EPT13 Malta: Nemeth leads Mette at Day 1B close

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Sun sets on Day 1B at Portomaso Casino

All the chatter in the poker world today was about William Kassouf. His elimination hand from the World Series Main Event screened on television last night, and it was awash with controversy.

In a neat parallel, all the chatter in the EPT13 Malta poker room today was also about William Kassouf, but that's because the divisive Brit had turned up and sat down among the 325 players for Day 1B of the Main Event. If Kassouf is in the room, there's talking. And most of it is about William Kassouf.

Although the man they love to hate/hate to love was still around at bagging time tonight, meaning he'll be back alongside 167 others from today and 61 from yesterday for Day 2, he doesn't even nearly have the biggest chip stack.

Kassouf's 50,500 is dwarfed mostly by Andras Nemeth, from Hungary, and Germany's Armin Mette, who shoved 192,700 and 183,700, respectively, into their bags tonight. Both had a big stack for all of the late stages of play and steadily guided themselves into a comfortable position to come back tomorrow.

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Leading the way: Andras Nemeth

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Armin Mette: A close second

Other notable stacks sit with the following:

Mats Karlsson - 150,200
Roberto Romanello - 148,300
Eugene Katchalov - 143,900
Sarah Behja Herzali - 142,400
Ismael Bojang - 128,400
Davidi Kitai - 128,000
Yury Gulyy - 120,900

The full counts are on the chip-count page.

An incident at Malta airport this morning disrupted the arrival of at least a handful of players jetting in today for the Main Event, including the Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer. Danzer arrived into Level 7, alongside his colleague Jake Cody. Danzer managed to navigate the two levels he played, bagging 27,000 at the close of play. But Cody was not so fortunate. He was knocked out on the last hand of the day.

Perhaps the late arrival was good for them. Jaime Staples and Pier Paolo Fabretti, of Team Online, were here far earlier, but were eliminated quickly. Previous champions Andreas Hoivold, Julian Track, Jan Bendick, Niall Farrell and Sebastian Malec also hit the rail as the field was cut to just to the snug 225-ish who will return tomorrow.

Others who survived include:

Anton Morgenstern - 96,500
Ludovic Geilich - 92,200
Dominik Panka - 86,000
Dara O'Kearney - 51,100
Gaelle Baumann - 44,800
Maria Ho - 32,800
David Yan - 20,300
Stefan Jedlicka - 22,900
Jean Montury - 20,000
Sylvain Loosli - 15,400

The single-day High Roller plays on into the night. Your whispering, late-night host is Jack Stanton and you can find him on WYNC PokerStars Blog.

If that doesn't take your fancy, have a spin through today's coverage below.

Day 1B live coverage:

11:55pm: Cody busts at the death; Day 1B concludes
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Jake Cody was knocked out on the very last hand of the day.

It seems that our leader is Andras Nemeth, from Hungary, with Germany's Armin Mette not far behind. Nemeth has 192,700 and Mette 183,700. A full wrap up, with some more counts, is incoming. -- HS

11:50pm: Reading the last pages of Day 1B
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

A bit of excitement to share just before we close the book on Day 1B.

First there was four-way all-in involving a short-stacked Rafael Gancedo. Betting postflop narrowed the field to three, then at the showdown Gancedo was ready to concede his tournament must be over. He had K♦K♠, but a board of Q♥6♥9♥4♠2♥ meant if either Andrey Andreev or Elie Saad had a heart, his Main Event run was over.

But Andreev had 9♣3♦ and Saad 7♣6♣, so Gancedo survived.
  
Finally, we mentioned early in the day (see below, 2:20pm) the "reader" Orjahn Winther who brought a book today. By night's end he was up to Chapter 75 with just a few pages left to go. Alas, he was also down to his last chips, and managed to bust before the night and his book ended. --MH

11:40pm: Last five hands
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

They'll play five more hands before wrapping for this evening.

11:35pm: Mancini cuts down Cortellazzi; Cody short
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Andrea Cortellazzi is out, the Italian's K♠J♣ not being able to overcome the Q♦Q♠ of the Chilean Angelo Mancini. Mancini is stacking close to 70,000 now.

Meanwhile just to Mancini's left is Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody who was down to less than 2,000 a short while ago, though managed to win a couple of double-ups and now sits with 12,000 with less than a half-hour of play left in Day 1B. --MH


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Cody: chips, cap, and a chair

11:25pm: Eichhardt doubles
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

Peter Eichhart moved his short stack into the middle from the hijack and action got to David Cabrera in the big blind who pondered his options. Eichhardt gave him a bit of friendly chit-chat as Cabrera said, "I'm trying to work out how many blinds that is."

Eichhardt had to do some mathematics himself. "It's ten...plus three," he said.

"Thirteen?" Cabrera said.

"Yes...No!" Eichhardt said, genuinely unsure. Dominik Panka nodded his belief that the stack was 13 big blinds and what Panka nods at is usually the truth.

Cabrera then put calling chips into the pot and said, "Sorry for the slow-roll." Eichhardt didn't mind, especially since his A♥4♦ was a marginal favourite against Cabrera's K♥J♣.

Swap "marginal" for "overwhelming" after a flop of A♦6♥5♥ and although the Q♣ on the turn seemed a little scary, the K♦ on the river didn't help/hinder Cabrera/Eichhardt.

With around 40 minutes still to play, Eichhart is still breathing with about 21,000. -- HS

11:15pm: Herzali takes from Panka
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

With the board showing 6♠K♥3♦4♠ and about 12,000 in the middle, Dominik Panka led for 8,500 and after a bit of time in the tank Sarah Behja Herzali called behind.


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Panka seeking another pot

The river then brought the 9♠ and a check from Panka, and Herzali paused a couple of beats again before firing 11,500. Panka didn't waste too much time folding, preserving his stack of close to 120,000 -- about what Herzali has as well. --MH


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Herzali helps herself

11:00pm: Triple-up? Triple-up.
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

"Good luck, triple-up," called a player from across the table to Nicholas McNicholas. "Thank you, triple-up," he responded, the echo uncannily recalling his name.

To get to that point, well, first McNicholas had to lose some chips. Down to 5,800 to be exact. Then he had to re-raise that stack all-in over a Natalia Panchenko open and Alexander Debus call. The action then had to circle back to the latter two, both of whom had to call.

All that happened. What happened next? A checked-down board coming 2♥A♦3♥6♦A♥.

"Triple up!" said Nicholas McNicholas. Again. He then turned over A♣Q♦ for trips, and indeed that bested the K♣J♣ of Panchenko and 8♠8♥ of Debus.

It was a little more than a triple-up, to be exact, carrying McNicholas up close to 20,000. Meanwhile Panchencko now has about 18,000 and Debus around 33,000. --MH

10:50pm: Last level of the night
Level 8 - 400/800 (ante 100)

You read the headline. You understand what that means. Right? Level. Last. Carry on. --MH

10:45pm: Szabo's big blinder
Level 6 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Sometimes you're just priced in. And that can sometimes be a good thing--as Zoltan Szabo just found out when he came along with three others to a flop from the big blind.

It started when Darya Hulyk opened to 1,200 from early position and Simon Trumper called on the button. Gianfranco Visalli called in the small blind and with an expression that said, "Why the hell not?" Szabo called from the big.

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Darya Hulyk: Getting things started

They saw the flop of 9♦Q♣Q♠ and Visalli led for 2,100. Szabo called and Hulyk called. Trumper folded his button, even though Visalli suggested he might not want to be the one left out.

