2011 PCA main event: Day 1B, levels 7 & 8 updates (blinds 400-800, 75 ante

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9.50pm: Break time
That's the end of level 8. Two more levels to come after a 15 minute break.

9.49pm: Bags of Sands
David Sands is up to 160,000 following a hand against Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem.

On a board of K♣3♥6♠ and 6,000 invested already in the pot Jeremy Cate checked to Hachem, wrapped up in a scarf against the air conditioning, and bet 2,600. Sands was on the button two seats away and called. Cate passed, bring a T♣ turn card.

Both Hachem and Sands checked, with plenty of onlookers watching from the rail. The river came 9♦ and more checking followed; Hachem showing only J♠ as Sands turned over 7♣7♦ to win the pot. Hachem down to 48,000. - SB

9:46pm: Duhamel doubles
Freddy Deeb raised to 2,100 and Jonathan Duhamel responded by moving all-in for 10,675. Vivek Rajkumar decided to join the party and called Duhamel's bet. Deeb considered calling but folded and let the two youngsters dish it out.

Duhamel showed a pair of jacks and was up against Rajkumar's A♦K♦. The race was on. The board fell Q♣5♥4♦[10c]9♦ and Duhamel won this race.

He also won a chunk of Rajkumar's stack and is up about 25,000. The hit wasn't too devastating to Rajkumar as he still has 45,000. --AV


9.39pm: Splashing around the river
Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano is up to 52,000 after eliminating Eric Afriat in a topsy-turvy hand. All the chips went in pre-flop with Afriat holding ace-queen to the Italian's pocket tens. It looked as though Pagano was going to win the hand after the flop missed both players but the turn came a queen to see Afriat snatch the lead. The drama wasn't over there though as the river came a ten to make a set for Pagano to eliminate his opponent. Afriat wasn't happy at the outcome and splashed his chips across the table before storming off. -- MC

9.36pm: Bad news for the field
In one small flip every player's tournament equity just took a swift nosedive. Fernando Brito got it in with T♣T♠ against A♥K♣ and hit a full house on the turn of a J♦J♠7♦T♥2♥ board doubling him up to 35,000. This might seem like an inconsequential amount but Brito is currently leading smashing eviscerating the EPT Player of the Year leader board. He's not a man that you want in your tournament. -- RD

9.35pm: Williams crashes
Team PokerStars Pro David Williams is out after moving on the button with [j][9] for his last 15,000 but walking into the small blind's aces. Our thanks to Sandra Naujoks for that info. -- SY

9.29pm: Weisner woes
Melanie Weisner's tournament now hangs in the balance after a hand against Redmond Lee, the player causing most trouble at the table which still features Humberto Brenes, Jennifer Tilly, Giuseppe Pantaleo and Daniel Alaei.

Pantaleo opened the pot, making it 1,700 from early position. The action was folded to Lee in the small blind who called, as did Weisner in the big blind.

The flop came 7♥Q♣5♠ which prompted Lee to bet 3,200, which Weisner called before Pantaleo passed.

The turn came 7♣. Weisner, as she's done before, stared across at Lee next to her; eyes peeking out through her hair which often forms a shield across her face, eyes lit up by eye-liner, looking sorry.

Hortin wasn't looking at anything but the board, then his chips as he bet 6,000, which Weisner called. On the 6♠ river Lee bet another 12,000. For Weisner it was a critical point; a hand she needed to win with just 16,000 behind. Minutes passed, then more as Weisner weighed up her options, finally, reluctantly, calling.

Hortin turned over 8♠7♠. Weisner gulped down a breath of air, managing to say "nice hand." Weisner in trouble with 3,500, as Lee moves up to around 90,000. - SB

9.24pm: Nought from one for Naujoks
Sandra Naujoks is still waiting for a big score to follow up her EPT Season 6 Dortmund victory where she won €917,000. She has had plenty of nearly moments with a ninth place finish at the $25,000 High Roller here last year, a 36th place finish at the EPT Grand Final and a 15th place finish in the $10,000 PLO Championship event at this year's WSOP. Will this PCA main event be that big event? Not if it keeps going like this.

British grind and EPT Vienna final tablist Surinder Sunar limped into the hand from the hijack before Erika Cerasti raised it up to 3,000 from the button. Naujoks was sat in the big blind with 70,000 and she took 9,300 of that to slide out front as a four-bet.

Sunar wasn't interested and passed. Cerasti sat for some time before coming back over the top. Naujoks insta-mucked and looked up away from the table with an expression that said 'Oh well, never mind.' She still has 60,000. -- RD

9:14pm: No queen please!
Fatima Moreira de Melo had but one request. She asked the dealer to avoid putting a queen out on the board. And really, who wants to deny De Melo anything (not saying we peeled her any grapes, but if you need grape peels for anything, we've got loads). She had K♦K♠ up against Q♦Q♣ all-in for her last 19,300.

