Dan Shak soars highest on Day 1A of EPT Malta Main Event

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1A_dan_shak.jpg

Dan's the man to catch

While two big tournaments at the Portomaso Casino played to their conclusion today the Main Event was just getting started on the journey to find a winner to join Jean Montury and Niall Farrell as EPT Malta champions.

While David Yan and Ismael Bojang were busy winning the €25,000 High Roller and IPT Main Event respectively, a total of 134 players selected the opening flight to start their bid for glory in the Main Event. After the opening eight levels, it's Dan Shak who leads the 61 players who bagged chips at the end of play. The American's total of 185,000 puts him just ahead of Pasi Sormunen (183,500), Alex Brand (163,600), Frederik Jensen (147,800) and Ole Schemion (147,500).

Shak snatched the chip lead on the very last hand of the night when he made a great hero call with 'just' a pair of queens on a flushing and paired board to eliminate Ghassan Bitar. Up until that point, it looked certain to be Sormunen who'd end the day at the summit, on a day where almost everything seemed to go his way.

8G2A0367_Pasi_Sormunen_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Sormunen - Finn it to win it

He rivered a straight to crack the sets of Max Silver and Stephan Zesiger and calmly said. "I didn't have the odds but I like to gamble." He showed he's got hand reading skills as well as gamble when he called a Dario Sammartino shove with just ace high and was proved right as the Italian had king high. It was that sort of day for the player who finished fifth in Barcelona in Season 10. If he carries on like this, we may see another sparkly hat at the final table come Saturday. Such was Sormunen's lead over the rest of the field that he could absorb losing an 80k pot to Frederik Jensen during the last level and still almost retain the lead.

Other notables and big stacks who'll be back on Tuesday for Day 2 include:

Guillaume Valle - 143,200
Charlie Carrel - 87,300
Stephen Chidwick - 80,900
Juha Helppi - 48,700
Paul Newey - 41,500
Fabrice Soulier - 37,500
Adrian Mateos - 27,800
James Akenhead - 15,400
Pratyush Buddiga - 9,900
Vladimir Troyanovskiy - 9,000

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Pagano is still looking for cash number 22

There were three members of the Red Spade brigade in the field today but none of the triumvirate will be back for Day 2. Both Luca Pagano and Fatima Moreira de Melo were touched by the icy hand of variance and busted before they could get going. The Italian, who was looking for his 22nd Main Event cash, got his chips in ahead with a dominating hand against Oleksii Khoroshenin but was rivered. As for Moreira de Melo, it was a case of aces cracked for her and by quads no less. Theo Jorgensen lasted late into the night, but the result was the same.

Plenty of notables joined them on the rail with Cate Hall, Philipp Gruissem, Martin Finger, Jorryt Van Hoof, Dinesh Alt, Scott Seiver, Pierre Neuville, Nick Petrangelo, Anthony Zinno, Steve O'Dwyer, Martin Kozlov, Justin Smith and Connor Drinan among the sharks who were swallowed up.

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No joy for O'Dwyer


That's all from our coverage of the Main Event for today, we'll be back for Day 1B from noon tomorrow. Overnight chip counts can be accessed by clicking this link.

11:59pm: End of play
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

That's all from Day 1A folks, joins us at noon tomorrow for Day 1B. --NW

11:50pm: Last three hands
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

A three was drawn at random so that's how many more hands will be played tonight.

11:45pm: Even Jesus Christ can't help you win flips
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Andrew Christoforou, who came 18th in the WSOP Main Event in the summer, tutted and whispered, "Jesus Christ" after Frederik Jensen hit an ace on the turn to eliminate him.

Former EPT Madrid winner Jensen opened to 2,000 from under the gun and was called in one spot before Christoforou squeezed all-in for 31,200. When the action got back around to Jensen he shoved and successfully isolated the Brit.

Jensen: A♣K♥
Christoforou: T♥T♦

The board ran 4♥6♦7♠A♦7♦ to make the Dane two pair and he moved up to 110,000. --MC

11:30pm: Kozlov punished for semi slowroll?
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Martin Kozlov and Charlie Carrel's table was broken and they were both moved to a table that - once they got there - was even potentially even tougher than the last one. Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Ben Heath, Pratyush Buddiga and Paul Tedecshi to name a few were in wait. It was Karzan Hamarash they, or Kozlov, should've been worried about though.

The Australian opened to 2,000 from middle position and was called by Hamarash on the button. The flop spread 7♣4♠5♥ and Kozlov checked to face a 3,500 bet. He paused, counted his 11,100 stack and then moved all-in. Hamarash got a call and then called.

Kozlov turned his cards over but had one hidden under the other so only the A♣ was exposed. The dealer had to reach over and slide it off the other one, another ace in the form of the A♦. Hamarash opened 4♦6♦ and was rewarded when the board ran out 8♦8♠ to make him a straight. He moved up to 34,400. --MC

11:10pm: Nice hand for Nanos
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

In the list of poker hands that look good, but don't play great then ace-jack suited is somewhere near the top. Konstantinos Nanos was dealt A♥J♥ and decided that he was going with it and shoved all-in for 21,900. Action folded around to Chi Zhang in the small blind and after getting a count, he called with pocket sevens and Ole Schemion folded.

So it was a race, and one Nanos badly needed to win. A 8♥2♣A♣Q♦5♣ board meant he flopped best and doubled up. --NW


11:05pm: No stack Neuville
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Pierre Neuville gave the blog a look indicating he needed something to happen. A hand to make a move with. He was short and found that hand and the only movement he was doing afterwards was stretching out his legs ready for the walk of shame.

Tibor Nagygyorgy was the player who deal the fatal blow, his A♣Q♥ beating the Belgian's K♠K♣. The chips went in on the turn of a J♦9♥A♦4♥2♠ board. Nagygyorgy was bopping away to music as he tidied up his stack worth 85,000. --MC

10:50pm: Gone
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

As the last level of the day starts we can report that Anthony Zinno, Jeff Sarwer, Justin Smith, Morten Mortensen and Zorlu Er are just some of the players who were eliminated during level seven. --NW

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1A_jeff_sarwer.jpg

Checkmate for Sarwer

10:45pm: Akenhead straightened out
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

James Akenhead has dropped even more chips - down to 23,000 - after an opponent flopped a straight against him and found some value.

