Raffaele Sorrentino leads last six in Barcelona with shot at Championship double

An hour into Day 5 of the Main Event today and you might have thought there was nothing to the business of reducing a field of 16 by 10. The first level featured four eliminations. There followed a couple more in the next. A quick-fire day looked likely.

But it never pans out that way, with a seat at the final table too great a prize for any poker player to go rogue. Proof of that was delivered 12 hours later, with the last of 10 eliminations, which leaves a final table looking like this:

Seat 1. Usman Siddique - 3,775,000
Seat 2. Sebastian Sorensson - 6,175,000
Seat 3. Brian Kaufman - 6,475,000
Seat 4. Raffaele Sorrentino - 15,475,000
Seat 5. Lachezar Petkov - 10,325,000
Seat 6. Andre Akkari - 8,125,000

The stand out name is Raffaele Sorrentino, who leads tonight and is in pole position to win the title and become the first player to win two PokerStars Championship events, following his victory in Monaco. Then there is Andre Akkari, Brazil's Team PokerStars Pro extraordinaire, whose late heroics not only saw him through to the last six, but brought about the last elimination of the day.

NEIL3532_PCBAR2017Raffaele_Sorrentino_wrap.jpgRaffaele Sorrentino

Three relatively new players also have something to prove, in the shape of Brian Kaufman, Sebastian Sorensson, and Lachezar Petkov. Each showed they'd quickly mastered any inexperience. Then there is Usman Siddique, a former UKIPT winner, looking to level up to the Championship stage.

Eliminations made up the early part of the day.

Yaron Zeev Malki was the first to bust when his ace-nine fell to the pocket eights of Albert Daher. Andrew Hedley followed him, busting in 15th place with ace-jack against the pocket jacks of Sebastian Sorensson, who was beginning his general ascent through the chip count page.

Yaron_Zeev_Malki_wrap.jpgYaron Zeev Malki gets his coat

Mauricio Salazar had started the day as a short stack so was against the clock. He departed in 14th place, his ace-king was undone by Alex Difelice's jack-nine. Salazar's Main Event bid was over on the flop.

There were more eliminations to come with Rens Feenstra out in 13th place. He shoved with ace-queen for a race against the pocket nines of Mesbah Guerfi, a race he lost, marking the end of the hectic first level.

Things settled down, but it was largely a day for Sorensson and Petkov to prime themselves for the final six tomorrow, while others did what they could to keep up.

One such player was Tsugunari Toma of Japan, who had his stack slashed in a hand against Petkov in which he shoved with pocket tens only to run into Petkov's queens. That left Toma short and waiting for a chance to shove.

PCBAR-2017-Monti-Tsugunari Toma-WRAP.jpgTsugunari Toma

When he found A♥7♥ he took his chance, open shoving for a little less than a million but falling foul of Petkov once more, whose king-jack had trailed all the way to the river where a king regally appeared.

Minutes later Donald Duarte was also on the rail, out in 11th place when he ran his ace-jack into pocket jacks, this time in the hands of Sorrentino, and with predictable results.

We'd been spoiled for action up to this point, but things soon calmed down. But it was some time before the stalemate ended. The final 10 players, split across two tables, sent chips back and forth for a while before Alex Difelice, who had lost the fighting strength of his stack in a hand against Petkov an hour earlier, had to make a move.

When he looked down at pocket queens he must have felt confident that he could start a revival. But Aeragan Arunen, railed by the likes of Ben Heath and Charlie Carrel, was waiting with pocket aces. The final "TV" nine was in place.

PCBAR-2017-Monti-Rail_wrap.jpgThe Arunen Rail

After the dinner break no time was wasted ramping up the drama - a three way all-in that sent two players to the rail. Mesbah Guerfi was at risk with pocket threes, as was Albert Daher with ace-queen. It all depended on whether Sorrentino, who had them both covered, could get his jacks to hold up.

The flop suggested otherwise, bringing two queens. But by the turn Sorrentino had picked up outs to a straight, which materialised on the river. With Guerfi out in ninth and Daher out in eighth, that left seven.

Despite the short stacks and the increasing size of the blinds, which at one point left Akkari with just five of them, it took nearly a full level to bring play to an end, with the departure of Arunan, and it was a resurgent Akkari who saw to it, when his ace-queen held against Arunan's king-queen. Some 12 hours after it had started, Day 5 had lost the 10 players it needed to.

It was a long day, leaving six players to return tomorrow to play down to a winner at 12 noon. You'll be able to follow it all here on the Blog, with live coverage, subject to a one hour delay, on PokerStars Live.

For now, check below for coverage from today.

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12:20am: Final table chips

That concludes a riveting day here, and sets up a tremendous final tomorrow. There's a Team Pro still involved: Andre "Lazarus" Akkari, and there's a two-time PokerStars Championship possibility in the form of Raffaele Sorrentino. Stay tuned for a full recap of today's action, then join us tomorrow.

Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player15,475,000
Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 10,325,000
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro8,125,000
Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier6,475,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier6,175,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier3,775,000

12:15am: Just call him Lazarus: Akkari rises from the dead, while Arunen out in seventh
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Aeragan Arunan opened jammed for 3.6 million from the hijack and Andre Akkari, in the small blind, wanted to know how much. He found out and then re-shoved. This was a big moment!

Arunan: K♥Q♦
Akkari: A♦Q♥

All of a sudden, the Team Pro who had only five big blinds a little while ago, when they were seven handed in fact, was looking at going to the final day with a stack of more than 8 million.

As the crowd bellowed nonsense in Brazilian, the dealer made them happy. The board ran 5♣9♣J♠4♠J♠ -- blanks all the way -- and Arunan perished in seventh, ending the day.

Akkari will have 40 big blinds going into tomorrow. A full wrap is incoming! -- HS

12:05am: Sorrentino's small hero fold
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Brian Kaufman called from the cutoff and Lachezar Petkov called from the small blind. Raffaele Sorrentino checked his option and the flop came 6♣7♥9♣.

All three players checked and a J♣ came on the turn. Sorrentino bet 250,000, Petkov folded and Kaufman called. A K♦ completed the board and Sorrentino checked. Kaufman took a stab at it and bet 2 million.

"Four million?" Sorrentino asked, eyeballing Kaufman's stack. "No discount?"

Sorrentino thought a bit more.

"Why didn't you go all in?" Sorrentino asked. Kaufman said nothing and then Sorrentino thought a bit more.

"Hero fold," Sorrentino said and threw his cards into the muck. Sorrentino dipped to 15.53 million while the pot put Kaufman up to 6.93 million.

On the next hand, Kaufman opened to 400,000 and Aeragan Arunan jammed for 2.75 million. Kaufman folded. --AV

11:45pm: Sorrentino takes a big one off Kaufman
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Andre Akkari raised to 450,000 from early position and Brian Kaufman called from the button.

"What do you have? Five million?" Raffaele Sorrentino asked from the big blind. He paused, thought and then three-bet to 1.55 million. Akkari let it go and Kaufman called.

The flop came 9♥6♠A♦ and Sorrentino bet 1.35 million. Kaufman called and a J♦ came on the turn. Sorrentino slowed to a check and Kaufman checked back. A 4♣ completed the board and Sorrentino ramped up the action again with a 2.55 million.


Brian Kaufman: Frown

Kaufman called but then mucked when Sorrentino showed A♥K♠. The hand put Sorrentino up to 16.3 million while while Kaufman was left with 5 million. --AV

11:30pm: Arunen jams
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Having assumed short-stack duties thanks to Andre Akkari's resurgence, Aeragan Arunan open-jammed for 3.19 million from under the gun and got it through. -- HS

11:20pm: Akkari fighting back
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Kaufman opened from the hijack for 450,000 which Sorrentino called on the button. Akkari was in the big blind and called to see the 5♦J♥Q♠ flop.