The 4♣ came on the turn and Visalli checked. Szabo took over the betting lead now and pushed out 7,500. Hulyk had seen enough, but Visalli called.

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Visalli and Szabo

The 3♠ came on the river and Visalli, under a they-killed-Kenny hood, checked again. But there was no shaking Szabo, who bet 15,000 and Visalli gave it up. -- HS

10:40pm: Shark tank
Level 6 - 300/600 (ante 100)

There's another very tough table in the centre of the room, where Eugene Katchalov, Sylvain Loosli, Anton Bertillson and Davidi Kitai all sit together.

Kitai, who has already been to two final tables this week, just demonstrated to Jacek Pustula how tough the table will be. Pustula raised to 1,400 and Kitai three-bet to 4,200 from a couple of seats around.

After Pustula called, the flop brought the K♠7♥Q♦ and Pustula check-folded when Kitai bet 5,000.

I haven't watched the table for a particularly long time, but I expect the sharks to be steering clear of one another at least until they've had a fill of what they will consider bait. Here's hoping one of the small fry snaps back. -- HS

10:35pm: Glaser on the move
Level 6 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Benny Glaser continues to apply the pressure that comes with the confidence of a three-times bracelet winner. He just pushed Martin Nikolov out of a pot when Glaser had position and used it well.

Glaser opened his button to 1,400 and Nikolov three-bet his small blind, making it 3,300. The dealer offered them the 7♥Q♠5♣ flop and Nikolev bet 3,500. Glaser called.

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Benny Glaser and Martin Nikolov

The J♣ came on the turn and Nikolov checked. Glaser interpreted that as an invitation and bet 10,800. Nikolov folded. -- HS

10:30pm: Danzer's delay explained
Level 6 - 300/600 (ante 100)

George Danzer told our German blogger, Robin Scherr, that he had intended to be here by Level 3 today, but he was stranded in Munich because of the plane crash at Malta airport today.

Five people were killed in the incident, and one man's late arrival at a poker tournament is of course insignificant. However, it does explain his absence--and perhaps that of some other players who have not arrived to Malta today.

Meanwhile, Kitty Kuo appears to be out. Her seat is empty and there's a distinct lack of pink pom-poms attached to blinged up mobile phones in the room. You can just feel it. -- HS

10:25pm: Bojang bounces Delmas
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Picking up the action on the turn, the board was showing 2♣J♠2♠4♥ when Adrien Delmas checked, IPT8 Malta Main Event champion Ismael Bojang bet 7,800, and Delmas called to bring the pot to around 27,000.

The river was the 9♣ and Delmas checked again, and Bojang set a big column of chips forward -- enough to test Delmas for all of the 35,000 or so he had left behind. 

Delmas tanked for a while, then finally set his chips out to call, and Bojang immediately turned over his hand -- 4♣4♦ for fours full of deuces. Delmas showed he'd had A♦J♦ for two pair before heading railward.

Bojang is on the rise again, stacking up about 140,000 as Level 7 comes to a close. --MH

10:20pm: Azzopardi departs the party
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Malta's own Charlo Azzopardi's Main Event has ended here in the latter half of Level 7, his last hand coming against the Italian Walter Treccarichi.

Azzopardi had K♥Q♦ on his last hand while Treccarichi had A♣Q♣, and a board of T♣5♦K♣5♥4♣ favored the latter. With Azzopardi gone, Treccarichi now has about 55,000. --MH

10:15pm: Crazy, dawg
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

A hand on Table 4 just played out that left most of the players around the table speechless. Taran Parmar found words, though. He said: "You're crazy, dawg."

This was not because of the recklessness of Harpreet Gill's play, however. It was more because of its caution. Gill folded bottom set to a shove from Mikita Badziakouski, even though Badziakouski himself said he would never be able to make that fold.

It started with Badziakouski pausing the video he was watching on his phone, which may or may not have been a replay of yesterday's €25,000 High Roller final table in which he featured. He raised to 1,200 from mid-position.

Gill was in the hijack and he three-bet to 2,800 and action folded back to Badziakouski. He called.

Those two saw a flop of Q♠A♦T♦ and Badziakouski checked. Gill threw out a 5,000-denomination chip, but told the dealer it was a bet of 3,600. Badziakouski, with a stack that very comfortably covered Gill's 11,100 behind (plus the change from the 5,000 in front of him), moved all in.

This put Gill into the tank, but it was not one of those silent mind palaces, rather one of those periods of contemplations accompanied by lots of chat, most of it to himself, but some to his table-mates. During all this, he let it slip that he had a set of tens.

"I would never fold a set of tens in your shoes," Badziakouski said. But the comment only seemed to galvanise Gill's intent to fold.

"I don't like the way you're acting," Gill said.

He then double-checked with the dealer how much he had actually bet, before holding his cards far enough in front of him that his neighbour could see that it was indeed pocket tens.

"Will you show if I fold?" he asked Badziakouski. There was no reply. Gill folded, prompting Parmar's "You're crazy, dawg. I'm snapping." -- HS

10:05pm: So far, so good for Seow
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Kee Seow is enjoying his Monday in Malta. After winning a Spin & Go to earn his buy-in into this event, the Swedish player has already earned a runner-up finish in the Seniors event that played out over the weekend. And as we noted earlier in the after he built up a stack right away in this one, maintaining it into the evening hours.

Just now Seow was raising again, this time from early position for 1,200, and got two callers including Dara O'Kearney in the big blind. The flop came 5♠6♦4♦, and when checked to Seow continued for 1,800, getting a fold from one opponent but a call from O'Kearney. The Irishman again check-called a turn bet from Seow following the T♣ appearing, this one for 2,800.

The river brought the 2♥ and another check from O'Kearney. Seow fired again for 7,000, and with a look that said "it ain't easy," O'Kearney folded.

Seow offered to show one of his cards, inviting Lawrence Andreys on his left to choose. Andreys picked one -- the A♦ -- and with a grin Seow gathered the chips before opening with a raise again on the next hand.

The Spin & Go winner has spun his stack up close to 70,000, while O'Kearney has a little under. --MH

9:55pm: Cuartero corrals Malec
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

After a Ricardo Cuerda Cuartero open for 1,500 from middle position, it folded to Felie Costa in the cutoff who called and the action folded to EPT13 Barcelona Main Event champion Sebastian Malec.

Malec sat for a moment, then re-raised all-in with his last 10,500. It folded back to Cuartero who didn't act right away. Then he reached for chips.

Malec spoke up, indicating what sounded like an observation that Cuartero's action was not a good sign. Indeed, he was calling, and as Costa folded he flashed his cards -- A♥J♥ -- and a smile at Malec.

"I was waiting for you," Costa grinned to Malec, who showed his 8♣8♥ and saw he was behind Cuartero's T♦T♥.

The T♣9♣4♥ flop represented a set for Cuartero and a further setback for Malec, and though he had already grabbed his bag he lingered a moment as the 5♣ turn presented a club flush escape route. But the river was the 9♠ and Malec's back-to-back hopes were dashed.

Cuartero has 54,000 now. --MH

9:50pm: Two from Team Pro arrive late
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

With about two hours of play left on Day 1B, the ranks of Team PokerStars Pro in the event has swelled an infinite percent. From none, we now have two: George Danzer and Jake Cody. (Team Online's Jaime Staples and Pier Paolo Fabretti played, and bust, earlier.)

