EPT8 Prague: Day 1B, level 1 & 2 updates (75-150)


2.15pm: Three more eliminated
Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov looked half asleep at the table today. If he needs sleep that much he can now do so all afternoon as he has been eliminated.

Jan Bendik, who made the EPT San Remo final table, has departed as well and was shortly followed by Salvatore Crapanzano.

That's two levels down, the updates will continue in a new post. -- MC

2.10pm: Cheerful little earful
Calling the clock on yourself is not that unusual, but it's at best an unconventional play. But Andreas Imhof was up against an unconventional player in Kroustalis Panagiotis who had moved all-in for 13,000 on a flop of 5♥T♦A♦. Perhaps this was his best option. And besides, Imhof is not a text book player himself.

At first the floor person didn't quite understand. Who had called the clock exactly? There seemed no need. No one was asking for it? No one except for Imhof.

"In which case you have one minute to act," said the floor person back tracking.

In the event Imhof didn't need the full minute. He flicked his cards away, then again as if swatting a fly that wasn't there.

Almost forgotten was Torsten Brinkmann, also in the hand. He called, showing 5♦5♣. Panagiotis turned over A♥K♠.

The turn came T♠, the river 2♥.

"Good luck," said Panagiotis graciously. His first live tournament experience brought to an abrupt halt.

Suddenly Dario Minieri spoke.

"What did you think about for five minutes?" he asked. "You were thinking for five minutes."

Imhof didn't really have an answer to this, only to say that he couldn't work out Panagiotis's range. But what about Brinkmann.

"I forgot about him," he said. "I am minimum as good as he is," he added, pointing at the now vacant seat of Panagiotis.

Dario Minieri

"Yes but what's going on after three minutes," Minieri pressed. "What are you thinking in the fifth minute?"

Imhof admitted he had no answer.

"I'm just curious," added Minieri. -- SB

2.05pm: Don't bluff this Russian
"Nice call, oh my god!" said Leon Bogorachaner to Dmitry Stelmak after he called 10,000 bet on the river of a T♣6♥6♠6♦6♣ board. There was around 13,000 in the middle and Stelmak had called with Q♥J♣, chopping with Bogorachaner who opened Q♠7♠.

"I could understand with a king or an ace, but a queen?" the Israeli went on. Stelmak just sat and smiled. -- MC

2pm: Spring is in the air (inside the Hilton)
A quick saunter around the tournament floor revealed the following developments (and inadvertently made me feel a little like David Attenborough studying the early blossoming of spring in a Czech poker tournament):

- Johnny Lodden snap-folds his late position c-bet to a raise on a 3♣5♠J♠ flop.

- James Mitchell appears to be in full Christmas mode resplendent in a dusty green wooly sweater and burgundy bobble hat.

- Pierre Neuville found a fold on a A♠3♣K♦T♣6♣ board and was shown J♠Q♦ for the nuts. Good pass.

- Dario Minieri looks like he means business. A scowl is plastered to his face, a large stack of 47,000 already building in front of him.

- John Tamaras, third place finisher at EPT Loutraki, wins a pot with two-pair yet remains silent. That won't last long. The Greek, a high stakes blackjack player by his own admission, is not afraid to get involved in verbal warfare and tangled with the likes of Roberto Romanello and McLean Karr on his way to that last final table.

The early stages are as much about not doing something stupid as they are about exploiting the softer spots. Headphones on, kindles out, get grinding. -- RD

1.52pm: The Vandermissen
Kevin Vandermissen is one of nine players to fall this level. The Belgian lost most of his chips with pocket aces to an opponent who flopped a full house after checking in the dark. His last 3,800 chips went in when he squeezed with ace-queen only for the initial raiser to have ace-king.

He is joined by eight other players on the rail that include: Kroustalis Panagiotis, Vladimir Mihailov, Javier Etayo, Lubomir Kudlicka, Marko Serdarusic, Jonathan Roy and Michael Bjorn. -- MC

1.40pm: Bonavena blow up
The sight of Salavatore Bonavena knocking his chair to the ground - or rather trying to if the table hadn't got in the way - is not one you'd normally associate with the happy-go-lucky Italian. Obviously we had to find out what had caused the Bonavena blow up.