That was checked three ways for the 2♦ on the turn. At which point Akkari bet out 575,000. He got a call from Kaufman, which brought the river card T♣.

Akkari checked to Kaufman, who also checked. Akkari took what was a 2.7 million chip pot, showing J♠7♠. - SB

11:15pm: Akkari doubles
Level 32 - Blinds: 100,000/200,000 (ante 25,000)

Rafaelle Sorrentino raised to 425,000 from early position and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari moved all-in for 1.1 million on the first hand back from break. Sebastian Sorensson re-shoved for 6.14 million from the small blind and Sorrentino folded.

Players then tabled their hands: 9♣9♥ for Sorrentino and K♠K♣ for Akkari.

The flop came K♥5♣9♦ and both players hit a set.

"It's never easy," Akkari said. The Brazilian was still in the lead though and the 7♣ on the turn and the Q♥ on the river kept him there.

Akkari more than doubled to 3 million while Sorensson dropped to 5.04 million. --AV

10:55pm: Akkari with five bigs

Here's how they will stack up when the new level commences. Andre Akkari has a fair amount of work to do. He'll have five big blinds.

Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier12,635,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player11,675,000
Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 11,200,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier6,160,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier3,935,999
Aeragan ArunanUK 3,660,000
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro1,130,000

10:50pm: Siddique shoves, collects
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

In the last hand of the level, Usman Siddique limped from the small blind, then saw Sebastian Sorensson raise to 550,000 from the big blind. Siddique responded with an all-in push for 3.245 million. Sorensson sat for a half-minute, then let his hand go.

Siddique is at 3.935 million going into the break, while Sorensson is at 6.16 million.

That's a 20-minute break. --MH

10:45pm: Petkov's three-bet gets through
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

After three open-raises in a row, chip-leader Brian Kaufman opened the action once again to 355,000.

Without wanting to be taken for a ride, Lachezar Petkov elected to three-bet to 1.1 million.

"How much you have?" asked Kaufman, which prompted a long count from Petkov.

"About 9 million," Petkov responded having finished his count. Despite having 12 million, Kaufman decided he didn't want to battle it out and threw his hand in the muck. --DJ

10:40pm: Another one for Petkov
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

Aeragan Arunan was at it again just now, raising from the button and getting a caller in Lachezar Petkov in the big blind.

With 920,000 in the middle, the flop came A♠8♣9♠ and Petkov checked. Arunan continued for 320,000, and Petkov called. The turn was the 9♣, and Petkov decided to fire out a bet of 550,000. That earned a quick fold from Arunan.


Lachezar Petkov: Still bossing

Petkov is back to 10.6 million, and Arunan has 3.72 million. --MH

10:35pm: Arunan gets it in
Level 32 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

After opening on the button for 345,000, Brian Kaufman was shoved on by Aeragan Arunan in the small blind.

After asking for a count--it was about 3.6 million--Kaufman tank folded. It means that Arunan is still the third shortest stack, but back up to 27 big blinds. --DJ

10:30pm: Petkov over Sorrentino
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

Raffaele Sorrentino raised to 340,000 from under the gun. Lachezar Petkov, who hasn't played too many hands of late was next to act, and he called.

Everyone else folded, and the flop came 7♣T♣Q♣. Both checked, and after the K♥ came on the turn, Sorrentino bet and Petkov called, bringing the pot to 1.66 million.

The river was the 4♠ and both checked, then Petkov showed J♣J♥. That beat Sorrentino's T♥6♥, and Petkov is up to 9.76 million. Sorrentino still has just over 12 million. --MH

10:20pm: Siddique shoves
Level 32 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

After action was opened by Raffaele Sorrentino to 350,000 from the hijack, Usman Siddique announced all-in for his remaining 2.92 million.


Usman Siddique: Joins the shoving party

After asking for a count, Sorrentino decided the price was too much and mucked his hand. -- DJ

10:15pm: Sorrentino back in front
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

After getting those two shoves through, Andre Akkari was in the big blind when he saw Sebastian Sorensson raise to 320,000 from early position and Sorrentino call from the button, allowing Akkari to call at a good price from the BB to set up a three-way pot.

The flop came A♣5♥5♣ and all three checked. The turn was the 3♥ and it checked around to Sorrentino who bet 350,000 (about a third of the pot).

Akkari thought for some time, looking back and forth between his two opponents, then pushed his cards away. The action was on Sorensson who similarly took his time, but also mucked.

Put Sorrentino up to 12.7 million and back into first just ahead of Brian Kaufman with 12.3 million. Akkari, meanwhile, is on 1.6 million again. --MH

10:05pm: Akkari shoves...
Level 32 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

...for his remaining eight big blinds. And he gets it through uncontested.

"I wanted a call with this hand," Akkari said before mucking his hand.

He is still clinging on, but will need a double up very soon.


More TV time for Andre Akkari

Before the hand, Sebastian Sorensson asked Akkari: "How much do you have... like a million?"

"One point six," Akkari corrected his interlocutor. "Come on now, a million?" he added with a grin. "I would be in trouble."

Akkari actually open-shoved again the next hand too, and again picked up blinds and antes. -- DJ

10pm: Arunan active and ascending
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

Aeragan Arunan has been plenty active despite his relatively short stack, and just now he was raising again, this time opening to 350,000 from early position. Sebastian Sorensson called from the big blind, and the flop came 8♥6♦9♠.

Sorensson led out, betting 425,000, and Arunan called, putting the pot close to 1.8 million.

The 9♥ turn paired the board, and this time Sorensson checked. Arunan took the opening to bet 735,000, and Sorensson sat quietly for long time, then fired his cards away as a fold, not appearing too happy about being pushed out the pot.

Sorensson still has 7.63 million, but Arunan has climbed up over 5 million now thanks to all that activity. --MH

9:45pm: Cooler for Arunan
Level 32 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

Aeragan Arunan has just lost a huge pot to Brian Kaufman that has sent him rocketing into the chip lead.

In a blind-on-blind confrontation Kaufman raised to 535,000 from the small into Aurnan's big. Aurunan called and the action went to the flop.

The flop was the 2♥Q♠7♣ and Kaufman continued to apply the pressure by betting out 480,000. And once again Aurnan came along.

The 8♠ turn slowed things down, prompting two checks. But action picked up again on the 9♣ river with Kaufman leading out for a whopping 1.58 million chips.

After some thought, Aurnan made the call. But it wasn't good news for him.

Kaufman flipped over 2♦8♣ for a turned two pair and Arunan quickly mucked. With the 5.3 million pot heading Kaufman's way, the Uruguayan is now up to 12.36 million. --DJ

9:30pm: Double-knockout! Sorrentino eliminates Daher (eighth) and Guerfi (ninth)
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

Albert Daher opened for 325,000 from under the gun, Raffaele Sorrentino called from a couple of seats over, then Mesbah Guerfi re-raise-jammed from the hijack seat for 1.84 million.

Daher thought for a short while, then re-raised all in himself over the top for 3.415 million. That put Sorrentino to a tough decision, and after thinking it through he called as well to put both of the others at risk

Guerfi: 3♠3♣
Sorrentino: J♦J♣
Daher: A♠Q♦

The flop dramatically fell Q♠Q♣T♦, giving Daher trips and earning an audible shout from the railbirds. Then the K♠ fell on the turn to add still more intrigue, giving Sorrentino a straight draw though Daher was by far the favorite to win the hand.


Mesbah Guerfi: Dreaming of a three

Then came the river... the 9♠! Sorrentino hit his straight, scooping both the main and side pots and sending two players to the rail at once.


