PokerStars Championship Sochi: Jason Wheeler leads Day 1 field, ElkY on to Day 2

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Our overall Day 1 chip leader, Jason Wheeler

The starting flights are done and Jason Wheeler has emerged atop the onslaught with 180,800. That makes Wheeler the overall leader going into Day 2.

It was a larger field to come out ahead of. Day 1B drew about 240 players and after eight 75-minute levels, only about 130 remain. The field was overwhelmingly Russian and the survivors, too, are overwhelmingly Russian.

Russia's Sergey Isaev seems to top the Russian survivors with 158,300 and Vladimir Troyanovskiy also finished strong with 116,500. There are a few foreigners sprinkled among the survivors too. Kazakhstan's Lavrentiy Ni finished with 174,800 and Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero managed to finish with 71,600. Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier also joined late in the day and bagged 43,200 when it was over.

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They will all join the 72 survivors from Day 1A, including Day 1A leader, Andrei Shkerin, who finished the day with 144,000 and Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker, who bagged 115,300. That field could see a small increase since late registration is open till the start of Day 2.

But you can't rebuy. Once you're done in Sochi, you're done. That's the situation for a number of players that took their shot at the championship today. Team PokerStars Pro Aditya Agarwal, Team PokerStars Online Mikhail Shalamov and Olga Iermolcheva all took a seat today, but they hit the rail as the day and blinds progressed.

The mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, also made a short appearance. He didn't play, but he did take the stage and gave a speech that Russian speakers seemed to enjoy. Then he darted off with his entourage.

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They mayoral visit

But the tournament clock has stopped for now and music has taken its place. It's Friday night in Sochi and a DJ has set up in the hotel and partygoers are trickling into the casino. But they'll all clear out and when the sun rises, we'll have another day of poker.

The battle to find the inaugural PokerStars Championship Sochi champion will continue at 12pm and play will continue for another six levels. We'll have all that Russian-packed action right here, at the PokerStars Blog.

Dobroy nochi from Sochi.

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11:57pm: Three more hands
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Time has frozen. Well, just the tournament clock and we'll play three more hands before we bag and tag for the night. --AV

11:55pm: Barbero chips up right before the clock stops
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

That was a nice little boost to Nacho Barbero's stack. Picking up the action on the 8♥T♠3♣ flop, his opponent had checked to him and he made it 4,000 which was called. The turn was the 7♠ and that checked through, leading to the A♠ on the turn. It put three spades out there.

But both checked. Barbero's opponent turned over the 9♥9♣, but that was no good against the Argentinian's A♣Q♥ for a rivered top pair.

"I'm thinking in my head he might have tens, eights or nines," Barbero said as he stacked the chips. "Maybe even ace-ten or ace-eight. I don't want to be check-raised."

Barbero has 60,000 and the clock is now paused. --JS

11:50pm: Shatilov still short after double
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Andrey Shatilov has just escaped the danger zone after upgrading from a super-short stack to a newfound short stack.

He got his last few big blinds in preflop and Rustam Kuliev called to put him at risk.

Shatilov: Q♠J♣
Kuliev: 5♥5♣

It was a fair fight and by the river on a T♠7♠8♥8♠9♦ runout, Shatliov had improved to a straight to secure the pot. He doubled up to 9,000 while Kuliev is now in the danger zone himself, dropping to 6,000. -- BK

11:40pm: ElkY getting short
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

After his great run in Monte Carlo, this Day 1B hasn't been the best for Team Pro ElkY. He's still in with a shot though, despite losing this last hand.

He min-opened to 1,600 and picked up one caller: Dmitrii Makarov in the big blind. They went to a 3♦6♥J♣ flop, on which Makarov decided to lead out for 2,000. ElkY called though, and they went to a turn: the 6♦. Makarov continued on fourth street for 3,000, and again the Frenchman didn't budge.

Finally the 5♣ river landed and after some thinking Makarov made it 7,000. That was enough to get ElkY to fold, leaving himself with 17,500. --JS

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Elky is hoping to make another Monaco-like run

11:25pm: Galitski gains from Ni
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Mikhail Galitski is gaining momentum after a strong line forced a fold from big stack Lavrentiy Ni.

Ni raised to 1,700 under the gun before Galitski three-bet to 6,500 on his immediate left. The action folded back around to Ni and he called to see a flop of 8♣A♣8♦.

Ni check-called a bet of 4,200 and the dealer turned the J♥. Another check from Ni prompted a bet of 14,300 from Galitski, and that was enough to dissuade Ni from continuing.

Ni lost that pot, but still sits as one of our frontrunners with around 160,000. -- BK

11:15pm: Yel low
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Osman Yel opened a pot to 1,700 and was three-bet to 4,100 by Viktor Shener. Action folded back to the original raiser and he made the call. Flop time.

It fell 8♥T♠2♦ on which Shener continued for 5,500. Yel called again.

On the 2♣ turn, Shener insta-checked, and this prompted a strange reaction. Yel shook his head, almost like he was disappointed that Shener hadn't continued betting. He wasn't willing to put any chips into the pot either though, and checked back.

When the Q♦ river landed, Shener checked quickly again. Yel tapped, and saw his opponent's hand: the Q♥T♦ for two pair. "Ha," groaned Yel, as went to muck his hand, flashing this secretive blogger one card. It's against the code if I reveal it though.

Yel is down to 66,000 now, while Shener stacked up 45,000. --JS

11:05pm: Rodin's kings get a double from Troyanovskiy
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

There was about 8,000 in the pot of a 2♦Q♠4♦ flop and Vladimir Troyanovskiy bet 3,500. Grigorii Rodin raised to 8,500 and Troyanovskiy threw in a pile of chips big enough to put Rodin all in.

Rodin quickly called and showed an overpair with K♥K♠ while Troyanovskiy showed top pair with A♦Q♥. The turn brought a 7♣ and then a T♣ on the river sealed Rodin's double up.

Rodin doubled to about 70,000 while the loss left Troyanovskiy with 90,000. --AV

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Vladimir Troyanovskiy

10:55pm: Unlucky ladies for Mihalin
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Mihail Mihalin's stack was just decimated leaving him down to just a couple of big blinds.

On a flop of 6♦9♦8♥ Mihalin led out for 7,100 from the under the gun seat before the player on the button shoved all in for 22,400 - most of Mihalin's stack.

Mihalin called it off with Q♠Q♣ and had a lot of cards to dodge against A♦K♦.

The 4♦ turn card arrived and with that Mihalin was already drawing dead. The 5♥ river a mere formality as Mihalin was chopped down to just 2,500. --BK

10:45pm: Mountains among the hills
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

There are plenty of short stacks in the field, but the tournament isn't entirely populated by them at the moment.

Seyed Homayoun Ghavam is still at the top of the counts with about 150,000. And that's after doubling up one of the tournament's many short stacks. Ghavam raised to 1,300 that hand and Vsevolod Nikolaev moved all-in for 8,600. Ghavam called with A♥J♠ and Nikolaev tabled J♣J♦. Nikolaev manage to aces and upsets on the T♣4♣8♥7♠K♥ board and double to about 20,000.

Nikolaev is still well below average while loss only put a small dent in Ghavam's stack. --AV

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Ghavam's the boss

10:40pm: Pure fold by Petrushevskii
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Sergei Petrushevskii will be counting his blessings after making a huge laydown in a three-way pot that turned out to be correct.

The flop read 4♦7♠6♥ and it appeared that Vasily Andrienko had led out from the small blind before Petrushevskii raised it up to 5,800 in the big blind. Despite the action the player on the button shoved all in for 26,000 and Andrienko moved all in over the top with enough to cover Petrushevskii.

Petrushevskii looked torn and while he held 5♠3♥ for the second nuts he soon folded it face up to a shocked response from his tablemates.

"Nit! I bet my house with that hand," joked Nacho Barbero.


Nacho don't take kindly to no nits

It turned out to be a stellar fold, however, as Andrienko tabled 8♣5♥ for the higher straight, and he was looking to fade danger against the button's 6♠6♦.

The 2♠ turn was safe but the 2♥ river paired the board to see the set of sixes improve to a full house and take the lead from Andrienko.

Despite the setback Andrienko still has a stack of 78,000 to work with. --BK

10:30pm: Hey guys and girls! We've got a new chipleader!
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Exciting news eh? It's great to be able to bring you the latest gos...

Whoa! There's no need for that!

Look, I know you're excited but...Calm down, I'm going to tell you!




Seyed Homayoun Ghavam is your new chipleader with 145,000. --JS

10:25pm: Yury vs Yulius: a trilogy
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

The first hand I saw between Yury Akulenka and Yulius Sepman didn't amount to much. I wasn't even planning to write it up. But then every time I glanced over at their table in the following minutes, the two were tangling in a new pot. A rivalry was developing.

In the first one, Akulenka made it 1,500 only Sepman to three-bet to 5,100. The call was made, and Akulenka check-folded to a c-bet on an 8♣7♥9♥ flop. See? Pretty dull.

But a couple of hands later and they were at it again. Akulena made it 1,500 again but this time Sepman only three-bet to 3,600 on the button. Akulenka called in the cutoff to see the 6♥3♣8♣ flop, but once again check-folded to a 5,000 c-bet.

And there was a third hand too. With altogether different bet sizes.

Akulenka opened again - this time to 1,200, and Sepman three-bet again, this time to 2,800. Call.

The flop came K♥T♠A♣ and it checked through. The K♠ landed on the turn, but inspired no more betting. Finally the 2♠ completed the board and that brought a bet of 3,500 from Akulenka. Sepman gave it up after a bit of tanking, meaning this battle ended 2:1 in Sepman's favour.

And I do mean ended. The table broke immediately after that hand, with Sepman at 39,000 and Akulenka at 50,000. --JS

10:15pm: The exodus
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

And the players just keep falling.

