EPT13 Malta: Guillaume Diaz grabs Day 2 chip lead as bubble nears

It is commonplace to observe there are three stages to a poker tournament -- the beginning, the middle, and the end. It's a very Aristotelian way of looking at things, and maybe a little misleading in the way it imposes an single, overarching dramatic structure over the hundreds of individual plots represented by each player, all of whom are heroes of their respective stories.

In any case, Day 2 of the European Poker Tour Malta Main Event was hard not to regard as the "middle," starting with 229 players all still relatively fresh off their successful Day 1 beginnings and concluding right on the cusp of the money bubble bursting -- that moment prefiguring the end to come.

After Guillaume Valle, Dominik Panka, Dmitry Yurasov, and Gianfranco Visalli each enjoyed the chip lead for a spell today, France's Guillaume Diaz emerged at night's end to lead the 90 survivors with a stack of 583,500.


8G2A1976_Guillaume_Diaz_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Guillaume Diaz

With 229 to start the day, that means 119 of them met their ends right here in the middle. Way back at the start William Kassouf was one of the first to be shown the door -- his one "out," as he'd put it -- getting felted after running pocket kings into Brian Altman's in a scenario that uncannily recalled his KK-vs.-AA ouster in 17th from the WSOP Main Event this summer. 

Speaking of being in the middle, Vladimir Troyanovskiy was caught in between Altman and Kassouf on that hand with a pair of humble deuces, and also saw his Main Event story end. Others to fall today included Govert Metaal, Peter Eichhart, Charlie Carrel, Benny Glaser, David Yan, Benny Spindler, Gaelle Baumann, and Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer. Even start-of-day leader Andras Nemeth didn't make it through. 

Meanwhile among those still eyeing the endgame include other big stacks Gianfranco Visalli (518,500), Peter Ockenden (469,000), Xixiang Luo (390,000), Dominik Panka (385,000), Guillaume Valle (363,000), Sarah Herzali (362,000), Dmitry Yurasov (358,000), and Elie Saad (302,000). 

Davidi Kitai (284,500), Eugene Katchalov (284,000), Martin Staszko (244,500), Chi Zhang (239,000), Benjamin Pollak (224,000), Dan Shak (203,000), Ismael Bojang (192,500), Frederik Jensen (191,500), and James Akenhead (176,000) are among those with plenty of chips though in the middle. Meanwhile on the shorter side are Stephen Chidwick (100,000), Ole Schemion (86,000), Roberto Romanello (82,000), and Deitrich Fast (50,500).

All will be chasing Diaz, though, who surpassed Vasalli shortly before play concluded. 

When Vasalli won a big pot to take the lead, his table neighbor Alain Fluri turned to him. "Final table?" said Fluri, pointing at Vasalli's mountainous stack, and the Italian shook his head in response. 

"Not yet," he answered. He's right. The end is only beginning.

Click here for the complete chip counts of everyone making it to tomorrow, and go here for a look at the Day 3 seat draw. Then come back to the PokerStars blog tomorrow starting at 12 noon local time when play resumes. Don't be late! Just three more knockouts and the money bubble will burst. 

Then the middle will become the end, and we find out together how the EPT Malta Main Event story -- or stories -- will conclude. --MH


Day 2 coverage:

8:25pm: No more eliminations today

From our vantage point on the press gallery it would seem that there were no eliminations in the final five hands of the day. That means 90 players will return on Wednesday, with 87 players to be paid. A full report of the day will be published shortly. --SB


portomaso_casino_malta_main.jpg

8:15pm: Huge crowd gathers to see Fast double up
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (500 ante)

All other hands had finished and so we went to the table with the one 'all-in and call'. Dietrich Fast was the man at risk, having shoved for 19,000 on the button and been called by Louis Cartarius in the big blind. A big crowd of players, railbirds, camera men and photographers (and this blogger, of course) crowded around and eventually--when they got the all clear-- the cards were flipped.

Fast had the A♥2♥ and was up against the K♥J♦. The 2♠8♠A♦ gave Fast two pair and a great shot at survival, but it's never easy and the Q♥ turn gave Cartarius a straight draw. However, the river was a harmless 8♦ and Fast doubled to 43,500, while Cartarius now has 320,000. --JS

8:10pm: Double near the bubble
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Pawel Brzeski had already shoved once this orbit and picked up the blinds and antes, this hand though would be markedly different.

He opened to 6,500 in middle position, was called by Freek Cornelis Scholten and Alexandru Baron then shoved from the big blind, Brzeski called all-in (he was the shorter stack) and Scholten folded.

Brzeski: K♦K♠
Baron: A♥K♥

The 2♥4♣2♦2♠T♣ board meant Brzeski survived, he was all-in for 76,300 and took the majority of the 96,100 that Baron started the hand with. --NW


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8:05pm: Ockenden knocks a block off Yurasov
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (500 ante)

Dmitry Yurasov made it 7,000 and Ole Schemion called in the cutoff, followed by Peter Ockenden on the button, and Oli Price in the big blind. The four saw a 4♥J♣5♥ flop and it checked to Yurasov who continued for 15,000, and only Ockenden called.

The 2♣ hit the turn and that prompted a 42,000 bet from Yurasov, and once again Ockenden didn't budge. We went to the 5♠ river and Yurasov triple-barreled with a 66,000 bet. Ockenden wasted no time in calling, and saw he was best with his K♣J♦ against K♠Q♣.

Ockenden has 510,000 after that one, while Yurasov drops to 235,000. --JS

8:00pm: Five more hands
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Tournament staff have announced that five more hands will be played tonight, each one in a hand for hand manner. There are currently 90 players remaining, with 87 set to finish in the money. -- SB

7:55pm: Use the force, Felipe
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Felipe Costa has managed to doubled his short stack in an amusing hand.

He was down to 29,200 and raised to 29,100 of them. Taran Parmar was in the big blind and just called. The flop fanned 2♥8♣T♦ and Parmar bet 100. Costa didn't immediately call as he hopefully looked around at other tables, maybe wishing for a miracle three-way all-in or the like. A floor person was there and prompted him to make a decision, so he flicked in the chip.

Parmar: A♥J♣
Costa: 4♥4♣

The Brazilian was always ahead and stayed that way as the board ran out 2♣8♠. --MC

7:50pm: Poker Mama's queens are no good
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Jacqueline Cachia's tournament has come to its conclusion only three spots off the money. "I'm sad to be out," she said, winning the prize for gracious understatement of the year.

She was pretty close to a treble up, if truth be known. She got the last of her chips in with Q♣Q♥ and was up against two dominant stacks but inferior holdings. Dan Shak had A♦K♥ and Daniele Colautti 9♥9♣.

The flop put a bit of a downer on it for Cachia. It came 6♠6♣K♣. Shak was now looking good to knock out two. The 3♥ on the turn changed nothing, but the 9♠ on the river was one of Colautti's two outs.

That meant that Shak had to find 51,500 to give to Colautti, who also gets Cachia's 30,000 or so. --HS

7:46pm: At risk of bubbling
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Four more eliminations and the players are in the money, those most at risk of missing out on a minimum payout of €8,070 are:

Felipe Costa - 22,000
Dietrich Fast - 27,500
Jacqueline Cachia - 30,500
Cornelis Van Gent - 34,200
Alain Fluri - 35,500
Stale Eggen - 43,000

7:45pm: Ludo looses the lot
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Any tournament that loses Ludovic Geilich becomes a sadder place. Maybe not for the players he terrorises, but certainly for the media who like to follow the "Man who loves a four-bet."

He was down to his last 35,000 when he made his move from the hijack. Bastian Dohler was sat in the next seat and was the only caller. The TV cameras quickly got into place and the cards were flipped up.

Geilich: A♥T♦
Dohler: A♠Q♦

The board ran K♥4♥K♠2♣3♥. Geilich had some "chopportunities" after that flop but they failed to appear. --MC

7:42pm: Akenhead knocks out Newey
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

We are edging closer to the money, with 91 players remaining and 87 paid. Paul Newey will not be adding to his coffers from this event, however, as he just got the last of his 35,000 stack in the middle pre-flop behind A♠Q♣ but was picked off by James Akenhead's A♣K♥.

The board of J♥T♣A♥5♥J♣ looked at first glance as though there might be a chop out there, but Akenhead's King played. That's the end of that for Newey. -- HS

7:40pm: Jensen doubles up Nikolov
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (500 ante)

Martin Nikolov's tracksuit is a thing of majestic beauty. Luckily for any of yous watching EPT Live as well as reading along, you'll get to see it a bit more as the Bulgarian has just doubled up through Frederik Jensen.

