PokerStars Championship Panama: Igor Yaroshevskyy & Tito Ortiz bloody Day 1A

What do you get when you put a cage-fighting mountain of a man and one of the Ukraine's fiercest poker players in the same Panamanian octagon? You get a Day 1A bloodbath that ends with both men still standing at the top at the end of the night.

You know, in a figurative sense, of course.

When the bell rang at the end of Level 8 tonight, poker pro Igor Yaroshevskyy and MMA legend Tito Ortiz sat at the top of the PokerStars Championship Panama leader board. Yaroshevskyy was on top with 219,300. Ortiz sat in second with more than six times his starting stack, 182,000.

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Igor Yaroshevskyy


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Tito Ortiz

A few more than a hundred people showed up for the first of two Day 1 Main Event flights. It was a tough field full of Super High Rollers, Team PokerStars Pros, and grinders from all over the globe.

In the early part of the day, Lokesh Garg held control of the biggest stack. His biggest problem was the biggest man in the room. Ortiz sat on the other side of the table, and in one huge hand, Ortiz rivered a full house against Garg's ace-high flush. Garg held on to finish the day, but he did so while staring across the room at his chips in Ortiz's stack.

While Yaroshevskyy and Ortiz will control the Day 1 headline for the next 24 hours or so, they will not be without a Day 2 battle on Thursday. There are still some serious hitters among the 43 who finished the day, including Jason Koon in third place, Steve O'Dwyer, Daniel Dvoress, Ryan Riess, Byron Kaverman, and David Peters.

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Jason Koon in third with 175,500

You can see a full list of chip counts for Day 1A survivors here.

Though our focus remains on who's left and who is to come tomorrow, this day was not without some lament. Among those who won't be winning this first PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event are Koray Aldemir, Dario Sammartino, Kenny Hallaert, Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, Mike Watson, Nacho Barbero, Dan Colman, Adrian Mateos, Justin Bonomo, Ike Haxton, Massimo De Mario, Timothy Adams, and Orpen Kisacikoglu. We expect we'll see some of those in tomorrow's $25,000 Single Day High Roller.

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No Main Event win for Liv Boeree this week

In the meantime, we need to catch a few hours of sleep. We have another 12-hour day ahead on Wednesday.

In less than 12 hours, we'll begin Day 1B of this Main Event. This flight is typically a lot bigger, so strap in for another 12 hours of coverage beginning at 11am Panama time (ET -1).

Until then, buenas noches from Panama City.

To see a full accounting of the day, scroll through the reports below. Fore more information, check out any of these links:

CHIP COUNTS | ALL PANAMA INFO | TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE | Follow us on Twitter at @PokerStarsBlog


11:00pm: Six more hands
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The remaining players have six more hands left before bagging up for the night. We'll be back with some chip counts and a full wrap-up of Day 1A in just a bit. --BW


10:58pm: Two all-ins in a row for Bernies
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Gilles Bernies became known for his heavy breathing during his second place run in the EPT13 Dublin Main Event. He just played a couple of pots that would've made his heart beat faster as his chips were across the line on two consecutive hands.

In the first Steve O'Dwyer opened to 1,800 and Bernies shoved for 18,100 total. Back on O'Dwyer he thought for a while before folding. The two players agreed to show one card each, O'Dwyer opened the T♠, whereas Bernies showed the Q♦.

On the next hand it was Bernies' turn to open to 1,800 and this time he was the one getting shoved on. Paul Cukier was the jammer. He was all-in for 19,400. Bernies only had a few pennies more, but he thought for around 30 seconds before calling.

Bernies: A♠Q♠
Cukier: A♥Q♦

Bernies called for black cards and got his wish on the 5♠A♣9♠ flop. The K♦ was a brick and the 7♣ was the right colour, but wrong suit for Bernies. Chop it up. --NW

10:55pm: Yaroshevskyy still rising
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Igor Yaroshevskyy was neck-and-neck with Tito Ortiz for the chip lead a little while ago, but he's since pulled away and crossed the 200,000 mark.

Yaroshevskyy has a very relaxed vibe that's common with Day 1 chip leaders. It's the natural high that comes with playing well and running good. Many Day 1 chip leaders, like Yaroshevskyy, also like to treat themselves to a massage as the day winds down.

The Ukranian player has been winning a number of pots, big and small and is smiling with all of them.

In one, he raised to 2,000 from under the gun and Vicente Delgado called from the big blind. The flop came 4♣5♠A♦ and Yaroshevskyy bet 1,500 when checked to. An 8♦ came on the turn and Delgado checked. Yaroshevskyy playfully checked by tapping Delgado's cards and a T♦ completed the board.

The river brought a T♦ and another round of checks. Delgado turned over 8♥2♥ while Yaroshevskyy showed a strong Q♠Q♣.

Yaroshevskyy raked in the pot and chipped up to about 210,000. --AV

10:50pm: In the podium places...
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The chip lead can often change in the dying embers of the day, but with 20 minutes left it's Igor Yaroshevskyy who leads. He's got 215,000 and is clear of Tito Ortiz (185,000) and Jason Koon (157,000) who occupy second and third spots respectively. --NW

10:26pm: O'Dwyer knocks out Lemos...eventually
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The floor was needed over on table one where Victor Lemos was all-in. That wasn't the issue though. It was how much should go in the main and side pots respectively. The action so far was that Eduards Kudrjavcevs had raised to 1,600, Lemos had shoved for 1,100, O'Dwyer had raised to 5,400 from the small blind and Kudrjavcevs had called. Somehow the chips had all got pushed together and they now needed to be separated.

Luca Vivaldi did some fast maths and it was surmised that 4,900 was in the main pot and the rest in the side pot (8,600). Once this was sorted out a flop could be dealt and it fell 4♥5♦7♦. O'Dwyer bet 4,200 and after a long tank Kudrjavcevs folded. O'Dwyer showed A♠K♥ and he was ahead of Lemos's K♣Q♣. The T♥ turn and J♦ river changed nothing and Lemos was eliminated. O'Dwyer meanwhile is up to 92,000 as a result of winning that hand. --NW

10:18pm: No More McAllister
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Philip McAllister is done.

The short-stacked Brit moved all-in for 17,600 with A♥5♠ and Martin Kus called with A♣Q♥.

The 9♦Q♦6♦ flop extended Kus's lead, but then a T♦ came on the turn to give McAllister hopes of a chopped pot. McAllister was hoping for a fifth diamond, but the river brought a 3♣ instead.

McAllister hit the rail while Kus chipped up to 130,000. --AV

10:07pm: Koon just killing it
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

"What's going on right now?" Jason Koon said as he raised from under the gun. "Goodness gracious."

The rest of the table folded that time, they'd just seen Koon take down the two previous hands.

"It's not as good as last time," Koon said. He flashed a king and raked in the pot. Koon had pocket kings the previous hand and took a small pot off Paul Cukier.

It was the second hand in a row he'd taken off Cukier.

If the table was hoping Koon's rampage would stop in the next orbit, they were wrong. Koon was on the big blind and called Gilles Bernies middle position raise. The flop came 6♠4♣7♦ and both player checked. A 4♦ came on the turn and Bernies bet another 1,500. Koon raised to 5,800 and Bernies called.

Koon then led the river with a 14,500 bet and Bernies tanked. The bet was worth about half his stack.

Bernies eventually called, but mucked when Koon turned over 4♥3♥. Koon raked in his fourth consecutive pot and chipped up to about 140,000. --AV

9:59pm: Counts of the names and notables
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

As we head into the last level of the night this is how some of the names and notables remaining in the field stack up:

Igor Yaroshevskyy - 182,000
Tito Ortiz - 150,000
Jason Koon - 139,000
Sebastian Hinderoth - 112,600
Sergio Aido - 67,000
Byron Kaverman - 57,000
David Peters - 57,000
Julian Stuer - 48,000
Igor Kurganov - 46,200
Ryan Riess - 43,000
Vincente Delgado - 42,000
Steve O'Dwyer - 38,600
Leo Fernandez - 37,000
Anthony Zinno - 36,000
Gilles Bernies - 36,000
Daniel Dvoress - 32,000
Davidi Kitai - 30,500
Paul Newey - 26,000
Roman Korenev - 21,600
Phillip McAllister - 18,000
Ben Tollerene - 17,000

9:51pm: OMG they killed Kenny
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75)

As our unoriginal headline suggests Kenny Hallaert is out. He's not the only big name to fall during the penultimate level of the evening as Dario Sammartino has also taken an early bath. 56 of 103 players remain. --NW

9:27pm: Boeree busts as Ortiz scores knockout blow and scoops huge pot
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75)

Tito Ortiz now has a heavyweight stack in this tournament after winning a huge pot that also saw Liv Boeree eliminated from the tournament. By the time we reached the table, Boeree - who was short stacked - was already all-in and the side pot was being contested by Ortiz and Lokesh Garg. On the turn of a T♣7♠Q♣5♣ board Ortiz bet 15,000 and Garg called. Ortiz doubled his bet on the 5♥ river and again Garg called. Ortiz rolled over T♥T♠ for a full-house that had outdrawn the A♣J♣ of Garg on the river and had always been ahead of Boeree's pocket threes.

