Eureka2 Bulgaria: Day 1A, Level 5 - 9 updates (blinds 400-800 ante 100)
1.50am: Flying Dutchman leads Day 1A field
As the dust settled on Day 1A action it was Dutchman Ted Stolzenbach who won a closely fought contest with Petar Zografov to end Day 1A as chip leader.
The 57-year-old from Amsterdam ended the day on 136,300 as a field of 123 was reduced to just 41. But it wasn't all plain sailing for the man who, due to concentrating on Omaha cash games hasn't played a big tournament since 2008. 'I went up to 25,000, was down to 10,000 up to 20,000 up a bit more and then I won a big pot with J♠9♠ which was the key hand of the day for me. My opponent flopped two-pair but check-called me. I had flopped an open-ended straight draw, I turned a flush draw and then rivered my flush. He check-raised all-in and I called that got to me to 70,000.'
The experienced player who has been playing cards for almost 40 years and counts Marcel Luske, Rob Hollink and Noeh Boeken - who he calls the smartest of them all- among his acquaintances then won a 50,000 pot with aces against kings and queens. It just goes to show that for all the experience, nous and poker ability, timing is also a key component of poker tournaments.
A PokerStars qualifier, it cost Stolzenbach just $32 to qualify for this event. So was it the lure of Bulgaria and a beach that drew him back to tournament poker. Not quite: 'I'd already booked the trip as I wanted to play the pot-limit Omaha tournament (a €440 side event that starts at 9pm on Friday) so I thought why not play a satellite to the main event online. But now I may have to miss the Omaha event it as it could go late and I want to get some sleep for the main event.'
And on the main change he's noticed in the four years away from tournaments: 'Players make very small bets in comparison to the pot," he mused. And on Saturday they'll be making very small bets in comparison to his stack of 136,300, which was nearly 23,000 more than his nearest challenger Petar Zografov, who finished the day on 113,800.
They were the only two to break the 100,000 mark, they and 39 others will be back for Day 2 at 2pm on Saturday. You can catch up with action from levels one to four here and we'll be back for Day 1B from 2pm local time, until then goodnight.
1.10am: Play is over
Play has now ended for the day and players are bagging and tagging their chips as I type this. The overnight chip leader is Ted Stolzenbach with 136,300 a re-cap of the day's play will be on the way shortly. Overnight chip counts will be uploaded to the blog here before the start of play tomorrow.
Day 1B play begins at 2pm tomorrow local time.
12.55am:Last six hands
With nine minutes left on the clock a draw was done to determine how many more hands the players would play. And
three six is the magic number. So it's half-a-dozen more hands to the end of play today.
Sonja Kovac is one of the latest players to bust, also out are: Iulian-Georgian Ruxandescu, Patsis Thomas, Vasil Dimitrov and Veselin Karakitukov.
12.45am: Six figure club
With 20 minutes to go there are just two players with over 100,000, Ted Stolzenbach (see below) is chip leader with 137,000 and Petar Zografov has 114,000. Their nearest challengers appear to be Oren Alarav (85,000) and Tobias Schwecht (75,000).
Just 43 of the 120 starters remain.
12.35am: Kilmartin coolered, Stolzenbach chip leader
Ted Stolzenbach is the new chipleader with 137,000 after winning a three-way all-in and knocking out two players, including David Kilmartin.
Kilmartin told me: 'Under-the-gun raised to 1,800, Stolzenbach then raised to 4,200, I looked down at a pair of queens and jammed for 13,000. Under-the-gun then flat called, Stolzenbach then moved all-in and under-the-gun called. Stolzenbach had aces and the other guy had kings and the aces held up.'
12.25am: The Alnahas show
Michael Alnahas has been involved in a couple of big pots since the break. The first of these was a four way all-in, he had A♥[10h] and was up against [A][J],  and Emmanouil Chalkiotis's pocket tens. The pair held up on a [Q][J] board.
Then he told me, 'I opened [10h]9♥ on the button the big blind moved all-in for 10,000 with pocket kings and I snapped him off. The board came [Q] to give me a double gutshot and a [J] came on the turn to give me the pot.