The Brit raised to 1,400 from under the gun and was only called by Alain Fluri in the big blind. The flop came 5♥6♣8♥ and Akenhead continued for 1,400 and called after Fluri check-raised to 3,200. The turn was the 3♥ and Fluri led for 6,000. Call. The board completed with the Q♠ and Akenhead called another 3,300 before mucking when shown 9♣7♥. --MC

10:30pm: Eights not so great for Akenhead
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

There wasn't a flicker of emotion throughout this hand from James Akenhead, which is hardly surprising given the number of poker hands he's seen over his career as this was, as the kids say, pretty standard.

The Londoner opened to 1,400 from under-the-gun, Mikalai Vaskaboinikau, who was next to act, fiddled with his chips for a while, picked some up and tossed them around in the palm of his hand and then three-bet to 5,600 total.

It folded back around and Akenhead glanced to his left to gets eyes on Vaskaboinikau's chip stack and then bet enough to set the Belarussian all-in. Pause, call.

Akenhead: 8♣8♦
Vaskaboinikau: A♠K♦

It was looking good for the former train driver but the river of a 4♦3♦7♠J♥K♣ board sent the pot to his opponent and Akenhead is down to 32,000. --NW


10:25pm: Trippy table number ten
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Unless we're seeing things, table 10 - which was already tough - has become a lot tougher since Scott Seiver was sat there after buying in, and Martin Kozlov was moved there. Here's the full line-up:

1. Romal Jaweed - 21,700
2. Martin Kozlov - 19,800
3. Scott Seiver - 29,500
4. Roman Korenev - 46,000
5. Marko Neumann - 16,500
6. Viacheslav Buldygin - 32,000
7. Charlie Carrel - 56,000
8. Paul Newey - 35,300
9. Andrew Christoforou - 42,000

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A visual experience of a table

The table conversation is being dominated by Kozlov and Carrel and it's fascinating to hear what they're saying. Both are deep-thinking people, not just about poker but also life and trying to find oneself. Out of respect, we won't divulge the full details of the experiences they've gone through, but it's some trippy stuff.

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Carrel and Newey

While they were talking Jaweed opened from early position and was called by Korenev in the hijack. The flop fell 6♦8♠4♠ and Jaweed continued for 2,300 but folded when raised to 5,500. --MC

10:10pm: Enter Jensen
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

There aren't that many players who can say they've won an EPT and then finished third in another and won far more than they did for their victory. However, Frederik Jensen is a man who can. He took down EPT8 Madrid, winning €495,000 in the process, and finished third at EPT12 Barcelona, pocketing €810,294.

He took his seat a short time ago and finds himself to the right of Oleksii Khoroshenin and Pasi Sormunen. No sooner had he sat down then he limped in from under-the-gun, Ran Azor attacked the limp by raising to 1,600, Khoroshenin called from the big blind and Jensen also called.

The 8♥A♠8♠8♦Q♣ run out looked 'actiony' but not a single post-flop bet was put into the pot. At showdown Azor showed Q♥T♦ which was good. --NW

9:50pm: Kisacikoglu doubles and gives some back
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Orpen Kisacikoglu wishes he could play more poker than he does, but can't find the time due to a busy growing gaming company that he runs. So, while he's here at EPT Malta, he's packing in the tournaments. He's already featured in the blog while playing the €10k Re-entry and the €25k as well, coming eighth in the first one for €23,280.

He's playing here in the Main Event but struggling. He doubled up and then gave some back.

Marcello Miniucchi opened from UTG+1 and called after Kisacikoglu three-bet all-in for 9,600 from the next seat.

Miniucchi: T♣T♥
Kisacikoglu: J♠J♣

The board ran A♣A♠7♣7♦Q♣.

The very next hand Miniucchi raised from UTG and was called in three spots including Kisacikoglu. The flop came 7♣6♥9♥ and Kisacikoglu was first to bet at it, for 4,000. Luca Granieri was in the blind and check-raised to 10,000. All opponents, including Kisacikoglu, folded. --MC

9:30pm: Top 10 stacks
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Below are the top 10 stacks as the level gets underway, Pasi Sormunen is still the player to catch.

NameCountryStatusChips
Pasi SormunenFinland 174,000
Sergey SergeevRussia 130,000
Graydon KowalCanada 102,000
Alex BrandNetherlandsPokerStars player92,000
Paul McCartneyUK 86,000
Dan ShakUSAPokerStars player83,000
Thomas MjeldheimNorway 80,000
Dmitry YurasovRussiaPokerStars qualifier75,000
Guillaume ValleFrancePokerStars qualifier74,000
Jakub MichalakPolandPokerStars player74,000

Notables who're just bubbling under include: Ole Schemion (68,000), Brian Altman (67,000), Adrian Mateos (50,000) and Charlie Carrel (47,000).

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Dmitry Yurasov is building a decent stack

8:15pm: Dinner break

Players are now on a 75-minute dinner break.

8:10pm: Drinan doubles through Er
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Zorlu Er -- who you'll recall took fifth in the EPT13 Barcelona Main Event a couple of months ago -- opened with a raise to 1,125 from the cutoff. Then Connor Drinan -- who you'll recall won the €10K High Roller in Barcelona (and a lot else on the way to more than $10 million in tournament winnings) -- reraised all-in for his last 9,300 from the button.

It folded back to Er who got a count, and he called with A♠8♠. Drinan meanwhile had Q♣J♥, and after the flop came A♦Q♦9♦ to give both a pair, Drinan was needing further help in order to keep his seat.

The K♠ turn didn't specifically help Drinan, but in conjunction with the T♥ river made a saving straight for Drinan and he stays in the game with almost 20,000. Er, meanwhile, is down under 4,000 as the dinner break nears. --MH

8:05pm: Sormunen clear of the field
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Pasi Sormunen has shown in the past on the EPT that he can be a hard man to stop once he gets momentum going. He's certainly got that going right now as he's the clear chip leader on 160,000.

We're assuming he's left a trail of disaster behind him, the latest being the elimination of Dario Sammartino. We missed the hand but Sormunen told the blog that Sammartino moved all-in on the turn with a king high flush draw. He didn't believe them and called with ace high and was proved right. --MC

8:00pm: Domination rotation
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Davide Suriano and Mete Ustuay got it all-in pre-flop with Ustuay the one at risk, all-in for just over 15,000.

