EPT Tallinn, Day 1A: Level 3 & 4 updates (blinds 100-200, 25 ante)

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4.31pm: Break time
That's the end of level 4. Players are now taking a 15 minute break.

4.30pm: Artem on his shoulder
On a board of 4♦9♥9♦5♦K♠ David Vamplew checked to Alexander Klimashin on the button who bet 7,500. Behind him was Artem Litvinov, presumably loosened up after his early massage, who had come over to watch.

After much thought Vamplew passed, to the delight of Litvinov who rubbed 604's shoulder, with some force it should be said, which Klimashin did not entirely enjoy. No matter, Litvinov, losing antes at his own table, leaned in close to share a joke with Klimashin, who had to remove his headphones to hear. Litvinov Ipod dangling around his neck, then left him to it. - SB

4.29pm: One to ponder
Here's a weird one, which doesn't necessarily get much clearer the more we learn about it.

Kayvan Payman started things off by limping under-the-gun. Albert Mikhailyta (tournament chip leader) called and then Joe Ebanks (WSOP bracelet winner) called as well, taking the action round to Mart Tammoja on the button.

Tammoja, who won his seat in a live satellite, raised to 1,200 and Payman and Mikhailyta called him pretty much instantly. Ebanks was more circumspect, asking the raiser, "How much do you have?" The answer was something like 30,000, and Ebanks called.

So, four of them to a flop of 2♦8♣6♣, which was checked in three spots to Tammoja. He bet 3,100. Only Payman called. The turn was 9♣ and the dynamic shifted. Payman bet 4,300, which Tammoja now called.

The river was [10h] and Payman put 26,000 into the middle, comfortably covering Tammoja. The pre-flop aggressor was now forced to make a decision for his tournament life, and it wasn't a decision he was prepared to take lightly.

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Kayvan Payman

After a good few minutes in the tank, he then asked for a clock to be put on himself, and over came a floor-man to oblige. "You have one minute, sir." "Thank you."

After only about 30 seconds of that, Tammoja folded, bunging two black aces face up on the table. He was left with enough to fight another day but also most likely pondering if he'd just been bluffed out of a double up. -- HS

4.18pm: That table in the corner
Table number one is tucked into the corner of the tournament floor and is slowly gathering a fearsome line-up of players. Joining Fernando Brito (38,000) and Matthew Frankland (35,000) are EPT Barcelona champ Kent Lundmark (40,000), EPT Snowfest runner-up Kevin Vandersmissen (44,000) and EPT Weepfest Prague victor Roberto Romanello (18,000).

Romanello was just introduced to the tough end of Brito when his 2,100 three-bet out of the big blind was swiftly four-bet to around 8,000. Romanello's hand quickly hit the muck. Brito showing how he became EPT Player of the Year last season. -- RD

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Fernando Brito

4.05pm: Public Service Announcement
Among the changes to the new season of the European Poker Tour is the addition of a brand new sponsor, with Skrill becoming the Official Payment Provider Sponsor of the European Poker Season 8.

Skrill, the new name for Moneybookers, is one of Europe's largest online payments systems and among the world's largest independent digital wallet providers. It has now joined the likes of playing cards manufacturer Copag and luxury jeweller Shamballa Jewels, in partnering with Global Poker Tour Limited's poker tours in 2011.

Recognising the important brand building and marketing opportunities this sponsorship deal affords, Nikolai Riesenkampff, co-CEO of Skrill Holdings, operating Moneybookers, said:

"Skrill is delighted to join the European Poker Tour as its Official Payment Provider Sponsor," said Nikolai Riesenkampff, co-CEO of Skrill Holdings. "Now in its eighth season, the EPT has grown to become one of the largest and most lucrative poker tours in the world. Our headline sponsorship promises to deal a winning hand when it comes to strengthening our position as the leading digital wallet and bankroll management option among the world's poker players."

"Skrill has a long and established track record providing easy, safe and secure payment options, and as a result is widely regarded as one of the most preferred deposit and withdrawal methods by the online gaming community."

As part of Skrill's sponsorship deal, the payment provider will have a strong visible presence at EPT events across Europe, with representatives talking to customers on the ground and helping players register for accounts by offering various incentives and loyalty programmes.

GPTL managing director Jeffrey Haas joined Riesenkampff in expressing his excitement at the partnership.

"The European Poker Tour operates in more countries and markets than any other tour in the world, and it's wonderful that companies with global aspirations, like Skrill, recognise the opportunity we provide them to reach new customers in meaningful ways," said Haas.

4pm: Sharks circling for day 1B attack
As mentioned, there are a couple of reasons for the slightly lower-than-expected day 1a field - the vagaries of British public transport among them. But an additional factor has recently been made clear too. A €5,000 turbo pot-limit Omaha event has just begun in the tournament room, and it's attracted some of the Nordics' top players.

