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Another day at the top for Paul Michaelis

So that’s that. Play has concluded for Day 3 of the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event. There are 49 players left of 855 starters who are all in with a shot at winning the €775,000 first prize and the title. They will all go to bed tonight knowing they have bagged at least €14,100.

Leading the pack is Germany’s Paul Michaelis who was our Day 2 chip leader and who kept that spot for most of today. Interestingly Michal Mrakes is in second place and was our Day 1 chip leader, with 1.03 million. They have both made their early big stacks count and are the only two players with more than 1 million.

Just behind, we find Jason Wheeler with 931,000, Navot Golan on 888,000 and Anatolii Zyrin on 825,000.

Other notable names still in are Team PokerStars Pros Marcin Horecki and Fatima Moreira de Melo, plus Pierre Calamusa, Matas Cimbolas and Alex Foxen.


Fatima Moreira de Melo: Let me tell you about Day 3

Moreira de Melo was on the feature table all day and ended on 723,000. She got a great boost to her stack in a three-way all in versus James Akenhead and Martin Staszko. Moreira de Melo’s QQ held against AQ and A10 respectively.

But it hasn’t all been good news, as we passed the bubble today. It lasted more than 100 minutes and ended with Andrzej Siemieniak and Mihai Manole busting on the same hand but on different tables.

That meant they chopped the min-cash, not enough to cover the buy-in but it was a sweetener nonetheless.

But then it got better. There was also a massive, secret, additional prize for them both as Daniel Negreanu awarded them the first-ever Platinum Passes to the all new Player’s No Limit Hold’em Championship.

The package includes a buy-in of $25,000 and full travel expenses. Really, you should read more about this event and other big news that was announced by Daniel Negreanu


Daniel Negreanu gives a Platinum Pass to Mihai Manole

Full chip-count details are on the chip-count page. Prizewinners to date are on the prizewinners page. Join us here again tomorrow for Day 4, when play resumes at 12pm.

Day 3 coverage archive

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10pm: Mrakes busts Roca in night’s last hand
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

In the very last hand of the night, Marti Roca’s chips went in the middle following a 269 flop versus Michal Mrakes. Roca had 88 but Mrakes had a better pair with 109, and after the A turn and K river Roca hit the rail just before the bags came out.

That hand looks to have pushed Mrakes over the 1 million mark to end the night. –MH

9:55pm: Four more hands
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

One, two, three, four, then they’ll all be out the door. –MH

9:45pm: Bercovici busts at the death
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

As the the announcement was being made that four more hands are to be played this evening, Hari Bercovici was busy losing a flip to bust.

The former chip leader moved all-in for 171,000 from under the gun and picked up a customer in the shape of Thomas Lentrodt.

Bercovici: 77
Lentrodt: AK

The board ran 25K42 to pair Lentrodt’s king. –MC

9:40pm: Stavridis out; Michaelis builds
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Paris Stavridis is out, the latest victim of Paul Michaelis. In fact, Michaelis could have knocked out two players in consecutive hands but…well, we’ll get to that.

Firstly, Stavridis got his last 210,000 in as a four-bet jam after opening, then facing a three-bet from Michaelis in the big blind.

They were racing, with Stavridis’s 66 up against Michaelis’s AQ. But Michaelis has been running very well and hit both his over-cards. That sent Stavridis home and vaulted Michaelis to 1.5 million.

On the next hand, Michaelis was in the small blind and action folded to Matas Cimbolas on the button. He raised to 20,000 and Michaelis three-bet to 75,000. Cimbolas called.

The KK4 immediately brought a bet of 50,000 from Michaelis, but it didn’t shift Cimbolas. Then the 7 fell on the turn and it went check, bet (55,000) call this time, Cimbolas taking over the lead.

The 2 completed the board and Michaelis checked again. That allowed Cimbolas to bomb the lot–in this case his last 210,000–and after a long tank, Michaelis folded.

He is likely still chip leader with around 1.3 million. But it’s close now. They’re playing the last four hands of the day. — HS

9:30pm: Shabelnyk survives scare to double
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

With just 146,000 to play with, Valentyn Shabelnyk needed something to happen. It did and he survived a flush draw to double up.

He made his move form the button and was called by Jukka Paloniemi in the small blind.

Paloniemi: A4
Shabelnyk: KK

The board ran 8J74J to see the kings home. Paloniemi dropped down to 356,000. –MC

9:25pm: Soshnikov shoves and survives
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Catching up on a three-way hand on a 425 flop, Ivan Soshnikov checked from early position, then Gavin O’Rourke bet 38,000 and Kalidou Sow called. Soshnikov then check-raised all in for his entire stack of 145,000, and while O’Rourke quickly beat a retreat Sow took a moment and then called the push.

Soshnikov had an overpair plus a straight draw with 66, while Sow was drawing to a flush with K9. The turn was the J and river the 8, and Soshnikov’s hand held.

Soshnikov bumps up very close to 400,000 with that pot, O’Rourke has 645,000, and Sow was up over a million a while ago, but now has slipped to about 595,000. –MH

9:20pm: Targa targets Cody, hits
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The Team PokerStars Pro tally is down to two after Jake Cody hit the rail in a big pair versus bigger pair blast-off.

Actually, that’s too grand a billing. It was simply a raise, shove, call between Petr Targa and Cody, the latter sitting with only about 110,000.

Cody had jacks. Targa had aces. And there was no outdraw for Cody.

Marcin Horecki and Fatima Moreira de Melo continue to fly the flag as we enter the last 40 minutes of the day. –HS

NEIL9723_PSC_Prague2017_Jake_Cody_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Cody’s outta here

9:15pm: Foxen not impressed with Paloniemi’s line
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Alex Foxen shook his head out of view of neighbour Jukka Paloniemi after the latter took a line that he was less than impressed with, or one that cost him seeing a river card.

The pot started with a Paloniemi raise from under the call. He picked up calls from Ji Zhang on the button and Foxen in the big blind. The flop fell AJ8 and Paloniemi’s 38,000 c-bet was called by both players. The turn brought a third club, the 2, and Paloniemi asked Zhang how much he had left – 304,000 was the answer – and then fired again, for 110,000.

Zhang took a minute and then raised all-in. Foxen folded and Paloniemi went into the tank. That’s when Foxen leant back in his chair and shook his head. Paloniemi took another two minutes, winced a couple of times and then folded, which prompted more subtle head shakes from Foxen.

Paloniemi – 560,000
Foxen – 480,000
Zhang – 915,000

9:10pm: Wheeler eliminates a pair with big pair
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Jason Wheeler just reduced the size of this tournament field by two players after knocking out both Yuliyan Kolev and Aleksandr Orlov in one fell swoop.

The hand started with an open to 22,000 from under the gun by Kolev, after which Orlov pushed all in for 121,000 from the next seat over. It was the second hand in a row Orlov had put all his chips in the middle, but unlike in the first one when no one called him, he’d get plenty of business this time.

It folded around to Wheeler in the big blind who paused just a beat before announcing he was all in, and Kolev called in an instant.

Wheeler: QQ
Kolev: AK
Orlov: AJ

The board came eight-high — 75248 — and Wheeler’s queens and bigger stack meant both Kolev and Orlov were done.

That table’s breaking now, and Wheeler is racking up around 940,000 to carry to his new seat. –MH

9:05pm: Lentrodt pays the price to sit with the stars
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Pierre Calamusa is under what many players would consider to be intense pressure. He is going to be the central figure in a documentary film that will follow his every move through this tournament, so it follows that there is a film-crew currently fixed on him: three cameras, all day, every day.

But he’s a cool customer is the man from Grenobles. And he just extracted the maximum from a hand against Thomas Lentrodt.

Calamusa opened his button and Lentrodt called in the big blind. Then they checked the flop of JA7 and the turn of 2. Lentrodt fancied a stab at the Q river, betting 31,000, but Calamusa raised it to 100,000.

Lentrodt thought everything through, but then called. “Two pair,” the dealer said as Calamusa showed his QJ.

