PokerStars Marbella Festival: Day 1B, level 5-8 updates (400-800, ante 100)

9.45pm: June not feeling so August
It's always great to see a healthy contingent of ladies turn out for the pokers to break up the rivers of machismo that tend to pool at the poker tables.

Sadly the few women to have made the trip to Marbella have not fared so well, though June Murphy is one lady still flying the flag for the fairer sex.

Her stack is well in that 10-15BB danger zone however where caution must be cast aside - with just 9,500 she will be forced into a move to double through before the attritional blinds carve away too much of her remaining fold equity.

All the best June! -- RS

9.30pm: Jans Brandishejs Big Stack
Confident big-stack Jan Brandejs put his older opponent, Vitaly Kutovenko, to a 4,400 chip test, the board reading J♣ 3♠ 4♠ 8♠. Kutovenko made the call in rhythm and both players saw an 8♣ river. Playing the bully Brandejs moved all-in for his opponent's last 23,000. Was he merely putting the pressure on? We'll never know since Kutovenko folded. Cool, calm, and collected, Brandejs has been grinding out €500 events for the past few years on the Czech circuit. Today he's putting himself in position to take it up a notch.

"I'm not telling," he says resolutely. "You might be friends with him," he adds, pointing to Kutovenko. - GC

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In Control

9.16pm: Moreno survives tens moment

Whenever you're allin for your tournament life, there's usually a sweat, though when Jose Antonio Escobar Moreno went to war with Sergio Fernandez Bernal, finally moving all-in on a 5♦7♥4♠ board and flipped up pocket tens, he must have been very excited to see his opponent turn up T♣7♣ leaving him needing to evade a mere two outs to save himself and boost his chances.

A bricky 5♦A♣ turn and river sealed a welcome double-through to 42k whilst Bernal was in murkier waters - a residual 17k left behind once he'd paid off Moreno. -- RS

9.04pm: Head count
352 brave warriors set out from their villages to fight the beast that is variance and 152 lie slain on the battle field, their souls free to indulge in the other diversions on offer here in Marbella. That leaves 200 players left vying for the title - the average stack up to 35,000 at this point. -- RS

8.55pm: Chips in Motion

Pablo Rojas has earned the ears of the players and the smiles of the dealers. He also has a lot of antes and blinds in his stack, as he likes to play a lot of pots, particularly on his button. His stack morphs between art and order every time one passes by. In either case, it is above average, 51,250 at last count. --GC

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All Smiles

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 400-800 ante 100


8.50pm: Back for level 8
The buffet just suffered a mauling, the restaurant area left awash with chicken legs, roasted pepper leftovers and assorted salad detritus.

Safe to say the players appetites for sustinence have been sated and their appetite for chip accumulation re-ignited.

Three more levels to go - there should be plenty of twists left in this tale before the night is done. -- RS

Once more unto the breach, dear friends... -- RS

7.50pm: Dinner time!
Seven hard levels of poker have created a hunger in out remaining players that resulted in a mass stampede to the local restaurants come the end of level 7. We narrowly avoided being trampled to death meaning we'll be back with you in one hour for the resumption - with three more levels scheduled to be played out.

See you then!. -- RS

7.40pm: A Spin Round.

Let's spend an orbit with PokerStars' Team Spain Pro Juan Manuel Pastor, who has been relaxed, borderline perfunctory today. No reason to get excited on Day 1 for this veteran of the Spanish poker scene.

Dealt into the cutoff it folds to the HJ who opens, prompting a fold from our moment's hero.

In the hijack the next hand JMP opens to 1300 and steals the blinds and antes.

From the right of the hijack to under the gun he folds at every opportunity. Nearly ten minutes passes - the life of an MTT player!

In the big blind, an MP player opens limps, the HJ follows suit, and the SB calls. JMP is having none of it, making it 3600, six big blinds, to go. The two in position players call. On a J♦ 9♦ 2♠ flop, JMP doesn't hesitate to fire 10,000 in the form of two cool blue chips. Both give it up quickly.

With a short stack all-in and already called in front of him, an easy fold is made in the small blind.

On the button an older man with heaps of chips opens under the gun and LMP gets out of the way. Another routine orbit - slow, steady, and ending with more chips than he started. -- GC

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Not one to burn out early

7.20pm: The fine line...
Small margins can stand between winning and losing in this game and Netherland's Zhi Wei Tan just rode the waves of variance with aplomb in what proved a massive hand..

The action started with Tan facing off against Beresnev Aleksandr on a 7♠5♥2♥ board and facing a bet of 3,400 from his Russian opponent.

Tan now made a huge 21,000 check-raise shove which threw Aleksandr deep into the tank for some minutes. He emerged to make a brave call with A♣7♣ for top,top.

He was nominally ahead too, Tan holding 7♥8♥ for top pair and the flush draw but a turned 9♦ and 6♠ saw the Dutchman take the lead with a straight.

"Sick call!" commented Tan as he swept up the pot to move to just over 50,000, whilst Aleksandr was left very short and in need of a snappy power double if his journey is to continue much deeper. -- RS

7.11pm: Chips ahoy!
There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Zakrzewski - the pole sitting atop the standings with a very healthy 95,000.