Ustuay: A♥8♣
Suriano: A♣K♣

The T♦8♦4♣ flop meant Ustuay took the lead and he held onto it via the 4♦ flop and Q♣ river. He doubles, while Suriano is left with just 8,000. --NW

7:58pm: Shak hits jack and has a stack
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Kind of an interesting one for you, a hand that resulted in Dan Shak stacking up more than 100,000 as Level 6 nears its close.

The hand began with Shak opening big for 2,000 from the button, then watching Luke Marsh three-bet to 4,800 from the big blind. Shak called, and the flop came 2♥7♥3♦.

Marsh led for 3,600, and Shak didn't waste too much time before raising to 15,000. Marsh acted relatively quickly, too, reraising all-in, and Shak called to commit 41,900 total.

Marsh turned over A♣Q♥ for a couple of overcards, having perhaps hoped to push Shak off his hand. As it turned out, Marsh was ahead -- for the moment, anyway -- as Shak had J♥T♥ for two (lesser) overs a heart flush draw.

The turn was the 9♣, and Shak closed his eyes as though hoping it might improve his chances of drawing out on the river. Whether that helped or not, the J♦ landed on fifth street to pair Shak and give him the big pot.

As noted, he's up around 100,000 now, while Marsh slips to 21,000. --MH

7:55pm: O'Dwyer's day is done
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Table five, aka the 'Table of Death' just got a smidgen softer as Steve O'Dwyer has busted. He jammed from under-the-gun+1 for his final 4,950 and Knut Karnapp flicked in a single blue 5K chip to call and everyone else folded. Karnapp opened K♠Q♠ while O'Dwyer had J♥T♥. The 3♣6♣2♦K♥9♠ board didn't help O'Dwyer and he departs. --NW

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Steve O'Dwyer

7:50pm: No arguin', Larguemin... you won that one
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

With the board showing 3♦8♥K♣6♥, Christophe Larguemin put his last chips forward as an all-in bet but didn't appear very enthused about his chances when both of his opponents in the hand -- Karzan Hamarash and Ben Heath -- called his bet.

Larguemin shifted in his seat, and after the K♦ came on the river and the other two checked, he stood as he tabled his A♥8♣ for kings and eights. That couldn't be good, could it? It was as though Larguemin had already argued it out with himself and decided there was no chance he was still remaining in the tournament.

Heath showed 7♦7♠, so it was better than that. And Hamarash had a busted straight draw with 5♦4♠, another hand Larguemin could beat.

He sat back down, glad that he had been wrong. And right. And still in with 18,000. Heath meanwhile has 28,000 and Hamarash 55,000. --MH


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7:45pm: Pagano out
Level6 - Blinds 250/300 (75 ante)

Luca Pagano is out. After three-betting pre-flop and taking Oleksii Khoroshenin along with him, his ace-queen was rivered by a king, which matched the one in Khoroshenin's hand. The Team Pro is out.


luca_pagano_malta_main_23oct16.jpgV for... vanquished?

Khoroshenin meanwhile, fresh from the High Roller final, is up to 58,000. - SB

7:40pm: Heath gets lucky to double
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Ben Heath was halfway out of his chair as he anticipated his exit, but a lovely river three-outer came to his rescue and he doubled up.


ben_heath_malta_main_23oct16.jpgBen Heath

The hand was three-way to a T♥3♥9♦ flop and 5,700 was already in the pot. The action checked to Heath in the cutoff and he bet 3,250. Christophe Larquemin was in the small blind and check-raised all-in for 14,425. The third player in the hand tanked for a few minutes before folding, but Heath snap called all-in for 11,925.

Larquemin: J♦T♣ for top pair, jack kicker.
Heath: T♦8♦ for top pair, eight kicker.

The board ran out A♣8♠ to hit Heath's kicker. --MC

7:35pm: Always play suited pocket pairs
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

"I think you might have folded the best hand, Luca."

So said Dmitry Ponomarev just now. Luca readily agreed as the table laughed. Let's back up and explain.

Pagano had opened with a raise to 1,000 from the cutoff, then watched Oleksii Khoroshenin on his left call from the button. That's when Agron Kabashaj reraised all-in for his last 9,575 from the small blind.

It folded back to Pagano who let his hand go. Khoroshenin leaned forward to get an idea of the amount of the raise, then called.

With a sheepish grin, Kabashaj turned over T♦6♥ to reveal his bluff-squeeze had apparently gone wrong. The table was a little surprised at that hand, but even more so when Khoroshenin turned over his -- 8♠6♠!

And no one was more surprised than Khoroshenin himself.

"I thought they were eights," he said with a resigned look, then looked a little more dismayed as the board rolled out 9♣A♠4♣J♦Q♠ to give Kabashaj a surprising double-up. Meanwhile Khoroshenin fell to about 33,000.

Khoroshenin repeated afterwards how he genuinely misread his cards, which is when Ponomarev suggested Pagano had folded something better than the two hands shown. Pagano then turned to Khoroshenin.

"Did you think your eights were suited?" asked Pagano, and the table laughed some more. --MH

7:30pm: Names, notables and big stacks
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

A selection of chip counts below that covers some of the names and notable in today's field:

NameCountryStatusChips
Pasi SormunenFinland 115,000
Sergey SergeevRussia 94,000
Brian AltmanUSAPokerStars player69,000
Ole SchemionGermanyPokerStars qualifier63,300
Dario SammartinoItalyPokerStars qualifier57,000
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussiaPokerStars qualifier50,600
Stephen ChidwickUKPokerStars player46,300
Theo JorgensenDenmarkTeam PokerStars Pro46,000
Senh UngUK 40,925
Oleksii KhorosheninUkraine 34,500
Juha HelppiFinland 34,125
Paul-Francois TedeschiUK 33,000
Dan ShakUSAPokerStars player32,025
Jeff SarwerFinlandPokerStars player30,300
Paul NeweyUK 28,550
Luca PaganoItalyTeam PokerStars Pro26,000
Adrian MateosSpainPokerStars qualifier25,100
Steve O'DwyerIrelandPokerStars player22,700
Anthony ZinnoUSA 19,700
Charlie CarrelUKPokerStars qualifier19,000
Martin KozlovAustraliaPokerStars qualifier19,000
Morten MortensenDenmarkPokerStars qualifier18,900
Alexandros KoloniasGreece 16,600
Pierre NeuvilleBelgium 16,300
James AkenheadUK 15,450
Ben HeathUK 13,800
Pratyush BuddigaUSAPokerStars player9,900
Connor DrinanUSAPokerStars qualifier7,575
Nick PetrangeloUSAPokerStars player6,525

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Mateos points in the direction his stack is going

7:15pm: Short stay for Silver
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Earlier we reported that Max Silver had slipped to just 4,000 after running into aces. Well he just had a go at spinning it up into something more significant and it was quite the hand.