“I knew you had the jack, but…” Lentrodt said as he counted out the chips to hand to the film-star Frenchman. –HS

8:55pm: Mooney doesn’t get to go home just yet
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1000)

Mikita Badziakouski has just asked John Mooney whether he is playing any more events after this one. Mooney replied saying he will be heading home just as soon as he’s finished in the Main Event, as he is feeling homesick after 10 days away.

No sooner had that conversation taken place than Mooney shoved all in for 112,000 and got one caller in Omid Mojaverian.

Mojaverian: 1010
Mooney: A6

It was Mooney who needed to hit and had already risen out of his chair before the flop came 2K9. “I’m happy with that” said Mooney, picking up a flush draw to go with his over.

8G2A8346_PSC_Prague2017_John_Mooney_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Mooney stands…

The K turn didn’t help him but the 9 river did and he doubled to 240,000. Guess he’s not so homesick after all.

8G2A8349_PSC_Prague2017_John_Mooney_Neil Stoddart.jpg

…and the river delivers

Omid Mojaverian didn’t look happy though. After leading for much of yesterday, he has dropped significantly to around 250,000. Day 3 hasn’t been as kind to him Day 2 but all that could change. –LY

8:50pm: All in (almost)
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

A little bit of fun just now between Daniel Barriocanal and Alexander Resko who came back from the break 57th out of 57 players in chips.

Preflop Resko had gotten all but 1,000 in the middle versus Barriocanal, and the pair made it to the turn with the board showing Q76A and Resko still having that one yellow chip behind. Barriocanal peeled a 1,000 chip off his stack and pushed it forward, and Resko called, showing A9 to Barriocanal’s K10.

The 8 completed the board, and Resko survive with about 125,000 to Barriocanal’s 415,000. –MH

8:40pm: Double for Sinclair
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Jack Sinclair must’ve been confident that he was going to double his short stack in this, the last level of the day, as he lined up a masseuse. He moved all-in twice and indeed found that double-up.

He three-bet all-in from the button and got no callers, then the very next hand he open jammed for 142,000 and was called by Jason Wheeler in the next seat.

Sinclair: QJ
Wheeler: 88

The board ran AJ947 to pair his jack. Sinclair actually called for a seven on the river and then declared he was good at calling rivers. Wheeler dropped to 470,000. –MC

8:35pm: Calamusa clashes with Heidorn
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Pierre Calamusa and Robert Heidorn are sitting side-by-side, and just now could be found vying for a couple of pots in consecutive hands.

In the first Heidorn raised from under the gun and Calamusa defended his big blind with a call. The flop came 2J2, and after checking and watching Heidorn continue for 22,000, Calamusa put in a check-raise to 60,000 and Heidorn called.

The K turn and 120,000 follow-up bet from Calamusa were not his Heidorn’s liking, though, and he folded.

On the next hand Calamusa tried to limp from the small blind and Heidorn raised from the big, getting a call from Calamusa. They then cautiously checked down an ace-high board, and Heidorn won the small one after making jacks with jack-eight.

Calamusa has 830,000 at the moment, while Heidorn has 460,000. –MH

8G2A8142_PSC_Prague2017__Calamusa_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Calamusa climbing

8:30pm: Barriocanal can’t resist the call to pay Salter
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

A nice way to kick off the level for Louis Salter, whose stack just received a boost when he was able to make a river get-there look sufficiently like a bluff to be called by worse.

Between Salter and Daniel Barriocanal they got 67,000 in the pot pre-flop, sitting in the small and big blind, respectively. That probably meant a raise/call.

Then they saw the 96Q flop and Salter bet 28,000. Barriocanal called.

Neither put any more chips in after the Q turn, but then Salter barrelled 118,000 after the A river.

At this stage, Barriocanal had 525,000 still behind the line, while Salter’s stack (including his river bet) was 480,000. Barriocanal thought long and hard but Salter gave nothing away, gentling riffling chips in his right hand.

Barriocanal’s curiosity could not be sated without a call, however, and he put the chips forward. Salter showed AJ and Barriocanal mucked.

It meant Barriocanal now sits with 398,000 and Salter builds to about 700,000. –HS

8:25pm: Back for one more
Level 19 – Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Players are back and Level 19 is underway with 57 players still with a chance at the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event title. Paul Michaelis has spent almost the entire day at the top of the leaderboard, and the German remains there for the latest update of the chip counts. Here’s a look at the current top 10:

Name Country Status Chips
Paul Michaelis Germany PokerStars qualifier 1,530,000
Kalidou Sow France 1,089,000
Serhii Popovych Ukraine PokerStars player 1,050,000
Fatima Moreira De Melo Netherlands Team PokerStars Pro 822,000
Pierre Calamusa France 818,000
Diego Zeiter Switzerland PokerStars player 800,000
Hon Cheong Lee Hong Kong 800,000
Dominik Panka Poland 713,000
Gavin O’Rourke Ireland PokerStars player 710,000
Alex Foxen USA 700,000

A reminder — this is the last 90-minute level of Day 3. –MH

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8pm: Last break of the day

With the end of Level 18, players are now on a slightly-longer 30-minute break before they return for one last hour-and-a-half level. –MH

7:55pm: From Kolev to Kalev
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1000)

It was a straight forward flip between Yuliyan Kolev and Petar Kalev. Kolev had opened from under the gun to 18,000 and Kalev shoved for 96,000 on the button. It seemed like a no-brainer for Kolev who snap-called and the two Bulgarians were flipping.

Kolev: AQ
Kalev: 88

Kalev needed to dodge an ace or queen to stay in. The dealer put out 599 on the flop and so far, so good for Kalev. The 2 turn and 4 river kept things low and it was a double to 210,000 for Kalev, meanwhile Kolev now has 250,000. –LY

7:50pm: Top three
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

As the last break of the day approaches, there’s not a soaraway, clear chip leader. Paul Michaelis and Serhii Popovych have a little more than a million, but probably they’re both trailing Kalidou Sow, who has about 1.3 million. Sow is playing a lot of pots. –HS

7:45pm: JJJ for Ji
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

While Aleksandr Orlov sleeps, Viliyan Petleshkov’s tournament life is now sleeping with the fishes, capiche?

It all started with a Alex Foxen open to 18,000 under the gun. A few folds later and Petleshkov shoved for 119,000, and when it got to Ji Zhang in the big blind he shoved too for 240,000. Foxen gave it up.

Both had pocket pairs, but Petleshkov’s KK was besting Zhang’s JJ. The A285 board was safe for the all-in player, but the J on the river was a crushing blow. Petleshkov is outta here, while Zhang’s stack increases to 365,000. –JS

7:35pm: Fleur wilts
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Alexis Fleur, who made the final table at the PokerStars Festival London at the beginning of this year, has seen his PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event come to a grinding halt.

It was Louis Salter who finished Fleur off in a pre-flop pair-versus-bigger-pair accident.

Salter raised to 18,000, Fleur shipped for 160,000, Salter called.

Salter: 1010
Fleur: 99

Nothing dramatic on the board and a 500,000-plus stack for Salter. –HS

7:30pm: No one’s in a rush
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1000)

With only 60 left in the field, many tables are taking their time when making a decision.

This was true of Valentyn Shabelnyk, who just spent about five minutes in the tank on the river, facing a 255,000 all in by Jukka Paloniemi. Shabelnyk had been the preflop aggressor and had continued on a 342 flop. He then checked-called the 9 turn and checked the 4 river. It was too much for Alex Foxen who called time and before the time was out, Shabelnyk had laid it down. –LY

7:27pm: Ouellani runs into kings, busts
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Samy Ouellani looked down and saw AQ and open-shoved his 110,000 stack from mid-position. Nothing wrong with that. However Matas Cimbolas, sitting behind, peeked at his cards and saw KK.

Despite losing a huge pot earlier in this level with kings, Cimbolas did what he had to do. And after a board of 4J439 it was the end of the road for Ouellani.