The dealer clearly wanted to comply with her request, to the point that when he got ready to turn over the flop and saw the Q♠ in the door, he visibly paused. It was that clear, slow-motion second of a man who has just swung his car door closed with the keys in side, a sort of "Nooooooo...oooooo...ooo" moment.

When you make a mistake with a woman, there is only one thing you can do: everything in your power to make it right, even if it means going to the farthest reaches of the earth to find the rarest of spices for her green tea frappuccino. It took the fine dealer five cards, but by golly, he put that K♣ right there on the river. De Melo didn't kiss the dealer, but it was clear she wanted to. No comment on how proud the dealer looked with himself. --BW

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Fatima de Melo with the look of a woman who needs to be impressed...and quickly


9.17pm: Big call from big stack
Yousri Mali is stuck in the dark corner where table one is situated but the bad light hasn't stopped him amassing a probable chip leading stack of 168,000. The guy isn't afraid to stick his chips in the middle as a recent hand that just played out between Roberto Romanello and himself showed. We're not sure how the action played out but the board read 9♠9♦5♦J♠J♣ and Romanello moved all-in and was called. They both tabled queen-seven for a chopped pot! The river bet must've been sizable too as Romanello has a 38,000 stack.

A few minutes later the two were still chatting about it. "I thought you had a small pair and got counterfeited on the river", said Mali.

"Well, you were wrong then", responded the Welshman. -- MC


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Mali and his mountain of chips


9.15pm: Boeree escapes, Sepman re-sucks
A topsy-turvy hand saw Yulius Sepman's aces fall behind, Liv Boeree make a great fold - and Eric Ladny move ahead with the worst of it only to lose. Let me explain...

The flop was [10h]9♠Q♠ and Boeree checked before Sepman bet 5,500. Ladney then re-raised and all the money flew in.

Ladny, a PokerStars qualifier, from the USA: Q♦9♣
Sepman, a PokerStars qualifier from Russia: A♦A♥

"I folded kings," said Boeree, delighted to have got away from trouble in third place. But it was not over. The [10c] on the turn gave Sepman a bigger two pair and the 8♠ river ensured his aces won the day.

Sepman is up to 46,000 while Ladny slips to 30,000. Boeree, meanwhile, is on around 40,000. -- SY

9.04pm: Praise for Pagano
We're big fans of Luca Pagano here on the PokerStars Blog. The Team Pro is well behaved at the felt, taking even the worst bad beats with gritted teeth, and is always a gent away from the table.

Unfortunately he just doesn't seem his usual self at the moment. The Italian was on just 35,000 when I walked past him and is slumped in a chair looking at his iPad. Come on, Luca, if you're reading this pull yourself together. There's another final table waiting for you here, sir. -- RD

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Luca Pagano is looking for his mojo

9:02pm: The gradual decline of Bill Chen
Sometimes, in the frigid wold of elimination, one can only take comfort in telling the whole world at once. That's why Twitter was invented. Well, that and so people can argue about politics and Justin Bieber. But in this case, it's Bill Chen tweeting to the world that he's gone. It's a story told in two acts.

Act one: Down to 18 like WTF I raise utg to 1600 2nd utg3600 3rd utg shoves I fold call, hands aq, at

Act two: Out that is all... --BW

9:01pm: David Williams: J'regret
There were five players in the hand. The flop was Q♠[10c]6♥. There were a couple thousand chips in the pot and action had just been checked to Team PokerStars Pro David Williams. He bet 5,325 and was met with a 16,000 raise from Matt O'Donnell.  

The three other players folded and it was Williams' move once again.  He let out a deep breath, removed his headphones and stared at the flop. He thought and sighed some more, piecing together every detail of the hand.  

Williams eventually reached a conclusion: go all-in. He wasn't happy to see O'Donnell call almost instantly. Williams showed J♣[10d] for middle pair and O'Donnell flipped over Q♥[10s] for the crushing double pair. The turn was a Q♥, giving O'Donnell a full house and the double up.  

While O'Donnell now sits behind a 70,000 chip stack, Williams is left with 15,000 and a look of regret.  --AV

8.53pm: Lawson doubles
Ted Lawson has doubled to around 40,000. Our roving photographer, Joe Giron, said he held pocket sevens to an opponent's big-slick. All the chips went in on the river when the board read [t][k][7][4][a] with Lawson's set beating two-pair. -- MC

8.50pm: Right side of the pond
We've mentioned in the blog before how British double Bracelet winner Praz Banzi struggles to cash, despite his endless talents, at EPTs. But he comes to this side of the Atlantic and the money rolls in. Last year here, he finished 18th for $87,500 and one day he shared a table with Phil Ivey and the two of them ran over it. Bansi even got the better of Ivey for long periods and left the table as chip daddy when it was broken.