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Boeree in happier times

That pot takes Ortiz up to 150,000, and you can see he hasn't lost his competitive spirit as he began clapping and rubbing his hands together as the huge pot was pushed his way. His stack isn't the only element that's pumped up after that hand. --NW

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Ortiz on his way to a tasty spot near the chip lead

9:23pm: Chidwick doubles
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

The short stacks have come back from dinner break determined to double or bust.

Stephen Chidwick was one of the more recent players to doubled up his short stack. In that hand, Chidwick, Philip McAllister and Ryan Riess were faced with a 7♦Q♣9♦A♦ board and there was 4,000 in the pot.

Riess checked from the big blind and McAllister bet 4,500. Chidwick called, Riess folded and a 6♠ came on the river.

McAllister put out a chunk of chips worth 35,000. The bet was more than enough to put Chidwick all-in. Chidwick thought for a bit and finally called. McAllister turned over 5♣5♠ and Chidwick tabled A♣J♠.

McAllister dropped to 20,600 while Chidwick doubled to 45,000. --AV

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Stephen Chidwick

9:15pm: Gone
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 75)

Just 62 of the 103 Day 1A entrants remain and a couple of big names are among those who've recently to told good game. Both PCA 2016 champion Mike Watson and Jan-Eric Schwippert - who played the $50,000 Super High Roller here in Panama - have bitten the dust. --NW

9:00pm: Quick double for Zinno
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Things were looking bleak for Anthony Zinno after the dinner break. He was down to about 5,500, he was all-in and he was dominated.

Zinno had moved in with A♥T♣ and Pawel Zielony called with A♥Q♥.

The 2♥3♦A♦ flop gave both players and ace and a J♥ on the turn kept Zielony in the lead. Zinno needed an ace and lucky for him the board acquiesced. A T♦ came on the river and Zinno doubled to 12,500. He's still short, but he's also still alive. --AV

8:50pm: Peters jams the river
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Certain players always seem to have an air of knowing exactly where they are in a hand at all times. At least that's what it seems from the outside looking in. What's more, this is usually projected by someone who isn't projecting anything. In other words, through someone who has a poker face that simply says 'I got this.'

One such player, at least in this blogger's opinion, is David Peters, who always seems to carry an air of professionalism and presence at the table that suggests he's going to play perfectly against you and it is akin to what Allen Cunningham was like back in the day.

The present day David Peters was involved in a pot against Salomon Benarroch when we stopped by his table. Peters had bet 1,700 on a 4♣8♥3♠ flop and was now faced with a raise to 3,600 total from Benarroch. Peters slid out the call and the two players went to the turn, which was the 5♠. Benarroch bet 4,500 and Peters slid out a single blue 5K chip to call.

The 7♥ completed the board and Benarroch fired again. This time the price was 6,000 to Peters and he tanked for over three minutes before making his move. That move was to go all-in for around 29,000 and Benarroch soon released his hand. Pot to Peters. --NW

8:35pm: Full bellies and two more levels

Everybody who is left has two and half more hours to play. Let's get to it.

7:14pm: Dinner break

It's an 80-minute dinner break. See you back here about 8:30pm ET. --BW

7:09pm: Straight flush saves Hallaert
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Kenny Hallaert raised to 1,100 from the cutoff seat and got a call from Robin Luca Wozniczek in the big blind.

The flop fell J♣4♣K♦, Wozniczek checked, Hallaert bet 1,300, and Wozniczek called. The turn was the 5♣ and Wozniczek checked again, and this time Hallaert bet 3,000. Wozniczek announced he was check-raising all in and Hallaert called with what he had left.

Wozniczek showed 9♣2♣ which meant he had a better flush and was in fact ahead of Halleart's 7♣6♣. Then came the river... the 3♣! That made a straight flush for Hallaert, and he survives.

Hallaert has about 33,000 now while Wozniczek is at 28,000. --MH

6:59pm: Yaroshevskyy on the up; Greenwood gone
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Sam Greenwood is no longer a threat in this tournament. He is out, with Edward Mandel mopping up the last of Greenwood's chips. It didn't seem like a massive pot, suggesting Greenwood had lost most of his chips to someone else before--with Igor Igor Yaroshevskyy the most likely candidate. Yaroshevskyy, you see, now has about 185,000 in his stack. -- HS

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Sam Greenwood

6:58pm: More for Martinez
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

With about 20 minutes to go before the dinner break, Stephen Chidwick just pushed Davidi Kitai off a hand with a turn bet to collect a small pot and move up to 45,000. Kitai continues with 40,000.

Meawhile at the same table Ryan Riess has about 60,000 and Phillip McAllister is just under 70,000. --MH
Manuel Martinez is still rising and closing in on 100,000. In a more recent victory, Martinez raised to 1,200 from middle position and Robin Andersson called from the cutoff.

David Peters called from the big blind and the flop came T♠2♥6♦. Peters checked that one and Martinez bet 1,500. Andersson folded and Peters raised to 4,800. Martinez called, Andersson folded and a J♥ came on the turn.

Peters checked again and Martinez bet 5,800. It was too much for the 2016 GPI Player of the Year and he let his hand go while Martinez chipped up to about 100,000. --AV

6:56pm: Chips for Chidwick
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

With about 20 minutes to go before the dinner break, Stephen Chidwick just pushed Davidi Kitai off a hand with a turn bet to collect a small pot and move up to 45,000. Kitai continues with 40,000.

Meawhile at the same table Ryan Riess has about 60,000 and Phillip McAllister is just under 70,000. --MH

6:54pm: Delgado doubles
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

After a raise to 1,500 from Roberto Vahlis Aguilar, Vicente Delgado three-bet to 4,000 from the small blind and Aguilar called. On the T♦8♥8♣ flop Delgado led for 5,000, Aguilar shoved and Delgado called all-in for 11,275 total. The Spaniard had J♣J♠ and was ahead of the K♠T♣ of Aguilar. The 4♣ turn and A♣ river kept it that way and Delgado doubled up. --NW

6:49pm: Bernies is a lucky ducky
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

It was four-way to a A♠A♣5♥ flop at Jason Koon's table and the action checked to the inaugural PokerStars Championship Super High Roller champion. He bet 2,000 and Gilles Bernies - who was runner-up in the EPT13 Dublin Main Event - made the call.

The A♥ turn was an interesting card, but both players checked and the 7♦ completed the board. Bernies checked again and Koon said: "Ok, I check. You're a lucky ducky, a lucky ducky." Bernies showed J♦J♣ and the reason for Koon's table talk soon became clear as he showed 5♣5♠ for a flopped full-house that had been rendered a lot weaker by the appearance of a third ace on the turn.

In some post-hand analysis between the pair Bernies wondered if he could've folded the flop. "You can't fold jacks there," said Koon. "I'd have laughed if you did," he joked. After that hand Koon is down to 70,000, Bernies is up to 29,000. --NW

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Jason Koon

6:47pm: Zielony vs. Zinno
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Pawel Zielony raised to 1,200 from early position, Sergey Sergeev called from a seat over, and it folded around to the blinds where Jessica Perez Borrego (small) Anthony Zinno (big) both called as well.

All four checked the 2♣K♣T♥ flop, then after the 8♣ turn it checked to Zinno who bet 3,000 and only Zielony called. The river was the 8♠, and this time Zinno set out a stack of 8,000. Zielony thought a couple of beats then called.

Zinno turned over A♥J♣ for ace-high, and Zielony showed A♣T♣ for a pair of tens to win the pot.

Put Zielony on 35,000 now while Zinno has 18,000. --MH

6:46pm: Ortiz posing and climbing
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Tito Ortiz cracked open a can of energy drink but was interrupted before he could take a swig by a tap on the shoulder. Igor Yaroshevskyy, on a neighbouring table, had apparently only just noticed the celebrity with whom he had been sitting back-to-back for six hours. Either that, or he'd only just plucked up the courage to ask Ortiz to pose alongside him for a selfie.

"Yesssss," Ortiz said. He's a pussycat. The pair lent their chairs back so that they were both in the frame of the phone-camera clutched by Yaroshevskyy. (Ortiz's well-thumped face is about twice as wide as Igor Yaroshevskyy's particularly narrow visage, by the way.)