For the top chip counts as we stand, click on the chip count tab just to the right of this post. -- RS

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Got Chips?

7.00pm: House of pain is back in effect
More bruising encounters to come as the players re-take their seats and prepare for level 7. With the blinds and antes forming a chunky aggregation in the middle, battles for their ownership are likely to prove bloody and for some players fatal.

Expect casualties galore. Basically imagine the opening 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" but with nicer beaches. -- RS

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 300-600 ante 50


6.45pm: And relax...
Another bombastic pair of levels has come to pass, meaning we're due our regular rest period of 15 minutes. It's a break - we'll see you soon. -- RS..

6.40pm: Pole chopped down

Pawel Jaslkolski's tournament was going along swimmingly but we joined him on what will likely prove to be a key pot in his demise.

The hand in question saw Jaslkolski facing a huge 18k bet from Eugenio Antonio Celume Mualim into what was already a sizeable 20k+ pot on a Q♦4♦6♠8♥K♦ board.

Jaslkolski was reluctant but made the call with pocket eights for a set, only to get the bad news that Mualim had him hung, drawn and quartered with A♦7♦ for the pretty diamond nut flush.

He looked a little disconsolate and the rest of the table mumbled sympathetic overtures as he passed the bulk of his stack over to the joyful Mualim.

Not out yet, but with less than 10k, Jaslkolski is in trouble whilst Mualim has risen to a whopping, chip-leading, set-busting 82k. Go go gadget suck out! -- RS

6:20pm: Monton is Charisma en Español
The garrulous Miguel Gurrea Monton has emerged as the tournament leader, not in chips, but entertainment. He doesn't appear to take a breath as he comments on every hand. "Un momento," he sighs with the action on him, leaning back in his chair whistling. After slamming his single tower stack in the middle, his opponent folds without hesitation. Monton tables two queens and the show goes on. -- GC

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The Showman

6.00pm: Ivan runs terrible
Ivan Notario's dreams of securing this prestigious title have been dashed - the last of his chips fired in with K♠9♦ on a 5♦8♣9♦ board.

He was called by a priced-in Alexander Ferguson, his J♣Q♣ for a gutshot and overcards needing some help, which duly arrived on the 2♦ J♠ turn and river.

No histrionics from Notario, he took his beat in good grace and departed with a hand-shake, leaving a beaming Ferguson up to 32k - unlike his famous namesake, this Ferguson is unlikely to be retiring anytime soon... -- RS


LEVEL UP: BLINDS 200-400 ante 50


5.33pm: Three Names Tango
Andoni Aguila Exposito's only live poker cash is a third place finish in a €70 buy-in side event at ESPT Madrid in January. Today he's raised the stakes, coming back from break as chip leader with 76,000. Immediately he was caught bluffing the river by Joseph Gulas of the Czech Republic. Exposito smiled and sheepishly threw his cards into the muck without exposing them, his chances of winning at showdown presumably hopeless. Gulas took the option of not showing his own hand and began collecting the pot. This sequence did not satisfy the dapper Miguel Gurrea Monton, who vociferously demanded to see Gulas' cards. The floor was called and it was confirmed, there were no tabled cards to force Gulas to show. Insistency turned to apology as Monton returned to his affable self. Meanwhile, Exposito got back on track, winning a comparable pot the subsequent hand. -- GC

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The bluff-catching bystander

5.12pm: Exposito rises to the challenge
Everyone likes to see the lay of the land and the chip counts show that Andoni Aguila Exposito has successfully scaled the rest of the players after four levels - his stack having risen to a mountainous 76,000. -- RS

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Exploring New Territory

The full chip counts can be found here.

4.52pm: Sell-out!
In certain fields, selling out is frowned upon, but here in the poker world, it's always good news. Day 1a managed to entice 352 players to hand over their hard-earned monies to play and we've just received news that day 1b is also sold out!

That does mean you may struggle to buy a seat now - there is the possibility to register as an alternate, but the tournament's popularity means you won't be guaranteed a seat.

You snooze, you lose! -- RS

4.34pm: Jensen soaring, Killmartin falling
Soren Jensen has always proved a colourful and entertaining character at the felt, the highlight of his career, his 2nd place finish at the 2008 Denmark EPT in an attritional 7 and a half hour heads up battle versus American Tim Vance.

Although he was bested that day, his near $700k result was mightily impressive and the potential is there for him to add another feather to his impressively capped CV here - his stack up to 29,750.

David Kilmartin has experienced contrasting fortune during the opening stages however, and he is down to a mere 4,500 - barely more than a chip and a chair at his disposal.

The generous blind structure however should ensure he has enough leverage to propel himself back into contention, should fortune favour the popular Irishman. -- RS

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 100-200 ante 25


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Welcome to the battle zone...

4.30pm: The battle continues....
Four levels of hard fought poker have been played out, and it looks as though there will be ten levels in total today so six to go... -- RS

PokerStars Blog reporting team at PokerStars Marbella Festival brought to you by UKIPT and ESPT: Rod Stirzaker and Gareth Chantler. Photos by Eric Vogel.

Rod Stirzaker
@PokerStars in UKIPT