Cimbolas is still licking his wounds after taking that big hit, but builds back to 480,000 after that latest hand. However, he has tournament leader Paul Michaelis to his immediate left with 1.1 million, and Gabriele Lepore, with about 800,000 one seat further around, so Cimbolas is still in a tight spot.

But let’s allow Ouellani to depart with dignity before we start feeling sorry for Cimbolas, huh. –HS

7:25pm: Orlov wakes up again, this time with kings
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

The sleeping man, Aleksandr Orlov, has just proved he only wakes up for the premiums.

After having to be woke up again, Orlov opened to 20,000 and it folded around to Jason Wheeler in the big blind. He made the call and the dealer spread a 510J flop, which Wheeler checked. Orlov instantly moved all in, and Wheeler called pretty quickly.

Orlov: KK
Wheeler: J4

Wheeler had flopped top pair, but amazingly Orlov had literally woken up with pocket kings, not to mention having a heart draw, too. The 7 turn completed that, and the 9 rounded things off. Orlov is up to 170,000 now, while Wheeler dips to 460,000.

NEIL9120_PSC_Prague2017__Wheeler_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Wheeler, wide awake

“What did you expect?” someone asked Wheeler as the whole table giggled at Orlov’s snoozy tactics. Orlov couldn’t quite believe it.

“You’re not dreaming! This is real!” joked Jack Sinclair.

“Don’t you get a penalty for snoring?” added Dermot Blain. –JS

7:20pm: Waking up with aces
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Most of us have heard the poker term, “waking up with aces.” Aleksandr Orlov kind of just gave us the literal version of it, or at least half of it.

You see, the Russian player has been caught dozing off on more than one occasion today. He was under the gun and it was handy he was in the eight seat as the dealer was able to give him a nudge to wake him up. He looked at his cards and moved all-in for around 90,000. All opponents folded and he was goaded into showing a card, the A.

Quick as a flash, tablemate Jack Sinclair said, “Ah, waking up with aces!” Too good. –MC

7:10pm: Clocks and folds
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

It can be kind of fun when players with similar-sized stacks go at it because one of them might shove and the other, whether or not they have marginally bigger stack, will still know they’re essentially making a decision for their tournament.

It happened three times in the space of a few minutes on neighbouring tables, though everyone decided to fight another day.

The first followed a late-position open to 20,000 and a three-bet from Xixiang Luo to 58,000. Marti Roca, one seat around from Luo, then jammed for 290,000 and the original raiser’s fold left the decision with Luo.

Luo and Roca had almost identical stacks and, after some tanking, Luo folded.

On the next table over, Jukka Paloniemi opened to 18,000 and Marcin Horecki, in the small blind, three-bet to 66,000. Paloniemi called and the two saw the J24 flop.

Horecki bet 45,000, which Paloniemi called, and the J hit the turn.

Horecki checked again, but Paloniemi moved in, for 227,000. Horecki took an age to make up his mind, even after he had counted out his own stack and determined that a wayward call would keep him in… with 45,000 (five big blinds).

Paloniemi called the clock as Horecki stroked his chips and pondered his options. Then, with around five seconds left, he folded. The Team PokerStars Pro will look for a better spot.

As that one was playing out, Roca and Luo were again at it back on the other table. This one started with Roca raising to 18,000 under the gun, which picked up calls from both the small and big blinds. Luo was the big.

The three of them saw the flop of J106 and, after two checks, Roca bet 27,000. The small blind folded, but Luo then moved all in, for 248,000 this time.

Roca had 320,000 in his stack, so a misplaced call from him would leave only a handful of blinds. The clock was called. He let it tick down. Then he folded.

Short version of this post: three players folded. –HS

7:05pm: It would have been interesting
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Arriving at the scene with a 31,000 bet in front of Matas Cimbolas that had been called by Paul Michaelis, another player folded and it went heads up to the turn on a J82 flop.

The 6 peeled off and Cimbolas fired another bullet worth 86,000. Michaelis made a pretty quick call, and continued to stare right at Cimbolas as the dealer put down the 6 river. He then glanced over, and back at Cimbolas who checked. Michaelis seemed a little relieved by this, and checked it back.

Cimbolas turned over the 910, showing he’d flopped an open-ender that missed. Michaelis had the AJ for top pair with the sixes on board, and that was good.

“Where was the barrel?” he asked Cimbolas while stacking up his 1.18 million. “It would have been interesting if you did.”

Cimbolas, who now has 350,000, contemplated his decision.

“I could have shoved,” he wondered out loud. –JS

7pm: Triple for Stavridis; hit for Cimbolas
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

In a marginally different world, this post describes Matas Cimbolas winning the biggest pot of the tournament and stacking up more than 2 million in chips. But we don’t deal in fiction here, even if it would only represent the tiniest tinkering from what actually happened.

As it is Paris Stavridis now stacks a thoroughly refreshed stack of 600,000, while Gabriele Lepore lives to fight another day. He was the third player in what had the makings of a tournament-defining showdown.

It started with a raise from Stavridis in early position. He made it 18,000. Cimbolas, in the hijack, called and then Lepore, on the button squeezed to 73,000.

The blinds got out the way, but then Stavridis moved all in for 243,000. Cimbolas then went into the tank, but then re-shoved for around 800,000, which covered Lepore by less than 100,000.

It was, therefore, an enormous moment for Lepore, who knew that if this went wrong, he would go from the top five to the scrapheap. After a few moments, he folded.

NEIL9509_PSC_Prague2017_Gabriele_Lepore_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Gabriele Lepore, leaving this hand report to others

That ensured we wouldn’t be seeing an absolutely enormous pot, but it still left a pretty sizeable one to be contested by what was certainly pretty sizeable hands. So it proved:

Cimbolas: KK
Stavridis: QQ

Bad news, then, for Stavridis. But only until the turn, when the dealer put the Q out there, to hit him hard. There were a couple of diamonds on the 5J6 flop, meaning Cimbolas had a flush draw to re-suck. But the 7 river missed them all.

Stavridis therefore found a double-up-plus. Cimbolas took a major hit and Lepore, who said he folded ace-king, breathed a results-oriented sigh of relief. –HS

6:55pm: It’s nice to have the nuts
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1000)

It’s even nicer to have the nuts when facing an all in, which is the dreamy spot Assaf Ben Yosef found himself in on the river.

The board read 286AJ and Aleksandr Orlov was the player who had set Yosef in. It was the easiest of calls for Yosef who snapped it off and turned over A7, beating Orlov’s flopped set with 88. Yosef goes up to around 300,000 and leaving Orlov with around 10 big blinds.

The next hand Orlov pulled a little back by getting a steal through and has around 100,000 in front. –LY

6:50pm: Two streets of value for Serhii
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Serhil Popovych has gotten his stack up to 520,000 after getting two streets of value out of top pair.

He opened to 18,000 from the cutoff and Ivan Soshnikov peeled from the big blind to see a an 863 flop appear. Popovych continued for 19,000 and was check-called before both players checked the 6 turn. The 4 completed the board and Soshnikov check-tank-called another 38,000. He mucked and dropped to 330,000 after Popovych showed him A8. –MC

6:45pm: Nice orbits for Targa and Farber
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

We’ve just lost Shabtai Koren from this Main Event. He open-shoved for around 100,000 and it folded to Petr Targa in the big blind who made the call. He had the 88 which was beating Koren’s 66, and the 38J flop made all but impossible for him to make a comeback. The 5 and J completed the board and Koren went to the cage, while Targa now sits with around 300,000.

Meanwhile, on another table chip leader Paul Michaelis opened under the gun to 18,000 only for Gabriele Lepore to three-bet to 55,000 a couple of spots over. It folded to Konstantin Farber in the big blind and he counted out some green 25,000 chips, eventually four-betting it to 150,000.