The board read Q♠4♠T♣9♥8♠ with Q♦Q♥ in front of Bonavena, J♠J♦ in front of Nicolas Leger. All the money had gone in on the flop with Bonavena needing to avoid running cards to stack up to 65,000. Running cards had appeared leaving Sal Bon with just 5,000 left and an unusually sullen look on his face. Leger up to 60,000. -- RD

1.35pm: 42nd Street fighter
Lex Veldhuis is playing today and is sat just one table along from ElkY, who he recently beat in a kick boxing match for a $200,000 prize pool. We hope no punches will be thrown today!

The Dutch Team PokerStars Pro is going along very nicely after he got three streets on value out of Timofey Vekshin to move up to more than 42,000 chips. The action was three-way to a 5♥J♦Q♠ flop and Velduis' 800 bet was called by Jens Robin Colbin in the big blind and Vekshin from under the gun.

The turn came 6♣ and the action was checked to Veldhuis who bet 2,300. Vekshin was the only caller to the 3♥ river where he checked to Velduis for a third time, who bet 6,500. Vekshin threw in a 25 denomination chip to represent a call but mucked upon seeing his opponent's A♦Q♣. -- MC

1.20pm: I was doing all right
There's a slight dispute on Fabrice Soulier's table regarding which players must show cards and in which situation. Ivo Donev, playing at a nearby table, comes over to watch. If you bump your car at the lights perhaps, anywhere in Europe, Ivo Donev will appear, leaning on your bonnet, as you swap addresses with the guy in the white transit van.

Elsewhere Calvin Anderson just moved up to around 37,000 after a hand with Kroustalis Panagiotis. Anderson had made it 700 in middle position, which Panagiotis raised to 3,000 in the cut off. Andersen responded by making it 5,500 at which point Andersen shoved. Panagiotis called, showing A♣Q♦. He was up against the A♥A♦ of Andersen.

The board ran 9♣3♦7♥2♦8♥ during which Andersen read a book. Panagiotis threw his hands up in the air.

"It's my first time live," he said, to the understanding of the rest of the table who were in the process of reverse engineering the hand. - SB

1.15pm: Blain tank fold
A return to WSOP winner Pius Heinz's table saw Dermot Blain in the action again, this time seemingly making a big fold on the river of a J♠4♠T♣K♠4♦ board. Blain had called 3,400 on the turn but the 11,000 bet from Yann Brosolo on the river was too much. Blain initially looked like calling. He pursed his lips in a silent whistle then wiggled his eyebrows but as time wore on that crying call seemed to become less likely as the Irishman looked to protect his 28,000 remaining chips. He eventually passed. Brosolo showed no sign of relief or exultation. Probably a good fold by Blain. -- Rd

ept prague_day 1b_pius heinz.jpg

WSOP Main Event winner Pius Heinz

1.05pm: Sprung from the tournament early
It wasn't quite as quick as yesterday but a player has managed to loose 300 big blinds in the first level today. We don't have details of his exit but Joris Springael is the first player out. -- MC

1pm: Mattern looking to end a barren EPT spell
Arnaud Mattern is a player that seems to like getting involved from the get-go. That policy is borne out again today with an under-the-gun open to 250, a call from PCA third place finisher Anton Ionel and a 375 c-bet into a 9♣5♣8♣ flop. Ionel check-called the flop but passed to a 1,000 on the Q♥ turn. Mattern hasn't cashed in an EPT this year* and the competitive Frenchman will no doubt want to take this last chance for a 2011 EPT flag. -- RD

* He has had success in other tournaments.

12.55pm: The difficult road to a second title
There are many former EPT champions in the room and they have been or will be mentioned throughout the event. There are four of them in one small corner of the room and these four happen to have drawn fairly difficult table draws providing an extra obstacle in which to pass in order to break new ground.

Mike MacDonald also claimed back-to-back EPT Dortmund titles a few seasons back when he was still a teenager. He's in his twenties now and is sat with fellow twenty-some-things Paul Berende and David Sonelin, who are well used to making deep runs at EPTs.