Konstantin Maslak recently went all in for about 8,000 with 9♠9♥ and was flipping for his tournament life when Nikita Bochkin called with J♥T♥.

The T♦3♣3♠5♥Q♣ board thrust Bochkin into the lead and he took down the pot while Maslak hit the rail. Some other players who joined Maslak this level include Dimitrii Naumov, Olga Iermolcheva, Kirill Andreychuk, Gleb Trezmin, Rudolf Babayan, Dmitrii Kopyl, Konstantin Glushenko and Andrey Zaichenko. --AV

10:05pm: Post-dinner shorties
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

There's a surplus of short stacks out there.

They've all come back from dinner with hopes of changing their luck, but trying to do it in different ways. Olga Iermolcheva has been folding her short stack and is still hovering below the 5,000 mark. The strategy guarantees more time in the tournament, but will inevitable result in demise.

Others are measuring still trying to give their tiny stacks pre and postflop play while most are just trying to get it in good. It's worked for some. Sergei Kan raised to 1,500 from under the gun and Dimitrii Naumov moved all-in for 7,600 from the hijack.

Kan tabled 7♠7♦ and Naumov turned over Q♣Q♦. Naumov improved to a full house on the A♥J♦Q♥J♣9♦ board and he doubled up to about 18,000 while Kan is still sitting with about 66,000. --AV

9:55pm: Kostyakov KO's Babayan
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Rudolf Babayan is headed for the exit after what looked like a move gone wrong. He found himself all in on the button for 18,200 before Konstantin Kostyakov called from the big blind to put him at risk.

Babayan: 8♦4♦
Kostyakov: J♠J♣

Babayan needed a lot of help to keep his Main Event hunt alive and while he found a little on the 3♥4♠3♠ flop, it wouldn't be enough as the 5♦ turn and 6♦ river rolled off to see Kostyakov's pocket jacks hold.

Babayan departed as Babayan stacked up a new total of 59,000 --BK

9:45pm: Gleb's gone thanks to Galitski
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Talk about an action flop.

With the board showing the 4♥9♥6♦, Gleb Tremzin and Mikhail Galitski ended up getting all the money in (I arrived after an all in was called). When the cards were flipped, it was easy to see why:

Tremzin: K♥Q♥
Galitski: 4♠4♦

The set of Galitski was ahead, but Tremzin had plenty of flush outs. He'd proceed to immediately hit one on the 7♥ turn to give him the lead.

But the river was a cruel one. It came the 9♣, to give Galitski a full house and the knockout. Tremzin made his exit, and Galitski stacked up 95,000. --JS

9:35pm: Post-dinner poker
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Welcome back! Players are back in their seats and cards are back in the air. They'll play two more levels and call it a night. --JS

8:20pm: Dinner time

We've reached the dinner break on Day 1B of the Main Event. That's 75 minutes long meaning we'll be back at around 9:35pm local time. While you wait, here are some of the big counts.

Sarkis Karabadzhakyan -- 125,000
Ramil Boyazitov -- 115,000
Dmitry Manashov -- 95,000
Alexander Lakhov - 93,000
Rustam Kuliev - 90,000
Mikhail Galitski - 88,000
Jason wheeler - 85,000
Donatas Pilinkus - 82,000

8:16pm: Opalikhin and Boyazitov share the same boat
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Aleksei Opalikhin has been a short stack for ages, but may have been forgiven for getting his hopes up about the prospect of a double up just before dinner. But he was denied.

Ramil Boyazitov was the man to halt him. Boyazitov has around 90,000 chips, so things have been going very well for him this afternoon. Here's another example of that.

Boyazitov opened from the hijack and Opalikhin three-bet his button, making it 3,500. Boyazitov called and they looked at the K♠K♣5♦ on the flop.

Boyazitov checked and Opalikhin bet 3,500. Boyazitov called and this began to smell a little fishy.

The J♦ came on the turn and Boyazitov checked again. Opalikhin only had 9,075 in his stack at this point and he counted it out meticulously, before committing it to the pot. Boyazitov called immediately.

Both of them had been trapping the other. Boyazitov had K♥Q♣. But he was behind Opalikhin's A♥K♦. However, the J♣ on the river meant they chopped it with the same full house. -- HS

8:15pm: Advantage Andrienko
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Vasily Andrienko opened from the cut off, making it 1,150 to play. Nacho Barbero was in the small blind and called before Dmitry Gromov raised from the big blind, making it 3,600 to play.

The action came back around to Andrienko who called. Barbero did the same, although not before thinking for a while and accidentally spilling some chips.

The flop came 5♦K♥8♠

Barbero checked to Gromov who bet another 3,800. Again Andrienko called while Barbero left them to it.

On the 3♦ turn however advantage swung in Andrienko's favour. With the action checked to him Andrienko walloped about 45,000 into the middle, easily covering Gromov, who after a long tank was forced to fold. He drops to 18,000 while Andrienko now has around 72,000. - SB

8:10pm: Where's my banana?
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

The 75-minute dinner break is nearly upon us and some of the natives are getting restless. Ashkan Fattahi called a waiter over and explained that he ordered a banana one hour ago but it had yet to arrive.

"Where's my banana?" he cried. The waiter had no idea but quickly ducked into the kitchen to see if the elusive fruit could be located. Even if Fattahi doesn't get his banana by the end of the level, he will soon have plenty of time on his hands to get some much-needed dinner. - RJ

8:05pm: Stay for dessert
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

We're getting close to the dinner break now, and the following will have no reason to hurry back. They are out:

Aditya Agarwal, Anton Kozlovsky, Igor Yampolskiy, Vlad Makarenko, Stanislav Prikhodko, Denis Snisarenko, Pavel Krasnoselskii, Arsenii Karmatckii, Arkadi Hovhannisyan, Viacheslav Goryachev, Dmitrii Zaitcev, Aleksandr Tyavin, Help I'm Trapped Among All These Long Names, Pavel Pravduhin, Yeggeniy Bakhvalov, Vitalii Grigorev, Oleg Titov, Andrey Andreev, Harry Lodge, Robert Faizrakhmanov. -- HS

8pm: ElkY chops one up
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

For a player of such pedigree, things haven't really been going ElkY's way today. He's hovering just under his starting stack at around 25,000 and couldn't even move in the right direction despite making a good call in this hand.

Andrey Golubev, who has been happy to show bluffs today, raised under the gun and ElkY was the only caller. A bet of 1,500 came from Golubev on the 3♣5♣8♥ flop and ElkY called. Both checked the T♥ turn.

The river was another middling card, the 9♠. Now Golubev bet 1,500. It was a relatively small bet but, by the look on his face, ElkY had a relatively small hand too! The French superstar eventually made the call and his ace-queen wasn't losing - the only problem was that Golubev had the exact same hand so they chopped it up!

Golubev is now on 47,000 while Elky sits at 25,000. - RJ

7:40pm: Pilinkus picking up chips
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Donatas Pilinkus now sits with 92,000 in chips after winning a three-way pot in a recent hand.

On a board of 7♦2♥4♦Q♠ Pedro Lamarca (small blind) and Viktor Kudinov (big blind) checked it over to Pilinkus who bet just 1,000 into a pot of around 15,000. Both opponents called and the 9♥ river prompted another two checks over to Pilinkus.

He bet small again, this time for 2,000, and while Lamarca folded, Kudinov called to keep him honest but regretted it when Pilinkus tabled J♠J♣ for the winner. -- BK

7:35pm: A bad one for Barbero
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero raised to 1,200 from the button and Dmitrii Kopyl called from the small blind. Vladimir Shabalin was on the big blind and went along for the ride too.

An 8♥A♣9♠ flop hit the board and action checked to Barbero's button. The Argentinian pro bet 1,000, Kopyl folded and Shabalin raised to 3,500. Barbero called and a T♥ came on the turn.

Shabalin led out for 4,000 and Barbero thought for a bit before calling. A 3♠ completed the board and Shabalin checked. This put Barbero in the tank. He thought for a few minutes and eventually checked behind.

Shabalin turned over T♦7♥ fora pair of tens while Barbero mucked. The hand put Shabalin up to 35,000 while Barbero dipped to 41,500. --AV

7:30pm: Mixing drinks with Andrey Zaichenko
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Time to check in on Andrey Zaichenko. Yep, true to form, he's dusted off a lot of his chips. Zaichenko is down to 15,300 now, but is still worth watching, not least because of the mini-bar he has assembled on a chair next to him.

He has an enormous measure of what looks like brandy, sitting beside a glass of what looks like either Red Bull or apple juice. And beside that, there's a jar of massage grease. He is currently getting a quite vigorous rub-down from one of the massage therapists here and she is regularly dipping into that pot to then spread it across Zaichenko's neck.

The thing is, even if Zaichenko accidentally picks up that pot of ointment and swigs from it, it wouldn't be the most disgusting drink being taken by a member of this field. Another player has somehow got their hands on a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. Yeugh. -- HS

7:30pm: What a play
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

This hand was like watching a short piece of theatre.

Arriving to a 9♠8♦A♦ flop, I could see that Arman Atshemyan had a bet of 5,000 in front of him. His sole opponent in the hand, Fiodar Skrunda, was umming and ahhing about what to do, with no chips in front of him. He'd either checked it over or had taken back his original bet; the latter being the most likely as the small pot didn't seem to warrant a 5,000 bet.

Unless Atshemyan was just getting funky with a big overbet, of course.

Skrunda eventually decided what he was going to do: he popped it up to 15,000, leaving himself just under 5,000 behind. Atshemyan looked disgusted at first, but then quickly switched roles from a begruntled player to a confident one. He even pump-faked a raise with a stack of blue 5K chips, but nobody seemed to care.

