EPT Tallinn Day 1B: Levels 1 & 2 updates (75-150)


2.15pm: O'Shea moving up
John O'Shea is up to 47,000 after squeezing the turn of a 6♥5♥Q♠K♠ board. Helene Skjønhaug led 2,300 out of the small blind and was called by Runar Runarsson before O'Shea pumped it up to 10,300. Around 10,000 was already in the pot and Skjønhaug didn't look like she wanted to pass, but she did. Runarsson took less time in bowing out. O'Shea, a fearsome Omaha and Hold'em player, raked in the pot. He is sat on the direct left of Dario Minieri and either of these players could run up a big stack - most likely at the expense of the other.

That's a 15 minute break. Join us in a new post then. -- RD

2.10pm: Minieri mixing it up
Dario Minieri has taken his first pot of the day, and a second. Johannes Van Til opened from middle-position, making it 375 to go. With the action folded to him through Runar Runarrson, who is actually having his face massaged (known as "bullying" where I come from), to Minieri, the Italian announced his raise "thirteen-fifty", which was enough to take the pot.

A couple of hands after that Helene Skjønhaug opened for 600 under the gun, which Van Til called, as did Minieri in the hijack. The flop came low, 3♣5♣5♦. Skjønhaug looked at it, then at her chips, then bet 1,100. Van Til called before Minieri raised to 2,900 using two hands to throw two handfuls of chips forward.

Skjønhaug paused in the prayer position for a moment, then folded. Van Til wasted no time doing the same. Minieri nudged his cards forward. He's up a few grand as we approach the first break. - SB

ept tallinn_day 1b_tournament floor.jpg

The tournament floor

2pm: De Melo's invisible boat
Four players were at a flop of 6♠6♥7♥ and three of them had checked, including Fatima Moreira de Melo, who was in the big blind seat. Chris Brammer, in late position, threw a red 1,000-point chip into the pot, announcing, "Eight hundred." De Melo double-checked the amount with the dealer, then called. The other two got out the way.

The [10c] turned and both of them checked. The K♦ rivered and now De Melo bet 2,625. Brammer took hardly any time at all to call, but then insta-mucked when De Melo showed the monster 7♦7♠ for the flopped, slow-played boat. -- HS

1.57pm: Freitez doubles
He is going to be a handful after all.

Ivan Freitez has doubled to 23,000, back near his starting stack after shoving the river of a K♠K♣T♣7♣T♠ board with J♠T♥ and getting called. Half of his stack had gone in on the turn before his hand had filled up. Nice catch. -- RD

1.54pm: Freitez moving in the wrong direction
EPT Grand Final champion Ivan Freitez is sporting his Shamballa winner's bracelet but it doesn't seem to be giving him much luck at the moment, he's down to 11,500. Freitez opened to 325 from early position and was called in two spots before passing to aggression on the flop. Will he be able to pick up momentum as he did in Madrid at the end of last season when he won €1,500,000. If so, he'll be a handful. - RD

1.50pm: Minieri watch begins
Dario Minieri has just arrived, mid-way through Level 2. He's seated alongside Irishman John O'Shea and across the table from Johan van Til..

1.40pm: Culture clash
On a flop of K♣K♦T♥ Toby Lewis and Natalia Nikitina were in a pot together. The contrast between the two champions (Lewis in the EPT, Nikitina on the WPT) couldn't be more stark.

Nikitina sparkles, wears diamond jewellery and has a heart-shaped twinkling necklace draped over her chips as if she's from the showroom at Tiffany. Lewis on the other hand is from Southampton, the third most dangerous city in the United Kingdom (according to group-think on Wikipedia). Nikitina wouldn't last an hour there.

But on the playing fields of the poker baize background means nothing.

Nikitina made it 550 Lewis called for a 3♣ turn. Both checked that, Nikitina in the cut-off, Lewis on the button, for a Q♦ river. Again Nikitina checked before Lewis took the pot with a bet of 1,250. -- SB

1.38pm: A Wagner composition
Annette Obrestad is up to 32,000 after getting two streets of value against Eugen Wagner with a well-disguised hand.

She raised to 525 from the hijack after Wagner had limped in from early position. He called and check-called a 600 bet on the 8♠6♠6♥ flop. The turn came 8♣ and both players checked through to the A♠ river. The diminutive Norwegian bet 1,600 and Wagner tank check-called then mucked upon seeing her 8♦7♦. MC

1.30pm: Who knows?
There's a load of information missing here, pretty much all of it in fact. But it's still indicative of how these tournaments go at times, where even if you pay the price of a call you might not find out the information you've paid for.