Jens Kyllonen, Sami Kelopuro, Juha Helppi, Jani Sointula and Ilari Tahkokallio are all present in that one, and the chances are they'll join the Main Event field tomorrow too. --HS

3.55pm: Toth joins the chip leader
Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth has just had his third table move of the day with his most recent change looking particularly bittersweet. The Hungarian has chipped up to 53,000 and is now sitting on the direct left of Albert Mikhailyta and his 80,000 stack. That's the sweet part. The bitter component is that he has Joe Ebanks on his direct left.

Ebanks won a bracelet at this year's WSOP in the $10,000 six-handed championship for $1,158,481 beating fellow online crusher Chris Moorman and irrepressible French Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand Grospellier into second and third. Ebanks is not a player to be taken lightly. -- RD

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Richard Toth

3.45pm: From late position
With the board reading 2♥5♦8♣T♥ Roberto Romanello and Matthew Frankland, both in late position, were tangling in a pot. Romanello, who has ditched the spikey wig and replaced it with a black Yankees cap, bet 1,300. Frankland then raised to 3,100 which Romanello called as behind them on another table 203 quickly forked his way through a Caesar salad.

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Roberto Romanello

The river card came 5♣ but the fight was no longer in this hand. Both players checked, Frankland showing 4♦4♥ but Romanello taking it with K♣T♠. - SB

3.35pm: Prince AlbertThis is rapidly becoming the Albert Mikhailyta show, as he has now sent Mendor Berisha to the rail - cracking kings with jack-eight. I'm not certain of the pre-flop action, but it all went in on a board of J♦J♥4♣. Berisha had K♣K♠ but was heading for the door when Mikhailyta showed J♠8♠. -- HS

3.40pm: Vamplew turns nut flush, gets paid
David Vamplew had lost a few thousand to Yotam Bar-Yosef in the last level, semi-bluffing a flush draw, but he has now made that back and more.

Vamplew had bet the turned nut flush with A♦2♦ on a paired 5♦8♦5♥K♦ board for 2,050, and was called. The 3♥ gave Bar-Yosef the courage to call again, this time for 5,200, but was shown the goods by the EPT London champ (and UKIPT Champion of Champions too). Vamplew marginally over his starting stack. -- RD

3.35pm: Mattern slips again
Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern has slipped down further, sitting with 8,500 now after folding to a river bet from Jeremy Nock.

The board read J♣8♠3♠8♦J♠ and Mattern checked to face a 2,500 bet into the 8,500 pot.

"You have a boat, right?" asked Mattern.

"Maybe you do too?" responded Nock.

The Frenchman took another minute but threw his cards into the muck. He later told us he folded king-eight. A moment after that, Nock came over as well and said he held pocket jacks. (If everyone could do that our lives would be much easier - Ed). -- MC

3.20pm: Momentum, mistakes and menace
An all-in on table three with 25 minute left on level 3. The board was already showing J♦3♦K♣3♠2♥, with 18,000 in the pot, when Adam Jaguscik decided that the time was right. Albert Mikhailyta had checked to him in early position and Jaguscik had acted from the seat next to him. In went Jaguscik's chips, 18,400 in all.

Mikhailyta held his head in his hand, his rubbery face squidged as he thought things through, mumbled to himself. In terms of appearance, Mikhailyta is a man being asked to provide an alibi as to wehre he was this time last year. Jaguscik on the other hand looked like he was sitting through a geography lesson, the apparent anguish of Mikhailyta of no concern to him.

Mikhailyta, who had double what Jaguscik had in the middle, finally called. Jaguscik showed K♦J♣ for two pairs. Mikhailyta stood and slammed down A♦A♠, apparently defeated. The dealer took this as his queue to take the aces and throw them into the muck, stopped only by Joseph Ebanks, who politely pointed out that the aces were the winning hand, the threes on the board leaving him the better hand.

"Ahhh," said Mikhailyta in a language we all understood, at first embarrassed, and then relieved. Then he was embarrassed again and appeared to blame the dealer for nearly mucking his winning cards. Jaguscik's face said "eek" and he got up to go, leaving a seat open.

The dealer apologised to Mikhailyta and everyone else for missing things. At least I think he was apologising. He and Mikhailyta were discussing something in a way that suggested animosity. If the dealer needed an exit strategy he was in luck, a new dealer with a tattoo of a puma on her arm, arrived to replace him.

Mikhailyta up to around 60,000. - SB

3.12pm: Nord going south
Ville Salmi couldn't look more Nordic if he tried. Shaggy blonde hair and a long goatee that could easily be braided mark Salmi out as an easy-to-spot Finn. Maybe it's going against him at the moment, he's down to 10,000 after twice having c-bets picked off, forcing him to give up on his hand.