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He's not a small man

Selfie captured, Ortiz returned his gaze to the table and saw Julian Stuer open to 1,200 from the hijack. Ortiz called from the cutoff and Gonzalo De Alzaga also called from the big blind.

The three of them looked at a flop: 2♣5♥Q♥. De Alzaga checked and Stuer bet 1,500. Ortiz liked what he saw too and raised to 3,000. De Alzaga called, which persuaded Stuer to let it go.

The 9♠ came on the turn and De Alzaga checked. Ortiz bet 4,000. The MMA legend had started the hand rocked back on his chair, paying scant attention, but he was now propped forward, elbow on the rail, keenly interested. De Alzaga called.

The J♠ appeared on the turn and De Alzaga checked. Ortiz seemed to think twice about taking this much further. He checked too, and tossed over his K♦Q♠.

De Alzaga was beaten, but showed his 2♥3♥ anyway. Ortiz finally got to taste his drink and stack up about 45,000 chips. -- HS

6:30pm: Galloping Garg
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Lokesh Garg has responded to the threat to his chip lead in emphatic fashion. Although it's not even clear that he's aware of Sebastian Hinderoth's stack over the other side of the room, Garg has simply added a chunk more to his own tower and now sits with around 175,000.

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Lokesh Garg

The most recent handful came from Julian Stuer's stack after Stuer raised to 1,200 from the button and Garg called in the big blind. They both checked the 4♥5♦J♥ flop but then Garg led 2,200 at the K♦ turn.

Stuer paid to see the 2♥ fall on the river, but then Garg bet again. It was 3,500 and Stuer was no longer interested. Stuer still has 72,000, but that's 100,000 less than galloping Garg. -- HS

6:29pm: Bellucia bounced
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

A short-stacked Alejandro Bellucia limped from the button, leaving himself about 7,000 behind, then Jhon Rua Monroy pushed all in from the small blind. It folded back to Bellucia who thought a moment, then decided to put the rest of his chips at risk.

Monroy: Q♥Q♣
Bellucia: Q♠J♠

The flop was T♣9♥6♥ and turn the 6♦, meaning Bellucia could still hit a straight on the river to survive. But fifth street was the J♥, and Bellucia is out. Monroy has 28,000. --MH

6:26pm: Martinez mangles Hallaert
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Kenny Hallaert raised to 1,300 from the cutoff and Manuel Martinez re-raised to 3,200 from the button.

The blinds folded, Hallaert called and a Q♠Q♥2♥ flop hit the board. Martinez bet 2,500 when checked to and Hallert called. The turn brought a T♣ and another bet. Martinez fired off 7,000 and Hallaert called again.

The J♦ came on the river and Hallaert checked again. This time Martinez checked behind and players tabled their hands. Kind of. Hallaert started turning over an ace, but quickly turned it back over and mucked his hand when Martinez showed A♥J♣.

Martinez's aces and jacks took down the pot and he chipped up to about 80,000 while Hallaert dropped to 17,325. --AV

6:25pm: Lewis holds against Korenev
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Roman Korenev has over $1,000,000 in lifetime tournament earnings but he's unlikely to add to it via this event as he's just been reduced to a handful of big blinds after losing a big pot against Osvaldo Lewis.

The latter opened to 1,000 from middle position. Korenev (small blind) and Ryan Riess (big blind) both called. The flop fell Q♦J♦7♠, and the action was checked to the pre-flop aggressor. Lewis bet 5,000 and Korenev wanted to see how much Lewis had back. The Argentinian was playing a stack of 16,575 and Korenev would make him risk it all as he moved all-in. That got rid of Riess, but Lewis called and we were off to a showdown.

Korenev showed A♦7♦ for bottom pair and the nut flush draw and he was up against the K♦Q♠ of Lewis. It was a flip with Lewis a 51.21% favourite. The K♠ turn and J♣ river kept him in the lead and left Korenev short. --NW

6:17pm: Feel the Bernies
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Eduards Kudrjavcevs opened to 1,200 from the hijack and action folded through Jason Koon, chip-leading Sebastian Linderoth and Steve O'Dwyer to Gilles Bernies in the big blind. Bernies, who finished runner up to Dzmitry Urbanovich when the European Poker Tour visited O'Dwyer's home town(!), called.

NEIL6869_Steve_O'Dwyer_Gilles_Bernies_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Steve_O'Dwyer and Gilles_Bernies

The dealer put the 6♠K♥7♦ on the table and Bernies checked. Kudrjavcevs bet 1,100, but Bernies raised to 3,000. Check and raise is allowed, folks.

Kudrjavcevs didn't like it very much. He folded. -- HS

6:03pm: Level 6 begins
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

There are 75 minutes until dinner, for those in need of making reservations. --MH

6:02pm: There's no hindering Hinderoth
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Sebastian Hinderoth keeps collecting. Just now he won another pot, a multi-way affair in which all checked to Steve O'Dwyer on the turn with the board showing J♥3♠K♠9♣, O'Dwyer fired a bet, and only Hinderoth stuck around.

The board-pairing 3♦ river then brought a bet of 5,000 from Hinderoth, and O'Dwyer could only grin and let his cards go.

Hinderoth chips up further to 165,000 or so while O'Dwyer has just under 50,000. --MH


6:00pm: Huge pot hikes Hinderoth into the chip lead
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Sebastian Hinderoth has a stack of some 140,000 after eliminating two players. And not just any two players, as the youngster from Sweden has claimed the scalps of Nacho Barbero and Dan Colman. The pre-flop aggressor was Barbero. He raised it up to 1,000 and received four calls. On the 6♦3♣2♥ flop Colman jammed for 7,725 and Barbero smooth called. Action was now on Hinderoth. He had the biggest stack of anyone in the hand and he announced he was all-in.

One by one it folded back to Barbero, and he was now faced with a decision for his final 48,000, a none to shabby stack at this stack of proceedings. He thought for a couple of minutes then cut down his chips and thought some more. Another minute or so passed, and he committed his chips.

NEIL6600_Jose_Barbaro_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Jose Barbero

The cards were then turned over:

Colman: 5♥3♥ - pair, gutshot and backdoor flush draw
Barbero: J♣J♦ - overpair to the board
Hinderoth: 2♦2♣ - bottom set

The Q♠ turn and 7♦ river kept the Swede in front and sent two very talented players crashing out. --NW

5:53pm: Brenes back in it
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The player count ticked into the triple digits a bit ago.

When the clock bumped up to 101 entries, another familiar face and former LAPT regular joined the fray. Alex Brenes is the most recent entry to this event. The Costa Rican player frequents the Panamanian poker scene seemed to be missing from the LAPTs for a while.

His last PokerStars cash in Latin America was back in 2014, but he's already scored one at this PokerStars Championship.

Brenes finished 63rd in the $1,100 NLHE event a few days ago and now he's trying his hand at the Main Event. Brenes came close to victory in LAPT Uruguay back in 2008, but has yet to capture a major title.

His brother, the notorious Humberto "Shark" Brenes, has a few but we've yet to see his trademark visor slice through the field like an ominous fin. --AV

5:51pm: Peters' arrival spells doom for Delgado
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

David Peters sat down close to the start of Level 5 and wasted no time at all in getting to work. Rumour has it, Peters knocked out Vicente Delgado on the first hand he played. Peters has about 47,000 now as Level 6 begins. -- HS

5:50pm: Aces hold for Dalik
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Following an early position raise, Robert Dalik three-bet to 3,000, David Dayan called from the small blind, and the original raiser came along as well.

The flop fell 9♥T♦2♣ and it checked to Dalik, and he put out a bet of 3,500. Dayan didn't take long before tumbling a bet of 20,000 forward, and after the third player dropped Dalik called to put the rest of his stack at risk.

Dalik had A♦A♥ while Dayan had bottom pair with 5♦2♦. Dalik watched the 8♥ turn and 8♦ river fall, exhaling loudly afterwards.

"I needed that," he said with a grin. He's up to 48,000 now, while Dayan slips to 25,000. --MH

5:49pm: Leaders sat shoulder to shoulder
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Luke Graham was here from the start today, sitting on the table that began with Tito Ortiz and Kenny Hallaert, and also found itself the tournament chip leader after Lokesh Garg swiftly began accumulating chips.

Hallaert has since been moved from the table, but Ortiz is still there. And Garg still has about 115,000 chips. But here's the thing: so does Graham. He is likely Garg's closest challenger now with around 110,000 of his own. That is the table to watch at the moment. -- HS

5:45pm: Newey hanging on
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Paul Newey was looking for a double up and got close to getting one.

Newey raised to 800 from the cutoff that hand and David Dayan called from the small blind. The big blind called as well and players got dealt a Q♥7♠9♥ flop. Dayan bet 1,700, the big blind folded and Newey called.

