EPT Tallinn final table: Level 23 & 24 updates (12,000-24,000 3,000 ante)


3.07pm: Break time
That's the end of the level. Players are on a 15 minute break.

3.05pm: Dire straight for Sointula
We're now witnessing more and more hands that are a pleasure to watch, like the latest, a massive hand that could result in Jani Sointula's demise.

Sointula opened for 50,000 on the button which Grzegorz Cichocki called from the big blind for a flop of 8♠J♣T♠. Cichocki then checked to Sointula who bet 58,000, before firing back with 137,000. Sointula grabbed his chips from across the line, pulled them back and replaced them with a call.

The turn came 3♦. Cichocki went to his stack, not quite as well armoured with orange chips anymore, and assembled a bet of 247,000. Sointula called.

The river came Q♣. Cichocki went for some blue chips, then dug out a second column he had in reserve. He got 400,000 ready, then 440,000, then 447,000 which he pushed forward. Another shock wave, this one forcing Sointula back in his chair, his arms stretched behind his head, eyes bulging. He had 900,000 back and for a second I thought I saw the flash of a "what the hell" expression before he calmed himself. Then he called.

The tournament director announced the call to an eager crowd. Cichocki didn't show immediately, waiting for Sointula to finish paying his fee. Then, like he was plunging a knife into his chest, Cichocki pushed his cards forward and turned over 9♠7♠.

A dispirited Jani Sointula from earlier, who looks about the same now

Cichocki had flopped the straight to win the 1,700,000 pot. Sointula nodded, sighed and sucked it up, looking down at the 450,000 he had left.

"Set," said Sointula in the post-mortem. - SB

3.02pm: Sointula punished Aasma
In this four-handed action Jani Sointula is applying a lot of pressure and it was Raigo Aasmaa who was most recently on the Finn's anvil. Aasmaa opened his small blind to 50,000 and Sointula move all-in asking Aasmaa if he wanted to play for his remaining 700,000. He did not. Sointula up to around 1,500,000 - an uptick of half-a-million since being forced to fold by Kaiser earlier this level. -- RD

2.58pm: Kaiser gives up, wins anyway
Ronny Kaiser checked the turn of a K♠3♠T♠A♦ board against Gregorz Cichocki having c-bet 55,000 and had the look of a man who had given up on the hand. The A♣ river was also checked by both players and Kaiser showed 7♠7♥ to take the pot. -- RD

2.55pm: Sointula guns for Cichocki
The attack on Grzegorz Cichocki's stack continues, with Jani Sointula now helping himself to a few more. Cichocki is not, however, going to change his aggressive pre-flop approach and is continuing to put his chips out there as bait.

Cichocki opened to 48,000 from under the gun (which is also the four-handed cut off) and Sointula called from the big blind. They saw a 9♦5♦8♦ flop, which both players checked. The [10s] turned and Sointula bet 75,000, which was not enough to persuade Cichocki away. But the 180,000 bet from Sointula on the K♠ river did the trick.

Cichocki folded. -- HS

2.50pm: Taking on the Pole
Ronny Kaiser called in the small blind to see a flop of 9♦6♦5♣ with big blind Grzegorz Cichocki. Kaiser checked to the Pole who bet 62,000 which Kaiser called for an A♠ turn. This time Kaiser led the betting, making it 90,000 which Cichocki called for a 2♦ river. Kaiser then went to his chips again, throwing in 135,000. Cichocki called but was forced to pass when Kaiser turned over A♣8♥. Another 280,000 to the Kaiser slush fund.

At the moment Raigo Aasmaa has been reduced to a mere spectator. He just got a walk in the big blind but you sense it was only because Kaiser was leaning back to take a swig of Coke.

The Estonian did get involved in the next hand, however, calling in the small blind when Kaiser opened for 48,000 under the gun. The flop came 5♦2♣Q♥ and Aasmaa bet 65,000. Kaiser was keeping things small though, and folded, Aasmaa's gains not yet big enough to reverse his fortunes as the short stack.

In the next hand Cichocki was the target again, Kaiser re-raising the Pole's under the gun raise to 50,000 from the big blind, making it 150,000 to play. Cichocki got the point.
Then, in what may be a subtle pincer move by the Finns on Cichocki, Sointula took him on, opening from the button for 50,000 which Cichocki called in the big blind.