Jacek Pustula opened to 6,500 and was immediately three-bet by Nikolov to 19,400 on the button. Jensen then shoved from the big blind with the bigger stack, Pustula folded and Jensen called for 102,500.

It was the el clasico - Jensen's Q♦Q♠ against Nikolov's A♣K♥. Help was on it's way for the big slick and the flop showed the 2♥K♣7♥ followed by the 8♣ and 4♣. Nikolov is up to roughly 210,000, while Jensen drops to 105,000. --JS

7:36pm: Sehr krank
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

"I have a pretty sick hand for you," Robin Scherr, our German cousin over at PokerStarsBlog.de, told us.

"You mean 'sehr krank'," Stephen Bartley, at PokerStars Blog HQ, said.

"Yes, 'sehr krank'," Scherr said. (He humours us like this.)

The details were indeed krank. Dietrich Fast opened to 7,000 from the hijack and Konrad Abela, one of only a handful of Maltese players in the field, three-bet to 17,000 from the small blind. Fast called.

They went to a flop of Q♣A♥5♣ and Abela bet 21,000. Fast called.

The 8♣ came on the turn and now Abela shoved, with about 140,000 in his stack. Fast, with about 35,000 behind, went into the tank for four or five minutes, but then came out and folded.

The sick bit: Fast showed the Q♥Q♠ he was throwing away.

Either that's the tightest or the best fold this tournament has seen today, but Abela never let us all know for sure. He pushed his winning hand away face down. -- HS

7:35pm: 39 minutes of play to go on Day 2
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

With 92 players remaining it's looking increasingly likely that we will reach the bubble before play ends for the day.

7:32pm: Battle of the champions
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

There are, by our reckoning, five EPT champions among the final 95 and two of them are sat next to each other. Frederik Jensen (EPT8 Madrid) and Dominik Panka (PCA 2014) are the two in question, although they do have a dealer in between them as they're in seat eight and seat one respectively.

They just played a pot against each other which I picked up on the 4♥K♥7♣ flop on which Jensen (cutoff) bet 10,500 and Panka (button) called. On the 3♠ turn Jensen check-called a bet of 18,000 and they proceeded to the K♣ river. After a check from Jensen, there was no immediate action from Panka but he did want to know how much Jensen was playing. The Dane pushed his chips forward - they looked to total about 120,000 - and Panka thought for a few seconds before he also checked. Jensen rolled over K♦5♦ and Panka mucked.

He slips to 410,000, which is still way more than the average (149,000) while Jensen is up to around 185,000. --NW

7:30pm: So long, Soulier
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Fabrice Soulier's Main Event run is done. All-in just now for his last 31,000 or so with A♣T♦, he needed to outdraw Stephen Chidwick's T♥T♠ to survive. But alas for Soulier, the community cards came 9♣6♦5♣, then 7♠, then Q♣, and Soulier is out.

Chidwick has 130,000 with 95 players left -- eight off the money. --MH

7:25pm: Panka three-bets his uncle
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Armando Collado doesn't watch coverage of the EPT very much. That's the only inference one can take from a recent conversation on Table 8.

"What's your name?" Collado said.

His opponent looked over and said, "Dominik."

Collado then turned to the man sitting next to him. "What's your name?" he said again.

The man looked over and said, "Frederick."

Collado has the fortune/misfortune to be sat to the direct left of two of the former EPT champions still in this field. Dominik was Dominik Panka. Frederick was Frederick Jensen.

Collado is one of the first Nicaraguan players ever to appear on the EPT, and no records exist of anyone from the country cashing on this tour. (Collado himself has cashed on the Eureka Poker Tour, in Prague, so he's not a total newbie.) Maybe this was a sophisticated bluff, but most people tend to recognise Panka these days.

"You know, the boy of my brother is Dominik," Collado said. "Nice name."

In between this chit-chat, Collado raised to 7,000 from the cutoff. Panka three-bet 23,000 from the small blind and action got back to Collado. He called, having essentially been three-bet by his nephew.

After the 2♦6♦Q♣ flop, Panka took a few beats before acting. Collado cheekily glanced at his watch, but I don't think Panka noticed. Panka pushed forward a bet of what looked close to 25,000 again and Collado, with 160,000 back, looked at his watch again, then folded.

Nice name, tough player. -- HS

7:20pm: Szwed dodges elimination as bubble nears
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

After a hijack raise from Thibault Letort from the hijack, his neighbor to the left Oskar Szwed reraised all-in from the cutoff for a bit over 60,000 and when it folded back to Letort he called.

The players' hands weren't too remarkable given the context -- J♦J♥ for the at-risk Szwed and 9♦9♠ for Letort. What made the scene a little different was the way both players sat with heads down, chins resting on their arms on the cusp of the table, with neither even raising up to turn his cards over.

They remained that way through the community card delivery, almost looking as though they were each ducking possible missiles flying overhead. In the end Szwed was able to dodge anything harmful as the board rolled out seven-high, and he's stacking around 125,000 while Letort has 110,000.

Both sat up afterwards and shared a chuckle, then returned to their former poses, occasionally glancing up from below at the tournament clock on high showing they are 10 knockouts from the cash. --MH

7:15pm: State of play
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (500 ante)

We are now down to 96 players with 52 minutes remaining in the level. The top 87 players will finish in the money.

7:15pm: A game of Ludo, anyone?
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (500 ante)

Because patience is a virtue that gets rewarded (and not at all due to laziness), hanging around the table of Ludovic Geilich seemed like a good idea. I expected fireworks, and I wasn't disappointed, but you'll to read right until the end to get to the good stuff.

Hand 1: Picking up the action on a 4♣5♥4♥ flop, Felix Schlott checked to Geilich who made it 5,000. Schlott made the call to see the Q♠ turn, which both checked, followed by the 5♠ river. Schlott led out for 7,000, and Geilich tank-folded.

Hand 2: From under the gun, Geilich opened to 5,500 and it folded around.

Hand 3: Yung Hwang made it 5,500 on the button and Geilich gave up his big blind.

Hand 4: Geilich folds the small blind.

Hand 5: Geilich folds the button.

Hand 5: It folds to Geilich in the cutoff and he opens to 5,500, getting callers from Xixiang Luo in the small and Viatcheslav Ortynskiy in the big blind. The flop comes 6♥T♦J♦ and Luo check-calls a 9,000 c-bet, taking us to the 8♥ turn. Both check, and the river comes the 4♥. Luo checks a final time and Geilich counts out a big bet of 48,500. Luo gives it up.

Hand 6: No idea what happened as a fellow reporter came up to me to tell me that Guillaume Diaz has 520,000, and Dmitry Yurasov has 505,000 now. After all that Geilich has 180,000.

How do you like them fireworks? --JS

7:12pm: Dealing with an end of day bubble
Level 14 - 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

A representative from the TV department and that fella in a suit (AKA Luca Vivaldi) got together in a quiet corner (the TD desk) are discussed what the plan will be if the tournament gets to the bubble at the end of the day.

Both parties agreed that play will continue into level 15 if play is on the direct bubble at the end of this level, but if 89 or more (87 get paid) remain then play will end for the night as scheduled. --MC


chips_malta_main.jpgIs this enough to survive the bubble?

7:10pm: Franczak loses some more
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Piotr Franczak's stack is only heading in one direction at the moment, unfortunately for the Polish pro it's not the direction poker players like. He took a big hit in the following hand. The action was started by Benjamin Pollak, he opened to 5,100 from the hijack, Franczak three-bet to 18,000 from the button and Elie Saad then flat called out of the big blind. Pollak folded, so it was heads-up to a 2♦7♠5♦ flop, neither player bet and the 8♦ fell on the turn. Bet of 12,000 from Franczak, call from Saad.

The river card was the 3♦ and that put four diamonds on board, Franczak pushed forward a bet of 31,000 and Saad briefly tanked before calling. Franczak turned over K♥Q♠ and Saad triumphantly turned over 6♦6♥ and celebrated. After that hand Franczak slips to 50,500. --NW

7:05pm: Visalli vaults to the top
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Pot of the day alert!

With Level 13 nearing its close, we've got the biggest pot so far in the tournament here, one involving the Italian Gianfranco Visalli and Simon Amyot of Canada.

We arrived on the turn, although from post-hand discussions it sounded as though a 6♦7♦5♥ flop had elicited an early-position bet from Visalli, a raise from Amyot, and a call to build the pot to around 50,000. The turn was the 6♠, pairing the board, and after Visalli led for 27,700, Amyot pushed his stack of 142,300 all-in, sending Visalli deep into the tank.

After several minutes, Visalli as the do-you-show-if-I-fold question, and Amyot only answered with raised eyebrows and a slight shrug. "You won't answer, huh?" said Visalli, who thought a couple more minutes, eyeing the 250,000 or so he had behind, the board, and Amyot.