Especially not Skrunda. He was playing the role of the most confident guy in the room; leaning forward in his chair over the table, with Atshemyan just a few inches away. After a two-minute tank, Atshemyan made the call, and we got to see the cards these two had been acting with:

Atshemyan - 9♦3♦
Skrunda - A♥9♣

Middle pair and a flush draw for the former, top two pair for the latter. Any diamond would do it, but the 3♣ turn and 6♠ river didn't change the outcome.

Skrunda said something that seemed to be along the lines of "thank you" after the hand; perhaps a subtle needle as revenge for the pump-fake earlier.

After that show, Skrunda was up to 44,000, and Atshemyan still had him covered with 55,000. --JS

7:25pm: Sneaky flop monsters
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Another player down. The most recent eliminated player tried to push some weak hands out preflop but was unsuccessful. The weaker hand then turned into a monster on the flop and the unaware short stack moved all-in.

It started when Aleksandr Tyavin raised to 1,500 from under the gun and Stanislav Vlasov called from the cutoff. Alexander Lakhov was in the small blind with 5♥4♥ and called. Lakhov hit a straight on the 7♦3♥6♠ flop and Tyavin did him the favor of shoving all 6,700 of his chips in with A♣T♥.

Lakhov called instantly and showed the straight to Tyavin's ace-high. The turn was a J♦ and then a 5♦ completed the board and Tyavin's tournament life. Lakhov on the other hand rose to about 60,000. --AV

7:20pm: Elky doubles up
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has doubled up after picking up pocket aces at an opportune moment.

It was Mikhail Molchanov who took the hit after he raised to 1,100 preflop and Elky three-bet to 3,000 from the big blind. Molchanov called and the flop landed 8♠T♦Q♠.

Elky bet 3,000 before Molchanov moved all in and Elky snapped it off for his last 11,700.

Elky: A♠A♥
Molchanov: A♣Q♣

Elky was in a good spot to double up and that's exactly what he did as the [3] turn and 2♦ failed to help Molchanov. The Team Pro climbed back to right around the starting stack of 30,000 while Molchanov fell to 54,000. -- BK

7:15pm: Flopping the wheel and getting paid
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Alexander Lakhov was the recipient of a huge pot recently but has already lost a chunk of that near-100,000 stack. He lost a chunk more to Stanislav Vlasov moments ago.

Lakhov raised to 1,200 and both Vlasov and Aleksandr Tyavin called. Lakhov continued on the 5♦4♠2♥ flop for 2,200. Only Vlasov came along for the ride. The 2♠ on the turn was checked by both. The river was Q♥ and now Vlasov leapt into action, betting 7,000. It was quickly called by Vlasov but he mucked when Tyavin showed A♣3♠ for a flopped wheel.

Lakhov is all the way back down to 55,000 and Tyavin is playing a similar stack. - RJ

7:10pm: Staying alive
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

It's fair to say that Sergey Lomakin gave away something about his hand when he looked at an all-spade flop, checked his hole cards, and shook his head ruefully when quizzed about them by his neighbour.

It wasn't exactly great etiquette, but it didn't matter massively. By this point, Lomakin was already all-in, called in two spots, and peering at the 6♠5♠9♠. His all-in was for about 7,500, so the pot was at round 24,000.

That's when the peek/head-shake combo took place.

But all was not lost. Vagan Bukhyan checked and Rustam Kuliev bet 10,000. Skrunda called.

That was the end of the betting, though. The A♣ fell on the turn. The J♥ fell on the river. And now Lomakin thought his A♦K♥ might be live.

He was right. Bukhyan turned over K♦K♣ and Kuliev mucked. That sent the main pot to the head-shaker and the side pot to Bukhyan with his kings. -- HS

7:05pm: King-high good for ElkY
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Well, it might not have been the biggest pot, but this one was quite interesting. And it was certainly a big one for ElkY to win.

Picking up the action on an A♣7♠T♦ flop, Ramil Boyazitov checked it to the Team Pro, who in turn checked it to Mikhail Molchanov. He led out for 1,300, and both players called.


The dealer burned and turned the 2♥, which checked through to the 7♣ river. Boyazitov checked again, and ElkY did the same. Molchanov clearly thought about betting, but ultimately just checked it back. It was showdown time.

Boyazitov turned over the J♦9♥ for a busted gutshot.

ElkY turned over the Q♥K♣ for a busted gutshot.

And finally, Molchanov turned over...nothing.

He mucked when he saw ElkY's king-high, meaning the Frenchman was good. He scooped in a much-need pot to bring himself up to 16,000, while Molchanov and Boyazitov are both still very healthy with 62,000 and 88,000 respectively. --JS

Win your seat to any PokerStars Championship or Festival via a PokerStars satellite. To take part you'll need a PokerStars account, which takes only a few minutes to set up. Click here to get started.

7pm: Ins and outs
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Andrey Shatilov is one of the latest arrivals to PokerStars Championship Sochi. And with $2.5 million in live tournament cashes, he'll be one to look out for.

The latest number of players for today is 236, of whom around 195 still have chips. Recent eliminations include Evgeny Yalagaev, Roy Korthouwer, Alexander Umnikov, Beka Iordanishvili, Vitaly Gusak and Iliyas Mukhamedzhanov. -- HS

6:55pm: Korthouwer KO'd
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Roy Korthouwer has been evicted from the Main Event by way of a bad beat from Dmitry Manashov.

Roy_Korthouwer_PCSochi2017_26May17_v2.jpgRoy Korthouwer: OUT

After an open to 1,000, Korthouwer moved all in for 5,025. The action folded around to Manashov in the small blind and he made the call, and with the initial raiser out of the way, the cards went on their backs.

Korthouwer: Q♥Q♦
Manashov: 7♥7♦

Korthouwer was in great shape to double up until Manashov spiked middle set on the T♠3♣7♣ flop. Down to just two outs Korthouwer couldn't find one as the 2♠ turn and 4♥ river signalled the end of his tournament run.

Manashov meanwhile now sits with 68,000 in chips. -- BK

6:50pm: MONSTER pot!
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The J♦3♣6♠ flop was out and so was an enormous pile of 1,000 chips in front of Dmitrii Makarov. Any action before this is unknown but it's safe to assume there was a lot of betting before the flop too. Alexander Lakhov wasted no time in calling the inexact huge number of 1,000 chips.

Alexander_Lakhov_PCSochi2017_26May17.jpgAlexander Lakhov

Makarov then shoved his remaining stack in on the T♠ turn. Before he'd removed his hand from his chips Lakhov had beaten him into the pot with a snap-call. When he flipped over J♠J♣ it was easy to see why. Makarov could only look into the air and mutter, "of course", as his pocket aces looked destined to be cracked.

A safe river card saw the vast majority of Makarov's stack shipped in the direction of Lakhov, who now sits right around the 100,000 mark. Makarov is still in but with just 11,000 left. - RJ

6:45pm: Shabalinvlad enters
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Vladimir Shabalin, perhaps better known by his PokerStars screen name 'shabalinvlad', has just taken his seat here on Day 1B. Back in May 2014, the Russian became only the third player in history to ever accumulate over 10 million VIP Player Points (VPPs) on PokerStars.

To say he's a grinder would be an understatement then. It's not only online where he plies his trade though; Shabalin has been touring the circuit, notching live cashes at PokerStars Championships in Monaco and Macau recently. In fact, he actually won two tournaments in Macau: the PokerStars Asia Open for $37K, and another side event for $53K.

Back in October 2016, he finished third in the IPT8 Malta Main Event for $62K, which turned out to be only his second ever live cash.

Let's see how he gets on this evening. --JS

6:40pm: Try anything twice
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Aditya Agarwal just took down a pot by three-betting. And if worked the first time, it could work the second time too, right?

Well, not in this instance. After Alexander Lakhov opened to 1,000 under the gun, it folded around to the Team Pro in the small blind. He then bumped it up to 4,000, and got a fast fold.

Aditya_Agarwal_PCSochi2017_26May17.jpgAditya Agarwal

In the very next hand, one player limped before Evgeny Platonov raised it up to 1,600 in the hijack. It folded to Agarwal on the button and he decided to do the same thing, albeit add an extra 200 to the bet. He tossed in a raise to 4,200, which shook off the blinds and the limper. But when it was back to Platonov, he re-raised to 10,000, and Agarwal gave it up.

He's down to 21,000, while Platonov is on 45,000. --JS

6:35pm: Lubyanov loves a cooler
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Vladimir Lubyanov has doubled up after a cold deck stung Arman Atshemyan.

Lubyanov got his last 15,825 in preflop and Atshemyan called to put him at risk.

Lubyanov: A♣A♦
Atshemyan: A♠K♥

Atshemyan needed a lot of help to send Lubyanov packing but he didn't find much of it on the 7♠Q♣2♥ flop. Down to running cards to change things it was all over by the A♥ turn with Lubyanov spiking top set to lock up the pot.

The inconsequential 3♠ arrived on the river and Lubyanov lifted his stack to 33,000. Atshemyan meanwhile is now left with 19,000. -- BK

6:30pm: Cannon fodder
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

The tournament is hungry and it survives off bustouts. Level 5 is proving to be a feast, since the level started we've lost the likes of Andrei Tkachenko, Artem Voronin, Jamie Stephens, Vyacheslav Nikulin, Anvar Muratov, Sergey Verkhoturov, Evgenii Sboev, Vyacheslav Rotach and Artyom Babakhyanyan.

The tournament will continue to feed, so stay tuned for more action. --AV

6:25pm: Chong chipping up
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Yeow Chung Chong is a long way from his native Singapore, but fits in among the pre-flop limpers of Sochi. There's no doubt about it, there are far more people trying to get to the flop for cheap here than at most other major tournament stops, but it's working for many of them. Chong can now be included in that number.