9:40pm: A Fast fold
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

With a small but significant pot in the middle and five cards showing 2♦5♥3♥T♥6♠ sitting beside it, Jean-Louis Cyr liked all of those baby cards well enough to commit his last from the small blind, and €10K Single Re-Entry winner Dietrich Fast was thinking about what to do from the big blind.

Fast didn't act quickly, but he didn't take too long in the tank either before letting his hand go. He's at 38,000 at present, just a notch behind Cyr who is at 43,000 now. --MH

9:35pm: Kuo has fight, if not chips
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Kitty Kuo returned from dinner to a stack of about eight big blinds--but she has never let a short stack change her attitude. She just got involved in the beginnings of a war of words, but quickly pulled the poison from the dart.

Kuo open-shoved her 4,600 stack in from the cutoff and Cristian Egues, in the big blind, asked for a count. Even after finding out that it wasn't much, Egues folded and Kuo seemed irked.

"If you're not interested in calling, why you ask?" she said.

Egues wasn't going to allow the barb to pass. "Why you think?" he said. Kuo intimated that she didn't understand the question, and Egues repeated, "Why do you think that I am asking?"

Kuo then revealed that she hadn't been entirely serious. "I am just joking," she said. And Egues appeared to accept it. -- HS

9:30pm: Play resumes
Level 7 - 300/600 (ante 100)

Players have returned from their evening repast to the tournament room here in the Portomaso Casino, and Day 1B has resumed. The big board shows 314 have registered today (with late regging open 'til the start of Day 2 tomorrow), and 216 of those still with stacks.

They'll be playing two more 75-minute levels, then those remaining will call it a night. --MH

8:15pm: Break time

That's the end of the sixth level of the day and the start of the dinner break. Play resumes in 75 minutes, or roughly 9:30pm local time. -- SB

8:10pm: Montury down but not out
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

The first EPT Malta festival took place in March 2015 and Jean Montury outlasted a field of 895 to claim the title, with his win being particularly memorable for an epic heads-up match against Valentin Messina.

Montury entered this tournament midway through the day and has dropped to about 20,000 from his starting stack of 30,000. Still plenty, but he's got some work to do. --NW

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Jean Montury

8:08pm: Kuiper catches versus Brignone
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Bart Kuiper just doubled up through a now disgusted looking Gaetano Brignone. Kuiper opened from the cut off and was three bet by Brignone on the button to 4,500. Kuiper then moved in for a little more than 18,000 which Brignone called.

Kuiper: T♥T♣
Brignone: A♠K♣

The board was kind to the Dutchman, delivering a third ten on the flop. There was a lot of sighing from Brignone as Kuiper received congratulations from a friend nearby. - SB

8:05pm: Sound the Trumper
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

"Oh... I wanna get you," said Simon Trumper, looking up from the big blind after the action had circled around to him. "You've been calling my raises all day, with position." He tossed out the chips with a wry grin while his silent interlocutor, Zoltan Szabo, sat with his arms folded.

Sitting two to Trumper's left, Szabo had opened the pot for 1,500, with only Hady El Asmar on Szabo's left having called before Trumper.

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Simon Trumper

"I have six-three," added Trumper. "Off." The latter word referred to the non-suitedness of his theoretical hand. It certainly didn't refer to his table talk, for which the switch is always in the "on" position.

The flop came J♠9♣A♥ and Trumper quickly checked. Szabo bet 2,500, El Asmar got out of the way, and Trumper called to see the turn bring the 3♣.

"I've got a pair, now," cracked Trumper, who checked and called Szabo's turn bet of 4,800 faster than the latter could set out chips.

Both checked the 6♥ river, and Trumper tabled A♦Q♥. He might've been lying about the six-three, but he hadn't been lying when he said he had a pair. Szabo mucked, and Trumper stacked the chips.

"Six-three," said El Asmar to Trumper. "Yeah, it's funny, isn't it?" responded Trumper. "Amazing."

The amazing Trumper is up around 85,000 now, ahead of Szabo's 40,000 but behind El Asmar's 120,000. --MH

7:55pm: Bounce back for Bartolini
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

A little earlier (see 6:55pm) we told of David Yan making a gutsy call in a hand versus Marco Bartolini to help him spin the starting stack upwards in a hurry after joining us late following his having busted the €10K event. Just now Bartolini got some of those chips back from Yan to regain his footing.

With only the aftermath available to share, we can only say Yan's A♥K♥ proved second-best against Bartolini's 5♥3♥ thanks to a board showing 5♦7♥T♥3♣Q♦ -- incompleted flushes for both, and two small but perfectly acceptable pair for Bartolini.

Yan still has about 68,000 at present while Bartolini is back up to 45,000. --MH

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David Yan, back at it

7:50pm: Nothing left for Leonard
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

It was the noise that attracted attention, coming from Patrick Leonard's table where he was all-in and waiting for two other players to fight it out for the right to send him to the rail.

The board was already dealt A♦8♣6♦4♣2♣. Marco Gavazzeni despatched the remaining opposition with a bet, which left him up against Leonard, who was standing, awaiting his fate.

Gazazzeni announced he had a set, and turned over 6♣6♥. Leonard knew he was beaten, turning over his A♠Q♠.

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Patrick Leonard

He wished the others good luck and left the room. Dietrich Fast a table along gave some ironic applause. - SB

7:45pm: Bleiker banks even more
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Felix Bleiker, in the words of Ludovic Geilich, was just gifted some chips by an opponent. As Geilich tells it Bleiker won back to back hands against an unknown opponent (he'd been knocked out by the time we arrived) dealing the fatal blow with Ace-King against Ace-Queen in a pot of around 50,000. It all means that Bleiker is in pole position with a stack of just over 150,000. --NW

7:35pm: Nikolov picking up pots
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

After a Tomas Macnamara open for 1,200 from middle position, Samu Riihela called from the hijack seat, Mark Wagstaff called from the small blind, and Martin Nikolov -- sporting an above-average stack at present -- also came along from the big blind.

The flop came 5♥Q♠2♦ and it folded around to Riihela who decided to bet 2,000. Wagstaff called the bet, then Nikolov made it 6,700 for everyone to stay in if they wished. None did, and Nikilov picks up a few more.

While Macnamara and Wagstaff hover around 50,000 and Riihela now has about 30,000, Nikolov is up among the big stacks right now with over 120,000. --MH

7:25pm: Big stacks
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

By this point yesterday Pasi Sormunen was well clear at the top of the chip counts but it's more bunched up today although a handful of players have broken through the 100,000 chip barrier already.

Anton Bertilsson (112,000) Felix Bleiker (110,000) and Eugene Katchalov (105,000) are setting the pace, with Martin Nikolov (93,000), Gianfranco Visalli (90,000) and Hady El Asmar (85,000) leading the chasing pack. --NW

7:15pm: Leonard had aces, but what did Glaser have>
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

I can't be sure, but when Benny Glaser turned around to see that I'd written down at least the ending to his hand against Patrick Leonard, he seemed pleased.

I'd caught up with the hand with the board already reading 2♦Q♦2♥T♥. Leonard, leaning forward slightly on the table, had the air of a man wondering what to do next. He was playing A♣A♦ and might have worried that the hand was getting a little more complicated. But with the action checked to him he bet 5,000 almost out of irritation, tossing in a blue chip, and then moving it with his fingers from one end of the table to the other.

Glaser called for the 6♥ river card. Leonard stared at it. "Not a nice river card," he said, with a slight grin. Then he played with his chips for a few moments before announcing "I'll bet", and putting 8,500 into the pot.