Pasi Sormunen opened to 1,100 from under-the-gun, Silver then shoved for 2,950, Stephan Zesiger flat called from the big blind and Sormunen also called.

On the T♥8♠6♦ flop Zesiger bet 4,000 and Sormunen called. The K♣ hit the turn, bet of 5,000 from Zesiger, call from Sormunen. Silver was pretty ready to leave at this point, sensing he didn't have the best hand here. The river was the 4♣, Zesiger moved all-in for 7,700 and Sormunen snap called. Silver was the first to show, he tabled 4♥4♠ and laughed when he saw the K♥K♠ that Zesiger turned over.

"I thought I'd rivered it," he said laughing. Then Sormunen turned his hand over, he had 7♦5♦. "And you've got the straight," said Silver laughing even harder now.

So that's a double elimination for Sormunen who's up to 115,000. "I didn't have the odds but I like to gamble," he said as he stacked the chips. --NW

7:00pm: New level
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

We're into the next level. At the end of this level players will take a dinner break -- approximately 8:15pm local time.

6:55pm: Smith's still got it and Schemion's always had it
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

It was only a chop pot for Justin Smith but it showed his instincts are still there.

He and Luigi Curcio made it to the turn where the board read 9♣7♥9♥7♠. Smith bet from the cutoff and called when his opponent check-raised him from the small blind. The board completed with the 3♠ and Curcio opened K♥9♥ after both players checked. Smith opened K♠J♣ and it was chopped up.

Moments later on a nearby table, Ole Schemion was taking a pot off Graydon Kowal and Jeff Sarwer.

The three of them took to a 5♣Q♦7♣ flop where the German bet 1,700. Kowal was in the cutoff and raised to 4,000. That was enough to get Sarwer to fold from the small blind, but not Schemion who called. The 3♣ turn was checked through before Schemion led for 3,000 on the A♠ river. He opened A♦5♦ when called and Kowal mucked after showing the Q♣.

That put him up to 75,000 and Kowal down to 65,000. --MC

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1A_graydon_kowal.jpg

Kowal - rivered by Schemion

6:50pm: Chidwick takes last chips from Luis
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Damien Luis's EPT Malta Main Event came to a premature end near the end of the tournament's fourth level.

All-in with A♦K♠ versus Stephen Chidwick's Q♣Q♥ with his short stack, Luis watched the board run out an unhelpful 5♣8♦T♥3♣3♥, and he headed toward the exit. Chidwick's tourney continues, meanwhile, as he's playing about 60,000 at present. --MH

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1A_stephen_chidwick.jpg

Strong start for Chidwick

6:44pm: You look familiar
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

It's a talented field for today's Day 1A. Indeed, as often happens at EPT Main Events, there are a number of top pros filling the seats around many of the tables, meaning lots of familiar faces just about everywhere one looks.

That said, each individual EPT stop attracts local media who aren't perhaps as familiar with the EPT regulars. Such a truth seemed to be demonstrated just now as one Ole Schemion -- whom we were obviously able to recognize from a great distance -- was being quizzed by one as regarding his identity.

This is speculation, mind you, as we watched from a distance. But Ole's patient grin seemed to indicate clearly enough what was happening. He was even asked about his chip stack, and Jeff Sarwer -- sitting across the table -- tried to help out by suggesting Schemion was playing around 70,000, the biggest stack at the table at the moment.

It was an amusing scene, although most of Schemion's table -- made up of many familiar faces from pasts EPTs, including Sarwer, Anthony Zinno, Steve O'Dwyer, and Knut Karnapp -- were intent on the hand being played. Schemion soon returned to focus on that as well. --MH

6:40pm: Silver going for gold again
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

What do you do when you've just busted a €25,000 tournament and won €164,030? Well, if you're Max Silver you hop into the EPT Main Event. Silver and his salad, have taken a seat at the same table as Dario Sammartino and Martin Kozlov.

It's not been the best of starts though...



6:30pm: Original end boss back in the game
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

When the poker boom started more than 10 years ago, Justin Smith was emerging as one of the games brightest stars. He won a ton online under the handle "BoostedJ" and then, from 2008, started to crush in live tournaments as well. He's the only player I've personally ever seen correctly fold a straight flush. Yes it was in PLO but it was still incredibly impressive nonetheless.

His life got a bit hectic for a while post 2012 and he mostly disappeared from the circuit. He's back and playing here today though and it'll be interesting to see if he still has it.

His stack sits at around 40,000 and we watched him play a couple of small pots.

Andrey Bondar raised from the button and Smith peeled to see a 5♣5♦4♦ flop. Bondar continued for 900,000 and Smith check-called 900. The turn A♦ turn was checked through and Smith got his opponent to fold with a 1,400 bet on the 3♣ river.

Two hands later, Smith couldn't beat pocket threes at showdown. He raised to 1,000 off the button and Maximilian Seidel called from the big blind. The flop fanned J♥A♥Q♦ and Smith's 1,000 c-bet was check-called. No more chips migrated towards the middle as the 7♥7♠ turn and river were checked through. Seidel opened 3♣3♦ and Smith mucked. --MC

6:20pm: Bad timing
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

There's no good time to run into aces, but some are worse than others, like when you're all-in for instance.

Jakub Michalak was the catalyst for the hand, he's got a big stack and he opened to 1,100 from early position, Arben Cimilji then shoved for around 7,000 and Marcello Miniucchi flat called. This sent Michalak into the tank, and he folded. Cimilji confidently turned over A♦K♣ but his hopes of a double up was soon dashed when Miniucchi opened A♠A♣.

A K♦Q♦3♣ flop gave Cimilji a glimmer of hope but the 7♠ turn and 6♦ river kept the aces in front. --NW

6:05pm: Good fold, good banter
Level 4 - 200/400 (ante 50)

A fun hand all round in this one as some friendly banter punctuated the seriousness of the pot.