In a recent pot, Chong limped from under the gun and Alimbay Sultanov raised to 1,600 from one seat to his left. Viktor Sorokin called from the big blind and Chong called too.

So it was three of them to the flop of 3♣2♠5♦ and both Sorokin and Chong checked to the raiser. Sultanov put 2,200 out there but it didn't get rid of Sorokin. He called.

Chong wasn't deterred either. Quite the contrary. He raised to 7,000. After Sultanov called fairly rapidly, Sorokin did now seem pretty concerned about this. After a minute or so, he folded.

That then brought the 2♥ on the turn and Chong bet 7,000. Sultanov was finally persuaded out of it, and Chong started chipping up. -- HS

6:20pm: Good flop, better turn
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Rustam Kuliev is motoring along nicely today and just added more to his stack courtesy of the hapless Aleksey Semenov.

Kuliev raised to 800 and was just called by Semenov, who had position. The 7♣7♥6♠ was in the wheelhouse of both players but Kuliev slowed down and checked. Semenov fired in 1,300 and it was called. The 8♥ turn lit up the imagination of straight, flush and full house enthusiasts around the world. But it didn't light up the table; both players checked.

A 5♥ river convinced Kuliev to now bet 5,000 and Semenov was confused. He crossed his arms, counted his stack - 14,000 left - and uncrossed his arms with a grimace etched on his face. Eventually he reached the decision to call. It was a bad decision.

Kuliev had turned a full house with 8♠7♠, while Semenov's pocket tens had been decimated since the flop.

Kuliev is up to 65,000 but Semenov will have a lot of work to do if he wants to survive the day. He's down to just 9,000. - RJ

6:15pm: Alexanders collide
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Alexander Kravchenko has been all stealth this tournament. He's got a black baseball cap that covers most of his face when he's looking down. If you manage to sneak a peek, his eyes are covered by a large pair of sunglasses. His ears? Mostly invisible behind a big set of headphones.

Alex_Kravchenko_PCSochi2017_26May17.jpgAlex Kravchenko

But he can't hide from the action at his table.

In a recent hand, Kravchenko was in a raised pot with Stanislav Vlasov and Alexander Lakhov. The flop read 8♠J♠5♥ and Kravchenko bet 2,100. Both players called and then all three checked the K♥ on the turn. The river brought a K♠ and another bet from Kravchenko. The bet was 7,000 and forced Lakhov out. Vlasov called though and took down the pot with pocket tens while Kravchenko showed ace-queen for ace-high and dipped to about 21,000. --AV

6:10pm: Solid day for SolidPenis
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Bet that headline grabbed your attention, eh? And no, this isn't me being crude for the sake of some click-baity headline that might make you stick around and actually read this post. It's actually about someone we've covered before.

It's actually about 'SolidPenis'.

Danila 'SolidPenis' Solovyev sat down to play a €25 Spin & Go back in July 2016, and the randomly-selected prize pool ended up being a massive €300,000. The winner would suddenly find themselves €250,000 richer, and wouldn't you know it? It was SolidPenis who stood tallest.

Solovyev, from Russia, is out in the Day 1B field today, and he's doing rather well. He's up to 64,000, having just picked up a few chips from Andrey Gulyy. He'd opened to 800 under the gun only for Solovyev to three-bet in the cutoff to 2,200. Back to Gulyy, he called and the flop fell 7♣T♥8♣. Both checked quickly.

On the 5♣ turn, Gulyy checked again and Solovyev led out for 3,000. That got a fold, bringing Gulyy down to 24,000. --JS

6:05pm: Tkachev takes from Tutoyan
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Alexander Tkachev has taken down a pot by utilizing some postflop aggression against Roman Tutoyan.

With Q♦T♦7♥ face up in the middle Tkachev checked to Tutoyan who bet 1,500. Tkachev then check-raised to 4,000 but Tutoyan wasn't quite ready to give up. He made the call and the 2♣ landed on the turn.

Tkachev loaded up again and fired for 6,000. That was enough to make Tutoyan fold top pair, showing Q♠ before relinquishing his hand.

That pot brings Tkachev to 43,000 and knocks Tutoyan back to 41,000 in chips. -- BK

6pm: Feeding the krokodil
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

A couple of top-ranked players have recently showed up in Sochi. One of them is the former EPT Prague runner up Gleb Tremzin, whose 30,000 starting stack had slid to 22,000. Another is Andrey "krokodil" Zaichenko, who has built his to 53,000 already.

Most of that came in a recent skirmish with Artem Nosach. They were at the flop by the time I arrived, with the Q♥J♥T♥6♠ on board. Nosach bet 2,100, Zaichenko raised to 7,000, Nosach jammed, covering Zaichenko's 24,125 and Zaichenko snap-called.

Nosach so very nearly had a royal flush. But his A♦K♦ were the wrong colour, so all he had was a straight. It meant he was drawing only to a chop against Zaichenko's 4♥9♥ and that did not materialise after the 6♠ turn and A♥ river.

Zaichenko has a bit of a habit of building a stack very quickly, and then either flaming out or going all the way. He's an EPT High Roller champion and a WSOP bracelet winner, not to mention a fearsome online reputation, so is a dangerous man indeed.-- HS

5:35pm: Take twenty

You deserve a break, having read our 'post every two minutes' coverage. We'll see you back here in 20 minutes, yeah? --JS

5:34pm: Guess the hands
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Information is scarce as to how this hand played out, but its denouement was weird. Read on!

I arrived to find a board of 8♦5♥3♣9♠2♣ on the table, about 12,000 chips in the pot, and two players still with cards. They were Seyed Homayoun Ghavam and Lev Mnatsakanyan, in cutoff and on the button, respectively.

Ghavam had clearly bet 8,000, leaving about 12,000 behind, but then Mnatsakanyan had jammed, with a covering 48,000. It meant Ghavam was pondering a decision for his tournament life.

It took a while. Ghavam tanked and Mnatsakanyan asked the dealer for the clock. However, the dealer refused this first request, perhaps suggesting Ghavam should be given a little longer. Ghavam eventually exhausted this well of patience too, and the dealer did call a floor supervisor over.

As the floor staff went through the process of putting the clock on Ghavam, he eventually called. Mnatsakanyan quickly turned over his 2♥2♦ for a rivered set. Who knows how he got this far with that hand.

But Ghavam then turned over his 8♠8♥, for flopped top set. Not the nuts, but still pretty strong.

He raked in the pot, building his stack to about 55,000. But one wonders whether he could ever have folded there?

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5:32pm: Busting before break
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Level 4 is winding down and while some players are preparing to go on their second break of the day, others are now on a permanent break. Vasili Koshchii, Mikhail Shalamov, Andrey Ustinov, Timofey Vekshin, Alexander Paygusov, Marina Perevozshchikova and Dmitry Gromov now join the list of Day 1B causalities. --AV

5:31pm: Maximum Panyak
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Maxim Panyak's day continues to improve, with his stack now measuring around the 75,000 mark.

Panyak, who you might remember finished fourth in Monaco, just won a hand against Yevgeniy Bakhvalov.

Panyak opened for 700 which Bakhvalov called for a flop of K♠A♣J♥. Panyak checked, then called Bakhvalov's bet of 900. On the K♥ turn both players checked to see the 7♠ river card. Panyak bet 1,150 which Bakhvalov eventually called. But whatever he called with wasn't able to beat Panyak's A♦3♦. --SB

5:29pm: No plateau for Platonov
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Evgeny Platonov just rivered the nuts in a three-way hand and managed to squeeze a modicum of value from it too.

He raised to 700 from early position with K♠J♠ and was called by both Stanislav Vlasov and Vyacheslav Nikulin. The 3♦9♠Q♦ flop appeared to be mucky for everyone. All three players checked.

Platonov checked on the A♠ river too - he now had a gutshot and the nut flush draw - before Vlasov bet 750. Nikulin folded but Platonov called with his multitude of outs. One of them, the T♣, came on the river. He lead out for 2,200 and was instantly called by Vlasov.

Vlasov's T♥9♥ had rivered two pair but Platonov's Broadway was well ahead and he raked in the pot.

Platnov is now on a very comfortable 56,000 while Vlasov drops to 21,000. --RJ

5:27pm: Wheeling out the turn jam
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Jason Wheeler and Maksim Nosenko had built a pot of around 23,000 as the dealer gradually put the following four cards on the table: 2♥9♣6♠3♥. Nosenko checked and Wheeler, who was on the button, shipped it.

Wheeler had 13,425 left at this stage and Nosenko was clearly tempted to try to swipe it. He tanked for a good few minutes before eventually deciding to preserve the 38,000 he already had rather than risk losing close to half of it.

Wheeler seemed happy enough about that. He now has a stack of around 38,000 himself. --HS

5:25pm: Vlasov doubles through Agarwal
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Evgeny Platonov raised to 750 from the cutoff and Team PokerStars Pro Aditya Agarwal called from the small blind. Stanislav Vlasov was on the big blind and called as well.

Action checked to Platonov on the Q♣5♠T♣ flop and he bet 1,000. Agarwal called and Vlasov raised to 3,200. Platonov called and Agarwal re-raised to 10,000. Vlasov moved all-in for 9,675, Platonov folded and players tabled their hands.

Agarwal turned over top pair with K♥Q♦ while Vlasov showed a set of 10s with T♠T♦. A J♣ came on the turn to give Agarwal a straight draw, but the river was another jack, the J♥.

Vlasov doubled up to about 24,000 while Agarwal's stack dipped to 28,000. --AV

5:22pm: Barbero builds through Kopyl
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Nacho Barbero is accumulating chips. He now has 56,000 to play with after taking from Dmitrii Kopyl.