Then he looked at Glaser.

"Tell me you're not going to raise."

Glaser didn't raise, he called. Leonard was about to find out what hand Glaser had to cause him all these problems.

The answer: 7♠ 2♠

Leonard grinned a little. Glaser said nothing, but this was a good moment for him.
"I just lost aces versus seven-deuce guys," Leonard said, pretending to talk to his phone. - SB

7:10pm: Farrell among the level five fallers
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Niall Farrell's title defence is over as the reigning champion was eliminated during Level 5. He wasn't alone as Jason Wheeler, Jimmy Guerrero, Alex DiFelice, Ondrej Vinklarek and Javier Zapatero are all out. With one hour until the dinner break, 237 of the 312 entrants remain. --NW

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Niall Farrell

7:05pm: Ill-fated eights for Adzaga; Spindler spinning up stack
Level 6 - 250/500 (ante 75)

Zeljko Adzaga has met his end here near the start of Level 6. All-in with 8♦8♠ versus Benny Spindler's K♠K♥, the board brought no help for the at-risk player and Adzaga wished the table well before departing.

With that pot, Spindler has worked his stack up above 60,000. --MH

7pm: River saves Proust
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

As level five came to an end a huge pot played out between Nicolas Proust and Andre DiFelice. DiFelice raised to 900 from under the gun and Proust then three-bet to 2,300 from one seat to his left. He picked up two callers and when it folded back to DiFelice he called as well.

So it was four to a 8♣3♥A♦ flop, Proust c-bet 5,500 and DiFelice was the only caller. The 4♥ fell on the turn, DiFelice checked, Proust bet 8,000, DiFelice re-raised all-in and Proust tanked before calling all-in for 27,150 total.

Proust: A♦K♥
DiFelice: A♠4♠

Top pair, top kicker was no good as DiFelice had turned two pair, the K♦ river though was just the ticket for Proust and he's up to 77,000 while DiFelice drops to a similar amount.

That was the last hand of Level 5. --NW

6:55pm: More reason to smile for Yan
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

David Yan had a bemused look on his face just now. A smile, really, with a look suggesting he was suppressing a chuckle.

No, the look wasn't because he just won the €25K High Roller here a day ago, although that assuredly has inspired more than a few grins over the last day for him. Rather, having entered the Main Event not long ago he found himself facing an a decision whether or not to risk his stack already.

With around 8,000 in the middle and the board showing 2♠3♦J♦3♥, appearances suggested Yan's opponent Marco Bartolini had checked, and he took that as an invitation to bet 5,300. But then Bartolini check-raised all-in for more than the just over 20,000 Yan had behind.

Thus the look. Eventually it resolved into action for Yan as he indeed made the call. That's when Bartolini offered some wordless communication, his shoulders sagging slightly as though to indicate he'd rather not Yan have done that.

Bartolini had 9♦8♦ for a flush draw while Yan had A♣J♣ for jacks and threes. The river was the 7♣, knocking Bartolini back around 11,500. Meanwhile Yan has 65,000 now, and yet another reason to smile. --MH

6:45pm: Wherever I lay my hat
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

"Do you have a home?" Conor Beresford said to the dishevelled Jason Wheeler. It might have been a particularly nasty rub-down had the pair of them been sitting on, say, a park bench rather than at a €5,000 poker tournament. (I'm sure Wheeler won't mind me saying that his clothes are not the most crisply pressed of all poker players. He's slept in a few places that were not his own bed in his time.)

However, Beresford was making a legitimate enquiry based on a conversation under way between Ludovic Geilich and Wheeler. They were discussing the potential of hopping to New Jersey after EPT Malta to play the first PokerStars Festival there. The life of the live tournament pro rarely calls for an actual home.

ludovich_geilich_ept13_malta_day1b.jpg

Ludovic Geilich

"I just travel," Wheeler said, explaining that he has bolt holes in San Diego and in Mexico, where he goes to play online poker. "When I'm in Europe, I'm usually in Amsterdam," he went on.

Wheeler started searching for flights on his phone as he and Geilich discussed starting days. I don't know if they decided whether or not to go, but I suspect plenty of players will be boarding flights from Malta to New Jersey next week.

Want to join them? All the info you need is here. -- HS

6:40pm: Franczak dispatches Driton
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

There was a T♠6♥4♥ flop on the felt and Mikolaj Zawadzki (button) bet 1,500, Driton Haxhiaj (small blind) then moved all-in for around 7,000 and Piotr Franczak (big blind) re-raised all-in. This got rid of Zawadzki and it was time for a showdown. The at risk player opened Q♣T♣ but was behind to Franczak's 6♠4♠. Neither the 2♠ turn or 9♦ river helped him and Franczak took the pot and a scalp. --NW

6:35pm: Bertillson flying up the counts
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Anton Bertilsson has a stack of about 80,000 and he may have just cracked aces with kings. All I saw was a pair of kings in front of him, a king on the board and an opponent shrugging his shoulders, getting consolatory frowns from other table-mates, and wandering away. (It might have been set over set, but the point was: it was brutal.)

Martin Staszko is also at that table, so that at least explains where he went after leaving table Eichhardt earlier. -- HS

6:33pm: Board saves Zabrodskyy
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

A return to the table of those battling short stacks (see 6:06pm below) discovers the seat of Laszlo Bujtas now empty, presumably signaling his demise. It also finds the other one, Vasyl Zabrodskyy all-in and at risk himself.

With the board showing 8♠4♥5♣, Zabrodskyy had checked and watched his opponent, Armin Mette bet 800. At that Zabrodskyy had check-raised all-in for his last 5,675, and Mette called in a flash.

As in the previous hand with Bujtas, Zabrodskyy had top pair -- in this case with 9♣8♣. And once again he was behind as Mette had a set of fours with 4♦4♠. The next two cards saved Zabrodskyy, however, coming 6♥ then 7♣ to put a straight on the board and cause a split pot.

Mette has around 30,000, while Zabrodskyy battles on with about 7,500. --MH

6:21pm: Sandu sinks Brandstrom
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Arriving mid-blind battle, things had reached a point where after Simon Brandstrom had put in his last raise, Cristinel Sandu sitting to his left had placed out enough chips to require Brandstrom to commit all he had left should he want to continue. Brandstrom thought for a short while, then finally agreed to put himself at risk.

Brandstrom had 8♠8♥ but unfortunately for him needed improvement to keep his seat as Sandu had Q♠Q♣. The 4♦7♠6♦ flop added gutsthot straight outs for Brandstrom, but neither the J♦ turn nor 3♠ river were of use, and he's a Level 5 exit.

Sandu has 38,000 now. --MH

6:15pm: Big hand, big pot for Katchalov
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

By the time I reached Eugene Katchalov's table significant pre-flop action had already occurred. The Ukranian, who was in middle position, had a bet of 3,600 in front of him and Michal Danka, who was on the button, had 8,700 in front of the betting line. The action was now back on Katchalov and he called and the two players saw a 5♣Q♠8♥ flop hit the felt.


eugene_katchalov_malta_main.jpgEugene Katchalov

The PCA 2011 Super High Roller champion check called Danka's continuation bet of 8,500 and action proceeded to the 2♥ turn. Again Katchalov checked and this time Danka followed suit. The Q♥ fell on the river and Katchalov elected to lead at the pot, betting 10,000. This sent Danka into the tank, the Swede eventually elected to call but he mucked when Katchalov turned over A♠A♦. After that hand, he's up to 105,000. --NW

6:06pm: Big hands, short stacks
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Vasyl Zabrodskyy opened from middle position, then Laszlo Bujtas made it 2,200 to go from the cutoff. It folded back to Zabrodskyy who called and then checked following the J♦5♦4♦ flop. Bujtas took the opening to push his short stack all-in, and Zabrodskyy called the push.