The flop came 8♦3♠T♣ which both players checked for a 4♦ turn card. Cichocki threw in another 55,000 which Sointula called for a K♥ river. Cichocki bet another 75,000 but Sointula was not going anywhere, calling and showing 7♦T♦. Cichocki was beaten, showing J♣4♣. - SB

2.40pm: Kaiser shows willingness for Cichocki battle
Ronny Kaiser has been drawn to the left of Grzegorz Cichocki for two full days now, and one gets the impression that the battle might be coming to a head. Kaiser has bided his time and remained incredibly patient in pots against his Polish adversary (who has been closest to him in chips throughout) but there is a definite hint that something is about to give.

Just recently, Cichocki raised the 48,000 from the cut off and Kaiser three bet to 134,000 from the big blind. Cichocki called. The flop came J♥7♦[10s], which they both checked, but when the Q♦ turned, Kaiser steamed out with a 140,000 bet. Cichocki folded.

There's not all that much of interest in the hand itself, but it definitely represented a change in gears from Kaiser. I can't actually remember a previous occasion on which Kaiser has been the victor in a notable pot between those two, but I think Kaiser has now decided it is time to attack. -- HS

2.30pm: Sointula and Kaiser clash over one million pot
Jani Sointiula and Ronny Kaiser have just gone to war over a one million pot which has left Sointula battered and bruised but certainly not out.

Sointula opened the cut-off for 50,000 and was called on the button by Kaiser and Raigo Aasmaa in the big blind. Sointila c-bet 85,000 into the K♦5♠J♣ flop and Kaiser raised to 175,000. Sointula made the call.

The 2♥ was checked by Sointula. Kaiser dropped a large chunk of orange 25,000 chips across the line for a 350,000 bet. Sointula made the call and then checked the 5♦ river.

Kaiser was offered a showdown, he refused to take it and moved all-in. One million in the pot and one million left in Sointula's stack. The Finn looked unhappy to pass but is still chipped up more than Aasma. Kaiser up close to 4,000,000 now. -- RD

ept tallinn_day 5_ronny kaiser.jpg

Ronny Kaiser stretching out with the chip lead

2.20pm: Cichocki loses one as Kaiser goes for lead
Ronny Kaiser opened on the button for 48,000 which Grzegorz Cichocki raised to 130,000 from the small blind. Kaiser then called for a flop of T♥6♠7♠.

Cichocki bet 170,000 but Kaiser was waiting with a re-raise, making it 375,000 to play. Cichocki sat still for a moment before folding, the first time in the final that he has lost out a big pot. Kaiser showed him T♦. - SB

2.15pm: Big stacks keep it small
The average stack is now close to 90 big blinds, so there is plenty of play in this one yet. Two of the biggest stacks, Jani Sointula and Ronny Kaiser, are going at one another, with each showing a good degree of respect to their opponent.

On two recent hands, they exchanged the best part of 200,000 each time, first Kaiser giving to Sointula and then winning it back.

After Sointula raised to 50,000 from the button, Kaiser defended from the small blind. That took them to a flop of 3♠A♥4♥, where Kaiser check-called a 55,000 continuation bet from Sointula.

The turn was 9♣ and now Kaiser attacked, betting 90,000. But Sointula refused to budge and called. The river was J♣ and Kaiser checked. Sointula bet 135,000 and after a huge dwell (huge by Kaiser's standards at least), the Swiss folded.

A couple of hands later, they were at it again. This time Sointula made up Kaiser's big blind and the went to a flop of 4♠2♦7♦ for the absolute minimum spend. Sointula checked, Kaiser bet 35,000, Sointula called.

The turn was 5♥. Sointula checked, Kaiser bet 90,000, Sointula called. The river was 3♥. Sointula checked, Kaiser bet 180,000 and this time Sointula folded.

Raigo Aasmaa has become the tournament short stack, but with about 35 big blinds, he is not in any immediate peril. -- HS

2.05pm: Fox out in 5th (€55,000)
Stuart Fox has just been knocked out and looks relatively happy about it. Fox had been down to fumes at the break and was due to bust in 6th but the clash the Jani Sointula knockout of Erlend Melsom gifted the Brit an additional €10,000.

