PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®: Jeffrey Hakim ahead on Day 1A

Midday to midnight - after a 12 hour stretch the opening day of this Main Event is in the books. 237 players ponied up the €5,300 entry fee but when all was said and done only a fraction of that made the cut to secure themselves a seat on Day 2.

Of those lucky players it was Lebanon's Jeffrey Hakim who had established his dominance by the conclusion of play. Hakim flopped a straight in a five-way pot around eight hours into the day to scoop a huge pot, and he also made quads twice to stack even more. Hakim will be the one to chase tomorrow with a monster stack of 305,300.

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Leading the way - Jeffrey Hakim


Also surviving to Day 2 and joining Hakim will be Stefan Schillhabel (203,000), Manig Loeser (195,700), Michel Pereira Marques (168,900), Pascal Hartmann (152,100), Ole Schemion (144,900), Fabrice Soulier (105,100), Justin Bonomo (71,200), Nick Petrangelo (63,000), Adrian Mateos (58,900), Dan Smith (49,100), Daniel Dvoress (44,200), Martin Jacobson (25,900) and Steve O'Dwyer (24,200). You can see full overnight chip counts of the 107 survivors here.

For the PokerStars contingent it was a mixed bunch of results. Jake Cody, Andre Akkari and Vanessa Selbst all hit the rail throughout the day. Cody's king jack failed to improve against an opponent's ace jack, Akkari ran top pair into an overpair, and Selbst emptied the clip on the river into a tablemate's flush.

As for Celina Lin, Fatima Moreira De Mel and Jason Mercier (who joined the action with only 40 minutes left to play) they'll still be flying the flag for PokerStars on Day 2. Lin finished the day with 125,500, De Melo bagged up 32,200 and Mercier will return with 83,400 at his disposal.

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Fatima Moreira De Melo

We'll have the rest of the end-of-Day-1A chip counts as soon as possible.

Otherwise, that's all from us here tonight. We'll be back to do it all over again with another batch of poker hopefuls at 12pm local time tomorrow. Be sure to tune in for all your live coverage needs direct from the tournament floor! -- BK

11:55pm: Three is the magic number
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The clock has been paused and the players will play three more hands before they're done for the day. --NW

11:50pm: Hakim extends his lead
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Barring a major mishap Jeff Hakim is going to end Day 1A as the chip leader. He just padded his stack in a hand against Vicente Delgado. The action started with a limp in late position from Paul Tedeschi. Vicente Delgado then made it 3,800 from the small blind and it was now on Hakim to act from the big blind.

He gave Tedeschi a good stare down, perhaps wary that the Frenchman had limped a big hand. Eventually though Hakim raised it up to 11,000. That got rid of Tedeschi but Delgado stuck around. On the 5♠8♥5♥ flop Hakim bet 12,000 and Delgado made the call. A bet of 20,000 on the Q♣ turn earned him the pot though as Delgado folded.

His stack of some 280,000 sees him clear of Stefan Schillhabel (230,000) and Manig Loeser (195,000). --NW

11:40pm: Make Mercier's a double
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Not long after Jason Mercier sat down then he doubled his stack. He held A♣8♣ and Dan Smith held T♣T♦. All the chips went in on a 4♣J♣T♠ flop and Mercier needed some help to survive. It arrived on the 6♣ turn and he faded the 2♣ river. He was all-in for 27,800 so is now up to around 57,000. --NW

11:30pm: A sick table gets sicker as Mercier sits down
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier needs no introduction and he just joined the Main Event hunt alongside some fellow sickos at a star-studded table.

Two to Mercier's left is another man who needs no introduction (but we'll give him one anyway) - 2014 WSOP Main Event champion Martin Jacobson. A few seats further along (and sorting out their wine orders as Mercier sat down) are two more crushers, Dan Smith and Daniel Dvoress.

There are only 40 minutes left here on Day 1A but we'll be keeping an eye out for any fireworks between these four superstars. -- BK

11:25pm: Hajiyev over Grafton
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

Ramin Hajiyev and Sam Grafton have been battling all day. You sensed a big pot between the two was coming and it duly arrived. Hajiyev bought it in for a raise from the hijack, he made it 2,000 to go, a bet that Grafton raised to 6,000. Back on Hajiyev, he made it 19,000 to go, Grafton moved all-in and Hajiyev called all-in for 45,200.

Hajiyev: A♦K♣
Grafton: A♠Q♦

The T♠T♦9♣3♠8♠ run out kept Hajiyev in front and he doubled up to over 90,000, while Grafton slips down to 26,000. "With the dynamics that was inevitable," commented Hajiyev after the hand was over. --NW

11:10pm: Late night fallers
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

It was a case of so close (to day two) but so far for Vasily Kurdin, Konstantin Fetzer, Kengo Hoshina, Guntis Aleskins, Bogdan Capitan, Vladas Tamasauskas, Anton Morgenstern, Oleksii Khoroshenin, Serge Candin, Noah Valliancourt, Vladimir Shabalin, Andrey Andreev, Joshua Zimmerman and Tomas Jozonis. --NW

10:55pm: Leaders of the pack
Level 8 - Blinds 400/800 (ante 100)

The last level of the day has just begun and it's so far been a very profitable day for the players below as they currently had the chip counts with just 75 minutes of play left.

Jeff Hakim - 300,000
Stefan Schillhabel - 235,000
Igor Yaroshevskyy - 164,000
Ole Schemion - 140,000
Celina Lin - 128,000

Some top talent has risen to the top then. Hakim has over $1.1 million in lifetime earnings, Schillhabel and Schmion need no introduction, Yaroshevskyy is a well known pro and Lin is a member of Team PokerStars Pro. Can they keep up their good run in the last level, that is the question. --NW

10:45pm: Head scratcher for Haxton
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 50)

"Why do I do this to myself?" Ike Haxton was deciding whether to call for all his chips and his head was buried in his hand.

It started with a simple middle position raise to 1,400 from Nick Petrangelo. Peter Eichhart called from the hijack and Vladas Tamasauskas did the same from the small blind. It was a sizable pot and Haxton decided to make it 8,000 from the big blind.

Petrangelo folded and Eichhart made it 60,000. The button and small blind folded and Haxton went into a painful tank.

He thought, counted out his chips and thought some more. Then he grabbed his cards and almost mucked them about five times but kept pulling them back. Then he finally mucked them.

Haxton was left with about 30,000 while Eichhart rose to 140,000. --AV

10:35pm: Schemion sacks Silver
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 50)

Justin Bonomo opened to 1,400 from early position and Adi Alkalay called from the cutoff. Ole Schemion made it 6,000 from the button and Max Silver moved all-in for about 30,000 from the big blind.

Bonomo folded and Alkalay joined him in fold city. Schemion decided he wanted to stay in the hand and threw in a pile of chips for the call. Schemion tabled Q♣Q♥ and Silver had him beat with K♣K♠.

But there was a queen on the Q♠4♣6♠ flop and Schemion jumped into the lead. Silver stood up as the 6♥ was being dealt on the turn and pushed his chair in when the T♣ came on the river.

Silver hit the rail while Schemion chipped up to about 150,000. --AV

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Ole Schemion

10:30pm: Sent home
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 50)

There's no easy way to say this but if you were heading to Monte Carlo to help rail Maxi Lehmanski, Daniel Belov, Robert Heidorn, Alexander Uskov, Osman Aksu, Martin Finger, Andre Akkari, Ivan Deyra or Alan Smurfit to Main Event victory then turn around. They're all out. --NW

10:20pm: What you gonna do?
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 50)

Aces into kings hey, what you gonna do? Probably get all the chips in. In the latest chapter of aces versus kings it was Nicolas Pouzenc who played the role of windshield and Ole Schemion who was the bug.

Pouzenc only had 9,400 and his aces held on a 3♠6♥3♥7♠2♥ run out. He double then to a more playable stack, while Schemion still has plenty with a stack of 115,000. --NW

10:15pm: Soulier snap calls; collects
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 50)

The pre-flop action is unknown but on a 7♠5♦6♣ flop Noah Vaillancourt, who was in late position, bet 2,500. There were four other players still with cards and Vaillancourt picked up calls from two of them, one of whom was Fabrice Soulier.

On the 3♠ turn Vaillancourt fired again, this time he bet 10,000. Soulier was the only caller. The 3♦ completed the board and Soulier checked again to Vaillancourt. The Canadian was visibly breathing heavily and, after about 30 seconds, he moved all-in for 23,700 total. Soulier snap called for his final 17,700 and showed K♠K♣. It was good as Vaillancourt had been caught bluffing with J♦9♦. He's down to 10 big blinds, while Soulier is up to around 70,000. --NW

10:10pm: Peters exits
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

David Peters may have finished 4th in the Super High Roller this afternoon but the notable American pro won't be able to follow that up with a deep Main Event run as he found the exit in the penultimate level of the day.

Peters met his demise at the hands of Raffaello Locatelli who called off Peters' check-raise turn jam on a board of T♥9♣8♣3♦.

Peters: Q♠Q♥
Locatelli: T♠9♦

Peters had outs to a straight or a set but the 9♠ river saw Locatelli improve further and seal Peters' fate. -- BK

10:05pm: Selbst rises, Aksu falls
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Osma Aksu and Vanessa Selbst were faced with a sizable pot on a Q♥3♥3♠ flop. Selbst was on the small blind and bet 2,700 into the 10,000ish pot. Aksu raised to 11,000 from the button and Selbst moved all-in for 25,800. Aksu counted his chips, he had about 30,000 left, and decided to fold.

Vanessa chipped up to nearly 50,000 while Aksu was left with his 30,000. He was left with zero the next hand.

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Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst

Aksu moved all-in on a 5♠8♠K♠ flop with A♠6♥ and Igor Yaroshevskyy, who finished 10th in the PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event, called with J♠T♠. The turn brought an 8♣ and a 2♥ completed the board with no fourth spade for Aksu.

Aksu hit the rail while Yaroshevskyy chipped up to about 90,000. --AV

9:55pm: Hollywood run out for Hartmann
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Pascal Hartmann is up to 180,000 after eliminating Ali Reza Fatehi in what I'm going to call the hand of the day. It's a bold call with almost two levels left to play, but you'll see why. This monster pot started with Fatehi raising it up to 1,800 from middle position. Hartmann three-bet to 5,300 from the big blind but this didn't deter Fatehi. He four-bet to 17,100 and Hartmann now had a big decision.The German pro thought for a while and then moved all-in, Fatehi near snap called all-in for right around 50,000.

Hartmann: A♠A♣
Fatehi: A♦Q♦

A miraculous K♥J♥T♦ flop meant Fatehi flopped broadway and the Iranian celebrated. Had he celebrated too early though? Yes, yes he had. For the K♠ turn gave Hartmann some outs and the K♣ river was one of those get out of jail cards for him. He scopped the pot to climb to 180,000 while Fatehi was eliminated. --NW

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Yep, you made the blog Pascal

9:45pm: Silver ships some to Schemion
Level 7 - Blinds 300/600 (ante 100)

Ole Schemion hasn't skipped a beat after the dinner break. He just took a sizable pot from tablemate Max Silver.

We arrived to see Adi Alkalay (small blind), Schemion (big blind) and Max silver (under the gun) all check the Q♣9♥Q♦ flop through to the 7♦ turn. Alkalay checked again but Schemion sized big with a wager for 3,300. Silver called, Alkalay folded and the dealer revealed the 6♥ river card.

Schemion reach deep and sized even bigger on the end, bombing it for 15,000. Silver made a relatively quick call and Schemion tabled Q♥6♦ for flopped trips that had improved to a full house on the river.

Silver had his hand half turned up as he went to muck and when Schemion leaned over for a peak Silver revealed A♠A♣.

"Nice hand," conceded Silver with a tap of the table as he fell to 21,000. Schemion on the other hand moved up to an impressive 135,000. -- BK

8:20pm: And that's dinner
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Players are heading off for a 75-minute dinner break. We'll be back after the interlude for more of the same.

8:15pm: The big and notables
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

With just a few minutes left before the break, here are the five biggest stacks in the room, as well the notable Team Pros out there. --JS

Stefan Schillhabel - 250,000
Jeffrey Hakim - 171,000
Pascal Hartman - 140,000
Michel Pereira - 126,000
Haucke Fick - 115,000
Celina Lin - 76,000
Vanessa Selbst - 75,000
Fatima de Melo - 24,000
Andre Akkari - 18,000

8pm: Death, taxes...
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

...and the fact that Matous Houzvicek, Ihar Soika, Farid Yachou, Miroslav Fondrk, Mathieu Selides, Gentian Sula, Pavel Plesuv, Dmitry Yurasov, Jean-Noel Thorel, Francois Evard, Marius Asanache, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Florian Maurer, Luca Falco, Koray Aldemir, Lee Markholt, Jake Cody, Tony Lamouroux, Mikael Larsson, Peter Chan, Benjamin Uzan, David YanPetar Petrov, Matthew Laslo, Marc Moukarzel and Elvin Muratovic will not be winning the PSC Monte Carlo Main Event. They're the only things certain in life. They have all been knocked out. -- HS

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Jake Cody: Out!

8pm: His initials are AA, after all
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

In tournaments -- under certain circumstances -- they say the chips you gain are not worth as much as the ones you lose. We won't try to do the math following this recent hand between Andrey Andreev and Walid Bou Habib that resulted in both sitting with stacks of around 35,000, but we can assume nonetheless that Habib is glad about perhaps dodging losing most of his stack, and not having been tempted to try to gain more.

That's because Andreev was all in over a Habib raise and with some consternation Habib decided to fold, flashing his A♦K♥ to Andreev as he did. Andreev decided to return the favor and showed Habib and the table his hand -- A♠A♥.

Good fold, Habib. Save chips now, gain more later. --MH

7:55pm: Ole's counterfieted Schemion the river
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

If Ole Schemion final tables this event too having already won a tournament and finish fifth in another for a combined $750K over the past few days, we may need to consider banning him altogether. It's just not fair on the others.

His quest to this PokerStars Championship Main Event final table was just stifled though after his great hand was counterfeited. Picking up the action on a 6♠3♦4♣7♦ board, Didier Ortiz checked to Schemion and he made it 3,150 to go. Ortiz called that bet, resulting in a 5♦ river card which put a straight out there on the board.

Ortiz checked once again, and Schemion made it 12,500. Ortiz called it off, but neither had an eight so this was a chop. Ortiz had the Q♣5♠, but Schemion actually had a hand with the 7♠7♥. Bad luck Ole. --JS

7:50pm: Jacobson alive, just, after tangle with Yaroshevskyy
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

There's a tiny sliver of compensation here for Martin Jacobson. He's not out, and he thought he was. (That and the memories of that World Series victory, of course.)

But he is now down to his last 2,900 chips after a bold river bet very nearly got Igor Yaroshevskyy to fold the best hand, but nearly isn't good enough.

Daniel Dvoress, having moved into the Main Event after playing the Super High Roller final table, opened to 1,200 from UTG+1 and Jacobson called in the hijack. Yaroshevskyy then called in the big blind and it was three-way to a flop of 4♦4♠9♥.

Both Yaroshevskyy and Dvoress checked and Jacobson bet 2,000. Yaroshevskyy then check-raised to 6,500 which gave Dvoress the easy decision to fold.

Jacobson stuck around, though, and they then saw the T♥ fall on the turn. Yaroshevskyy checked and Jacobson bet 6,000. Yaroshevskyy called.

The 8♠ completed the board and Yaroshevskyy checked for a third time. Jacobson barrelled. He moved all-in for what Yaroshevskyy thought was more than what was sitting in front of him.

Yaroshevskyy peered down at his 19,000 stack and was pretty sure he had a decision for all of it. He took a long time (for him at least; Yaroshevskyy is one of the quickest players around) but then said he had to call.

Jacobson turned over his 8♣9♣. But Yaroshevskyy had 4♣3♣ and his flopped trips were good.

Jacobson tossed forward his stack and got up, but Yaroshevskyy said he thought Jacobson had more. Yaroshevskyy was right. Jacobson only had to pay 18,625 to double up his Ukrainian opponent and will now have to battle on with just less than 3,000 himself.

7:45pm: Soulier gets that double up
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

He couldn't get David Peters to call earlier on, but Fabrice Soulier found a suitable suitor in Peter Vanco just now. The two got their money in on a 9♣4♣K♣J♦3♥ board (I'm not sure when; shoddy reporting I know, but I was too busy focusing on a Fatima De Melo hand which will be coming up shortly) but Soulier had the A♣8♣, so he'd flopped the nuts. Vanco had been coolered with his J♣J♠ and was left with 7,400, while Soulier's 8,700 stack is now twice that. --JS

7:40pm: Kings work for Wang
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Gang Wang of China was just all in for his last 12,475 before the flop versus Germany's Frank Werder. Wang was at risk, but had the preflop edge with K♥K♣ versus Werder's T♣T♦.

The flop came 4♥K♦8♣, making things even more comfortable for Wang by giving him a set, and an ace on the turn ended the suspense right there. Put Want up to about 27,000 now, while Werder has 42,000. --MH

7:35pm: A Soika suckout
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

EPT11 Barcelona High Roller champion Ihar Soika is still in the Main Event, but just barely. He was all in for a super-short stack versus Michel Pereira Marques just now, and in the very unenviable spot of trying to win with K♠Q♣ versus K♣K♦.

It happens sometimes, though. The J♥T♠6♦ flop suggested how it might, and while the 5♣ turn card was only a bit of trivia in this story the A♣ river meant everything, giving Soika his needed straight to survive.

But Soika is still way down there with less than 8,000. Meanwhile Marques is sporting a mega-stack of 135,000 at the moment. --MH

7:25pm: Jacobson empties the clip
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Get out your phone Bradley Marsh, get onto WhatsApp and let your friends now you just picked off a bluff from a world champion. Marsh just clashed in a pot with Martin Jacobson, in which the latter bet every street.

In the hand in question the action folded around to Jacobson in the small blind. He raised and Marsh called. On the 3♠J♦6♦ flop Jacobson continued for 1,200 and Marsh made a reasonably quick call. The pattern repeated itself on the K♦ turn, Jacobson bet 3,700 and Marsh smooth called again.

On the 7♣ river Jacobson reached for chips again. He fired out 11,000 and Marsh's call on this street was the quickest of the lot. Jacobson showed 9♠4♠ for a pure bluff, Marsh had 7♦7♠ for a rivered set. He's up to 60,000 and Jacobson has dropped to 34,500. --NW

7:30pm: Silver takes a sliver of Bonomo
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Justin Bonomo raised to 1,200 from under the gun and only Max Silver went along for the ride. Silver called from the small blind and the flop came J♥6♠9♣. Bonomo bet 1,750 when checked to and Silver called.

The turn brought a 9♣ and Silver bet 2,500. Bonomo called and a Q♦ completed the board. Silver bet again, but upped it to 3,500. Bonomo decided he had had enough with that hand though and folded.

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Heads-down: Justin Bonomo

Both players were fairly even after the hand. Bonomo dropped to 45,700 while Silver chipped up to 42,000. --AV

7:25pm: Danger's his middle name
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 50)

Just before the blinds went up, I caught Fabrice Soulier taking down a pot. It wasn't a big one, mind, but any little helps when you're short stacked.

David Peters--fresh from his fourth place finish in the Super High Roller for €630,600--opened to 1,300, and it folded to Soulier. He tossed his 9,500 chips in the middle in a carefree fashion.

"Here" he said. "Take it! Take it!"

But Peters didn't take him up on the offer. He laid it down.

"He likes danger," said Soulier's next door neighbour Raffaello Locatelli. --JS

7:20pm: Big win for Lin
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin's pre-dinner portion of Day 1 just took a very positive turn following a preflop confrontation with Francois Evard.

The hand began with Lin opening for 1,300 from early position. It folded around to Denes Kalo in the hijack who called, then Evard made it 5,000 to go from the button.

The blinds stepped aside, but after pausing a couple of beats Lin reraised back to 12,800. Kalo ditched his hand, but Evard pushed all in for approximately 45,000 and Lin called right away.

Evard had Q♠Q♥ while Lin tabled K♥K♦, and five cards later -- 3♥2♠A♦3♣4♠ -- Evard is out. Lin now is hovering around 100,000. --MH

7:17pm: Lucky river for Thorel
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

It was clear that something was going on at Dmitry Yurasov's table and we rushed over to see what all the commotion was about. Iliodoros Kamatakis wasn't even in the hand but he was the loudest and most animated in the vicinity as he cheered on his friend and tablemate Jean-Noel Thorel.

Thorel was all in with A♠9♥ and behind Yurasov's A♥T♥. It looked like Thorel's day was done by the turn with the board showing 8♠6♥J♣A♦ but the 9♠ river rolled off to save his tournament life.

"Manifique!" cried Kamatakis as he shook Thorel's hand in celebration.

That lucky nine saw Thorel shoot to 15,000 while Yurasov was knocked down to 9,000 in chips. -- BK

7:15pm: Chan down
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Peter Chan -- a big stack early, though down to fumes just now after a hand versus Nick Petrangelo -- has been knocked out as Level 6 gets underway. --MH

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Peter Chan: Empty handed

7:10pm: Level 6 begins
Level 6 - Blinds 250/500 (ante 75)

Does Level 6 really begin if no one is there to report it? Yes. Of course it does. Silly question.

Seventy-five more minutes of poker, all, then the dinner break arrives. --MH

7:08pm: Chan loses chips to Petrangelo
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Peter Chan was one of the big stacks not too long ago, but he's hit a rough patch and now suddenly sits with just about half-dozen big blinds.

Nick Petrangelo was the one causing Chan's most recent misery. We arrived as the hand was concluding, where Petrangelo had been all-in with ace-queen on an ace-high board, and Chan's hand was being briefly shown -- pocket tens -- before being deposited in the muck.

Petrangelo is stacking about 64,000 now, while Chan is way down to 2,300. --MH

7:04pm: Aido doubles through Lin
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

After some calls from early position, Sergio Aido raised to 2,400 from the button and Celina Lin re-raised to 6,500 from the big blind. The rest of the table got out of the way and Aido moved all-in for 14,025.

sergio_aido_psc_monte_carlo_day1a.jpg

Sergio Aido sticking around

Lin called and turned over K♠Q♣, but Aido had a dominating A♦K♦. The 8♣5♠4♠6♥6♣ board missed both players and Aido took it down with ace-high. Aido doubled to about 30,000 while Lin was still left 65,000. --AV

7:02pm: Larrson's cooler
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Mikael Larrson has just reached the end of his Main Event line. Not that he'd have expected it when he looked down at the K♦K♣ and opened to 1,000.

That bet got two callers, Adi Alkalay in the hijack and the on-fire Ole Schemion in the cutoff, before Dmytre Shuvanov squeezed it up to 4,000 on the button. The blinds got out of the way, and when it was back to Shuvanov he shoved for around 25,000. The others folded, before Shuvanov snap-called.

He had two good reasons to make such a quick call: the A♥ and the A♠. They both sat in front of him, and they'd hold up on a 6♦J♣6♠5♦J♠ run out.

Larrson made his exit, and Shuvanov now sits with 92,000. --JS

7pm: Lucky Li?
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

In case you didn't know: Yan Li is the person responsible for providing Steve O'Dwyer with the lucky mango that propelled him to victory in the Super High Roller event at PokerStars Championship Macau. She also had a very decent result of her own at that event as she finished seventh in the Main Event.

She's just hopped into this Main Event and will be hoping for another deep run. --NW

6:48pm: Big bluff by Varnell
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Craig Varnell is stacking chips after pulling off a courageous bluff. Walid Bou Habib brought it in pre-flop for 1,500 and after Varnell called in the cutoff, the button squeezed to 6,200. Habib let it go but Varnell called and the dealer fanned a flop of 5♥3♦8♦.

Varnell check-called a bet of 5,200 before the K♦ arrived on the turn. This time he had a check-raise in mind, bumping up the button's next continuation bet of 8,500 to 21,500. The raise was called and the T♠ river completed the board.

Varnell then bet enough to cover his opponent's mere 12,500 behind but the latter couldn't commit the chips. He relinquished his hand and Varnell tabled 4♥4♣ for not much considering the board. After pulling that move Varnell moves up to 95,000. -- BK

6:45pm: The double Finger
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Martin Finger has doubled up to about 13,000.

It started with an early position raise to 900 and then Maxim Lykov re-raised to 3,000 from the button. Finger was on the small blind and moved all-in for 5,625. The initial raiser folded but Lykov called and we had a showdown.

"Do you have ace jack?" Finger asked.

Lykov said no and turned over 9♠9♦.

martin_finger_max_lykov_psc_monte_carlo_day1.jpg

Friends, neighbours and opponents: Max Lykov and Martin Finger

"Good," Finger said. The German player then turned over A♠J♣ and a race ensued. The flop came 2♣A♦2♥ and Lykov started asking for a nine. The 3♦ on the turn didn't acquiesce and neither did the T♠ on the river.

Finger took down the pot and chipped up to about 13,000. --AV

6:25pm: Simao succumbs
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

You might remember Walid Bou Habib from his deep run at EPT9 Deauville, where he finished runner-up to Remi Castaignon. The Lebanese player is off to a good start here as he just win a big pot to eliminate Joao Simao.

The action was started by Simao. The Brazilian raised to 800 from under the gun, he picked up one call and Bou Habib then raised it up to 3,500. Andrey Andreev then cold called from the small blind and Simao called as well.

So it was three to a flop. It fell A♠K♣9♠. Bou Habib c-bet 4,300 and Simao was the only caller. The 3♣ hit the turn and Bou Habib kept up his aggressive stance. He fired out another 9,700 and Simao tank-called. On the Q♦ river Simao took a decent amount of time before shoving all-in for around 14,000. Bou Habib snap called and showed 9♥9♦. He had Simao's 9♥9♦ beat and that meant Simao was eliminated. --NW

6:20pm: Deeb done and dusted
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Freddy Deeb's day is done after he clashed with Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody in a recent hand.

Cody bet 3,200 into two players on a flop of 3♥T♦A♦ and both Deeb and the man on the button called to see the 5♥ turn card. Cody then announced all in with enough to cover both opponents but only Deeb called it off for his last 4,250.

Cody: A♥K♥
Deeb: K♦Q♦

Deeb had a draw to a royal flush but the A♣ river bricked off to see Cody hold and Deeb depart. With that elimination the Team Pro builds to 55,000 in chips. -- BK

Freddy Deeb PSC Monte Carlo

Eliminated - Freddy Deeb

6:15pm: Au revoir
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Sad times for Fabio Sperling, Mike Watson, Joe Mouawad, Hady El Asmar, Julian Thomas, Marc Macdonnell, Neel Murthy, Victor Ilyukhin, Ilkin Amirov, Thi Xoa Nguyen, Jonathan Bensadoun, Scott Margereson and Vladimir Troyanovskiy as they're all out. --NW

6:03pm: A little more for Lin
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Celina Lin is still on the rise.

In her most recent win, Lin raised to 1,200 from the big blind after Andrei Konopelko called from the small blind. Konopelko called and an A♠6♦6♠ flop hit the board. Lin bet 900 when checked to and Konopelko called.

The turn brought a Q♣ and a 1,500 bet from Konopelko. Lin called and a 4♣ completed the board. Both players slowed down to a check and Konopelko turned over J♣7♠. Lin had him beat with Q♥T♥ and chipped up to 68,000 while Konopelko dropped to just 8,300. --AV

5:55pm: Boukrouma busts to Pankowski
Level 5 - Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Salim Boukrouma was eliminated on the first hand back from the break. We arrived just in time to see Boukrouma out of his seat and it appeared his pocket nines were no good against Robert Pankowski's pocket jacks on a runout of 8♦5♥2♥6♠Q♠.

Boukrouma left the tournament area as Pankowski stacked his newfound chips - moving up to 36,000. -- BK

5:35pm: Break time
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

The players are now on a 20 minute break. --NW

5:25pm: Chip counts
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

As the players approach the half way mark on Day 1 this is how some of the names and notables stack up.

NameChips
Stefan Schillhabel110,000
Sam Grafton74,000
Justin Bonomo59,000
Adrian Mateos58,000
Vanessa Selbst56,500
Preben Stokkan56,000
Paul Tedeschi53,300
Celina Lin52,000
Orpen Kisacikoglu49,000
Nick Petrangelo47,000
Dan Smith45,500
Noah Vaillancourt45,400
Isaac Haxton43,500
Vicente Delgado43,000
Jake Cody43,000
Peter Chen41,000
Ole Schemion39,500
Martin Jacobson39,000
Manig Loeser39,000
Maxim Lykov37,000
Max Silver36,600
Ali Reza Fatehi35,000
Andre Akkari32,000
Hossein Ensan31,600
Joao Simao31,000
Vladimir Troyanovskiy31,000
Dominik Nitsche30,000
Scott Margereson28,500
Fatima Moreira De Melo24,100
Sergio Aido24,000
Sylvain Loosli24,000
Martin Finger20,100
Gaelle Baumann19,700
David Yan18,900
Fabrice Soulier18,400
Koray Aldemir15,400
Jean-Noel Thorel11,600
Javier Gomez Zapatero10,100
Freddy Deeb9,000


PSC_Monte_Carlo_main_event_day_1_celina_lin.jpg

Good start for Lin

5:10pm: Chebab chops one down
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

El Amir Ziad Chehab is chopping players down and chipping himself up. He just sent a player to the rail after some significant action preflop.

We arrived right in the middle of that action to see Anton Hrabchak with 3,500 in front of him, Chehab making a call, and then the most recent Main Event casualty moving all in over the top for 9,925. Hrabchak surrendered but Chehab quickly called to see it was a coinflip.

Chehab: J♠J♦
Opponent: A♦K♥

Chehab's jacks would hold as the cards fell 5♠4♠7♠Q♦7♥ as we lost another player and Chehab climbed to just shy of 100,000. -- BK

5:00pm: Bonomo takes one out
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

There was a hefty pot, a 7♥A♦6♥ flop and a Justin Bonomo versus Neel Murthy matchup.

Bonomo bet a couple thousand, Murthy called and a 5♥ came on the turn. Bonomo upped the bet to 10,000 and Murthy moved all-in for about 30,000. Bonomo quickly called and turned over 7♦6♦ for two-pair while Murthy tabled 8♣8♥.

Murthy was hoping for another eight or a straight card, but K♣ on the river was neither. Murthy hit the rail while Bonomo chipped up to about 65,000. --AV

4:49pm: Action for Akkari
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Team PokerStars Andre Akkari has taken his seat in a very Akkari fashion. He's donning his white headphones, getting a massage and winning pots.

In a recent hand, Maxim Panyak raised to 700 from the hijack and Akkari called from the button. Lauri Varonen called from the big blind and all three players made it to the flop. Only one would make it out though.

andre_akkari_psc_monte_carlo_day1a.jpg

Andre Akkari: Decent start

Panyak bet 1,400 when checked to and Akkari raised to 2,700. Varonen folded and Panyak looked at the bet again.

"2,800," Panyak said, pointing to Akkari's bet. Akkari's bet was too small, he needed to raise to at least 2,800. Akkari corrected his mistake and threw in another chip.

Panyak folded instantly and the table laughed.

"2,700 I call," Panyak said. "But 2,800? No."

Akkari raked in the pot and the Brazilian player chipped up to about 40,000. --AV

4:40pm: Tamasauskas takes from Chan
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Vladas Tamasauskas was just on the right side of a flip to double up through Ping San Chan.

Nikolay Nikolov kicked things off with a raise to 800, and after a flat call from Chan, Tamasauskas squeezed to 2,700 from the cutoff. Nikolov let it go but Tamasauskas announced a raise, four-betting to 10,000. Tamasauskas five-bet jammed for 20,100 and Chan flicked in the remainder before the cards went on their backs.

Tamasauskas: A♠K♦
Chan: Q♣Q♦

Tamasauskas ended up with the best of it when the board came down 5♥9♠K♣7♦J♣. He secured the double up while Chan dropped to a still-heathy 70,000 in chips. -- BK

4:30pm: On the rail
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

The Main Event dreams of Stephen Chidwick, Emre Pasagil, Pierre Calamusa, Oleh Okhotskyi, Rainer Kempe, Alexander Kharkov and Roman Emelyanov are over as they're all out. --NW

PSC_Monte_Carlo_main_event_day_1_Stephen_Chidwick.jpg

Chidwick chopped down

4:20pm: Schill game
Level 4 - Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Stefan Schillhabel made a deep run in the €100,000 Super High Roller, but fell just short of the final table. He's finding life in the Main Event pretty agreeable and he just eliminated Luigi Grisa to climb to 54,000. Grisa's was gone, and his cards were in the muck by the time I saw Schillhabel stacking chips. His cards - A♠A♥ - were still visible though and there were four spades on the board. Nuts! --NW

4:15pm: Magereson gets there against Petrangelo
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The table that contains Nick Petrangelo and Scott Margereson has strong claims to being the toughest in the room and the two aforementioned players just clashed in a sizeable pot. Margereson opened to 500 from early position and called after Petrangelo had three-bet to 1,600.

A 2♦8♣Q♠ flop hit the felt and Margereson check-called a bet from Petrangelo. The latter fired again on the J♣ turn. This time it was 4,800 for Margereson to keep his cards and he decided to see the river card, which was the 9♠. Both players checked and Margereson swiftly revealed T♦T♣ for a rivered straight. Petrangelo let out a noise that suggested he'd been ahead until the river. He slips to 23,000 while Margereson is up to 38,000. --NW


4:10pm: Fast felted
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Dietrich Fast got all the money in as an overwhelming favourite but the poker Gods didn't seem to care. Fast just made a hasty exit from the tournament floor after a two outer from Ali Reza Fatehi.

The flop was spread 6♦2♥7♠ and Fast led out from the big blind for 4,300. Fatehi was under the gun and wanted to play for more, rearising to 15,000. Fast pushed it all in and Fatehi snapped it off to see he was a huge underdog.

Fast: 6♠6♣
Fatehi: Q♠Q♥

Fast had way the best of it and while the A♥ turn card was safe, the Q♣ river was the death knell for Fast's tournament, improving Fatehi to a superior set.

Fast departed as tablemate Roman Papacek revealed that he had folded queen jack so it was the case queen that had sent Fast packing. -- BK

4:02pm: Lin it to win it
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Celina Lin is in the house and it's been a great start for the Team PokerStars Pro. She's already run her stack up to 45,000. She's sat two to the left of Sergio Aido and may prove a menance to the Spaniard if she keeps building a stack. --NW

3:59pm: Akhundzada annihilated
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The tournament keeps expanding and shrinking as some players bust and others buy-in.

It's like giant lung, breathing in chips and dreams and exhaling disappointed poker players. One of the most recent disappointed players is Seymur Akhundzada.

Akhundzada got it in for about 6,000 with J♦9♥ on a 6♠5♠9♣ board. Top pair wouldn't be enough though. Andrey Vlasenko re-shoved and turned over 5♣5♦ when the remaining player folded.

The T♦ on the turn brought no help for Akhundzada and then a Q♦ on the river sealed the deal. Vlasenko chipped up to about 31,000 with his set of fives while Akhundzada hit the rail. --AV

3:52pm: Jacobson and Petrangelo make tough tables even tougher
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

When you're already at a tough table the last thing you want to see is another top player pull up a pew. Well, bad luck to those at the table Martin Jacobson just joined. That table already contains Preben Stokkan, Ilkin Amirov and Vanessa Selbst. Tough crowd.

But not as tough as the Ike Haxton table (see 3.30pm post). It was already stacked and now Nick Petrangelo has joined the mix. Ouch! -- NW

3:50pm: Smith stacking
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Dan Smith has started Day 1A on the right foot, he has already eclipsed the 50,000-chip mark after beginning with 30,000.

We arrived at his table on a flop of T♠Q♦8♣ with the pot already bloated and Smith active with two other players. It was checked twice over to Smith in the cutoff and he fired for 4,000. The next player to act played back at Smith with a small raise to 9,000, and with the third party out of the way, Smith flicked in a call and saw the dealer turn the 5♣.

Despite the flop action, the turn and A♣ river were both checked through, with Smith's tablemate sheepishly announcing he just had a five before revealing J♦5♥. Smith had that trumped with K♥K♣ to rake in another pot. -- BK

PSC_Monte_Carlo_main_event_day_1_dan_smith.jpg

Dan Smith

3:45pm: More fallers
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

A couple more big names have hit the rail during level three. Julian Stuer and Anthony Spinella are both out. As are Luke Haward, Michael Sassen, Oleg Mordassov, Luca Paonessa. --NW

PSC_Monte_Carlo_main_event_day_1_luke_haward.jpg

Not Haward's day

3:30pm: Cody comes in
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

It's still early in the day, so that means fresh faces keep rolling in.

Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody is now a contender. Cody, who already has an EPT and WSOP title, will be looking to add another title to his impressive resume. Aside from the titles, Cody has more than $4.3 million in live tournament earnings and nearly two dozen final tables.

There are a few more big names just one table over from Cody.

Isaac Haxton is headlining that table, but it's also hosting the likes of Scott Margereson, Vladimir Shabalin and Pierre Calamusa. These are some of the freshest faces in the field and we've now crossed the 200 mark with 201 players. Late registration is still open so that number will keep rising. --AV

3:25pm: Buonanno busts
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

As the title suggests Antonio Buonanno has just busted out of the Main Event, with the EPT10 Grand Final winner bluffing off the last of his chips.

He raised to 500 and was called by Dejan Pustoslemsek only for Roman Nardin to bump it to 1,800 from the small blind. Both players called and a A♠8♣5♠ flop hit the felt. Nardin fired out a c-bet and Buonanno was the only caller. On the T♠ turn Nardin fired again. This time he bet 4,100 and again Buonanno called. The 8♠ river meant there were now four spades on board and Nardin slowed down as he checked the action to Buonanno. The Italian moved all-in for 7,800 and Nardin made the call. Buonanno showed A♣6♥ for top pair, while Nardin held 6♠4♠ for a baby flush that was good. --NW

3:15pm: Sassen sighs with relief
Level 3 - Blinds 100/200

Michael Sassen flopped the nuts in a recent hand but not only was he not guaranteed the pot, he was chopping at best and looking to fade a club to save himself some chips.

Sassen held K♦J♦ on a flop of A♦Q♣T♣ and when all the money went in on the J♠ turn he saw that the nuts might not be enough against his opponent's K♣J♣. The third player in the hand folded - claiming he had ace ten - and Sassen was left to sweat the river.

Luckily for Sassen it bricked off and he was lucky to split the pot, climbing back to over half starting stack for 16,500. -- BK

2:45pm: Break it up
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Players are now on their first 20-minute break of the day.

2:40pm: Some for Smith
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

There was about 4,700 in the pot on a T♦K♣J♥ board and the big blind bet 1,350. Fabrice Soulier raised to 2,800 and Daniel Smith called. There was a second call and the turn brought a 5♠. Smith bet 3,700 and when checked to and the big blind called. Soulier thought for a bit and decided it was too much. Soulier folded and a 2♦ completed the board.

Smith put out a bet worth 8,800 and took down the pot. Smith chipped up to about 50,000 while Soulier dropped to about 25,000. --AV

2:35pm: Gone
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Bad news for fans of Serio Castelluccio, Nader Alfred and David Dayan as they're all out. --NW

2:30pm: Super talented
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

The bubble in the €100,000 Super High Roller has just burst, you can find out how via our live coverage here. A number of players who busted out of that tournament yesterday have, today, entered the Main Event (there's a €50,000 one day High Roller tomorrow). Adrian Mateos, Mike Watson, Dietrich Fast, Mike Watson and Dan Smith are all striking fear into their opponents in the Main Event. --NW

PSC_Monte_Carlo_main_event_day_1_adrian_mateos.jpg

Mateos - won here in 2015

2:20pm: I wasn't expecting that
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

In truth, I'm not sure what I expected Fabrice Soulier and Raffaello Locatelli to turn over at the conclusion of an intriguing hand I just watched. What I do know is that the cards they turned over wouldn't have made my top ten guesses.

It all started with an under the gun raise to 400 Francisco Benitez, Locatelli smooth called from early position and Soulier then three-bet to 1,700 from middle position. Others would soon join the party. While Noah Vaillancourt - who was on the button - was deciding on his action, Peter Vanco called from the small blind. It was established that Vanco had to leave his chips out there no matter what. Vaillancourt also called and it folded back to the original raiser. Benitez ducked out the way but Locatelli stuck around.

So there was now around 7,500 in the pot and four players still with cards as a K♠A♠7♥ flop hit the felt. The action checked around to Soulier who bet 1,950. Locatelli was the only caller. Locatelli check-called a further 3,275 on the 7♠ turn and both players then checked the 3♦ river.

Can you guess what they had yet? What if I tell you it ended in a chopped pot? A weak ace apiece perhaps would be your guess, I guess. Well Soulier had K♦8♦ and Locatelli K♣6♣. Chop it up. --NW

2:10pm: More for Moreau
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Alexandre Moreau is still in the tournament after what may have been a lucky break. We didn't see when all the money went in but based on the disgusted reaction from Nader Alfred who lost the hand, we're willing to bet that it may have been preflop.

Moreau: A♥Q♥
Alfred: A♦K♥

The board ran out Q♣8♦4♠8♠4♣ with Moreau finding a queen on the flop to take the lead from Alfred and secure himself a double up to 18,000. Alfred on the other hand was left licking his wounds and stacking only 4,250. -- BK

1:55pm: Man down
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Sometimes it's good to be the first person to do something but not when it comes to busting a poker tournament. The first player out today is Gurgen Arsenyan. No details on the Aremian's exit I'm afraid. --NW

1:50pm: A Hart-y applause
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Only Kevin Hart can entertain a whole tournament he's not even playing in.

Players in the Main Event turned their attention to the feature table when they heard a series of Hart-felt screams.

"I had nothing!" Hart added after his screams of joy. "I didn't have anything. I didn't hit anything. I bet. It's so easy!"

Hart added that he'd bluffed Daniel Negreanu and players in the Main Event applauded. Hart and Negreanu are playing in a soon-to-be televised charity game, but they're already entertaining the the rest of the tournaments.

Earlier today Hart mentioned he was going to make poker fun, and he seems to be keeping up with his promise so far. --AV

1:40pm: Top marks for trying
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Fair play to Kyrylo Kudyma, he clearly had a plan and he stuck to it. That plan was to win the pot at whatever cost. Trouble is he hand't accounted for Alexey Tkachenko getting stubborn.

I picked up the action on the turn of a 4♣T♣K♣9♥ board. Tkachenko had checked and he was facing a bet of 2,700 from Kudyma. There was a decent amount of tank time needed by Tkachenko but he eventually called. The 2♠ completed the board and, when checked to, Kudyma bet another 6,000. It wouldn't shake Tkachenko as he called this bet too. Kudyma showed A♦Q♦ for a busted draw, while Tkachenko held K♥T♥ for top pair. A nice call there on a wet board. --NW

1:35pm: Selbst stacks some more
Level 2 - Blinds 75/150

Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst continues to climb after taking down a four-way pot with some postflop aggression.

Players went to a flop of A♠8♠K♦ and Selbst bet 800 into her three opponents. Matous Houzvicek folded, Preben Stokkan called from the cutoff but when the action fell on Oleh Okhotskyi in the big blind he bumped it up to 1,800.

With the decision back on Selbst she put in another reraise, making it 4,800 to go. That was enough to get the job done with the active players both relinquishing their hands.

Selbst now stacks up a new total of 36,500. -- BK

1:22pm: Texas hospitality
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

"Welcome to the table," Luke Haward told the newcomer at the table. "What's your name?"

"Luigi," the newcomer said. Haward then asked where Luigi Grisa was from and was not surprised to hear "Italy." He made a Mario and Luigi reference and was surprised that Luigi's middle name was actually Mario.

"What about you?" Grisa asked. "Texas?"

Grisa suspected Texas because of the hat. Howard was wearing a brown, cowboy-style Stetson hat, but the rest of his wardrobe added layers ethnic ambiguity.

Haward's dressed in what looks like a white Kurta and pants made from the same fabric. On top of that, Haward has a multi colored piece of fabric --the kind of blanket you picture being thrown over a Mexican donkey-- wrapped around his waist. But none of those details reveal the truth about Haward's origins: the United Kingdom.

"I just like Stetsons," Haward said after revealing his true home country. Haward started cashing in events back in 2014 and then made the money in the inaugural PokerStars Championship in the Bahamas earlier this year. Haward finished 123rd in that event and now he's looking to improve on that finish. --AV

8G2A5559_Luke_Haward_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Luke Haward, he also has Brazilian sandals.

1:12pm: The names keep coming
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

As the field continues to swell so do the number of name players in the field. Vicente Delgado is sharing a table with Freddy Deeb. Also in the fray are Anthony Spinella, Ryan Frankin, Ali Reza Fatehi, Peter Eichhardt, Fabrice Soulier, Noah Vaillancourt and Thi Nguyen. --NW

8G2A5456_Fabrice_Soulier_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Fabrice Soulier

1:10pm: Hrabchak hits trips
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Anton Hrabchak is stacking chips after making three of a kind and getting some value from the tablemate on his left.

On a flop of 9♠8♣7♣ Hrabchak check-called a bet of 1,500 and when the 7♦ paired the board on the turn, Hrabchak then took then betting lead with a wager for 3,100. The bet was called and the K♣ completed the board.

Hrabchak fired a final barrel for 6,500 and was paid off before tabling J♥7♥ for a turned three of a kind. With that pot Hrabchak builds to 37,500. -- BK

1pm: Great start for Kisacikoglu
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Orpen Kisacikoglu has doubled his stack already after winning a couple of big pots. He told me: "A player misclicked, he meant to make it 200 but raised to 10,000. I had to jam on him from the big blind." Ruthless.

He's also won a big pot from Stephen Chidwick, which has left the latter with just 8,000. Chidwick won't even have a chance to win them back as Kisacikoglu has been moved to another table. --NW

12:50pm: Silver shining early
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Notable pro Max Silver is off to a great start here on Day 1A - he just scooped a big pot from Belgium's Serhat Erdal in the opening level.

We caught the action from the turn and with the board showing 4♦A♣K♦Q♠ Silver led at it from the big blind for 3,000. Erdal made the call from the cutoff and they went to the 3♦ river.

Silver loaded up again and fired for 5,500 on the end. Erdal picked up calling chips and after a quick staredown he tossed in a call. Silver quickly tabled A♥Q♦ for two pair to take down the pot.

The hand left Erdal with 19,000 in chips while Silver climbed to 52,000. -- BK

12:40pm: Selbst starting fast
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

It's never a slow start for Vanessa Selbst.

The Team PokerStars Pro always comes ready to play, no matter the level, no matter the buy-in and no matter the opponent. Early in the first level, Preben Stokkan raised to 250 from under-the-gun and Bradley Marsh called from the small blind. Selbest was in the big blind and called as well.

The flop came 7♠5♥4♣ and action checked to Selbest. Selbst bet 500, Stokkan folded and Marsh called. A 6♣ came on the turn and both players checked. A 4♥ completed the board and Marsh bet 1,800.

This gave Selbst some pause. The Team Pro frowned and tilted her head back-and-forth. Then she folded.

8G2A5483_Vanessa_Selbst_PCMON2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

A frowny Vanessa Selbst

Selbest is never far from winning a pot though. Two hands later a player raised to 250 from the hijack and Marsh called from the cutoff. Selbst three-bet to 1,200 and took down the pot. --AV

12:30pm: Deeb's here and we're not talking Shaun
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

A surprise name on today's player list is that of Freddy Deeb. The poker veteran has cashes going back to 1986 and he's clocked up over $8.5 million in live earnings. He last cashed in Europe back in 2013 so let's see if he can snap that drought.

There are plenty more well known players we've spotted. Like Stephen Chdwick, he is sat to the direct left of Marc Macdonnell. Those two also have Orpen Kisacikoglu for company. Pierre Calamusa is also playing, the Frenchman finished fifth here last year.

And we've also spotted Scott 'Aggro Santos' Margereson, Preben Stokkan and Javier Gomez Zapatero in the field. --NW

12:20pm: Familiar faces in the field
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Things have just kicked off and already over 100 players have pulled up seats in this Main Event. It seems to be an eclectic mix of local players and international pros - some who we instantly recognised.

Among the early arrivals are Fatima de Melo and Vanessa Selbst flying the flag for Team PokerStars. Also joining them on the felt are Sergio Aido, Justin Bonomo and Max Silver. We'll be keeping an eye out for any late arrivals joining the hunt. -- BK

12:10pm: Play begins
Level 1 - Blinds 50/100

Play has started, by while we wait for the action to hot up, you may not have seen that PokerStars made a big announcement earlier today. --NW

11:45am: Main Event set to start

Hello, good morning and welcome back to Monte Carlo for the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino®. It's another beautiful day here in paradise and today the search for the next PokerStars Championship Main Event champion begins. We won't know the identity of the winner until six days from now, but whoever triumphs in the first PokerStars Championship on European soil will join a storied list of players to have lifted silverwear here. Steve O'Dwyer, Jeff Williams, Gavin Griffin, Mohsin Charania, Nicolas Chouity, Pieter De-Korver, Rob Hollink and Adrian Mateos have all been the last man standing at this venue down the years. A year ago it was Jan Bendik's turn. The Slovakian collected €961,800 for defeating a field of 1,098 runners.

As well as professionals and PokerStars tour regulars who'll be hoping that this year is their year, there will be plenty of Spin and Go qualifiers making their way to the Salle des Etoile having qualified for just €10.

The action starts at 12 noon when the first Day 1 flight gets started and there are eight 75-minute levels slated for today. We'll have live updates on the PokerStars Blog through the end of play at around midnight tonight. Furthermore it's not the only event from which we'll be reporting today. The Super High Roller reached its unofficial final table of nine last night. Only eight got paid though and the bubble stubbornly refused to burst. So, the final nine return at 1pm on a €237,950 bubble. You can look back on our Day 2 coverage here.


The road to Monte Carlo starts on PokerStars. Sign up and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® and all other Festival and Championship events.

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

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the Main Event: Brad Kain, Alex Villegas and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Monte Carlo