Zabrodskyy had top pair with Q♠J♥, but Bujtas's pair was even toppier -- K♦K♠. The 8♦ turn then made Bujtas a flush, making the river no matter, and he doubled through.

Both players are short, though, as Bujtas has but 10,000 and Zabrodskyy is now down to 8,000. --MH

6:00pm: Urban-out
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Mario Ho's stack is the right side of 50,000 now after she pulled off a come-from-behind triumph in a hand against Slovakia's David Urban. Sometimes you've just got to win hands like this to win a tournament.


maria_ho_malta_main.jpgMaria Ho

Massimo Segatto got things moving with a raise to 800 from under the gun. Ho called from a couple of seat around and then Urban, in the hijack, three-bet to 2,600.

Segatto folded and took a deep draw on his vape pipe. Ho let her chips do the talking and moved all-in, knowing that Urban's 10,000-ish stack was effective. Urban called it off.

Urban: J♣J♥
Ho: T♣T♠

The dealer burned through flop, turn and river with great haste, and the T♥ turn card was the killer blow for Urban. -- HS

5:51pm: Ante hero
Level 5 - 200/400 (ante 50)

Players are back from the break and a new level has begun. Of course, anyone walking in the tournament room would know this to be case before even stepping into view of the players, as William Kassouf's voice can be heard loud and clear over the din of riffling chips. He's seated at the table nearest the entrance, you see, and so it's impossible not at least to catch something of his table talk with each pass.


william_kassouf_malta_main_v2.jpgWilliam Kassouf

This time, another voice at Kassouf's table, that of the Frenchman Arnaud Peyroles, caught our attention.

"With you," he said to Kassouf, "each ante is... like a movie."

The table broke up in laughter. "And you are part of the production," was Kassouf's rejoinder.

Speaking up, while the blinds are up, those antes remain at 50 this level. --MH

5:35pm: Break time
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

That's the end of Level 4 and the second break of the day. Players are taking 20 minutes off.

5:25pm: Ruling!
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Some terrific tournament directing here from Luca Vivaldi, who was beckoned to Table 9 to adjudicate on a small point of order, and had to deal with not only the two players still involved in the pot, but two other voices who had come to the table in support of their man, plus some interested other players at the table.

(My favourite line of the exchange: "I understand and I agree with you. But please let the dealer explain. You are not even in the game." The chirruping railbird was thus shuttled back to the rail.)

I didn't see anything of the action, but listened in as the dealer explained what had happened. There was a board of K♠9♥8♠3♠T♠ exposed on the table and a pretty big pot beside it. Petar Petrov, in Seat 1, had his two cards in front of him still, but Bejjani Kamal was apparently also still in the hand, even though his cards were in front of the dealer.

It seemed that Kamal had bet out of turn on the end, flinging 6,000 into the middle before Petrov had acted. Petrov had then "called" even though Kamal hadn't really made a legitimate "bet" because Petrov hadn't checked. Seeing the "call", and knowing now that he had bet out of turn, Kamal then tried to take back his 6,000, claiming he wouldn't have called if Petrov had bet. They needed a ruling as to whether the bet stood. Petrov and his supporters said that Kamal surely couldn't take back the bet. Kamal and his supporter disagreed. (Kamal's cards had landed with the dealer so as to stop them landing in the muck, kind of like resting in escrow.)

Vivaldi came over to adjudicate and explained patiently, and through much heckling, that the 6,000 had to be in the middle. He said that Petrov had not made any mistake and so, seeing Kamal bet out of turn, he had all the options still available to him.

That, in theory, meant he could check and then be faced by a binding 6,000 bet. He could then opt to call if he wanted, or he could fold. He could also, if he wanted, opt to lead out, but at least 6,000 of Kamal's chips would need to be in the pot as that's what he had committed. Vivaldi explained that it was a heads up pot, that Petrov had not done anything to alter the action, and so the 6,000 was in there whether Kamal liked it or not.

"You can't take it back," Vivaldi said.

"That's correct," Toby Stone, the official EPT tournament director said. They both explained that no action had changed.

Vivaldi did then add that Kamal had the option either to show his cards or muck them. He wouldn't be forced to expose his hand. But, obviously, mucking would give him no chance of winning.

Kamal almost certainly knew that he had no chance of winning anyway. He turned over 6♦7♦. A straight on a four-flushed board is not great. Petrov showed A♦J♠ and took the disputed 6,000.

"Good ruling," Russell Thomas, in Seat 9, said. -- HS


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5:20pm: Glaser the raiser
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Just before the end of the level, a hand arose that saw Benny Glaser open with a raise, Pierre Calamusa three-bet with position, Glaser four-bet, and Calamusa called.

The flop came 3♣2♦K♣, and Glaser led for 3,500. Call Calamusa. The T♠ turn brought an 8,000 follow-up from the two-bracelet winner from this summer's WSOP, and Calamusa called again.


benny_glaser_malta_main.jpgBenny Glaser (right)

The river was the 9♠, and with that Glaser was all-in for his last 14,925. Calamusa thought a while then folded, and afterwards all the talk was about what Glaser might've had.

Glaser is up to 50,000 as the break nears while Calamusa sits with about 30,000. --MH

5:15pm: Champions overboard
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Up to 301 entrants now with 273 of those still having chips to their name. However, they'll be no second title for Julian Track, Jan Bendik or Andreas Hoivold as they've all been eliminated during level four. --NW


andreas_hoivold_malta_main.jpgAndreas Hoivold

5:05pm: Sound the four-bet klaxon
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Sometimes the most interesting hands are the ones where you don't see the cards, or at least not all of them. One such example of this played out on table 18, which is right in the belly of the room.

Mikolaj Zawadzki was the first to arrive at the party, the live satellite winner opened to 700 from early position and Erwann Pecheux decided he liked that price and threw out a call. Krzysztof Stuchlik, who was in the hijack, then decided to up the ante by raising to 2,400 a bet that was smooth called by Anton Morgenstern in the cutoff.

That was too rich for Zawadzki who ducked out the way, but Pecheux was going nowhere and he slid out a four-bet of 8,600 total. Interesting. This bet didn't immediately get rid of Stuchlik but he eventually folded as did Morgenstern. As he took the pot Pecheux showed just the 6♣. --NW

4:55pm: Grzeska takes bite out of Jablonski
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Marek Grzeska had pushed his remaining chips to put them at risk, albeit guarded with a small shark card protector sitting atop the column, and Bartosz Jablonski was the one circling his stack hoping to capture them.

Grzeska showed Q♠Q♥ as further fortification, and from the way Jablonski slapped down his A♥Q♦ onto the table, he was less confident about the cards he'd taken to the battle. The 2♠8♠T♦2♣8♦ proved favorable for Grzeska, and he doubled to about 32,000. Having been so bitten, Jablonski sits with about 22,000 now. --MH

4:40pm: The latest William Kassouf hand
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

William Kassouf span his big wheel of table chatter. It looks like a Spin & Go wheel, but has his various stock phrases on it and he fires out the phrase where the indicator lands. "I get my chips in good," he said. He span it again. "Have you got a spade? Have a look. I don't want you to make a mistake."