Finally Amyot called the clock, and as time was running out Visalli finally set out a column of chips to call, tabling T♠T♣ after he did. Amyot began to nod as he turned over his 4♣4♥, and after the 5♠ river the huge pot when Visalli's way.

Amyot patted the felt, then circled around the table to commend Visalli on the good call before departed. A clearly relieved-looking Visalli began organizing his huge stack.

He's still stacking, although it looks like he must be somewhere comfortably above 550,000 now. The player to his right pointed at his chips, saying "Final table."

"Not yet," said Visalli. Indeed, with 100 players left there's still a long way to go for that. --MH


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7:00pm: Old foes/friends?
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Gianfranco Visalli and Nicolino Di Carlo are sat at the same table, albeit it at different ends. Yesterday, they were drawn at seats right next to each other. We're unaware how that panned out for them, but they're both still in and played a pot out, and by the way they were chatting away in Italian at the end of a hand, mutual respect seems to be there and intact.

Visalli got the better of their most recent battle and that helped him pass the 300k-mark. He raised to 5,100 from the hijack, getting calls from both players in the blinds. The flop fell J♦4♥A♠ and Visalli continued for 8,600. Only Di Carlo check-called from the big blind. The turn was the K♥ and Di Carlo checked to face a 17,700 bet. He decided to fold after giving it a good think, and dropped to 115,000.

I think Visalli then asked his countryman if he had a pair and then flashed the J♠ before raking in the pot. --MC

6:50pm: Balancing the range
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Here's a few uninteresting hand reports. We're balancing our range.

- Yung Hwang opened to 5,300 from the cutoff and Felix Schlott called on the button. Ludovic Geilich called in the big blind. They all checked the T♣Q♣J♦ flop. And both Geilich and Hwang also checked the 9♠ turn. Schlott bet 8,000 and Geilich only called. The 5♥ came on the river and Geilich checked again. Schlott went for 16,000 this time and Geilich folded instantly.

- Guillaume Diaz opened to 6,000 from the hijack and Armin Mette called on the button. Usman Siddique three-bet to 18,600 from the small blind and won. Siddique started Day 2 with 20,000 but now has closer to 200,000.


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- Maria Ho opened to 5,500 from the cutoff. That's Ho from the CO. Pawel Brzeski, in the big blind, asked Ho how much she was playing. "I had 100,000 at the start of the hand," Ho said. They both checked the 7♥T♦6♠ flop. And then Brzeski bet at the J♦ river. Ho didn't wait to find out how much it was. She folded.

- Usman Siddique and Guillaume Diaz almost played another pot, but it didn't go very far. Diaz was in early position, Siddique was on the button and John Gulino also came to a flop from the big blind. Both Gulino and Diaz checked the 3♠Q♣2♣ flop but only Diaz called Siddique's bet of 9,000. Then they both checked the 4♦ turn. After the 5♦ appeared on the river, Diaz bet 32,000 and Siddique folded. -- HS

6:45pm: Schemion shoves
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Ole Schemion has, for the most part, been playing a below average stack for most of today. That doesn't mean he's had a short stack, but neither has he been flush with chips. But he's been ducking and diving to stay alive, as illustrated by this latest hand.


ole_schemion_malta_main.jpgOle Schemion

The pot was opened by Michael Kane, he made it 5,200 to play, only for Oliie Price to three-net to what looked like 14,300. It then folded all the way around to Schemion in the big blind and he stacked up all his chips and pushed them over the line.

This quickly got rid of Kane, but as Price asked for a count the TV cameras descended to film a potential all-in. It's likely this one will be left on the cutting room floor though as Price decided the price was wrong and folded his hand. --NW

6:40pm: Diaz won't be folding to Staszko any more
Level 13 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (400 ante)

Break time chip leader Guillaume Diaz just picked up some useful information about one of the biggest threats at his table, former WSOP November Niner Martin Staszko. That information is as follows: Staszko sometimes three-bets light. Talk about a unique, juicy tell!

After Grzegorz Grochulski raised to 5,500, Staszko made it 13,000 on the button. Diaz was in the small blind and let his hand go, and when it got back to Grochulski he called.

They saw a J♠2♥6♥ flop and it went check-check to the K♣ turn. No more action to report here either, I'm afraid.

Finally the 7♣ arrived on the river and...no more action. Both checked, and Grochulski showed the T♠8♠ for ten-high while Staszko had the J♦4♥ to win with his pair.

"You had jack-four?" asked Diaz after the hand. Staszko nodded. "But I folded my king-queen! Next time I ship!"

Staszko has 182,000 now. --JS

6:35pm: Kings -- and kings! -- over queens
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

When Elie Saad opened with a raise from under the gun, he probably didn't expect what would soon ensue. After it folded around to Piotr Franczak in the small blind who reraised, well, he probably didn't expect it, either. We'll guess as well that Dariusz Szoen in the big blind didn't anticipate it either after pushing his short stack in from the big blind.

And the dealer, well, she probably wasn't thinking it would go the way it did, either.

Sufficiently intrigued?

After Szoen's push, Saad and Franczak would get their stacks in as well, with the latter having everyone covered. The tabling of hands followed:

Szoen: K♦K♣
Saad: K♥K♠
Franczak: Q♣Q♠

The 4♣A♦7♠ had others talking about the aces they'd folded, then the 7♥ turn and T♦ river meant the all-in players had survived. That's when the dealer expertly went to work dividing up the loot, with Szoen and Saad splitting the main pot and Saad getting a considerably larger side one.

Franczak survived the ordeal, ending with about 115,000, while Szoen was playing 85,000 the next hand. Meanwhile Saad has bounded up to 325,000. --MH

6:20pm: Sergeev going soft
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

The EPT has a travelling band of massage therapists (Thee Best Hands) that are as familiar to the players as all us regular media and staff. They work long hours but are well compensated for their time. They've have had a slower than normal week here in Malta though. Well, most of them have.

There's one particular massage therapist that no other player has had a chance to hire, as Segey Sergeev seems to have a monopoly on her. For the entire time we've seen him play, she's been stood behind him rubbing his shoulders. He's played all the 10 and 25ks and the days have been long, so the work must be exhausting.

He's still in the Main Event but relaxed shoulders couldn't help him beat Brian Altman in a pot. Altman raised to 5,100 and Sergeev defended his big blind. The flop spread 7♥4♥4♠ and Altman continued for 4,000. Sergeev check-called and both went on to check the 8♦ turn. The river was the Q♣ and Sergeev check-folded to a 12,000 bet to drop to 90,000. Altman moved up to 170,000. --MC

6:15pm: An update from the PLO
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

A €10,000 pot-limit Omaha event got started today and, as you'd expect, it's attracted a host of top names. There's been 24 entrants so far (late registration is open until 22:10pm local time) with Sam Greenwood, Juha Helppi, Theo Jorgensen, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Martin Kozlov, Jorryt van Hoof, Emil Patel and Anthony Zinno among the entrants. --NW

6:15pm: A few counts
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

A few notable counts:

NameCountryChips
Dmitry YurasovRussia425000
Dominik PankaPoland395000
Sarah HerzaliFrance390000
Guillaume ValleFrance350000
Xixiang LuoChina300000
Louis CartariusGermany280000
Gianfranco VisalliItaly270000
Usman SiddiqueUK225000
Piotr FranczakPoland205000
Eugene KatchalovUkraine200000
Martin StaszkoCzech Republic185000
Dan ShakUSA145000
Ludovic GeilichUK115000
James AkenheadUK105000
Stephen ChidwickUK100000
Sylvain LoosliFrance100000
Frederik JensenDenmark98000
Ismael BojangGermany96000
Fabrice SoulierFrance75000
Ole SchemionGermany56000
Maria HoUSA53000
Paul NeweyUK48000
Gaelle BaumannFrance23000


6:15pm: From Pole to Pole
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Following an under-the-gun open to 5,200, Jaroslaw Kowalski called from the next seat over and it folded around to his fellow Polish player Grzegorz Grochulski in the big blind who three-bet to 15,600. The middle man stepped aside, then after Kowalski paused a few beats he announced he was all-in and Grochulski called in a flash.

Grochulski tabled his A♠A♣ first, which visibly lessened Kowalski's enthusiasm about his K♠K♥. The flop came A♥2♠J♦ to improve Grochulski further to a set, and by the 6♣ turn Kowalski was already drawing dead.

Grochulski was up to about 128,000 after that one. Kowalski was about to head for the exit when the hand was through, but a count showed he still has a little less than 10,000 left. --MH

6:10pm: Blind on blind battle turns to war
Level 13 - 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

The were nothing seemingly out of the ordinary about this hand at first. The action had folded around to the small blind and Joris Ruijs wanted to know how much Victor Ilyukhin was playing before he made any decisions. "About 100K," Ilyukhin said, and this prompted Ruijs to merely complete from the small blind.