This year, he's going along very steadily and is up to 68,000 or so. In one hand we witnessed he raised from the cut-off to 1,400 and the small blind called to see the A♥A♠5♦ flop. Bansi c-bet for 1,800 and his opponent check-folded. "If that had been at an EPT he would've had a full-house or something", commented Bansi. "That's good though. I'm feeling positive about being here", he added. -- MC

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 400-800, ANTE 75


8.44pm: Pantaleo takes a hit
Giuseppe Pantaleo is down to 19,000 after a hand against Redmond Lee. On a board 6♥J♦8♠5♥A♥ and with around 8,000 in the middle, Pantaleo bet 4,075 from the small blind. Lee was ready to call but only after several minutes of thorough contemplation. When he did Pantaleo effectively conceded defeat immediately "King-high," he said, mucking as Lee showed T♥J♣. - SB

8.40pm: Deeb down then up
A board of 2♦A♥9♦2♣4♦ and Vivek Rajkumar was about to take a pot off Freddy Deeb, who sits chewing something, while one ear-piece pumps Arab Detroit into his ear. There was 18,000 in the middle and Rajkumar bet 30,000 at it. Deeb was cautious and thoughtful and eventually passed. Rajkumar up to 50,000.

Deeb clawed some of that back on the next hand against Yury Kerzhapkin. On a flop of A♥A♦Q♣ both players checked for a 3♥ turn which was also checked. When the 9♠ came on the river Kerzhapkin checked once more, but Deeb was ready with a bet, making it 3,000. Kerzhapkin rolled out three yellows to call, immediately regretting it. Deeb's K♥Q♥ was good.

Deeb back up to 19,000. - SB

8.36pm: Greg Raymer, master of kung fu
As I was walking by Greg Raymer's table I was forced to stop in my tracks by something that I didn't think I'd ever see; the fossilman doing kung fu. "Wooo, woo, woo," went Raymer's sound effects as he threw his forearms around the table. I missed the reason for why he was doing it but I get the impressive it was the final flourish to a don't-mess-with-my-blinds hand.


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Greg Raymer, master of poker-fu


While I was there I thought I may as well have a little look to see if Raymer was going to play the next hand. He didn't, but if he had he would be 60,000 richer. A short stack had moved in for 10,000 and had been isolated by Brasileiro Garcia when Asier Flores Uranga shrugged and chucked his 20,000 stack into the middle. Raymer asked for aces, looked at his cards and then folded. The short stack showed A♥T♦ to Garcia's A♣K♥ and Uranga's pocket queens. The board ran out 3♣9♥7♣6♣2♥ and Uranga almost tripled up to over 50,000, crippling Garcia in the process.

Raymer, who has 70,000, told the table he had 8♣9♣ and chuckled before turning to Uranga and saying: "Right time, huh?" The Spaniard just smiled and carried on stacking his chips. -- RD

8.34pm: Here's the money
Here's the big news for today... the prizes. With a total field of 1,560 the total prizepool has been set at $15,132,000. We'll be paying 232 places, and the person who comes out king of the hill, top of the list, head of the heap (that's enough Sinatra, Ed) will get a huge first prize of $2.3 million.

That almost enough to keep Team PokerStars Blog in Bahama Mamas for the night*. -- SY

*That's a drink by the way, just in case the missus is reading.

8:32pm: The hooded champion
Joe Hachem is a ninja, or he is at least dressed as one. Enveloped in a black hoodie pulled up high on his head, his neck is wrapped in a black infinity scarf with a PokerStars logo near the Adam's apple. Despite his ninja-like appearance, his movements are slow.

Involved in a fairly intense massage, even when three-betting out of the small blind (he was called then took it down on a 5♣T♦9♦ flop with a 5,200 bet), the only reason he seemed to actually only move because the massage therapist was pushing and tugging on him. He might have been a puppet, but for the obviously fast-working brain going on behind his eyes. That's a long way of saying, Hachem is here, he might be a ninja or he might be a puppet. However, as one of my greatest fears is making Hachem mad, I'll just say he's doing just fine and sitting on an above-average stack. --BW


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Joe Hachem can hold his breath for 12 minutes under ice cold water


8.30pm: MacPhee gone
When we walked by Kevin MacPhee's table, he had found himself in the small blind with just under 10 big blinds, a precarious situation. We decided to stay and watch.