The action had already escalated by the time the PokerStars Blog arrived at the table. There was a bet of 9,000 in front of Sergey Sergeev (under-the-gun+1) and 2,100 in front of Anatoly Korochenskiy (button). I can't say for sure, but the likelihood is that Sergeev opened, Korochenskiy had three-bet and he was now staring down the barrel of a four-bet for a decent portion of the 23,000 that he had left.

"If I pass will you show?" asked Korochenskiy.
"Yes, one card," replied Sergeev.
"No two," pleaded Korochenskiy.
"Only if you show two," bartered Sergeev.

"I think you have aces or kings," professed Korochenskiy to the table as he showed Q♥Q♦. True to his word Sergeev showed his hand which was A♣A♠. "Yes," said Korochenskiy and he lightly rapped the table to show how happy he was with his fold. There was lots of laughing and joking at the table about the hand and it seems like a fun table to be at. After that hand Sergeev is up to 70,000. --NW


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6pm: Enough is enough for Fatima
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Try and squeeze Fatima Moreira de Melo off a hand and see what happens to you.

Mikhail Petrov opened to 900 and was called by the Team PokerStars SportsStar before a player in the small blind raised to 3,100. Petrov folded but Moreira de Melo, who had exactly 15,000 back, moved all-in and got a snap fold from her opponent.

Postscript: Moreira de Melo is now out having run aces into quads. --MC

5:45pm: Play resumes
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Players have returned from the break. They'll play two more levels before taking a dinner break.

5:30pm: Break time
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

We're up to 126 runners in the Main Event now, of whom 113 remain. That means new tables are being formed with some regularity. Nick Petrangelo, James Akenhead and Alexandros Kolonias are all seated at the same table. That trio, and everyone else, are now on a 20-minute break. --NW

5:27pm: Big pot for Moreira de Melo
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

A hit for Fatima Moreira de Melo as the level comes to an end. On a board of A♠3♦6♥6♠K♣ she was facing a bet of 7,500 from Morten Mortensen. She took her time with the call, but had to concede when Mortensen showed A♣K♦. - SB

5:25pm: Yurasov gets paid
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

Dmitry Yurasov, who has three EPT €10,000 High Roller final table finishes on his results résumé, is up to 58,000 after eliminating Ghanim Dashti. It was a proper cooler too with the Russian's aces, holding against the pocket queens of Dashti. --NW

5:15pm: Gruissem in, Gruissem out
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Had he lasted longer than just a few minutes Philipp Gruissem would have made a formidable addition to a table already featuring Stephen Chidwick, Conor Drinan and Zorlan Er. But that didn't happen. Instead Gruissem just crashed out of the main event.


philip_gruissem_malta_main_23oct16.jpgPhilipp Gruissem

Florin Minea opened on the button for 625 which Romal Jaweed called from the small blind, as did Gruissem from the big.

The flop came 8♠9♠9♣. The action was checked to Minea who bet 1,325. Jaweed raised to 3,000 before Gruissem moved all-in for 14,825. That got a fold from Minea but a call from Jaweed who turned over A♦9♦. Gruissem meanwhile had T♣9♥. Neither the Q♣ on the turn or the K♣ on the river could help the German whose out in the same level he registered. - SB

5:10pm: Short and not so sweet a visit for Finger
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

"It was a short visit today - 10 minutes!" Martin Finger said to the blog as he was walking through the room, a few minutes after busting.


martin_finger_malta_main_23oct16.jpgMartin Finger

Finger played only two hands in the Main Event today. The first one saw his stack decimated, the second saw him lose the rest. He was down to 5,400 when he moved all-in and had custom in the shape of Luca Granieri.

Granieri: A♦T♣
Finger: 9♠9♦

The flop came A♥T♦T♠ and the whole table (including Finger) erupted in laughter. Finger's now enjoying a beer with the buddy Ismael Bojang, who just took down the IPT Main Event. --MC


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4:55pm: Tough table!
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

Who'd be Chi Zhang? He just had a set over set situation go against him to slip to 34,000 (see 4.40pm post) and now he's got to deal with yet another tough player on his left. That's because Ole Schemion has just sat down. The German pro finished sixth in the €25,000 High Roller and has now hopped in the Main Event.

Zhang, who finished third at UKIPT5 Bristol in August 2015, is now sat a particularly tough table. He's in seat two, Jeff Sarwer sits in seat nine, Steve O'Dwyer is in seat one, Schemion's occupies seat three and you'll find Anthony Zinno in seat four. That's some line-up. --NW

4:45pm: The unmaking of a hand
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

A lot of hands we see go unreported, for no other reason that they start well but don't get anywhere. Take this hand.
Koray Aldemir opened for 300 in early position which was raised to 750 by Brian Altman. That was good enough for Nick Petrangelo to call before Yigit Aktulga four bet, to 2,200 total.

It's at this point where you think you're watching either a big hand develop, or the high point at which everyone starts folding.

Aldemir folded, as did Altman. Petrangelo though, headphones firmly attached, called to see a flop.

3♥6♠4♦

Petrangelo folded. Aktulga bet 3,600. Would Petrangelo keep the hand alive? Pretty soon there was the tell-tale handling of the cards, lifting them up and then tossing them into the middle. Drat. - SB

4:40pm: Big stacks, big pots and marriage suggestions on table five
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

As we approached table five, Jeff Sarwer was saying to Graydon Kowal, "I don't think he liked that you said you'd marry his daughter!"

Kowal's sat with a 60k-plus stack and the seat to his left, once belonging to Georgios Karakousis, was now empty so we're assuming that's who Sarwer was referring to.


jeff_sarwer_malta_main_23oct16_v2.jpgJeff Sarwer

"There's worse guys that could marry his daughter," came Kowal's reply.
"That's true," responded Sarwer who went on to open to 800 from under the gun.

He picked up five callers before a 6♣2♠7♠ flop was dealt. Kowal was in the big blind and came out betting for 1,200 before Sarwer raised to 3,200. The raising wasn't to end there though as Chi Zhang three-bet to 8,100 and Knut Karnapp moved all-in for 18,300. All folded except Zhang who called with 6♣6♠ for middle set. His German opponent opened 7♥7♣ for top set though and survived the T♦Q♣ turn and river. Zhang dropped to 34,000. --MC

4:25pm: Hello, nice to see you again
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 25)

"First hand," said Morten Mortensen as he saw me trying to gauge how many chips he had. He's got 30,000 then! He's at the same table as Jorryt van Hoof, James Akenhead, Sergey Sergeev and Konstantinos Nanos.