The very next hand he was in for all but 1,000 of his stack when Kaiser opened from the hijack for 50,000. Sointula called in the small blind and Fox flicked in his last chip to make the call. Kaiser made a small bet on the turn of the K♣8♠2♣K♥ board to isolate the action and show Fox that he was drawing dead. -- RD

ept tallinn_day 5_stuart fox.jpg

Stuart Fox enjoyed a one big blind ladder to finish in fifth

1.55pm: Erlend Melsom eliminated in sixth place
In the first hand back from the break a stroke of luck for Jani Sointula sends Erlend Melsom crashing to the rail.

Melsom had opened to 50,000 from under the gun. The action was folded to Sointula in the big blind who asked Melsom how much he had left. The answer was something like 400,000 which prompted Sointula to move all in. Melsom called, showing A♠K♣ to Sointula's A♦Q♠.

Sointula managed a smile as the waited for the board. It was all clear for Melsom until the turn, with a board of 7♥5♣8♦A♣. At this point only a queen would save Sointula while duly arrived, the Q♦ suddenly sending Melsom out in sixth place to a round of applause from everyone in the room.

It's worth nothing that Stuart Fox was down to two big blinds at the time. He couldn't help bumping fists with Sointula. - SB

ept tallinn_day 5_erlend melsom.jpg

Erlend Melsom: out in sixth

1.35pm: Break time
That was the last hand before the break. Updated chip counts are on the chip-counts page and we're going into the next level, with blinds at 12,000-24,000. Fox has two big blinds left, while Kaiser has a chip lead of two big blinds. -- HS

1.30pm: Fox floored
The final hand before the break has all but floored Stuart Fox and put Jani Sointula right back among the big stacks. Those two players had had a bit of history, with Fox three betting Sointula a couple of times already on this final table. But when Sointula decided to take a stand, he was well equipped - and Fox also had significant enough holding to call him.

Here's how it went. It was folded to Sointula in the hijack, and he raised to 40,000. Fox, in the cut off, raised to 105,000 and it made its way back round to Sointula. He took his time, but eventually moved all in for a total of 596,000.

Fox, with almost exactly that in his stack, took an age to make his decision, but eventually he called. And it all made sense:

Fox: A♥Q♦
Sointula: K♣K♠

Fox needed to hunt out an ace, but couldn't find one. The board ran 8♠7♦8♣2♣3♥ and Sointula pulled off a major double up.

Fox is left with 50,000. Sointula has 1,200,000. -- HS

1.25pm: Sami Kelopuro eliminated in seventh place, earning €35,000
With five minutes remaining on the level Sami Kelopuro has been eliminated in seventh place.

Ronny Kaiser opened for 40,000 from early position which Kelopuro called from the big blind. The flop came 3♥2♥9♠ which Kelopuro checked. Kaiser bet 45,000 which Kelopuro then called for a 5♠ turn.

Again, Kelopuro check-called Kaiser's bet of 120,000 for a 8♠ on the river. But by now the hand was destined to go well for Kaiser. Kelopuro checked for a final time, leaving it to Kaiser to bet a stack of oranges worth 225,000. With 830,000 or so behind Kelopuro announced he was all in.

Kaiser, suddenly animated in his chair as if blown back by a shockwave, said he needed a count, but the dealer wasn't even half way through this formality before Kaiser said he called, turning over A♠4♣ for a turned straight, which Kelopuro immediately acknowledged had his beaten.

There followed an awkward moment of protocol, the lame duck Kelopuro waiting in his chair while the tournament director ran through the situation for those watching on the rail. Kelopuro had mucked his hand, but the all-in-called required a showdown. The Finn waited, smiling slightly, as the dealer turned over Kelopuro's A♦K♠. Finally he was allowed to leave.

Kelopuro out in seventh, while Kaiser moves up to roughly 2,700,000. - SB

1.22pm: Last three hands
Back to back raise and takes from Jani Sointula (under-the-gun) and Erlend Melsom (hijack). Ronny Kaiser may well have been trying the same thing with the same 40,000 raise Sointula and Melsom had made but he found a caller in Raigo Aasmaa on the button.