He was narrating a hand he was in against the stoic Ivan Banic, from Croatia, who made an EPT final table in Dublin. Kassouf narrates hands rather than plays them, and he had talked a good few thousand into the pot by the time the A♠J♣4♠Q♠ board was out.


william_kassouf_malta_main_24oct16.jpgWilliam Kassouf

"I had a flush draw after the flop and you let me get there," Kassouf said. "You have two pair? No good. You have a set? No good. You have a straight? No good."

Banic bet 1,200 despite the information he was getting from Kassouf. "Whoa!" Kassouf said. But then he raised to 4,000 and span the wheel again. "I get my chips in good." Spin. "I'm gambling with the nuts."

Banic finally had had enough, but stopped short of a meltdown at the verbals and simply folded his hand in silence. "There you go," Kassouf said. -- HS

4:50pm: Two-two, Tzidon?
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

With three players still in the board showed T♦T♥Q♦, prompting checks from the first two -- Artem Otroshchenko and Asker Aloev -- then a half-pot bet of 1,700 from Guy Tzidon in late position. Otroshchenko stuck around, but Aloev folded and took a short walk from the table while the hand continued.

The 7♥ turn and 5♠ river brought quick checks from both remaining players, and it was time to show. Otroshchenko turned over his A♦6♦, and waited patiently for Tzidon.

The latter stood to look at Otroshchenko's cards, holding his face down as he tried to piece together their significance.

"Nothing," said Otroshchenko, helpfully. "Ace-high." At that Tzidon tabled his -- 2♣2♠ -- eliciting a chuckle from Tzidon and the chips from the dealer.

By then Aloev had returned. "Two-two?" he said with a grin to Tzidon. "Two-two" came the nodding response.

As it happens, Tzidon has about two-two in his stack now -- 22,000, that is. Otroshchenko has a little less with 17,000, while Aloev can afford to take walks around as he's up to 105,000. --MH

4:40pm: Forman blasts away at Galtos
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Little doubt, I'd say, as to the toughest table in the room at the moment. All of the following are seated together: Peter Eichhardt and Nicholas Galtos (who can battle over the title of poker's Peter Pan), Dominik Panka and Javier Gomez Zapatero (who made the same final table the first time the EPT came to Malta) and Jaqueline "Poker Mama" Cachia, who is among Malta's best known players. If there's a game on this island, she's in it.

peter_eichhardt_ept13_malta_day1b.jpg

Peter Eichhardt: Tough table

That table has also already lost Martin Staszko from it (either balanced away or knocked out, I'm not sure) but still has another fierce competitor from the Czech Republic there: Miroslav Forman, who is a top-ranked online sit and go player.

Forman just tangled in a pot with Galtos and picked up a few chips with a shove on the turn. Forman opened to 800 from the hijack and Galtos called on the button. They saw a flop of 5♣6♥2♣ and Forman checked.

Galtos bet 1,200 and Forman raised to 4,200. After a long enough time in the tank for Eichhardt to find a waitress, order a coffee, and for it to be delivered, Galtos called.

Then the Q♥ came on the turn and Forman shoved for 22,350. Galtos seemed interested in a call for quite some time, but again let it go. -- HS

4:35pm: Dig those spades?
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Yorane Kerignard limped in from the button, the small blind completed, and Nicolino Di Carlo checked from the BB. The flop came 3♣4♠8♠, and it checked around to Kerignard who bet 500, and the SB quickly stepped aside.

Di Carlo wasn't going anywhere, though, and promptly check-raised to 1,400, earning wary look and call from Kerignard. The turn brought a third spade in the J♠, and Di Carlo fired another 2,900, again called by his opponent.

The river was the 7♠ -- a fourth spade. Had Di Carlo dug himself in too deep? His check suggested it were possible, and Kerignard decided to check behind as well. Di Carlo looked at his cards once more before tabling them, showing A♦9♠ for a flush, and after a pause Kerignard slid his cards dealerward.

Kerignard still has about 42,000, while Di Carlo sits with 25,000 now. --MH


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4:25pm: Katchalov KO's Staples
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

This was a fascinating hand. Jaime Staples raised to 700 from under-the-gun and the Team PokerStars Pro Online member picked up no fewer than four callers, the last of which was Eugene Katchalov, who was on the button. Adel Kabbani, who was in the big blind, then shoved for 5,250, a bet Staples smooth called.

It folded to Katchalov and you could tell he was deep in thought. You could see the cogs turning and his lips moving as he decided what play to make. After a minute or so he raised to 26,000, which essentially set Staples all-in.

The Canadian had about 29,750 total and it was now his turn to be faced with a complex decision. "I wish I started earlier," said Staples referencing the fact that he'd not been in the tournament long. He riffled chips back and forth and ultimately elected to move all-in. Call from Katchalov.

Katchalov: Q♦Q♣
Staples: J♦J♣
Kabbani: A♥T♥

The 7♣7♠2♥ flop was dry as a bone, the K♥ turn gave flush outs to Kabbani but the 9♠ was a brick and Katchalov scooped a huge pot. He's up to 85,000 as a result which is good for the chip lead. --NW

EPT13_malta_main_event_day1b_eugene_katchalov.jpg

Eugene Katchalov (pictured in the IPT Malta main event)

4:16pm: Lander grounded
Level 4 - 150/300 (ante 50)

Lijo Lander's EPT Malta Main Event run has come to an abrupt halt here at the start of the tournament's fourth level.

Short enough to need to commit his last chips preflop behind A♥K♣, Lander found himself up against Bastian Dohler and his J♠J♣. A board of 7♠4♦3♠T♠3♥ wasn't helpful for Lander, and he made the short walk over the exit.

Meanwhile Dohler stays put, stacking about 65,000 now. --MH

4:05pm: Nothing to round-house about yet
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

Even pre-dating the boisterous arrival on the EPT of both William Kassouf and Sebastian Malec (see previous post), the round-housing Joseph Carlino had caught the attention of reporters and cameras. He alternates opera singing with karate moves and, in some ways, that might even be more off-putting than anything the aforementioned young guns do.

Carlino is quiet today, however. On Day 1, nobody really has the chips to start round-housing. But he's working on building a stack at least. He just tried to pick up a pot against Simen Birkelund and Joris Ruijs, but the latter pushed him off it.

Carlino opened to 500 from middle position and both Birkelund and Ruijs called in the blinds. They went to a flop of 9♥A♦3♥ and both blinds checked. Carlino continued for 750 and only Ruijs called. Then the two remaining players checked the 7♥ turn.

After the 8♥ river, Ruijs checked. Carlino bet 2,075 and now Ruijs sprang to life with a raise to 4,700. With an exasperated heavy breath, Carlino folded. -- HS

4pm: Malec hits the ground running
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

Sebastian Malec tweeted that he was sitting at William Kassouf's table in a live satellite for this event and complained that the new TV star's table chatter was so loud it was forcing him to turn his music up. Only a few days before Kassouf began appearing on ESPN, Malec was still the king of poker table chatter after his brilliant diatribe en route to EPT Barcelona triumph.

sebastian_malec_ept13_malta_day1b.jpg

Sebastian Malec

Malec is today on a table with Simon Persson, an altogether quieter opponent. But Malec is stil wearing his bright green headphones today, which work in startling primary-colour contrast to his yellow hoodie; as though he's been kitted out as a model for an elementary school art class.

