EPT Barcelona: Day 1A, level 1-3 updates (blinds 100-200)


3.25pm: End of level
That's the end of the third level of the day. Three down, six to go. -- RD

3.20pm: Spindler unhappy
Whether Spindler was unhappy with his play or was just displaying disapproval of his opponent's call I could not say. Well, I could say but it would be a complete stab in the dark. So what caused this sneer of contempt?

Jake Cody had opened from early position to 500 and had been called by Spindler in the hijack. Play folded through to Bryn Kenney in the small blind who passed and then to Jeffrey Hakim in the big blind who three-bet enough to make Cody insta-muck but not enough to chase Spindler off, he made the call.

Hakim fired 2,025 into the 2♥T♦2♠ flop and Spindler made another call. Both players checked the A♠ turn before Hakim led 2,500 into the 4♣ river. Spindler waited some time before tossing in a raise to 10,000. Hakim waited a similar length of time before making the call.

Hakim: Q♠Q♦
Spindler: T♣J♣

Spindler then let out that quick snort of disgust as he slipped down to 20,000. -- RD

3.08pm: Pantaleo on the rail
That loud bang you just heard was the sound of Guiseppe Pantaleo being eliminated from the main event. A season ago Pantaleo had a breakthrough in EPT Barcelona, eventually finishing in fifth. This year it's an early departure, sent to the rail by former EPT Vilamoura winner Antonio Matias.

In what proved to be an unusual hand Lukas Berglund had opened the pot, betting 425 which was called by Pantaleo and Alvaro Nadal before Matias raised to 1,500. Of the lot only Pantaleo called for a flop of 7♦T♣K♣ at which point, after Pantaleo checked, Matias made the unconventional move of betting 325.

Pantaleo followed that with a raise, making it 3,900 which Matias insta-called for a J♠ on the turn. Pantaleo fired out 5,125. Matias asked him how much he had and put him all in. Pantaleo insta-called that, turning over A♣Q♣ against Matias's pocket jacks. But the river paired the board, the 7♥ landing on the table a second before Pantaleo's fist did the same.

The German is out. Matias extended his hand towards him. Pantaleo didn't look in the mood for pleasantires but checked his manners, managing, with some awkwardness, to shake Matias's fingers before leaving. - SB

2.55pm: Reigning champ steady, unlucky Newport looking glum
Kent Lundmark won this tournament last year for €825,000 and then went on to cash in a further three EPT events. The Swede also has a great poker face, which never seems to reveal any emotion. It's all a far cry from Nicholas Newport who all but bubbled two EPTs last year and is looking glummer than a dog with no bone. The Irishman is down to 13,000.

Newport is on Lundmark's left, on his right is last season's player of the year Fernando Brito. Lundmark on 33,000, Brito 22,000. -- RD

2.50pm: Going underground
For the first six seasons, EPT Barcelona was held in the main area of the Gran Casino Barcelona. It made for a tight few days, with the poker squashed in around the roulette wheels and blackjack tables. Last year, we moved down a corridor into a huge banqueting area, which is effectively underneath the Arts hotel. And that's where we are again, with room to move about.

While the players beaver away in level three, technicians are setting up the stage area. The TV cameras are filming for future shows from tomorrow. -- SY

2.40pm: Veldhuis out
Lex Veldhuis is out of the main event. The Team PokerStars Pro has been on the poverty end of a couple of big hands, this final one against Luis Rufas.

On a board reading 6♠2♠4♠J♥ Rufas bet 10,125 from middle position which Veldhuis called on the button, leaving himself 17,000 behind. The betting continued but Veldhuis's fate had been sealed on the turn, where he'd made a set, while Rufas had flopped a flush.

The river came 8♣ and Rufas bet again, pushing his stack forward, all-in for 19,000, covering the Dutchman. Velduis tanked for a while, telling Rufas that he doubted he could fold. He didn't, but he mucked immediately (later admitting to a set) when Rufas turned over T♠7♠.

"It happens," said Veldhuis, more in the manner of someone losing a penny down a drain, than having been eliminated from a $5,000 buy-in main event. - SB

2.25pm: Off again
The clattering of chips has started once more, and that can only mean one thing: play has restarted. -- SY

2.10pm: Break
That's the end of level two, and the players are now getting up to stretch their legs in the first 15-minute break of the day. Meanwhile, I have dispatched Sgt Major Bartley and Corporal Dacey to the local sandwich shop. Oh, and updated some chip counts. -- SY

2.03pm: Neuville nutted
The board showed 7♣6♥5♥8♦5♠ when we approached, and Domantas Klimciauskas led out with 5,000 into a pot of more than twice that. He was heads-up against Pierre Neuville, and the Friend of PokerStars promptly put in a raise to 10,200. After a couple minutes of consideration, Klimciauskas moved all in for about 21,000 total, and Neuville quickly called.

Klimciauskas: 5♦5♣
Neuville: ....

Oh, that'll do! Klimciauskas had rivered the nuts, and Neuville eventually flashed his now-worthless 7♥7♠ as he spun them into the muck. The full house is no good, and it robs Neuville of all but about 6,000 of his chips. Klimciauskas, on the other hand, must be around 55,000 now after that double. -- Eric Ramsey.