Albert Daher: Flops trips, busts

As he had fewer chips to start the hand, Guerfi finished ninth for €104,000 while Daher placed eighth for €136,000. Meanwhile Sorrentino has 12.13 million and the chip lead with seven left now. --MH


Two time? Raffaele Sorrentino

9:25pm: Short stack gets some back
Level 31 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Albert Daher has been patiently sitting on his short-stack for a while now, while gradually building it back up.

He raised UTG+1 and was called only by Sebastian Sorensson in the big-blind. Action was checked on the K♠4♥9♥ flop, but picked up again on the 2♥ turn, with Sorensson leading out for 650,000.

Again, Daher came along as the 5♣ landed on the river. This time however Sorensson checked the action over to Daher. As soon as Daher reached out for chips Sorensson threw his hand into the muck. -- DJ

9:20pm: Back in the room
Level 31 - Blinds: 80,000/160,000 (ante 20,000)

We're back. Nine players, three will leave before the day is over. Let's find out who's going to be fortunate and who's going home. -- HS

8pm: Dinner time
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Action has come to a pause as players head off for dinner. Nine-handed play will continue in 75 minutes, with a couple of short stacks still in play with blinds go up.

See you shortly. Or, 9:15pm to be precise. -- DJ


Brian Kaufman: Leads at the break

7:50pm: Kaufman nearing 10 million
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

With the dinner break approaching, Brian Kaufman raised to 265,000 from middle position and Raffaele Sorrentino called from the cutoff.

The flop came 3♥K♦T♦ and both checked. The 4♠ turn followed and Kaufman took a while to check. Sorrentino took much less time to do the same.

The river was the 6♦ and this time Kaufman led for 240,000. Sorrentino pushed his hand away.

Kaufman is just a touch under 10 million now. --MH

7:45pm: Arunan applies the pressure
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Aeragan Aurnan isn't prepared to let the big stacks take him for a ride.

After an open from Sebastian Sorrenson in early position to 260,000, Aurnan put in a three-bet to 720,000.

When action was folded back around to Sorrenson he was quick to muck. -- DJ

7:35pm: Kaufman takes chunk from Petkov with straight over set
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Lachezar Petkov raised to 250,000 from early position and got one caller in Brian Kaufman playing from the button.

The flop fell 5♥T♠8♦ and Petkov continued with a bet of 250,000, and after a brief pause Kaufman called. The turn brought the 9♣ and another barrel from Petkov, this time for 775,000. Kaufman took longer this time studying the board and reviewing the situation, then set out chips to call once more.

With the pot a little over 2.9 million the 6♠ came on the end. Petkov waited a half-minute, then dug out one more bet -- 1.325 million. Kaufman quickly grabbed one chip and tossed it forward, indicating a call.

Petkov tabled 9♥9♦ to show he'd turned a set, but Kaufman had 7♦6♦ meaning that same turn card had given him a straight. Kaufman won the pot, moving up to 9.32 million while Petkov now has 10.2 million. --MH

7:20pm: Daher takes a small one
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

The shortest stack at the table, Albert Daher, has just scooped a much needed pot against Sebastian Sorensson.

In the blind-on-blind confrontation, Sorensson raised into Daher's big blind for 310,000. Action was checked on the K♠9♣A♠ board, and again on the T♣ turn.

A simple lead by Daher on the 4♦ river of 225,000 was enough to take it down. --DJ

7:10pm: Here's the deal...
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Action has been momentarily paused over on the feature table following a misdeal.

It's prompted some discussion around the table, with players talking about their holdings before the dealer gathered them back up to re-deal.

There's not been much else of note in the recent passage of play. -- DJ

6:55pm: Big stacks tangle
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

The two biggest stacks among the final nine just tangled a bit, though ended things before they got all that serious.

Chip leader Lachezar Petkov in middle position raised to 250,000, and it folded to Sebastian Sorensson with the next-largest-stack in the small blind who made it 585,000 to go.

Petkov decided to call, and the pair saw the flop come 7♠2♣A♠. Sorensson led for 765,000, and Petkov didn't take long before letting his hand go.

Sorensson is just over 10.8 million now, and Petkov still in front with 11.375 million. --MH

6:50pm: C-bet takes it down
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Things are off to a relatively slow start here on the unofficial final table.

In one of the first hands, Aeragan Arunan opened up the action by betting out 260,000. The open received no fewer than three calls behind as we went four ways to a flop. When the A♦8♦3♣ landed, Arunan decided to check his options.

One of the pre-flop callers, Raffaele Sorrentino, took the opportunity to lead out for 380,000. That was enough to receive three folds as the Italian scooped the small pot. -- DJ

6:45pm: Away they go again
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Off they go again. There's about 55 minutes left in this level and then there's a dinner break. The idea is to get down to six players today, ie, three more eliminations. -- HS

6:40pm: Stacking up
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Here's how they stack up nine-handed. (Seat draw is below.)

Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 11,680,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier10,240,000
Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier6,025,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player5,665,000
Aeragan ArunanUK 5,000,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier3,850,000
Mesbah GuerfiFrance 3,355,000
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro2,630,000
Albert DaherLebanon 1,950,000


Lachezar Petkov: Chip leader

6:30pm: Redraw
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Here's the new seating assignment. This is the last redraw of the tournament. We'll have full stacks soon too.

Seat 1: Usman Siddique
Seat 2: Sebastian Sorensson
Seat 3: Brian Kaufman
Seat 4: Albert Daher
Seat 5: Aeragan Arunan
Seat 6: Raffaele Sorrentino
Seat 7: Lachezar Petkov
Seat 8: Mesbah Guerfi
Seat 9: Andre Akkari

6:25pm: Alex Difelice eliminated in 10th place (€87,100)
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Raffaele Sorrentino opened for 260,000 from under the gun and it folded around to Aeragan Arunan sitting in the small blind. He sat still for a moment, then set forward what looked like a reraise to 725,000.

Alex Difelice was next to act, and he acted somewhat quickly, taking just a couple of seconds to announce he was all-in for his last 1.425 million or so. Sorrentino also acted fast with his fold, and Arunan's call likewise came snappingly.

Arunan: A♠A♣
Difelice: Q♥Q♣

The board cards came an undramatic 8♦J♠K♦, then 2♣, then K♣, and Difelice is out in 10th while Arunan looks to have close to 5 million now.


Alex Difelice: The moment the laughing stopped

There will be a brief pause while the final players redraw to see where they will sit around a single table, the very last one of this PokerStars Championship Main Event. --MH

6:20pm: Daher dips
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Albert Daher is down to less than 2 million after yielding a pot to Usman Siddique. Daher was convinced at the end of it that he had been three-outered, although he folded to aggression on the river so we'll never know.

Daher's under-the-gun raise picked up calls from Siddique on the button and Brian Kaufman in the big blind and the three saw a flop of 2♠2♦5♥.

Daher bet 250,000 and only Siddique stuck around.

They both checked the T♦ turn and then Daher also checked the J♠ river. Siddique bombed 710,000 at it and Daher tank-folded, insistent that he had been good until that spot.

As Daniel Negreanu, in the commentary booth, pointed out, that means that Daher had ace-king or ace-queen and was sure Siddique had either ace-jack or ace-ten. -- HS

6:18pm: Nobody really likes a chop pot
Level 30 - Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Nothing like a split pot to bring you back down to earth, having through you were watching a game changing hand.

Raffaele Sorrentino opened for 255,000 which Lachezar Petkov called from the button for a 4♥J♣9♦ flop. Sorrentino checked, then called Petkov's bet of 275,000. He did the same on the 3♥ turn when Petkov made it 580,000 to play. Then on the 5♥ river both players checked.

Sorrentino turned over Q♣T♣. Petkov looked on and approved, turning over his own Q♠T♠. - SB

6:16pm: Guerfi gets shovey
Level 30 - Blinds 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Mesbah Guerfi has been keen to get his remaining chips in the middle in hopes of a double-up.

