The flop came 2♥6♦4♣ and Dragomir check-raised De Visscher's 175,000 c-bet all-in. De Visscher made a very quick call and the cards were on their backs.

Dragomir tabled T♠T♥ but was behind to his opponent's J♠J♦. The A♣7♥ turn and river didn't change anything and Dragomir offered De Visscher his hand as more than a third of his stack was taken from him. He's down to 1,360,000 while De Visscher is up to 1,939,000. -- MC

3.19pm: Others take a turn
Cristian Dragomir takes a turn opening a pot, finding no takers, as does Giacomo Maisto in the next hand, played while conversing with a friend a few feet away on the rail.

In the next Morten Mortensen opened for 62,000 in early position which Kevin Vandersmissen raised to 144,000 from the button. The action was folded through he blinds back to Mortensen, who folded. - SB

3.15pm: Maisto running hot again, takes chip lead
Two major set-ups have propelled Giacomo Maisto towards the top with 3,600,000 chips. After getting his stack in with kings against queens, Maisto managed, on the very next hand, to get his aces in against Philip Meulyzer's pocket kings.

Maisto opened for 73,000 and was three-bet by Meulyzer to 186,000 and Maisto quickly announced he was al- in for 1,700,000. Meulyzer slowly made the call, correctly, fearing the worst. The Italian dodged a third king and backdoor flush draw to edge ahead of Kevin Vandersmissen and into the chip lead, after wildly celebrating with the Italian rail. That included a lot of cheek pulling, perhaps the first incident of that happening at any EPT final table. -- RD

3.10pm: Bravo for Maisto
Giacomo Maisto has become the first player to risk his tournament life, moving all-in against Kevin Vandersmissen.

Vandersmissen raised to 60,000 from second position before the Italian three-bet to 147,000 from the next seat along. The action folded back around to Vandersmissen who four-bet all-in. Maisto snap called.

Vandersmissen: Q♠Q♦
Maisto: K♣K♠

Maisto clapped his hands together after seeing he was in front and had very vocal support from the Italian crowd.

The board ran T♣2♥9♦4♥7♥ and Maisto doubled to 1,775,000 chips. -- MC

3pm: Longest hand of the main event
Two quick hands were followed by what was perhaps the longest so far. Morten Mortensen opened a pot for 62,000 which was folded around, as was Kevin Vandersmissen's opener for 60,000 in the next.

Koen de Visscher opened for 60,000 in early position which Philip Meulyzer called from the button. The flop came 7♥2♣5♣ and De Visscher fired again, 85,000 this time which the Belgian called for a 4♣ turn.

Koen de Visscher

De Visscher gave it another go, 172,000 this time. Meulyzer waited 33 seconds and then called for a T♣ river card. Once more De Visscher went to his chips, slowly this time, sliding 292,000 into the middle, the dealer swapping blue chips worth 10,000 for orange chips worth 25,000 on each street.

Meulyzer waited again, went to his chips, lined up 600,000, 650,000, 675,000, 677,000, which he pushed forward. This triggered De Visscher's seven minutes in the tank.

Philip Meulyzer

De Visscher didn't move for much of that time and with his face obscured by a hood, glasses and his hand it was hard to gauge any reaction from the Belgian as he gently riffled a few red chips, some of the million chips he had back. As he did that Meulyzer looked back and forth between the chips in the middle and those in front of De Visscher. In the distance some Romanians talked loudly on the rail.

For his part Meulyzer had 550,000 in reserve. He waited, dead still but for his chest moving up and down quite quickly. The dealer conformed the amount once more and De Visscher went to his chips, separating 400,000 form the rest.

Vladimir Geshkenbein looked around, amused at the whole scene, sipped a drink through a straw and then called time. Giacomo Maisto checked share prices on his iPad.

"Thirty seconds," said the tournament director. De Visser took a sip of drink and folded.

"Sorry," said Geshkenbein. "Nothing personal."

"No," replied De Visscher. "I understand."

Meulyzer up to 2,250,000. - SB

2.50pm: Geshkenbein stakes his claim
Vladimir Geshkenbein, alongside Cristian Dragomir, was the player most likely to start the first argument at this final table. He's just given it a try but his opponent, chip leader Kevin Vandersmissen, failed to bite.