12.12am: Alarav is king of the hill
There's a new chip leader in town and it's Oren Alarav. The Israeli is up to 90,000 after cracking Georgi Dimitrov's pocket aces with pocket kings. A king on the flop sending the 90,000 pot his way and Dimitrov to the rail.
12.07am: Zero sum game
Poker is a zero sum game, so whilst the chipleaders have around six times their starting stack many players are now out. They include: Atanas Kavrakov, Aldas Gomas and Dima Doralina.
11.58pm: Play restarts
Players are now back in their seats and they'll play one more level before bagging and tagging. Just 58 of the 120 who started the day remain meaning the average stack is 31,000. Leading the way are Petar Zografov (88,700) and Tobias Schwecht (88,000).
11.55pm: Sick turn, sick river
Apart from 'one time' sick might just be the most overused phrase in poker, but it aptly sums up what happened on fourth and fifth street in this hand.
Boyan Asenov was all-in for his last 20,250 holding A♠Q♣ against Anton Peev who yet again had found pocket aces, (see 11.15pm post) A♥A♦ to be exact.
The flop of J♦Q♠5♦ was fairly sedentary compared to what was to come, the Q♦ turn gave Asenov the lead with trip queens, but the 9♦ river saw Peev re-take the lead, win the pot and eliminate Asenov.
11.46pm: All hail King Zog
He's been up near the top for most of the day and Petar Zografov is now the chip leader his stack of 88,700 just pipping Tobias Schwecht, who has slipped to 88,000. Here's how he did it...
I joined the action live on fourth street to see a board of 2♦8♣8♠K♣ there was roughly 14,000 in the pot and Iulian-Georgian Ruxandescu checked to Zografov who bet 8,000, dwell then a call from Ruxandescu. The 5♠ completed the board and when it was checked to Zografov he bet 20,000 - setting Ruxandescu all-in - and the latter quickly mucked his hand. -- NW
11.45pm: Break time
The players are now on their final 15 minute recess of the day, during which tournament staff will do a colour up of the 25 denomination chips and I'll tell you about two big pots, one of which means we have a new chipleader.
11.35pm: The Irish Edward Norton?
During the dinner break I caught up with Irishman David Kilmartin, who I thinks bares a passing resemblance to Ed Norton from Rounders (see picture below). The 30-year-old told me. 'I satellited into this event and came over about a week ago to play a tournament in Sunny Beach which is a couple of hours away.'
And failing to make the money in Sunny Beach was not the worst part of the trip so far. 'The bus journey from Sunny Beach to Golden Sands was horrific,' he grimaced. "It really was a case of shut your eyes and wish you were somewhere else.'
And he probably wished he'd played Day 1B after an early mishap today: 'I ran a full-house into a bigger full-house to knock me down to 8,000, which at the time was still 30 big blinds. I got it back up to 24,000 though although I'm down a bit since then."
The Irishman has a string of cashes on his Hendon Mob Database page, including a € 60,000 cash from October 2009. But it's only recently he's started to play more live poker. "I lived in the USA for four and a half years but moved back to Dublin in February 2011. And I reckon that in the last three to six months I've played more live tournaments than in the previous five years. I used to just stick to online poker but now I've started to play live more.'
At the moment Kilmartin refuses to be bumped off, he's hanging in there with around 17,0000.
11.15pm: Aces not cracked
It seems most posts about aces involve them getting cracked, busted, bested or whatever you personally like to call it. Perhaps because being the best starting hand in hold'em they're meant to hold up. Either way I thought I'd redress the balance and show that sometimes aces win too.
Anton Peev has just doubled through Sergey Perelygin, the majority of the money (about 7,000 each) went in on the 5♠A♠[10d] flop, Peev with the aces, Perelygin with K♦[10h]. The turn and river bricked off and Peev doubled through. See aces do hold up occasionally.
10.55pm: Ladies hanging tough
There were only two ladies in the field today, both are still in and by a quirk of fate both are sat at the same table.