Malec and Persson just played a small pot, which went to the newly-minted champion. Persson opened to 500 from UTG+1 and Malec three-bet his big blind to 1,600. They both checked the A♥9♦9♥ flop and then Malec bet 2,000 at the 3♠ turn. Persson called.

Then the 8♠ appeared on the river and Malec threw out a 5,000-denomination chip, saying either "Twenty-eight" or "Forty-eight" (I couldn't hear which). Either way, it was too much for Persson, who folded. -- HS

3:55pm: Malec starts back to back bid
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

Winning one EPT Main Event is tough, winning two damn near impossible and winning them back to back, don't even think about it. Sebastian Malec is the player who could achieve that feat here in Malta and he took his seat about 20 minutes ago.

He's at a table right in one corner and looked on as a very long hand played out. I picked up the action on a A♣T♣6♣ flop. Oskar Szwed (under-the-gun) bet 825, Ricardo Cuartero (small blind) called and Rick Trigg (big blind) then check-raised to 2,300 total. There then followed a quick call from Szwed and a long tank from Cuartero and a call.

So all three players went to the 5♦ turn and action was checked to Szwed. The Pole bet 4,600 and yet again Cuartero tanked and tanked and tanked while looking back at his cards on numerous occasions. He had the calling chips cut out from his stack for an age but it took him over three minutes to reach his decision, which was to call. Trigg near snap folded and the two remaining players went heads-up to the 7♦ river.

Again Cuartero checked and once more Szwed would bet. He cut out 7,600 and pushed it across the line. His Spanish opponent acted as fast as he had on any street and mucked his cards in under a minute. --NW

3:35pm: Spindler takes his seat
Level 3 - 75/150 (25 ante)

Benny Spindler just took his seat in the main event and hadn't finished unravelling his headphones before playing a pot. He didn't win it mind, checking his way to a river on a 6♥3♣K♦8♠5♠ board against Jeffrey Blenkarn, who showed a six to win a small pot. - SB

3:30pm: Risers and fallers
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

A steady trickle of new players has pushed the number of entrants for today up to 285, already double that of yesterday. Bastian Dohler is still the player to catch, he's increased his stack still further and now has 74,000. Kee Seow (68,000) has risen up the chip counts, as have Martin Nikolov (65,000) and Usman Siddique (64,000).

At the other end of the scale Dawid Topolinkski, Samir Moukawem, Hari Bercovici and Denis Timofeev are all out. --NW

3:15pm: More big names arrive
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25)

For a while now late registration in the EPT Main Event has been open until the start of Day 2. Scores of players take the chance to use this facility with Dzmitry Urbanovich quite often entering at the very last minute.

He's not here in Malta, but plenty of star players are. His friend, and fellow countryman, Dominik Panka just arrived and as Kassouf was talking up a storm, Panka was stopped on his way to the table by a fan who wanted a photo. The 2014 PCA champion posed for the picture and was on his way. Yesterday Panka finished fifth in the IPT Main Event, with Ismael Bojang taking top honours. He was just behind Panka in the queue to pick up chips and Patrick Leonard has also just taken a seat in this event. --NW


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3:10pm: Farrell takes a hit
Level 3 - 75/150 (25 ante)

Reigning champion Niall Farrell just took a hit to his stack in a hand against Konstantinos Tzinis.

Farrell opened for 500 from the cut off which Tzinis called from the big blind. The flop came 3♣9♥7♦ which was checked for the 8♦ turn. This time Tzinis bet 700, which Farrell called. On the J♣ river however Tzinis left it to Farrell to take the initiative, the Scot betting 2,600. Tzinis then check raised to 7,400 which Farrell eventually called.
Q♥T♥ for Tzinis. Farrell mucked.

"Bad river..." said Farrell, down to around 21,000. - SB

3:05pm: No coconuts for Kassouf
Level 3 - 100/200 (ante 25

My eyes followed Will Kassouf as he wandered towards the seat he'd been allocated in the random seat draw. Table six had won the lottery and he struck up a conversation before he'd even sat down. "Morning," he said to the players who were already seated before adding. "Look at this line-up, now we've got a game."

Tobias Peters was dead center in the 'Kassouf splash zone' as he's to his direct right, with Alexander Lakhov one seat over. "No coconuts," pleaded Peters, referencing one of Kassouf's catchphrases from the recent WSOP coverage. "New material, I'm myself. No coconut," replied Kassouf.


william_kassouf_malta_main_double.jpgWilliam Kassouf (background) watching a player in the nine seat watching Kassouf on his iPad (foreground)


At this point, the floor arrived to move the next big blind to a new table. It was Lakhov. "Thank God," he said clasping his hands together to make a praying motion and looking skywards. Kassouf was a bit tardy putting the ante in and, just for a laugh, Peters collected a 25 chip from the Englishman's stack, placed it over the line and then playfully knocked his stack over. Kassouf returned the favor and it was all down in a laughing and jokey manner.

Seems the fun and games at table six are just getting started. --NW

3pm: Enter Kassouf
Level 3 - 75/150 (25 ante)

William Kassouf has arrived with a flurry of chapter one French for the tournament staff (it may be he speaks French well but "ca va" and "tres bien" this was all he used). Kassouf gets some attention when he turns up to play. No one is left in any doubt that he has arrived. - SB

2:30pm: Break time

Players are on the first 20 minute break of the day.


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2:20pm: Star status on Day 1B
Level 2 - 75/150

As our photographer Neil Stoddart said, it doesn't take much to get some attention on day one. Turn up looking odd and we'll make you a star.

So when Robert Jan Hoogendoorn walked in wearing a pair of white sunglasses with "Tinder" written in red on the lenses, no one could argue that Hoogendoorn wasn't on the shortlist.


tinder_man_malta_main.jpgRobert Jan Hoogendoorn. Swipe up to move on

But if it's attention he wanted when he showed up for work today his table draw wasn't exactly sympathetic. For he's on the same table as Orjahn Winther, our "reader" on Day 1B, fast becoming a cult hero.

Winther just took down another pot, this one against Xiaoyang Luo, all while reading the same paperback novel.

Luo opened for 450 in middle position which Winther, hardly looking up, called from the hijack. The flop came 3♠5♥3♥. Luo tried again with another 550. Winther, using a finger so as to not lose his place, looked up momentarily and called. He did exactly the same when Luo bet 900 on the Q♦ turn card.

With the river dealt 5♣ Luo eased back, perhaps wondering how anyone could beat this bibliophile, so strong in hand that he can get a page read while you're still wondering where life went wrong. He checked. Winther, with formidable indifference, bet 2,650.

At a loss, Luo had no option but to fold.

Who knows if Winther is putting this on and is in fact re-reading the same thing over and over while thinking to himself "Please fold! Fold!" but the effect is more and more fun to watch. - SB

2:15pm: O'Kearney escapes
Level 2 - 75/150

No wonder Dara O'Kearney was smiling when we shuffled past his table...