A J♥ came on the turn and Dayan upped the bet to 2,300. Newey called again and a 4♥ completed the board.

Dayan fired one more time. The bet was 4,100 and instead of calling, Newey slided all his chips in the middle. Dayan quickly folded and Newey chipped up to about starting stack while Dayan was left with 55,000. --AV

NEIL6764_Paul_Newey_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Paul Newey and the departed Timothy Adams

5:40pm: Colman collects a few after shove
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Dan Colman has been sitting on a short stack for a while now. Just now he pushed it all in from the cutoff, but only improved by a little as no one was interested in taking him on with a call.

He's at 8,000 now -- short relative to the field, though still with 20 bigs. --MH

5:33pm: Shocked Sergeev shocks Tollerene
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Here's a good hand featuring yesterday's Super High Roller champion Ben Tollerene and Sergey Sergeev, he of Buddha-shaped card protector and four-day massages.

They engaged in a little pantomime back-and-forth, but neither was backing down. They ended up getting all their chips in too.

Jessica Perez Borrego got thing started with a raise to 1,025 from under the gun. Sergeev, in the cutoff, made it 3,000 to play and action made it to Tollerene in the small blind. Tollerene made the internationally-recognised gesture for "show me your stack", silently raising his own arm in the hope that Sergeev would raise his and the stack would become visible. Sergeev did so, though only after some theatrics.

Tollerene made it 5,100 to play and Borrego folded.

Now, with action back on Sergeev, he had the chance to return the compliment to Tollerene and asked, with the same accepted gesture, for Tollerene to lift his arms so that his stack could be made visible. Tollerene obliged. Sergeev called.

The flop brought the 9♣6♠T♣ and before Tollerene acted, Sergeev made it very clear how many chips he was playing, laying them out precisely in front of him. He had 10,625. Tollerene checked.

Sergeev then fiddled with his chips some more, counting them himself, before he gathered them into his paw and plonked them forward. Tollerene, with about 24,000 in his stack, called quickly.

Sergeev immediately stood up and took a step back from his chair, as though 20,000 volts had just coursed through it. This threw his massage therapist back against the wall. (She was uninjured).

Sergeev tabled his K♣J♣ for all kinds of draws and a couple of over-cards. Tollerene had flopped top set with his T♠T♥.

Gratification was swift for Sergeev when the Q♦ hit him on the turn. Tollerene still had plenty of equity for a redraw, but the 5♥ missed.

Sergeev was able to turn to his massage therapist and apologise for the shock. He then scooped a double up, leaving Tollerene with about 12,000.

(Borrego, by the way, who played only a very small part in the hand, has them both covered. She has about 70,000 in her stack.) -- HS

5:30pm: Sammartino survives
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

It was a Super High Roller showdown over on table six when Dario Sammartino and Sam Greenwood just faced off in a big pot. I arrived at the table to see a 5♥4♣2♥ flop on the felt. By this point Vidmantas Beliauskas had bet 1,700 and Sammartino had called. Action was on Greenwood and he raised to 5,700.

That upping of the ante soon dispatched Beliauskas, but Sammartino was not as swift to make his move. If, as in the Super High Roller, he'd been on a 30 second shot clock his hand may well have been ruled dead, but when he did make his play, it was to move all-in for 15,075. His Canadian opponent called and showed A♥J♠, which was ahead of Sammartino's T♥8♥. The Italian completed his flush on the 4♥ turn and Greenwood didn't get there on the Q♣ river.

After that clash Sammartino is up to about 35,000 while Greenwood is down to 38,000. --NW

5:18pm: Flipping and folding
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Pawel Zielony raised to 1,000 from the button, then Sergey Sergeev three-bet to 3,000 from the small blind. The action returned to Zielony who pushed his entire stack forward, and Sergeev began talking.

"You want call or not?" asked Sergeev. Zielony was nodding, though it wasn't clear by the gesture if he was committing to either option.

Sergeev hemmed and hawed some more, then once the clock was called he made a decision -- he'd let a coin decide.

"Fold... call..." he explained, pointing to each side of the coin. He flipped, and folded.

Sergeev has about 16,000 now, while Zielony is at the starting stack of 30,000. --MH

5:11pm: Garg-ing ahead
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

With about 12,000 in the middle and the board showing T♥9♠Q♣2♠, Tito Ortiz checked, John Idarraga bet 5,500, Lokesh Garg called, and after thinking a short while Ortiz stepped aside, preserving his stack of 35,000.

The river brought the T♣ and a check from Idarraga, and Garg didn't wait long before betting 12,000. Idarrago took a full minute, then let his hand go, keeping his 22,000.

Garg continues to sport a big stack with 105,000. --MH

5:10pm: Just when you thought the table was getting easier...
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The elimination of Ike Haxton during level four dropped the table containing Mike Watson, Julian Stuer, Davidi Kitai and Kenny Hallaert from death like to still really tough. It's not got any easier for the four that remained as Liv Boeree has just taken a seat to the direct left of Hallaert.

NEIL6860_Liv_Boeree_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Liv Boeree

She was soon involved in a hand, Robert Dalik was the raiser, he made 1,200 to play from the button and both Hallaert and Boeree called from the blinds. On the 2♠5♥3♦ flop Dalik bet 2,500 and Boeree was the only caller.

The T♠ fell on the turn, Boeree swiftly checked but Dalik went deep into the tank. When he emerged it was to move all-in, it was around 10,100 for Boeree to call, but she didn't even request a count and her cards were in the muck within seconds. --NW

5:03pm: Colman and Kudrjavcevs at it again
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Dan Colman and Eduards Kudrjavcevs tussled right before break and went straight back into it in level five.

Steve O'Dwyer started the hand off with a call from middle position. Colman called from the cutoff and then Kudrjavcevs made it 1,800 from the button. O'Dwyer called and the Colman moved all-in.

Kudrjavcevs called all-in with the handful of chips he had left and O'Dwyer folded. Colman turned over 8♣8♦ and Kudrjavcevs tabled A♦A♥.

Eights didn't improve on the J♥T♦J♣6♠T♣ board and Kudrjavcevs doubled to about 25,000.--AV

5:01pm: Riess playing loose in the big blind
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Ryan Riess has a lot of chips and that's allowing him to see a lot of flops. Just recently, Roman Korenev opened the button, making it 900 to play, and Riess barely glanced at his cards before calling from the big blind.

NEIL6811_Ryan_Reiss_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

The two of them checked a flop of 5♥T♦8♥. Then they also checked a turn of A♦. After the A♠ completed the board, Riess had the gentlest of tickles at it. He bet 400.

Korenev was a little confused but was not a believer. He raised to 2,000 and Riess quickly decided his game was up. He folded and set about fingering his 76,000 chips. -- HS

4:55pm: Nagrani takes from Llacer
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Ajitkumar Nagrani raised to 1,000 from middle position, David Lopez Llacer three-bet to 3,000, and it folded back to Nagrani who called.

The flop fell K♣A♦A♠ and Nagrani checked. Llacer continued for 2,000, and Nagrani called. Both checked the 6♥ turn.

The river brought the Q♦. That's when Nagrani retook the initiative, firing a bet of 4,000. Llacer hesitated just a beat before folding.

Nagrani has 42,000, while Llacer is at 23,000. --MH

PSC Panama_Velli-138_David Lopez.jpg

David Lopez Llacer

4:47pm: Annnnd we're back

Settle in for another two and half hours. That's how long the Day 1A players will be grinding until their dinner break. --BW

4:25pm: Break time

That's the end of Level 4. Our leader at the moment looks to be Lokesh Garg.

lokesh_garg_panama_me_day1a.jpg

Lokesh Garg: Out in front

4:21pm: The Colman charm
Level 4 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Playing seven-deuce off-suit out of position with a short stack usually isn't recommended. But if you're Dan Colman you can do whatever you want and win.

In the last hand before break, Eduards Kudrjavcevs raised to 700 from under the gun and Colman called from the big blind.

The flop came 2♥A♠2♣ and Colman hit trip deuces. An unsuspecting Kudrjavcevs bet 300 and Colman raised to 1,000. Kudrjavcevs called and both players checked the 5♣ on the turn. A 3♦ completed the board and Colman bet 6,000. Kudrjavcevs thought for a bit and then threw in chips for a call.

Colman tabled 7♣2♦ and Steve O'Dwyer let out a small laugh. Colman raked in the pot but is still short with about 24,000 while Kudrjavcevs was left with 11,750.--AV

4:20pm: Benarroch wins limped pot
Level 4 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

I've seen Salomon Benarroch limp in a few times today and was at it again, this time he limped from the cutoff, Robin Luca Wozniczek then raised it up to 1,200 from the button and Robin Andersson (small blind) and Jan-Eric Schwippert both called.