Other players with a fresh starting stack at the start of level four include Juha Helppi, who's at the same table as Senh Ung, Praytush Buddiga, he's to the right of Ben Heath, Steve O'Dwyer, who's taken seat one at Anthony Zinno's table, Martin Finger, complete with a subtle new noise piercing and Team PokerStars Pro Theo Jorgensen.

The field is getting bigger, and tougher. --NW

4:15pm: The Chidwick Chronicles
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

The last hand of the third level was a good one for Stephen Chidwick. He opened from the cut off for 500 which was called by Romal Jaweed, who had won a couple of recent hands using brute force.
The flop came 2♣4♥7♦


stephen_chidwick_malta_main_23oct16.jpgStephen Chidwick

Both players checked for the A♥ turn card. Another 1,300 from Chidwick this time which Jaweed check-called for the 7♠ river. Chidwick bet another 1,500. Jaweed paused, but eventually called. Chidwick showed him A♠J♠ to win the hand. - SB


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4:05pm: Konstantinos pressure on Van Hoof
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Jorryt van Hoof, who finished third in the WSOP Main Event two years, has dropped down to 5,175 after being bet off a hand by Konstantinos Nanos.

The man from Greece opened to 525 from the button and Van Hoof peeled from the big blind. The flop came 8♥T♦A♥ and Van Hoof check-called 700. He did the same for another 1,875 on the 9♥ turn and the Q♠ filled up the board. Van Hoof checked for a third time and Nanos fired a third bullet, and all-in one. His Dutch opponent tanked for several minutes before folding. Nanos moved passed the 40,000-mark. --MC

4pm: Different song for Carrel
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Roman Korenev opened for 500 in early position. A few seats along Charlie Carrel was in the cut off and raised to 1,500. The action was folded back to Korenev. He called, and after a lot of fuss about getting change, they saw a flop.

2♦T♥4♥

Korenev was first to act and bet another 3,000. "Is that two blues?" asked Carrel, looking at Korenev's remaining stack. It was two blues. Carrel called.

The turn was the 5♠ which both players checked. The Q♥ on the river followed and each checked that as well. Korenev turned over K♣Q♥. A winner.

"Come on man," said Carrel laughing. "Let's not be silly about things," he added. Then sighed and whispered something to Viachelav Buldygin, who I'm not sure understood. - SB

3:55pm: Chip counts
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

Our friends at Pagano Events have got two members of staff dedicated to updating the chip counts, so thanks to their sterling work we can bring you the top 10, which is as below.

NameCountryStatusChips
Martin KozlovAustraliaPokerStars qualifier65,000
Graydon KowalCanada 60,000
Bart MaesBelgium 59,000
Konstantinos NanosGermanyPokerStars qualifier57,000
Ben HeathUK 54,000
Toomas KursaEstoniaPokerStars qualifier51,000
Tibor NagygyorgyHungaryLive satellite winner50,000
Brian AltmanUSAPokerStars player45,000
Mete UstuayTurkey 45,000
Karzan HamarashIraq 44,000

3:35pm: Hall falls to Troyanovskiy
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

It never rains, it pours...

Cate Hall was down to around 7,000 and opened to 525 on the button, the small blind smooth called and Vladimir Troyanovskiy then re-raised to 2,025 from the big blind. Hall moved all-in, the small blind folded and Troyanovskiy called.

Troyanovskiy: 9♥9♣
Hall: T♥T♣

Hall had Troyanovskiy dominated but the 6♠2♣8♥5♠7♠ board meant the Russian rivered a straight to eliminate her from the tournament.

Other early casualties include Iliodoros Kamatakis, Ferdinand Le Pichon, Joseph Doors and Johnnie Saksvik. --NW

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1A_cate_hall.jpg

Hall - one of the first to fall

3:30pm: Carrel and Buldygin tangle and chat
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

Charlie Carrel played in the €10k re-entry and the €25k with Viacheslav Buldygin this week, so when they were drawn next to each other today, chatter between the two seemed to flow easily. It's not hard to see why, as Carrel has the ability to get on well with everyone and Buldygin, fairly new the to the live arena, quickly became very popular amongst his high-rolling peers.

EPT13Malta_ME_Day1a_Viacheslav_Buldygin_Charlie_Carrel.jpg

Scrub this and write your caption here instead

These two love a bit of chit-chat

The action folded around to Roman Korenev on the button and he raised to 400 before Buldygin three-bet to 1,650 from the small blind. Carrel was in the big blind and smiled at Buldygin who started talking to him.

"Guys!" said the dealer.
"Don't worry, I can't understand a word he's saying anyway!" responded Carrel.
After Korenev folded, Carrel said, "You can say whatever you want now!"

The flop fanned 7♦J♦2♣ and Buldygin continued for 2,100. Carrel stared at his opponent's neck while he fiddled with the chips before betting and then made the call after he bet. The turn was the 2♦ and Carrel folded to a 5,200 bet.

"Choose one," said Buldygin to Carrel who opened the 6♥.
"Hilarious!" said Carrel. "Your range was so strong."
"What you mean, range?" the Russian responded.

Buldygin - 32,000
Carrel - 37,000
--MC

3:15pm: Kozlov clock called, but can't call
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

An interesting hand this and a penny for Martin Kozlov's thoughts. The Australian opened to 400 in middle position from a stack of around 64,000, Stephan Zesiger, who was to his direct left, flat called and Pasi Sormunen then re-raised to 1,800 total. It folded back around to Kozlov, he called and Zeisger then shoved for 8,425 total a 42 big blind shove.

That got rid of Sormunen but Kozlov was not quick to make his decision, in fact, he tanked for so long that Sormunen cracked and called the clock. The floor arrived, read him his rights and the minute began to tick down. With less than 30 seconds left Kozlov, who was staring intently at Zesiger throughout, mucked his cards. --NW

3pm: The Sergey surge
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

Anatoly Korochenskiy opened from under the gun, making it 525 to play. Connor Drinan called from the seat next to him, but when it got to Sergey Sergeev he raised to 1,600. Jorryt van Hoof, one of two former November Niners at the table (the other is James Akenhead) called form the big blind.