Would there be any limper's tax? There would be, as Ilyukhin raised to 7,500. Ruijs asked the dealer to confirm the amount and he then raised to 23,400. This sent Ilyukhin into the tank, and when he emerged he raised all-in, Ruijs took a look back at his cards and made the call. It'd gone from a limp to a 200,000 chip pot in double quick time.

Ilyukhin: A♣A♦
Ruijs: J♦J♥

A 5♦6♠8♥8♣A♠ run out kept Ilyukhin in front and upon the river card hitting he got to his feet and yelled, "Yeah!" He was all-in for 96,700 and doubles to an above average 197,000, while Ruijs drops to 22,800. --NW

6:05pm: Fast slowed down
Level 13 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (400 ante)

Dietrich Fast was making great progress in this Main Event with a 190,000 stack at the break, but Level 13 is proving unlucky for the man who took down the first €10K of this festival. He made it 5,500 to go from the cutoff only to be three-bet to 15,500 by Louis Cartarius in the small blind. Fast made the call, and the two saw a K♦4♣5♣ flop, which Cartarius would continue on for 15,500 once again. Fast called.

The dealer burned and turned the 7♣ and now the bet was 21,500 from Cartarius. Fast took his time and thought it through and decided to make the call. Finally the K♣ river hit, bringing four clubs as well as pairing the board. Cartarius decided not to fire a third bullet and checked, as did Fast behind him, much to Cartarius' chagrin. He flipped the A♣J♠ for the nut flush, and Fast mucked.

Cartarius is up to 310,000 now, while Fast has slipped to 108,000. --JS

6pm: Good day to be called Guillaume
Level 13 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (400 ante)

Tournament staff conducted a full count of chips at the recent break, and we have the fruits of their labour on the chip-count page. It's a good day to be called Guillaume, that's all I can say. See what I mean over there.

guillaume_diaz_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Guillaume Diaz: Leader

5:57pm: Counterfeit Schemion
Level 13 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (400 ante)

Alessandro Longobardi had only 15,000 when it folded to him on the button, and he tossed them over the line. Ole Schemion was in the small blind and he made the call, before the big blind folded.

Longobardi was in great shape with the K♦Q♣ against the German's Q♥J♠, and both paired up on the Q♠3♥A♥ flop. The J♥ turn gave Schemion the lead though; a lead he'd hold onto for all of five seconds before the A♣ counterfeited his jacks and gave both aces and queens. Longobardi's king kicker played and he doubled to 36,800, while Schemion has 49,500. --JS

ole_schemion_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Ole Schemion

5:55pm: Everybody do the re-raise-shove
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

There was the locomotion, the stroll, the twist, and the mashed potato. But when the blinds go up and the stacks go down, the latest craze is the re-raise-shove.

Those stacks of 15-20 big blinds or so work for some making the move. As the level began, it was Serdar Demiroglu shoving a stock of 41,400 over a Nicolino Di Carlo open, forcing a fold and claiming the pot. Then at a neighbouring table Felipe Costa watched Elie Saad raise, then Costa did the same with 35,000 and he won without further resistance as well.

There's 110 left, so they are 23 eliminations off the money. And dozens more re-raise-shoves as well, we suspect. --MH

5:25pm: Let's take a break

Two more levels down, the players are off once more on another 20-minute break. When they return they'll play two more at which point those still with chips will call it a night. --MH


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5:20pm: But it was suited
Level 12 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Those suited aces can get a player in trouble, especially when the bubble is on the horizon, making it an optimal time apply pressure. It sucks when your opponent has the biggest non-paired ace.

The action folded around to reigning UKIPT London champion forever Usman Siddique in the cutoff and he raised. Grzegorz Grochulski was in the next seat and three-bet to 11,600. Siddique came back with a four-bet to 21,800 and an insta-call all-in for 111,700 when Grochulski jammed.

Siddique: A♦K♣
Grochulski: A♥7♥

The board ran 6♠3♦J♣4♣9♦ and Grochulski dropped down to a near-critical 37,000. --MC

5:20pm: Baumann benefits from Yurasov's generosity
Level 12 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

After winning the last reported hand, Dmitry Yurasov has a big stack, and as such he can afford to splash around a little. Gaelle Baumann heard the splash, and has ensured that some of Yurasov's fluttering chips come her way by doubling up.

Yurasov made it 4,500 to go in the cutoff and Baumann shoved for 36,800 on the button. Back on the Russian, Yurasov looked a little sheepish but did indeed make the call for little more than 10% of his stack. He had A♥8♦, but Baumann had that crushed with A♣Q♣. The A♠J♠K♥7♥2♣ board paired both, but the queen kicker shipped the pot Baumann's way. She's up to 78,400, while Yurasov is still very healthy with roughly 315,000. --JS

5:15pm: Yurasov on a tear
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

About 45 minutes ago we reported that, as a result of losing a three-way all-in, Dmitry Yurasov had dropped to 156,000. He's now up to 370,000. Part of that increase came from winning a pot against Dan Shak (see below, 4:45pm), but he's been busy since then.

The Russian eliminated Roman Ermakov, I missed the hand but arrived in time to see the pot being pushed Yurasov's way and to see that he had T♠7♥ to Ermakov's A♠J♠. I could just about make out two sevens on the flop before the board was pulled into the muck in preparation for the next hand. He won that one as well with a pre-flop three-bet after Pierre Calamusa had opened. --NW

5:10pm: Herzali and Kitai move in sight of Panka
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Two more players have built themselves stacks of more than 350,000 as Sarah Herzali and Davidi Kitai have both enjoyed a fantastic past 30 minutes.

Herzali has around 375,000 now after scoring a double knock-out of both Bartlomiej Machon and Asker Aloev, while Kitai just continues his relentless pressure and has about 355,000.

I didn't see the hand that Herzali won (beyond the tournament staff collecting the discarded ID cards of her vanquished opponents), but I did see Kitai win a decent-ish pot from Alexander Debus.

Debus opened to 4,500 from mid-position and Kitai raised to 15,000 on the button. Debus called for a 2♠5♥9♥ flop. Debus checked, but Kitai bet 13,500. And then after the K♣ came on the turn, Debus check-folded to Kitai's bet of 28,000.

Kitai is on a table with another former EPT champion, Roberto Romanello, and word is that the this will become the EPT Live feature table after the next break.

Kitai is in fine form. He has made the money already at this festival in both the €10,000 hold'em and the €25,000 High Roller. -- HS


8G2A1710_Davidi_Kitai_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Kitai keeps on keeping on

5:05pm: Delgado left out in the cold
Level 12 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

It may be hot outside but the temperature is cool indoors. This blogger has seen a number of coolers today, and just witnessed one more.

Spanish star Vicente Delgado has hit the rail after a button, small blind set-up. The action folded around to Stefano Terziani on the button and he raised to 4,500. Delgado had 42,000 and in they went. It's always a bad sign when your opponent snap-calls rather than asking for a count, and that's exactly what Terziani did.

Delgado: A♥Q♥
Terziani: Q♣Q♠

The board ran a very royal Q♦K♣K♥T♠A♠ to see Terziani flop a full house. He moved up to 155,000. --MC


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5:00pm: Latest notable chip counts
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Andras Nemeth won a big pot to move up to 160,000 from half of that a short while ago. Sarah Herzali has also gone big as has Dominik Panka who overtakes Guillaume Valle to lead the Main Event. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


NEIL0671_Sarah_Behja_Herzali_Gaelle_Baumann_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Sarah Behja Herzali sharing a laugh with Gaelle Baumann earlier

4:50pm: Happy days for Diaz
Level 12 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (300 ante)

Martin Staszko made it 4,200 from the cutoff, but that bet would be raised pretty quickly. Guillaume Diaz was on the button and tossed out 12,500, which big blind Hady El Asmar would match. Staszko thought better of it and opted to watch from the sidelines.

The 6♦4♦2♥ flop brought checks from both, and the J♣ turn also got a check from El Asmar. Diaz then made a delayed continuation bet to 15,500, and El Amar made the call.

An A♥ river made sure there'd be no further action and El Asmar turned over his T♦T♠ with a hope and a prayer. However, Diaz had been three-betting a bit light with the J♦9♦ but flopped a flush draw and hit his jack on the turn.