The action was on Barbero in the under the gun seat with the board showing 2♥3♥A♥9♦2♠ and he led out for 4,200 into a pot of roughly 8,500. Kopyl took about 30 seconds to make the call only to see he was beat by Barbero's A♣3♠.

The pot was pushed Barbero's way as Kopyl fell to a still respectable 48,000. -- BK


Maybe it's Nacho's day after all

5:20pm: You sure about that? Sertan
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Sertan Citinoglu opened to 725 from the cutoff, Yury Zinkevich three-bet to 2,200 on the button and then Benjamin Lamprecht four-bet to 5,900 in the big blind. And we weren't even done yet.

Citinoglu then pushed all of his chips forward, a five-bet jam for 19,500.

Zinkevich, who had a covering stack, thought about it, but folded. Then Lamprecht, who had even more than Zinkevich, also folded. It allowed Citinoglu, who seemed to have been holding his breath as his opponents decided his fate, to belatedly breathe again. --HS

5:15pm: Welcome ElkY
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier made his deepest Main Event run for quite some time in Monte Carlo earlier this month. And he's playing the rush. He's hopped on a plane and has shown up now in Sochi for another crack at this PokerStars Championship lark. --HS


ElkY in Sochi

5:10pm: Olga Iermolcheva struggling
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Olga Iermolcheva has been in good form this recently, including shipping an event here in Sochi, but she's struggling to replicate that so far today in the Main Event.

Iermolcheva is down to just 10,000 and a portion of her stack was just donated to Vitalii Grigorev. Iermolcheva faced a three-bet to 2,350 and was the only caller. Both Iermolcheva and Grigorev checked the 8♣T♦Q♥ flop.

Grigorev didn't check when the J♦ came on the turn. He bet 6,100 - it was a very hefty percentage of Iermolcheva's stack. She decided to fight another day and folded.

Grigorev is now playing 33,000. --RJ

5:07pm: Exit Shalamov
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

It's the end of the road for Mikhail Shalamov.

The Team online pro was all in for around 8,000 with 8♦8♣ and got a call from Alexander Zubov who had the advantage with 9♣9♦.

Shalamov stood to watch the board land T♥J♠K♥6♠5♠ to send him out. --SB

5:05pm: Enter Kravchenko
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Alex Kravchenko, a veteran of the game in all its incarnations, is now on table 17 and up to nearly 40,000 chips.

Facing an opening bet he called, as did three others for a flop of T♣7♥Q♥. The action was checked to Kravchenko who bet 1,400, which only Dzmitry Rabotkin called for the 5♦ turn.

Here Kravchenko bet 3,200 which Rabotkin wasted no time in calling. But on the 3♦ river both players checked. And when Kravchenko showed A♣Q♦ he won the hand. --SB

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5pm: Big pot for Zhilinskii
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Aleksandr Zhilinski now has over double starting stack after hitting a monster hand and getting Beka Iordanishvili to bluff into him.

The cards were spread 5♥4♥8♣2♥5♠ and Zhilinskii checked in the under the gun seat before Iordanishvili fired for 6,000. Zhilinskii then came over the top with a raise to 16,500, but that showing of strength only induced Iordanishvili to put in another raise for 32,000, which was enough to set Zhilinskii all in.

Zhilinskii called off for his tournament life and had way the best of it with 8♥8♦ for a full house, miles ahead of Iordanishvili's A♣Q♥ for nothing but ace high.

Zhilinskii moves up to 66,000 while Iordanishvili is left with a stack of 29,500. --BK

4:55pm: Panyak power again
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

The pre-flop action in the following pot happened in a flash, which is PokerStars Blog's subtle way of admitting that it wasn't accurately recorded. However, the significant point is that Vasilii Koshchii (in mid-position), Maxim Panyak (hijack) and Roy Korthouwer (small blind) paid 925 each to see a flop. (I think it went limp, limp, raise, call, call.)

The flop in question was: 2♣6♣6♦ and Korthouwer checked. Koshchii checked, Panyak bet and Korthouwer check-raised to 1,100. Only Panyak called.

The turn brought the 8♠ and Korthouwer checked again. Panyak bet again, this time 3,300. Korthouwer called.

The river was the 8♦ and Korthouwer checked for a third time. Panyak bet for a third time, and his wager of 5,525 was sufficient to push Korthouwer out.

Panyak is now up to 72,000 and continues to purr. --HS

8G2A1380_Anatolii_Zyrin_Maxim_Panyak_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Panyak (right): enough chips to chat

4:50pm: Could have have won more?
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Vladimir Lubyanov had four-bet and Yuriy Zabolotniy was considering his options. He was in position and decided to call. A T♣7♣8♠ brought about a 1,500 bet from Lubyanov, which was tiny when you consider the pot had over 15,000 in it. Zabolotniy called without a moment's thought.

The 2♠ came on the turn and both checked. An innocent-looking 6♥ was the river card and now Lubyanov bet 7,000. Zabolotniy called and the cards were on their backs.

It was a missed ace-king for Lubyanov and pocket kings for Zabolotniy. He scooped in the sizeable pot but surely was left wondering if it could have been even more...

Zabolotniy scales the mountainous peaks of 60,000 as Lubyanov crashes down the hill to the tune of a 21,000 stack. --RJ

4:45pm: Gone and soon-to-be forgotten
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

You want eliminations? No? Well too bad, we got'em.

Some of the more recent departures include Said Chichba, Oleg Eltsov, Saman Nakhjavani, Nikolai Kurakin and Oleg Shalaumov.

There are a fair number of short stacks in the field too, including Team PokerStars Online's Mikhail Shalamov. Shalamov is down to about 5,000 and is hoping to avoid the ever-growing list of bust outs. --AV

4:40pm: Golubev's two pair
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Mikhail Molchanov is the big stack on Table 21. He has around 82,000 at this stage, which may actually be the most in the room. He got the following pot started too, but quickly shimmied away when table-mates seemed to like it more pre-flop.

Molchanov opened to 525 from under the gun and Artyom Babakhanyan called from one seat to the left. Andrey Golubev called in the cutoff and, with all that money out there, Oleg Shalaumov decided to have a stab at it from the big blind. He raised to 2,200.

That was too much for Molchanov. He folded. In fact, only Golubev called. The flop fell 6♣K♣T♣ and Shalaumov checked. Golubev bet 2,500 and set a pattern going. Shalaumov called.

The 7♥ appeared on the turn and it went check, bet, call again. This time 3,500.

The 9♦ completed the board and it went check, bet, call again. This time is was 5,500.

Golubev flipped over his T♠9♣ and it required a double take, then a double-check of the board, before Shalaumov conceded. --HS

4:35pm: Sometimes ace-high is a pretty good hand
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Everyone is always trying to hit a big hand in Hold'em. However, sometimes just a humble little ace-high will do, as it did for Osman Yel here.

Yel raised to 600 under the gun and only Vladislav Tonkikh from the small blind called. Both checked the 6♦8♠J♦ flop. Tonkikh bet 900 on the 4♠ turn and Yel called. The J♥ river paired the board and both checked.

Tonkikh showed down the flush-missing Q♦9♦ but Yel's A♣Q♥ had him just beat. Sometimes just a little something is good enough to win in this game.

Yel needed that one too - he's sat on just 13,000. Tonkikh has 30,000. --RJ

4:30pm: Andreychuk chipping up
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Kirill Andreychuk is now up to 43,000 after taking down a pot against Sertan Citinoglu.

We caught the action on the paired 4♦9♦9♣ flop in what looked like a three-pot as there was already close to 5,000 in the middle. Andreychuk bet 2,600 from the big blind and Citinoglu called from the under the gun seat.

The A♦ turn saw Andreychuk check-call 6,000 from Citinoglu before the J♥ river prompted both players to check. Andreychuk slammed down Q♠Q♦ which turned out to be good as Citinoglu slid his cards into the muck.

After losing that hand Citinoglu is now down to 21,000 in chips. --BK

4:25pm: The trouble with writing down hands
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

I can't say for certain, but I think I might have found an even more inconsequential hand.

You can judge for yourself by measuring how high your shoulders go before you shrug them. Again, remember there is no punchline, this is quite literally all I have.

Mikhail Shalamov opened for 500 under the gun, which Rustam Kuliev called before Igor Yampolskiy raised to 2,000. That saw off Shalamov, but not Kuliev.

The flop: 5♣A♥5♠

Yampolskiy checked
Kuliev checked

Turn: Q♠

Yampolskiy checked
Kuliev checked

River: 6♦

Yampolskiy checked
Kuliev checked

The showdown? No, not even one of those. But Kuliev folded first, leaving Yampolskiy to take the pot. --SB

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4:20pm: Small hit for Agarwal
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Last week World Wrestling Entertainment crowned its first ever Indian world champion when Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton with the assistance of some dastardly outside interference. It's unclear if today's sole Indian native, Aditya Agarwal, is a grappling fan but if he wants to become a champion here in Sochi he will have to stop losing pots like this one.

Agarwal's setback began when he called a button raise from Dmitrii Makarov from the small blind. Agarwal check-called 1,100 on the Q♥K♠2♠ flop and both players checked the 6♥ turn. Agarwal checked a third time on the 3♠ river, prompting Makarov to bet 3,500.

Team Online Pro Agarwal called pretty quickly and nodded his head in acknowledgement when Makarov flipped over A♠J♠ for a rivered nut flush. He drops down to a still-competitive 38,000 while Makarov moves on up to 50,000. --RJ

8G2A1366_Aditya_Agarwal_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Agarwals of Jericho (one for the wrestling fans)

4:15pm: Lucky sevens
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Hugo Dos Santos Videira and Natalia Panchenko just had a little confrontation that resulted in a small win for the Portuguese qualifier Videira.