Faced with a 1,550 chip raise from Loic Blarez, MacPhee went all-in and put his remaining 5,950 in the pot. MacPhee showed K♥Q♣, and was looking good against Blarez's 9♦7♦. The flop was 4♥Q♦A♦, pairing MacPhee's queen, but giving Blarez the flush draw.

The turn was a K♦, pairing MacPhee's second card, but giving Blarez the flush. The river brought a black jack (the J♣ to be precise) and EPT Berlin winner MacPhee hit the rail, his hopes of a PCA win flushed away. -- AV

8.25pm: Chorny up, Duthie holding steady
Glenn Chorny, the former EPT Grand Final winner, just boosted his stack to around the 85,000 mark. With a few thousand already in the pot and a board reading 7♠5♦J♦8♥ Maxx Dansky checked to Chorny who bet 2,500. Dansky called for a T♦ river, at which point both players checked, Chorny turning over K♦K♣, forcing Dansky to muck.

A table along is the man who handed Chorny his winner's cheque back then, John Duthie.
Duthie opened for 1,000 which was called by Paulo Rink on the button for a flop of 8♠T♠9♣. Duthie fired in another 2,500 forcing the fold, and taking his own stack up to 50,000. -- SB

8.20pm: He never has aces
Team PokerStars Pro ElkY never has aces, does he? Wrong. The Frenchman has such a loose image that if you pick up big slick against him, you feel like you're holding the nuts. It's quite understandable and probably right that Rob Rizman five-bet called off his stack to the Frenchman's six-bet shove with A♠K♦. Not this time as ElkY had found A♦A♣ and the board ran 3♠6♥8♠2♦9♦ to put him up to 79,000 chips. -- MC

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ElkY always has the goods

8.15pm: Coren no more
She came back from dinner as a short-stack, and five minutes later she was out. This was the fate of Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren, who will not be repeating her $40,000 finish for 30th two years ago.

It was folded around to Ken Coppens who opened the pot with a raise to 1,000. Then Coren, sitting in the next seat along, moved all in for 10,400. It was folded back to Coppens and he made the easy call:

Coppens: A♠K♣
Coren: 7♠7♥

The 8♠[10h]6♠ flop looked mighty good for a British double up, and the Q♣ was nice as well. But the river was A♥ ending Coren's tournament. A gentle tap of the table, a "good luck", and she was off. As she Tweeted a moment ago: "Oh well. Hope the weather's nice tomorrow."

Coppens, a PokerStars player from the USA, is up to 60,000 now. -- SY

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Vicky Coren

8.10pm: Chip leader?
This is Bruno Severino from Brazil, a man who sits with 165,000 and the chip lead. The PokerStars qualifier is a long way ahead of the chasing pack which includes David Williams and Jennifer Tilly. -- SY

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Bruno Severino

8.05pm: Veldhuis bites the dust
Lex Veldhuis is no more after missing out on his draw. On a 6♦6♠7♦ flop he re-raised all-in and was called by a player with pocket kings. The Dutchman had Q♦[10d] for the flush draw, but the 2♣ turn and A♣ river did not help. -- SY

8pm: Barry too much for Buchman
Eric Buchman came in for a raise and got a call from the button. Barry Greenstein was in the big blind with 11,350 more. Buchman labored over his decision for a minute or two before folding. Buchman could only offer, "I think we were racing, but the pot wasn't laying me the right odds." --BW

7.52m: If anyone can, Kenney can
Bryn Kenney is currently pootling along on a little under 20,000 but he stands as good a chance as any to spin that up. Kenney finished third in the Super High Roller yesterday for $643,000 so he's not going to be that player that can't pull the trigger because he's worried about busting. He just lost a few thousand after squeezing from the button and firing a 2♣K♦7♦ flop and folding on the Q♠J♦ river. -- RD

7.45pm: History in the making
The numbers are in, and we can safely say this is by far the biggest PCA event ever. Today saw 913 players take to the felt which makes a total field of 1,560. We have no prizepool details yet, but that should be with is fairly soon.

Play is under way again. -- SY

7:38pm: Dinner (such as it was) almost over
The players are finding their way back to the tables after a 75-minute dinner break. They'll have four more levels to play before breaking for the night.

While we're waiting to get back in action, please see the work of Joe Giron who has captured the elusive Isildur2. Our Simon Young spotted the lad earlier, and became convinced its a Viktor Blom twin. No, really...look. In the foreground is Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. In the back...look at the hairdo...mmmm-hmmm. --BW

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Isildur1?

PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of the relative masculinity of their recent Starbucks orders): Brad Willis and photographer Joe Giron (iced black tea), Simon Young and Rick Dacey (latte), Marc Convey (caramel latte), Stephen Bartley (chai tea latte), and Alexander Villegas (green tea frappuccino and a side order of lace undergarments).