That bet shook off Michaelis quite quickly, while Lepore thought for a few moments but came to the result. Farber’s four bet win now gives him a stack of 620,000, while Michaelis still leads with 1.05 million and Lepore dips to 500,000. –JS

6:35pm: Double KO on feature table as Fatima takes out Akenhead, Staszko
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Soon after play picked back up on the feature thable there was a three-way all-in situation after James Akenhead jammed for 116,000 from the hijack seat, Martin Staszko reshoved for 215,000 from the cutoff, and Fatima Moreira De Melo called both from the button.

Akenhead: AQ
Staszko: A10
Moreira De Melo: QQ

The flop brought three low cards — 543 — and the 4 on the turn kept Moreira De Melo’s queens in front. The 10 river completed the board, hitting Stasko’s hand but not doing enough to prevent both him and Akenhead from hitting the rail.

Put Fatima up to 934,000 after that double-KO of a couple of November Niners. –MH

6:25pm: Back to business, 71 remain
Level 18 – Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

NEIL9567_PSC_Prague2017_Matas_Cimbolas_Paul_Michaelis_Neil Stoddart.jpg

The day’s leaders side-by-side: Matas Cimbolas (left) and Paul Michaelis (right)

The 71 remaining players are back in their seats and Level 18 is underway. Paul Michaelis reclaimed the chip lead from Matas Cimbolas before the last level ended after the latter slipped back a bit. Here’s the top 10 as play resumes:

Name Country Status Chips
Paul Michaelis Germany PokerStars qualifier 1,075,000
Matas Cimbolas Lithuania PokerStars player 950,000
Gabriele Lepore Italy 875,000
Hon Cheong Lee Hong Kong 860,000
Dominik Panka Poland 748,000
Michal Mrakes Czech Republic 721,000
Alex Foxen USA 620,000
Kalidou Sow France 620,000
Anatolii Zyrin Russia PokerStars player 605,000
Gavin O’Rourke Ireland PokerStars player 600,000

Fatima Moreira De Melo sits just outside the top 10 with 562,000, with Mikita Badziakouski (543,000), Pierre Calamusa (505,000), and Ivan Soshnikov (490,000) also among the big stacks at present. –MH

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6:05pm: Take a break, everyone

Another level is done, and players are taking another 20-minute break. –MH

6:02pm: Badziakouski doubles through Barriocanal
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Mikita Badziakouski is closing in on half a million chips, following an all in against Daniel Barriocanal.

The Spaniard kicked things off with a 14,000 open in middle position and action came round to Badziakouski who was sat in the big blind. He popped it up to 48,000 and Barriocanal asked for a count. Badziakouki had 184,000 behind and Barriocanal set him all in. The Belarusian pro thought about it for thirty seconds or so before he made the call and they were off to the races.

Badziakouski QQ
Barriocanal AK

To the flop then and it came 54J. The 6 turn took away any chance of a flush, leaving Barricanal with only and ace or a king to hit. It wasn’t to be, the 10 gave Badiziakouski the double and he has over 450,000 in front now. –LY

6:05pm: Horecki’s makin’ moves
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Team Pro Marcin Horecki had no action in front of him and raised to 14,000 in the cutoff. Over to Valentyn Shabelnyk in the small blind, he put in a three-bet to 50,000.

With his hood up and sunglasses on, Horecki slowly picked up a stack of his chips and counted out a raise. He four-bet to 104,000, essentially just clicking it back.

Shabelnyk stared at the Pole to try and get a read, and ultimately let his hand go. Horecki took one last peek at his hand, before flipping over the 5.

He’s up to 410,000 after that one, while Shabelnyk drops to 345,000. –JS

6pm: Going to need a bigger boat
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Looking only at the cards and the board dealt all the way, this hand seems to have been a brutal beat. But I think the chips went in before the river — possibly on the flop — and so it wasn’t quite the gross boat-over-boat cooler that it might otherwise appear.

The gist is that Estonia’s Daniel Belov had 1010 and Michal Mrakes, the Day 1A chip-leader, had J9 and they had both connected significantly with the KJ9J10 board.

But, as I say, I think the money went in before Belov filled up, so it may not be quite so horrible for him.

I mean, it’s horrible enough that he’s out. That much is true. And Mrakes is now building a stack again, up to around 800,000. With the tournament break imminent, we’ll know where Mrakes sits in relation to the rest of the 70 players left. A full chip count is coming. –HS

6pm: Isaia all in, Fatima folds
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Over on the feature table, Fatima Moreira De Melo just got involved in a four-way hand versus three of the table’s short stacks.

She’d raised preflop, then kept the initiative with a continuation bet from early position after the 5AQ flop. Only Alessio Isaia called from the next seat over, and with 130,000 in the middle the turn brought the 7. Both checked.

The river was the 5, and Moreira De Melo bet small — 38,000. Isaia instantly shoved all in, and Moreira De Melo folded instantly.

She takes 562,000 to the break, while Isaia now has 250,000. –MH

5:55pm: Round 2 goes to Mrakes
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Robert Heidorn didn’t keep those chips he won off Michal Mrakes too long as the latter won the next duel we witnessed.

Mrakes opened from second position and Heidorn called from the hijack. The former continued for 13,000 on an 8108 flop and was called. Both players checked the 7 flop and Heidorn called another 32,000 on the 10 river. Mrakes opened Q10 for a full house and his opponent mucked.

Mrakes has 580,000 now, Heidorn 450,000. –MC

5:45pm: Foxen hunting
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Alex Foxen is a starer. Y’know, one of those players who will stare right at your face when you’re sat just a few inches away. But there must be a good reason behind it, like picking up tells.

However, in this last hand Foxen was so busy staring at Valentyn Shabelnyk who’d raised to 15,000 on his right that he forgot about Jukka Paloniemi on his left. Foxen three-bet from the hijack to 48,000, only for Paloniemi to shove for 131,000.

Shabelnyk folded pretty quickly, proving Foxen’s read was right. But now the chip hunter had become the hunted.

“How much is it?” asked Foxen, and the dealer counted it out. He looked down at his big stack, and ultimately decided he couldn’t fold.

After calling, he instantly turned over a hand we weren’t really expecting: the 54. Paloniemi was in front with his AQ, and even more so after the QJ10QK runout.

With that, Foxen still has 485,000, but it was a better hunt for Paloniemi who now sits with 294,000. –JS

NEIL9514_PSC_Prague2017_William_Foxen_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Sly as a Foxen

5:40pm: Small blind extra special
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

You can usually widen your range a little when sitting in the blinds, especially when faced with a single min-raise. Brazil’s Walter Oaquim found a suited three-gapper in those circumstances a moment ago, and will be pretty pleased that he decided to get involved.

Kalidou Sow was the pre-flop raiser, sticking 12,000 over the line from the cutoff. Oaquim called in the small blind and Harry Lodge also called in the big blind.

Those three went to the 9J3 flop and both Oaquim and Lodge checked it to Sow. Sow bet 16,000 and only Oaquim called.

They both then checked the 10 turn, taking them to the 9 on the river. This was a super-dangerous board and Oaquim’s bet of 18,000 seemed especially strong as a result.

Sow called and that allowed Oaquim to turn over his 8Q for a straight flush. Lovely stuff, and he was probably only disappointed that Sow didn’t have better himself.

Sow and Oaquim now have very similar stack sizes, about 480,000. Lodge sits with 390,000 while Jake Cody, also at that table, has 280,000. –HS

NEIL9378_PSC_Prague2017__Cody_Neil Stoddart.jpg

There’s Jake

5:30pm: Cimbolas has done it
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Today just keeps getting better and better for Matas Cimbolas. So much so in fact, that he is the first player to ascend over the 1 million mark.

It was all down to a hand that saw him on the right side of a cooler versus Yury Kanunnikov, who became the latest victim to fall at the hands of the Lithuanian.

It was a top set 88 vs. bottom set 44 situation that involved a four-bet all in by Cimbolas and a call by Kanunnikov on the flop. The case four didn’t make an appearance and Cimbolas is sitting with an even mightier stack now… what looks like 1.3 million. Can anyone stop him in his quest for chips? –LY

NEIL9144_PSC_Prague2017__Cimbolas_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Matas Cimbolas, trending upward

5:25pm: Heidorn won’t be pushed around
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Day 1A chip leader Michal Mrakes has dropped back to 505,000 after a three-bet flop semi-bluff didn’t get through against Robert Heidorn.

Mrakes opened to 15,000 from the hijack and was only called by Heidorn on the button. The flop spread 9Q6 and Mrakes continued for 15,000. Heidorn raised to 47,000 and then called after being three-bet to 115,000. The pot was looking like it was going to be huge but the 2J turn and river were checked through.

Mrakes opened KJ but lost out to his German opponent’s KQ. That put Heidorn up to 516,000. –MC

5:20pm: Dad-joking Cimbolas takes over at the top
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Matas Cimbolas has just about taken over at the top of the leader board, a place he occupied for most of Day 1B. Cimbolas has 900,000 chips now, having sent Markus Durnegger to the rail, and picking up a few extras in the pot too.

The extras came from Yury Kanunnikov and Samy Ouellani following an early-postion raise to 16,000 and a call from two-seats over. But then Cimbolas three-bet to 58,000 on the button and Durnegger did not immediately release from the small blind.

In fact, Durnegger turned to his neighbour and asked him something about his holding.

“You want to know about my hand?” Cimbolas said, with mock incredulity. He then dusted down a poker joke last heard in “Grandpa’s Matchstick Game 1983”. Cimbolas said: “I have a hand. I have two hands.” He waved them as proof.

Durnegger chuckled away, but then said he wanted to raise. He put 75,000 chips out, but was quickly told it wasn’t quite enough. He had to make it 100,000, which actually put him all in.

Both Kanunnikov and Ouellani folded, but Cimbolas said, “You know I can’t fold, right?” and called.

Cimbolas: QQ
Durnegger: 88

There was a tiny sliver of hope for Durnegger after the 10710 flop and 6 turn. But he whiffed the gutshot after the K river and that was all she wrote for Durnegger.

Cimbolas began stacking his heaps and asked for a colour up to green chips. He is getting close to being the first through 1 million. –HS

5:10pm: Mooney and Karmatckii get it in
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

It was a classic flip between John Mooney and Arsenii Karmatckii. The chips had gone all in pre and it was Mooney who was all in… but only just.

It was AQ for Mooney against Karmatchii’s 1010 and the board ran out 4KA, giving Mooney the massive lead over Karmatchii’s pocket pair. The 3 turn and 7 river changed nothing and Mooney doubled up to 140,000 whilst Karmatchkii dropped to just 12,000.

Unfortunately for Karmatchkii, he was on the big blind the very next hand and committed the last few yellow chips. He couldn’t spin up though, with Mikita Badziakouski taking the small pot and Karmatchkii’s hopes with him. -LY

5:05pm: Horecki Marcin on
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

That say you have to win flips to win tournaments. Team PokerStars Pro managed the flop win thing just now and is up to 335,000.

Jukka Paloniemi opened to 15,000 and called after Horecki three-bet all-in for 160,000 from the blinds.

Horecki: AQ
Paloniemi: 1010

The board ran Q88A7 to make the Polish pro two pair. Paloniemi dropped to a little over ten big blinds with 64,000. –MC

8G2A8066_PSC_Prague2017__Horecki_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Horecki hanging in

5pm: Moreira de Melo hits new high
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Fatima Moreira de Melo’s day of extreme swings continues and she has just vaulted up the leader board thanks to a three-way all-in pre-flop hyphen-filled confrontation. Arnaud Enselme was knocked out, while Aleksandr Mordvinov took a hit.

Enselme open-jammed for 140,000. Moreira de Melo then re-shipped for 277,000. And then Mordvinov, with the covering stack, put both of them under threat.

At this stage, the hand equities were in the same order as the chip stacks. Enselme’s 99 (18 percent equity) trailed Moreira de Melo’s AK (39 percent) which trailed Mordinov’s QQ (42 percent).

But after the flop of A46, Moreira de Melo was ahead. And she stayed there through the 5 turn and 2 river.

Moreira de Melo now has 710,000. Mordvinov has about 400,000 and Enselme has sweet FA. –HS

NEIL9195_PSC_Prague2017__Neil Stoddart.jpg

Fatima thriving on the feature table

4:55pm: Another one down
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Two tables, two shoves, one call, one bust-out. Do you actually want the details? Okay, the details:

Petr Targa, one of the home country’s final representatives in this Main Event, pushed for 62,000 from early position. Only one opponent even gave any indication that he might be thinking about a call, but then let his hand go allowing Targa to battle on.

But it wasn’t so simple for Christopher Andler, whose 33,000 push was always likely to get at least one caller.

As it happens, it was only Valery Yantsevich, his immediate neighbour, who called. Everyone else folded.

Andler’s J9 needed help against Yantsevich’s A7. But he got no assistance at all as the board ran 7103210. Andler departs. –HS

4:50pm: Savinelli out
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Action was on the flop by the time the blogging team arrived. The cards had come down 34Q and Savinelli had moved all in for 39,000, being first to act. He got one call from Harry Lodge and with all others out the way, they turned their cards on their backs.

Lodge: AA
Savinelli: QJ

Savinelli’s top pair needed to hit against Lodge’s overpair aces. Heading into the 6 turn and it was only a queen or a jack that would do. The 5 wasn’t one of them and Lodge chips up to 250,000 or so as Savinelli hits the rail. –LY

4:45pm: Double for the Malta champ
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Former EPT Malta champion Jean Montury is still in the hunt to add a Championship title to his collection after he doubled through Alexandr Merzhvinskii. It was a button-versus-big blind spat and Montury had 123,000.

Montury: AK
Merzhvinskii: A8

The board ran Q310610 and Merzhvinskii was left with 90,000. –MC

4:35pm: Play resumes, 96 remain
Level 17 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

They’re back at it, with 96 players remaining and Paul Michaelis returning to the biggest stack of all of them. Look below for a glimpse of the newly-updated top 10, and keep checking the chip counts page for updates as they go. –MH

Name Country Status Chips
Paul Michaelis Germany PokerStars qualifier 875000
Omid Mojaverian Iran 835000
Kalidou Sow France 713000
Aleksandr Mordvinov Russia PokerStars player 672000
Konstantin Farber Germany PokerStars qualifier 620000
Boris Kolev Bulgaria PokerStars qualifier 600000
Dominik Panka Poland 596000
Michal Mrakes Czech Republic 555000
Daniel Barriocanal De La Iglesia Spain 545000
Valery Yantsevich Belarus PokerStars player 530000

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4:14pm: Break time

Off they go for a break. While players take 20 minutes to gather their thoughts, catch up on PokerStars’ big announcement.

4:13pm: Panka doubles on the break
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

On the last hand of Level 16, Dominik Panka scored a huge double up through Fatima Moreira de Melo. Panka jammed the river on a board of Q4Q2K and Moreira de Melo called with aces. But they were beaten by Panka’s KQ.

It put Panka up to 600,000 and cut Moreira de Melo down to 247,000. Big mis-step there from the Team PokerStars Pro, but Panka has the tools in his armoury to be up to anything. — HS

4:12pm: Zeitoun busts to Bayley
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

The bust-outs continue to come thick and fast. Jean-Jacques Zeitoun is the latest player to hit the rail, having got it all in on a 9J7 flop versus Lawrence Bayley.

Zeitoun: KJ
Bayley: AA

Unluckily for Zeitoun he was the one needing to hit and it was his tournament life on the line, having run into Bayley’s pocket rockets.

The 10 turn gave him a little more hope, adding four queens to his outs and four eights for a chop but the 10 river dodged them all. As Zeitoun heads out, Bayley now has over 200,000 to play with. -LY

4:10pm: Quads for comeback kid Frankland
Level 16 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Mathew Frankland survived being all-in on the bubble. Since then, he doubled up again and just made quads and his stack has now risen to 220,000.

He completed from the small blind and Boris Kolev checked his option in the big blind. The flop fell 799 and Frankland led for 7,000. Call.

Frankland slowed to a check on the turn an called when faced with a 15,000 bet.

Both players checked the K river and Frankland opened 95. Kolev laughed and mucked his hand. –MC

4:05pm: Michaelis motoring, Kurganov crashes
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

With slightly more than 100 players left the average stack is just over 250,000 right now. Paul Michaelis has something like four times that as he’s edging very close to the 1 million-chip mark as the day’s second break approaches.

The German is sitting quite comfortably getting a massage on one hand and firing bets and raises with the other.


Igor Kurganov: Pictured yesterday, now out

Conspicuously missing from his table is Team PokerStars Pro Igor Kurganov who was recently eliminated in 103rd place for a €9,100 cash. –MH

4pm: Simunic out
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Josip Simunic is the lastest player to hit the rail and it was at the hands of Jakutis Povilas. Simunic did have the best hand pre-flop when the chips went in.

Povilas: AJ
Simunic: KQ

The flop was a very dry 252, and sent Povilas further into the lead. The 9 turn changed nothing and Simunic was drawing to six outs on the river. It was a 6 brick, giving Povilas the chips. Both players were short going into the hand and Povilas sits with about 125,000 in front in spite of that hand. -LY

3:55pm: A seat with a view
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

If you’re sat in Seat 8, it’s tricky when you’re in a hand with the player in Seat 1. The dealer is placed between you, making it hard for you to see both the player and their stack. It’s also tricky to play against Mikita Badziakouski, regardless of where you’re seated.

Dmitry Ponomarev was under the gun in the nine seat and opened to 13,000. Over to Badziakouski in the one seat, he leaned over the table to see past the dealer.

“Can I please see your stack?” he asked. “Two hundred?”

Ponomarev nodded – he had 200,000 exactly behind, and Badziakouski then counted a three-bet to 36,000. Everyone else let their hands go, but Ponomarev made the call.


Badziakouski slowly slid his chair back a couple of times so he could stare at Ponomarev, but produced the horrible loud screeching sound you can’t avoid in the main poker room. He popped on his sunglasses and the staring began, much to tablemate John Mooney’s amusement.

Anyway, the flop fell 10Q2 and it checked to Badziakouski. He broke his stare to count out 25,000, and Ponomarev folded to that c-bet.

Badziakouski is up to 310,000 now. In other news, Igor Kurganov is very short with just 24,500. –JS

3:50pm: Proudfoot walks out
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Jonathan Proudfoot was just all in for his last 50,000 or so before the flop with Q10 against Valon Budima who held 88.

The 5910 flop gave Proudfoot one pair, and the Q gave him another. But the J river stole it all away from him by giving Budima a straight, and Proudfoot took the trip to the exits.

Budima now has about 150,000. –MH

3:41pm: Kerignard hits the rail
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Former EPT finalist Yorane Kerignard was most likely the shortest stack left once the bubble had burst, with 2,000 chips in play. This went down to 1,500 when the antes were taken, meaning less than a third of a big blind. It was no surprise then that the first hand dealt once all remaining players were in the money, Kerignard got it all in.

Quentin Lecomte called him.

Kerignard: 77
Lecomte: KJ

The 89J flop gave both players a piece of the action, with top pair for Lecomte and a gutshot plus backdoor flush draw for Kerignard.

The A turn gave Kerignard the flush draw, giving him some hope that he may survive but the 8 put an end to that. -LY

3:40pm: Bilokur busts
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Alex Bilokur took his chances with a short stack and AJ and needed to improve in order to survive against Viliyan Petleshkov’s 22.


Alex Bilokur (pictured yesterday)

Alas for Alex, Viliyan played the villain. The community cards came K46710 and the deuces held, and Bilokur is out. –MH

3:35pm: Bayley’s post-bubble double
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Make it into the cash and then double up your short stack right away? Sounds good to us, and it sounds good to Lawrence Bayley too.

After Colin Robinson opened to 10,500 from early position, it folded to Bayley in the big blind who made the call. Robinson asked for a count, and Bayley confirmed he had 65,000 behind.

The dealer spread a Q75 flop and Bayley checked it, letting Robinson c-bet for 8,000. Bayley thought for a moment but then moved all in, and then after a short tank Robinson called.

Bayley had the 34 for a straight flush draw, while Robinson had the lead with his 88. But the A turn instantly put Bayley in front and left Robinson drawing dead, so the A river changed nothing.

Bayley is up to around 150,000 now. –JS

3:30pm: Zhang happy with the cards in the end
Level 16 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Yang Zhang managed to squeeze into the money and benefited from a double up shortly thereafter.

He was down to 18,000 when he moved all-in from the button. Pierre Calamusa was in the big blind and made the call.

Calamusa: 109
Zhang: KQ

“Oh, I don’t like your cards!” said Zhang.

The board ran AJ6AK to safely see the chips go to Zhang. –MC

3:25pm: Wahlers leads march to money desk
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Open the floodgates! The bustouts have begun, as has the subsequent march to the money desk now that the bubble has burst.

Among those busting on the first post-bubble hand was Fabian Wahlers of Germany who got his last chips in with A5, was up against Erik Walfridsson’s 55, and following a K36J7 runout Wahlers is now collecting his min-cash of €8,700. –MH

3:20pm: Manole gets bubble sweetener
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Huge news from the world of PokerStars with the launch of the Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship. Click through to read all of that.

And as a bubble sweetener for Mihai Manole, he has just won the first-ever Platinum pass to the event–ie, a buy-in of $25,000 and full travel expenses. He’s the first; there will be plenty more.

Daniel Negreanu also announced that the EPT, the APPT and LAPT will be returning next year, meaning that one year after hosting the “final” EPT, Prague is now hosting the final PokerStars Championship.

Wow, that was a fun ten minutes. — HS

3:10pm: Siemieniak splits min-cash with Manole after set doesn’t hold
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

On the same hand that Mihai Manole was being knocked out, there was another all-in and call situation over on Table 15 between Andrzej Siemieniak and Konstantin Farber.

It was a blind-versus-blind battle that saw the pair had already begun a pot before the flop fell 6J5. In the small blind, Siemieniak checked, then Farber fired 25,000. Siemieniak responded with a check-raise to 75,000, and Farber didn’t take too long to reraise all in. Siemieniak snapped, committing the 100,000 or so he had left after his check-raise.

Unlike Manole, Siemieniak seemed in excellent shape with his 55 for a set of fives while Farber had but 97 for a gutshot draw. Then came the turn… the 8! Farber had filled his straight, and after the A river failed to pair the board, Siemieniak was eliminated.

8G2A8161_PSC_Prague2017__bubble2_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Andrzej Siemieniak earns a half of a min-cash

Siemieniak will split 127th-place money with Manole, while Farber gets to start the money period of the tournament with a healthy stack of more than 600,000. –MH

3:05pm: Mihai Manole bubbles Main Event
Level 16 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

No man taking the trouble to wear a Christmas-themed jumper should bubble the Main Event, but we don’t live in a fair world so that just happened.

Mihai Manole was in the big blind with A4 and called all-in after Thomas Mercier set him all-in from the button.

Manole: A4
Mercier: AJ

The board ran KQK510 to send the Romanian on his way. There was another all-in and call to be announced though, will he be able to split 127th place and earn €4,350? –MC

8G2A8155_PSC_Prague2017__bubble1_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Mihai Minole plays his last hand

2:50pm: Frankland next to bubble up
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Thomas Lentrodt opened to 11,500 under the gun, and Mat Frankland shoved his 46,000 all in to his left. Everyone else folded, and the waiting game began.

With all other action concluded across the room (as is the case during this hand-for-hand period), it was time for showdown. Lentrodt’s [aH][KS] was obviously a premium holding, but it doesn’t beat AA does it? That’s what Frankland had.

The pocket rockets held and improved to a set after the K426A board, bringing Frankland up to 102,000. Lentrodt takes the hit but still has 130,000. –JS

2:40pm: Kuzmanovic survives
Level 16 – Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

We are still on the bubble but that didn’t stop Boris Kuzmanovic from getting his last 23,500 all in from under the gun. It folded round to Ji Zhang in middle position and he made the call. Will all others passing, it was heads up and players turned over:

Kuzmanovic KK
Zhang KJ

Kuzmanovic was the massive favourite as they went to the flop and it read 73Q. With no clubs, Zhang needed running jacks or running straight cards to win the pot. The Q meant he was drawing dead and Kuzmanovic breathed a sigh of relief. The 4, redundant as it was, completed the board and Kuzmanovic is up to 58,500. -LY

2:30pm: Nothing
Level 16 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 500)

Nary a knockout nor a bubble-up in sight during the first 15 minutes of the new level. All together now, with Frank Drebin: There’s nothing to see here. –HS

2:15pm: Thick skin
Level 16 – Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 500)

This bubble has thick skin. But I’m betting it won’t last the full rough and tumble of Level 16, which has just begun. –HS

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1:55pm: Break time
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

They’re heading off for their first break of the day, and will return with still one person to bust before the bubble bursts. — HS


1:50pm: Yang Zhang hangs on
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

In the last hand before the break, Pierre Calamusa min-raised to 8,000 from middle position and it folded around to the short-stacked Yang Zhang who after some thought called from the big blind.

The pair ended up checking down the A98 flop, 3 turn, and 7 river, and Zhang’s QJ was topped by Calamusa’s 66.

Zhang will return to just around 33,000 when they get back from the break, making him one of the several in the danger zone one knockout from the money. –MH

1:45pm: Slow play
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

I’m not talking about players tanking on the bubble, but rather how Dimitrios Kalaroutis just played his last holding.

He’d opened to 10,000 in the UTG+1 seat and Anatolii Zyrin made the call. Everyone folded to Gianluca Speranza in the big blind and he was getting a good price to come along, which he did.

They went to a QJJ flop, and it checked around. Then the Q came on the turn, and again everyone tapped.

Finally the J completed the board and Kalaroutis bet 30,000 when it checked to him. Zyrin folded, and Speranza snap-called.

Karaloutis tabled the KK for a very slow-played big pocket pair, but on that board who can blame him? It worked out well in the end as Speranza mucked with a smile. –JS

1:40pm: Mustafa falls, the bubble arrives
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

We have a 129th-place finisher. It’s Amjad Nader Mustafa.

Mustafa open-pushed his last 38,500 from the button, and after some thought was called by Rasmus Vogt sitting next him in the small blind. The big blind got out, and while waiting for the deal Mustafa playfully tossed his ID card to the dealer as though conceding he was already destined for the exit.

Finally it was time to table their cards, and Mustafa was indeed in dire straits with 44 versus Vogt’s 1010. The board rolled out 83JA9, and Mustafa is out.

With 128 players left, that means a bit of table rebalancing is in order to create 16 eight-handed tables. One more elimination to the money. Stay tuned! –MH

1:25pm: Regonaschi goes all in
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Paraschos Stavridis kicked off this hand with a 9,000 open in early position and Marco Regonaschi found himself with a decision to make. After a minute or two he pushed all in.

Stavridis made a quick call, which wasn’t surprising given that the shove was for only 43,500.

The floor was called to oversee the hand and everyone waited to see what they had.

Stavridis KQ
Regonaschi JJ

It was a classic flip and Regnosachi needed to dodge a king or a queen to have a chance of taking home any money.

He dodged it. The board was low: 86345

Regonaschi lives to fight another day (or hand at least). -LY

1:20pm: Soft bubble up for Zyrin
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

The first all-in and call of the hand-to-hand period featured a huge river bluff and a double for the thankful Anatolii Zyrin.

The hand had reached the river with a pile of chips in the middle – around 100,000. The board read 44579 and Dimitrios Kalaroutis over-bet shoved from the small blind and received a call from Zyrin in early position.

There was a pause as the cameras moved into place and then the cards were revealed:

Kalaroutis: A3 for ace high along with the pair on the board.
Zyrin: 99 for a rivered full house.

Zyrin had exactly 200,000 back so just passed the 500,000 mark. Kalaroutis was left with 190,000.

That’s not quite a bubble-up (the name for a double-up on the bubble) but only because we’re on the soft bubble. So it was a soft bubble-up. –MC

1:15pm: Still two away
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Not much happening here during hand-for-hand play. There have been a few uncalled all-ins, but nothing too noteworthy.

Michal Mrakes shoved over a Jean Montury open just now, and Montury folded while showing one of his cards — the A — to preserve his 145,000. Mrakes is hovering under 300,000 at the moment.


Michal Mrakes, right, pictured yesterday with Jake Cody

Back to the floor to see which two players become the last ones out before the money. –MH

1:05pm: Hand-for-hand
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

With the money bubble now very close, hand-for-hand play has commenced. Updates will be sporadic until we get a knockout. — HS

12:55pm: Kappenberg felted by Foxon
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

An interesting hand just played out involving two Team Pros (albeit briefly), and it all started with a middle-position limp by Marcin Horecki. Play then folded to Alex Foxen on the button and he just called too, bringing in Sebastian Kappenberg in the small blind. Igor Kurganov checked his option from the big, and it was four ways to the flop:


Kappenberg took his time then checked it, and Kurganov checked quickly. Horecki then led out 12,000, only for Foxon to raise to 31,500. This put Kappenberg in a tough spot. The German had been taking his time to make decisions in prior hands, perhaps because he was short-stacked on the bubble. But this time it seemed like he genuinely had a big decision. Risk it all or wait and hope to make the money?

He thought for a good couple of minutes, and then the emotions started to show. He shook his head and let out a big sigh, before finally committing all of his 36,500 with a gulp. He was all in.

Kurganov got out of the way quickly, and it was back on Horecki. After about a minute of thinking he made the call, and Foxon put in the rest of the under-raise.


Marcin Horecki (pictured yesterday)

The turn was the A, and Horecki checked it. Foxon stared him down before announcing all in for around 90,000, and Horecki snap-folded. That meant it was time to turn the hands over:

Foxen: 77
Kappenberg: 42

Kappenberg did indeed have a tough decision; he’d flopped bottom two pair with his small blind special, but unfortunately for him Foxen had flopped top set. The river was another ace, but it changed nothing and Kappenberg made a quick exit.

Foxen is up to 200,000 now, while Horecki is playing around 300,000. –JS

12:50pm: Bubble-up for O’Rourke
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

There were 131 players left (four off the cash) when this hand began, and just 129 left (two away) when it ended. Not because anyone busted, but because it took so long.

It started with Josip Simunic raising to 8,500 from the cutoff, then Gavin O’Rourke three-bet to 29,000 from the button. Action folded to Carlo Savinelli in the big blind who tanked long enough for the clock to be called.

Such big blind tanks with relative short stacks are happening with increased frequency as the bubble draws nearer, but before he folded Savinelli insisted he had a tough decision.

Simunic’s turn, and he leaned forward to look at O’Rourke. “You’re willing to go for it, huh?” he asked, and O’Rourke stayed mum. “Okay… all in.”

Now O’Rourke had a decision to make, as he had 148,000 left and the shove was for a bit more. He took at least three minutes to think before Simunic finally called the clock, the second instance of such in the hand. The countdown went all of the way to the last second before O’Rourke finally called.

O’Rourke: AK
Simunic: KQ

A board of J10K52 gave O’Rourke the double-up, and Savinelli a case of the what-ifs as he said he had folded pocket tens.

O’Rourke is up over 300,000 now, Savinelli still has about 85,000, and Simunic is in the danger zone with just 34,000. –MH

12:45pm: Play slows down
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

With only four players to go before the rest of the field makes the cash, play seems to have slowed significantly.

There was evidence during a hand involving Markus Durnegger and Francois Tosques, with the latter having the clock called on him when facing a bet on the river.