Korochenskiy found the action was back on him and called, as did Drinan. Finally we would see a flop.
2♥J♣8♥

Korochenskiy picked up where he left off, betting 600. Drinan was next. There's not much of his face to see, masked behind a combination of beard, headphones and sunglasses, but you sensed is brow was furrowed slightly. He raised, making it 2,600. Would this be enough?

Not according to Sergeev. He raised to 7,500, forcing out everyone, including Drinan after a period of deep thought. - SB

2:57pm: Play resumes
Level 2 - 75/150

Players are back to begin the third level of the day.

2:37pm: Break time
Level 2 - 75/150

The players are on a 20-minute break.

2:35pm: Who's turn is it?
Level 2 - 75/150

Connor Drinan has joined table six to make it even harder, but he wasn't involved in a pot that got a bit lost on the river.

The action was four-way to 9♦A♥A♦ flop and Konstantinos Nanos bet 400 from middle position. He was called by Jorryt van Hoof (cutoff) and Jens Luebbe (bb) before all three checked the 9♥ turn. The board completed with the 9♥ and the dealer looked Luebbe who smiled. The dealer thought he had checked so turned his attention to Nanos. Luebbe then corrected the dealer and said he was just being nice and smiling back, but his two opponents didn't get that memo. Nanos checked and Van Hoof bet 3,000.

EPT13Malta_ME_Day1a_Jorryt van Hoof.jpg

The table's the other way Jorryt

"I haven't acted yet guys!" said Luebbe. Van Hoof quickly took his chips back and Nanos still hadn't picked up what was going on due to his headphones, but he was then made aware and smiled. Luebbe then bet 3,500 and both opponents folded. If table six was a classroom then there'd be a few detentions handed out for not paying attention, teacher included! --MC

2:30pm: Big move for Banicevic
Level 2 - 75/150

By the time I arrived at table one there was already a big pot brewing, with a chunk of chips in the middle and three players still with live cards.

On the J♣3♣J♦ flop Vlado Banicevic (under-the-gun) bet 7,700 and Sven Magirius was the only caller. The Q♣ turn checked through and the A♥ hit the river. Baniecevic announced all-in, his bet looked to be 16,400 and, although Magirius tanked, he didn't ask for a count before folding his hand. --NW


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2:15pm: Zinno fires back
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Faced with the prospect of a flight home at the hands of a drunk pilot (see the entry at 1:15pm) it may be that Anthony Zinno is firing back at Graydon Kowel in the "how to freak someone out at the poker tables" stakes.


anthony_zinno_malta_main_23oct16.jpgAnthony Zinno

Zinno's approach is based more in cold hard provable facts, and the announcement that he was a professional player (to those not already aware of this).

"What do you mean by professional?" asked Kowel.

"It's my primary source of income. I'm a professional gambler," replied Zinno.

Kowel may not have known who Zinno was earlier on. He does now. - SB

2pm: Life by quads for Kozlov
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Mahmood Rasheed was running over his table early on (as we wrote below), getting his stack up to a leading 70,000 or so. We said "was" as his good start was mostly undone in a huge pot (for this stage) versus Martin Kozlov.

The action was four-way to a 9♥7♥4♠ flop and Rasheed led for 1,750 from under the gun. Only Kozlov stayed involved by raising to 3,800. The turn was the 5♣ and Kozlov bet 7,500 only to be check-raised all-in by Mahmood. The Australian's eyes opened wide before he made the call.

Rasheed: J♣J♠ for an over pair.
Kozlov: 9♦9♠ for top set.

Just to make sure, Kozlov rivered quads when the board completed with the 9♠. Rasheed dropped to 37,000. --MC

1:50pm: How do you like them apples?
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Nick Petrangelo opened from the button, making it 300. Yigit Aktulga called in the small blind and the action moved to Mikhail Sokolovskiy in the big. He asked how much and then raised to 1,400. Petrangelo came along, but Aktulga backed out. They saw a flop.

K♣8♥2♥

Sokolovskiy fired again with another 1,500 and again Petrangelo was happy to call for the J♦ turn. Both players checked that, and did the same on the A♠ river. At which point Sokolovskiy triumphantly rose from his chair to toss his cards into the middle of the table with force, the familiar "how do you like them apples?" flourish.

He waited for Petrangelo's response, but there wasn't one. - SB

EPT13Malta_ME_Day1a_Nick_Petrangelo.jpg

Nick's not a fruit fan

1:45pm: Two pair good for Newey
Level 2 - 75/150

A decent start for Paul Newey as he's up to 33,500 after taking a pot Ferdinand Le Pichon. Both made two pair with Newey rivering a superior had with his Ace-King to overtake the Jack-Nine of Le Pichon. The Frenchman was none too pleased to see he'd been rivered when the hand went to showdown. --NW

1:30pm: Incredible level for Rasheed
Level 2 - 75/150

Some players like to show up late as they find the opening levels a bit boring and value more rest over playing from the start. Fortunately for Mahmood Rasheed, he's not one of them as the Irishman, who won the PokerStars Cup in Barcelona two months ago, is up to 65,000 after a barnstorming first level.

Getting a full house helps of course, especially when you find an opponent with an inferior full house. But that wasn't the best hand Rasheed made during the first level as a short time later he found two queens on the board to go with the two in his hand.

Easy game. --NW

1:20pm: Just too good at poker
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

"Too good!" said a smiling Cate Hall to Vladimir Troyanovskiy after the latter lost a lot less than he could've done in a hand. Amazingly he smiled right back and the two shared a moment of appreciation in each other's game.

He had raised to 250 from under the gun and was called by a player to his direct left, and Hall in the big blind. The flop fell K♣3♠K♦ and Troyanovskiy continued for 275. Only Hall check-called before she checked over the 2♣5♠ turn and river. He checked right back and Hall opened T♥T♠. Then Troyanovskiy threw his 9♥9♠ on top of hers. Too good indeed. --MC


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1:15pm: Slow boat home anyone?
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

I think I may just have uncovered Graydon Kowel's poker strategy.