He raised from early position to 400 and Panchenko, who was in the big blind, was the only caller. She then check-called 500 on the K♠7♥K♦ flop. The 7♦ on the turn double-paired the board and stopped the action too, both checking.

Panchenko continued to play defensively on the T♦ river, checking again. This time a small bet of 1,300 was forthcoming from Videira. Panchenko called only to discover that Videira's A♠7♠ had turned a full house.

Videia now has 36,000, while Panchenko is on 28,000. --RJ

4:10pm: Continental representation
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero is struggling to get things going.

In one hand, Vasily Andrienko raised to 450 from the button and Barbero called from the small blind. The big blind folded and a K♣2♠9♦ flop hit the table. Barbero check-called a 275 bet and a J♣ came on the turn. Barbero checked again, but this time couldn't find it in him to call Andrienko's 725 bet.

Barbero let his hand go and is currently sitting with less than starting stack. Barbero isn't just Argentina's sole representative today, he's the only player from South America in Day 1B so far. He's actually just one of two players from the Americas.

Jason Wheeler is the only other player hailing from the giant mass of land in the Western hemisphere. Wheeler is currently the USA's only player in the Day 1B field. As you may have guessed, the field is predominantly Russian. Out of the 204 players, 149 of them hail from Russia. Belarus is in a distant second with nine players and Germany and Kazakhstan are tied for third with six players each. --AV

NEIL9898_Jose_Barbaro_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Barbero (right): ever feel like it's just Nacho day?

4:05pm: Kuliev on the up
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Rustam Kuliev raised to 500 from early position, from a stack of more than 50,000. Sergey Lomakin, from a stack of about half that much, called in the big blind. That meant it was decision time for two players on the flop of 3♦4♦T♠.

Lomakin checked, leading Kuliev to bet 500. Lomakin then went for the check-raise and put 1,500 forward. Kuliev called.

The J♥ interested neither of them on the turn. Then Lomakin checked again on the T♦ river.

Kuliev clearly felt he could pick this one up now, despite the cheeky check-raise early. Kuliev bet 2,000 and, sure enough, Lomakin was no longer interested. He folded.

Kuliev now move up to 57,000, which is close to double his starting stack. --HS

4pm: Did someone say overlay?
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The tournament information board now shows 210 players registered for Day 1B. Registration is still open until the start of Day 2 and it'll be worth the trouble trying to get here. There's a ₽150 million guarantee on the tournament, and we're not there yet. There could be an overlay.

Unfortunately, none of Anatolii Zyrin, Yury Akulenka or Pavel Litvinenko will be troubling the cashiers. They are our latest fallers. --HS

Anatolii_Zyrin_PCSochi2017_26May17.jpgAnatolii Zyrin

3:55pm: Kings for Kiselev
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Daniil Kiselev just won a pot but an unfavourable board left him winning a lot less than he would've liked.

Jorge Cantos kicked things off with a raise to 600 before Kiselev three-bet to 1,900 from the small blind. Cantos called and the A♠3♦J♦ flop was met with two checks. The 8♣ turn card appeared and Kiselev fired for 1,700.

Cantos called again before the 7♠ completed the board. Both players checked it on the end and Kiselev turned up K♥K♦. He scooped the pot but was visibly frustrated when Cantos flashed pocket queens.

"Nice flop," Kiselev lamented.

Despite his frustration Kiselev still moves up to 48,000 as Cantos drops to 25,500. --BK

3:45pm: The trouble with curiosity
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Afanasiy Davidov opened for 700 and got a call from Arash Khosravi one seat along (albeit with an empty one between them). Artem Nosach tanked for a bit, but then folded, meaning it was heads up to the flop.


Davidov checked. Khosravi bet 2,500 and then Davidov raised to 6,000 total. After a few moments to think about it Khosravi called for the Q♦ turn.

Davidov bet 3,600 this time and Khosravi called again for the J♣ on the river. Davidov went to his stack again and bet 6,000. Khosravi looked hesitate, and eventually tossed a chip in. His curiosity would cost him though as Davidov turned over 8♦8♥ to win the hand.

Davidov moves up to 42,000 while Khosravi drops to 22,000. --SB

3:35pm: Finger's fall
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Benjamin Lamprecht raised to 500 from under the gun and Martin Finger called from the button. The flop came 9♥A♠J♣ and Finger bet 500 when checked to. Lamprecht called and a Q♠ came on the turn.

Finger upped the bet to 1,500 when action checked to him and he took down the pot. It was the last pot Finger would win in this event though. The German pro had less than 10,000 and it all went in two hands later.

Van Thatch Vu opened to 500 from under the gun that hand and Finger three-bet to 1,400 from the hijack. Vu called and the flop came 9♠6♠8♠. Finger bet 1,500, Vu called and a 2♦ came on the turn. Finger bet 3,200 when checked to, leaving himself with slightly more than 1,000. Vu called and then moved all-in after a 7♥ came on the river.

Finger called with A♥A♣, but Vu showed a flopped nut flush with A♠K♠.

Finger hit the rail while Vu chipped up to about 32,000. --AV

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3:30pm: A typical hand
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Okay, this is a pretty bog standard hand, I can't deny that. So apologies in advance if this one has you reading it twice thinking you missed the punchline. Be advised that there is no punchline.

Mikhail Shalamov opened for 525 in early position which was called by (the fantastically-named) Suleyman Suleymanov and Alexander Semin in the blinds.

The flop came J♦4♥5♠ which was checked to Shalamov who bet 425. Suleymanov folded by Semin called for the Q♣ turn. That was checked, as was the T♣ river.

A♣T♦ for Semin, which was better than whatever Shalamov had. He drops to 13,500. - SB

3:25pm: The Departed
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It took a while, but players are now gradually beginning to do the decent thing and get themselves knocked out of this tournament. Six players have seen their hopes reduced to rubble so far. They are: Arkadij Stekolshchikov, Roman Gadzhiev, Ivan Safarov, Artem Noritsyn, Sergey Kogotkov and Martin Finger (details of Finger's bust are coming imminently). --HS

3:20pm: Fireworks on the turn
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It looked like being just another hand...

One guy raises, one guy calls. Then there's a check and a call in the flop. Then there's a turn card and... BLAM! KAPOW! SPLAT!

Allow me to translate: Dmitry Gromov was the initial raiser and the aggressor on the T♦J♣T♠ flop. Andrei Kaigorodtsev was passively along for the ride. Then the 3♣ came on the turn...

Kaigorodtsev now bet 1,500. Gromov raised to 3,000. Kaigorodtsev raised again to 5,025. Gromov called. Got all that?

OK, the river...: 8♦. Things were rather more simplistic here. Kaigorodtsev threw a bundle of 5,000 chips into the middle - it was enough to put Gromov all in. He didn't call and so the mystery of Turn Fireworks 2017 will be one that is likely never to be solved.

Gromov is struggling on 14,000 while Kaigorodtsev flies high on 42,000. --RJ

3:15pm: Korochenskiy bests Mihalin again
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

This wasn't the first altercation between tablemates Anatoly Korochenskiy and Mihail Mihalin and just like the first hand between the two of them that we reported, once again Korochenskiy has come out on top.

Mihalin opened to 550 from the cutoff before Korochenskiy put in a tiny out of position three-bet to 1,050 from the small blind. Mihalin flicked in a 500-denomination chip and they went to a flop of 3♣Q♦6♠.

Korochenskiy continued for 1,600 but Mihalin put in a quick raise to 3,500. Korochenskiy called and the 9♦ fell on the turn. It was then checked through the turn and the 3♥ river before Korochenskiy revealed A♣T♣.

Despite having just ace high it was the best hand as Mihalin looked back at his own cards before mucking. Following that pot Korochenskiy moves up to 47,000 while Mihalin falls further to 23,000. --BK

3:10pm: Welcome Aliaksei/Aleksei and others
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

A couple more familiar faces have arrived to this tournament room, including the EPT Malta champion Aliaksei Boika and his near namesake Aleksei Opalikhin, who burst on to the scene with a fourth-place finish at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas in January. That was Opalikhin's first liver tournament cash, but he's since also picked up a few shillings in Panama and Monte Carlo. He's hitting the PokerStars circuit full time by the looks of things.

There are a few selected chip counts over there on the chip-count page. --HS

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3:05pm: Welcome back
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Another two levels have kicked off. Allow me to introduce the antes... --JS

2:45pm: Break time!
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

That's the end of Level 2 and the first 20-minute break of the day. Join us on the other side.

2:40pm: Power poker from Gromov
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

We'll never know if he actually had the goods or not, but Dmitry Gromov's aggressive play is certainly working out for him so far.

He opened this pot from the cutoff and got a call from Sergei Petrushevskii on the button. Vasily Andrienko then three-bet squeezed to 1,350 from the small blind, and the big blind player made his excuses and left. Back to Gromov, he wasn't done.

After counting some chips he tossed in 1,500 more, making it 2,850 to go. Andrienko called it and checked the 7♣J♠K♦ flop. Gromov continued for 1,800 and that got a call, bringing the 6♣ turn. It checked to Gromov once more and there'd be no slowing down. He made it 4,500 to go, and that bet forced a fold.

Andrienko was left with 22,000, while Gromov is up to 43,000. --JS

2:35pm: Panyak takes on Troyanovskiy
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Vladimir Troyanovskiy opened in early position which was called by Maxim Panyak in the small blind, as well as the player in the big. On the 9♣K♣J♥ the action was checked to Troyanovskiy who bet 600. Only Panyak called.

The turn was the Q♦ which Panyak checked. Troyanovskiy bet again, 1,300 this time which Panyak called, before both players checked the T♣ river.