One table along sits the only Antonio Mathias. The man from Portugal, whose wife cooks a mean Rabbit stew (apparently), has to deal with Irish hot shots John O'Shea and Jude Ainsworth. The mixed game specialist and Team PokerStars Pro are sat right next to each

Two tables along from there is a very strong table that contains two-time bracelet winner Praz Bansi, former EPT Copenhagen winner Anton Wigg, and Johannes Strassmann who has made numerous EPT final tables. Good luck to thee rest of their table.

Right next to that table sits Rupert Elder who won San Remo in season seven. He has position on Mick Graydon, Ivan Demidov and Guiseppe Pantaleo. -- MC

12.50pm: What lurks beneath
I don't think I've ever seen Martin Hruby's eyes. The Czech Team PokerStars Pro always wears small dark glasses, frequently matched with a small hat (no hat today though). What is he hiding? Do his eyes spin like fruit machine reels as a flop is dealt landing, landing on $ $ when he flops large and a lemon and cherry when he whiffs? Unlikely, but I'm sure something must lurk beneath. -- RD

ept prague_day 1b_martin hruby.jpg

Martin Hruby

12.40pm: Things are looking up
At this event 12 months ago Dario Minieri arrived two hours late and proceeded to play half-a-dozen hands in a row. Or at least it seemed like he did. This year he's here on time but the same urge to get stuck in remains.

He just won a first pot, then another, raising to 1,400 from the small blind, announcing the figure with his work voice. His two opponents called for a flop of 4♣J♣7♦. Minieri announced "twenty-seven fifty", using two hands to throw the chips forward. That did it.
"I bluff," said Minieri smiling as the chips were pushed his way.

"That's why you are sponsored by PokerStars," said one opponent laughing.

"Bluff," admitted Minieri.

Elsewhere Bertrand Grospellier has arrived at his seat at the same table with Jonathan Duhamel. Dag Palovic has arrived on the arm of Martin Hruby, wearing a dress he just doesn't have the hips for. - SB

12.25pm: The Wooooorld Champion
Pius Heinz won the WSOP Main Event last month bagging himself a trifling $8,715,368. After all that fanfare of the November Nine, glitz and glamour of the victory, you'd think that the German was ten feet tall with fireworks firing out of the side of his head. In reality, he's just a guy sitting at a table getting dealt two cards from the same deck as everyone else. No complimentary aces, no silver service sets or butler-delivered coolers. He passed the first three hands that I saw him dealt, all of which were in late position no less. Poker doesn't afford automatic privilege.

Dermot Blain is sat two seats to Heinz's left and took a five-way pot down firing two barrels and could prove to be the German's first sticking point here in Prague. The Irishman has had three deep EPT runs as well as a recent WSOPE final table.

You can hear the new Team PokerStars Pro speaking below. -- RD

12.15pm: Play starts
With only a slight delay considering the numbers pouring through the door, cards are now in the air. No exact figure yet but the room is roughly twice as full as yesterday. -- SB

11.55pm: Can't get started
Unless we miss our guess we will not be starting on time. The queue for registrations has now reached the door (with about 70 people waiting). -- SB

11.40am: Nice work if you can get it
Welcome back to Prague for the second day of the European Poker Tour main event. It's a beautiful day in this beautiful city but for the modest (immodest) outlay of five grand you could be right here, tucked up inside the Prague Hilton for eight levels of the best poker in the world.

Of course there are a few caveats to that. There's no guarantee that you'll keep your seat for that long. Yesterday the first player was gone in a little more than ten minutes and a bad hand can strike at any moment. Plus there's that five grand to think about.

The Prague Hilton

Still, it has proven enough to attract a sizable field (the expression we use when we don't have an exact figure) to the underground levels of the Hilton. These are the people to whom life's trials are an irrelevance. These are the people you see with expensive headphones, with speedy boarding, and with little regard for any degree of Christmas cheer in the real world outside.

Real life, with bills and obligations, is for wimps. Their life begins when play starts at 12noon. - SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Prague: Marc Convey, Rick Dacey and Stephen Bartley.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Season 8