2pm: Movers and shakers
Level 2 - 75/150

It's been a great first two hours for Bastian Dohler as the German has turned his starting stack of 30,000 into 72,000. Other players who've got off to a flyer include:

Alexander Prokudin - 57,000
Leonardo Pires - 55,000
Andrey Andreev - 52,000
Alexander Ivarsson - 51,000
Christos Xanthopoulos - 49,000
Vicente Delgado - 47,000
Jimmy Guerrero - 46,000
Aeragan Arunan - 46,000
Usman Siddique - 45,000

However, it's a zero sum game and Konstantin Puchkov and Guy Tzidon are both out. --NW


1:40pm: Farrell survives
Level 2 - 75/150

Earlier we reported that Niall Farrell's table was playing three-handed when the action began. It's filled up since then with Govert Metaal, Kitty Kuo, and Serdar Demiroglu among those who've joined the reigning champion at table seven. We just saw a big pot go down which ended with Farrell all-in.


niall_farrell_malta_main.jpgNiall Farrell

The action was started by Kuo, she raised to 400 from middle position, Serdar Demiroglu was next to act, he raised it up to 1,050 a bet which both Farrell and Kuo called. On the 2♥3♠8♦ flop Demiroglu bet 1,600 and both players called.

So this was already shaping up as a pivotal pot as the 9♥ landed on the turn. The action checked to Farrell and the Scotsman bet 4,200. Kuo was the only caller. The 4♠ rounded off the community cards and when Kuo checked the action to Farrell he moved all-in for 13,650. It really looked like Kuo wanted to call but she elected to fold her hand and Farell took the pot. He's back up to starting stack, while Kuo drops to 22,000. --NW

1:20pm: A poker world on one table
Level 2 - 75/150

I don't want to be accused of looking too deeply at things, which is easy to do on an opening day with long periods without much change. But table seven seems to be a microcosm of the live poker world, featuring every character type you could imagine.

There's Marco D'Amico in seat 2 with the traditional hoodie, and next to him Paul Gresel of Holland, taking selfies of himself with Govert Metaal, the veteran two seats along.

In between them they have the seemingly ice cool Sirzat Hissou, who would look like any other poker player were it not for the contraption he has propped up on the table that keeps his mobile phone positioned just below eye level.

Then to the left of Metaal is the glitteringly modern Kitty Kuo, who sparkles more than the TV stage. The only thing that doesn't sparkle is the large pink pom-pom attached to her ever present phone.


kitty_kuo_malta_main_v2.jpgKitty Kuo

Then there's Serdar Demiroglu in a smart jacket, almost over dressed for a poker tournament, getting through the first level of the day with coffee. And finally Niall Farrell, the young British pro, and current reigning champion, who has seen all of this before.

That's the demographics covered then, we're just waiting on the action. - SB

1:15pm: Marcin taking a mauling
Level 1 - 50/100

It's not been a great 90 minutes for Marcin Chmielewski. He was one of the first players out of the Main Event and he then entered the €10,000 Single-day High Roller. He quickly busted that event too, but as it's a re-entry he's bought back in and will be hoping it's third time lucky today. --NW


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1:05pm: Come one, come all
Level 1 - 50/100

Who's the most successful British player of all-time at the WSOP? Who's the only British player to win multiple bracelets in Las Vegas in the same year? The answer to both those questions in Benny Glaser.

The mixed game specialist won two bracelets this summer, both in Omaha Hi-Lo, to add to the 2-7 Triple Draw bracelet he'd scooped in 2015. Speaking of SCOOP, yeah he's got one of those titles too. He's trying his hand at hold'em today and is one of 204 players in the field as level one winds down.

The Southampton based pro is just one of the big names over on the right hand side of the room. Elsewhere you'll find EPT champions Roberto Romanello and Jan Bendik at the same table. The always entertaining Joseph Carlino is playing, as are Eugene Katchalov, Vicente Delgado, Hady El Asmar and Yury Gulyy. Also in the mix are two players who made the final table of the IPT Main Event as Johan Guilbert and Rasmus Agerskov have started their EPT Main Event campaigns today. --NW

12:45pm: Unwanted records
Level 1 - 50/100

There have been some fast exits down the years in EPT Main Events. Greg Raymer busted out on just the second hand in Deauville back in Season 2. Robert Black lasted just seven minutes in London during Season 11.

Now admittedly it's not the sort of record a player would want but we've had a contender for the top 10 quickest exits in EPT history here in Malta as Sai Wu hit the rail in just under 15 minutes. The beneficiary of her demise appears to be Alexander Ivarsson as the Swede sits with just shy of 60,000.

It was also a short day for Marcin Chmielewski. The Pole, who was runner-up to Nick Petrangelo in the €10,000 event in Barcelona earlier this season, was the second player out today. He appears to have lost his chips to Bastian Döhler as the German is up to almost 60,000. --NW

12:30pm: A page turner
Level 1 - 50/100

It's not uncommon to see players checking their phones between hands, a useful distraction to the occasional monotony of a long day at the tables, but Orjahn Winther takes a more old school. Hard-core old school actually.

It's not a phone that Winther depends on, but a book. And it's not just between hands that he reads it, but between action in hands he's still involved in. As a writer of paperback fiction you could ask for no greater compliment.


winther_malta_main_portrait.jpgOrjahn Winther

You've also got to think it also says something to the players he goes up against. Players like Vincente Delgado.
Delgado just played a hand against Winther, even betting on a flop of 9♠4♠Q♦. To Winther though this was nothing more than an irritation. He rested the book on the edge of the table, picked off a raise of 2,250, bet it, and then resumed reading. It was though that was simply the price of finishing the chapter.


winther_reading_malta_main.jpg

Delgado called for the 5♣ turn card but Winther bet 2,525 this time. That bought him a few seconds of reading as Delgado, perhaps wondering what the hell was going on, opted to fold. - SB

12:15pm: Farrell amongst the faces
Level 1 - 50/100

It wouldn't be breaking news if we said that Niall Farrell doesn't always prepare for a tournament by curling up for an early night with a good book (he missed late registration for the IPT High Roller by a mere 276 minutes). But, it seems he's taking the defence of his EPT Malta title seriously as he's here on time and appears to have his game face on.

He's one of 181 players who've shown up for the opening hands, the Scotsman table is currently playing three-handed but more bums on seats will appear soon. Over on Table three, you'll find Nick Galtos. The former Australian Roller Hockey international, who once played against Stu Unger, has already won a side event here in Malta as he took down the Seniors Event. He's got Martin Staszko on his direct left and Harry Lodge is a few seats further round the table.

Table two could be one to keep an eye on as Leonardo Pires occupies the three seat. The Brazillian has a reputation for being able to run up a stack in double quick time. Unfortunately, though he's not always able to hold onto it. He's wearing a Brazil shirt today and has Antoine Saout for company.

Niall Farrell isn't the only EPT champion on the left-hand side of the room as Andreas Hoivold, the EPT3 Dortmund champion, is playing and Joe' The Maltese Joker' Grech may well try out some material on Adam Owen as the two Brits are sharing a table. --NW

12:10pm: Hurry up and wait
Level 1 - 50/100

There are a lot more tables in play compared to yesterday and a lot more players seated for the start - except on Table 13 that is.

While the tournament gets underway for everyone else, spare a thought for Gavin Cochrane and Bastian Dohler, who wait patiently unable to enjoy the fun.

They're the only two players at their table and EPT rules stipulate there must be three before hands can be dealt. So right now it looks like the naughty table, where Cochrane and Dohler have been sent until they learn their lesson. There's no lesson to be learned of course, just the luck of the draw. - SB


portomaso_casino_24oct16.jpgThe view of the tower above Portomaso Casino earlier this week, but which could easily have been taken today

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

Play gets under way, almost exactly on time. -- SB

11:45am: Day 1B of the Main Event on the way

We move on to Day 1B of the Main Event today. Play starts at 12 noon with eight 75 minute levels planned for the day, with a dinner break after six. -- SB


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