Ante Up for Africa: Action from the tournament floor

April 27, 2009


This page will be updated throughout PokerStars’ Ante Up for Africa event here in Monte Carlo. Celebrities have joined some of poker’s greats in a 39-strong field, with each of the 4,000 euro buy-ins going to help the relief effort in Darfur.

Each player began with 10,000 chips, but the blinds are increased every 20 minutes. This will be a bumpy ride for some but, hey, it’s all in a good cause!

12.35am: Isabelle Mercier wins PokerStars’ Ante Up for Africa event
Teddy Sheringham went into heads-up play with a 300,000-100,000 chip lead, but with the blinds growing ever larger – 15,000-30,000 with a 5,000 ante – neither player was in the mood to hang about. No room for pre-flop sparring, then – instead it was all in and call. Isabelle clawed back chips with 6-4 against Sheringham’s 5-2, and then got another double up with K-5 against 2-3.

She then took the lead when her K-4 overtook Sheringham’s A-5 – then finally clinched victory when her A♠2♦ held up against 10♠4♥ on a Q♣6♦8♦J♦10♦ board which, although giving Sheringham a pair on the river, also completed her flush.

Sheringham, a former professional footballer who starred for Manchester United and England, was by far the longest lasting celebrity in the Ante Up for Africa tournamnet. “It’s been a brilliant event for a very worthwhile cause,” he said.

Isabelle added: “It was a lot of fun with loads of celebs playing. I got to meet Nelly! The final table was very tough with a lot of pros on it, and Teddy, although he was a celebrity player, did amazingly well. He has a lot of talent.

“Overall it was an amazing success for the charity – and I am very proud to have helped raise so much money.”

Congratulations, Isabelle, on your win. We’ll have a full wrap of today’s successful tournament shortly.

12.20am: Dario Minieri eliminated in 3rd place
Dario Minieri will have bad dreams about pocket tens. Having regained the chip lead, he lost a big pot against Teddy Sheringham when his 10-10 was overtaken by K-J on a J-Q-Q-S-A board. “See, I don’t always bluff – sometimes I have a hand when I push all in,” Miniseri said as he pushed his chips over to Sheringham.

Just a few hands later, he found 10♦10♣ again and pushed once more, again called by Sheringham, who this time had him well covered with Q♣Q♠. The board ran dry for the Italian Team PokerStars Pro, and he left Isabelle Mercier and Sheringham to fight it out heads up.

12.10am: Tony G falls to Teddy Sheringham
Teddy Sheringham, a man who plied his football trade so well for Tottenham and Manchester United, among others, has eliminated Tony G in 4th place. Sheringham now holds the lead ahead of Dario Minieri, while Isabelle Mercier hangs on in third.


Smiles ahead: Teddy Sheringham

12.05am: Negreanu out in fifth
Having held a healthy chip lead at the start of the final table, Daniel Negreanu has seen his chips head south – and now the last few of them are in the arms of Isabelle Mercier. 8-8 for Isabelle, K-Q for Daniel… and no improvement.

12.00pm: Pagano out
Luca Pagano crashes out in sixth place having pushed one too many times with his short stack. He went with K-J with his last 23,000 and was called blind by Dario Minieri with J-3. In a battle of the Italian giants, Dario was dominated – until the board ran 2-3-A-J-J, giving Dario a full house.

11.40pm: Pagano on the brink
Luca Pagano doubled up Teddy Sheringham when his 6-9 offsuit bluff was called by A-7 and found no improvement. That left the Italian short-stacked with just 7,500 – barely enough for the big blind he needed in the next hand. But two double ups – one against Isabelle Mercier (his K-Q v 3-3) and another against Dario Minieri (his A-6 v 4-5) has put a little life back in his stack. Blinds are now up to 6,000-12,000 with a 1,000 ante. Tony G is surprisingly quiet.