Vandersmissen opened his button for 60,000 and was called by Geshkenbein in the big blind. Both players checked through to the T♥K♦8♠7♦ turn which Geshkenbein led into for 90,000. The Belgian made the call.

The 8♣ river paired the board and Geshkenbein pulled out a large 202,000 bet. Vandersmissen quickly made the call and was shown K♥J♣.

"Your lucky streak is over," said Geshkenbein to Vandersmissen.

"I don't think so," mumbled Vandersmissen looking unhappy to have given a large chunk of chips to the Russian.

Geshkenbein is closing in on second place with 2 million. -- RD

2.40pm: Mortensen not willing to fade away
Morten Mortensen has been a constant source of three-betting, I'd say the most virulent three-bettor of the tournament that I've seen. That hasn't changed at this final table which he started as the short stack. Two of the first four hands he has upped the action. This time it was Philip Meulyzer he attacked. The Belgian had opened to 60,000 and Mortensen came back over the top for 145,000. He's got himself up to nearly a million.

Morten Mortensen

Cristian Dragomir has also taken the blinds with a button raise and Koen De Visscher has also won a three-bet pot pre-flop. -- RD

2.33pm: All-in first hand
The play kicked off with around 45 minutes left of level 24 and it didn't take long at all for the action to get going at this final table. The action folded around to Denis Murphy on the button and he raised to 62,000, only for Morten Mortenesen to move all-in from the small blind for 737,000. Murphy checked his cards once more and folded, smiling.

When Mortensen shoved Vladimir Geshkenbein shouted out, "Boo yeah! That's how we like it. -- MC

2.05pm: Slight delay to the start
A slight delay to the start of the final table. The players have been removed from the tournament room and whisked upstairs tot he roof top Sky Bar for their pre-match photos. We expect play to start in about 15 minutes. -- SB

The hills are alive with the sound of the final table players

1.45pm: Welcome to the final table
Welcome back to the final day of the EPT Snowfest main event. Just eight players remain from the original field of 482 and the goal today is a first place prize of €390,000. All the finalists through are guaranteed a minimum of €35,000.

If you've been following the live coverage with us all week you're no doubt familiar with our final table cast but if you're not allow us to introduce them to you with their personal details below...

Chips, chips...

Seat 1: Kevin Vandersmissen, 22, Sint Pieters-Leeuw, near Brussels, Belgium - 4,512,000
Vandersmissen is a former construction worker and has been playing poker for two-and-a-half years, the last 12 months as a full-time pro. He specializes in online no-limit hold'em cash games but is also keen to learn pot-limit Omaha so he can play more events during this summer's World Series, where his aim is to win a bracelet.

Kevin Vandersmissen

Vandersmissen's best result to date was €150,000 in a €3,000 tourney in Barcelona, last December, and since turning pro has won more than $440,000. Vandersmissen is good friends with Belgian Team PokerStars Pros Matthias and Christophe De Meulder, along with the other two Belgian finalists. He aims to be the first Belgian winner of an EPT but of the money he says he already has everything he wants. "The money is just a bankroll boost," he said.

Seat 2: Giacomo Maisto, 39, Caserta, near Napoli, Italy - 986,000
Maisto took up the Italian five-card version of poker some 15 years ago, but switched to Texas hold'em in 2006. Although a sponsored player, poker is not his full-time occupation and he runs a string of businesses, including a call centre.

Giacomo Maisto

Maisto only played one EPT event last season, in Prague, but didn't cash until EPT Copenhagen this year, where he won the DKK 15,000 side event last month, earning approximately €48,000. He also had deep runs at EPT Vilamoura and EPT Vienna.

Maisto is being cheered on at Snowfest by a group of friends that includes serial EPT casher Nicolo Calia, and, true to form, every Italian player still in Hinterglemm. Maisto's wife, Antonietta, is supporting him from home where she is looking after the couple's two young sons.

Seat 3: Vladimir Geshkenbein, 22, Russia - 1,678,000
As entries into the poker world go, beating ten-time World Series winner Johnny Chan heads-up at a PokerStars APPT high roller is hard to top. Geshkenbein, who was not yet out of his teens when he won that $266,705, in 2009, has also proved to be a mercurial talent at Snowfest.