After the Frenchman's first shove went uncalled a few hands into the new level, he decided to try his luck again by getting it all-in again.

Following an open to 280,000, he received one call from chip-leader Lachezar Petkov.

He continued to lead out on the 4♠7♣A♦ board by betting out 450,000, and again it was called by Petkov.

When the J♥ shove landed on the turn however, Petkov was a little more reluctant to call when Guerfi snap-shoved.-- DJ

6:15pm: Akkari sliding
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

Andre Akkari's slide continues and he just lost a small pot to Sebastian Sorensson. Akkari can't afford to lose many more of those, given he's now sitting with only 2.65 million.

Akkari opened the pot with a raise to 250,000 from the button and Sorensson called in the big blind. Akkari didn't continue on the J♣J♥6♥ flop, which is possibly why Sorensson led for 520,000 on the 3♠ turn. Akkari folded.


Andre Akkari: Sit down Andre!

Sorensson now breaks through the 10 million mark in his second ever live tournament. -- HS

6:10pm: Time is money
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

The blind-and-ante increase has encouraged at least a couple of players to get active here at the start of Level 30 -- namely the two sitting in ninth and 10th in the counts at present.

On the second hand at the outer table, Mesbah Guerfi (who began the level ninth in chips with 2.665 million) open-raised all-in from the button and won the blinds and antes.

Then on the next hand it was Alex Difelice (10th with 1.2 million at the start of Level 30) open-pushing from the small blind. Raffaele Sorrentino was next to act, and he humorously reached out and grabbed his posted big blind and set the chips over in front of Difelice to concede the hand. --MH

6:05pm: Small pot for Akkari
Level 30 - Blinds: 60,000/120,000 (ante 20,000)

On the opening hand of the new level on the feature table, the two short stacks went to a flop but barely tangled.

Andre Akkari opened to 250,000 from under the gun and Albert Daher called in the big blind. There was no more betting through a board of J♣A♦T♠4♥7♣ and Daher said, "You win."

Daher showed 3♦5♦ and, indeed, Akkari did win with his J♦K♦. -- HS

5:45pm: Chips at the break

The level ends and players take a 20 minute break. You might have already noticed that this was the first level of the day not to include an elimination.

Chips at the break:

Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 12,190,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier9,650,000
Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier6,155,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player6,100,000
Aeragan ArunanUK 3,650,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier3,220,000
Albert DaherLebanon 2,860,000
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro2,810,000
Mesbah GuerfiFrance 2,665,000
Alex DifeliceCanadaPokerStars qualifier1,200,000

-- SB

5:40pm: Some for Arunan
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Raffaele Sorrentino opened for 225,000 from the cutoff and got a single caller in Aeregan Arunan playing from the big blind.

They both checked the J♣T♦9♠ flop and A♠ turn, then Arunan made a relatively big bet of 400,000 on the 7♦ river. It wasn't as big as Petkov's big value bet just before, but still a large one relative to the pot.

Sorrentino folded, keeping his 5.9 million, while Arunan now has 3.75 million. --MH

5:35pm: Petkov bombs river, gets value versus Difelice
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Watching hand after hand end either before the flop or after minor betting postflop can be a bit hypnotic after a while. I'll admit I was starting to slip into a mindful yet very relaxed state of mind just now when Alex Difelice raised to 225,000 from the button, Lachezar Petkov called from the button, and both checked the 6♥4♣5♠ flop.

The 2♠ turn brought a leading bet of 150,000 from Petkov, called by Difelice. Snoozerama.

The 6♦ then fell on the river. Then Petkov woke us all up by bombing a bet of 1.1 million.

Difelice not acting right away by ditching his cards held the attention for another couple of minutes, then he called!

Petkov showed 6♠5♦, having rivered a full house and gone for max value, and Difelice had to muck.

Petkov increases his lead, moving up around 11.25 million, while Difelice is 10th of 10 remaining with 1.475 million. And I'm wide awake. --MH

5:25pm: Updated counts
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 11,250,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier9,055,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player5,900,000
Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier5,045,000
Aeragan ArunanUK 4,150,000
Albert DaherLebanon 3,910,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier3,855,000
Mesbah GuerfiFrance 2,950,000
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro2,830,000
Alex DifeliceCanadaPokerStars qualifier1,475,000

5:10pm: The game is always evolving
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

There is almost nothing happening on the outer table at the moment, with all of Aeragan Arunan, Alex Difelice and chip-leading Lachezar Petkov picking up blinds and antes with uncontested pre-flop raises.

Petkov also got a slight bonus when Raffaele Sorrentino completed from the small blind and Petkov took his option to raise. Sorrentino folded.

The most notable development on the table in recent orbits is a new style of folding in the big blind. This is now a two-handed action: with one hand, the folding player tosses his cards into the muck, as is traditional, but at the same time he picks up the chips representing the big blind and places them on top of the raiser's stack.

So there's that. -- HS

5.05pm: Petkov goes from strength to strength
Level 29 - Blinds 50,000/1000,000 (ante 10,000)

Over on the outer table, and action was paused while Daher was deep in the tank over a big decision on the feature table (see update below).

Once play continued, chip-leader Lachezar Petkov kicked things off with an open to 225,000. It was folded around to Raffaele Sorrentino in the-big blind who elected to defend.

The J♣J♥7♥ flop saw checks from both players, before the K♠ landed on the turn. As first to act, Sorrentino checked and Petkov led out for another bet of 225,000. After some thought, Sorrentino called.

When the T♣ landed on the river, Petkov led out. And he led out big.

He threw 650,000 in the middle. And Sorrentino was perplexed. Clearly he had a decision to make, as he stacked up calling chips, counted and re-counted his stack and asked the dealer to spread the pot to check his odds. After a while however, he let out a sigh and threw his cards into the muck. -- DJ

5:00pm: Big hand for Siddique
Level 29 - Blinds 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Albert Daher opened from under the gun to 225,000 and Usman Siddique called from the button for a flop of T♠6♠7♣. Daher checked, then called Siddique's bet of 280,000. He did the same on the 8♥ turn when Siddique bet 475,000.

On the J♣ river Daher checked again only for Siddique to move all-in for 1.7 million. Daher, who had 2.7 million behind, spend several minutes thinking it through before folding.

Siddique now up to 4,065,000. - SB

4:50pm: Arunan collects a few more
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Three more small hands passed on the outer table, two of them ending with Raffaele Sorrentino raising and taking. Then it was Lachezar Petkov opening for 225,000 from the cutoff, Aeragan Arunan calling from the button, and Sorrentino coming along as well from the big blind.

The flop came J♦3♦3♥, and when checked to Petkov continued for 225,000 and only Arunan stuck around. They then both checked after the 4♠ turn and 9♥ river.

Petkov turned over 7♥4♥, but Arunan had a better two pair with 6♦6♠ and collected the pot.

Petkov continues to lead with 9.55 million, Sorrentino has chipped up to 6.1 million, and Arunan is at 4.15 million. --MH

4:45pm: Small and sneaky from Sebastian Sorensson
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Andre Akkari made it 225,000 from the cutoff, and it folded to Sebastian Sorensson in the small blind. He made a tiny raise to 360,000, and Akkari made the call, getting such a good price.

They both checked the 2♣K♣2♦ flop, and did the same on the J♣ turn. The dealer put out the 2♣ on the river, meaning any pair was now a boat.


Sebastian Sorensson: Good cards today

Sorensson led out for 700,000, and Akkari had a decision. He began counting out his own chips (he had 4.41 million behind) and eventually cut out calling chips. After a stare down, he made the call, but mucked when Sorensson flipped the K♥K♦.