El Asmar let out a big sigh and drops to 80,000, while Diaz is sitting pretty with 350,000. He didn't play much of a part in this one, but Staszko has 168,000, in case you were wondering. --JS

4:45pm: Don't bluff the station
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

The action folded around to Dmitry Yurasov and the Russian PokerStars qualifier made it 4,500 to play. He got rid of all but Dan Shak, as the Day 1A chip leader called from the big blind. On the 3♣5♠T♠ flop Shak check-called a bet of 5,200 and the 7♥ fell on the turn. Again Shak checked and once more Yurasov made a play for the pot, he fired out 12,500 only for Shak to check-raise to 35,000. This put Yurasov on the spot, but he elected to call which took the two players to a 2♥ river.

First to act, Shak slid out a bet of 40,000 and Yurasov went into the tank. He had 97,000 back and cut out the 40,000 required and did an inventory of his chips. Cogs turned and Yurasov eventually called. Shak turned over A♠3♠ and Yurasov showed K♠7♦ to take the pot. He's up to 230,000 and Shak is down to 160,500.

"Don't bluff the station," said Pierre Calamusa to Shak at the end of the hand. --NW

4:45pm: Can Pecheux philosophize about his exit? 
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Erwann Pecheux was short so didn't seem too disappointed when he busted. Still, must be somewhat annoying to run A-K into kings in the blinds.  

The action folded to Simon Amyot on the button and he limped in. Pecheux was in the small blind and moved all-in for 34,600. Bart Maes was in the big blind and tanked for a while before calling. Maybe he was trying to lure Amyot in, but if didn't work, if so.

Pecheux: A♠K♠
Maes: K♥K♦

The board ran 8♠6♠Q♣9♥3♠ to seal Pecheux's elimination. --MC

4:40pm: Clinging on versus winning
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

With only about 22,000 in his stack, Johan Guilbert turned to Ole Schemion and said, "I just want to make in the money."

Schemion and Guilbert weren't in a conversation or anything, so Schemion had to pop out an ear bud to hear again what was being said. "I said, 'I just want to make in the money,'" Guilbert repeated.

"Who doesn't?" Schemion said, sympathetically.

"I just want to win," Andre DiFelice said from the other end of the table.

"Who doesn't?" Schemion said.

It might not be the wisest move announcing your intention to nit it up to a player of Schemion's calibre, but then Guilbert sprang a surprise. He open-shoved all-in. Perhaps this was a ploy to disguise the strength of his hand.

If it was, we will never know. Everyone folded.

With 124 players left and 87 paid, the bubble is hovering somewhere over the Mediterranean preparing to float into this room later today.

"It's not so far away," Schemion said.

Even if Guilbert doesn't manage to cling on, he can look back on a decent EPT Malta festival. He took fourth in the IPT Main Event earlier this week.

Addendum: As we were writing up this little story, the last chapter of Guilbert's Main Event suddenly arrived as he has been eliminated about 30 spots shy of his goal. -- HS

4:35pm: Latest notable chip counts
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Big moves up for Dominik Panka, Davidi Kitai, and Piotr Franczak but it's still Guillaume Valle in the lead with close to 400,000. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


8G2A1917_Guillaume_Valle_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Guillaume Valle on top

4:30pm: Bojang gets slow rolled, but he ain't mad
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

"Slow roll!" said Dan Shak. "Well, he got slow rolled by the dealer, so I can't blame him for that!" replied IPT8 Malta Main Event champ Ismael Bojang.

The "he" in question was Anatoly Korochensky. The hand started with a 3,600 bet from Bojang which Korochensky called on the button, to see an A♥7♥K♣ flop. Bojang chose not to c-bet, letting Korochensky for a bet of 5,600, which was called. The turn came the J♣ and both checked, before the 6♠ river landed. Bojang now led out for 8,500 and Korochensky made a quick call.

Bojang tabled his cards but before any of us could get a good luck at them the dealer picked them up in order to place them above the community cards. After a bit of a fumble the cards were laid, and we saw that Bojang had the A♦Q♠. Korochensky took a look and after five seconds or so he turned his hand over: A♠Q♦. It was a chop.

With the chips safely returned to their former homes, Bojang has 145,000, and Korochensky has around 45,000. --JS


8G2A1680_Ismael_Bojang_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

There he Ismael
 

4:25pm: Three-way collision
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Metaphorically speaking, Bastian Dohler, Song Hun Lee, and Dmitry Yurasov were driving their cars happily along a road towards a T-junction, but none of them had any intention of applying the brakes. When we extend the metaphor to take into account their chip stacks, Lee was in a Mini; Dohler in a mid-range cabriolet; and Yurasov in an 18-wheeler. The Mini is now at the wreckers yard, while the others both drive on.


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To be less oblique: Dohler opened to 5,200 from the hijack and Lee shoved from the cutoff for his last 22,600. Yurasov, with a stack of more than 210,000, re-shoved from the button but Dohler then called all-in. As I said, no one had any intention of applying the brakes.

They flipped up their hands:

Dohler: Q♥Q♠
Lee: A♠7♣
Yurasov: A♦J♥

It immediately looked grim for Lee on the flop of T♥8♥Q♦. The A♣ on the turn changed little, then the 7♦ on the river was only a mirage for Lee.

Although it made him the second-best hand, he had a shorter stack than both his opponents and so it all went in Dohler's favour. Dohler, a PokerStars qualifier from Germany, stacks up a total of around 170,000 now, while Yurasov is cut down to about 156,000.

For Lee, there is no more road. -- HS

4:20pm: Could've been bigger
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Quite how this pot stayed as small as it did is something only the two players involved will know the answer to. It all started when Damien Luis raised it up to 3,600, a bet that was only called by Alexandros Kolonias.

On the 9♦6♥K♥ flop Luis fired out a bet of 3,800. Call from Kolonias. The T♠ fell on the turn and there followed a check from Luis, a bet of 9,000 from Kolonias, and a call from Luis. The J♠ river was quickly checked by Luis, but Kolonias tanked before also checking. He showed 6♦6♠ for a flopped set and Luis opened J♥T♥ for a flopped straight flush draw which had turned into two pair.

At the end of that hand, the table was broken and Kolonias moved to the feature table with his stack of 75,100, while Luis takes roughly 89,000 to his new table. --NW

4:15pm: Latest notable chip counts
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Frenchman Guillaume Valle remains in the lead, but with a considerable gap between him and the chasers. He's up to nearly 400,000 now. There are also big moves up for Davidi Kitai and Piotr Franczak, while the likes of Andras Nemeth and Maria Ho have endured difficult levels.

Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


8G2A1685_Maria_Ho_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Maria Ho looking to turn things around

4:10pm: A whole 'nother level
Level 12 - 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

That's right. The price of poker is going up. Just 132 players remain heading into Level 12. A reminder -- the top 87 make the cash. --MH

4:05pm: Board no Helppi; Calamusa climbs
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Juha Helppi pushed his small stack all-in from the cutoff seat only to see Pierre Calamusa reraise-push from the button one seat over. The blinds passed, and Helppi tabled 9♦7♦ to show two live cards versus Calamusa's A♠8♦.

The board ran out 3♣6♠Q♣A♦K♣, however, meaning Helppi was drawing dead by the turn. The Finn is out, while the Frenchman climbs to 168,000. --MH


8G2A1885_Pierre_Calamusa_EPT13_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Calamusa collects

4:00pm: Battle of Britain
Level 11 - Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Peter Akery just couldn't shift Ben Philipps off a hand. The two were plying their trade on the feature table in the last level but this battle took place with an audience of one (if you take out the dealer and players from the count).

Akery raised from the hijack and Philipps peeled from the big blind. The former continued for 4,200 on a Q♠8♣K♥ flop and the latter check-called. Philipps did the same for another 4,800 on the 2♠ turn before the 7♦ river was checked through. Philipps opened K♠J♦ and Akery mucked to drop to 45,000. Philipps powered up to 95,000. --MC

3:55pm: Ho, Sergeev, Katchalov clash
Level 11 - Blinds 800/1,600 (200 ante)

Mario Ho was under the gun and she made an open to 3,600. After a fold the action was on Sergey Sergeev (who has resumed his mammoth massage - from the same massage therapist, mind you - that took place all day on Day 1A and all day yesterday in the single day event), and the Russian made the call. Eugene Katchalov was on the button and he came along to see a flop too.

It fell 2♣6♣K♠ and Ho made a continuation bet for 4,700. That scared no one and both Sergeev and Katchalov wanted to see a turn. The dealer laid the J♠ and that slowed Ho, who opted not to fire another bullet. She checked, and now Sergeev took control with a 13,000 bet. Katchalov gave his hand up quickly, and after a little thought Ho let her hand go too.

eugene_katchalov_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Eugene Katchalov

Sergeev now has 101,000, Katchalov is playing 193,000, and Ho sits with 74,000. --JS

3:55pm: Nikolov nicks Jensen
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

The board showed 9♥8♣Q♠3♠K♦, and with around 30,000 in the middle Martin Nikolov pushed all-in for his last 42,000 or so. Frederick Jensen called the push, and when Nikolov tabled K♥Q♣ for two pair Jensen moved to muck, but had to show his A♥9♣.