On the 6♣A♠5♠ flop Wozniczek bet 1,200 and both Andersson and Benarroch smooth called. The 7♥ turn checked through and the 3♠ completed the board. Again all three players checked and it was time for showdown. Wozniczek showed 8♠8♣, Andersson had that beat with A♥T♦ but Benarroch had them both beat as his 5♥4♥ had rivered a straight. --NW

4:18pm: Fully recovered, Dario?
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

It's only been a couple of days since Dario Sammartino looked like he might be on his way to the $50,000 Super High Roller final table, and it he just might have done so had it not been for running his ace-high flush into Orpen Kisacikoglu's quad jacks.

By now you know the rest of the story. Sammartino didn't make the money. Kisacikoglu went on to make the final table and score the biggest single cash of his poker career.

dario_sammartino_panama_me_day1a.jpg

Dario Sammartino: Relax

Now, Sammartino has decided to enter to Main Event later in the day. In this, he has bested Kisacikoglu who started at the gun but has already lost his stack. Revenge is a dish best served cold, or at the very least, lukewarm.--BW

4:15pm: Bernies calls Barbero's bluff
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Following that big double-up (see just below), Nacho Barbero found himself with enough chips to open things up a bit. You know, like bluffing big on rivers, if he likes.

Case in point... there was about 5,000 in the middle and the board showed 7♥5♠Q♦3♠2♠ when Barbero fired a big bet of 6,500. That sent his opponent Gilles Bernies into the tank for a good while before he finally emerged with a call.

Bernies had a straight with A♥4♥, but was wary of those spades on the board. Barbero was hoping he'd be wary enough to fold, as he had A♦T♣ for ace-high.

gilles_bernies_panama_day1a.jpg

Take a deep breath: Gilles Bernies

Bernies has 34,000 at present, while Barbero still has bluffing chips with 78,000. --MH

4:13pm: Barbero doubles
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Triple Dip Nacho, aka Jose Ignacio Barbero, had 7♠8♠ splayed out in front of him while Sebastian Hinderoth had A♥8♥ laying face up in front of him.

The board only read 6♥5♥9♦ and there was a big pile of chips in the middle of table. Barbero was all-in while Hinderoth still had about 55,000 behind.

Barbero had flopped a straight and was looking to avoid any heart. The 2♠ on the turn and the 4♦ on the river were heartless and Barbero doubled up to about 90,000.

Now Barbero is hoping to add Panama to his long list of triumphs. --AV

4:10pm: The unsweet 16
Level 4 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

As play approaches the halfway mark tournament staff informed us that so far 16 players have been eliminated. Sadly for fans of Carlos Chadha, Andrew Leatham, Francois Evard and Federico Quevedo, they represent a quarter of the players vanquished so far today. --NW

4:05pm: Bonomo bounced
Level 4 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

After a raise to 750 from Edward Mandel, Ryan Riess called and Justin Bonomo shoved for in the region of 6,500. Back on Mandel, he called and Riess stepped aside. Bonomo showed K♣Q♦ and was racing against Mandel's pocket tens.

The 8♥2♠7♠A♥J♣ run out kept the pair in front and Bonomo wished the table good luck as he left. --NW

4pm: Stuer sends Ike on a hike
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Isaac Haxton's stack had fallen below the 5,000 mark when he came in for a raise to 700. Davidi Kitai made the call in late position. When play reached Julian Stuer, he made it 3,900 out of the big blind. Haxton announced he was all-in for about 1,000 more. Kitai mucked, and Stuer made the call.

Haxton: A♣7♣
Stuer: K♦9♠

julian_stuer_stefan_schillhabel_panama_day1a.jpg

Julian Stuer, seated, consults Stefan Schillhabel

The board ran out four diamonds to give Stuer the flush and send Haxton out the door We might expect to see him in tomorrow's $25,000 single day high roller. --BW

ike_haxton_panama_day1a_panama_me.jpg

Isaac Haxton

3:55pm: Idarraga earns a submission from Ortiz
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

A preflop open from the cutoff to 600 was called by Tito Ortiz on the button. The retired MMA fighter is sporting a t-shirt commemorating his "#FINALFIGHT" from back in January, a victory versus Chael Sonnen to finish his career 19-2-1.

tito_ortiz_final_fight.jpg

Tito Ortiz

John Idarraga then three-bet to 1,750 from the small blind, getting calls from both the original raiser and Ortiz. The flop fell T♠K♦2♠ and Idarraga continued for 1,925, getting a quick fold from the cutoff. Ortiz thought for a good while, though, before finally deciding he'd fight another time -- over the felt, anyway.

Idarraga has about 40,000 now while Ortiz is on 21,000. --MH

3:45pm: Yaroshevskyy stops the flow on the river
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

It's been one way traffic for Igor Yaroshevskyy so far today. Unfortunately for the Ukranian it's been in the wrong direction. However, he's reversed that trend by winning a big pot to climb to 38,000. In the hand he question he raised to 650 from early position and picked up three callers.

On the 5♥9♣T♥ flop Paul Cukier led for 1,500, Yaroshevskyy called and so did the cutoff. On the A♣ turn the action checked to the cutoff, he bet 3,200 and Yaroshevskyy was the only caller. On the A♦ river the cutoff took another stab at the pot, he fired out 5,000 and, after some tanking, Yaroshevskyy made the call. He was right to as his J♣T♣ was good. --NW

3:40pm: BetStars can rest
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

If you're a betting person, you might have seen you could get down at 350 to 1 on fan favorite Massimo De Mario winning this Main Event. BetStars was booking the action, and it could've gotten ugly.

Our Alex Villegas interviewed De Mario at the last break and told the story behind it all.

Alas, De Mario has just went bust, so there won't be any big payout on that one today. --BW

3:35pm: Field gets tougher
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

The thing about having the Super High Roller end before the Main Event begins is that there are a lot of the world's best players just hanging around ready to pounce. So, enter (at Jason Koon's table, no less) Mr. Daniel Colman. Oh, and there's Steve O'Dwyer too. --BW

3:20pm: Ahmet bets, beats Chidwick out of chips
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Stephen Chidwick raised to 800 from early position and only Mehmet Ayaz called, defending his big blind. Ahmet checked after the 4♥7♠4♦ flop, then called again after a Chidwick c-bet of 600. Both players checked the Q♠ turn.

The river was the Q♦, and Ahmet fired a biggish bet of 3,000. Chidwick thought for a while and called, Ahmet tabled Q♣6♠ for queens full, and Chidwick mucked.

The up-and-down Ahmet is at 45,000 now, while Chidwick has 18,000. --MH

3:15pm: Level 4 begins
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

They've moved into Level 4 without a break. You know what that means! The price of poker is going... well, like we said, you know. --MH

3:10pm: Booty in the Kave
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

When we think of Pirates of the Caribbean, we think of looted booty and its hiding place in caves. When we think of the Pirates of Panama, we need only look to Byron Kaverman.

With a raise to 700 and a call already in play, PokerStars qualifier David Lopez Llacer re-raised from the button with a single 5,000 chip. While we didn't hear the exact amount of the raise, it quickly became irrelevant as Byron Kaverman made the bet 12,500 out of the big blind. He'd left himself less than 1,000 behind and was effectively all-in.

Llacer thought for nearly a minute before giving up and shipping the booty to Captain Kaverman. --BW

3:05pm: Big names among the fallers
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Some big names are among those who've exited early on Day 1 of this Main Event. Steven van Zadelhoff is one of them--a big name in two respects. Also, another of yesterday's SHR finalists, Timothy Adams, is also gone. Oliver Weis and Ozkan Yasar are also on the rail. --NW

steve_van_zadelhoff_panama_day1b.jpg

Steve van Zadelhoff

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Short day for Timothy Adams

3pm: Tavares toast
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The Brazilian Ricardo Tavares endured a tough, short day here before being eliminated. Early on he ran into a set-over-set spot with treys versus an opponent's sevens, then a little later versus the same player after making a set of kings versus his set of aces (no shinola). --MH

2:55pm: High Rollers, assemble!
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Nearly the entire final six from yesterday's $50,000 Super High Roller final table are here and playing today.

Champion Ben Tollerene, runner-up Daniel Dvoress, and sixth-place finisher Timothy Adams are all still around the 30,000-chip starting stack. Justin Bonomo who took third is down around 18,000. And we just spotted fifth-place finisher Orpen Kisacikoglu sitting out in the lobby and no longer in his chair, suggesting he's down to zero.

justin_bonomo_panama_me_day1a.jpg

Justin Bonomo: In

orpen_kisacikoglu_panama_me_day1a.jpg

Orpen Kisacikoglu: Was in, but out

Steve O'Dwyer, who took fourth in yesterday's $50K, is the lone casher from that event yet to appear here. --MH

2:50pm: Riess busts Bains
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

I missed the pre-flop action, but after the hand was over Ryan Riess informed me that he'd opened the pot, Derek Bains had three-bet and Riess, the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event, had smooth called.