Andrea Benelli and Viktors Caikins were already at the river, with 15,500 in the pot. (The blinds, remember, are 75-150, so goodness knows how this one went to that point.) The board was 3♦4♥7♥8♠A♦ and Caikins checked. Benelli, who is one of the most aggressive players on the scene, saw a chance to pick this one up and bet 9,250.

Caikins, who only had about 18,000 in his stack, dwelled and dwelled. But then he took two gold chips and tossed them into the pot in what appeared to be the very definition of a crying call.

However, those two chips were still bouncing on the spring-loaded EPT felt when Benelli's cards hit the muck as well. Whatever Caikins was calling with was clearly better than anything Benelli was bluffing with.

"Ace queen of hearts," Caikins said. I believe him. You might not.-- HS

1.25pm: Names to numbers
Those two players who went out early were Nima Ahrary and Andrey Vlasenko. The tournament board currently shows that 183 players began today and 181 remain. Registration is open for another hour, so come on down if you're in Tallinn. -- HS

1.20pm: Howling at the moon
Elmar Dirnberger, aka The Wolf, has not got off to a great start. Having opened under-the-gun and been called by Antti Kakkainen, Dirnberger led 625 into the T♦Q♦7♠ flop. Kakkainen called.

Dirnberger seemed to like the A♣ turn, he picked up 2,250 and aggressively fired them into the middle before tilting his sunglasses down to peer at Kakkainen, cheroot jammed into the corner of his mouth. Kakkainen called again.

A blank fell on the river, the 2♣. Dirnberger bet 2,125 and was quickly raised to 5,000. Dirnberger instantly called and slammed A♥T♠ onto the table. It was not the winning hand. Kakkainen showed A♦Q♠ for a larger turned two pair.

"These cards were unhelpful, dealer," said Dirnberger, looking more than a little disgruntled.

Stop growling, Dirnberger, you did well not to lose more. He's down to 22,000. -- RD

ept tallinn_day 1a_elmar dirnberger.jpg

Elmar Dirnberger: What did you say your nickname was?

1.17pm: A Wald winner
Morgan Wald and Fatima Moreira de Melo just clashed again and this time is was a victory for Wald.

Moreira de Melo raised from under the gun with Wald the only caller, in late position. The K♦5♦7♥ came and went with a Moreira de Melo c-bet bet (350) and a call. She fired again (725) on the 4♣ turn but there was still no shaking off Wald.

The river came 4♠ and the Team PokerStars SportStar gave up, check-folding to a 1,625 bet from her opponent. -- MC


1.10pm: The prince of Estonian poker
Your average Joe Railbird in the corridors of the Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, might not recognise Imre Leibold; he hasn't been on any televised poker coverage in the United States. But in this part of the world, Leibold is poker royalty. He is the top-ranked Estonian poker pro, with recorded cashes dating from 2004 and totaling nearly half a million dollars.

Today, as expected, Leibold is in the field of EPT Tallinn, where he is already muscling his way around table two. He was involved in a recent pot with Jimmy Ostensson, which left the Swedish player (who has a pretty good poker resume himself) in no doubt that he had a worthy adversary.

On a flop of Q♣5♠8♣, Ostensson bet 1,075. (He would have been in the big blind pre-flop.) Leibold, in late position, made it 2,600 and Ostensson called.

The turn was 7♠, which they both checked. And then the 6♣ rivered. Ostensson bet 3,150 but then winced as Leibold raised to 8,500. Ostensson, who has made a WPT final table and won a side event at the Master's Classic, folded.

Leibold, with Estonian cameras flashing in his face, stacked the chips and pressed on. -- HS

1pm: SportStar's shining star
Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo used to slap hockey balls around for a living and now she likes to slap around poker players to pay the rent instead (steady on - Ed). Ask Morgan Wald, who just found that out, to his cost.

He raised from mid-position and called when Moreira de Melo three-bet from the big blind. The flop came 3♠8♥T♥ and Moreira de Melo continued for 725. Call.

There was no slowing her on the K♦ turn either. She fired in 1,250, only to be raised to 3,125 by Wald. She threw back a three-bet to 8,750 and that got the job done as he folded. Moreira de Melo up to 35,000 chips. -- MC

12.55pm: Grim draw
I'm not going to go as far as saying this is the table of the death, it's a cliché that is tossed around far too casually. This table isn't quite that bad, but it would almost certainly have caused a groan or two from the players sitting down. Joining Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo is last year's EPT Tallinn winner Kevin Stani, UKIPT Leaderboard Champion Chris Brammer and fellow British grinder John Eames.