Nikolov bounces back up with that pot, and now he and Jensen are both right around 110,000. --MH

3:50pm: News in brief
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

- Davidi Kitai's stack has grown to 230,000 after he made a flush and got paid. We missed the hand, but got there just as the pot was being pushed in his direction. Thomas Mjeldheim couldn't beat his opponent's ten high flush.
- Krzysztof Stuchlik has busted. He was down to 16,900 when he moved all-in with K♥J♥. Bart Maes was waiting in the next seat with A♦K♦ though, made the call, and busted him.
- Michael Kane was able to hold just as Maes did. He called Joris Ruijs's three-bet shove for 39,100 holding A♦K♦, but wasn't able to hold versus A♣2♣. A deuce on the river dropped Kane down to 110,00. --MC

3:45pm: Jensen makes a big laydown
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

There was a pot of some 70-75,000 in the middle and a complete board of 4♦J♣8♠7♥K♣ on the felt. "All-in," announced Thomas Lentrodt and he pushed his stack of 65,200 into the middle. His opponent in the hand was Frederik Jensen. The EPT8 Madrid champion addressed Lentrodt, "I have a really strong hand, do you have a straight?"

With no response forthcoming Jensen continued to agonise over his decision, he had about 130,000 back so it was a call for almost exactly half his stack. After more deliberation the Dane elected to fold and preserve his stack. "Show one," pleaded Jensen but Lentrodt did not oblige. --NW

3:40pm: Too early for Urlings exit
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

As the field shrinks under 150, Jordi Urlings just open-raised his last 12,500 and hoped after doing so he wouldn't be joining the railward-directed parade.

It folded to Dmitry Yurasov in the small blind who after confirming the amount called the shove, and after Gaelle Baumann folded the big blind Urlings showed A♦T♠. That was a good hand to have versus Yurasov's A♥3♥. It was also good after the 9♥6♥J♣Q♣Q♠ board, albeit after a flush-draw sweat.

Urlings is back up to 28,000 while Yurasov slips to 85,000. --MH

3:30pm: Latest notable chip counts
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Frenchman Guillaume Valle remains in the lead with about 300,000. Behind him the likes of Dan Shak and Dominik Panka continue to do well as does Chinese player Xixiang Luo. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB

3:30pm: Sormunen sent off
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

With the board showing 8♠A♠2♣T♦ and close to 50,000 in the middle, Pasi Sormunen pushed all-in for nearly 75,000, thereby testing Guillaume Diaz with a big decision.

Diaz rightly took a while to make his choice, finally setting out calling chips.

"You got it," said Sormunen as Diaz did, no doubt words he liked hearing. Diaz tabled A♥3♥ for aces, then saw Sormunen show his K♦K♣ for a lesser pair as he stood up.

pasi_sormunen_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Pasi Sormunen

The 5♦ completed the board, and Sormunen congratulated Diaz once more before departing. Diaz bounces up to around 245,000 with that one. --MH

3:20pm: EPT champs toiling away
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

We're at the penultimate EPT tournament so there's not a lot of time to left to claim one, or a second one, before the series is rebranded.

Jean Montury and Roberto Romanello already have a trophy back home, and would dearly love a second one. Vicky Coren-Mithell is the only two-time champ, and her titles were one in different countries - Montury has the chance to be the first player to win the same title twice, a chance that'll also be on Romanello's radar come EPT Prague in December.

jean_montury_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Jean Montury

Montury is suffering though. He's down to 45,000 after leaving a bunch of chips in the middle before folding to Nicolino Di Carlo. He opened to 3,800 from the hijack and was called by the Italian from the next seat. The board rolled out 9♥3♦A♠3♥3♣ with Montury betting 4,100 and 7,500 before checking the river. Di Carlo stuck with him and then moved all-in on the river. Fold.

A few moments later, on a nearby table, Romanello was also folding. He opened to 3,600 from early position and was called by Dan Shak in the next seat and Ludovic Geilich on the button. The flop fell 9♥K♠K♥ and Romanello continued for 3,100. Only Geilich called to the 6♥ turn where he bet 6,500 when the action was checked to him. Romanello folded.

roberto_romanello_ept13_malta_day2.jpg

Roberto Romanello

Romanello - 185,000
Shak - 240,000
Geilich - 105,000

--MC

3:15pm: Brzeski takes from Zoufri
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Sometimes the most interesting poker hands are the ones that almost go to showdown, but at the last minute don't. They not only leave you wanting more, they leave you wondering what each player had.

Such a hand just played out between Pawel Brzeski and Abdelhakim Zoufri, with Brzeski opening to 3,500 from under the gun, Zoufri three-betting to 10,100 from the next seat along and Brzeski calling.

So a big pot was brewing by the time the dealer fanned a T♣9♦2♠ flop, Zoufri c-bet 6,700 and Brzeski made the call. Neither player bet the 5♦ turn and the Q♣ completed the board.


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Again Brzeski checked and this time Zoufri did fire, he bet 16,000 into the pot of roughly 35,000. There would be no call from his Polish opponent though as Brzeski check-raised to 35,000 total. Interesting.

Zoufri momentarily looked as if he was going to call but instead he folded and the pot was awarded to Brzeski. He's up to 130,000 while Zoufri drops to just over 50,000. --NW

3:10pm: Diaz defends, collects
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Slow... slow... slow... quick.

A shorthand description of the pace between a recent blind battle between Guillaume Diaz (small) and Tomas Jozonis (big). Pre-flop, flop, and the turn each took a couple of minutes, while the river was a rapid check-check.

Pre-flop involved a bet, three-bet and call. The flop was J♠8♠8♦, followed by a Diaz check-call. The J♣ turn elicited a similar sequence, with Diaz check-calling again. By then the pot approached 70,000.

Then came the 8♥ river and the swift punctuation to the proceedings. Diaz revealed A♥8♥ for eights full, and Jozonis mucked. That's 117,000 for Diaz while Jozonis has 45,000. --MH

3:05pm: Schemion doubles
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Ole Schemion was one of the biggest stacks in the room at the start of play, but it had dwindled to one of the smallest shortly after the level break. He got it all-in with pocket jacks and doubled through pocket fives. He had 36,700 and now has double. -- HS

3pm: All the lonely players, where do they all come from?
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Wonder no more, Mr McCartney:
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2:55pm: More choppy seas ahead for Poker Mama
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

For any poker obsessive, playing on the EPT is a dream come true. You get to cross swords with some of the game's top stars and test your mettle in the toughest environment. But sometimes it can go too far.

Yesterday, Jacqueline "Poker Mama" Cachia had Peter Eichhardt, Dominik Panka and Javier Zapatero for company. Today she sits with Roberto Romanello, Dan Shak, Ismael Bojang and Ludovic Geilich, the latter two to her immediate left.

By her own admission, Cachia can't get enough poker and plays pretty much any tournament for any buy-in on this island. But she has been blessed/cursed like no other by her table draws this week.

With a stack of about 30,000, she knows she is in shove/fold mode at the moment, and it suits her fine. But one suspects she would dearly love to put an EPT Main Event cash alongside her name, in addition to the seniors' event title she won this time last year. -- HS

2:50pm: Back at it
Level 11 - 800/1,600 (ante 200)

With 160 players remaining, play has resumed. --MH

2:35pm: Latest chip counts

They've reached the first break of Day 2 in the Main Event, and it's Valle, Shak, and Panka vying for the lead.  Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB

2:30pm: Break time

Having reached the end of Level 10, players are now taking their first 20-minute break of the day. --MH

2:25pm: Sometimes the button has it
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Poker strategy is constantly changing, but one constant is that the button is the best position at the table.

On a recent hand I saw it was Tomas Jozonis who had that advantage and he raised it up. Thi Xoa Nguyen was in the small blind and she either had a good hand, didn't believe him (or a bit of both), and reraised to 6,600. Back on Jozonis he four-bet to 15,300. Nguyen tanked and then folded. --NW

2:20pm: Hwang fights fire with fire
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Yung Hwang has found himself sandwiched between Ben Pollak and the chip-leading Guillaume Valle this afternoon, but has just given them both a dose of their own aggressive medicine.

After Pollak raised to 2,800 from mid-position, Hwang called in the hijack. Valle raised to 11,000, apparently targeting Pollak, but Pollak said that he was happy to continue with the hand and called.

Hwang might have been expected to fold here, but re-squeezed the squeezers with a shove for 56,600.