11.25pm: Chips!
With six players remaining, and blinds at 4,000-8,000 with a 1,000 ante, we have the following chip count:

Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro, 140,500
Isabelle Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro, 69,000
Tony G, 67,500
Luca Pagano, Team PokerStars Pro, 56,000
Dario Minieri, Team PokerStars Pro, 52,100
Teddy Sheringham, 39,500

11.10pm: Chene out, Sheringham doubles
French sports commentator Patrick Chene falls in seventh, busted by Dario Minieri, leaving ex-England footballer Teddy Sheringham as the last surviving celebrity. He did his chances no harm by doubling through Daniel Negreanu. Daniel raised pre-flop to 13,400, Sheringham re-raised all in for a total of 19,400. Call. A-7 for the sportsman, K-J for Daniel – and although the Team Pro held a flush draw after the all-diamond flop, Sheringham made a set on the river. He’s now up to nearly 40,000. Neagreanu, though, is still the table captain.

10.50pm: Chabal and Duthie out
The action at the final table is fast and furious. With blinds already up to 1,500-3,000 with a 400 ante, rugby star Sebastian Chabal was first to fall, out in ninth place when he ran into Luca Pagano’s flush.

Just two hands later, and Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie joined him on the rail. Dario Minieri had raised to 7,500, Duthie re-raised all in with A♦K♥ – and Tony G went all in over the top holding J♥J♣. The 7♦9♥4♠ flop was no help for Duthie – and the killer J♠ sealed the deal for Tony G. Duthie left in 8th place.


John Duthie felt the Tony G power

10.25pm: Team Pro dominate final table
The super-fast structure has done its work and we’re already down to our final table of nine. While celeb players Teddy Sheringham and Sebastian Chabal will delighted to get this far, it’s the Team PokerStars Pro members who have shown their skill to dominate the event. Daniel Negreanu is the huge chip leader with 151,000 – more than three times his nearest rivals Sheringham and Dario Minieri.


Seat 1: Dario Minieri, Team PokerStars Pro, 43,400
Seat 2: John Duthie, Team PokerStars Pro, 39,000
Seat 3: Patrick Chene, 20,100
Seat 4: Sebastian Chabal, 20,300
Seat 5: Luca Pagano, Team PokerStars Pro, 41,500
Seat 6: Tony G, 18,200
Seat 7: Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro, 151,000
Seat 8: Teddy Sheringham, 44,900
Seat 9: Isabelle Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro, 42,700

10.05pm: Celebs clinging on
With just 12 players left the pro players are taking over. Only a few of our celebs remain, including French rugby’s man mountain Sebastian Chabal, Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden and Teddy Sheringham. All three share the same table with Tony G and Daniel Negreanu – not the easiest test of an amateur’s game.


Sebastian Chabal

10pm: No more Heroes any more
Jason Kyson Lee’s great run is over, felled by the mighty Italian sword of Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri. With blinds already up to 1,200-2,400 with a 300 ante, the Heroes star stuck his last 1,800 in with K♣10♣ and was called by Minieri with A♣7♥. An A♥ did the damage on the turn. “I’ve done well to last this far,” said Lee. “It’s been great experience for me – you can learn so much by just playing at the same table as these pro players.”

9.45pm: Hachem felled by Tony G
Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem’s run at Ante Up for Africa is over. With just two tables left, he got his last 10,000 in with A♥6♠ against Tony G’s pocket fives, but the 3♣3♠Q♥9♥4♦ board failed to come to the rescue. “This has been a lot of fun, and it’s all for a great cause. The celebs here have been great – they’re just normal people around the table, and although they’ve seen us play on TV they’ve found we’re just normal people at the table too. We’re all the same at the end of the day.”

9.25pm: Big stacks in the house
Down to two tables and the big stacks belong to Team PokerStars Pro. Daniel Negreanu sits on top with 65,000, while Isabelle Mercier and John Duthie lead the chase with more than 50,000. James Kyson Lee survives after doubling up with pocket queens to K-J on a J-7-9-8-10 board.


James Kyson Lee

9.15pm: Heroes to nearly zero
Action on table three. Heroes TV star James Kyson Lee is down to 2,000 after losing out in a three-way pot. He saw a flop holding A♣K♠ along with John Duthie with 10♣J♠ and Thierry Nivel with 10♥10♦. The flop came 9♦10♠6♣, making a set for Nivel and giving only brief hope for Duthie. The Q♠ on the turn and the 6♥ on the river changed nothing, and Nivel tripled up, leaving Lee on his last 2,500.

