If you’d have needed five guesses to find the PokerStars blog team on their first evening in Ukraine, you’d have wasted four of them. It was kind of obvious: we were in Fan Fest sports bar in the basement of the Premier Palace hotel, the only place amid the opulence of that five-star establishment that five scruffy blokes with a thirst on would feel both wholly welcome and at home.
There was no surprise also that we were soon joined by a PokerStars qualifier, and fewer still that it was a PokerStars qualifier from Great Britain. We were soon introduced and got talking to Eren Sergil and his father Taskin from Morden in Surrey, who made the trip to Kyiv by riding the wave of an FPP satellite win.
For the few of you unaware of how this works, Sergil Jr exchanged a few of his Frequent Player Points, accrued during his various exploits on the PokerStars tables, for an entry into an online satellite for this event. PokerStars were guaranteeing nine tournament packages — the €5,000 tournament buy in, plus hotel and flight expenses — from the satellite, and Sergil needed to outlast about 250 others to snaffle one. He did so.
This is now by some measure the largest tournament of his fledgling career. At 20, Sergil plays a good deal online, but sticks at the relatively low end of the tournament spectrum, playing the $100,000 guaranteed tournaments among a wide variety of others. He also has a fair amount of live experience in the London poker clubs, but his former biggest buy in was a £150.
This is likely to change after his experience here: there are very few one-time PokerStars qualifiers to EPT events. Once you’ve got a feel for the satellite and sampled the big time, it’s difficult to go back.
Sergil doesn’t look as if much would faze him but catching up with him during the first break, he said he had been “nervous” in the opening exchanges, and also relatively card dead. He had aces once, he said, but thinks he may have misplayed them, putting in a re-re-raise pre-flop and forcing a fold from his opponent when he may have won more after the flop.
But something has gone right: Sergil is up to about 36,000, which is 6,000 more than the starting stack and represents a fine start to the day. And to an EPT. And to a new high-stakes poker career.
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WEATHER UPDATE OF THE LEVEL
After an absolutely blistering start to the day — temperatures of about 90 degrees — it has now become monsoon season in Kyiv. It. Is. Hammering. Down. And thundering. The roof of the Palace of Sports now sounds as though a pack of horses is trundling across it and there’s been at least one raindrop spotted in the press room.
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FEATURE SEAT NEWS OF THE HOUR
Mark Kitov is the new occupant of the chair armed with an average stack.
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HAND OF THE HOUR
Canadian Jeff Sarwer kept on raising and Boris Efimov kept on calling as the board came J♣ 10♥ 4♥ 10♦ 3♣ . With more than 30,000 in the pot Sarwer showed J♥ 10♣ to take it down.
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NEIL STODDART’S PHOTO MASTERCLASS