Valle fled for the valleys, which left Pollak with a tough decision. He pondered a long time, cutting out the calling chips and determining how much he'd be left with after a misstep (about 80,000). He then said, "I think you have ace-king" and folded. -- HS

2:15pm: Battle of the November Niners
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Sylvain Loosli turned a beauty of a card against James Akenhead, but failed to extract any more chips from that point on.

Akenhead raised from early position and Loosli defended his big blind. The Brit continued for 2,800 on a T♠9♣2♥ flop and Loosli check-called. The turn and river came J♠, then J♣, and Loosli calmly checked each street over to Akenhead who thought about firing both times, but checked back twice.

Loosli opened K♣Q♥ for a straight and Akenhead mucked to drop to 70,000, which is still great seeing as he came back for Day 2 with just 15,400. Loosli moved up to 65,000. --MC

2:05pm: Sorrentino busts in typical fashion
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: with 175 players still alive in this tournament, we're not finding the details of all the eliminations. It's impossible. However, if we happen to miss the full hand history of a player getting knocked out, there's a very significant chance it follows this kind of template. Raffaele Sorrentino hit the rail in what can only be described as absolutely typical fashion.

Marcello Gavazzeni opened the hijack to 2,600. Action folded to Sorrentino in the small blind and he moved all-in for about 19,000. Gavazzeni, with about 60,000 in his stack, called.

Sorrentino: 8♠8♦
Gavazzeni: A♦J♦

The flop ran 2♦7♥J♣Q♣5♥ and the jack on the flop dealt the decisive blow to Sorrentino.

So it was raise, jam, call pre-flop (medium stack vs. short stack). That's typical. And it was a medium pair versus over-cards. That's typical, too. If your favourite player suddenly disappears from the chip counts and you can't find how he or she busted, there's a very high chance it was exactly like this. -- HS

1:55pm: Romanello in good place, despite wrong read
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

"Can only be queen-jack," declared Roberto Romanello on the river in hand versus Kamran Aliyev. He was wrong and paid a small price to drop to a still very healthy 176,000.

The Welshman was in the big blind and defended after a raise came his way from Aliyev in the cutoff. The flop fanned 4♠5♣K♣ and Romanello check-called 3,800 before both players checked the A♥ turn. The board filled out with the 9♠ and Romanello checked to face a 9,500 bet. He tanked for a while, said his line, called and mucked upon seeing Aliyev's A♣6♦. --MC

1:50pm: Latest chip counts
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Dominik Panka leapfrogs back into the lead although Guillaume Valle of France is among the top five. Xixiang Luo is also there, while Charlie Carrel and George Danzer depart. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


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Carrel cut down

1:45pm: Another aces versus kings cooler
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Luckily for Simon Amyot, the player on the wrong end of the latest aces versus kings cooler, the pot was a small one.

His opponent, Charalampos Tsivikos, was down to his last 14,400 when he moved all-in with A♠A♥ from early position. Amyot was in the big blind and called with K♥K♦, but couldn't find a third on the J♠2♥Q♣8♣9♠ board. He dropped to around 80,000. --MC

1:40pm: Easy game for Gresel
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Earlier we saw Paul Gresel dispatch an opponent with pocket queens and he's just eliminated another player, this time with aces.

In the hand in question, Petar Petrov shoved for roughly 24,000 from under-the-gun with pocket nines. A fine hand but Gresel reshoved with A♦A♠ and everyone else folded. The 6♦4♦8♣8♦5♣ board meant Gresel's aces held and he climbs to 105,000.

"First aces in two days," said Gresel as he stacked chips. --NW

1:30pm: Lucky Player 3
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Poker encourages players not to show their emotions, but sometimes things get taken to extremes. Arriving to Table 19 a few minutes ago, it was clear that three players were all-in at the same time, but no one was displaying anything even approaching anxiety, nor was anyone evidently jubilant. It wasn't until the board was dealt all the way to the end, and two players departed and a third started stacking their chips that it became clear who had what.

So, the hands:

Hand 1: A♥Q♠
Hand 2: 6♣6♠
Hand 3: J♥J♠

The two "All In" triangles hovered over the first two hands.

The board ran T♠9♠9♣2♣7♣ meaning the jacks remained the best hand. It was at that point that both Mikhail Petrov and Luis Rodriguez Cruz revealed themselves as Players 1 & 2, respectively, as they wandered from the table.

Meanwhile Benjamin Pollak was the lucky Player 3, who stacked up 110,000 chips.

Very soon afterwards, Guillaume Valle moved into the seat previously occupied by Petrov, bringing a stack of 240,000. That meant Pollak's tenure as big stack at the table didn't even last one hand. -- HS

1:25pm: Latest chip counts
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Dan Shak is back out front in the Main Event with Eugene Katchalov and Roberto Romanello enjoying a profitable spell. Meanwhile Benny Spindler has taken a hit, as has Frederik Jensen. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


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Spindler looking to spin back up

1:20pm: Level up
Level 10 - 600/1,200 (ante 200)

We glide effortlessly into Level 10, with blinds now 600/1,200 (200 ante). There are 192 players remaining.


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Day 2 marches on

1:15pm: Danger zone Danzer
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

As the first level of the day came to a close, Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer was looking to improve his situation from being the short stack at his table.

The big stack Armin Mette had opened to 2,200 from the cutoff, and from the blinds Danzer shoved, but couldn't get Mette to stick around.

Mette is stacking 212,000 to start Level 10, while Danzer continues to battle with about 15,000. --MH

1:15pm: Andreys falls to Delgado
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Lawrence Andreys fell to Vicente Delagado in the very last hand of Level 9. The pot win put the Spaniard up to 175,000.

Stefano Terziani opened the pot with a raise to 2,200 from the hijack. He was called in two spots before Andreys squeezed all-in for 27,000 from the big blind. Delgado had called the opening raise and was the only player to call the shove.

Andreys: K♠J♣
Delgado: 8♣8♠

The board ran 4♣6♠A♠T♣5♠ to see the eights hold. Good job no king or jack came as Charlie Carrel, sat to Delagado's left, kept telling him (with a cheeky smile) that he had folded an eight as the board ran out. --MC


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A glad Delgado

1:10pm: Tedeschi takes a tumble
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

French on French action to report with Christophe Larquemin and Paul Tedeschi tangling. The former opened to 2,500 from middle position, Tedeschi three-bet to 7,500 from the button and Larquemin then moved all-in for 17,100 and Tedeschi did that thing where you instantly splash chips into the pot to indicate a call.

Larquemin: Q♣Q♠
Tedeschi: A♠Q♥

The 4♠6♠4♦T♥J♥ board meant Larquemin doubled and Tedeschi is left with 16,600. --NW

1:05pm: Jensen so curious
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Frederick Jensen, who had a barnstorming finish to Day 1A, has dropped down around 160,000 after he begrudgingly folded on the river in a hand versus Louis Cartarius.

The former EPT champion opened to 2,300 from UTG+1 and called after Cartarius three-bet to 5,600 from the next seat. The board ran 2♥5♠8♣J♥A♠ with the Dane checking to face bets of 5,600, 11,400 and 24,900 on each street. He called the first two bets but as soon as the river bet was made, he asked how much and then went into the tank. Cartarius only had 28,500 back so most of his stack was in the middle.

After a few minutes he folded and Mikolaj Zawadzki, who was sat at the table watching the hand play out, said to Jensen, "I was about to call the clock - it was a good fold."

"I was so curious," said Jensen, who had already had a request to see one card turned down by Catarius. --MC

1pm: Autio pilot
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Olli Autio was all-in, but just barely. His tiny stack wouldn't amount to much even if he were to survive after being committed preflop versus both Charalampos Tsivikos and Karmran Aliyev.

Things appeared even less favourable for Autio when Tsivikos bet into the side pot on a T♦7♥J♥ flop, Aliyev raised, and Tsivikos called. Meanwhile Autio checked his phone, letting the hand play out by itself.

Then Tsivikos bet again after the 8♦ turn, and only when Aliyev went all-in did Tsivikos relent, folding his A♦A♣ face-up.

Aliyev showed 7♦7♠ for a set of sevens, but Autio said "triple-up" as he turned over T♣9♠ for a straight. The 5♣ river kept Autio in the game, but just barely. He's got less than 2,000, Tsivikos has 17,000 or so, and Aliyev 50,000. --MH

12:55pm: Eichhart can't escape, must exit
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Peter Eichhart had pocket aces. And the first of the five community cards was an ace -- top set! But by the river the board showed A♠7♥9♥Q♦2♥, and when his opponent Martin Nikolov bet all-in, Eichhart didn't have the nuts he'd enjoyed pre-flop, flop, and turn.