The two took a K♠9♣7♠ flop and Riess checked it over to Bains. Bains bet 1,700, Riess check-raised to 4,200, Bains shoved for 14,200 and Riess snap called. Bains opened A♠K♥ for top pair and Riess held 6♠5♠.

Bains was looking to fade the flush and straight draw combo that Riess held but the J♠ turn gave Riess instant service. Bains had the A♠ so still had outs, but the 6♣ was a brick and Bains was eliminated. After that hand Riess is up to 46,000. --NW

2:46pm: Haxton bests Watson
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Shortly before Davidi Kitai's arrival to Table 10, Mike Watson, Isaac Haxton and Julian Stuer played a hand on the rapidly toughening table.

Watson opened from late position and got calls from both Stuer and Haxton. On a flop of Q♣7♠[7♥, everyone checked to Watson who bet 800. Only Haxton called. Haxton and Watson both checked through the 6♦ turn.

When the 3♠ came on the river, Haxton announced 2,700. Watson, who has a mobile poker game playing on his phone in front of him, didn't think long before mucking his hand. Haxton is now sitting on about 22,000. --BW

2:45pm: Add Davidi, too
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

More tough tournament talent joins the field as Davidi Kitai has sat down here in the third level. Kitai cashed three times at PokerStars Championship Bahamas, bringing his career tournament earnings total up over $7.7 million.

He joins the table where Mike Watson, Isaac Haxton, and Kenny Hallaert are all seated. --MH

2:40pm: Family pots, but only one gets to eat
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It's Day 1, and the blinds are small, so getting to a flop heads-up isn't really a thing right now. That's what Ajitkumar Nagrani discovered when he opened from early position and got not one, not two, not three, but four calls behind him.

The 8♠6♦2♥ flop was worth a 1,200 bet from Nagrani and was enough to get rid of everyone except Colombia's Carlos Garcia Sarmiento who made the call from the button. On the 5♥ turn, Nagrani came out for 2,500, but that wasn't enough for Sarmiento to go away. It was only on the A♣ river that Nagrani's 5,000 bet was enough to win the pot. --BW

2:35pm: Fast start for Schwippert
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Jan-Eric Schwippert has wasted little time in getting into the action. It's no surprise really given that he's been sat at Table 5, which has been a constant source of updates today. The main reason for that is the presence of Mehmet Ayaz.

Ayaz has seemingly been involved in every pot and he limped in from under the gun in the latest hand he played. The action folded to Schwippert and he made it 2,200 to play from the big blind. Call from Ayaz.

The T♣6♠6♥ flop was checked through and the T♦ fell on the turn. Schwippert checked and then called Ayaz's bet of 3,000. The 5♣ completed the board and Schwippert check-called again, this time Ayaz's bet was 5,500 and he showed down 5♠4♠. With a double paired board, Schwippert didn't need a lot to beat it and his A♠K♣ was good enough to claim the pot. --NW

2:30pm: New entries
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

With a $25,000 tournament on the schedule tomorrow it's no surprise that the field is peppered with players who were playing an event with 10 times the buy-in of Main Event just a couple of days ago. Koray Aldemir and Jan-Eric Schwippert are the latest high rollers to sit down. Oh, and you can add Timothy Adams and Daniel Dvoress as well. --NW

2:25pm: Koon collecting
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Jason Koon was just in a multiway pot playing from the small blind, and after 7♦9♠T♣ flop check-raised the field to clear everyone out and win without a showdown.

Koon's up around 60,000 now as they approach the midpoint of Level 3. --MH

2:20pm: Can you afford this event, sir?
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

With a huge backpack over his shoulders, huge biceps under his shirt, and a tiny cup of coffee in his hands, the $50,000 Super High Roller champion Ben Tollerene has just joined his buddy Jason Koon in the Main Event.

Yesterday afternoon, Tollerene picked up more than $534,000 in the Super High Roller after eliminating every one of his final table opponents. --BW

2:15pm: Aces for Tito
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Paul Newey just climbed into the ring to battle with mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz over a pot. A bet and call on the river was followed by Ortiz tabling his A♠A♣, and Newey mucked, conceding that round.

"I hate those," said Ortiz as he exhaled afterwards, relieved that he'd won a small pot and not lost a big one. He's at about 27,000 now, same as Newey. --MH

2:11pm: Rave down
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

I've witnessed a lot of limp re-raising in the early stages of this tournament and Ricardo Tavares was the latest to take this line. He limped in for 200, Marco Rave then upped the price of poker to 800 and when it got back to Tavares he came over the top.

It was 2,700 in total for Rave to continue and he wanted to see a flop. It fell 7♠K♦6♠ and a c-bet of 2,600 from Tavares was enough to earn him the pot. --NW

2:10pm: What's a four-letter word for "relinquish"?
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Sam Greenwood looked up from his crossword puzzle and raised to 600 from early position. He got two callers in Jhon Rua Monroy (small blind) and Sergio Aido (big blind).

All checked the 5♠J♥A♣ flop. The turn was the T♠ and after Monroy checked, Aido bet 1,200, Greenwood called, and Monroy called as well. Monroy checked once more after the T♣ river, and after Aido bet 3,600,

Greenwood examined the situation for a moment, then found his answer -- F-O-L-D.

sam_greenwood_panama_me_day1a.jpg

S.A.M. G.R.E.E.N.W.O.O.D.

However Monroy called, showing K♠Q♣ for a turned Broadway straight. Aido tabled the same hand with K♠Q♣. Those two chopped it up, and each sit with about 35,000 now.

Meanwhile Greenwood is still doing fine with 55,000 while making progress as well on his puzzle. --MH

2:05pm: Exits
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It was a short day for both Simon Charette and Artur Konieczkowski as they're both out of this Main Event. --NW

2pm: Welcome back
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It's like we were never away.

1:38pm: Break time

Time for the first break of the day. Take 20, folks.


1:35pm: Hallaert vs Ortiz (round two)
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Having earlier lost a pot to Tito Ortiz, Kenny Hallaert just managed to even the score. I picked up the action on the turn of a K♣K♥9♣J♠ board, Hallaert bet 1,500 and Ortiz called. On the Q♥ river Hallaert slowed down as he checked the action to Ortiz. The former MMA fighter reached for chips and bet 4,000. Call from Hallaert. Ortiz opened Q♣9♦ for two-pair but Hallaert had him beat the whole way with K♦T♥. --NW

1:32pm: Borrego bets, collects
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Panama's own Jessica Perez Borrego has entered after having cashed here in the last LAPT Panama Main Event last spring.

Just now she was involved in a three-way pot and after she bet from the button on the K♣3♦[89h] flop only Andrew Leathem of the United Kingdom stuck around. Both checked the 3♥ turn, then when Leathem checked the 8♦ river Borrego fired another bet and got a call.

Borrego tabled K♠4♠ for kings and Leathem mucked, and now she's up around 40,000 while Leathem remains hovering at the 30,000-chip starting stack. --MH

1:28pm: Hello, Watson
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Mike Watson has joined the field, bringing the total entries up to 75 with about 10 minutes to go in this second level of the first of two Day 1 flights.

Late registration extends through to the start of Day 2 on Thursday. --MH

1:22pm: Good flop for the Eastern Europeans
Level 2 - Blinds 75/10

With 53,000 chips already (not to mention $4.6 million in recorded live tournament winnings), Sam Greenwood is the one to watch on Table 6 today. However Igor Yaroshevskyy (who has $2.3 million of his own) is proving most troublesome for his opponents at time of writing. "Eastern European players," one of them muttered a moment ago, with Hellmuthian disdain.

This one wasn't really Yaroshevskyy's fault. After Ozkan Yasar opened to 400 from early position, Greenwood called on the button and Vidmantas Beliauskas also called in the small blind. That priced in Yaroshevskyy for a call from the big blind.

The flop fell 5♦3♥A♠ and both Beliauskas and Yaroshevskyy checked. Yasar bet 1,050 and Greenwood quickly folded. Beliauskas also got out of the way, but Yaroshevskyy called.

The turn brought the T♣ and Yaroshevskyy checked again. Yasar bet 1,400 and Yaroshevskyy called.

The river was the K♠ and Yaroshevskyy checked for a third time. Yasar wasn't falling for it again. He checked back. Yaroshevskyy then turned over 4♥2♥ for a flopped wheel. Yasar mucked in disgust.