And that's not where the similarities end, because both are in the danger zone as we move into level eight. With a stack of 8,425 Dima Doralina has just over 14 big blinds, whilst Sonja Kovac with 12,600 and 21 big blinds has a little more wiggle room.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 300-600 ante 75
10.40pm: Aces versus kings cooler for Kraus
Anton Kraus, who earlier was one of the chip leaders is down to just 18,000 now after being on the wrong side of the old aces versus kings cooler. Fortunately his opponent, Boyan Asenov, only had 10,875 to start the hand.
Michael Alnahas, who has 40,000 and is seated at the same table told me that not long ago he had got it all-in against Asenov, only for them both to have pocket kings and chop the pot.
Just 72 players remain, which means there's been a few exits recently, they include: Dimitar Bashov, Deivydas Bazaravičius, Bogdan Putinica, Raigo Vakra, Theodor Löthman, Vasil Medarov, Marius-Adi Craciun and Marc Goschel.
10pm: When chipleaders collide
I've just witnessed the biggest pot of the tournament so far, Dmitry Yurasov (who started the hand with around 60,000) and Tobias Schwecht (49,000) just got it all-in pre-flop for a near 100,000 chip pot. It was the most classic of races with Yurasov holding pocket queens and Schwecht ace-king. An ace on the flop gave the pot to the German and he is now the clear chipleader here in Bulgaria.
9.45pm: Top of the pile
During the dinner break tournament staff did full chip counts of the remaining players, the chip leader is Dennis Schaefer who has 61,100, he and five other players have over 50,000.
Dennis Schaefer - 61,100
Dmitry Yurasov - 58,000
Oren Alarav - 55,300
Artur Koren - 55,000
Márk Karagity - 52,500
Petar Zografov - 50,000
9.40pm: Back from the break
The players are now back in their seats and play is underway, a list of the chipleaders is coming right up.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 200-400 ante 50
8.35pm: Break time
The remaining 78 players are now on a one hour dinner break. We'll be getting chip counts during this lull and will put them up on the blog as soon as we can.
8.25pm: The king and queen
Ted Stolzenbach's stack continues to rise, he's up to 30,000 after eliminating Stoyan Boyadzhiev. It all went in pre-flop with Stolzenbach holding K♦Q♦ whilst Boyadzhiev, who was all-in for 10,275 had A♠8♦.
The board ran 2♥6♥Q♣K♥6♠ and Stolzenbach shook hands with Boyadzhiev as he took the pot.
8.10pm: Fourth street thief
From under-the-gun Stefanos Kollias raised to 750, then from middle position Marc Goschel re-raised to 2,175 and when it folded back to Kollias he made the call.
The 9♠3♥2♦ flop was checked to Goschel, he bet 2,200, call from Kollias. The [10d] hit the turn, this prompted Kollias to lead out, he bet 3,500 and Goschel quickly folded.
7.55pm: Chip leader
The current chip leader is Dennis Schaefer, the German has ran his stack all the way up to 57,000 during level six.
7.40pm: Ante up
Tournament director Teresa Nousiainen just took to the microphone to announce to players that antes are now in play. Whilst the blinds remain the same, that pesky 25 antes means that players are now paying 675 a round instead of 450, assuming a nine handed table.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 150-300 ante 25
Whilst it's not an exhaustive list I'm keeping track of the names, notables and big stacks over on the chip counts page. I've just updated it, click here to follow their progress, I'll also be posting chip counts in the blog.
7.05pm: Stacked table
Table 10 is stacked, not necessarily in player talent (it might be I just can't be certain) but in chips it definitely is. The average is currently just under 21,500 but four players at the table all have 35,000 or over. They are: Petar Zografov (38,000), Martin Nikolov (36,000), Raigo Vakra (35,000) and Ioannis Triantafyllakis (35,000).
6.45pm: Back from the break
The remaining players, including Michal Misterek who finished 16th in Eureka2 Croatia, are back in their seats which gives me all the excuse I need to use this wonderful photo that Thomas Stacha took earlier today.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Bulgaria:Nick Wright. Photos by Thomas Stacha.