But Eichhart made the call to put himself at risk, and Nikolov showed him the bad news -- K♥J♥ for a flush. Eichhart showed his A♣A♦ before departing, and now Nikolov has about 155,000. --MH

12:50pm: Latest chip counts
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Dominik Panka has moved upwards in the first half hour of the day. Meanwhile Ole Schemion has started the day in the opposite fashion, losing half of his stack. Check out the chip count page for the latest notable counts. - SB


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Schemion slips

12:49pm: GG for Gheorghe Gradinaru
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

With only 10,200 left Gheorghe Gradinaru was well and truly in short-stack territory. The Romanian found a hand he liked though and committed his chips and he picked up a call from Paul Gresel. Actually, it was a raise as the Dutchman shoved all-in.

Everyone else folded, Gradinaru revealed 6♥6♦ and was in trouble against the Q♠Q♥ that Grasel held. The 7♣5♣Q♣ flop all but ended the hand as a contest, but the 2♣ turn meant Gradinaru did have some chop outs. However, the J♦ wasn't one of his get out of jail cards and he was eliminated. --NW

12:47pm: Another can't handle the heat of the studio lights
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

It's been brutal on the EPT Live feature table today, with a third player--Jerwin Pasco--now hitting the rail. They started with eight and three are out already.

Benjamin Phillipps did the damage this time, when his A♦J♦ outraced Pasco's 8♥8♣ all-in pre-flop. The A♥ on the turn was the killer blow. -- HS

12:45pm: Newey avoids joining Ung on the rail
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Senh Ung and Paul Newey - partners in crime on the poker circuit - were drawn next to each other today with a certain George Danzer to their direct left. Ung took Newey out of the €10k re-entry that kicked off the EPT Malta Festival last week, and joined a poker landslide just now that almost took his boss with him.

Tomasz Panek was a last second entry today and his stack had shrunk to less than half of 30,000 when he moved all-in from early position. Ung had even less in the small blind and called all-in. Newey was in the big blind and had a decision. He had a similar sized stack to Panek and after a while, he folded tens saying it was a bad fold.

Panek: A♥Q♥
Ung: 9♠9♣

The board ran Q♣A♦5♥6♠2♦ to make Panek two pair. Ung hit the rail and Newey survives to see another day. --MC

12:42pm: Board blanks for Blenkarn
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Arriving as the board was being dealt 2♣J♦6♦J♠9♠, circumstantial evidence suggested a pre-flop all-in situation involving the at-risk Jeffrey Blenkarn and Anton Bertilsson.

That board was one big blankety-blank for Blenkarn, as he had A♣K♦ and didn't get the help he needed versus Bertilsson's 8♣8♠. Bertilsson -- a runner-up finisher in the EPT11 Prague Main Event and fourth-place finisher in the EPT12 Dublin €25K High Roller -- now has around 155,000. --MH

12:40pm: Eliminations in the first half an hour of Day 2
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

In addition to William Kassouf and Vladimir Troyanovskiy, the following are among the early eliminations today: Seng Ung, Parker Talbot, Benny Glaser, Pratyush Buddiga and Govert Metaal. Talbot only bought in today.

12:35pm: Kassouf runs kings into aces, again
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

You might have thought William Kassouf would fold pocket kings pre-flop these days, especially in light of the cooler that sent him out of the World Series Main Event and made him the most talked about player in poker. But no: he just got his full stack in again pre-flop with K♥K♦ and -- what do you know? -- he was up against aces again.

This was actually three-way. Vladimir Troyanovskiy, with the shortest stack, had 2♠2♥; Kassouf, with the next smallest, had those kings; and Brian Altman, with the most chips, had A♦A♣.


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Troyanovskiy on the brink

The board ran 3♣3♥7♦Q♠7♣ and that was the end of William Kassouf from this tournament. One suspects they're going to change the EPT Live feature table at the first break now too after their golden goose has been slain. -- HS


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SicK-K end (again) sends Kassouf off

12:27pm: Gotta love the "you got me" fist bump
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

There are certain scenes in poker that are just plain fun to witness. An example -- a player successfully bluffs another and shows, and the instinctive reaction from the victim is to acknowledge the other's successful play.

Just now Felix Bleiker raised the button then Joris Ruijs three-bet from the small blind. Action back to Bleiker, he pushed all-in and after a bit of a think Ruijs let his hand go.

Then came the show -- 6♦2♦ from Bleiker -- and Ruijs grinned sheepishly. Before anyone said a word, Ruijs raised his fist and Bleiker did the same, then came the congratulatory bump.

They're talking further about the hand now, with both players sitting with around 105,000. --MH

12:25pm: Not so lucky table No. 7
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

One has to feel a little bit sorry for Dawid Borkowski and Jeroen Soons today. The two players' live earnings are both less than it cost to by into the Main Event, so it must be a big deal making it through the first day. But then they get drawn on to a potential table of death on Day 2.

The other six players at their table, starting from Seat 1 through to Seat 6 (including live earnings), are: Dong Zhao ($143k), Benny Spindler ($4.47 million), Fabrice Soulier ($6 million), Dara O'Kearney ($878k), Mikita Badziakouski ($442k) and Stephen Chidwick ($6.14 million). They've also won huge amounts online too.

Table 7 won't break all day either; good job there's only six levels of play then today.


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Daunting Table 7

Soons took Spindler in a pot, but did it from the somewhat safer position of the button. He opened to 2,300 and Spindler defended from the big blind. The board ran 5♠2♣2♠Q♣K♠ with Soons waiting until the river before betting 3,300. Spindler gave it a good deal of thought but eventually check-folded. --MC

12:20pm: Seidel doubles
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

No, not that one. Maximilian Seidel got the maximum - a double up - in a hand he played against Armando Collado. Collado, who is from Nicaragua, player opened to 3,100 from early position and Seidel came along from the big blind.

On the T♦Q♣8♦ flop Collado c-bet 3,100, Seidel check-raised to 11,100, Collado shoved and Seidel called all-in for 39,800. This all took 10 seconds at most. Collado showed J♣J♥ for a pair of jacks with a gutshot straight draw but he was ahead for now as Seidel held A♦K♦.

He was behind for now but was a 54 percent favourite to win the hand. The 4♠ reduced those odds but the K♠ was a great card for Seidel as it gave him the pot. He doubles to around 87,000 while Collado is down to 30,000. --NW

12:15pm: Hunter and Price last through the door
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Marc Hunter and Ollie Price arrived just as buy-ins closed for today. They are the final two registrants for this Main Event. It seems we have a total field of 466, although that will need to be confirmed. -- HS

12:10pm: Metaal proves destructible
Level 9 - 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Govert Metaal's Day 2 was a short one.

After starting the day with 21,100, he'd dropped just a few chips before getting his stack all-in versus Daniele Colautti, with Metaal's 8♦8♥ enjoying a significant pre-flop edge versus Colautti's 7♥7♦. But a Q♥K♥7♠A♥6♥ runout gave Colautti a winning set, and Metaal's day is done.

Give Colautti about 130,000 going forward. --MH

12:05pm: Early shove gets through
Level 9 - Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

Vicente Delgado sits with a stack of 133,000 overnight, but he now has Charlie Carrel to his direct left. That's Charlie Carrel who last night took the biggest chunk of a three-way ICM chop in the €10,000 Single Day event.

Delgado opened one of the first pots of the day, making it 2,500 to go, and although Carrel let his hand go, Lawrence Andreys shoved his short-stack (of about 16,000) over the top fro the small blind and that forced Delgado to lay it down. Action from the left is likely to become quite familiar for Delgado today. -- HS

12pm: Newbies
Level 9 - Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

At least four players have bought in before play started today. They are: Yang Zhang, Tomasz Panek, Dawid Paczka, Parker Talbot. It looks like one more may also have slipped in at the death, and we'll let you know when we find out his or her identity.

We will play six 75-minute levels today, finishing at around 8pm. -- HS

11:45am: The field converges

It's a sunny Tuesday in Malta, and the survivors of Days 1A and 1B of the EPT Malta Main Event are converging. Today they will likely play into the money--with 20 per cent of the field paid--and it's going to be action-packed as a result. We don't even know the full number of players yet as registration remains open, and we also don't know the size of the prize-pool. All that is to come!

What we do know is that Andras Nemeth is the leader. His Day 1B chip-leading stack was slightly more than Dan Shak's Day 1A chip-leading stack. It'll likely be someone different at the top of the leader board tonight.

Click the links above to see the seat draw and the chip counts and also to watch the action on EPT Live. They're made the obvious choice for the first Main Event TV stars of the week: William Kassouf's table will be up there.

Take a look at the official website of the EPT, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for EPT13 Malta and 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, Martin Harris, Howard Swains and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter:@PokerStarsBlog

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