The board was checked to the 2♥9♥T♠J♠ turn which Kaiser fired 50,000 into. Whatever plan Aasmaa may have been making as he reached for his chips was thrown when fumbled a few on the table. He mucked immediately after. -- RD

1.10pm: You don't see it every day
Quads on a final table? Quad aces? Yep, Grzegorz Cichocki has just added another couple of hundred to his stack by turning a rag ace into four-of-a-kind and extracting some value from Sami Kelopuro.

Kelopuro had taised to 45,000 from the cut off, which Cichocki called in the big blind. It was the two of them to a flop of K♣A♦J♦, which was checked in both spots. The A♠ turned, and Cichocki checked again. Kelopuro bet 58,000 and Cichocki called.

The river was A♥ and Cichocki now led at it for 82,000. Kelopuro made a pretty-much instant call -- a king? a jack? -- but Cichocki rolled over A♣7♥ for the quads. They were, um, good. I think. -- HS

1.05pm: Heavyweight battle
Sami Kelopuro opened for 45,000 in middle position which Ronny Kaiser called from the cut off. Jani Sointula was in the big blind and also called, the three major players in a hand together.

The flop came 5♦9♥9♦ and Sointula checked. Kelopuro, performing one of those virtuoso finger ballets, transferring different chips to different piles before reuniting them for a bet, pushed in 78,000 in various colours, which Kaiser called with a stack of yellows. Before you could turn you head to look see for yourself, Sointula had already folded.

The turn came K♦ which both players checked and they did the same for the 4♠ river. Kelopuro turned over 5♣3♣. The dealer looked at Kaiser who simply nodded. Kelopuro up to 1,150,000 while Kaiser drops to 1,800,000. - SB

1pm: Big stacks tangling
Redraws can be a big part of tournament variance and the final table plonked Gregorz Cichocki - second in chips - on the left of chip leader Ronny Kaiser. Conceding position to the only player that can all but knock you out isn't good and already there's been a swing towards the Pole. Cichocki is certainly going to be giving Kaiser some cause for concern.

Kaiser opened from the small blind and Cichocki made the call. Kaiser c-bet 42,000 into the K♠5♦A♦ flop but check-folded to 75,000 on the 3♠ turn. Cichocki marginally in front at the moment. -- RD

12.55pm: Melsom back in the hunt
After the departure of Arvi Vainionkulma and the chipping up of Stuart Fox, Erlend Melsom was left on the short stack. He moved all in from under the gun and got everyone to fold, and it got even better on the next hand.

Melsom had posted the big blind and it was folded all the way round to Sami Kelopuro in the small. Kelopuro announced that he was all in, tempting Melsom to play for his stack. Melsom was obliging, barely taking breath before calling the shove. Melsom was behind with K♦J♠ to Kelopuro's A♦[10c], but there was plenty of equity there.

The flop was blank: 3♠5♠7♦. But the turn was the bingo J♦. And after the Q♠ rivered, Melsom was counting his chips for the double up.

He had 305,000, so ended the hand with about 620,000. Kelopuro has 985,000 remaining. -- HS

12.50pm: Fox force 500
A chair has been removed from the table following Arvi Vainionkulma's departure and players have been invited to make use of the space. Stuart Fox dragged himself and his chips about 12 inches to the left, Jani Sointula next to him moved about six inches, while Raigo Aasmaa just shuffled in his seat a bit.

The last couple of hands have been about Fox moving centre stage. He opened for 42,000 from the cut-off which Ronny Kaiser raised to 89,000 from the big blind, putting Fox under pressure. After a minute to think it over Fox moved all in for about 380,000, prompting Kaiser, who had no doubt planned for this eventuality, to fold.

In the next hand Fox opened for 42,000 again, which Grzegorz Cichocki called from the big blind for a flop of Q♠9♠3♦. Cichocki checked. Fox, who plays with his fist against his mouth, as if about to cough, bet 104,000. Like Kaiser, Cichocki folded. Fox up to more than 500,000 now. - SB

12.45pm: Here's what you could have won...
The remaining EPT Tallinn payouts are as follows:

1. €275,000
2. €180,000
3. €110,000
4. €80,000
5. €55,000
6. €45,000
7. €35,000

There's some big money to be won here and if you want to see who the nearly men were then click on this link here. -- RD

12.40pm: First faller, Arvi Vainionkulma out in 8th (€25,000)
Arvi Vainionkulma started the day as the shortest stack and was the player most likely to be the first all in. Chip dynamics don't lie, he was. Ronny Kaiser opened for 40,000 from early position and Vainionkulma moved all-in for 220,000 from the small blind. Sami Kelopuro passed in the big blind and Kaiser made the call.