Vladimir Troyanovskiy: On the drink

Panyak turned over T♥8♣ which Troyanovskiy had beat, showing T♦A♠. He's up to around 33,000 now while Panyak drops a little, albeit to a still solid 61,000. - SB

2:30pm: Shalamov slumps
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Igor Yampolskiy raised to 525 from early position and got three callers, including Team PokerStars Online Mikhail Shalamov. Shalamov was the last caller and did so from the button.

All four players checked the A♠A♥K♦ flop and a 3♠ came on the turn. Action checked to the hijack and he bet 900. Sergey Lomakin folded from the cutoff, Shalamov called and Yampolskiy made it 3,500. Only Shalamov called and a J♥ completed the board.

Yampolskiy bet 7,100 and Shalamov quickly called. Yampolskiy had him beat though, Yampolskiy showed 3♣3♦ for a full house and Shalamov mucked. Yampolskiy chipped up to 35,000 and Shalamov dropped to 13,500. --AV

2:20pm: Ace king for Khosravi
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Iran's Arash Khosravi is off to a good start here on Day 1B - he just scooped a healthy pot off of Andrey Gulyy.

The 4♠A♥K♣2♣2♥ board had already been revealed when we caught the action and Khosravi bet 7,000 into a pot of 14,150 from the small blind. Gulyy in the cutoff was the only other active player and he needed some time to make his decision.

Taking his sunglasses off to signal this was a serious affair, Gulyy went into the tank for approximately two minutes before finally making a call. Khosravi instantly tabled A♣K♠ and that was in front as Gulyy mucked.


Andrey Gulyy: Down a bit

Khosravi now has over 40,000 in play and Gulyy takes a hit down to 29,000. -- BK

2:15pm: Good start, disappointing middle, good finish for Shalamov
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

It's important that we report the good and the bad, and the plain meh. It's the job.
Mikhail Shalamov of PokerStars Team Online opened this hand for 400 under the gun. Igor Yampolskiy called on the button as did Sergey Lomakin in the big blind. They saw a flop:
Lomakin checked
Shalamov checked
Yampolskiy checked
The turn came 8♠
Lomakin checked
Shalamov checked
Yampolskiy checked
The river came K♥
Lomakin checked
Shalamov checked
Yampolskiy checked


Mikhail Shalamov: Small-screen star

There followed some sheepishness. Lomakin turned over J♥3♥ while Yampolskiy mucked. Shalamov meanwhile, who started all this, turned up 9♣8♣, which was enough to win the pot. - SB

2:10pm: A Ukrainian Latin American star in Russia
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

There are now a few women in the field.

One of them, Olga Iermolcheva, is fairly well-known in the Latin American poker scene. Yes, Latin America.

The fair-skinned blonde Ukrainian player nearly became the first woman to win a Latin American Poker Tour back in 2015. Iermolcheva made the LAPT8 Panama final table and showed up in a pink dress and a flowery headband. Iermolcheva was quite deadly though. She eliminated several players, took the chip lead and won over the announcers. She managed to get heads-up against Canada's Shakeeb Kazemipur, but after a long, swingy battle, Kazemipur came out on top.


Olga Iermolcheva, winner already

Iermolvheva has been playing and cashing throughout Europe ever since and recently scored a victory here in Sochi. Iermolcheva was the only non-Russian player to make the money in the ladies' event at this festival and took the top prize. Now she's trying her hand at the Main Event and is seated over at Martin Finger's table. --AV

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2:05pm: Big chip bundle bound for Babayan
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

We're seeing a lot of big pots in these openings levels. Here's the latest to cross the 200 big blind mark.

On a 3♦7♥8♥ flop, Rudolf Babayan checked from the small blind seat and Konstantin Kostyakov (big blind) made it 550, which was called by Arsenii Karmatckii. Babayan then popped it up to 2,150, Kostyakov called, and Karmatckii folded.

The 2♥ turn was a scary one for any heartless hands, but it didn't stop Babayan from continuing for 3,650. Kostyakov didn't budge.

That brought a Q♥ - the fourth heart - and a bet of 10,000 from Babayan. Kostyakov asked for a rough count of what Babayan had behind before making the call.

Kostyakov turned over the K♥J♣ for a rivered king-high flush, and Kostyakov looked confused at first. Eventually he mucked his hand when he realised he was beat, and now sits with 18,000, while Babayan is up to 42,000. --JS

2pm: Korochenskiy climbs a little higher
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Anatoly Korochenskiy now sits with 37,000 at his disposal after taking a pot from Mihail Mihalin.

We arrived at the turn with the board showing 3♣T♣A♦Q♥ to see Mihalin betting 1,200 from the under-the-gun seat into a pot of approximately 2,800. Korochenskiy was on his immediate left and reached deeper into his stack before raising to 3,700.

Korochenskiy took a sip of water as Mihalin deliberated but the latter ultimately folded and dropped to 28,500. -- BK

1:55pm: A slow start with Agarwal
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Team Pro's Aditya Agarwal has had some small pots, some small losses and a couple of mucks so far today. It's been a fairly routine start.

Agarwal called from the small blind in one hand and Stanislav Vlasov checked from the big blind. The flop came J♦3♥6♥ and Vlasov bet 200 when checked to. Agarwal called and a Q♠ came on the turn. Agarwal checked again and this prompted another 200 bet from Vlasov.

Agarwal called again and a K♣ completed the board. Vlasov upped the bet to 1,100, he'd just hit a straight. Agarwal called and got to see it. Vlasov showed T♦9♣ and Agarwal mucked.


Up and down start for Aditya Agarwal

Agarwal and Aleksandr Tyavin were in a raised pot a few hands later. Agarwal was under the gun, Tyavin was in the small blind and players were faced with an A♠9♠7♥ flop. Tyavin bet 400 into the 850-chip pot and Agarwal called. Both players checked the Q♦ on the turn and the 8♦ on the river. Tyavin tabled A♣6♣ and Agarwal mucked again.

Vyacheslav Nikulin raised to 350 from the button a few minutes later and Agarwal called from the big blind. An 8♠A♠T♦ flop hit the board and both players checked. Agarwal then bet 500 when the 6♠ came on the turn and Nikulin called. A 9♣ completed the board and Nikulin bet 550 when checked to. Agarwal didn't have the call in him and folded.

Despite the losses, Agarwal is still at about starting stack with 31,000. --AV

1:50pm: Ridiculously early potential chip leader update
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Arman Atshemyan has had a glorious start to Day 1B. He is up to 56,000 already and must be pushing for the (entirely pointless) title of early chip leader.

He acquired a small portion of that stack in a hand versus Fiodar Skrunda. Atshemyan three-bet an Skrunda open to 1,500 and was called. A bet of 2,000 from Atshemyan on the K♠8♦7♠ flop was good enough to win.

In poker, when somebody wins it inevitably means someone else loses. At the moment, that loser is Fiodar Skrunda. He only has 19,000 one and a half levels of play. - RJ

1:40pm: Bochkin job
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Nikita Bochkin just proved that you don't have to be in position to win a decent pot.

Bochkin opened to 450 under the gun and was three-bet on the button by his Russian compatriot Mark Simankov. Bochkin called and the two saw a 9♥J♥K♠ flop. Simankov continued his aggression, betting 700, and Bochkin called.

The 3♣ turn was checked through and then Bochkin took his opportunity to pounce. He carefully placed two 1,000 chips across the betting line. Simankov turned down the option of matching or raising that bet, and thus the pot was moved in Bochkin's direction.

Bochkin and Simankov are closely matched on around 33,000 chips each. - RJ

1:35pm: Makarov moves on up
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Dmitrii Makarov is stacking chips after holding on with a good turn call and fading danger versus Anton Kozlovsky.

We arrived to see the cards in the middle spread 4♠K♠6♦7♦ and Kozlovsky led out for 3,750 from the small blind. Makarov made the call in the big blind and the 4♥ river completed the board.

Kozlovsky couldn't empty the clip on the end and both players checked before Kozlovsky tabled T♦8♦ for a busted straight and flush draw. That was no good against Makarov's J♣J♦ and he collected the pot and moved up to 42,500.

Kozlovsky meanwhile is down to 27,000. -- BK

1:30pm: Six-bet alert...
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Lot of action over on Table 24. These PokerStars qualifiers aren't afraid to splash the chips when needed!

The hand started with a 250 cutoff open by Aleksandr Zhilinskii, which was flatted by Yaniv Peretz on the button. Sergei Chantcev was in the small blind and he three-bet it up to 1,100, which folded back to the original raiser. Zhilinskii made the call.

The three qualifiers would have seen a flop had Peretz called but instead he opted to four-bet to 3,250. That sent Chantcev deep into the tank where he'd remain for a few minutes. The wait was worth it; he stuck in a five-bet to 7,500, and at this point Zhilinskii got out the way.

Back to Peretz, he went into the tank himself. The six-bet alarm was sounded...

However it wasn't to be. Peretz gave it up, and Chantcev is up to 41,000 now. --JS

1:25pm: WCOOP champion in the room
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Jonas Lauck has now sat down at the PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event. Who's Jonas Lauck? Maybe you know him better as llJaYJaYll, the winner of last year's WCOOP Main Event. -- HS

1:20pm: Tons of big blinds, less gamble
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Every player starts with 300 big blinds on Day 1 of the Main Event. It's a ton of chips but players approach the early levels in very different ways. Some love to splash around, calling raises and three-bets in desperation to see a flop and attempt to hit big. Others refuse to get engaged in these potentially tricky spots and keep it tight, waiting for a big hand before committing significant chips.

Natalia Panchenko appears to have found two players in the latter mode over on Table 15. Vadim Kuvshinkov raised to 200, Vlad Makarenko called and then action was on Panchenko in the small blind. She made it 900 and the other two players quickly folded. - RJ

1:15pm: Platonov pumps it up
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

PokerStars qualifier Evgeny Platonov isn't here to play around. He just had almost half his stack in the middle during a recent hand.