Pierre Neuville

2pm: Veldhuis back up
Lex Veldhuis has chipped back up to 31,000 after firing three-barrels into a 3♠6♣K♦2♦7♣ board. He was called down all the way - 6,600 on the river - by Alejandro Barcelo and showed 7♦3♦ to scoop the pot. -- RD

1.56pm: And another latecomer
Coming in behind Kaiser (see below) is Team PokerStars Pro Sebastien Ruthenberg. He likes this place so much that he decided to win EPT Barcelona back in Season 5 (2008). -- SY

1.54pm: All rise
With nine minutes left on the clock EPT Tallinn champion Ronny Kaiser has arrived to take his seat on the same table as Annette Obrestad.

1.52pm: Cortes in search for gold
The EPT is yet to crown a Spanish champion but last year Jesus Cortes came devilishly close before losing out to Kent Lundmark. Cortes is up to 58,000 already, a healthy platform on which to launch his attempts to become the first. -- RD

1.45pm: Aren't you IPT winner Luca Pagano?
Mariano Balaguer opened for 250 two seats from the button which was raised by Team PokerStars Pro, and recent Italian Poker Tour winner Luca Pagano in the small blind to 750. Both checked the flop of 7♦4♥K♠ for a 8♦ turn at which point Pagano bet 800. Balaguer called for an ace on the river. This time Pagano checked. Balaguer threw in 2,500. Pagano paused, then called, Balaguer tapping the table immediately as Pagano turned over Q♦Q♥. - SB


Luca Pagano

1.40pm: Betting the Veldhuis
Marius Olsvik opened for 375 which was called by the player in the hijack and by Lex Veldhuis in the small blind. The flop came 5♥9♠K♦ which Veldhuis bet at, making it 1,000 to play. Olsvik, who wears a wide leather band around his wrist, suggesting that he was strapped to something not so long ago, called. 2001 got out of the way before the 4♥ turn.

Velduis now bet 2,650, making a splashing noise with the chips, and again Olsvik called for a 5♠ river card. That was it though for the Team PokerStars Pro. He checked, waiting for Olsvik to act, and act he did, throwing in 3,525. Veldhuis looked at his cards again but knew he was beaten, folding his cards.

He's down to 21,000 while Olsvik moves up to around 40,000. - SB

1.35pm: Maceiras back up
Juan Maceiras' head was bowed while a massage therapist dug her elbow into the back of his neck and applied a considerable amount of pressure. I thought massages were meant to be relaxing, but the Team PokerStars Pro was going through what looked like a physical assault. Yet Maceiras was taking no notice of his neck muscles. Instead, he was staring at a K♥2♦9♠ flop. Liking what was there, he bet 2,250 only for Matthew O'Brien to re-raise to 5,575. Maceiras called.

The dealer produced the 9♣ for our turn card. It was on O'Brien first and he thought for a good two minutes before betting 6,750. Maceiras, who had lost a chunky pot earlier, had 12,000 behind. While his therapist moved around to his shoulder area, he moved all-in. O'Brien folded instantly.

With that, Maceiras, who must dream of being a local hero here this week, moves up to 36,000 while O'Brien slips to 18,000. -- SY


Juan Maceiras

1.30pm: Table of doom
The table draws may be random, but they always throw up one horror story. Consider the line-up here and thank your lucky stars you are not sitting with them...

Benny Spindler
Nacho Barbero
Christian Gruntdvig
Bryn Kenney
Jake Cody

If you'd just forked out €5,000 to enter this thing, you'd be a little gutted to be seated here. Early, and fatal, action was between two others at the table, however, with Enzinger Yann knocking out Daniel Erlandsson. -- SY

1.25pm: Cheerio, thanks for coming
It's taken over an hour to lose our first player which is a surprisingly long time. Starting with 30,000 chips is a lot, but with a field of over 300 players there is normally some sort of set-up resulting in an early loss.

We failed to grab the unfortunate player's name but he's not not alone now as Ben Warrington soon followed him out the exit door.

Team PokerStars Nacho Babero is no stranger to final tables and he's heading in the right direction to do so again here after he got off to a winning start. He tangled in a three-bet pot with with Christian Grundtvig and came out the better. The two players checked it all the way to the river where the final board read 4♣[10c]9♦J♠6♣. The Argentine bet a near pot sized 1,550 and was called by Grundtvig who mucked when he was shown K♥K♦. Barbero is up to 36,000 chips. -- MC

1.18pm: Does Teng know who he's tangling with?
Andrew Teng, who almost final tabled EPT San Remo earlier this year, is sat with an unassuming Czech player to his right, and is probably more concerned about having Martin Jacobson to his left. I just don't know if Teng is aware of who Martin Staszko is, but we certainly do.

Staszko is one of the November Nine, that elusive group of players that have banked $782,115 a piece and have a large chunk more waiting for them in Las Vegas at the finale of the WSOP Main Event. Staszko is the chip leader in that little venture and has an expectation of a couple million on top of that (I'm not going to ICM it). Will the confidence of that propel him onto great things here in Spain? Only time will tell. -- RD

ept barcelona_day 1a_martin staszko.jp

Martin Staszko

1.05pm: Over on table 28
A flop of 6♥A♦4♦ and a hand to talk about on table 28. It's a place that boasts few distinguishing features but Florin Pandilica just bumped his stack up a little when his set transformed into a full house.

Four players saw the flop but only Pandilica, wearing a baseball cap backwards, and the button player, wearing a baseball cap forwards, went the distance with turn coming 3♠ and river 3♣. While the button player showed A♥3♥ his full house was topped by Pandilica's full house when he showed 4♥4♣. - SB

12.55pm: Running scared
There are a few things in life that scare me. Sharks, spiders and the bank manager are three of them. Another is Annette Obrestad, although I suppose she could fall into the shark category. I'm sure she's very nice in person, but when I see her at the poker table I want to run a mile. Even with her sunglasses on, I sense her eyes are burning laser-like into the very soul of anyone who tangles with her.

She's already been involved in one tasty hand, forcing Philipp Uhrig out of a big pot, his soul well and truly lasered by the lady from Norway. On a 7♠8♣6♥ board, Uhrig bet 600 and faced a raise to 1,500 from Obrestad. He must have thought she was trying it on as he reached for yet more chips, putting 6,000 in the middle. His cunning plan may well have worked. Except it didn't. Obrestad moved all-in. Uhrug gave it a good deal of thought, but as Obrestad stared him down, and his head began smoking from her laser, he folded. -- SY

ept barcelona_day 1a_annette obrestad.jpg

Annette Obrestad sporting X-men Cyclops glasses

12.47pm: Other names
Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden - yes, he of 'What Lodden thinks' fame - can be included among the players looking to tear through this Day 1A field. One player that has managed that before here in Barcelona is Konstantin Puchkov. The horse trainer, a Russian TJ Cloutier lookalike of sorts, finished third last year behind Kent Lundmark and Jesus Cortes. -- RD

12.40pm: Slow and steady wins the day
A slow and steady start, unless you're Annette Obrestad who, powered by the internet, sweeps into an early advantage after a five-bet shove on the flop.

Elsewhere, with a board reading 9♣Q♦2♠6♥T♦, Tristan Clemencon was winning an early pot against a man in a straw hat, Artur Urgelles. Clemencon re-raised on the river, causing Urgelles's straw hat to wilt a little, eventually forced to fold. It's an interesting table worth watching, with Andre Akkari and Johnny Lodden also playing.

While not in the hand, Lodden was the next player looking for internet access and a little disturb by the price.

"Fifty euros?" he said. "Not, like... ten?" -- SB

12.25pm: Poker snobbery
In these early stages of an EPT we are forced into adopting the most fierce sense of poker snobbery. Running a chip count page with too many players is quite simply unmanageable so we have to pick and choose the biggest, best and brightest - those with winning credentials and a few that we spot who we think have the ability to build a big stack on the first day of play.

Some of those include EPT winners Rupert Elder, Salvatore Bonavena and Ben Wilinofsky, Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Selbst, Andre Akkari and Luca Pagano, not to mention last Season 7's player of the year Fernando Brito. The list will fill up as we spot the big guns and they can be found by clicking here or on the handily titled 'Latest chip counts' part of the widget (look right). -- RD

12.15pm: First thing's first
"Is there wireless in here?"

This was Annette Obrestad, playing Day 1A and looking to get hooked up to the internet. There isn't wireless, unless you cough up €50 for a day of browsing.

"Fifty euros? Seriously?" Yep, even high rollers will baulk at being ripped off. "Okay, where do I pay?"

Or maybe not. -- SB

12pm: Cards are in the air
And on time too...

11.45am: Hola
The sound is always magical: waves crashing onto the beach, their journey from goodness knows where ending in a furious flurry of surf and churned-up sand. This morning I heard that noise as I woke up and felt all was good with the world. And then, with my head still wedged firmly in my pillow, I thought I heard fireworks. Why would there be fireworks at 9am in Barcelona? The answer is not quite as romantic as the sound of the sea... I'd left my TV on all night and the 'fireworks' was actually the sound of gunfire from news coverage of Libya.

Now, the fact that I'd left the TV on all night may give a little clue as to last night's activities. As has so often been the case at EPTs, PokerStars threw a lavish party prior to Day 1A. This time we were in Shoku, a beautiful beach bar just down the road from Gran Casino Barcelona, our home for the week.

With so many Team PokerStars Pros playing this week, the party was packed with some of the game's top names.


Lex Veldhuis and Fatima Moreira de Melo


Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst (right) with Melanie Weisner

With good music, free booze and good company, it's easy to see how the TV got to be left on at bed time. While waking up a little bleary-eyed, however, this is a view that soon perks you up... SY


Barcelona beach

PokerStars Blog reporting team: Simon Young, Stephen Bartley, Rick Dacey and Marc Convey

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in Barcelona