That's how you profit with four-high pre-flop. -- HS

1:21pm: Latorre gets some back
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Latorre means 'tower' in English but Jose Latorre's tower of chips had only gone downwards since play began. We say had, because the Spaniard, who accrued over 3,000,000 VPPs on PokerStars in 2014 under the username 'cejakas14', just got some of his starting stack back.

He called a raise of 400 from Jorge Ricardo Postigo and both blinds also called to create a four-way pot. The 8♣A♥8♦ flop checked through and Mehmet Ayaz then fired out a bet of 1,100 on the 2♥ turn. Both Postigo and Latorre called and the 3♣ completed the board. The action was checked to Latorre and he overbet the pot, with a wager of 7,000.

That quickly got rid of Ayaz but Postigo tanked for a couple of minutes (no shot clock in this tournament!) before folding. After that hand Latorre is back up to 23,000. --NW

1:14pm: Ayaz and Haxton playing pocket pairs
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Ike Haxton raised his eyebrows, and Mehmet Ayaz shrugged in response. "Lucky," said Haxton, referring to his having won the previous hand between them.

In the hand Haxton had fired 4,000 on the turn with the board showing 3♠K♣A♦8♠ and Ayaz called, then Haxton bet another 10,000 after the A♣ river and Ayaz called again. Haxton tabled 3♣3♥ for a full house and after a long pause and disappointed exhalation, Ayaz had mucked.

On the very next hand Ayaz was the one leading with bets on the 6♠6♦4♥ flop, 5♥ turn, and 8♣ river, with Haxton calling each time. Ayaz then showed J♠J♥ and Haxton had to muck.

"No fours?" cracked Ayaz afterwards, and Haxton grinned.

Ayaz has been splashing about a lot, and now has about 53,000. Haxton meanwhile is at 40,000. --MH

12:57pm: Cage fighter frightened by a flush
Level 2 - Blinds 75/10

Standing 6'2" and weighing 205 lb, you'd think that not much would frighten Tito Ortiz. But he just confessed to being scared by something so weak and fragile as a flush. What a lightweight! And yeah, I'll tell him to his face.

8G2A6028_Felipe_Ramos_Tito_Ortiz_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Ortiz Getting some heavyweight advice from Team Pro Felipe Ramos

The humiliating confession came at the end of a complicated hand that also featured Kenny Hallaert, among others. It began when Luke Graham opened to 400 from under the gun and Hallaert called from a couple of seats along. Ortiz also called, but then Lokesh Garg, on the button, really wanted a scrap. He made it 2,000 to play.

Graham was game. He called. But Hallaert raised the stakes once more, four-betting to 3,500. Ortiz called.

Garg and Graham had finally seen enough and that left only Hallaert and Ortiz in the ring. The dealer laid out the Q♦4♦5♦ flop. They both checked. Like wusses.

The A♠ came on the turn and Hallaert took the fight to Ortiz with a bet of 4,000. Ortiz didn't back down. He called.

The J♦ fell on the river and Hallaert now slowed to another check. Ortiz seemed tempted to put in a bet, but he checked behind.

Hallaert turned over his A♥K♠ but Ortiz flipped J♥J♣. "That flush scared me," said the man who has a gym called the Punishment Training Center.

Ortiz has 32,000. Hallaert has 22,050. -- HS

12:56pm: Korenev takes some
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Roman Korenev had just one speed: fast. Korenev raised to 400 from under the gun and Derek Bains called from the cutoff.

Justin Bonomo was on the button and threw in a call as well. The flop came 3♥Q♥K♦ and Korenev upped the bet to 800. Bains called, Bonomo folded and a 4♥ came on the turn.

Korenev bet 1,750 and Bains called. A T♦ completed the board and Korenev put out a final bet of 3,300. This time it was too much for Bains and he folded.

Korenev took down the pot and is now sitting with about 33,000. --AV

NEIL6333_Roman_Korenev_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Roman Korenev

12:55pm: Getting AA in the BB
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Robin Luca Wozniczek got short during the day's first level, then here in Level 2 watched his neighbor to the left open from under the gun and get one caller, then Manuel Martinez Solsona three-bet from late position.

In the big blind Wozniczek looked down at A♦A♥ and pushed all in, scattering all but Solsona who called with A♠K♥. A 2♠5♥T♥3♥3♦ runout was fine for Wozniczek and he's back to about 15,000. Solsona has 40,000. --MH

12:53pm: Action table
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

There's no shortage of action (or talent) at table five as Ike Haxton and Stephen Chidwick have joined a table that already housed Jose Latorre.

Only Latorre was involved in the pot I witnessed - and he played a minor role. He called from the cutoff after Salomon Benarroch limped from under the gun, Mehmet Ayaz also called, and Manuel Martinez Solsona then raised to 900 from the small blind. Benarroch was the only caller.

A 7♥T♦6♣ flop fell on the felt, and Solsona bet 900, Benarroch raised to 2,200, and Solsona stuck around. On the 5♣ turn, Benarroch fired another 3,300, and that was enough to finally shake Solsona. --NW

12:4pm: Three-time LAPT winner seeks first PokerStars Championship title
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

The start of the PokerStars Championship series this year signaled the consolidation of a number of different tours, though given that we're in Panama the Latin American Poker Tour is foremost in our minds.

Speaking of, during the nine-year history of the LAPT only one player won three titles, and he captured his third in the very last LAPT Main Event at the end of last year in the Grand Final at São Paulo. Nacho Barbero added a third LAPT ME trophy to his collection after having won back-to-back titles in Lima, Peru and Punta del Este, Uruguay back in 2010 during Season 3.

nacho_barbero_panama_me_day1a.jpg

Nacho Barbero

Barbero has just arrived here near the start of Level 2, seeking to add some PokerStars Championship hardware to his collection. He's already made a good effort in that regard, final-tabling the $25K High Roller at PokerStars Championship Bahamas (finishing sixth) and taking a third in $1K side event here this week. --MH

12:31pm: Recent arrivals
Level 2 - Blinds 75/10

We are into Level 2 and there are now 60 players signed up. Recent arrivals include Paul Newey and Sergio Aido. Sam Greenwood snuck in a while ago too. -- HS

12:28pm: Easy come, easy go for Ayaz
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

The fact that Mehmet Ayaz still has 55,000 despite just losing 17,000 in a hand tells you that he's been pretty active so far today. I joined the action to see him betting 2,500 into a pot of 4,300 on the river of a 7♣A♥T♦4♦7♦ board.

The action was on Manuel Martinez Solsona, and the Spaniard elected to raise to 7,000. Ayaz thought for a few seconds and then re-raised to 17,000 total. This, understandably sent Solsona into the tank and he stayed there for a couple of minutes. He then tossed in the call and watched on as Ayaz turned over T♠5♠, Solsona could beat that, he opened K♦9♦ and scooped a chunky pot. --NW

12:25pm: Level 2 begins
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

The other posts with hands and stories and other whatnot get all the attention, but these posts are important, too. The blinds are up, people. Take note! --MH

NEIL6354_Deal_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg


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12:24pm: Believe it or not
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

With about 3,200 in the middle and the action going check-check on the turn, Leo Fernandez watched the river complete the board as A♠T♦9♠T♣J♦ and he fired 2,500. Gustavo Lopes eyed Fernandez warily -- a look we might put in the "I-don't-believe-you" category -- then made an action proving his disbelief by calling.

Fernandez tabled K♦Q♦ for a straight, and Lopes mucked.

That was the last hand of Level 1, with Lopes coming back to 35,000 and Fernandez chipping up to 25,000. --MH

12:23pm: Webb the first to go
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

It looks as if Richard Webb is the first player to bust this Main Event. We didn't catch his exit first hand, but Luca Vivaldi - who's the tournament director - told us that Webb was knocked down to 2,000 when he lost with a flush against Kenny Hallaert's quad aces. Ouch! He evidently couldn't recover and is now out.--NW

12:22pm: Destination Panama
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Panama's long been a global transit hub for ships and planes, but for the past few days it's been the destination for poker players.

The big names keep on flocking in, a flash of pink hair announced Justin Bonomo's entry while a tiny posse announced Tito Ortiz's.

Ortiz, a former MMA Light Heavyweight Champion, was accompanied by Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos and a video camera recording their every move. Ortiz took a seat and realized he'd forgotten his PS Live card after the dealer asked him for one.

"Don't worry, it's him," Kenny Hallaert told the dealer.

Hallaert's word wasn't enough, but Ortiz's muscles and drivers license confirmed his identity and he was allowed to play.

Ramos, who also coaches Neymar, was whispering advice to Ortiz while the fighter nodded and sipped his early afternoon Redbull. We're not sure what advice Ramos gave him, but maybe he told him to take it slow.

Ortiz folded his first few hands while Ramos, ever the fan pleaser, Snapchatted a moment with Ortiz for his fans.--AV

12:12pm A start to Rave about
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Marco Rave opened for 300 from under the gun, Anthony Zinno called from the hijack, and Ricardo Tavares also called from the big blind.