Vainionkulma: A♠K♥
Kaiser: 4♥4♣

Ahhh, the classic race situation. Kaiser zipped off on the 2♠7♣5♦ flop with Vainionkulma needing to catch an ace or king on the turn or river. None of his six outs materialized on the 6♥ turn or Q♦ river. Kaiser back to 2,400,000.

Skrill, the Official Payment Provider Sponsor of the European Poker Tour Season 8 no less, had offered a last longer bet for any player wearing a Skrill patch. Vainionkulma opted into that challenge winning it with aplomb to claim his buy-in back so that's €25,000 clean profit for the Finn. -- RD

12.30pm: Pole-axed
There's absolutely no doubt who has emerged as the early table captain: Grzegorz Cichocki has won four hands on the spin. After taking the pot from Ronny Kaiser detailed below, he then went on a pre-flop raising mission, making it 40,000 from button and cut-off in successive hands, then 45,000 from the hijack on the next.

The former and the latter of those resulted in him picking up the blinds and antes, and the middle one earned him even more. On that occasion Stuart Fox decided to defend his big blind and they went to a 6♥A♦5♥ flop. Fox checked, Cichocki bet 50,000 and took it down. -- HS

12.25pm: Line-up
Wanted for a crime near you. The final table players at EPT Tallinn:


Final table players at EPT Tallinn: Standing (l-r): Sami Kelopuro, Arvi Vainionkulma, Jani Sointula, Raigo Aasmaa, Erlend Melsom, Stuart Fox. Seated (l-r): Ronny Kaiser, Grzegorz Cichocki

12.22pm: Pot to Poland
Sami Kelopuro, wearing a watch that looks like it's worth about three times the value of my car when it was new, opened for 45,000 in the hijack, which Ronny Kaiser called from the button. In the small blind was Grzegorz Cichocki, ready to raise to 120,000. Kelopuro passed but Kaiser called after looking at his cards again and covering half of his face with his hood.

The flop came 5♠K♦8♦ which both players checked for a Q♦ turn card. Both checked again for a 5♣ river at which point Cichocki checked to Kaiser. The Swiss bet 330,000. Cichocki went to his chips and pushed forward the call.

"Good call," said Kaiser, immediately mucking his hand, allowing Cichocki to fold without showing and denying the rest of us a peek at what he had. - SB

12.15pm: Kaiser on the button
It's the first hand of the EPT Tallinn final table and with Ronny Kaiser on the button we all expected a three-bet to come in when Raigo Aasmaa opened under the gun for 45,000. It didn't but the young Swiss did make the call, as did Gregorz Cichocki in the big blind.

Aasmaa c-bet 60,000 into the A♠4♣5♦ flop and took the pot. First blood to the Estonian. -- RD

12pm: Ready for the final push
Morning all. Everyone ready for the final table? Good.

We've been touting this moment for a few days now, but we have eight players lined up for what might turn out to be one of the most combustible final tables in EPT history. Say what you like about Ronny Kaiser, Sami Kelopuro and Jani Sointula, but they're not afraid to get their chips in.

Reporters here in the Swissotel Tallinn have also noticed a certain inclination to mix it up in Grzegorz Cichocki, who may be a new face but has certainly showed some flair and experience in his play. He is second in chips at the start of the day.

Stuart Fox, the British representative, has been nursing a short stack for longer than he cares to remember. But if he finally gets more than 20 big blinds in front of him, Fox too will come racing to the party.

With a partisan home crowd behind Raigo Aasmaa, the Estonian is going to be focused on becoming the first Estonian to win an EPT main event. And if these tournaments have taught us anything, even the lesser known are never out of it. Arvi Vainionkulma and Erland Melsom could yet have a say.

Play is due to start at noon. It won't. So stick around and join us when it does. Your guess is as good as mine.

In the meantime, check out those full player profiles on the player profile page. Then look at the starting chip-count page. And then come back right here.
-- HS


Final nine in Tallinn: Remove Johan Van Til, change their clothes, rotate the table, and it's pretty much what it looks like today too

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

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Day 5