Sorensson is up to 9.46 million now, while Akkari falls to 3.71 million. --JS

4:40pm: Ace high good for Difelice
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

After a long period without a flop on the outer table, Alex Difelice and Lachezar Petkov played one all the way to showdown. It wasn't massive, but it'll do. (That's what she said, etc.)

Difelice opened to 225,000 from the button and Petkov called in the big blind. This was the tournament's biggest stack up against its smallest, although stack sizes are evening out across the board.

Neither of them bet the 2♦9♦9♠ flop, nor the 3♥ turn. Petkov, however, saw something in the 7♦ river he liked and bet 175,000. Difelice didn't believe him and called.

Petkov was just taking a stab. He had J♥5♥. Difelice's A♣Q♣ won. It's always good to make a correct call with ace high. -- HS

4.35pm: Siddique slips
Level 29 - Blinds 50,000/1000,000 (ante 10,000)

Usman Siddique opened the action from under-the-gun and was called by Raffaelo Sorrentino two seats over on the button.

The flop was the 7♥A♠7♦, and Siddique continued to apply pressure by leading out for another 110,000. Sorrentino came along.

Action slowed on the K♦ turn with both players checking.

On the river, Siddique led out in an attempt to extract value from what he probably well thought was the best hand. But when his bet of 250,000 was snap called by Sorrentino, he realised he'd been duped.

Siddique flipped over K♥T♣ for a turned two pair, but Sorrentino showed the A♥8♦ for a flopped higher two. -- DJ

4:30pm: Akkari increases
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

Action folded to Albert Daher on the button and he opened to 225,000. Andre Akkari then three-bet to 750,000 from the small blind, and the big blind folded.

"How much did you start with?" Daher asked.

"Four million," replied the Brazilian (it was actually 3.9 million).

Daher made the call and the flop came 3♣A♠A♣. Both checked to the 9♣ turn, but there'd be no more betting here either. the 8♥ completed the board and Akkari checked a final time.

"Queens are good," said Daher as he checked it back. Akkari flipped over the J♣J♦ and Daher mucked.

Akkari is up to 4.79 million now, while Daher drops to 3.68 million. --JS

4:15pm: Orbiting the outer table
Level 29 - Blinds: 50,000/100,000 (ante 10,000)

A quiet start on the outer table, with not a lot happening during the first five-handed orbit as we walked around and watched.

Raffaele Sorrentino won the first two hands, opening for 225,000 (from the button, then the cutoff), and winning the blinds and antes both times.

On the next hand chip leader Lachezar Petkov opened for 225,000 from the cutoff, Alex Difelice called from the small blind, then Difelice check-folded to a Petkov c-bet after a seven-high flop.

Sorrentino got a walk on the next one, then it was Mesbah Guerfi raising to 275,000 from under the gun, Petkov calling from the big blind, then both checking a T♣Q♣8♣ flop. Petkov led for 325,000 at the T♥ turn, and Guerfi released his cards.

Orbit number of the level two beings. --MH

3:50pm: Another break

They've reached the end of another level, and with 10 players left it's time for another 20-minute break. --MH

3:45pm: Arunan and his investors
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

We found out quite a bit about Aeragan Arunan from a recent pot he played on the outer table. Firstly, we learned that this 21-year-old isn't letting nerves affect him on what seems to be the first deep run of his career. Secondly, we figured out that he just might have some investors who have at least a small interest in his exploits. We'll get to that in a moment.

In the hand in question, Arunan opened to 175,000 from under the gun on this five-handed table. Alex Difelice, one seat around in the cutoff, made the call and the other three moved aside.

The dealer delivered the 6♣2♣T♦ flop and a slow yet deliberate pattern began. Arunan, with his mouth and lower half of his face obscured in a T-shirt, bet 165,000. Difelice, with nothing obscuring his visage, called.

PCBAR-2017-Monti-Aeragan Arugan and Alex Difelice-3715.jpg

Difelice tries to read Arunan's partial poker face

The Q♥ came on the turn, and right around here the neighbouring High Roller tournament went on its break, resulting in Charlie Carrel and Ben Heath appearing on the rail behind Arunan. They seemed very interested indeed. "He's betting!" Carrel said, with overstated excitement. (This is a man wearing Simpsons pyjama bottoms, so perhaps the childish enthusiasm was genuine.)


Ben Heath, Charlie Carrel and Ben Phillips on Arunan's rail

Arunan's bet was for 335,000 this time, and Difelice called again.

The board completed with the 5♥ and Arunan, again after a pause, bet 625,000. Difelice thought long and hard about this one, but was getting nothing from his opponent despite rigorous examination from close quarters.

Eventually Difelice folded and Arunan immediately span around to Carrel and Heath, revealing a huge grin and saying, "Shall I show the bluff?"

Carrel very quickly, as though in a panic, said, "No!"

Difelice was intrigued. "Will you tell me what he had?" he asked Carrel. Carrel said he would tell him via his facial expression, and offered a cartoon grimace.

Make of that what you will, but it definitely seems that Carrel and Heath are in some ways invested in Arunan --
even if it's just emotionally. (And I doubt it.) And Arunan has got some game.

He goes to the break with 3.87 million. Difelice has 3.05 million. --HS

PCBAR-2017-Monti-Aeragan Arugan and Alex Difelice-3722.jpg

I'll show my face, not my hand

3:40pm: Sorrentino folds top two
Level 29 - Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Raffaelle Sorrentino limped in the small blind. Lachezar Petkov performed what Sorrentino would describe as "a friendly check," and they saw a flop come T♠Q♥K♦.

Sorrentino bet 100,000 and Petkov called for the T♥ turn. A check this time from Sorrentino before Petkov bet 650,000.

Sorrentino thought for a while, then folded, showing his king-queen face up. Petkov showed the K♠.

"You had king-ten, right?" asked Sorrentino. --SB

PCBAR-2017-Monti-Raffaele Sorrentino-1193.jpg

Sorrentino surrenders one

3:35pm: Sorensson chips up without showdown
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Sebastian Sorensson opened for 230,000 from the cutoff, Brian Kaufman called from the button, and Albert Daher called from the small blind.

The flop brought three small cards -- 3♣5♦4♣ -- and Daher chose to lead out for 280,000. Only Sorensson called.

The turn was the 2♣. This time Daher checked, and Sorensson bet 300,000. With some deliberation Daher made it 1.3 million, then after waiting a few beats Sorenssen jammed all in and Daher folded quickly.

Sorensson is way up to 7.35 million now, leading the table, while Daher is at 4.45 million. --MH

3:30pm: Donald Duarte eliminated in 11th place (€87,100)
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Donald Duarte has been eliminated from the Main Event.

His bust-out came after shoving his remaining 1.84 million over the top of Raffaele Sorrentino's cut-off open. After asking for a quick count, Sorrentino called.

And it was bad news for Duarte. He flipped over A♠7♠ and was up against the J♦J♠ of Sorrentino. The 2♦T♦8♦ flop didn't bring Duarte much luck, either. And when the 9♦ landed on the turn he was drawing dead.

Duarte busts in 10th and will take home €87,100 for his efforts. --DJ

NEIL3455_PCBAR2017Donald_Duarte_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Donald Duarte - 11th place

3:25pm: Tsugunari Toma eliminated in 12th place (€77,800)
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Everything was going great for Tsugunari Toma. Until it was no longer going great.

Not so long ago, he lost that huge pot to Lachezar Petkov. And he has just seen his last 930,000 chips head in the same direction -- across the Sea of Japan, over South Korea and the East China Sea, all the way west-to-east over China itself, then over all the Stans, over the Caspian Sea, over Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Black Sea, before landing in Bulgaria.

Yes, Petkov has just polished off Toma here in a pre-flop skirmish.

Toma got it in good, open-pushing for 930,000 with A♥7♥. Petkov called in the big blind with K♥J♦. The flop was fine. It was 8♠6♣4♠. The turn was okay, too. It was the 3♦. But Toma winced upon seeing the K♠ river.

He span around in his chair, sparkling shoes glinting in the lights, and headed away from the table. He takes €77,800 for 12th.

Leader Petkov now has more than 9 million. --HS

NEIL3473_PCBAR2017Tsugunari_Toma_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Tsugunari Toma - 12th place

3:20pm: Arunan double through Daher
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Moments after that hand reported just below between Aeragan Arunan and Albert Daher, Arunan open-pushed all in for 1.29 million from the cutoff with K♥K♦ and Daher called from the small blind with 7♠7♦.

The board ran out clean for Arunan, and he doubled to 2.72 million while Daher now sits with 6.47 million. --MH

3:15pm: Difelice takes from Sorrentino
Level 28 - Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

In a classic blind-on-blind confrontation, Alex Diefelice was the man who came out on top.

With action folded around to him in the small blind, Diefelice completed and Raffaele Sorrentino checked in the big blind. After checking on the 5♣J♦8♠ flop, Sorrentino lead out for a single big blind of 80,000. And Diefelice came along.

The Q♠ prompted checks from both, before the 7♥ landed on the river. This time Diefelice lead out for a rather big bet of 275,000. Sorrentino went in the tank for a long time before eventually conceding defeat. --DJ

3:10pm: Petkov keeps pushing
Level 29 - Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Lachezar Petkov has taken the pro-active response to his new big stack, taking several pots pre-flop without resistance.

But the latest proved more profitable against Raffaelle Sorrentino.

Sorrentino opened for 180,000 on the button and Petkov raised to 560,000. Sorrentino paused, took back his chips and replaced them with a call.

The flop came 8♠T♠5♥.

Petkov picked up 725,000 this time, hs hand visibly shaking as he did so, and bet it. Sorentino, with 2.6 million behind took his time, but had to fold.

Petkov is the player with the momentum right now. --SB

3pm: Arunan sliding, Daher thriving
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Aeragan Arunan has been keeping out of the way of the bigger stakes for the most part on the feature table, hence the lack of updates about the UK player.

Arunan just lost a few chips in a hand versus Albert Daher and now sits with 1.3 million, making his uphill battle all the more steep. And at the top of that hill at the table at the moment is Daher with 7.765 million. --MH

2:45pm: Jam jam
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

There were a couple of short-stack shoves on the outer table, neither of which resulted in anything more than some sigh folds. Well, that's not strictly true as when Tsugunari Toma did it, jamming from the small blind following Mesbah Guerfi's open to 80,000, Toma also showed his cards. He had J♥J♦.

Toma's shove was for 920,000, which was a little less that what Donald Duarte had to jam with a couple of hands later. On this occasion, action folded to Rafaelle Sorrentino in the small blind and he raised to 210,000.

Duarte wasn't standing for it. He shipped for about 1.4 million and Sorrentino folded quickly.

Toma and Duarte remain the men most under threat. Sorrentino is third-shortest at this stage. --HS

2:35pm: Toma trumped, Petkov pushes in front
Level 28 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

It was the biggest pot we've seen play out today and has sent Lachezar Petkov into a big chip lead here.

Action was opened by Tsugunari Toma in the hijack to 185,000. He received a call from Raffaele Sorrentino on the button, before Lachezar Petkov squeezed it up to 725,000 from the big blind.

"All-in" announced Toma very quickly.

Sorrentino re-peeked at his holding before throwing it in the muck, and Petkov shrug-called.

Toma flipped over T♠T♣ and Petkov the Q♣Q♥.

"You have more than four million right?" Petkov asked Toma, clearly doing the calculations in his head for how much he was about to receive.

And sure enough, the board of 5♦9♦J♣7♣3♦ ran clean for Petkov to secure a huge double. He's now up over 8 million chips, and Toma down to 1 million. --DJ

NEIL3453_PCBAR2017Lachezar_Petkov_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Put Petkov on top

2:35pm: Duarte moving downward
Level 29 - Blinds 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

After Alex Difelice opened for 175,000 under the gun, action reached Donald Duarte. He paused for a moment, arranged a raise and then pushed forward 440,000, quite a chunk of his short stack.

Difelice asked how much he was playing, to which he responded "I started the level with 2.3 million." That though was 15 minutes ago. Now it was slightly lower. He had 1.5 million behind.

Difelice then shoved, easily covering Duarte, who looked uncomfortable before folding. --SB

2:30pm: Siddique's technique
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

The first couple of feature table hands were quiet ones, and the third one began similarly with a limp from the small blind by Andre Akkari.

Usman Siddique then raised to 290,000 from the big blind, then Akkari limp-reraised to 750,000. Siddique waited a moment, and announced he was pushing all in. A count revealed the push was for 4.15 million.

Akkari thought a while, then folded, keeping his 4.1 million.

Siddique three-bet Albert Daher's open in the next hand to win another pot, and he's up around 5.25 million. --MH

NEIL3461_PCBAR2017Usman_Siddique_Neil Stoddart.jpg

More for Siddique

2:20pm: We got you
Level 28 - Blinds: 40,000/80,000 (ante 10,000)

Jonesing for some hot Toma action? We got you.

Even though the last Japanese player in the field has now been moved to the outer table, we can still fill you in on his full exploits. He was quickly out of the blocks when they returned from the break, and won the first two hands.

In one, he open-called from the button, which prompted Alex Difelice to complete from the small blind and Rafaelle Sorrentino to check his option. Toma continued on the flop after two checks and the others couldn't fold fast enough.

Next hand: Toma raised from the cutoff to 185,000 and Donald Duarte called in the big blind. The flop was 3♦3♠9♣ and Duarte checked. Toma bet 225,000 and Duarte folded, prompting a trademark thumbs up in his direction from Toma.

Toma then indicated that this wasn't a bluff thumbs up. He turned over the 9♠ as proof that he was packing and that everything continues to go great. --HS

NEIL3376_PCBAR2017Andre_Akkari_Tsugunari_Toma_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Andre Akkari and Tsugunari Toma

1:55pm: Break time

With 12 players left, they've reached the first break of the day. Back in 20. --MH

Ready to embark on your own poker adventure? Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

1:50pm: Guerfi adds more
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

This has been an excellent level-and-a-bit for Mesbah Guerfi, who now stacks around 5.6 million after winning another pot from Lachezar Petkov. Guerfi had the goods a got a value bet paid on the river.

Petkov started the ball rolling with a raise from under the gun and Guerfi, next to act, called. All the others left them to it, but the hand looked like a fizzle-out when the both checked the 8♦5♠K♣ flop.

The dealer put the J♣ on the turn and Petkov bet 210,000. Guerfi called, bringing the dangerous 8♣ on the river.

Petkov's check made it look like he wanted a cheap showdown. Guerfi's bet of 360,000 suggested he wanted anything but.

But was it that he didn't want any showdown? Or was it that he wanted one, so long as it wasn't cheap? That was Petkov's dilemma and, in the end, he opted to call.

Guerfi turned over his J♠J♥, for a turned set, rivered boat. Petkov mucked.

Petkov has 2.9 million, and Guerfi about 5.3 million. The break nears, but maybe time for one or two hands before that. --HS

1:45pm: Backing into a win
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

Tsugunari Toma just backed his way into winning a small pot against Raffaele Sorrentino.

On a flop of J♠K♠A♥, Toma, playing out of the small blind, bet 260,000, which Sorrentino called from under the gun.

The 6♦ turn was checked, as was the 7♦ river. At which point Toma turned up his T♠7♠. He'd missed his flush but found a seven, which was enough. He's up to 4.5 million while Sorrentino drops slightly to 3 million. --SB

1:42pm: Let the three-betting begin
Level 28 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

As we approach the first break of the day, we're seeing the action open up a little more on the outer table.