Stani just opened under-the-gun for 250 and was called by Brammer in the hijack and Eames in the cut-off. Stani leveled a 450 c-bet at the J♦6♥4♠ flop and was called by both Englishmen. This was enough to slow Stani down. He checked the Q♠ turn card. Brammer swiped the initiative and fired 1,600. His lead was short-lived though. Eames raised to 4,100, Stani passed and Brammer made up the difference.

ept tallinn_day 1a_chris brammer and john eames.jpg

Brammer (left) and Eames getting involved early on

The river paired the board with the J♥ and Brammer swifty checked. Eames, with his t-shirt halfway up towards his head with a masseuse casually pummeling his lower back, tossed out a suspiciously small bet of 3,500. Brammer looked unamused. It's a look that he wears well and in this case he sported it for a good couple of minutes before passing.

Eames raked in the pot to strike a small blow and chip up to 35,000. Brammer, scowling, down to 25,000. -- RD

12.50pm: Out! Out!
It took more than two hours until we lost our first player yesterday. It took less than half an hour to lose two today. They are (or rather were) players numbered 1602 and 1206, although their identity will take some time to confirm (ie, they went broke before they were even on a player list). They are not numbers, they are free men! -- HS

12.40pm: The lazy reporter...
Jeff Sarwer is on the same table today as Annette Obrestad, and the lazy reporter might easily call that Table Prodigy. So, over on Table Prodigy, Sarwer just took back-to-back pots, the first picking off a bluff with K♥Q♣ on a board of Q♠9♣3♠2♦5♦ when Nicolo Calia bet the pot (of about 3,100) on the river. Calia had J♣[10c] and bet his missed draw.

Sarwer then took a small pot from Andrey Vlasenko. Vlasenko opened to 250 from the button, which Sarwer called in the big blind. They both checked the 5♣5♠8♣ flop and then Sarwer bet 225 on the Q♠ turn. Vlasenko folded.

Vlasenko and Sarwer both made the final table of EPT Vilamoura in season six, so there's previous there. Calio has 10 EPT cashes to his name, so the chances are he and Sarwer have clashed too.

That's a good table. -- HS

12.30pm: Another tough line-up
Play begins with a significant increase on yesterday's starting field, although there are a few empty seats dotted around the tournament floor.

One particular table boasts a line-up likely to attract a bit of attention as play goes on today, that of Toby Lewis. Alongside him are Mihai Manole, Peter Roche, Per Linde, Mudassar Khan and Natalia Nikitina, all of whom have one something, or have been thereabouts over the past 12 months.

Lewis, of course, won EPT7 Vilamoura at the start of Season 7 while Manole won the CAPT Poker Championship in Austria in October. Roche has prodded poker's soft under belly over the past 12 months, earning close to $100,000 at events in Morocco, while Linde, as readers of the Blog during the World Series will remember, went deep in the main event, finishing in 57th, as well as finishing runner up at EPT Copenhagen in February, where he ran into Mudassar Khan at the final table.

That leaves Natalia Nikitina who earlier this year won the WPT Diamond Championship in Paris. A lot of talent on one table. The dealer looks pretty nifty too. - SB

12.22pm: Tough line up
Day 1B is traditionally a tougher line up than its predecessor, probably something to with reduced expenses and high roller events, and today is no exception. While yesterday felt like a warm up, the shuffle up and deal issued just 15 minutes ago carried with it the weight of the true Season 8 kick off.

As mentioned there's a swathe of Team PokerStars Pros and EPT winners - Toby Lewis and Michael Tureniec can be added to that list - but there are also a lot of the EPT regs that we've come to know and love, such as Kirill Zapletin and Elmar Dirnberger, and nearly men, such as EPT Barcelona runner-up Jesus Lizano and PCA third-place finisher Anton Ionel. And so it begins. -- RD

12.20pm: From the tournament floor
Laura Cornelius provides an alternative introduction to Day 1B.

12.15pm: Flying
Cards are in the air. There are now 160 players registered, and for the first couple of hours that figure is only likely to go up. -- HS

11.40am: Same again but different
Morning once again - let's have a big cheer for the first Day 1B of EPT season eight! This is the moment that all fans of staggered opening days have been waiting for. I know I'm excited.

Yesterday, there were 92 players kicking off EPT Tallinn. Today there are at least 139, but that figure will certainly rise dramatically. And this is certainly a stacked field. The list of registered players already includes the following:

Andrea Benelli, Annette Obrestad, Benny Spindler, Dario Minieri, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Imre Leibold, Ivan Freitez, JP Kelly, Jeff Sarwer, Jens Kyllonen, John Eames, Juha Helppi, Kevin Stani, Sami Kelopuro, Sebastian Ruthenberg and Ville Wahlbeck.

I can pick from that list four Team PokerStars Pros, one Team PokerStars SportStar, four EPT champions and one SCOOP Main Event Champion. Why not try to match name to description in the 20 minutes or so before we kick off at noon local time. -- HS


Reporting team in Tallinn: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Rick Dacey, Howard Swains.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Day 1B