The Canadian has some connection to the aviation industry and in casual conversation with Anthony Zinno a few seats along confessed, with a sinister laugh, that a good number of airline pilots turn up for work drunk.


graydon_kowel_malta_main_23oct16.jpgGraydon Kowel

Zinno needed clarification, and to be honest so did I. But if anything Kowel gave people the hebejebes even more, claiming that at least one pilot he knew turned up for work unable to speak.

"Seriously?"

"Oh yeah," laughed Kowel, adding that in many countries it was illegal to test pilots for any substances to might affect their ability to barrel roll over the mid-Atlantic, or buzz the tower at JFK. Even if the the only sound they could make was to giggle.

"Seriously?"

Kowel seemed adamant as he raked in another small pot, mentioning one Canadian airline as being the safest in the world (coincidentally Kowel is Canadian), but we were left to wonder (and worry) about the others.

Then again, those of us looking for solace should consider that, given we all got here safely, it could be that the booze actually helps. But in the meantime, given that it's now likely the pilot that flew us here was just doing his best to reach the middle of the three runways he could see out the cockpit window, it's hardly surprising things have gone quiet.

Sobering stuff. -- SB

1pm: More faces
Level 1 - 50/100

The room is staring to fill up nicely now with plenty more big names amongst the late arrivals. Of all the poker tables in all the world, Ben Heath has been sat to the direct right of Cate Hall. Meanwhile, Adrian Mateos has some tough competition as he's the meat in the Brian Altman and Nick Petrangelo sandwich. The latter is the player who's got the rub of the seat draw as he's got position on those two tough opponents.

The affable Anthony Zinno is also playing today. He arrived at the table in shorts and a cardigan. "You're late," joked Graydon Kowal to Zinno. "Always," replied the double WPT champion. The American also had a small wardrobe malfunction. "Tuck your (shorts) pocket back in," pleaded Kowal. "It's going to drive me crazy!"

"OCD? Never reveal your weaknesses," joked Zinno in return.

Lastly, Pierre Neuville has taken a seat to the right of Justin Smith. --NW

12:55pm: Cash machine Pagano in the house
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

It's good to see Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano in the house. His company - Pagano Events - partners with PokerStars to organise the IPT and this very stop, so in a small way every else is playing in his home game.

EPT13Malta_ME_Day1a_Luca_Pagano.jpg

Put the kettle on Luca

Yaniv Peretz is one of the Italian's tablemates and, by the looks of his tall tower of chips; he's had a good start. The Latvian, who came 10th in the IPT Main Event yesterday, won a small pot of Pagano while we were there. The board read 8♣A♦K♠5♥J♣ and the action was checked on the river. Peretz opened K♦2♣ from the big blind and Pagano mucked from the button. --MC

12:40pm: New arrivals and an early big(ish) hand
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

At this stage of the Main Event it's all about who is here rather than what they're doing as pots tend to remain small. Pierre Neuville is a recent arrival. He just took a seat next to Justin Smith, who for all our talk of small pots, just took part in a moderately big one.

The board was already dealt up to the turn: T♦3♥J♠ 4♣

Andrey Bondar was involved too. Smith was in the big blind and bet 2,300 which Bondar called for the 6♥ river card. This time Smith checked. Bondar, breathing with his mouth open, almost in that way you do when trying to be quiet while sneaking home several hours later than you said you would be. Bet 4,200. Smith seems never to flinch and wasn't going to start now. He would fold though. - SB

12:30pm: Some short-handed poker
Level 1 - 50/100

As is the norm at the start of Day 1A of an EPT Main Event there's plenty of space for the players who've shown up on time for the opening hands of the day. Most tables are playing four or five handed right now, with seats open for those who late register, and for those who've already got their seat assignment but haven't yet arrived.

Dan Shak is one of the big names seated in the right-hand portion of the room who was here from the off, as was Paul Newey. Both played in a €1,000,000 tournament last week that you may have heard about, neither cashed but both have traveled here to Malta to try their luck in some smaller buy-ins!

While both may be businessmen by profession, they're both dangerous players to have at your table and have mixed it with the best in high rollers for years. Newey may have his work cut out though as Charlie Carrel has just sat to his direct right. Newey and Carrel quickly struck up a conversation and are chatting away. Carrel, of course, has an EPT High Roller title to his name, which he won at the EPT11 Grand Final. Also in that side of the room is Martin Kozlov, the Australian won what's regarded as one of the blue ribbon events at the WSOP this year when he took down the $10,000 six-max no-limit Hold'em event. That final table included Nick Petrangelo, Justin Bonomo, Davidi Kitai, Chris Ferguson and Jack Salter. Stacked!

Speaking of high rollers, Iliodoros Kamatakis is also playing today. The Greek player had his best live result when he finished fifth in the €10,000 High Roller at EPT12 Prague some 10 months ago. That cash was worth €180,890 and he now has almost $1,000,000 in live earnings. --NW


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12:20pm: Small but stacked field to the left
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

The tournament has gotten underway and tables are slowly filling up, spread over the left and the right side of the room.

Players who have already taken their seats on the left hand side of the room include: former November Niners James Akenhead and Jorryt van Hoof who are sat next to each other; 25k finalist Adrian Mateos; BoostedJ himself Justin Smith; Cate Hall giving that look when Vladimir Troyanovskiy sits down to your left; and Senh Ung, Alexandros Kolonias and Fabrice Soulier. --MC

12:10pm: Also taking place today

It's a busy day on the EPT today with several major events in action. The three we're focusing on are the Main Event, obviously, but also the final table of the IPT Main Event and also the final table of the €25K High Roller event. We'll have live updates from both of those events when they get started shortly.

And if you want to watch the action for yourself EPT Live begins its broadcast today, bringing you every hand from the High Roller final table, with cards up. You won't miss anything. To watch, simply click here. Coverage starts at 2pm local time (1pm UK, 8am ET).


12:00pm: Play starts
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Cards are in the air on the opening day of the Main Event. The plan right now is to play eight 75-minute levels, with a dinner break after six. -- SB


theyre_off_malta.jpgThey're off!: a yacht race getting under way in the harbour outside the Maltese capital Valetta. The EPT Main Event begins today


11:50am: Play begins shortly in the Main Event

We're ten minutes away from the start of the EPT Malta main event. We'll have live updates of all the action throughout the day. -- SB


Take a look at the official website of the EPT, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the rest of the season.

Also all the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the EPT13 Malta Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog.