PokerStars Championship Panama: O'Dwyer beats clock & rest for $50K SHR chip lead

Someday we'll just create a macro for our computers that allows us to press one button and produce the phrase "Steve O'Dwyer is the chip leader." Until then, we'll just make do typing it over and over again.

O'Dwyer was the first chip leader of the day, and he was the man with the lead at the last. After starting the afternoon with a big double up against Igor Kurganov (more on that in a second), O'Dwyer ended with 856,000, good for the chip lead.

NEIL5479_Steve_O'Dwyer_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Bring the chips this way

Day 1 of the PokerStars Championship Panama $50,000 Super High Roller lasted just as long as any other Day 1, but the play went a lot faster. How's that?

Today, PokerStars introduced a 30-second shot clock to each decision. Players were given three time-bank chips with which they could buy another minute of thinking. Once those chips were gone, every decision could only last 30 seconds. It made for a lot more hands over the course of the day. Gone were the ten-minute river tanks. Gone were the two-minute pre-flop raising decisions. Some players estimated play sped up by 25%, if not a lot more.

Tick tock, said the clock

All told, there were 26 individual entries and four re-entries throughout the course of play. Nineteen of those have just bagged up chips. Here's how the remaining players stack up.

NameCountryChips
Steve O'DwyerIreland856,000
Orpen KisacikogluTurkey728,000
Justin BonomoUnited States615,000
Mike WatsonCanada546,000
Ben TollereneUnited States541,000
Koray AldemirGermany497,000
David PetersUnited States452,000
Ben HeathUnited Kingdom425,000
Dario SammartinoItaly417,000
Daniel DvoressCanada385,000
Jason KoonUnited States335,000
Timothy AdamsCanada330,000
Daniel ColmanUnited States305,000
Paul NeweyUnited Kingdom290,000
Erik SeidelUnited States212,000
Sam GreenwoodCanada207,000
Isaac HaxtonUnited States197,000
Stefan SchillhabelGermany84,000
Stephen ChidwickUnited Kingdom84,000

Kurganov, the latest big name player to join Team PokerStars Pro, could not make his new badge for work him today. He was among the early bustouts after losing that big hand vs. Steve O'Dwyer and then the rest to Daniel Dvoress.

Kurganov, however, was not deterred.

Of today's bust-outs, four chose to re-enter for fresh stacks on Day 1, among them Kurganov, Justin Bonomo, Stephen Chidwick, and Erik Seidel, all of them firing two $50,000 bullets. Kurganov couldn't make his second bullet last and was gone again before the end of the night. He still has until tomorrow at the start of play to fire again if he likes.

One frustrated hand for each bullet

At the end of the Day 1, these were the players who had busted out and chosen (for now) not to sit down again for $50,000 (as Brazilian blogger Sergio Prado put it...it was a bad day to have a surname beginning with the letter K).

Mustapha Kanit
Bryn Kenney
Igor Kurganov
Byron Kaverman
Adrian Mateos
Jan-Eric Schwippert
Anthony Zinno

They still have their chance, though, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of those guys show up here at the start of play on Day 2.

We're looking at a long-ish day on Sunday when the remaining players (and any who choose to make a re-entry or last-minute buy-in before the start of play) show up here at noon. Day 2 is scheduled to last until past midnight. We will be here for all of it.

Until noontime tomorrow, goodnight from Panama.

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

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



9:28pm: Play ends

Play has finished for the day. We'll be back momentarily with a full wrap-up of the action.--BW

9:15pm: O'Dwyer drops a few
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

It looks like Steve O'Dwyer is still going to end the day as the chip leader, but he just lost a pot to Koray Aldemir and his lead is not as lengthy as it once was. In the hand in question O'Dwyer raised from the cutoff and Aldemir smooth called from the button.

Aldemir then went on to call a bet of 18,000 on the 2♠5♥J♥ flop and a further 30,000 on the 2♥ turn card. O'Dwyer slowed down on the 4♣ river and this time it was the Irishman who did the calling as he looked up the German's river bet of 84,000. Aldemir rolled over A♣J♣ and it was good. --NW

9:15pm: Six more hands
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

That's right. Six. Stop complaining. --MH

9:10pm: Koon earns boon from Bonomo
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

There was about 240,000 in the middle and the board showed K♥Q♦5♦9♥2♣ when Justin Bonomo checked, then Jason Koon pushed all in for just a little more than what was in the middle.

Bonomo thought a bit, then folded, keeping his 575,000 or so. Koon is now up around 495,000 with about 20 minutes level in the night's final level. --MH

9:05pm: Aldemir over Haxton
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

With the board showing 8♦3♦Q♠Q♥, Koray Aldemir check-called a 45,000 bet by Isaac Haxton, then checked again after the 2♣ turn. Haxton checked behind, and when Aldemir tabled Q♦J♦ for trip queens Haxton mucked.

Aldemir has 295,000 now, a little more than Haxton's 280,000. --MH

9:05pm: Seidel re-seated
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

With only about 25 minutes left on the clock for the day, Erik Seidel has become the fourth player to buy back in after being eliminated. You can do a lot in 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, action is a little slow on neighbouring tables, with Stefan Schillhabel and Sam Greenwood taking small pots, and Ben Tollerene also taking a slightly larger (but still not that big) pot after that.

On the latter, Tollerene opened to 11,500 from the cutoff and picked up three callers: Dario Sammartino, to his immediate left, then Ben Heath and Timothy Adams in the blinds.

After a flop of Q♠9♣T♣ and two checks, Tollerene bet 15,000 and got everyone to fold, even though Sammartino needed the shot clock to be pushed in front of him as he thought about it.

Tournament staff will pause the clock soon and they'll play a limited number of additional hands before the day is done. --HS

9pm: Watson wipes out Kanit
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

It's arrivederci to Mustapha Kanit for now as he just lost the last of his chips to Mike Watson. The Italian opened to 11,000 from the button and Watson defended from the big blind. On the 5♥3♦Q♦ flop Kanit c-bet 9,000, Watson check-raised to 30,000 and Kanit smooth called.

The K♣ landed on the turn, Watson bet 60,000, Kanit shoved for around 170,000 and Watson swiftly called. He opened K♥J♦ and was ahead of Kanit's A♦T♣. It stayed that way on the 8♦ river and Kanit went over to Dario Sammartino for a brief chat before leaving the tournament area. --NW

8:50pm: Heath check
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Play has quieted down a bit among the three tables as the final level is playing out, although Ben Heath is remaining active.

Earlier he four-bet Timothy Adams preflop, Adams called, then Heath eventually took the hand down with a turn bet. A little after that he three-bet Dario Sammartino who called, then Sammartino was the one earning the pot after they checked the flop and Sammartino led the turn.

Heath has about 565,000 at present, while Steve O'Dwyer continues to enjoy the chip lead with about 850,000. --MH

8:40pm: Kenney KO'd
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Bryn Kenney was down to exactly 50,000 and he shoved all-in from under the gun and the action folded all the way to the big blind. It was Justin Bonomo with the decision, but he folded.

On the next shuffle, the action again folded to Bonomo and this time he did put chips into the pot. He moved all-in with 7♠5♠ and Kenney called it off with K♣Q♠. A 7♦7♥K♦9♦A♠ board was not kind to Kenney and his exit means just 19 players remain. --NW

8:35pm: Sammartino takes his time, makes the right call
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

It cost all of his chips -- and his last time bank chip, too -- but Dario Sammartino came up with a call following Timothy Adams's river all-in on a Q♦6♥4♠J♦9♣ board, and Sammartino was right.

Adams had K♦3♥ and was bluffing while Sammartino had nines with his A♥9♥, and now the latter sits with around 300,000. Adams still has about 370,000. --MH

8:30pm: Orpen Kisacikoglu cuts Koon in half
Level 8 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Orpen Kisacikoglu came in from the button for 10,500, and Jason Koon re-popped it from the big blind to 44,500. Kisacikoglu made the call for the 7♠Q♣5♦ flop. \\

Koon checked and saw a 25,000 bet from Kisacikoglu. Koon made the call and saw the 5♥ on the turn. This time both players checked.

When the 2♠ came on the river, Koon checked for a third time. Kisacikoglu took most of his 30 seconds before betting 110,000. Koon thought for a bit before calling, only to see Kisacikoglu's A♦Q♠.

Koon is now down below 200,000 while Kisacikoglu is nearing the 700,000 mark.--BW

8:25pm: Seidel sunk
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Shortly after losing most of his stack in that skirmish with Stefan Schillhabel (see below), Erik Seidel got his last 17,500 in behind A♠4♦ and found himself up against Timothy Adams's A♣9♦.

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Timothy Adams: Sinks Seidel

The board ran out T♠Q♠8♦, then 2♥, then 9♣, and Seidel headed to the exit. --MH

8:20pm: Schillhabel skirmish sees Seidel super-short
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

With the board showing 6♥9♣7♣4♥, Stefan Schillhabel checked, Erik Seidel bet 37,000, Schillhabel check-raised all in for 99,500, and after thinking about it Seidel called.

Schillhabel: A♥5♥
Seidel: Q♥T♥

Neither player had a pair, but Schillhabel was in a dominating position. The 8♥ river made flushes for both, giving Schillhabel the nuts and the pot.

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Seidel in the danger zone

Schillhabel is at 270,000 now while Seidel falls all of the way down into the danger zone with just 18,000. --MH

8:15pm: Koon collects from Kenney
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Bryn Kenney opened to 9,000 from the button, Jason Koon called from the big blind, then the flop came 4♣7♥5♦. Koon check-called a continuation bet of 10,000 from Kenney, then led himself at the 7♦ turn for 15,000. Kenney responded with a raise to 41,000, and after hesitating a bit Koon called.

The river was the 9♣ and Koon checked. Kenney fired 76,000 -- more than half what he had left -- and after hesitating again Koon said he was raising all in. Kenney was the one pausing this time, finally letting his hand go.

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Time to give it up for Bryn Kenney

Koon jumps to 370,000 while Kenney is now short with just 48,000. --MH

8:10pm: Bonomo doubles and causes trouble for Colman
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Two hands in a row between Justin Bonomo and Daniel Colman have seen the former fly up the chip counts, while the latter loses his position of chip leader and slips back into the pack.

The first hand was the bigger of the two, and it started with a raise to 9,500 from Colman on the button. Bonomo three-bet to 32,000 from the small blind, Colman four-bet to 66,000 and Bonomo called.

The flop fell J♦J♣5♠, Bonomo checked it to Colman and he fired out a bet of 30,000. Bonomo took a look back at his stack and then announced he was all-in. Immediately you could see from Colman's reaction that he wasn't happy about this turn of events. The dealer counted out Bonomo's shove - it was 168,500 total to Colman - and he thought for a while longer and then called.

Bonomo: 9♣9♠
Colman: A♥K♣

The 3♥ turn and 8♦ river kept Bonomo in the lead and he survived.

But the two were soon back at it. On the next hand Colman made it 9,500 to play, Bonomo three-bet to 29,000 from the button and Colman made the call. The latter then check-called bets of 25,000 and 70,000 respecitively on the 2♠J♣5♥ flop and K♠ turn and both players then checked the river. Bonomo had A♥K♣ to Colman's A♣T♦ and he scooped another pot.

"Why did you give up on that one?" asked Colman.

"I was running out of time and didn't want to use a time chip for this hand," replied Bonomo. After those two skirmishes Bonomo is up to around 475,000 while Colman has slipped to 400,000. --NW

8:05pm: Rivered set for Newey
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Paul Newey came in for a raise to 10,000. Justin Bonomo re-raised to 35,000 out of the blinds. Newey called. On a flop of 6♠3♦9♣, both players checked. The turn brought the Q♥ and two more checks. The river was the J♥. Bonomo now led out at the pot for 45,000. Newey took every second of his shot clock and then called with J♣J♦ for the rivered set.--BW

7:55pm: Kanit gets clubbed by O'Dwyer
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

With the board reading 2♣3♣8♦, Mustapha Kanit bet 38,000 into an already big pot. Steve O'Dwyer called. The turn brought the K♥ and Kanit put out 83,000. Once again, O'Dwyer called. The river looked like it might have been an action killer: K♣. Kanit didn't back down. He put out enough to put O'Dwyer all-in for his final 186,000.

O'Dwyer called quickly to see Kanit's red aces. O'Dwyer turned over A♣4♣ for the flush. Kanit is now down to slightly more than 200,000. Meanwhile, O'Dwyer is back up to nearly 700,000. --BW

7:45pm: Heath over Chidwick
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Stephen Chidwick made a button raise to 10,000, Ben Heath three-bet to 30,000 from the small blind, and after it folded back to Chidwick he called.

The flop came T♥5♣6♠, and Heath continued for 45,000. Chidwick called. Both checked the 2♦ turn, then the river brought the 3♦ and a bet of 80,000 from Heath.

Chidwick thought a few beats and folded, preserving the 205,000 he has at present. Heath, meanwhile, has 360,000. --MH

7:35pm: Kurganov busts again
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

It's not been a great day for Igor Kurganov as the Team PokerStars Pro has just been eliminated for a second time. He got very unlucky to do so. It was a case of domination rotation in a hand against Ike Haxton that did the damage.

Haxton got his final 166,500 in with A♥Q♥ and was in bad shape against Kurganov's A♣K♣. However, a queen on the river boosted Haxton to 339,000 and left Kurganov with just 7,000. There wasn't even a sniff of a spin up for the Russian as he busted on the next hand. --NW

7:25pm: Chidwick rejoins the game, chips up
Level 7 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Stephen Chidwick has rejoined the game after busting just before the last break. That makes three re-entries so far -- Chidwick, Igor Kurganov, and Justin Bonomo -- and 22 players still in action out of 29 total entries to this point.

In his first hand after re-entering, Chidwick raised to 8,500 from under the gun and got one caller in Orpen Kisacikoglu. The flop came all clubs -- 3♣7♣8♣ -- and Chidwick check-called a bet of 7,000 from Kisacikoglu. Both players then checked another club on the turn, the T♣.

The river was the 8♦, and this time Chidwick led for 30,000. Kisacikoglu thought a bit then called, and after Chidwick showed K♣K♠ for a king-high flush, Kisacikoglu pitched his cards dealerward.

That bumps Chidwick up around 295,000 already, while Kisacikoglu drops back to 245,000. --MH

7:10pm: Level over
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

That's the end of Level 6 and the 21 remaining players will now take their last break of the day. Their full counts will be on the chip-count page very soon. -- HS

7:05pm: Good starting hands, bad flop
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

"That flop was sooooo bad for both of our ranges," Isaac Haxton said with a chuckle after a hand between himself and Igor Kurganov.

To backtrack, Haxton had raised and Kurganov called from the blinds, then the flop came 5♦7♦6♣. You can think for yourself what hands the pair might have as they both checked.

They checked after the Q♣ turn, too, then Kurganov fired at the Q♦ river and Haxton called.

Kurganov turned over a pair of nines, and had to laugh when Haxton showed two kings.

Both players are hovering right around 200,000 with just a couple of minutes before the next break. --MH

7pm: Kaverman crashes out
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Another exit: Byron Kaverman has been sent to the rail. He began his final hand with just over 40 big blinds and raised it up to 7,000 from under the gun. Steve O'Dwyer (small blind) was the only caller and the two players saw a 4♦5♣K♠ flop. Kaverman bet 9,000 and O'Dwyer made the call.

On the 2♥ turn O'Dwyer check-called a further 28,000 and the 5♥ completed the board. Again O'Dwyer checked and Kaverman bet 55,000 of his remaining 97,000. O'Dwyer took a look at Kaverman's remaining chips and then bet enough to set his opponent all-in.

There was no insta-call from Kaverman and his face told the real story. He didn't like it, but probably couldn't fold. He didn't. He put in the rest of his chips and O'Dwyer rolled over A♦3♦ for a turned straight. Kaverman mucked, but it was an all-in pot and the dealer showed that Kaverman had called with A♠K♥.

So Kaverman heads to the rail, while O'Dwyer is up to 450,000. --NW

6:55pm: Chidwick finding no foothold
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

With a few minutes left before the break, Stephen Chidwick can't pick up a pot. His most recent stumble came after seeing a flop with for 6,500 with Bryn Kenney. When the 9♦2♠7♥ fell, Kenney checked out of the blinds, Chidwick bet 6,000, and Kenney raised him to 18,000. Chidwick made the call. The 6♦ came on the turn, and now Kenney led for 23,000. Once again, Chidwick called. The river was the 9♣. This time, both players checked. Kenney showed a pair of tens, which was apparently good enough to beat whatever Chidwick was holding. Kenney, who entered late in the day, is up around 320,000 while Chidwick is now down below 80,000.

Actually, Chidwick is now out. He ran into Daniel Colman's aces. Colman now has 765,000.--BW

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Stephen Chidwick

6:45pm: Koon over Bonomo
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

A short-stacked Jason Koon opened for 6,500 from the button and got a caller in the recent re-enterer Justin Bonomo defending his big blind.

The flop brought a paired board, coming 4♦K♦K♥, and after Bonomo checked, Koon bet 5,000 and Bonomo called. Both players checked the 8♦ turn card that put a third diamond among the community cards.

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Jason Koon: Rebuilding

The river was the 7♠, and after Bonomo checked Koon bet 18,000 -- about a third of what he had behind. Bonomo thought long enough for the shot clock to be pushed his way and then called. Koon tabled A♠8♠ for kings and eights, and Bonomo mucked.

Put Koon back to 115,000 now, while Bonomo has 222,000. --MH

6:35pm: Daniel Dvoress downs Jan Eric Schwippert
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

We picked up this latest big hand as Jan-Eric Schwippert was betting into Daniel Dvoress on a 5♦8♣K♠ flop. Dvoress made the call, and they went to the 7♠ turn. Schwippert came at Dvoress for 31,000, and Dvoress set out a big bet, enough to put Schwippert all-in.

It was clear Schwippert didn't like it, but he made the call anyway, turning over his flopped two pair with and flush draw: 8♠5♠. It became immediately clear just how sick that turn was, because Dvoress held 9♠6♠ for the better flush draw and the gutter-ball straight. The river blanked and Schwippert was gone. Dvoress is now sitting on nearly 500,000.--BW

6:30pm: Bonomo out, back in
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Justin Bonomo nursed a short stack for much of the last couple of levels before finally losing the last of it. But he's back in the game right away, having re-entered and already taken a seat again. That's 28 total entries now, with 24 players currently in action. --MH

6:25pm: Heath vs Haxton
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Ike Haxton was just put to the test by Ben Heath with the British pro coming out on top. It was one of those button vs big blind skirmishes with Haxton the man with position, not that it ultimately helped him.

Pre-flop the action folded all the way to Haxton, he raised to 7,500, Heath three-bet to 30,000 and Haxton put in the required chips. The flop fell 3♠T♣K♠ and Heath gave up the betting lead and checked it over to Haxton. There then followed a bet of 16,000, a check-raise to 50,000 and a call.

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A healthy Ben Heath

The Q♥ fell on fourth street and in quick order Heath bet 200,000, which was enough to set Haxton all-in. The latter was faced with a decision for his final 140,000 and, after 28 seconds of his allotted 30 seconds, he mucked his cards. --NW

6:20pm: Home game chaos as Kisacikoglu continues building his pile
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

If it was your job to concentrate with all of your might and focus on the smallest of details happening around you as you compete with your $50,000 buy-in for a prize pool that's already climbed over $1.2 million, this event is like a military boot camp disguised as a home game.

In the tight space reserved for the Super High Rollers, there is enough food to feed a small battalion. It's been arriving steadily for the past half an hour, and now it's unclear what plates belong to which players. Even the players don't know. Ike Haxton has been steadily eating through the rations on the table beside him, believing that half the food might belong to his neighbor, Orpen Kisacikoglu.

"I think that's all yours," Kisacikoglu said to a perplexed Haxton.

It was a lot of food.

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Orpen Kisacikoglu: To focused to eat

Meanwhile, Mustapha Kanit is running around the tournament area, eating whatever food he can take off the tables, and apparently is incensed he hasn't achieved some mythical status under Igor Kurganov's personal color-coded rating system. Red, from the best we can tell, is what a player wants to be, and Kurganov refuses to assign that designation to Kanit or the nearby Dan Colman.

"Look at this!" Kanit screamed, pointing at Colman. "Table chip leader! Not red!" He pointed at his own stack, "Table chip leader! Not red!" He pointed at Kurganov. "On his second buy-in!"

This went on for a while as Kurganov found himself in a hand with Kisacikoglu. Kurganov had come in for a raise and faced a three-bet to 20,500 from Kisacikoglu. Kurganov called for the T♦7♠2♠ flop. Kurganov check-called a bet to 18,000. On the 7♥ turn, the newly-badged Team Pro led out at it for 26,500. Kisacikoglu wasted little time in calling. The river brought the 7♣. Kurganov checked, and Kisacikoglu bet 90,000. Kurganov snap-folded and re-stacked his 205,000 in chips. Meanwhile, Kisacikoglu is up to more than 480,000.

Meanwhile, people are still eating, Kanit is trying to calm down, and Colman is trying to get a game of Lodden Thinks started.

You know, just like your own home game. --BW

6:15pm: Kanit piques interest (like always, bro)
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Four players saw a flop come 8♣J♣7♥, and it checked around to Steve O'Dwyer on the button who bet 14,000. Koray Aldemir then check-raised to 38,000 from the small blind, prompting a fold from Byron Kaverman playing from the big blind.

Next to act, Mustapha Kanit reraised to 105,000, knocking out O'Dwyer and -- after a bit of thought -- Aldemir as well to collect the pot.

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The always interesting Mustapha Kanit

"Interesting," said O'Dwyer as Kanit gathered the chips.

"It's always interesting when I'm in the pot, bro," answered Kanit.

Kanit is up to 690,000 now, Aldemir and O'Dwyer are both around 190,000, and Kaverman is down to 115,000. --MH

6:10pm: You call, you win
Level 6 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Bryn Kenney raised to 7,000, Stephen Chidwick called behind him, then Paul Newey called as well from the big blind. The flop came 9♠2♥9♦ and Newey checked. Kenney continued for 6,000, Chidwick folded and Newey called.

The turn brought the T♦ and another check from Newey, and after Kenney bet 14,000, Newey called once more. The river was the 3♦, and Newey checked one more time. Kenney fired one last barrel -- this one for 36,000, and Newey tossed out a chip to signal he was calling.

That's all Newey had to do, as Kenney mucked his hand without even waiting for Newey to show his. Newey has chipped up to 335,000 now while Kenney is on 210,000. --MH

6:05pm: Tollerene continues to collect
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 300)

Ben Tollerene now trails just Dan Colman in the chip counts as he just won a decent sized pot against Timothy Adams. Four players saw the flop, as Tollerene's pre-flop raise, from under the gun, was called by Dario Sammartino, Erik Seidel and Adams, who was in the small blind.

The flop was as wet as this week's weather forecast for Panama City as it came 3♦4♦6♥. It didn't stop Adams from firing at it, though. He bet 18,000 into his three opponents and Tollerene was the only caller. The Q♠ hit the turn and more chips found their way into the pot, this time more slowly.

Both players had the shot clock placed in front of them - this happens when they're halfway through their allotted 30 seconds - but the pertinent information is that Adams bet 53,000 and Tollerene called.

On the 6♠ river both players checked and the 7♦7♠ held by Tollerene was a superior two-pair to the 5♠4♠ that Adams held. After that hand Tollerene is up to 545,000, while Adams has slipped to 315,000. --NW

6pm: Here comes Kenney
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

With nearly five levels done, only three players have lost their starting stacks so far -- Anthony Zinno, Adrian Mateos, and Igor Kurganov (who re-entered).

Meanwhile the field has increased by one with the late entry of Bryn Kenney, who currently leads the 2017 Global Poker Index Player of the Year race. In fact, the top four players on the current POY leaderboard -- Kenney, Mustapha Kanit, Byron Kaverman, and Ben Heath -- are part of this event, as is No. 6 Koray Aldemir.

Kenney takes a seat in between Stephen Chidwick and current chip leader Daniel Colman, bringing the total entries to 27 and pushing the current prize pool up over $1.3 million. Late registration (and the ability to re-enter) continues through to the start of tomorrow's Day 2. --MH

5:55pm: No sale for Greenwood
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

We walked up on the hand as Dario Sammartino was check-raising Sam Greenwood to 14,000 out of the blinds on a flop of 9♣8♠2♥. Greenwood wasn't scared. He put in the calling chips and saw the 7♣ turn. Now, Sammartino led for 36,500. Greenwood was again undeterred.

The river brought the 8♣, a fun card if there ever was one. Sammartino thought through about half of his 30-second allotment before announcing he was all-in. Greenwood snap-mucked and shipped the pot to Sammartino. Greenwood is down to 227,000 while Sammartino is now on about 210,000.--BW

5:50pm: Colman still setting the pace
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Daniel Colman continues to enjoy the chip lead as Level 5 progresses. Just now he lost a small pot to Paul Newey, then defended his big blind versus a Newey button raise and the pair checked down the 2♥2♣2♠ flop and A♥ turn.

The river was the T♦ and when Colman bet 10,000, Newey called. Colman showed A♠T♠ and won the chips he'd just lost as Newey mucked.

daniel_colman_panama_shr_day1.jpg

Daniel Colman: Life is good

Put Colman on about 620,000 now, while Newey is on 230,000. --MH

5:45pm: Did Dvoress have it?
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 300)

We'll never know...

In the hand in question it was Jan-Eric Schwippert who was his opponent and it was Schwippert who did the betting for most of the way.

Schwippert got the action started with a raise to 6,000 from early position and Dvoress called out of the big blind. The flop was all clubs - 3♣T♣4♣ to be precise - and Dvoress check-called Schwippert's 5,500 c-bet. On the 2♠ turn Dvoress check-called a further 15,000 and the 5♥ filled out the board.

jan_schwippert_panama_shr_day1.jpg

A head scratcher for Jan-Eric Schwippert

This time Dvoress elected to lead. He fired out a bet of 75,000 and, despite thinking it over for long enough to have the clock placed in front of him, Schwippert elected to muck. --NW

daniel_dvoress_panama_day1_shr.jpg

Daniel Dvoress: Did he or didn't he?

5:40pm: A pot and a pat on the back for Kanit
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Mustapha Kanit opened for 6,000 from the hijack seat, then David Peters made it 18,000 to go from the cutoff. It folded back to Kanit who paused for a couple of moments, then four-bet to 63,000. Peters took nearly all of his allotted time before calling, then the flop came a highly-coordinated T♦J♦K♦.

Kanit didn't waste time before betting 63,000 once more, and Peters let his hand go. They exchanged a look afterwards, with Kanit reaching over with his right hand to pat himself on the left shoulder, and Peters couldn't suppress a grin.

Kanit is up over a half-milly now with 510,000, while Peters has 345,000. --MH

5:30pm: Two pair for Peters
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Byron Kaverman opened for 5,100 from middle position, David Peters called from the button, and Steve O'Dwyer called from the big blind. The flop came T♠7♣9♠ and it checked around to Peters who bet 16,000. O'Dwyer folded and Kaverman called.

Both remaining players checked the 7♠ turn, then after the K♣ river Kaverman checked, Peters bet 16,000, and after thinking a bit Kaverman called. Peters showed K♦T♥ for two pair, and Kaverman mucked.

Peters has about 410,000 now, while Kaverman is at 345,000. --MH

5:25pm: O'Dwyer dents Kanit
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 300)

Mustapha Kanit and Steve O'Dwyer just tangled in two successive pots. We only caught the end of the first hand (O'Dywer mucking and Kanit collecting) but had a front row seat for the entirety of the second round.

It was O'Dwyer who opened the action, he raised to 6,000 from under the gun and Kanit called on the button. The two went heads-up to a J♥T♠Q♣ flop and after both players checked the 7♥ landed on the turn. O'Dwyer check-called a bet of 11,000 and the A♥ completed the board. It was a flush- and straight-completing card and O'Dwyer elected to lead out. He bet 26,000 and Kanit tanked before looking him up. O'Dwyer rolled over T♥8♥ for the flush and a frustrated Kanit mucked. --NW

5:15pm: Grace under pressure
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

There is a certain grace under pressure we're seeing there in the $50,000 Super High Roller, and it involves more than the men who have put up big cash to play.

As we've mentioned a few times before, there is a 30-second shot clock on each decision, and it's up to the dealers to enforce it. The rule has been getting a workout in the last few hands at Ben Tollerene's table.

It's falling to Clara, one of the more familiar dealers, to find a way to casually inform the players their time is almost up. With about five hours of practice, Clara has found a way to make each move--no matter how insistent--seem casual. When a decision begins, she resets the timer with a soft touch of two fingers.

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Clara, with additional duties today

About midway through, Clara turns the clock toward the player, a gentle reminder that they are nearing the point at which they are going to have to ante up a time-bank chip or make their decision.

Finally, with 10 seconds left, Clara slowly slides the clock in front of the player and waits. It's the whispering equivalent to the grating PokerStars time bank horn, and it's probably the most graceful thing you'll see when there's a whole bunch of money on the line. --BW

5:10pm: Kaverman sets trap, Kanit avoids it
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

On a 5♥5♦7♣J♦ board, Byron Kaverman bet and Mustapha Kanit raised. Kaverman took the full 30 seconds before calling, then checked again after the 3♣ river.

Kanit looked warily across the table and checked behind, and when Kaverman showed 7♠5♠ for a flopped full house, Kanit mucked.

Kanit has about 430,000 while Kaverman is at 390,000. --MH

5:05pm: Second half
Level 5 - Blinds 1,200/2,400 (ante 400)

Players are back from their break and are heading into the second half of the day. This is Level 5, and there are eight to play before bagging and tagging.

4:48pm: Second break

Players are now headed off on their second break marking the half-way point of Day 1. You can find updated chip counts here.

4:41pm: Don't talk smack to Kanit
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Mustapha Kanit is a larger than life presence at the table and he's sat in a chair in close proximity to Ike Haxton, who's on an adjacent table. In between hands the two were engaged in some playful banter and it led Kanit to say: "Only two people are allowed to talk shit about me, myself and you, Ike."

The Italian then added, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." --NW

8G2A5450_Mustapha_Kanit_David_Peters_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Messrs Kanit and Peters

4:38pm: Chilling with Mustapha
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Mustapha Kanit is enjoying himself, as usual.

A little while ago as Igor Kurganov was buying back into the event, he noticed Kanit was sporting a big stack and asked him if he'd doubled up.

"One hour ago, bro!" answered Kanit with a big grin. "Now I'm chilling."

Just now he and Byron Kaverman were joking with each other, and when the table folded around to Kaverman he called from the small blind, flinging the calling chip toward Kanit as he did in mock-aggression.

Kanit promptly grabbed a blue 5,000 and put in a raise and Kaverman folded, and Kanit couldn't resist showing his cards -- 8♥4♦.

The grinning and table talk continues, as Kanit has 410,000 while Kaverman sits with 335,000. --MH

4:27pm: Pay the Toll
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

If Ben Tollerene wanted to undergo a personal reinvention as a thoroughly obnoxious poker player, here's an idea. Every time he wins a pot, he could rise from his chair, jab his finger at his vanquished opponent, and shout, "Pay the Toll, baby! Pay the Toll!" Seriously, if he'd have done this in 2006, he'd be at least as famous as Mike Matusow.

As it is, Tollerene contents himself with being infinitely richer than Matusow while sitting silently beneath headphones, obeying etiquette perfectly and not yet having a nickname. He didn't say a single word as he just won a small pot from Dario Sammartino.

Sammartino opened to 5,000 from under the gun and Tollerene called in the big blind. They looked at a flop of Q♣9♠Q♠ and Tollerene check-called Sammartino's bet of 3,300.

Both players checked the 4♠ on the turn and then Tollerene bet 6,000 on the T♦ river. Sammartino folded and Tollerene rose from his chair, jabbed his finger at Sammart- No. No he didn't. -- HS

4:24pm: Suited collectors
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Justin Bonomo was just all in for his last 30,000 or so with 7♣6♣ and up against Jason Koon's A♦4♦.

The flop fell 8♠5♣Q♣, prompting an eyebrow raise and "hmmm" from Koon as he noted all the draws Bonomo now had with his suited connectors. The 2♣ then made Bonomo a flush (and the river no matter), and Bonomo is at 65,000 now while Koon has 330,000. --MH

NEIL5095_Justin_Bonomo_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Justin Bonomo

4:16pm: Fresh stack for Kurganov
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

As the title suggests, Igor Kurganov has re-entered, putting down another €50,000 to get a new stack of 250,000. We suspect he'll be the first of a number of re-entries in this unlimited re-entry event.

His second coming caused a fourth table to be opened and once players had been plucked from tables one through three a new line-up was created and Kurganov was part of it (he could've drawn a seat at any of the four tables). This is who the Team PokerStars Pro is facing off against.

Seat one: --Empty--
Seat two: --Empty--
Seat three: Ben Heath
Seat four: Jan-Eric Schwippert
Seat five: Igor Kurganov
Seat six: Orpen Kisacikoglu
Seat seven: Ike Haxton
Seat eight: Daniel Dvoress

4:14pm: Pull your Finger out
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Martin Finger is not actually playing in the $50,000 event here, despite what you may have seen written by less authoritative sources (or indeed this one) by less reliable reporters (or indeed this one). He was actually queuing up with a tournament ticket for the $1,000 PokerStars National Championship, which is taking place in the same room.

Apologies. We will pull our Finger out in more ways than one...after we report that Rainer Kempe also isn't playing as previously reported. NOW, we'll pull the finger out. Probably. -- HS

4:12pm: Kaverman collects
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

As noted before (see below, 3:27pm), Byron Kaverman has already used up his three time bank chips. That meant he had 30 seconds only to decide what to do on the river after Steve O'Dwyer fired a bet on a 7♦A♦Q♣7♠A♠ board.

After 29 seconds Kaverman called, and after O'Dwyer showed his 9♣8♣ Kaverman turned over K♥Q♥ for the best hand to claim the pot.

Kaverman is up to 445,000 now while O'Dwyer slips to 210,000. --MH

4:00pm: Three more
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

A flight has clearly just landed in Panama that, metaphorically at least, started in Germany and went via the Las Vegas/California corridor. Our three newest players in this event are Jan-Eric Schwippert, Martin Finger and Rainer Kempe.

They are three of Germany's finest, with a combined haul in recorded tournaments of $18.7 million.

Kempe is fresh from the final table of the WPT Shooting Star Main Event in San Jose, a tournament he began a matter of two days after he winning the most recent $50,000 event at the Aria. The runner up in that Aria tournament? Jan-Eric Schwippert. -- HS

3:55pm: Zinno down to zero
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Anthony Zinno just lost his stack in a hand versus Daniel Colman. Zinno departs, while Colman has swiftly pushed up close to 500,000, having already doubled his stack to challenge for the lead. --MH

3:54: Fast start for Peters
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

"First you make the nuts, then you get aces on the button!"

So said Mustapha Kanit to David Peters, sitting to Kanit's left. We just noted Peters having arrived and making an ace-high flush to win a pot versus Steve O'Dwyer. A couple of hands later we saw Peters making a substantial river bet on a T♠5♥2♠Q♥4♣ board and O'Dwyer calling. That's when Peters tabled A♠A♦, and O'Dwyer had to muck again.

"Don't worry bro," continued Kanit after Peters collected the pot, and the Italian proceeded to let him know how he'd soon be getting some of those chips away from the American.

NEIL5180_Mustapha_Kanit_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Mustapha Kanit

Peters is suddenly up around 390,000 after only just beginning here a short while ago. Meanwhile O'Dwyer has dropped back around the starting stack of 250,000. --MH

3:52pm: Sammartino pays the toll
Level 4 - Blinds 1,000/2,000 (ante 300)

Not only did Dario Sammartino just lose a fair chunk of his chips to Ben Tollerene, but after the hand was over, he had to give up yet more chips as he'd not paid his time bank charge in full. Let's rewind.

The hand started innocently enough, Tollerene raised from the cutoff Sammartino called on the button and both blinds folded. So far this was one of those standard hands between two players in late position. On the Q♣K♠T♣ flop Tollerene gave up the betting lead, he checked to Sammartino who bet 5,800. Call from Tollerene.

NEIL5259_Ben_Tollerene_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Ben Tollerene

The pot really kicked up a gear on the 7♠ turn. Again Tollerene checked and this time Sammartino bet 13,700. The dealer neatly, and swiftly, separated the chips so that Tollerene could see the bet size, and before his 30 seconds had elapsed he check-raised to 45,000 total. The two players are in adjacent seats and Sammartino now cocked his head to the right and gave Tollerene a full-on stare with his brown eyes. It was a piercing stare, but Tollerene wasn't flinching. Sammartino pulled the shot clock towards him and before 30 seconds had been reached he made the call.

The two players saw the 5♥ land on the river and Tollerene fairly swiftly moved all-in. He covered Sammartino and the Italian was now faced with a decision for his final 190,000. Again he gave Tollerene the death stare and it was clear he was going to need more than 30 seconds for this decision. So, when the clock got close to reaching that limit, he tossed a chip into the pot. For a second the dealer thought he'd called. You see, if you take over 30 seconds you automatically go into the time bank - just as you would online - and this was explained to Sammartino, who to be fair has only recently sat down so may not be aware of this. Sammartino continued to tank and as he did so Mustapha Kanit and Ben Heath came over to take a look at what was happening. Kanit, who you'd guess knows Sammartino's game pretty well, said something to Heath that made the Brit chuckle and the two then went back to their respective tables.

Meanwhile, Sammartino was still in the tank, he did eventually fold, but he'd taken longer than 90 seconds and so had to forfeit another of his green time bank chips, along with his two cards. --NW

3:48pm: Heath in good health
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Ben Heath raised to 4,000 from the cutoff but got rid of precisely nobody still with cards behind him. Stephen Chidwick called on the button, Justin Bonomo called in the small blind and Anthony Zinno called in the big blind.

Four of them had a decision to make after the T♦4♥4♠ flop and Bonomo got the ball rolling with a check. Zinno bet 6,000 and only Heath called.

The 6♣ came on the turn and Zinno bet 16,000. Heath called, which took them to the 5♦ on the river. Zinno slowed to a check, allowing Heath to bet 30,000. Zinno folded.

Heath, who has picked up the three biggest scores of his career since the last PokerStars Championship in January, is up to 335,000. Zinno has 218,000. -- HS

3:43pm: Peters now playing
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

David Peters has joined the field. Just now he made his presence known after winning a pot in a three-way hand involving two big stacks, Steve O'Dwyer and Mustapha Kanit.

Picking up things on the 6♦Q♦K♠ flop, it checked to O'Dwyer who bet 7,500. Kanit stepped out of the way but Peters called, then Peters check-called an O'Dwyer bet of a little over twice that following the T♥ turn.

The river was the 2♦ and Peters checked again. O'Dwyer checked behind, then mucked after Peters showed he'd rivered the nuts with A♦8♦.

O'Dwyer has about 355,000 now while Peters is up around 300,000. --MH

3:27pm: Kaverman spends time wisely
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Byron Kaverman has no more time-bank chips but, happily for him, he spent them wisely. He took his full three-minute allotment to make a decision for his tournament life looking at a board of T♦5♦Q♥4♣6♣ but correctly deduced that his K♥Q♣ was good.

His opponent was Daniel Dvoress and they had invested a combined 110,000 approximately before the river card came out. Kaverman checked and Dvoress bet 250,000, a chunk covering the 140,000-ish that Kaverman had behind.

Kaverman went into the tank, tossing the chips forward that allowed him to think that long, before eventually calling. Dvoress was forced to show his K♠9♠ and Kaverman's top pair was a winner.

Kaverman had precisely 144,300 in his remaining stack, so has double that, plus whatever was in the pot already. He is up to around 400,000. Dvoress slips to 245,000. -- HS

NEIL5240_Byron_Kaverman_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Byron Kaverman

3:26: Mateos mowed down as Kanit collects
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Adrian Mateos is the second player to lose his starting stack in this one, with Mustapha Kanit the beneficiary.

Arriving after the river with the board showing 6♣T♥2♥8♣6♦, you're invited to speculate how the two players got there as Mateos had but A♠J♥ while Kanit had a full house with T♦T♣. In any case, Mateos has exited, and now Kanit sits with 445,000 to challenge Steve O'Dwyer for the early chip lead. --MH

3:20pm: Adams adds, Seidel slips
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Erik Seidel enters this event with just over $31.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings, second on the all-time list behind Daniel Negreanu who has just under $32.8 million (says Hendon Mob). In his quest to close that gap, Seidel opened for 4,000 from middle position and both Timothy Adams (small blind) and Sam Greenwood (big blind) called.

The flop fell Q♣T♥3♦ and all three players checked, then Adams led for 4,500 at the Q♣ turn and only Seidel called. Seidel called another bet of 5,500 from Adams after the 8♦ river, and when Adams tabled K♥T♦ for queens and tens, Seidel mucked.

Adams is up to 325,000 now while Seidel has about 225,000. --MH

3:19pm: Colman quickly at it
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Daniel Colman's arrival, shortly after that of Erik Seidel, means that this tournament now boasts two of the top three on poker's all time tournament money list. (Daniel Negreanu, who leads the two of them, is not coming to Panama.)

Seidel has started steadily, as is customary, but Colman has quickly got involved. He just picked up a decent pot from Stephen Chidwick, then gave some of it to Orpen Kisacikoglu.

On the first of those hands, Chidwick opened to 4,000 from the hijack and Colman called in the small blind. Kisacikoglu called in the big blind, but played only a minor role in this one.

All three players checked the 8♦T♣2♣ flop, then both Colman and Kisacikoglu checked the A♦ turn too. Chidwick bet 9,000 but was then faced with a raise to 38,000 from Colman.

Kisacikoglu folded but Chidwick called, earning a peek at the 2♠ river. Colman fired 80,000 at that and Chidwick had seen enough.

On the next hand, action folded to Colman on the button and he opened to 4,000. Kisacikoglu called from the small blind and Ben Heath played the cameo with a call-check-fold in the big blind.

The flop was the A♠2♦4♦ and, after two checked, Colman bet 5,000. Kisacikoglu's raise to 14,000 got rid of Heath, but Colman called.

The 4♣ appeared on the turn and Kisacikoglu's bet of 26,000 was enough. -- HS

3:18pm: Forza Italia
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

What's better than one Italian Super High Roller? Two of course! Dario Sammartino and Mustapaha Kanit and both in the house and in this tournament. -- NW

3:16pm: Time is precious
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

The pot belonged to Timothy Adams, that much was clear. What was a little fuzzier was if Adams was going to have to surrender one of his time-bank chips. The electronic timers that the dealers have to use can be difficult to read from certain angles. It should be added, that the tournament staff are working on a solution to this.

But, back to the issue at hand, it was ruled that Adams wouldn't have to give up a chip, there was no disagreement from anyone at the table and play continued. --NW

NEIL5012_Shot_Clock_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

3:07pm: Laying it on thin
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

"No mustard... nothing?" asked Paul Newey. "Nothing," answered Isaac Haxton.

The topic of conversation was Haxton's sandwich, or rather, the half that remained. Haxton had eaten all he wanted of it, and while his offer of the other half to anyone who desired it was generous, he wasn't exactly giving it a hard sell.

"One slice of ham, one slice of cheese, and two pieces of bread," said Haxton, dryly describing its dryness once more.

Haxton wasn't bluffing -- in this case, weak really meant weak. --MH

2:56pm: Net gain: 1
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Although Igor Kurganov was an early elimination in Level 3, two new players have arrived to give the field a net gain of +1. They are Daniel Colman and Koray Aldemir, both now seated with 250,000 tournament chips and three time-banks. -- HS

2:54pm: Dvoress felts Kurganov
Level 3 - Blinds 800/1,600 (ante 200)

Shortly after players returned from the day's first break, Daniel Dvoress opened for 4,500 from under the gun, Igor Kurganov three-bet to 11,800 from the next seat over, and it folded back to Dvoress who called.

The flop came 2♥3♠8♠ and Dvoress checked. Kurganov bet 8,000, leaving himself around 30,000 behind, and after pausing a couple of beats Dvoress set out a stack of chips as an all-in check-raise and Kurganov called to put himself at risk.

Dvoress flipped over T♣T♥, much to Kurganov's dismay as he had 9♣9♥. The turn was the 8♣ and river the Q♥, and after wishing the table luck Kurganov departed, perhaps to re-enter (we'll keep a watch).

After collecting the first knockout of the tournament, Dvoress now sits with about 385,000. --MH

8G2A5399_Igor_Kurganov_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Igor Kurganov

2:28pm: Back in action

After the first two levels of the day, the players are back in action with six more levels to play on Saturday. --BW

2:28pm: First break
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

That's the end of the second level and players are taking their first break of the day. The chip-count page is fully updated.

2:25pm: Worst hand wins
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Ben Heath was in the big blind with 7♦2♦. By the time the river was out, he still had those two cards and the board now read 2♣T♣2♥8♠3♦. He bet 30,000 and his only opponent, Anthony Zinno, called and mucked.

There are no more details than that, I'm afraid, but this is just so you know that you can play seven-deuce in a $50K buy-in too. -- HS

2:23pm: Standard deviation
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Just what is a standard raise these days? Back in the day it was three big blinds, then it slipped to two and a half and then all the cool kids seemed to be rocking a min-raise.

Well I can tell you that you won't find the answer by watching this Super High Roller tournament. Over three hands I witnessed three different opening raise sizes. Justin Bonomo favoured an open to 3,200 (2.5x the big blind plus an ante), Steve O'Dwyer was a 3,000 to go man (2.5 big blinds) and Igor Kurganov took it upstairs, with 3,500 his opening gambit.

I guess, like most poker questions, the answer to this one is 'it depends'. --NW

2:21pm: Nines for Newey
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

With Level 2 nearing its close and the first break of the day coming soon, Paul Newey came in with an early-position raise to 3,000 from under the gun, Ben Tollerene called from a seat over, then Newey continued for 4,500 more after the 5♦4♥K♦ flop. Tollerene called that bet, too, then both checked the K♣ turn and 5♠ river.

Newey showed 9♠9♦, and it looked like Tollerene had pocket eights but he swiftly mucked the no-good cards after spying Newey's pair.

2:18pm: Seidel causes game of musical chairs
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Erik Seidel was looking for something. Specifically, he was looking for the Super High Roller tournament as he'd bought in but was struggling to find the area of the tournament room where it was located. "It's this way Erik," I said as I wandered towards the tournament. "How many in so far?" he asked. "Fifteen," I replied.

And that was a problem, a first world problem. Yep with Seidel now in the mix it meant two tables were about to become three. The tournament staff acted in a flash and before Seidel had received his stack of 250,000 Table 3 had been born. It was Jason Koon, Daniel Dvoress, Adrian Mateos, Steve O'Dwyer and Byron Kaverman who were on the move and, as they settled into their new surroundings Seidel drew his seat.

He took the seat Jason Koon had just vacated and moments later Anthony Zinno arrived and he drew the seat that Mateos had hitherto occupied. --NW

2:11pm: Aido and Seidel spectate; Adams flushes Greenwood
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Sergio Aido dropped by the tournament area a little while ago but he hasn't entered the action as yet despite a superb run of recent results in high buy-in events. On the subject of superb results in high buy-in events, Erik Seidel also just appeared. His heater has lasted the best part of 30 years, but he too hasn't yet taken a seat in this one. I'd be amazed if he is just down in Panama for a vacation, however.

Meanwhile, actually at the felt, Timothy Adams won a small pot from Sam Greenwood. He opened his button, making it 3,000 to play, and Greenwood called in the small blind. Paul Newey also called in the big blind.

The flop came 9♣2♦5♦ and action checked to Adams, who followed up with a bet of 6,200. Only Greenwood called that one.

Both remaining players checked the 8♣ turn, then Greenwood also checked the K♦ river. Adams bet 12,500 and Greenwood called, but mucked when Adams showed his J♦3♦. The flush was good. -- HS

8G2A5388_Pokerstars_Championship_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

2:06pm: Igor still eager
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

After losing that big one to Steve O'Dwyer just a short while ago, Igor Kurganov is in the unenviable position of being especially short relative to everyone else -- with about 1/10th the starting stack, although still with 20-plus big blinds.

Noticing Kurganov's plight, Justin Bonomo wondered if it were possible for him to forfeit his stack and re-enter right away with the full 250,000, but the tournament director explained he could not.

"Not my plan!" clarified Kurganov with a grin to everyone else. "Justin's plan for me!" he added, and everyone chuckled.

As if to prove he's still eager to compete with the chips he has, on the ensuing hand Kurganov defended his big blind against an under-the-gun open by Orpen Kisacikoglu. They both checked the 6♣4♣3♠ flop, Kurganov bet the 8♣ turn and Kisacikoglu called, then both checked the K♠ river. Kurganov had J♠9♠ and Kisacikoglu 5♠5♣, and the latter's pair won the pot.

Kisacikoglu is up around 320,000 now, while Kurganov is still intent on battling with his 33,000. --MH

1:54pm: BK v JK = JJ + KK
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

Byron Kaverman and Jason Koon, first and second to act respectively, just played a pot that would have cost a whole lot more if stacks weren't so deep. It was over-pair versus over-pair, but they kept it relatively inexpensive.

Kaverman opened to 3,000 from under the gun and Koon, one seat along, raised to 10,000. Everyone else allowed the two early-position aggressors to go at it, and Kaverman called.

The flop brought the 7♠7♣6♥ and Kaverman check-called Koon's bet of 12,500. They then both checked the T♠ turn.

The 3♠ came on the river and Kaverman led 13,000 at it. Koon called after about a third of his 30-second countdown and Kaverman tabled his J♠J♥. Koon's K♥K♦ was always good.

That put Koon up to around 270,000 and cut Kaverman to 215,000. I think we've all seen lesser players, in smaller buy-in events, get it all in there. -- HS


1:52pm: Big pot, chip lead to O'Dwyer
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

A big one to report between Steve O'Dwyer and Igor Kurganov -- the biggest pot of the day so far, and the longest lasting one, too, in this shot clockament.

With the board showing 5♣4♦Q♣9♦, Kurganov fired 45,000 from the small blind and after taking nearly all of the 30 seconds available to him O'Dwyer called, bringing the pot up to around 150,000. The river then brought the A♥, and after taking nearly a half-minute Kurganov tapped the table to check. O'Dwyer took his time as well, then announced he was all in -- a shove equal to just about what was in the middle.

Kurganov had O'Dwyer's all-in covered, though not by much, and after a half-minute he spent one of his three time bank chips to give himself another minute to think. At the end of those 60 seconds Kurganov bought himself another minute, then after a while longer finally set out chips to call.

O'Dwyer swiftly turned over A♠Q♠ for a rivered two pair, and Kurganov nodded as he showed he had also made a lesser two pair on the end with A♣4♣.

O'Dwyer catapults to around 450,000 and into the chip lead with that big pot, while Kurganov now sits with 26,000. --MH

1:51pm: Chip counts
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

After an hour and change of action, here's how the two tables stack up:

Table One:

Justin Bonomo - 258,000
Adrian Mateos - 210,000
Steve O'Dwyer - 219,000
Daniel Dvoress - 262,000
Igor Kurganov - 243,000
Orpen Kisacikoglu - 278,000
Ben Heath - 264,000
Stephen Chidwick - 250,000

Table Two:

Timothy Adams - 292,000
Sam Greenwood - 258,000
Paul Newey - 220,000
Ben Tollerene - 230,000
Byron Kaverman - 250,000
Jason Koon - 238,000
Ike Haxton - 247,000

1:39pm Two more seats filled
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

As level two gets rolling, we have two more players in their seats. Byron Kaverman and Stephen Chidwick are here to play. --BW

1:37pm Use your time wisely
Level 2 - Blinds 600/1,200 (ante 200)

"Kate," said Isaac Haxton, addressing tournament director Kate Badurek while holding aloft his three green time-bank chips, each worth 60 seconds of extra thinking time.

"Do we get more time tomorrow?" asked Haxton, and the answer was no -- the three chips are all players are allowed for the entire tournament. --MH

NEIL4998_Ike_Haxton_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Isaac Haxton

1:34pm: Adams v Newey
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Isaac Haxton opened to 2,500 from the cutoff and Timothy Adams called on the button. Paul Newey also called in the big blind and that took three players to a flop of 5♣3♠4♣. Both Newey and Haxton checked, and only Newey called after Adams bet.

The K♥ fell on the turn and Newey led out (an unseen amount). Haxton folded but Adams called. The 7♥ came on the river and Newey checked. Adams bet 15,000 and Newey called, but then put his head in his hands when Adams showed K♣7♣.

It looked for all the world like a rivering. -- HS

1:30pm: Greenwood out of the gate
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Sam Greenwood just lost a small pot to Timothy Adams to conclude Level 1, but it looks like through the first hour of play Greenwood's the one who has chipped up the most in the early going. He currently sits with around 290,000. --MH

1:25pm: O'Dwyer out the blinds
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Two small pots for Steve O'Dwyer, playing in the blinds.

On the first, he defended his big blind after a 3,000 early-position open from Igor Kurganov. O'Dwyer checked the 3♣8♠8♦ flop and called Kurganov's c-bet of 2,4000.

They both checked the 7♦ turn and then O'Dwyer bet 5,000 after the 2♥ river. Kurganov called and O'Dwyer was able to reveal his 8♥4♥, a hand that had smothered the flop.

On the next hand, action folded to Adrian Mateos on the button, and folds plus the button is a red rag to a bull like Mateos. He raised to 2,500. O'Dwyer three-bet to 8,800 from the small blind and, after a fold from the big blind, Mateos also passed. --HS

1:19pm: Welcome to the team (and the tournament) Igor
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Igor Kurganov has joined the action (see below) and, as you might have heard, he's now a member of Team PokerStars Pro. This is is his first PokerStars sponsored live event with the patch on.

He's taken a seat between Daniel Dvoress and Orpen Kisacikoglu and as he did so the two of them were involved in a pot. Dvoress raised it up to 3,000 from the hijack and Kisacikoglu called from the cutoff. A Q♠6♣7♣ flop hit the felt, Dvoress placed a single blue 5k chip into the pot and Kisacikoglu matched his wager. The A♥ turn and 8♣ river were both checked through and Kisacikoglu's pocket fives proved the winner at showdown. --NW

1:15pm: Hovering
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

We continue to hover over the two tables in action so far. Over on Table 1, Paul Newey -- who had been quiet up to this point -- got involved with a button raise to win the blinds and antes. On the next hand Ben Tollerene made it 2,300 to go from the button, Isaac Haxton defended from the big blind, and the flop fell 6♦9♥2♥.

Check-check it went, then Haxton checked again after the J♣ turn. Tollerene fired 7,000, Haxton called, then both checked again after the 9♦ river.

Fifth street had made trips for Haxton as he tabled 9♠3♠, and Tollerene mucked. Both continue to hover around the 250,000-chip starting stack. --MH

1:14pm: Two more circling the fringes
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Ryan Riess and Igor Kurganov are the latest two poker players with the bankroll to play this tournament and who are in the room but who are not, as yet, seated at the tables. They may or may not join the action within the next few hours.

Just to reiterate, there's no particular hurry. Registration is open until the start of play tomorrow. -- HS

1:03pm: To sit or not to sit...
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

...that is the question.

If you've been hammering away on the refresh button on the chip-count page, you may be confused as to who is and who isn't playing this tournament. That's mainly because we are too.

All of Anton Astapau, Koray Aldemir and Stefan Schillhabel are floating around the tournament room, but have not actually sat down to play yet. Meanwhile, we know that Stephen Chidwick is in Panama, and a reliable source has told us that Mike Watson is here too. However, neither of those are yet seated either.

Presumably all of those regulars will sit down at some point, but not yet. At time of writing the field comprises Daniel Dvoress, Steve O'Dwyer, Ben Tollerene, Sam Greenwood, Ben Heath, Paul Newey, Isaac Haxton, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Timothy Adams, Jason Koon and Justin Bonomo and those alone. -- HS

NEIL5025_Adrian_Mateos_Steve_O'Dwyer_Daniel_Dvoress_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Adrian Mateos, Steve O'Dwyer, and Daniel Dvoress

1:01pm: Tollerene takes from Koon
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Ben Tollerene opened for 2,500 from the cutoff, then Jason Koon sat quietly behind the button for about 15 seconds. That was long enough for the dealer to start to slide the timer over for Koon to see how much time he had left to act, but she pulled it back as Koon tossed out a raise to 7,500.

The blinds got out, Tollerene called, and the flop fell 5♦K♥3♣. Tollerene checked quickly, and after pausing once more Koon pushed out a bet of 4,500 -- less than a third of the pot. Tollerene promptly check-raised to 16,000, and Koon let his hand go. --MH

12:57pm: Chips of a different kind
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

The players are, understandably, feeling their way into this tournament and the pots remain small, for now. An example, action folded to Steve O'Dwyer, who was in the small blind, and he completed. The decision was on Daniel Dvoress and he wasn't going to give O'Dwyer a free flop. The Canadian bumped the price of poker up to 3,000 and O'Dwyer decided to stick around. Neither player fired on the 2♠3♠8♦ flop and a bet from O'Dwyer on the 8♣ turn earned him the pot.

While the players at that table, who include Justin Bonomo, Ben Heath, Adrian Mateos and Orpen Kisacikoglu, might not be passing chips around, they were taking it in turns to consult the food menu. Well, it is lunchtime here in Panama after all. --NW

8G2A5289_Sortis_Location_PCB2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Panama Skyline

12:46pm: Koon is long-changed
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Hats off to Jason Koon who, after making his arrival about 15 minutes after the start of play, counted out his starting stack--presumably to ensure he hadn't been short-changed.

But Koon hadn't been short-changed. He'd been whatever the opposite is. Long-changed?

"You guys gave me too many chips," Koon said. "I'll take it but I have 260K here."

Koon was right, and quickly deduced that it was because of a mix-up with his time-bank chips. As reported below, this tournament has a 30-second shot-clock and players have three time-bank chips, each of which gives them an additional 60 seconds in the tank.

Koon maybe had too few of these and too many actual chips. But thanks to his honesty, the error was quickly resolved and he is now free to play his first hand with the same starting stack as everyone else. -- HS

12:41pm: Heath defends versus Dvoress
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

Daniel Dvoress opened from the button and won the blinds and antes, then on the next hand he opened again for 3,000 from the cutoff and got callers in Ben Heath (small blind) and Adrian Mateos (big blind).

The flop fell 3♥7♦5♥. It checked around to Dvoress who continued for 6,000, and only Heath stuck around. Heath check-called again after the 6♠ turn after Dvoress bet 16,500.

Both checked the 8♦ river, and after Heath tabled A♦4♦ for a straight Dvoress mucked. --MH

12:40pm: The early arrivals
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

There are two five-handed tables in action here at the start of Level 1.

Going around the first table we see Adrian Mateos, Steve O'Dwyer, Daniel Dvoress, Orpen Kisacikoglu, and Ben Heath. Seated at the other (again going clockwise) are Timothy Adams, Sam Greenwood, Paul Newey, Ben Tollerene, and Isaac Haxton.

And Jason Koon -- the $100K Super High Roller winner at PokerStars Championship Bahamas -- has just arrived as well, taking a seat between Tollerene and Haxton. --MH

12:36pm: Clock!
Level 1 - Blinds 500/1,000 (ante 100)

They'll be no need for any of the players to call the clock in this tournament because, as well as their normal duties, the dealer will also be performing that function for them in this tournament.

That's because this Super High Roller is a '30 Second Shot Clock' tournament, meaning each player has, you guessed it, 30 seconds to act. If you're wondering how the mechanics of that work, then so were we and we asked Luca Vivaldi - who is the Tournament Director - how this will play out.

"Each dealer has a timer in front of them, when action reaches a player then count to five in their head and then start the timer," he explained. "Once the timer reaches 15 seconds the dealer then places the timer in front of the active player so he knows he's halfway through his time," he continued. "Should a player take longer than 30 seconds to act then they must use one of their timebank chips."

Each player has three such chips, each is worth 60 seconds of tank time and they do not get replenished on Day 2 or at the final table. Three tanks and you're out (of time). --NW

NEIL5010_Shot_Clock_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

12:00pm: Slight delay to start of day

It's Saturday morning here, so it's a slow start for everyone. As soon as things get rolling, we'll have updates all day long for you. --BW

11:00am: Atlantic, meet Pacific

All the times I told my American friends I was headed to Panama, I had to clarify, "Not the one in Florida. The country."

"Get me a hat," many replied.

PSC Panama_Velli-10_Branding.jpg

Though history would suggest the Panama hat didn't actually originate here, it is one of the first things a lot of people think about when they think about Panama. The other? The Panama Canal, of course.

When I made it to the Sortis Hotel here in Panama City, I got a warm greeting from our Brazilian blogger Sergio Prado who made a point I hadn't really thought about.

In the old days, we had the LAPT around these parts and the EPT across the Atlantic. Now, it's fitting that we're in the country that connects those two oceans as we bring the two tours together under one roof.

And it's a sweet roof. This week's festivities are happening at the Sortis Hotel Casino and Spa, a modern and well-appointed place befitting of the first Panamanian Championship. We'll be here for all of it.

It starts at 12pm ET with the $50,000 Super High Roller for which we will have exclusive live updates all day and night long. Keep it right here for all the updates that are fit to print (and probably a few that aren't).--BW


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The PokerStars Championship Panama live reporting team is Martin Harris, Howard Swains, Brad Willis, and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.


Live reporting team
@PokerStars in Panama