Platanov made a cutoff raise to 250 before Team PokerStars Pro Aditya Agarwal three-bet to 700 on the button. Stanislav Vlasov cold-called from the small blind but Platanov opted for a four-bet to 2,200. Agarwal and Vlasov both made the call before the flop landed 7♠K♥4♦.

Vlasov checked it over to Platanov who continued for 1,500. Agarwal let it go but Vlasov put in a raise to 3,500. Platanov wasn't having it, raising another time to an even 10,000. Vlasov didn't take long to surrender and Platanov collected the pot.

He moves up to 36,000 as Vlasov dips to 22,000. -- BK

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1:10pm: Good start for Barbero
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A good size pot to get the day started for Nacho Barbero against Sergei Petrushevskii.
The board read J♠A♠Q♠6♦K♥ with around 20,000 in the pot. Barbero, with pocket tens, raised, and Petrushevskii made a crying call with pocket aces. - SB

1:08pm: Winning the all-important first hand
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

It's a story we tell a lot on PokerStars Blog, but which is new every time, not least to the player involved: a first major PokerStars event against the best in the game.
For Roy Korthouwer that moment is now.

A couple of months ago Korthouwer won his seat to Sochi, his first chance to play on such a major stage.

If he'd wanted to play against some of the game's best he got his wish with the table draw, with Vladimir Troyanovskiy and Maxim Panyak, who finished fourth in Monaco a few weeks ago, either side of him.

But if getting to an event like this is the first hurdle (and winning it is the last), the next step is winning a first hand, which Korthouwer was naturally keen to do.

Roy_Korthouwer_PCSochi2017_26May17.jpgRory Korthouwer

He opened a couple of hands only to be raised off them, tried limping (only to be raised off them) but finally found something playable when Troyanovskiy opened to 250 under the gun. Panyak called in the small blind and Korthouwer called from the big.
The flop came 4♦8♥3♠

Korthouwer bet 500, which forced Troyanovskiy out but which got a call from Panyak.
The turn came 5♦ which was checked to Korthouwer. He bet another 1,000. Again Panyak called for the K♥ river card, which both players checked.

Panyak showed A♠5♥. Korthouwer looked, then showed his own 8♠6♣. It was good. Korthouwer didn't show it, but you can imagine he felt some relief to get on the scoreboard.

The first step of many. - SB

1:05pm: "Aww man, I wanted to call all in!"
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Andreas Walter is having a good time in Level 1, chatting to the dealer, the other players and everyone within earshot. So far we have learnt that he played eight hours of cash yesterday and we've also learned a little about how he plays too.

This hand started when Marina Perevozshchikova limped from early position. The small blind, Alexey Vlasov, also limped before Walter made it 600 in the big blind. Perevozshchikova came along and Vlasov got out of the way.

Walter then checked the 5♣J♦4♣ flop and called after Perevozshchikova bet 500. He checked again on the 2♦ turn and laughed when Perevozshchikova bet the same amount - 500. It didn't stop him from calling.

Walter checked a third time when the 3♠ river came down. This time his adversary checked behind too, leaving Walter to exclaim, "No! Just bet 1,000! Or move all in! Aww man, I wanted to call all in!"

It soon became clear why when he flipped over 6♥6♣ for a rivered straight. Perevozshchikova, meanwhile, had been getting sneaky pre-flop with pocket queens. However, the ladies were no good this time round. - RJ

1pm: PSC Sochi, now featuring Finger
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

We've recognized another player. Martin Finger has just bought in and taken a seat at the PokerStars Championship Sochi. He played his first two hands and won half of them.

He won the first preflop with a three-bet from the button. Finger then opened to 250 from the hijack and got calls from the button and small blind. A 6♠4♠T♣ flop hit the board and action folded to Oleg Estov's button. Estov bet 400 and took down the pot.

Aside from a bigger field and more notables, Day 1B also features the first woman in the field, Marina Perevozshchikova. --AV

12:55pm: Panyak panic over
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Well, it's been one heckuva start for Maxim Panyak. Picking up the action on a K♥7♥J♥ flop, Panyak got all his money in (20,100) with the A♥A♦ and was trailing Sergey Kogotkov's K♦7♠ for two pair. Any heart would do it for Panyak though.

So when the 3♥ hit immediately on the turn, Panyak's panic ended. He wasn't home and dry yet, of course; any king or seven would give Kogotkov a full house.


Maxim Panyak: Fine run

Instead, the 3♠ river just gave Panyak a better two pair to go with his superior flush, and Kogotkov was knocked down to 7,000. Meanwhile, Panyak is up to 47,000.

Could a new panic just be beginning though? For Vladimir Troyanovskiy - one of Russia's very best - has taken a seat at Panyak's table. --JS

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12:50pm: Babakhanyan building
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Artyom Babakhanyan has bested Yury Akulenka after a river raise saw Babakhanyan rake in a relatively sizeable pot.

On a flop of 2♣6♥5♠ Ramil Boyazitov checked in the small blind, Akulenka checked the big blind and Babakhanyan bet 550 on the button. Boyazitov folded but Akulenka called and the 6♣ arrived on the turn.

Akulenka then mixed things up with a lead for 1,200, but that wasn't enough to get through Babakhanyan who called before the K♥ river rolled off.

Akulenka bet again, this time for 2,200, but Babakhanyan decided on a hefty raise to 8,600. After more than a minute in the tank Akulenka couldn't commit the chips and he relinquished his hand to the dealer.

Following that hand Babakhanyan has 39,000 in play while Akulenka falls to 23,500. -- BK

12:45pm: Will Medvedev be jammin'?
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

We're only a few minutes in to Level 1 but Mikhail Medvedev is already trying to make a statement over on Table 5. He's hard to miss, sat at the table in an oversized denim jacket emblazoned with a picture of Bob Marley, alongside sunglasses, slicked back hair and a multitude of rings on his fingers.

He's also making an impression on the poker too, quickly winning two small pots in succession with a pre-flop raise and then a three-bet. Medvedev won a live satellite to get into today's Main Event. We'll keep an eye on him to see if he'll start jammin' his way to victory while sun is shining. - RJ

12:40pm: Panyak at the disco
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Fresh from his fourth-place finish at the PokerStars Championship Main Event in Monte Carlo earlier this month, good for just under €200,000, Russia's Maxim Panyak is back on his home turf and looking for similar success.

I say he's on his home turf; he's actually from the city of Yekaterinburg - a 37-hour drive away from Sochi. And I say he's looking for similar success; he's actually already found some.

This week so far at the PokerStars Championship Sochi, Panyak has taken down the ₽132K National High Roller title for ₽3.4 million (roughly $60K), as well as placing second in a side event for almost $7K. --JS

12:35pm: Litvinenko lays down the law
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Pavel Litvinenko is off to a good start after taking down a pot with some relentless aggression.

Litvinenko raised to 300 pre-flop and Kirill Andreychuk defended his big blind to see a flop of Q♣6♦A♦. When checked to, Litvinenko over-bet the pot, firing for 1,000. Andreychuk called and the dealer burned and turned the 6♠.

Another check, another bet of 1,000, and another call brought the 9♥ on the river.

Andreychuk checked a final time but couldn't call when Litvinenko upped the wager with a bet of 3,000 on the end. Litvinenko took down the pot and climbed to 34,000 while Andreychuk was left with 26,000. -- BK

12:30pm: Today's Red Spades
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Yesterday we had Chris Moneymaker, Felipe Ramos and Luca Pagano out in the Day 1A field. When the chip bags came out, only Moneymaker survived.

India's Aditya Agarwal and Mikhail Shalamov are rocking the the Red Spade today. Agarwal has made the long journey from his home in Kolkata. He has more than $4 million in online cashes, plus more than $600K from the live felt.

Meanwhile, Shalamov is here from his home on the internet. He is one of Team Online's superlative cohort.

We'll keep an eye on both their progress throughout the day. --JS

12:25pm: The Argentinian attacker
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

We've found a familiar face in the field, but the first thing we noticed was his hair.

Like a shark fin gliding through the ocean, Jose Ignacio "Nacho" Barbero's combed-up, wavy silver was seen weaving through a sea of Russian players. The Argentinian Pro was the only player to win three LAPT Main Event titles, and now he's hoping to at a PokerStars Championship victory to his resume.


Nacho Barbero: Shame the "shark" nickname is taken

Barbero already made the final table of the PSC High Roller in the Bahamas but has yet to make a PSC Main Event score. --AV

12:15pm: Early winner on Day 1B
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A lot more tables in play today, although as cards are dealt most have a few gaps.
There's already a winner however, albeit a modest one. Andreas Walter wasn't actually in the hand at his table, but was online somewhere. Midway through, as two players at his table were deep in thought he suddenly said "I won!", and clapped himself, "Fourteen dollars!"

Marina Perevozshchikova smiled in the seat next to him. The players in the hand ignored him. But there's no denying this great start for Walter. -- SB

12:05pm: Welcome back to Sochi
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Off they go! Blinds are 50/100 in Level 1. Starting stack is 30,000. Let's get playing. -- HS

11:30am: Welcome back to Sochi

Welcome back to Sochi for Day 1B of the PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event. Yesterday a field of 132 was reduced to 72 but a larger field is expected today.

Like yesterday play starts at noon, with eight 75-minute levels on the schedule, with a dinner break after six.

That's the short version, the long version of the day will follow here with live updates through to the end of play tonight. -- SB

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PokerStars Blog reporting team in Sochi: Howard Swains, Alex Villegas, Brad Kain, Jack Stanton, Ross Jarvis and Stephen Bartley. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog