Saturday, 26th November 2022 18:18
Home / Poker / EPT Prague: Paul Michaelis motors ahead to lead final six to Main Event finale

The European Poker Tour Prague Main Event is down to one final day, and just six players remain from the 1,174-entry field.

It’s an eclectic group, representing six different countries with a variety of backgrounds and experience. They share a couple of things in common, though — all six are top tournament players, and all six have spent the last week grinding through 30 levels and five long days of challenging poker here in Prague.

Of the six, German player Paul Michaelis has positioned himself most favorably, building a big stack of more than 10 million to carry the lead into tomorrow’s finale.

Paul Michaelis, chip leader with 6 left

More about the magnificent half-dozen in a bit. First, a look back at Day 5.

After finishing out the last couple of minutes of one level, the final 16 all made it through another hour-and-a-half level with not a one of them losing his stack, a stretch during which the Romanian Liviu Ignat had chipped up into first position in the counts.

In fact there wasn’t even a double-up until a couple of hours into the day, then came the first knockouts with Sergei Bagirov (16th) and Konstantin Farber (15th) both having pocket pairs fail to hold against ace-queen, then Ivan Zhechev go out in 14th when queen-seven couldn’t top Carlos Branco’s ace-jack.

Soon after Tomas Macnamara traded bets to the river with Alexandr Merzhvinskii holding two red aces while the board brought three diamonds, at which point Merzhvinskii bet enough to put Macnamara all in. He called, but saw his opponent table two more diamonds for a flush, and Macnamara was out in 13th.

The next break came, and with 12 left Michaelis had risen to the top of the chip counts where he’d more or less remain for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Serhii Holodiuk was the next out in 12th after a flop gave him a pair of aces but also gave his opponent Michaelis a wheel that held through the river. Evangelos Bechrakis then lost most of his stack in a flip with Laurynas Levinskas and the rest to Ignat to fall in 11th. Then it was Michaelis again busting Ugo Faggioli in 10th when the latter’s ace-queen couldn’t improve against Michaelis’s pocket sevens.

With nine left they reassembled around a single table, with Michaelis at that point in a commanding position with more than 10 million when no one else had as much as half that amount.

The final nine

The chase pack caught up quickly, though, with Merzhvenskii getting close to the leader after making a set versus Andrey Pateychuk’s two pair to end the latter’s run in ninth.

In the first hand of the day’s fifth level, Switzerland’s Diego Zeiter went down in eighth when he unfortunately picked up pocket nines on the same hand Merzhvinskii was dealt aces. And after having led earlier in the day, Ignat became the short stack and spent the last hour of the night in push-or-fold mode. Finally the last push with ace-queen couldn’t outrun Levinskas’s kings, and the bags came out for the final six.

Michaelis hopes to add an EPT Main Event title to the WSOP bracelet he won in 2015. Challenging him tomorrow will be Merzhvinskii whose cashes include a $400K score in his native Russia a year ago, and Laurynas Levinskas of Lithuania who earned runner-up in the 2014 EPT Prague High Roller, has $1.28M in career live cashes, and is a beast as “LaurisL91” on PokerStars.

The Ukrainian Artem Kobylinskiy will be there as well; he has nearly a quarter million in tourney cashes, but tomorrow he’ll earn his biggest ever. It will also be the career-best cash for Carlos Branco of Portugal who won a side event here in Prague two years ago, part of $310K in career cashes. And Parker Talbot of Canada is still in the hunt, too, looking to add to his more than $435K in live earnings and more online where his Twitch fans follow his progress (it’ll be Talbot’s biggest cash ever, too).

Here’s how the counts will look when they begin tomorrow:

Name Country Chips BBs
Paul Michaelis Germany 10,060,000 84
Alexandr Merzhvinskii Russia 7,545,000 63
Artem Kobylinskiy Ukraine 6,075,000 51
Laurynas Levinskas Lithuania 4,765,000 40
Parker Talbot Canada 3,690,000 31
Carlos Branco Portugal 3,100,000 26

As exciting as it has been for the 169 players who have cashed the tournament so far, the six who remain are coming back tomorrow to divide up nearly half of the €5,693,900 prize pool — €2,781,930, to be exact — with the big prize of €1,020,000 awaiting the winner.

Play begins at 12 noon local time. Join us here then and we’ll find out together who among these six will become the next EPT Main Event champion. –MH

Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive.


• PLAYERS: 6 (of 1,174)
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8:55pm: Liviu Ignat out in seventh place
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Liviu Ignat’s lengthy rearguard comes to an end and we’re down to six players in the main event.

Laurynas Levinskas opened for 250,000 before Liviu shoved all in for a little more than 2.2 million.

Levinskas: KK
Ignat: AQ

Ignat needed help and got some encouragement on the 106J flop. But nothing else came to help him on either the 7 turn or 8 river.

There was a count, as the two stacks were close. But Levinskas’s raised fist to his friends on the rail told of the outcome.

Ignat goes out 15 minutes before the end of the day’s fifth level. Full counts, and the story of the day, are coming up. – SB

End of the line for Liviu Ignat

8:50pm: Shoves and folds
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Alexandr Merzhvinskii limped from the hijack and then Artem Kobylinskiy completed from the small blind. That left Liviu Ignat, in the big blind, with the prospect of picking up a nice little pot if he could shove and get a couple of folds. Or were they trapping him?

There’s not much point trying to build any more drama. Ignat peeked at his cards, moved all-in for about 1.5 million, and no trap was sprung. Both opponents folded.

Shortly after, Carlos Branco asked the dealer for the all-in triangle, pushing his 2.5 million stack in the middle over Parker Talbot’s 270,000 under-the-gun open. Folds ensued. — HS

8:45pm: Painful for Levinskas
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Alexandr Merzhvinskii limped form the button, Carlos Branco did the same in the small blind and Laurynas Levinskas checked his option.

They saw a flop: KJ4.

That was checked three ways for a turn card, 3. Branco checked to Levinskas who bet 375,000. That forced a fold from Merzhvinskii, but seemed to bring Branco to life.

He shoved.

Levinskas winced, but he had no other option but to fold. He did, dropping to 1.8 million. Branco up a little though to 2.6 million. – SB

Levinskas: nothing comes easy

8:40pm: Shove, shove
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Liviu Ignat is still the short stack with about 1.45 million, but he is doing everything he can to either double or depart. He moved all-in on consecutive hands, the first time with Alexandr Merzhvinskii in the big blind and the second with Carlos Branco putting 240,000 out there before even seeing his cards.

Neither Merzhvinskii nor Branco, nor anybody else for that matter, fancied giving Ignat a spin. — HS

8:35pm: Ignat against the wall
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

More trouble for the short stack Liviu Ignat.

In a three way limped pot, and a flop of 8JJ, Liviu checked to Parker Talbot who bet 150,000. Artem Kobylinskiy passed in the small blind, but Ignat called form the big.

On the A turn Ignat check-called Talbot’s bet of 250,000. Then, on the 9 river, Ignat checked again. Only this time, after spending a time bank card, Talbot lumped 2 million forward, easily covering Ignat’s stack.

He mucked, down to 1.3 million. Talbot meanwhile is up to 4.5 million. – SB

Ignat trying to ignite comeback

8:30pm: Leaders do what leaders can
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

A display of power from both of our chip leaders here, gradually extending their lead at the top.

In the first hand, it was Paul Michaelis taking it out on Carlos Branco. In the second, Alexandr Merzhvinskii took some from Parker Talbot.

Branco opened to 250,000 from under the gun and Michaelis called in the small blind. Both remaining players checked the K73 flop, but then Michaelis bet a hefty 590,000 on the 5 turn. Branco flicked them in.

The next hand was blind vs. blind with Talbot completing from the small blind and Merzhvinskii checking his option. He also checked the 359 flop (Talbot did as well) and then Talbot checked the 7 turn. Merzhvinskii bet 210,000 and Talbot called.

The river was the J and it went check, bet of 690,000, fold.

After that, Michaelis has 10.3 million, Merzhvinskii has 8.1 million, Talbot has 3.8 million and Branco has 2.1 million. — HS

8:20pm: Michaelis up to 10 million (again)
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Paul Michaelis just extended his advantage with a hand against Laurynas Levinskas.

Levinskas opened for 240,000, which Michaelis called from the big blind.

The flop came A53. Levinskas bet another 140,000, which was called for the 7 turn. That was checked.

On the 5 river Levinskas checked to Michaelis, who bet 700,000 total. Too rich for Levinskas, who folded. He drops to 1.8 million. Michaelis is now back up to around 10 million again. – SB

Paul Michaelis: setting the pace

8:15pm: Two more shoves
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Two more shoves to report, though no calls.

The first came after Parker Talbot opened from the cutoff to 240,000 and Carlos Branco shipped. There wasn’t time to count anything because Talbot insta-mucked.

Next hand, Liviu Ignat open pushed once more, this time from under the gun, and everyone folded all the way around. — HS

8:05pm: Ignat shoves to no effect
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Not much to report in terms of big hands. Artem Kobylinksiy just won a pot against Parker Talbot. His bet of 240,000 pre-flop was called all the way to showdown, where he showed a QJ to win the hand. Talbot showed 4K.

A moment of excitement followed when Liviu Ignat shoved. It may be that the others are waiting for his departure, given that he’s increasingly short. They’ll be waiting a little longer.

He got no response to his shove, and plays on. – SB

7:55pm: Levinskas won’t back down
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy is a stubborn SOB and he has just built his stack up close to 7 million. Try as he might, Laurynas Levinskas couldn’t dislodge him from a recent pot and ended up dropping to about 25 big blinds as a result

Levinskas started it with a raise to 275,000 from the cutoff, but Kobylinskiy’s resistance began with a call on the button. The blinds left them to it and the dealer offered them the 382 flop.

Levinskas bet 275,000 but Kobylinskiy called it, taking them to the 7 turn. Levinskas had another go. He bet 450,000 this time, but again Kobylinskiy called.

That brought the 5 on the river and Levinskas now checked. That was all the reason Kobylinskiy needed to now bet 1.4 million of his own and Levinskas backed down. Levinskas now has about 2.9 million. — HS

7:45pm: Short stack Ignat, just got shorter
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

Liviu Ignat was the short stack at the start of the level, and he’s even shorter now.

Starting the hand with 2.3 million, he opened for 250,000, which Paul Michaelis called in the cut off for the A76 flop.

Ignat bet another 275,000 and again was called for the Q turn. Now he put the breaks on, checking to Michaelis, who checked back.

Ignat had Q10, but Michaelis topped that with KQ. Ignat now drops to 1.7 million chips. – SB

7:40pm: Diego Zeiter falls first hand back in 7th (€97,420)
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

They’re back from the break, and now eight has become seven.

On the first hand back, Diego Zeiter opened from early position with an all-in push for just over 1.3 million, and it folded around to Alexandr Merzhvinskii in the big blind who called right away.

Getting 99 with a short stack probably had seemed a pretty good deal (literally) for Zeiter, but alas for him Merzhvinskii had been dealt AA, and five cards later — 2J10Q10 — Zeiter was out in eighth. That’s just one spot shy of Zeiter’s sixth-place showing in the PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo Main Event last year, but an improvement on his 16th place in this room a year ago.

Diego Zeiter: Busto in eighth

Adding Zeiter’s stack to Merzhvinskii’s gives him about 7.9 million now — very close to current leader Paul Michaelis. –MH

7:35pm: Level 30 start
Level 30 – Blinds 60,000/120,000 (BB ante 120,000)

We are now into Level 30. Here’s how the last eight stack up:

Name Country Chips BBs
Paul Michaelis Germany 8,065,000 67
Alexandr Merzhvinskii Russia 6,690,000 56
Artem Kobylinskiy Ukraine 6,045,000 50
Parker Talbot Canada 4,975,000 41
Carlos Branco Portugal 2,940,000 25
Laurynas Levinskas Lithuania 2,890,000 24
Liviu Ignat Romania 2,315,000 19
Diego Zeiter Argentina 1,305,000 11

Paul Michaelis: Leading again

7:15pm: Break time

The end of the level fizzled out somewhat, and then they all headed off for a break. We’ll have full chip counts for the remaining eight momentarily. — HS

7pm: Treys good for Zeiter
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Diego Zeiter is battling still, and just flopped a set to double through Paul Michaelis.

With a little more than 800,000 in his stack, his 33 must have looked like aces and he got his last chips in. Paul Michaelis had AJ but Zeiter flopped a set and that was good for a double.

Diego Zeiter: Smile emerging from the hoodie

We still have eight here, and our last South American representative retains hope. — HS

6:55pm: Kobylinskiy’s doubles through Zeiter with aces
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Paul Michaelis opened for 225,000 from early position, then it folded to Diego Zeiter who sat quietly for a short while before announcing he was re-raising all in for his stack of 3.17 million.

Artem Kobylinskiy: Doubles with aces

Action moved over to Artem Kobylinskiy in the small blind who took his time, spending a time-bank card before calling all-in with his last 2.33 million, and when it folded back to Michaelis he stepped aside.

Kobylinskiy: AA
Zeiter: 1010

Kobylinskiy apologized to Zeiter for tanking with his aces, explaining he did so because Michaelis was still in the hand, but Zeiter understood completely. The board came nine-high — 46499 — and now Kobylinskiy jumps up to 5.8 million while Zeiter falls to 840,000 to become the short stack with eight left. –MH

6:50pm: Levinskas climbing out of a hole
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

On a flop of 48Q Alexandr Merzhvinskii bet 175,000. His posture has improved since he chipped up, and he seems more focused. Laurynas Levinskas, the short stack at the table, called.

The turn came K. This was good for Levinskas, as we’d find out. He checked to Merzhvinskii who bet another 600,000 which again, Levinskas called.

Now the A river card. Levinskas checked once more, and after asking how much he had, and spending a time bank card, Merzhvinskii checked also.

Levinskas turned over KQ, which Merzhvinskii couldn’t beat.

He drops to 7 million while Levinskas helps himself a little, moving up to 3.6 million. – SB

6:40pm: A few more for Kobylinskiy
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

They all count, especially for the short stacks, and Artem Kobylinskiy will be happy to make a correct call in a recent pot against Carlos Branco.

Kobylinskiy opened from middle position and Branco called in the big blind. They checked the 1035 flop and the A turn. Then Branco had a stab of 190,000 after the 8 river.

Kobylinskiy took about two thirds of his allocated 30 seconds before calling, with Branco showing his K10. Second pair was no good against Kobylinskiy’s A9.

Branco has 3.6 million; Kobylinskiy squeezes just over 2 million. — HS

6:35pm: Action before the flop, not so much after
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Laurynas Levinskas and Paul Michaelis were both just dealt big hands, and judging from preflop action appeared poised to play a big pot, but it didn’t turn out that way.

After Levinskas raised to 225,000 from middle position, Michaelis three-bet to 675,000 from the button and Levinskas called. Then both checked down the 29Q flop, the 8 turn, and the 8 river.

Levinskas showed AK, a premium hand that ended ace-high. Michaelis also had a good starter, JJ, and those jacks took the pot.

Michaelis is at a little over 7.8 million at present, while Levinskas dips to 1.815 million. –MH

6:30pm: Branco up to more than 3 million
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

No cards shown, no flop dealt, but a big pot won by Carlos Branco, who moves up to around 3.1 million.

He opened for 220,000, which was called by Laurynas Levinskas. Paul Michaelis then raised to 840,000, which sent Branco into the time bank.

He then shoved, getting two quick folds in response. – SB

6:20pm: Talbot takes pot from Michaelis without showdown
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

“Lucky, lucky, lucky,” said Paul Michaelis to Parker Talbot after their blind-versus-blind hand completed just now. “You were lucky,” grinned Talbot in response.


Chips just falling into Parker Talbot’s hands


It began with Michaelis raising to 350,000 from the small blind and Talbot calling from the big blind. After the all-diamond flop — 257 — Michaelis continued for 275,000, with Talbot rechecking his cards and then calling. Then the 7 turn prompted a bigger bet of 925,000 from Michaelis, and once more Talbot stuck around.

The river was a fourth diamond, and the biggest one — the A. That slowed Michaelis down and he checked, and after a pause Talbot said he was all in for his remaining 1.4 million. Michaelis muttered as he folded, and the pair commenced their joshing.

Paul Michaelis: Another small hit

Talbot chips up to 5.9 million with that one, while Michaelis has 7.3 million now. –MH

6:10pm: Pateychuk out. Merzhvenskii up to nearly 8 million
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Andrey Pateychuk is out. His double EPT title ambitions are over.

On a flop of Q45 Alexandr Merzhvenskii bet 175,000 before Pateychuk raised to 500,000. He was playing Q9, had made top pair. Merzhvenskii paused, and as the clock ticked down, eventually called. Pateychuk’s hand then became two pair on the 9 turn.

Andrey Pateychuk: Don’t look back

At this point Pateychuk moved all-in. The amount was about 3 million. Merzhvenskii insta-called this time and turned over 55 for a set.

The river was the 3. Pateychuk said nothing as he got up to leave, except to wish the others good luck.

Merzhvenskii stacked his chips, then ran after Pateychuk to wish him well. He now has 7.8 million. – SB

6pm: LL doubles with JJ in the BB
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

A couple of small hands went by, then another arose in which the table folded around to Diego Zeiter in the small blind who took a look at his neighbor Laurynas Levinskas’s stack, then set out enough chips to put him all-in.

Levinskas checked his cards and made the snap-call to put his 1.3 million or so at risk, and when the players tabled their hands it was clear Levinskas had fallen into a good spot.

Zeiter: 94
Levinskas: JJ

Laurynas Levinskas: The winner (of this pot)

There was no funny business among the community cards — A7107K — and now Levinskas is up to 2.75 million while Zeiter slips to about 3.2 million. –MH

5:50pm: Merzhvenskii doubles through Michaelis
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

Paul Michaelis was feeling good.

“It could be worse,” he said, in answer to Carlos Branco. “I have a lolly. A lot of chips.”

He sucked on the lolly, and he was using his chips well. But then, even making the right decision can be costly.

He opened for 210,000 on the button, then Alexandr Merzhvenskii moved all-in for 2.4 million from the big blind.

Nice start to single table action for Alexandr Merzhvinskii

Michaelis, lolly in his mouth, thought it over for a while, spending a time bank before calling.

Michaelis: 77
Merzhvenskii: 55

The result was determined quickly. The board came 4A52A to double Merzhvenskii. Michaelis drops to 8.1 million. Merzhvenskii is up to 5 million.

It could be worse. – SB

5:45pm: Nine-handed, off we go
Level 29 – Blinds 50,000/100,000 (BB ante 100,000)

They’re into Level 29 and there are nine players left. And away they go. — HS

Final nine in Prague (clockwise from dealer): Paul Michaelis, Parker Talbot, Alexandr Merzhvinskii, Carlos Branco, Diego Zeiter, Laurynas Levinskas, Artem Kobylinskiy, Liviu Ignat, Andrey Pateychuk

5:20pm: The single-table nine
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Tournament officials are conducting a full, official chip count. Here we have it, with the new seat draw:

Seat 1: Paul Michaelis – 10,630,000
Seat 2: Parker Talbot – 4,100,000
Seat 3: Alexandr Merzhvinskii – 2,490,000
Seat 4: Carlos Branco – 2,665,000
Seat 5: Diego Zeiter – 4,740,000
Seat 6: Laurynas Levinskas – 1,420,000
Seat 7: Artem Kobylinskiy – 2,520,000
Seat 8: Liviu Ignat – 3,165,000
Seat 9: Andrey Pateychuk – 3,495,000

5:15pm: Ugo Faggioli busts in 10th, Paul Michaelis over 10 million to lead final nine
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Ugo Faggioli looked down at his cards, saw two he liked, and open-raised all in for his last 1.54 million from the cutoff. Chip leader Paul Michaelis was next to act, and when he looked at his cards he liked them enough to go all in himself, and the blinds got out of the way.

Faggioli: AQ
Michaelis: 77

Faggioli was looking for high cards, but nothing higher than a ten came as the board completed 268510 to knock out Faggioli in 10th for €62,690.

Faggioli down to the felt

Michaelis now carries an eight-figure stack to the nine-handed table with about 10.5 million. Speaking of, they are currently redrawing for the nine-handed table, and as there is just a minute or so left in the level they’ll go head and take the 20-minute break right now. Final table chip counts coming. –MH

5:15pm: Kobylinskiy survives again
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy’s phenomenal survival skills again came to the fore after he doubled up in a pot against Paul Michaelis.

It folded to the small blind of the chip leader who, looking to his left and seeing only 1.24 million in Kobylinskiy’s stack, open-pushed with his near 10 million. Kobylinskiy peeked and called for everything he had.

Kobylinskiy: A10
Michaelis: Q5

The board was a dry 624KK and that brought a fist pump from Kobylinskiy as he rises to 2.5 million.

Kobylinskiy likes it

Michaelis is on 8.7 million. — HS

5:10pm: Merzhvinskii floored
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

It’s one thing to question a decision by the floor staff. It’s something else to do so on the hunch of your buddy on the rail.

So when Alexandr Merzhvinskii walked over to the floor staff and suggested that his table was playing more hands than the other — because his friend said so – he should have been able to predict the response.

“I guarantee you one million per cent that’s not the case,” said the floor staff. “And your friend is not the floor.”

Merzhvinskii went back to his chair. – SB

5:05pm: Two pair for Pateychuk
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Table 2 has been experiencing another relatively quiet stretch. Five strong tournament players over there — Andrey Pateychuk, Liviu Ignat, Diego Zeiter, Parker Talbot, Laurynas Levinskas — all practicing caution of late.

Just now Ignat opened from under the gun for the minimum (160,000) and only Pateychuk called from the big blind. The flop came 9J10 and Pateychuk checked. Ignat continued for 125,000 and Pateychuk called. Both then checked the K turn and 8 river. Pateychuk tabled 109 for two pair, and Ignat mucked.

Pateychuk has chipped up to 4.15 million now, ahead of Ignat’s 3.35 million with about 15 minutes to go in the level. –MH

Pateychuk: trending upward

4:55pm: Netting even
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy is the short stack, but moved his 11 big blinds in pre-flop from under the gun and got everybody to fold behind him. On the next hand, Carlos Branco opened from under the gun, doubling the big blind of 80,000, which just happened to be in front of Kobylinskiy. Kobylinskiy called.

The flop brought the A54 and Kobylinskiy check-folded to Branco’s continuation bet. That’s a loss of one small blind. — HS

4:50pm: Smooth play, monster pot for Michaelis
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Paul Michaelis is riding high after a monster win against Carlos Branco.

Paul Michaelis: Closing in on 10 million

Artem Kobylinskiy opened under the gun for 160,000 and Branco (button) and Michaelis (big blind) both called. Michaelis checked the K108 flop and then called along with Branco after Kobylinskiy bet 250,000. Then all three players checked the K turn, bringing the 5 on the river.

Michaelis checked again, as did Kobylinskiy, giving Branco the chance to make a bet. He ran his shot clock down and then bet 550,000. Michaelis didn’t take long before cutting out a big raise to 1.9 million. That cleared Kobylinskiy out immediately and left Branco with a tough decision.

Branco used two time bank cards and puzzled through the action. He checked his cards again and raised his eyebrows. And eventually, he called — and then he mucked when Michaelis rolled over K8 for kings full of eights.

Carlos Branco: That wasn’t what he wanted to see

That win boosts Michaelis to 9.655 million. Branco tumbles to 2.43 million. –JK

4:45pm: Pateychuk Pateychuk Pateychuk
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Andrey Pateychuk just had a profitable ten minutes.

It started when he moved all-in for 2.1 million against Diego Zeiter.

Then he opened from the button against Liviu Ignat in the small blind. His bet on the Q1032 board was enough to win the pot and take his stack up to 2.75 million.

And then a third hand.

Pateychuk opened for 160,000 in the cut off which Ignat raised to 460,000. Pateychuk called for a flop of 926 which was checked.

On the 10 turn Pateychuk bet 650,000, which stopped Ignat in his tracks. He folded, leaving Pateychuk with a close to average stack of 3.5 million. – SB

4:40pm: Call of the day from Michaelis
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Paul Michaelis made a wonderful call to pick off Ugo Faggioli’s bluff and send his stack close to 7 million. Faggioli can comfort himself with the knowledge that this very nearly worked, but with 1.9 million left, he may have wished it never happened at all.

The hand began with a raise to 160,000 from Michaelis under the gun. Faggioli called in the big blind and it was just those two to a flop of 533. Faggioli checked and Michaelis bet 135,000. Faggioli called.

They both checked the K turn, but the 7 brought significant action. Faggioli checked, Michaelis bet 390,000 and then Faggioli raised to 1.115 million.

“Can I see your stack, please?” Michaelis asked and Faggioli lifted his arms to reveal approximately 1.9 million. After using at least one (and maybe two) time extensions, Michaelis threw one chip forward. Faggioli turned over his A4, which was beaten by Michaelis’s K10. — HS

4:35pm: Talbot takes from Ignat
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Liviu Ignat raised to 160,000 from the button and Parker Talbot defended his big blind with a call.

The flop came 8K7 and both players checked. The turn was the 9, and Talbot led for 140,000. Ignat called. The river was the 10. Talbot again was betting, this time 575,000, and after thinking about it for a while Ignat let his hand go.

That brings those two just about even, as Ignat has almost 4.1 million and Talbot just over 4 million. –MH

4:30pm: Push from Ignat
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

A strong play by Liviu Ignat. After Parker Talbot opened for 180,000 Laurynas Levinskas called from the button. Ignat was in the big blind and raised to 620,000, forcing a fold from Talbot.

Levinskas called though, with 2 million behind. The flop came 3QK.

Ignat made it simple. He moved all-in. That left Levinskas only one option, to fold. Which he did. – SB

Live and let Liviu

4:25pm: Profitable blind raise for Branco
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Carlos Branco just grabbed himself a nice little pot playing out of the small blind.

Branco opened for a seemingly large 280,000 there and Ugo Faggioli called in the big blind. They both checked the KQQ flop and Faggioli called 250,000 on the 2 turn, bringing the 7 on the river. Both of them checked again and Branco opened 99 for the winner. He’s now on 3.8 million to Faggioli’s 3.2 million. –JK

4:20pm: Kobylinskiy can’t call Branco’s river shove
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy opened for 250,000 from the small blind and got a call from Carlos Branco defending his big blind. The flop came 889, at which point the Evangelos Bechrakis all-in at the neighboring table distracted us momentarily from the action, then it was Kobylinskiy checking the K turn and calling Branco’s bet of 625,000.

The river brought the 10 and another check from Kobylinskiy, and after pausing Branco announced he was all in for the 1.19 million he had left. To call would commit about two-thirds of Kobylinskiy’s stack, so he had to dip into his time bank cards in order to sort through his decision. Finally he folded, keeping his 1.775 million while Branco bumps up to 3.75 million. –MH

4:18pm: Evangelos Bechrakis busts in 11th (€62,690)
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

After surviving that initial all-in, Evangelos Bechrakis was still down to next-to-nothing when Liviu Ignat raised from early position, and having already committed most of his stack with the big blind plus the big blind ante, Bechrakis called all in without looking at his hand.

Evangelos Bechrakis: First the disgust…

Bechrakis had J4 and Ignat A8, and it was all over by the turn when the board came 9103A2. Bechrakis finishes in 11th, while Ignat has close to 3.5 million. –MH

…and then the despair

4:15pm: Kobylinskiy continues his climb
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy is up to 2.85 million now, having just won a pot from Paul Michaelis. This one started in the slowest way possible, with folds all the way around and then a limp/check from Michaelis/Kobylinskiy in the blinds.

The dealer offered them the 923 flop and Michaelis bet 80,000. Kobylinskiy called.

Artem Kobylinskiy: Continuing an upward tick

The turn was the Q and this time the pattern reversed. Michaelis checked and Kobylinskiy bet a huge 360,000. Michaelis furrowed his brow and called.

The river brought the 2 and it went check, check. Michaelis showed him 53 but it was no good against Kobylinskiy’s 910.

With that, Kobylinskiy picked up a decent pot and Michaelis slipped to 5.25 million. — HS

4:10pm: Octuple-up for Bechrakis
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

To octuple your stack sounds like a great thing, until you start thinking about how short you have to be to manage such a feat. Then it’s just a run-of-the-mill good thing. Still, if that’s what it takes to keep you in the game, you’ll take it.

Evangelos Bechrakis: Eight time!

Evangelos Bechrakis just took it. He got his last 30,000 in with 33, which was followed by a call from Andrey Pateychuk and then a raise from Liviu Ignat that cleared Pateychuk out of the way. Ignat’s Q10 almost caught up on the 5K5J5 board but Bechrakis was safe in the end. He’s now on 225,000. –JK

4:05pm: Branco doubles
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Carlos Branco just secured a double up to keep him in a game a little longer.

He shoved on the button for 1,130,000. It was folded round to Alexandr Merzhvinskii in the big blind who, with some reluctance, called.

Merzhvinskii: KJ
Branco: A8

The board ran 42436 to keep Branco going, with around 2.3 million. Merzhvinskii drops to 3.7 million. – SB

4pm: Levinskas doubles, Bechrakis down to fumes
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Evangelos Bechrakis is in a desperate way at the moment, down to less than a small blind after suffering a big loss in a hand versus Laurynas Levinskas.

After Parker Talbot opened for 160,000 from the hijack seat, Levinskas reraised all in for his last 1.095 mllion from the cutoff. Bechrakis was on the button, and used some time banks to think it over — or, perhaps to await the outcome of the all-in on the other table — then said he was calling. Everyone folded including Talbot, and the players tabled their hands.

Levinskas: AQ
Bechrakis: 99

The 7K5 flop kept the nines in front, but the A turn card hit Levinskas’s hand to put him ahead. The river was the K, and now Levinskas is up to 2.45 million.

Anguish: Levinskas and Bechrakis

Meanwhile Levinskas has just 30,000 after that hand, though he has couple of hands more before the big blind arrives. –MH

3:50pm: Angry Holodiuk busts to Kobylinskiy
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

Serhii Holodiuk is out of here, losing the last of his chips in a three-way pot that got a little ugly on the flop. It wasn’t really ugly, it’s just that Holodiuk couldn’t help but express his surprise at what Artem Kobylinskiy showed up with.

The hand began with a raise from the button from Paul Michaelis. He made it 80,000, with the two shorties to his left in the blinds. Kobylinskiy called from a stack of about 1.4 million and Holodiuk also called from a stack of a little less than 1 million.

The flop brought the 52A and the two blinds checked, with Michaelis then betting 80,000. Kobylinskiy called and Holodiuk then shipped, a check-raise all-in for 850,000.

Serhii Holodiuk: That’s poker

Michaelis folded, but Kobylinskiy snapped. Kobylinskiy had been sitting there with 34, which was now a wheel. Holodiuk’s A7 was in trouble.

He got some potential help with the A turn, but the 9 river missed him.

Holodiuk looked questioningly at Kobylinskiy as he left, but by that point it was all history. We’re down to 11. — HS

3:45pm: Twelve left
Level 28 – Blinds 40,000/80,000 (BB ante 80,000)

We start Level 28 with 12 players left. Which 12? These 12:

Name Country Chips BBs
Paul Michaelis Germany 6,505,000 81
Diego Zeiter Argentina 5,070,000 63
Alexandr Merzhvinskii Russia 4,640,000 58
Liviu Ignat Romania 4,440,000 56
Ugo Faggioli France 3,460,000 43
Parker Talbot Canada 3,375,000 42
Andrey Pateychuk Russia 1,775,000 22
Artem Kobylinskiy Ukraine 1,360,000 17
Carlos Branco Portugal 1,330,000 17
Evangelos Bechrakis Greece 1,165,000 15
Laurynas Levinskas Lithuania 1,095,000 14
Serhii Holodiuk Ukraine 1,010,000 13

3:25pm: End of level, 12 remain

They’ve reached the second 20-minute break of the day. Back shortly with updated counts for the remaining 12 players. –MH

3:15pm: Flowering conversation
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

“How do you pronounce your last name?” asked Parker Talbot of Andrey Pateychuk, who said his name aloud for him, noting how some mistakenly emphasize the last syllable.

Laurynas Levinskas, still getting his massage, poked his head up to say how he pronounces his first name, and how some mistakenly think he’s saying “lotus.”

“Like the flower,” he added.

“You ain’t no flower,” cracked Talbot.

The table talk has momentarily emerged, taking the place of the relative quiet in terms of the play Table 2 since Paul Michaelis was moved away to the other table. Diego Zeiter still leads at Table 2 with about 4.75 million, with Talbot at 3.4 million, Levinskas 1.55 million, Evangelos Bechrakis 1.2 million, and Pateychuk about 1 million. –MH

3:05pm: Slow burn freezes out Macnamara in 13th
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

There was a real slow burn of a hand developing on Table 2, and as the gas gradually, inevitably turned up and up, it eventually sent Tomas Macnamara to the freezer. The last of his chips are now with Alexandr Merzhvinskii, who is closing in on 5 million.

The hand began with a raise to 120,000 under the gun from Merzhvinskii. Macnamara three-bet to 370,000 from the small blind, with 1.9 million behind. Merzhvinskii checked the amount of his opponent’s stack before calling.

That brought the 854 flop and a bet of 275,000 from Macnamara. Merzhvinskii called.

The 10 turn slowed things down. Macnamara used up a time-bank card before checking, and Merzhvinskii quickly checked behind.

The 10 river made everything more interesting again, and Macnamara again thought long and hard about his move. He used up one 30-second allocation of time, and the clock had clicked almost down to zero again before he said he was all-in.

Tomas Macnamara sees some bad news

Merzhvinskii sighed, but called quickly. And then he got instant gratification. Macnamara tabled his AA, and though he had a blocker to the flush, it wasn’t enough, because Merzhvinskii had QJ and it was a winner.

After a quick count of the stacks, which were pretty close, it was established that Macnamara’s 1.62 million was fewer than Merzhvinskii’s total. And so Macnamara bade the tournament farewell in 13th place.

Ouch. The end of Tomas Macnamara

Merzhvinskii has 4.9 million now. — HS

2:55pm: Zhechev out in 14th
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Ivan Zhechev’s main event is over.

He moved all-in for 375,000 (6 big blinds) with Q7, getting a call from Carlos Branco who had AJ.

Zhechev out in 14th place

The board came 78KA3 to send Zhechev to the rail. Some help for Branco in the process who is up to 1.5 million. – SB

2:50pm: Levinskas and Zeiter chop it up
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Diego Zeiter opened for 135,000 and it folded around to Laurynas Levinskas who three-bet to 400,000.

Levinskas raises from the button

Action circled back to Zeiter who announced he was reraising all in, and Levinskas called.

Zeiter: AQ
Levinskas: AK

Levinskas had the edge, but after the 10910 flop and 9 turn they were in position to split the pot. The 9 river made a full house for both, and chop they did.

Zeiter is at about 5.1 million right now, Levinskas 1.4 million. –MH

2:40pm: Ignat over Talbot
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Liviu Ignat has re-established himself as the big stack on Table 2, winning a small but nice pot (for him) from Parker Talbot.

It began with a raise to 125,000 from Ignat and a call on the button from Talbot. They then checked the 738 flop.

The 8 turn brought another check from Ignat and a bet of 255,000 from Talbot. Ignat called.

They both then checked the 3 river, but Ignat’s reveal of A6 suggested he was hoping for another bet on the end there from Talbot.

Either way, Talbot now has 2.75 million while Ignat has 5.5 million. — HS

2:35pm: Macnamara doubles through Faggioli
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Tomas Macnamara gets a double up. He moved in for 1,055,000 and got a call from Ugo Faggioli.

Macnamara: KK
Faggioli: 1010

Things went as expected: 85Q24

Faggioli drops to 1.6 million while Macnamara doubles to around 2.2 million. – SB

Macnamara survives the all-in

2:30pm: Branco three-bets it all, gets no call
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

After Laurynas Levinskas opened for 130,000 from early position, it folded to Carlos Branco who reraised all in for 890,000 total. Levinskas spent a time bank card, but didn’t want to spend any more chips on the hand and folded. That moves Branco up to 1.15 million.

Branco scarfs up a few chips

Levinskas was moved to the other table following the hand, and he carried about 1.45 million over there with him. –MH

2:25pm: Farber out in 15th place
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Konstantin Farber becomes the 15th place finisher.

He moved in for 1.1 million with 1010 which was called by Diego Zeiter with AQ.

The board ran out QK74Q

There were handshakes all round for Farber, who was chip leader at the start of play yesterday.

Farber out in 15th

Zeiter is now up to 5.5 million chips. – SB

2:15pm: Two doubles as short stacks get busy
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy and Andrey Pateychuk have both doubled up in short order, one on either table.

Kobylinskiy’s came first and it was the result of a three-bet shove from him over Tomas Macnamara’s 125,000 open. Kobylinskiy had 810,000 in his stack and had AJ to Macnamara’s 44. (Macnamara went into the tank for a while, but still called fairly quickly.)

The board ran A5QA8 to hit the over-cards (twice) and keep Kobylinskiy in this one. Macnamara dropped to 1.2 million, and shoved the next hand, getting folds all around.

Meanwhile on the other table Pateychuk and Diego Zeiter were also off to the races, with Pateychuk’s JJ staying better than Zeiter’s AQ through a board of 59564.

Andrey Pateychuk: Second double

Pateychuk now has around 1.9 million, while Zeiter slips to about 3.5 million. — HS

2:05pm: Sergei Bagirov eliminated in 16th place (€44,920)
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

The first double of the day was swiftly followed by the first knockout, as Sergei Bagirov has fallen in 16th.

After a Paul Michaelis open, Bagirov put his last 500,000 or so in as a reraise and when it folded back to Michaelis he called with 88 while Bagirov had AJ.

Sergei Bagirov: The man in pink departs

The 853 flop gave Michaelis a set, but Bagirov didn’t get up yet as the slim backdoor wheel draw remained. But the turn was the 3, making the river J no matter and ending Bagirov’s run. Michaelis now has about 4.85 million. –MH

2pm: First double
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

The first hand back after the break, and the first double up of the day. It was a hand between Laurynas Levinskas and Alexandr Merzhvinskii with the latter leapfrogging his next door neighbour after surviving a big draw.

Levinskas started it with a raise to 125,000 from under the gun. It folded around to Merzhvinskii, who called in the big blind. They then saw the 39J flop. Merzhvinskii checked, Levinskas bet 90,000 and Merzhvinskii moved in for what ended up being counted down as 1.025 million.

Alexandr Merzhvinskii: Hits to double

But before that, Levinskas called (he didn’t need a count) and showed A3 for the nut flush draw. Merzhvinskii, meanwhile, had AJ for top pair.

The 2 turn was a blank, as was the J river, even though it gave Merzhvinskii unneeded trips.

Merzhvinskii now sits with about 2.2 million, while Levinskas is cut to 1.6 million. — HS

1:55pm: Into the new level
Level 27 – Blinds 30,000/60,000 (BB ante 60,000)

Here’s how they stand going into Level 27.

Name Country Chips BBs
Liviu Ignat Romania 5,005,000 83
Diego Zeiter Argentina 4,685,000 78
Paul Michaelis Germany 4,200,000 70
Parker Talbot Canada 3,720,000 62
Ugo Faggioli France 3,575,000 60
Laurynas Levinskas Lithuania 2,680,000 45
Tomas Macnamara UK 1,955,000 33
Evangelos Bechrakis Greece 1,475,000 25
Konstantin Farber Germany 1,405,000 23
Alexandr Merzhvinskii Russia 1,215,000 20
Carlos Branco Portugal 1,100,000 18
Serhii Holodiuk Ukraine 995,000 17
Ivan Zhechev Bulgaria 945,000 16
Andrey Pateychuk Russia 875,000 15
Artem Kobylinskiy Ukraine 870,000 15
Sergei Bagirov Russia 505,000 8

1:40pm: Last two for Kobylinskiy
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Artem Kobylinskiy won the last two pots of the level on Table 1, though neither were significant. He open-pushed for 625,000 and won the first one when everyone folded, and then he open-raised to 100,000 and was called only by Ugo Faggioli in the big blind.

Both players checked the 210K flop and then Faggioli also checked the 9 turn. Kobylinskiy bet 130,000 and Faggioli had seen enough. He passed.

Artem Kobylinskiy: Last two

That’s the end of Level 26, in which no one went broke. Full counts for the last 16 are incoming in a moment. — HS

1:35pm: Aces for Levinskas
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Chip leader Liviu Ignat raised to 100,000 from the hijack seat and Parker Talbot called from the big blind. After the 8910 flop Parker check-called Ignat’s 260,000 continuation bet, then both checked the 3 turn and 3 river.

Talbot showed J10 for tens, and that was good. He’s at about 3.4 million now with the break approaching, while Ignat is still in front with about 5.2 million. –MH

1:30pm: Relative calm
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

A period of relative quiet on table one. Ugo Faggioli raised a series of hands which went uncontested until a few moments ago.

That’s when Ivan Zhechev moved all-in for around 730,000. There was a lot of thinking, but no calling. Zhechev plays on, and it’s looking like we won’t lose a single player this level. – SB

1:25pm: Time-bank shove from Pateychuk
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

There was nothing feisty about a recent pot between Andrey Pateychuk and Liviu Ignat until Andrey Pateychuk suddenly found a check-shove on the turn, with a bit of Hollywood time-banking thrown in.

It began with folds all the way around to Pateychuk’s small blind, and he merely completed. Ignat checked his option and they saw the 10310 flop.

Pateychuck bet 50,000 and Ignat called, which then brought them to the K turn. Pateychuk checked this time and Ignat bet 50,000.

Pateychuk let his first 30 seconds elapse, then was half way through the second countdown before he pushed all-in. Ignat didn’t need a count, nor even one second, before he folded.

Pateychuk moved up to 900,000 even with that. Ignat still has 5.2 million. — HS

1:15pm: Aces for Levinskas
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Tomas Macnamara raised to 110,000 from under the gun and got one caller in Laurynas Levinskas in middle position. Both checked the 563 flop, then Macnamara led for 110,000 after the 7 turn and Levinskas called.

The river brought the 9. Macnamara led again for 120,000, and Levinskas was quick to call once more. Macnamara showed his KJ for nothing, while Levinskas revealed he’d flatted preflop with AA.

Levinskas is around 2.3 million right now, Macmanara a little under 1.9 million. –MH

Levinskas shows rockets

1:10pm: Ignat takes the lead
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Liviu Ignat opened for 100,000 in middle position. Seated next to him, Diego Zeiter called and they saw a flop that came 1054

Ignat bet 140,000. Zeiter called.

The turn: 5

Another bet from Ignat, 425,000 this time. Again, Zeiter called.

The river card: 3

Ignat bet again, but spent a time bank card thinking about it. It was worth it though. The total was 1.65 million. Enough to force a fold from Zeiter.

Liviu Ignat: Leading the way

Ignat is up to 5.45 million. Zeiter drops a bit to 4.75 million. – SB

1:05pm: Still 16
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

We have been playing more than an hour on Day 5 now and nobody has yet been knocked out. I’m going to say that’s the first hour of this tournament in which that has been true. — HS

12:55pm: Preflop aggression from Macnamara
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Tomas Macnamara has had the all-in triangle in front of him more than once today already. Just now it happened again after an Ivan Zechev limp from late position, with Macnamara jamming from the small blind and Zechev folding.

Tomas Macnamara: Shove

On the next hand Serhii Holodiuk opened for 100,000 from the hijack seat, and Macnamara three-bet to 280,000 from the buttong. It folded back and Holodiuk folded, preserving his 1.1 million. Macnamara is on 1.8 million now. –MH

12:50pm: Talbot tough to push around
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Paul Michaelis has Parker Talbot to his left today, and that’s not going to be great. He just found out how stubborn Talbot is going to be in a recent blind vs. blind hand.

Michaelis opened the small blind, making it 190,000. Talbot called in the big blind, even though this was a chunky raise.

They saw the flop come 678 and Michaelis’s check allowed Talbot to take the betting lead, putting 140,000 out there. Michaelis called.

Parker Talbot: Tough guy

The 10 turn brought another check from Michaelis and a bet of 380,000 from Talbot. That was too much and Michaelis gave up.

Talbot has 3.5 million now; Michaelis has about 3.9 million. — HS

12:45pm: Macnamara and Branco swap chips
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Carlos Branco opened under the gun for 110,000. Tomas Macnamara was next to act and called. The two of them would see a flop.


Branco checked to Macnamara who bet 100,000, almost to see if Branco was serious or not. Branco called.

On the J turn there was a similar pattern. A check, and then a call when Macnamara bet 150,000.

Now the river card, 8. Both players checked. It was then Branco showed AA.

“You played it well,” said Macnamara.

He’s down to 1.65 million. Branco up to 1.3 million. – Sv

12:40pm: The Pateychuk push
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

We’ve seen Andrey Pateychuk pushing his short stack into the middle multiple times already today, just over a half-hour into Day 5. He did it again just now from the cutoff, once more winning the blinds and big blind ante.

Pateychuk is at 850,000 now. –MH

12:35pm: A little more to Zeiter
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

It’s slowed again on Table 2, although Diego Zeiter is now clearly feeling flush. The only pot of any note (and it’s not at all exciting) went in his direction after he opened from under the gun to 115,000 and found a call from Evangelos Bechrakis in the big blind.

Both players checked the 510J flop and then Zeiter bet 350,000 after the 7 turn. Bechrakis folded and that was the end of that. — HS

12:30pm: Holodiuk keeps opening
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Serhii Holodiuk just tried to open three hands in a row from late position at his table. He encountered resistance the first two times, but the third one worked out a little better.

First Holodiuk had the button when he raised to 100,000, then Carlos Branco pushed all in for 790,000 from the small blind, and when it got back to Holodiuk he had to fold.

One the next hand Holodiuk tried 105,000 as an open from the cutoff, but this time Tomas Macnamara pushed all in from the small blind for his almost 1.7 million. That was more than what Holodiuk had behind, and he folded again.

The third hand saw Holodiuk open for 100,000 from the hijack, getting a caller from Alexandr Merzhvinskii in the big blind. The flop looked like a slot machine delivering a winner — 777 — and Merzhvinskii check-called another 100,000 from Holodiuk. The turn was the 4. Merzhvinskii checked again, Holodiuk bet 225,000, and Merzhvinskii folded.

After all that, Holodiuk is at around 1.5 million, while Merzhvinskii has about 1.1 million. –MH

12:25pm: Huge hand takes chip lead from Michaelis and gives it to Zeiter
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

Paul Michaelis just took a big hit, with less than 20 minutes played. Diego Zeiter was the beneficiary, and takes over the chip lead.

The flop was already on the table, 8105.

Michaelis had checked to Zeiter, who bet 360,000 (we arrived late, so this is a best guess). Michaelis called as the clock approached zero.

Diego Zeiter just kept betting

Now the A on the turn.

Again, Michaelis checked. Zeiter went to his stack, making it 825,000 this time. Michaelis let the clock tick down, and then called.

Now the 4 on the river.

Michaelis – his arms folded on the table – tapped his bicey to indicate a check. Zeiter seemed undeterred, and bet 1.2 million this time.

Michaelis would fold, but not before he used up a time bank card. He allowed himself a smile. Zeiter’s expression didn’t change.

Paul Michaelis: Early hit

People were curious, and wanted to know what Zeiter had.

Parker Talbot piped up: “You’ll have to ___ ___ ___ ___ to get him to show. Much too serious.”

You can fill in the blanks yourself. But let’s just hope that doesn’t happen. – SB

12:20pm: Building with Liviu Ignat
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

No major skirmishes on Table 2 as yet, although Liviu Ignat is calling the shots. He won at least three of the opening seven pots.

In the first, which was the last hand in Level 25, Evangelos Bechrakis opened the button to 80,000 and Ignat three-bet to 365,000 from the big blind. He won.

Soon after, Ignat won a hand from Diego Zeiter after calling from the small blind and watchng Zeiter check his option. The 8107 flop was checked, then the 4 came on the turn. Ignat’s 160,000 tickle didn’t interest Zeiter.

On the next hand, Ignat opened his button to 100,000 and Konstantin Farber called in the big blind. They checked the QA3510 board all the way through and Farber simply mucked his cards at the end. Ignat therefore didn’t have to show.

“You peel that wide?” Parker Talbot asked of Farber. Farber nodded. Notably, no one found out how wide Ignat was opening.

Anyhow, that’s how Ignat added about 280,000 chips to his stack without ever showing his cards. — HS

12:15pm: New level
Level 26 – Blinds 25,000/50,000 (BB ante 50,000)

After just a couple of hands in Level 25 at both tables, they’ve moved on to Level 26. –MH

12:10pm: Pateychuk shoves, collects
Level 25 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (BB ante 40,000)

In the first hand of the day, Konstantin Farber raised to 85,000 from early position and got a caller in Paul Michaelis sitting one seat over. It folded around to Andrey Pateychuk in the big blind who reraise-shoved all in for 660,000, and that got both Farber and Michaelis to fold. –MH

12pm: Play!
Level 25 – Blinds 20,000/40,000 (BB ante 40,000)

There are five minutes still left in Level 25, but they’ll be pushing straight on into Level 26 immediately after. And cards are now in the air. — HS

11:55am: The race to the final table

Good morning once again and welcome back to the Czech Republic where we’re wearing suits, ties and carrying briefcases. EPT Prague is approaching its business end.

There are 16 players left in the €5,000 Main Event and by this time tomorrow there needs to be only six of them. So the order of business today is to lose ten and the bag up once more.

The story of how we got here is best related via all of yesterday’s coverage, but the short version is that Paul Michaelis flew to the top of the counts, with Liviu Ignat and Diego Zeiter rounding out the top three.

Andrey Pateychuk, the only former EPT champion still in the field, is the overnight short stack with 18 big blinds, so it’s a long way back for him if he wants another title. But there are plenty of chips still to be shared around.

The next player out is guaranteed €44,920, but the biggest money will be reserved for those who hit the final. Sixth place pays €179,360, while the winner is set for €1.02 million. All the payout information is on the payouts page.

Tournament area at EPT Prague

Enough of this teaser, it’s time to prepare for the action. Play starts at noon. — HS

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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the €5,300 Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Martin Harris and Howard Swains. Photography by Joe Giron/PokerPhotoArchive and Neil Stoddart.

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