Vladimir Geshkenbein

The Russian, who grew up in Switzerland but who now lives in Malta, broke through Day 1 as overall chip leader, proving to be an aggressive and constant threat at every table at which he's played. Away from the live tournament circuit Geshkenbein can usually be found playing $25/$50 cash games, and so far has scored $417,740 in live winnings.

Seat 4. Philip "meuli4" Meulyzer, 27, Antwerp, Belgium - 1,758,000
Meulyzer started playing poker in 2004 when he discovered the game with friends, thinking it would be cool to smoke big cigars and drink whisky while playing cards. He soon discovered online poker, kicking off in small stakes cash games.

Philip Meulyzer

Now he is a full time pro specializing in $2/$4 cash and occasionally $3/$6 and $5/$10 and also enjoys playing the Sunday online tourneys. Besides poker, he loves movies and is a keen soccer fan. He's an admin on various poker sites and a prolific poster on poker forums. He says Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis is one of the players who inspired him to improve his game.

Seat 5: Denis Murphy, 30, Cork, Ireland - PokerStars qualifier - 991,000
Murphy has been playing poker for four years, the last two of those as a full-time pro. His game of choice is online 6-max cash games, either 400 no-limit or sometimes 600 no-limit. His best live result was fourth place from a 3,289-strong field in a World Series $1,000 tournament in 2010 where he won $162,568.

Denis Murphy

Murphy, who won his seat to Snowfest in a $22 re-buy on PokerStars, has reached the final after an up-and-down Day 4. He was planning on leaving Hinterglemm on Friday but those plans will now have to be shelved.

Seat 6: Morten Mortensen, 21, Copenhagen, Denmark - 780,000
Mortensen started playing poker almost three years ago. In 2010 he reached a handful of final tables, his biggest cash being for $67,000. He played his first EPT event in Copenhagen, last month, busting late on Day 2. He now plans to play a lot more EPTs, most likely Berlin and San Remo, as well as this summer's World Series.


Morten Mortensen

"It's always a problem with the tax in Denmark, but Vegas is a good experience for me as a poker player," he said.

Despite all of these trips his bread and butter remain online tournaments, where he has already achieved numerous five figure cashes.

Seat 7. Cristian Dragomir, 32, Bucharest, Romania - 2,293,000
When Dragomir first took up poker seven years ago he thought, mistakenly, he was the only full-time player in Romania. Actually there were about 30 Romanian pros at the time but very little live poker action.

In 2007 Dragomir enjoyed his first taste of fame when his team came second in the PokerStars World Cup of Poker. Of that he said; "That was a turning point for Romanian poker because it was on TV. People still talk to me about it as if it was yesterday."


Cristian Dragomir

The team stayed very close and included Cristian Tardea, who Dragomir reluctantly busted yesterday in tenth place. In 2008, Dragomir gained some notoriety when he was involved in an infamous hand in the World Series Main Event against Phil Hellmuth.

Hellmuth had raised with ace-king and Dragomir had called with 10-4, hitting a 9-10-7 flop. Hellmuth proceeded to call Dragomir an "idiot" and "the worst player in history," and earned himself a penalty which was later overturned. Dragomir went on to finish in 29th place, his best result to date.

Dragomir has played eight EPTs to date but this is his first cash. His wife Madalina is supporting him from home with the couple's young son Sasha.

Seat 8. Koen De Visscher, 25, Wilsele, Belgium - 1,543,000
De Visscher started playing poker on holiday in April 2006 and has been playing regularly ever since. He began playing €5 home games with friends but after a year switched to playing online. He's now a full time player and has focused on tournaments for the last 12 months.

Koen de Visscher

One of De Visscher's other hobbies is traveling, which he can combine perfectly with poker. If he wins the tournament he will consider buying an apartment, but his main motivation is to keep playing. He lives with his girlfriend in Wilsele near Leuven.

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Snowfest (in order of time spent Para-gliding this morning): Marc Convey (25 minutes), Rick Dacey (0 minutes) and Stephen Bartley (0 minutes).