PokerStars Marbella Festival: Day 1A, level 1-4 updates (100-200, ante 25)

4.25pm: Ready, steady, break!
Everyone needs to take a breather once in a while and the end of level 4 is the signal for the players to stream out into the sunshine and do just that.

10 minutes and the players will be back in action. See you then!

4.02pm: Rojas red-dy to build success
Bad translingual pun alert.

Ok, so quit groaning and take note - we've located the identity of the Mortensen wannabe who was building towers earlier.and it is Pablo Rojas. We assume this is the correct usage of his name as the full version is quite a mouthful...brace yourselves.

Pablo Rojas Martínez Del Mármol is the unedited version and he has already bolstered the materials available to him by bumping his stack up to over 28k. Already his sculpture is assuming a more magnificent form.

By the end of the day if things have gone well he may have a citadel at his disposal...we await his next construction with baited breath!

3.45pm: Young Tigers

Today's field includes Diego Gomez Gonzales, whose voice can indelibly be heard across the casino floor. Diego is better known as the man who decided a tiger outfit was his best hopes for winning an EPT final table in Prague. He will be hard to silence, having built his stack to a healthy 35,550.


No sad tigers today

We'll also be watching Adrian Mateos Diaz, who not only won the Madrid stop of the ESPT earlier this year for over €100,000 but did so at just eighteen, becoming the youngest champion in the tour's history. Today Adrian has been stuck in neutral and currently sits at 15,500, passing the time tweeting with his growing fan base. -- GC


Spot the Young Gun

3.24pm: Kowalówka takes Pole position

Polish players have shown they possess formidable poker skills in recent times and Bartłomiej Kowalówka is the latest player to force himself into the reckoning of a major tournament. He has already more than doubled his starting stack and is the potential chip leader as we stand with 42,500. -- RS


3.05pm: It's all about the money, honey
Alberto Sapiano made his name and reputation as a leading honey magnate, but during many years at the felt he has carved out a name for himself at the poker tables as well.

Last year saw Sapiano go on a tear, picking up several titles and although he has yet to make a big impression here, he is on the rise - his stack up to 22,150. -- RS

2.35pm: Clarke's downward spiral has silver lining
Gary Clarke is yet another player to have made the trip over from the emerald isle to take part in proceedings but thus far, he has been unable to harness the luck of the Irish to boost his fortunes,

He had stepped away from the table momentarily to cool down, his stack having slid to a relatively lowly 11k and he recounted his tribulations to us.

"I've had a series of difficult situations. I had kings on a board which got progressively worse, finishing with four to a straight and I was forced to fold - I then rivered a flush on a paired board in another hand, made a bet of 500 only to face a chunky raise to 3,500.

I laid it down but this time I was shown a bluff!"

Despite his current predicament, he did suggest that being in such a lovely location, it wouldn't be the end of the world if he were to be eliminated. Let's hope Gary won't find himself pool-side slathering on sun tan lotion too soon though. Good luck sir! -- RS

2.20pm: Back in effect
Cigarettes smoked, tales of woe and glory shared and sunshine briefly snatched, the players are now back at the felt to continue Day 1a's progress, -- RS


2.00pm: Break time
That's the first two levels of the day in the bag.

There will now be a 20 minute break before the players return to do battle. We'll see you then! -- RS

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Abandon chip!

1.55pm: Gavin putting on brave face
Irishman Fintan Gavin is always an amiable chap but a crushing start has left him floundering with less than half his starting stack.

We missed the hand that did the damage, though there were mutterings from the rail about someone throwing in a lot of big blinds with ace-jack.

Typical Gavin though, he didn't bemoan his apparent misfortune, laughing it off before raising the next hand to 300 from the cut-off and c-betting the T♦8♦8♠ flop to pick up a fold and rise to a still usable 10,450. -- RS

1.44pm: Pastor with chips?
Not a starch-heavy yet bland sounding recipe, just a quick update from one of the more notable players in the event, Juan Manuel Pastor.

He's had a slow and steady start to proceedings gradually chipping up to 21,250, just a little above his starting stack. -- RS

1.32pm: Keep on rocking
In the middle of table fourteen sits Alan Parsons. "As in the project," he chuckles. With green blown out hair and heavy fake bling, he is easily today's most colourful character. He could be spotted earlier taking some refuge at the nearby poker room bar, in good spirits, with half his starting chips remaining.

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Making a scene

1.08pm: Anglo/ Spanish blend breaking records
The Casino Marbella is largely a blend of English and Spanish accents right now - not surprising given the nature of the tournament.

What might come as more of a surprise is the fact that a close to record-breaking number of online qualifiers chose to target this competition. Although the glitz and glamour of the WSOP may have caught the eye of some of poker's big names, there is still a huge amount of poker interest here in Europe and that can only be great news for the poker community. -- RS


12.52pm: El Matador fan in the building
Carlos Mortensen, nicknamed "El Matador" is one of Spain's finest poker players with two WSOP bracelets, over $10 million in tournament cashes and a legion of dedicated fans testament to his talent.

Mortensen has a habit at the table of constructing his usually large chips stacks into complex flowering structures that attract cameramen in their droves to snap these artistic creations.

It looks as though one player has decided to emulate the illustrious Spaniard, working on his own little creation. It is early days, so he only has a few chips to work with right now, but if he makes a deep run we could see him manufacture something spectacular.

We're rooting for him... -- RS

12.30pm: Early action
A long day of poker is ahead of us, but you wouldn't know it from the half-dozen girlfriends on the rail this morning, some in cocktail chic. Across the room Team Spain's Juan Manuel Pastor is representing Team PokerStars, while twitter research suggests Team Online's Grzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz will join the action tomorrow.

The board on table 19 read T♦ 9♦ 8♣ with a 5♠ turn. Sporting a lumberjack look Seat 8 led out for 1350 only to be raised by Seat 3 to 2900. After a bit of a stew he calls. The river was a 6♠, and Seat 8 now takes the lead, a measly 1500, which was snap called. The mucking took longer though when the river better tabled a trickily played set of eights. With that Seat 3 went for a walk, having lost one third of his stack. -- GC

12.01pm: We're off!
Cards are in the air and the game is afoot!



11.58am: Welcome to Marbella
There may be the sound of bracelets jingling gently from across the atlantic, but that won't worry those who have turned up in sizzling Marbella to test their skills and luck in pursuit of this title - the first stop of note on both the UKIPT and ESPT tours..

There have been some monumental meetings in history - Nixon/ Presley, Reagan/ Thatcher but now the UKIPT and Estrellas poker tours are shaking hands and pulling a cheesy grin for the cameras as the pair team up for this exciting inaugural joint venture

Thirty degree temperatures under a blazing sun, crystal clear seas, golden beaches, highly recommended restaurants and emimently affordable libations are just some of the attractions on offer though many of those will be put on ice temporarily as Day 1a has sold out - a cavalcade of Europe's poker finest congregating to do battle across the felt.

Marbella is also the perfect launch to the exotic - a short swim across the strait of Gibraltar is Casablanca. Closer still is Tangiers, where William S Burroughs wrote the degenerate novel Naked Lunch. The book's protagonist often jokes "As one judge said to another: 'be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary.'" Five days of cards in this main event is sure to render plenty of both outcomes.

We're now moments away from the start, chips are clicking, players are seated and the action is due to begin.

Good luck one and all!

PokerStars Blog reporting team at PokerStars Marbella Festival brought to you by UKIPT and ESPT: Rod Stirzaker and Gareth Chantler. Photos by Erik Vogel.

Rod Stirzaker
@PokerStars in Marbella