The flop fell 4♥J♥Q♠ and it checked to the raiser who bet 600, with both of his opponents sticking around. The 3♦ turn brought another check from Tavares, and when Rave bet 1,800 Zinno dropped out and Taveres stayed. Check-check on the 7♣ turn, Rave tabled Q♣9♣ for queens, and Tavares mucked.

Good start for Rave who is up to 55,000 already -- nearly twice the starting stack. --MH

12:09pm: Aya! Ayaz
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Robin Wozniczek shook his head. He had a crack at pushing Mehmet Ayaz out of a surprisingly big first-level pot, but managed only to give away more of his chips.

Details are scarce as it was one of those pots that was glimpsed only out the corner of the eye, but the bare bones are as follows.

The turn was out, revealing a board of 8♠T♦9♥T♠. Ayaz bet 2,500 and Wozniczek raised to 7,500. Ayaz called and they saw the J♦ fall on the river.

Ayaz bet 7,500 and Wozniczek raised to 14,400, which gave Ayaz a decision. He sighed and called, forcing Wozniczek to sigh deeper and say, "Jack." He turned over J♠5♠.

Ayaz said, "I have a straight" and exposed his Q♦K♥. Wozniczek has less than half of what he started with. -- HS

12:06pm: Spaniards battle
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Adrian Mateos -- winner of an EPT Grand Final Main Event and a WSOP Europe Main Event -- open-raised to 400 from under the gun. It folded around to fellow Spaniard David Lopez Llacer -- who, as it happens, took runner-up in a WSOP Europe Main Event in 2015 -- in the big blind, and he made the call.

Llacer would finish runner-up in this hand, too. Llacer check-called a bet after a 6♣7♣8♦ flop, both players checked the 2♠ turn, then Llacer bet 800 on the 7♥ river. Mateos thought a while before calling with A♣K♣ (ace-high), and that was good against Llacer's J♥T♦. --MH

11:59am: More familiar faces
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

The field continues to grow, as does the number of big names in the field. With a $25,000 High Roller on the schedule tomorrow a number of players who are likely to enter that tournament are playing their Main Event today.

Sam Greenwood has joined the action at the Igor Yaroshevsky/Massimo De Mario table. Anthony Zinno has taken a seat and Jason Koon is also in the field. --NW

11:49am: Fernandez takes a seat and a hit
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez always comes ready for action.

The former LAPT Champion sat down on Adrian Mateos's left and didn't waste any time tussling with the young Spaniard.

In that hand, action folded to Gustavo Lopez and he raised to 300 from the big blind. Fernandez called from the small blind and Adrian Mateos made it 1,400.

NEIL6349_Adrian_Mateos_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Adrian Mateos

Both players called and the flop came 2♠A♠6♣. Mateos bet 2,100 when checked to and both players called.

A 5♣ came on the turn and action checked to the button. Lopez bet 5,600 and only Fernandez called. A K♦ completed the board and Fernandez checked again. This time Lopez checked behind and players tabled their hand.

Lopez tabled A♣7♣ for aces while Fernandez tabled 7♠5♠ for a turned pair of fives. Lopez raked in the pot and chipped up to 53,000 while Leo dipped to about 20,000. --AV

11:46am: Hallaert back to the grind after WSOP success
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Luke Graham opened to 250 from under the gun and Kenny Hallaert called on the button. It's calls like that that took Hallaert to the November Nine last year.

Lokesh Garg also called in the big blind and three players saw a flop of A♣9♣7♠. Hall checked and Garg checked and Hallaert bet 350. It's bets like that that took Hallaert to the November Nine last year.

However Garg now found the check-raise, making it 800 to go. Graham folded and Hallaert folded too. It's folds like that, etc., and so forth.

Did anyone mention we have a November Niner here in Panama?-- HS

11:44am: Now we got a game
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

If you thought nothing happened in the early levels, then think again. A very intriguing pot just played out between Igor Yaroshevsky and Massimo De Mario. The former is a regular in high rollers at various PokerStars events and he opened to 300 from the hijack at a five handed table. De Mario, who was on the button, bumped the price of poker up to 900 and Yaroshevsky called.

A connected J♠9♦T♥ flop hit the felt, and Yaroshevsky check-called a bet of 800, which took the two protagonists to the Q♣ turn. There then followed another check from Yaroshevsky and a bet of 1,100 from De Mario. Yaroshevsky smiled--he'd already lost a couple of thousand from his starting stack--and then folded A♠A♥ face up.

It wasn't the best board for aces, that's for sure, but De Mario had been at it. He proudly showed 5♠2♠ as he took the pot, and all Yaroshevsky could do was keep smiling. --NW

11:37am: Tavares takes from Kisacikoglu
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Orpen Kisacikoglu is among those here at the starting bell today, with the player from Turkey just one day removed from a career-high cash after his fifth-place finish in the $50,000 Super High Roller, good for $142,600.

Kisacikoglu is active early on as well, having just now orpened... er, opened for 350 from the small blind, with his neighbor Ricardo Tavares of Brazil calling from the big blind.

Tavares comes into this event having an even bigger cash under his belt for his win in the 1,612-entry 2012 Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event worth RS$500,000 or nearly a quarter million USD.

Kisacikoglu fired another 400 on the 3♦6♦7♠ flop, but a min-raise to 800 from Tavares gave him pause before he called. The 7♣ turn paired the board, and after Kisacikoglu checked and Tavares bet 1,000, Kisacikoglu folded. --MH


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11:25am: Lopes among LAPTers back in Panama
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

With the PokerStars Championship coming to Panama, it's a little like the joining of different poker worlds, with so many Europeans and others having made a first-ever trek here to Central America to join the fun. For those of us who've been to Panama several times before with the Latin American Poker Tour, there's an "EPT meets LAPT" feel to things as we survey the early, expanding field.

Amid the familiar faces being mentioned by my colleagues is one to LAPT followers -- Gustavo Lopes of Brazil. Lopes returns to Panama City having cashed twice before in LAPT Panama Main Events. He additionally had a final table appearance at the LAPT Grand Final in São Paulo two years ago, and last summer made a run at the WSOP Main Event where he finished 159th.

We'll see how Lopes and the other LAPT regulars fare versus what is sure to be an eclectic field. --MH

8G2A5935_Deal_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

11:18am: The early arrivals
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

In the poker world 11am roughly equates to about 6am in the working world. It's no surprise then, especially given the generous structure, that the tables aren't exactly rammed at the moment.

What's more, the majority of the familiar faces seem to be European's perhaps struggling with the five-hour time difference that makes 11am seems like 4pm. Either way, Adrian Mateos, Kenny Hallaert and Orpen Kisacikoglu are three of the notables I've spotted in the field.

The latter was involved in a pot that made it all the way to the river. A K♣T♣9♣8♣Q♣ board was on the felt and Kisacikoglu's bet of 2,500 went uncalled. If he held a straight or royal flush, he didn't show it. --NW

11:10am: Dutch courage
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Steven van Zadelhoff is among the early arrivals to the Main Event here in Panama, and he quickly got a huge amount of his chips into an early pot.

With 650 in the middle pre-flop, Van Zadelhoff was one of two players to see the 7♠7♣T♠ emerge. Jose Jimenez Gallon, who was the other one, bet 300 and then called after Van Zadelhoff check-raised to 900. Van Zadelhoff then bombed 2,000 at the 8♣ turn and then pushed at least 6,000 forward on the 4♥ river.

Only by that point did he manage to convince Gallon that this wasn't worth pursuing further. -- HS

11:02am: The PokerStars Championship Era Begins in Panama
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

According to the familiar, dulcet tones of Tournament Director Fernando Obando delivering the directive to "shuffle up and deal," play is underway in this very first PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event.

Eight short-handed tables are in action to begin this first of two Day 1 starting flights. --MH

10:50am: You read that right...
...it's not even 11am.

Over the other side of the world, in Rozvadov, in the Czech Republic, this is about the time of the day that they finish their day of poker. But here in Panama, it's where we're getting ready to welcome the masses for Day 1A of the PokerStars Championship Main Event.

The Super High Roller event wrapped yesterday, clearing the way for this $5,000 flagship tournament, which will take place over the coming week. We play eight 75-minute levels today, the same tomorrow for Day 1B, and then Days 2 through 6 play until Monday, when we'll have our champion.

You can follow all the action here on PokerStars Blog. We'll be with it until the bitter end. -- HS

8G2A5243_Sortis_Location_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship Panama and all other Festival and Championship events.

Also all the information is on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $5,000 Main Event: Martin Harris, Howard Swains, Alex Villegas, Brad Willis and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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