Tosques opened the button to 9,000 and Durnegger peeled from the small blind, before a KQ5 flop. Durnegger checked and Tosques continued for 10,000, which was called, bringing a 10 turn that potentially completed a straight. The action went check-check and a K was laid out on the river.

The straight was evidently what Tosques was worried about, and he said as much when deliberating for what seemed like an age over whether to call the 35,000 bet from Durnegger. Eventually the clock was called and Tosques conceded the pot. -LY

1:40pm: Bad time to find queens for Lalovic
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

“Whoa!” was the cry that could be heard from a few tables away. It came from he mouth of Milos Lalovic who had just committed his last 53,000 with QQ, but he had ran into a bigger pair.

Shabtai Koren called with KK and the board ran out 33JJA.

“Good luck guys,” said Lalovic before departing. –MC

12:36pm: Calamusa cuts down Konnikova
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Maria Konnikova started today with one of the shorter stacks among the 140 players who began Day 3, and just a few hands in she open-pushed her last 21,000 from middle position. It folded around to Pierre Calamusa in the big blind who called.

Konnikova had QJ and had gotten her chips in good versus Calamusa’s Q8. Her hand remained best through the 966 flop and 10 turn, but the J river filled a straight for Calamusa.

The board presented kind of a puzzle — perhaps fitting for Konnikova, the author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes — and Calamusa said he didn’t initially realize the jack that had paired Konnikova’s hand had actually given him the pot.

Even the dealer wasn’t quite sure as she initially started to slide chips Konnikova’s way before being corrected to chuckles all around.

Konnikova wished the table well before heading to the exits. Meanwhile, Calamusa now has 247,000. –MH

12:35pm: Another Team Pro double
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

This flying start for Team PokerStars Pro shows no sign of abating, and now Marcin Horecki has secured an early double up. He got it in with KK against Boris Kuzmanovic’s AK and Horecki faded an ace.

It puts Horecki up to around 250,000. — HS

12:30pm: Dragging positive energy to table 13
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

There is some cautious play going on at Table 13. With the bubble looming, it’s not hard to understand. But at least they have some positive energy washing over them thanks to Maksim Paddubniak. As a hand was playing out, the Belarusian, known to do Kung-Fu was out of his chair and practicing some some of Tai Chi with his hands.

The cautious hand: Nick Maimone limped in from middle position and was over called by Amjad Nader Mustafa before Rasmus Vogt raised to 17,500 from the button. Only Mustafa called to a 7A7 flop and it was at that time that Fidan Zahiti pointed out that two players had busted already.

“Really?” Said Vogt directing his voice towards Mustafa. The flop was checked as was the 49 turn and river. Mustafa opened QJ but lost out to Vogt’s KK. –MC

12:25pm: Fast start for Juncadella
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Spanish F1 driver Daniel Juncadella has just taken down a nice pot to start the day well. He opened to 9,000 from UTG+1 and it folded around to Thomas Mercier (no relation to the Team Pro) in the big blind.

The two went heads up to a K74 flop and Juncadella made a c-bet worth 8,500, which Mercier matched. That brought a 10 on the turn, and this time it went check check.

They saw the 3 on the river, and Mercier checked once more. Juncadella reached for chips, and once he’d decided on an amount he tossed in 21,000. Mercier didn’t take long to call, but we never saw his hand. He mucked when Juncadella turned over the 1010 for a turned set.

He’s up to 120,000 now, while Mercier slips to 180,000. –JS

12:20pm: Soika sunk by Panka
Level 15 – Blinds: 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Ihar Soika, former EPT High Roller champion and Blog favourite, is another early faller on Day 3 of the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event.

Soika shoved for 40,000 from the hijack and was looked up by Dominik Panka, who re-shoved from the hijack.

It was a race: Soika’s AK versus Panka’s JJ. But after the J in the window, it was looking bleak for Soika. He turned an inside straight draw, but missed on the river.

Soika is sunk; Panka sails on with 362,000. — HS

12:15pm: Wagner Da Gloria doubles
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Despite the bubble looming, there are a number of players on short stacks who will be looking to chip up and secure their place in the cash.

The first hand of Day 3 saw just that on Table 17. Wagner Felicio was in the small blind and had exactly 40,000 in chips. It had folded round to him and he moved all in, on Hari Bercovici’s big blind.

Bercovici made the call, to find he had the worst hand but both cards were live.

Wagner Felicio A3
Bercovici K10

The board ran out 99859 and secured a double for Felicio, who now has over 20 big blinds to play with. — LY

12:10pm: Moreira de Melo flops Koran dead
Level 15 – Blinds: 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

A massive moment to kick things off on the featured table, where Fatima Moreira de Melo and Michael Koran got their full stacks in pre-flop and it seemed nailed on for a chop…but wasn’t.

Koran was at threat with a stack of 100,500 and AK while Moreira de Melo had him covered with a stack three times the size and AK. And then, boom, the flop fell: [j[c]75. That left Koran drawing dead and Moreira de Melo stacking up more than 530,000.

What a start for the Team PokerStars Pro. — HS

12:07pm: Ouellani doubles through Wheeler; or, What’s Your Favorite Color?
Level 15 – Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

On the first hand of the day, Jason Wheeler opened for 9,000 from the hijack seat and it folded to Sam Ouellani on the button who made it 27,500 to go. The blinds got out, and action returned to Wheeler.

“What country are you from?” Wheeler asked Ouellani. “Tunisia,” came the reply.

“What’s your favorite color?” was the follow-up. Ouellani shook his head, and after after Wheeler repeated the question, Ouellani said “I don’t understand.”

“Never mind, I’m all in,” said Wheeler, and Ouellani instantly called to commit his last 109,500.

Wheeler: 1010
Ouellani: AA

The board came an uneventful K67J8, and Ouellani earned a big double to start Day 3.

“I was just joking around,” said Wheeler to Ouellani as the dealer slid him the chips, “I knew what I was going to do.”

“My favorite color is red,” grinned Ouellani, pointing to his hand.

Ouellani jumps to almost 230,000 on that one, while Wheeler slides to just over 120,000. –MH

12:05pm: Cards in the air
Level 15 – Blinds: 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Just like that, Day 3 is under way. Today is a big, big day: the bubble at PokerStars Championship Prague, and a major announcement as soon as it bursts. Stick around. — HS

10:30am: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Have you ever worked two whole days (plus a little bit more) and not even received a penny or cent for your efforts? Unfortunately for 13 of our remaining players, that’s exactly what’s about to happen.

Good morning everyone and welcome back to our live coverage from the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event. We have 140 players returning for Day 3, and with only 127 places paid that means we’re coming straight in on the bubble. The player who has to worry the least about it is chip leader Paul Michaelis (630,500).

NEIL9072_PSC_Prague2017_Fatima_Moreira_De_Melo_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Great Day 2 for Moreira de Melo

All remaining Team PokerStars Pros are in good knick to cash too. Marcin Horecki (132,000), Igor Kurganov (161,300), Jake Cody (252,500) and Fatima Moreira de Melo (406,300) will all return, while friend of PokerStars Maria Konnikova will need some help to get a payday with just 29,500.

A min-cash in this one is worth €8,700, and while that’s better nothing, it’s nothing compared to the €775,000 first place prize.

Here’s a look at the top 10 chip counts, coming back at 2,000/4,000 blinds:

Name Country Chips
Paul Michaelis Germany 630,500
Omid Mojaverian Iran 597,500
Boris Kolev Bulgaria 510,500
Erik Walfridsson Sweden 440,000
Kalidou Sow France 405,000
Robert Heidorn UK 394,500
Xixiang Luo China 377,500
Fatima Moreira De Melo Netherlands 365,300
Hari Bercovici Israel 350,000
Colin Robinson USA 333,000

There’s nothing left to do now but get that bubble burst. The action resumes at 12pm local time, so join us all day for the best blow-by-blow action. –JS

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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the €5,300 Main Event: Marc Convey, Martin Harris, Jack Stanton, Howard Swains and Lisa Yiasemides. Photography by Tomas Stacha and Neil Stoddart.

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