9.05pm: Daniel finds kings again – Reina out!
Daniel Negreanu has done it again, this time finding K♦K♣ and getting it all in pre-flop against Liverpool FC and Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s J♠J♣. The board ran dry for the Premiership footballer – 5♦2♣6♠2♦8♥ – and it’s game over for him. “What can you do? That was simply unlucky,” said Reina. “But playing with pros like Daniel has been great.”

8.50pm: Negreanu kings take out Gallacher
Daniel Negreanu busted Kirsty Gallacher, getting his K♦K♠ all in pre flop against her 8♥8♣. No help on the board for the British TV star, and Daniel takes his stack up to around 40,000. Also sharing his table now is Team PokerStars Pro and current world champion Peter Eastgate, now vying for the chip lead with Isabelle Mercier on around 60,000.

8:40pm: Isabelle showing no mercy
Down to three tables already, and our chip leader is no less than Team PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier. “This is a lot of fun – but I’m here to win,” she said, counting her stack to reveal more than 45,000 chips. Two seats to her left is a shell-shocked Heroes star James Kyson Lee, who is struggling to maintain his 10,000 starting stack. “Isablle’s taking everyone’s chips,” he lamented. “Ah, but it’s my job,” came the quick reply.

Meanwhile former England rugby international Mike Tindall has renewed battle with French foe Sebastian Chabal, sitting together as they now do on an outer table. “This is such a great rivalry. It’s like an England v France game.” For American readers unsure about the ins and outs of European rugby, all you need to know is England v France is a full on, blood and guts affair. I won’t take sides, but we English invented the game. Say no more.

8.15pm: Players are on a 15-minute break
We warned this would be fast – and already we’re down to less than 30 of our 40 starters. Remaining players are enjoying a quick break.

8.10pm: Rugby is brutal
Daniel Negreanu is enjoying sitting on the feature table with two of rugby’s finest – Sebastian Chabal and Mike Tindall. “I’m having great fun,” he told me. “I’ve been learning all about rugby – and what I’ve learnt is that it is brutal. They don’t even wear padding!” Daniel is still going strong, as are the two rugby stars and Team Pro John Duthie, who we now know was responsible for knocking out Nelly.

7.55pm: Wise words for Kirsty
UK sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher is still in the thick of it, despite admitting she’s never really played poker before. But as this is a charitable night, first Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes sat down to give her advice, and now EPT presenter and ace player Kara Scott is offering the words of wisdom.

7.40:pm: Not on your Nelly
Rapper Nelly is out joining singer/songwriter The Dream on the rail. The Dream has a nightmare, falling to Mike Tindall. With a lightening fast structure, and some questionable play which you’d expect at such charity events, the field is thinning super fast.


Nelly before the axe fell

Earlier, the rap star told our video team of what the day really meant to him…

Watch Ante Up for Africa Europe: Interview with Nelly on

7:30pm: Pepe Reina saves his chips
Liverpool FC and Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina is sandwiched between Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer. A world champion on either side might be daunting to some, but not Pepe, who has showed great handling, raising and knocking the pros off pots without so much as a whisper. His 2,000 pot-sized bet on a K♣Q♣6♦ board was enough to send Hachem packing, while a pre-flop raise on the very next hand had the same effect.


Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, second left, plays table soccer – in goal, of course

7.15pm: Ylon one of the first to fall
One of Team PokerStars Pro’s newest members, Ylon Schwartz, is the first out, running into a Peter Gould full house. The table was tough enough, what with Greg Raymer, Luca Pagano and Joe Hachem jockeying for chips with former England footballer and poker enthusiast Teddy Sheringham, and Sex in the City’s Jason Lewis.

7pm: And we’re off!
EPT host Neil Johnson has just called shuffle up and deal, and the cards are in the air,. Already each of our five tables has a curious mix of players that only charity events like this can generate. The feature TV table, atop a splendid set, has rapper Nelly who quickly found it was getting hot in here when Team PokerSars Pro Daniel Negreanu sat down at the table as well. And then fellow Pro and EPT creator John Duthie. Also sharing their felt are great rugby foes – France’s Sebastian Chabal and England’s Mike Tindall, as well as singer/songwriter The Dream.


The throng of media that greeted players on today’s red carpet


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