Rafaelle Sorrentino, who has been leading most of the play, folded after his open of 130,000 was 3-bet by Donald Duarte Sierra.

Similarly, Alex Difelice mucked his hand holding after his under-the-gun open was three-bet to 450,000 by Lachezar Plamenov Petkov. --DJ

1:40pm: Akkari trips back up over 5 million
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Andre Akkari raised to 135,000 from early position, Brian Kaufman called from the big blind, and the flop came 5♠3♥9♦. Akkari continued for 125,000, Kaufman called, then after the 9♣ turn Kaufman checked again.

Akkari bet 300,000 this time, and Kaufman called once more. The 7♣ river went similarly -- check-bet-call -- with Akkari making it 625,000. Akkari then showed A♣9♥ for trip nines and Kaufman mucked.

Akkari chips back to 5.2 million, a little head of Kaufman's 5.085 million. --MH

1:30pm: Sorrentino hitting his stride
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Raffaele Sorrentino is looking very accomplished at the moment. Winning a PokerStars Championship Main Event, as Sorrentino did in Monte Carlo a few months ago, can do wonders for a man's confidence.

He just picked up another smallish pot from Lachezar Petkov after defending his big blind to Petkov's 130,000 open. Sorrentino checked the 7♥T♥3♠ flop, but called Petkov's 170,000 continuation bet.

They both checked the 7♠ turn, and then Sorrentino led 275,000 at the 4♣ river. Petkov let him have it. --HS

1:25pm: Running above expectations...
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

While we were certainly all surprised to see Alex Difelice turn up with a royal flush a few moments ago, there was one man slight less taken aback: Alex Difelice.

"No, I've had lots," Difelice chuckled when asked if that was his first experience of poker's most prized hand, adding that he's seen them both online and live. "I'm definitely running above expectation on royals," he said. -- HS

1:20pm: Guess the hand (play along at home)
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

Donald Duarte opened and got a call from Alex Difelice. We didn't get bet sizes, but it was really the showdown that was the story of this hand, not the bet sizes. So bear with me.

The flop came J♦A♦7♦. Difelice, for what would become understandable reasons, checked and Duarte bet 170,000. Difelice called.

The turn was the K♦ and Difelice checked again for very obvious reasons (if you're playing along at home now would be a good time to put Difelice on a hand, given all this telegraphing).

The river came 5♠ which was checked both ways.

Then, with what can only be described as remarkable self-restraint, Difelice turned over Q♦T♦ for a Royal Flush.

It's about the only hand that gets a smile out of the loser of the hand, and Duarte grinned. Toma, spotting Royalty, reacted as if Her Majesty the Queen had stopped by, getting his camera out and taking pictures. --SB



1:15pm: Sorrentino scoops
Level 28 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

Sorrentino has just taken a few from Mesbah Guerfi.

The PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo champ opened the action to 130,000 in early position. It was folded all the way round to Guerfi who completed in the big-blind.

The flop was a scary one: 9♦J♣8♣. After a check from Guerfi, Sorrentino lead out for 140,000. Guerfi quickly called and action went to the turn.

When the 6♥ landed on the felt, Guerfi changed the action by donk-leading for 210,000. But Sorrentiino was having none of it. He three-bet to 610,000 and Guerfi was quick to muck his hand. --DJ

1:05pm: Rens Feenstra eliminated in 13th place (€77,800)
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

After a comparatively dormant start on the outer table, it has suddenly become action station. Rens Feenstra has been eliminated on the hand immediately after Mauricio Salazar's last stand.

In this one, Lachezar Petkov opened to 130,000 from under the gun and Mesbah Guerfi called from one seat to his left. Feenstra then moved all-in for what was quickly determined to be 1.025 million.

All the big stacks to Feenstra's immediate left folded, as did the opening raiser Petkov. But Guerfi quickly found a call. They were strapping on their spikes and heading to the track:

Guerfi: 9♠9♥
Feenstra: A♠Q♠

The pair remained ahead through the board of 2♥T♠3♥T♦5♣ and Geurfi allowed himself a restrained fist clench in celebration. He now stacks up about 5.3 million. Meanwhile Rens shouldn't feel too de-Feenstra-ted after his week at the Barcelona tables, as he earns him €77,800 for 13th place. --HS

NEIL3429_PCBAR2017Rens_Feenstra_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Rens Feenstra - 13th place

1pm: Mauricio Salazar eliminated in 14th (€69,600)
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (ante 5,000)

Mauricio Salazar is the next faller. After Alex Difelice opened from the button for 115,000, Salazar shoved from the big blind. His options were limited, with his stack down to 570,000, but Difelice took a moment before calling.

Difelice: J♣9♣
Salazar: A♦K♥

The board ran 4♦J♠8♠4♣4♥.

Salazar was out, his world about to change to a civilian one, while the people who a few moments had been his opponents, resumed conversations without him. Difelice looked happy, now sitting with 3.4 million. --SB

NEIL3345_PCBAR2017Mauricio_Salazar_Sanchez_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Mauricio Salazar - 14th place

12:55pm: Big stacks battle from the blinds
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

After the table balancing a short while ago, the two big stacks in the tournament at the moment are now at the feature table, sitting side-by-side. Just now they battled over a pot in a blind-vs.-blind hand.

Brian Kaufman limped from the SB, Albert Daher raised to 210,000 from the BB, and Kaufman called. Kaufman check-called a bet of 125,000 from Daher on the A♠8♣3♠ flop, then both checked the A♥ turn. The 5♥ river brought a leading bet of 130,000 from Kaufman, and Daher called.

Kaufman tabled A♠7♥ to show he'd turn top pair of aces, and Daher mucked.

Kaufman had already gotten the lead before that hand, and he increased it with that one. He has 6.17 million and Daher 5.05 million. --MH

12:45pm: Balancing act
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

Following Andrew Hedley's elimination, there were just six players on the feature table, while there were still eight on the outer.

As the next player in the big blind, Brian Kaufman has now been moved over from the outer table to the main stage in order make things a little more even. --DJ

12:40pm: Andrew Hedley eliminated in 15th place (€69,600)
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

There's been a second Day 5 elimination, and it came at the feature table once more.

Sebastian Sorensson limped in from under the gun, then it folded to Andrew Hedley in the cutoff who jammed with his last 860,000. The others folded to Usman Siddique in the big blind who thought a while before folded. Then Sorensson instantly called, tabling J♥J♦ while Hedley showed A♠J♠.

The jovial Hedley kept smiling and talking through the T♠Q♥3♠ flop, 4♠ turn, and 8♣ river, then wished the others well before departing to collect his 15th-place winnings. Sorensson moves up to 4.13 million. --MH

NEIL3408_PCBAR2017Andrew_Hedley_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Andrew Hedley - 15th place

12:37pm: The world of raise n' take
Level 27 - Blinds: 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000)

It's been a little while since they saw a flop on the outer table. As Level 26 faded into Level 27, there was a series of raise n' takes.

First up, on which was the last hand of Level 26, Lachezar Petkov opened to 130,000 from UTG+2 and got folds.

Then, on what was the first hand of Level 27, Mesbah Guerfi opened to 120,000 from UTG+1 (yep, a smaller opening raise in a level with higher blinds) and got folds all around.

After that, Brian Kaufman opened to 135,000 from the button and got folds.

That was succeeded by Alex Difelice opening to 125,000 and no one wanted to tangle with him either.

At least they kept it interesting with a nice variety of bet-sizing. --HS

12:35pm: Toma flops set, takes from Akkari
Level 27 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Big hand on the feature table just now, and there's a new chip leader.