On his right is Marcin Horecki, the polish Team PokerStars Pro who finished third at EPT Prague last year, just missing out on the trophy to Roberto Romanello. Horecki is up past his starting stack, on around 37,000. -- RD

3pm: Man down. We're a man down
It took about two and a half levels, but a player has now bust. The unfortunate man to go was Andrea Pileri, who became the first of the 92-strong field to take a hike. --HS

2.55pm: Taxis not required
Unless everyone in the tournament room is mistaken, we progressed through the first two levels of EPT Talinn Season 8 without losing a single player. That almost never happens. But there certainly seems to be a reluctance of players to bust - and even when they try their very best, somehow the poker Gods haul them back.

Over on table three, Albert Mikhailyta has become an early leader, racing beyond 50,000 chips in the first couple of levels. He's playing a lot of hands and seeing a lot of flops, and just as he looked like being the first assassin of the day, his adversary won a reprieve.

Mikhailyta raised to 400 from early position and attracted three callers, including Denis Michael, a recent import from another table. (The field was condensed during the break as some dead stacks were removed.)

The flop came J♥A♥5♠ and after Michael checked, Mikhailyta bet 1,200. It was folded to Michael, who moved all in for 5,972 and Mikhailyta only pondered a moment before calling.

Michael showed A♦9♠ but had been out-flopped. Mikhailyta had A♠5♣. Michael got up and prepared to leave when the 2♠ turned, but someone upstairs took mercy on him when the 9♥ rivered. The two-outer meant he lives to fight another day. -- HS

2.50pm: KK for KK
Kimmo Kurko just moved to table two and took no time at all to win a pot, this one against Manfred Sierke. Kurko now moves up to 28,500 chips.

Sierke limped from the cut-off and called when the Finn raised to 800 from the next seat along. The flop came 5♣3♠T♥ and Sierke check-called a 1,525 bet before both players checked the 4♥ turn. The river came 3,725 and Kurko watched as his 3,725 bet check-called by his opponent.

He showed K♥K♠ and took the pot as his opponent folded. - MC

2.45pm: To be clear
As mentioned earlier, getting to Tallinn hasn't been the easiest of trips for some player, particularly those flying out of London Gatwick yesterday afternoon. A water leak, or something, in the Croydon area of South London (it's a place a little like the Upper East side of Manhattan) brought a halt to all airport-bound trains leaving some with little option beyond a humiliating dash down the high street, bags flailing behind them, to find a taxi to whisk them to the departure gate.

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Matthew Frankland

Some never made it, other did, including Frankland, who was among those experiencing their first taste of exercise for some time as they legged it through security.

The effort seems to be paying off for Frankland, who moves up towards the 40,000 mark. On a board of 3♦7♥K♦Q♦Q♣ and with 8,000 or so in the middle, Frankland wanted to bet after the action was checked to him.

"Thirty-four," he said. The dealer did nothing. "Thirty-four," he said again. Still nothing. "Thirty-four hundred..." Nope. "Three-thousand and four hundred."

That did it. The dealer announced the raise. The remaining player's fold needed no translation. -- SB

2.42pm: Vamplew fails to fire the final bullet
Would David Vamplew have been able to force Yotam Bar-Yosef off his hand on the river if he'd mustered one final charge at the pot? Vamplew certainly thought not and limply checked the river of the Q♦4♣9♦2♥2♠ board, having check-raised the flop (950 to 3,375) and fired the turn (4,150).

Vamplew showed down T♦7♦ for a busted flush draw and Bar-Yosef raked in the pot with K♦Q♣ to chip up to 47,000.

It's nice to know that David likes the changes: "Pleased to hear @pokerstarsEPT structure has changed - antes at 100/200, bigger antes eg 400/800 100 and 250/500 level. Good news imo" - @davidv1213 -- RD

2.30pm: Marcin on the move
@MarcinHorecki: 43k. Hit a nut gut shot on the river and Got paid by 2nd pair. Nice life.

Tallinn, City of...
Like most places in Europe, Tallinn is a former European City of Culture. But, after looking around the place ourselves last night, it seems the Estonian capital might have some actual claim to such a title. The video team found out for themselves...


2.25pm: Level three to begin
In this block of two levels we'll see the introduction of antes, starting in level four. It's exciting stuff, let me tell you. Well, it's exciting if you're a tournament structure geek anyway, which you probably are if you're reading this. -- RD

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The early tussles at EPT Tallinn

PokerStars Blog reporting team in Tallinn (in order of the adopted family role they would assume): Howard Swains (grandad - sits in the corner demanding pudding), Stephen Bartley (Victorian father - wouldn't be seen dead without a tie and polished shoes), Rick Dacey (mad uncle - let out of the attic for big occasions) and Marc Convey (excitable teenager - late to bed, late to rise). Photos by Neil Stoddart (we don't talk about him, he's the black sheep of the family).

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in Day 1A