After Andre Akkari raised to 125,000 from UTG, Tsugunari Toma three-bet to 400,000 from the next seat and Akkari called. Both checked the 3♥5♣8♠ flop, then Akkari check-called Toma's delayed c-bet of 375,000 following the K♥ turn.

The river brought the A♠ and Akkari checked. Toma took his time, then bet 1.1 million, and Akkari called quickly. Toma tabled 8♥8♣ for a set of eights, and fist-pumped a little as Akkari showed his ace-king for runner-runner two pair.

Akkari slips to 3.9 million, meaning Albert Daher is the new leader now with about 5.3 million, while Toma moves up into second position with about 5 million. --MH

8G2A3365_PCBAR2017TV_Table_Neil Stoddart.jpg

The feature table

12:30pm: Test questions
Level 27 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

They've moved into Level 27, and soon after Rens Feenstra opened for 110,000. Mauricio Salazar called in the big blind for a flop of A♦6♥8♥. He then checked, leaving it to Feenstra to bet 80,000.

Salazar paused for a bit. He looked like a man who had a difficult multiple-choice question to answer on a test. Should he A) Fold. Should he B) Call, or should he C) Raise. It was a tough one, and figuring he'd make things easy on himself he finally opted for D) Move All-In. He did, turning over A♣T♠ when Feenstra called with A♠5♦.

The turn came Q♣ and the river 8♣. At first glance it looked like Salazar had doubled up, but it was a chop pot. Back to where they started, and more difficult questions ahead for short stacked Salazar. --SB

12:25pm: Yaron Zeev Malki eliminated in 16th place (€61,400)
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Zeev Malki limped from the small blind, then after Albert Daher raised from the big blind Zeev Malki reraised all in for his last 1.445 million. Daher called quickly, showing 8♥8♣, and Zeev Malki needed help with A♣9♣.

The flop came 4♣7♥T♥, then the K♠ turn followed and Zeev Malki was down to his last card. Fifth street was the 2♦, and Zeev Malki is the first out today in 16th.

NEIL3357_PCBAR2017Yaron_Zeev_Malki_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Yaron Zeev Malki - 16th place

With 15 left, Daher bumps up to 5.28 million. --MH

NEIL3401_PCBAR2017Albert_Daher_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Chips for Daher

12:22pm: Outer table antics
Level 26 - Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

Things are off to a slow and steady start on the sole outer table of the Main Event.

It's been open, flat, fold the last few hands. The last one saw Brian Esposito open the action early to receive a defend in the big-blind from Raffaele Sorrentino.

The board brought the 2♥7♦J♥ and a small c-bet of 120,000 was enough for Esposito to scoop it.

Blinds are set to jump up in just under 5 minutes, so expect the action to heat up shortly. --DJ

12:20pm: Akkari aggressive, his opponents playing back
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

In the first hand at the feature table, chip leader Andre Akkari raised to 110,000 from the hijack seat, then Usman Siddique three-bet to 310,000 from the button. Action returned around to Akkari who looked over Siddique sitting quietly in his gray LA Dodgers cap, then folded.

On hand number two, Akkari raised again to 110,000, this time from middle position -- or the "lojack," as some call it -- and got two callers in Tsugunari Toma (cutoff) and Sebastian Sorensson (button).

The flop came T♦A♦K♥ and after Akkari checked, Toma chose to bet 150,000, and Sorensson made a min-raise to 300,000. Akkari folded, but Toma called and the remaining to players watched the 7♦ fall on the turn. Sorensson sat with his ever-present Miami Dolphins scarf over his mouth for a few beats, then bet 550,000. Toma took a few seconds, then folded.

Akkari slips just below 6 million, while both Sorensson and Toma are a little over 3 million. --MH

8G2A3354_PCBAR2017Main_Event_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Day 5 is underway

12:15pm: Today's schedule
Level 26 - Blinds: 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

What's the plan for the day I hear you ask? Well, I can answer that.

If we reach the last six players in the tournament, the day will end whatever time that is. However if we have not reached the final six by the end of the day's sixth level (that's Level 32), we will probably end there.

There's a dinner break scheduled for the end of the day's fourth full level (Level 30), a pattern that has been established yesterday and the day before. --HS

12:10pm: Day 5 begins
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (ante 5,000)

And they're off! There are still 10 minutes left to play in Level 26, at which point they'll continue straight into the next 90-minute without a break. --MH

11:30am: Rise and shine! Akkari leads final 16 into Day 2

Good morning! The sun is shining brightly today in Barcelona, and from a massive starting field of 1,682 players the final 16 will be back in a half-hour to see if they can continue to shine in this PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event.

Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari's star shone the brightest yesterday as he went from middle of the pack to chip leader early on, and returns today with the biggest stack at the final two tables.

"It was an amazing day, incredible!" an excited Akkari said afterwards. "Everything started going my way. I think I played good, I was getting a lot of value from my good hands."

NEIL2773_PCBAR2017Andre_Akkari_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Andre Akkari, setting the pace

Brian Kaufman of Uruguay is currently the Brazilian's nearest challenger in the counts. He, too, had a special Day 4, which looking back he viewed as part of a culmination of sorts of a lot of study and work.

"This good run is fantastic for me," Kaufman said last night, reflecting on his having transitioned into professional poker. "It's a reward for all the sacrifices I've done."

Just behind those two is Usman Siddique of the UK, winner of the UKIPT6 London Main Event. And also still in the mix is one of the select group of PokerStars Championship Main Event winners thus far, Raffaele Sorrentino (who won in Monte-Carlo).

"It was a day with a lot of ups and downs," said Sorrentino of his Day 4, but he ended on an uptick to return with a plenty manageable stack.

Here's how the chip counts look to start play today:

Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro6,160,000
Brian KaufmanUruguayPokerStars qualifier5,480,000
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier4,650,000
Mesbah GuerfiFrance 4,065,000
Albert DaherLebanon 3,810,000
Lachezar PetkovBulgaria 3,630,000
Aeragan ArunanUK 3,480,000
Tsugunari TomaJapanPokerStars qualifier3,440,000
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player3,000,000
Alex DifeliceCanadaPokerStars qualifier2,775,000
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier2,555,000
Donald DuarteNicaraguaPokerStars qualifier2,510,000
Rens FeenstraNetherlandsPokerStars player1,565,000
Yaron Zeev MalkiIsrael 1,510,000
Andrew HedleyUK 1,005,000
Mauricio SalazarColombiaPokerStars qualifier655,000

And here's the seat draw for the final two eight-handed tables:

Andrew HedleyUK 100500011
Andre AkkariBrazilTeam PokerStars Pro616000012
Tsugunari TomaJapanPokerStars qualifier344000013
Usman SiddiqueUKPokerStars qualifier465000014
Sebastian SorenssonSwedenPokerStars qualifier255500015
Aeragan ArunanUK 348000016
Yaron Zeev MalkiIsrael 151000017
Albert DaherLebanon 381000018
Mauricio Salazar SanchezColombiaPokerStars qualifier65500021
Brian Kaufman EspositoUruguayPokerStars qualifier548000022
Donald Duarte SierraNicaraguaPokerStars qualifier251000023
Lachezar Plamenov PetkovBulgaria 363000024
Mesbah GuerfiFrance 406500025
Rens FeenstraNetherlandsPokerStars player156500026
Alex DifeliceCanadaPokerStars qualifier277500027
Raffaele SorrentinoItalyPokerStars player300000028

Play kicks off at 12 noon. Stick close for live updates throughout the day as they work their way down to a manageable number of players for tomorrow's finale. Let's find out together who will shine today! --MH

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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Dan Jones, Alex Villegas, Howard Swains and Martin Harris. Photography by Neil Stoddart and Carlos Monti.

Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Barcelona