2.10pm: End of level
That’s the first small break of the day. Two levels down, seven more to go. — RD
2.09pm: Blom in bloom
Viktor Blom is talkative this afternoon. He was midway through recounting a story but it was difficult to gauge who was keeping up. Former EPT Vilamoura Antonio Mathias certainly wasn’t, but I couldn’t tell if this was due to the language barrier, or the story being above his head.
Either way Blom has been active in these first two levels, and in good spirits. On a flop of 6♥2♥A♠ he made it 625 from the small blind, which Thomas Mercier (“big guy with the beard”) called.
The turn came A♥ which Blom checked, before urging Mercier not to bet too much as he went for his chips. Mercier listened, but bet anyway, 1,600 total, forcing Blom to fold. – SB
2.08pm: Williams in trouble
David Williams is down to 11,000 after running the second nut flush into the ace-high flush. That one’s always going to get expensive. — RD
2.05pm: Why fold to Blom?
Why would you ever fold ace-high to Victor Blom? Surely it’s got to be good at least half of the time? Okay, perhaps not, but given his betting behavior you’d be excused for calling down.
The ruffled Swede just double-barreled into two players, including the bushy-bearded Thomas Mercier, on a 3♠3♣9♦10♣ board and showed 5♦6♥ for the naked bluff when he took the pot. Blom continuing to chip up, interesting to rail. — RD
2pm: Ramzi beats up on Team Pros
Ramzi Jelassi just tangled with Team PokerStars Pros Pieter de Korver and Juan Manuel Pastor and came out on top.
The three players made it to the turn where the board read 7♦8♦K♣4♦. The Swede led out for 650 and both opponents called quickly. The river came 4♠ and a 4,500 bet from Jelassi was enough to make both opponents fold.
Chip count at the end of the hand:
Ramzi Jelassi – 26,600
Juan Manuel Pastor – 27,800
Pieter de Korver – 26,600 — MC
1.55pm: Thorson up
William Thorson just took a pot from Eugene Katchalov. On a board of Q♠8♣A♦A♠2♥ Katchalov made a bet, which the Swede called. For Katchalov K♣K♠ but Thorson took it, showing A♥J♣. – SB
1.50pm: Barberella versus Barbero
Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero was saying that he was still trying to wake up, just before he lost a hand.
He raised to 400 from mid position and was called in three spots en route to a 9♣A♣2♦ flop. He c-bet for 650 and was only called by Laura Cantero on the button who, in her silver wig, looked straight off the set of the Barberella movie.
The turn came 8♦ and the Argentine check-called a 2,300 bet to see the Q♣ river. He checked again and this time faced a 7,000 bet from Cantero. Barbero checked how many chips he had left (25,000) and elected to fold. — MC
1.40pm: Prominent players
Unsurprisingly, the first levels aren’t always alight with action. Or at least if they are I’m not there when it happens.
There has been some preliminary groundwork on tables chock-full of those players you might describe as “notable” or “big”, or to use the German vernacular, “prommie”.
Over on the far side of the room Johnny Lodden spars with Victor Ramdin and Ludovic Lacay
Lodden has taken the odd pot pre-flop and uncontested. Then he backed out of a five-way hand, won by a “never seen him before” player.
Then Lodden opened for 300 from what was effectively the cut off, there being an empty chair between himself and Ramdin on the button, who called, as did Lacay in the small blind.
Alas, this hand would also soon be over, the flop coming A♣9♠2♠. The action as folded to Ramdin who bet 1,000, taking the pot. – SB
1.35pm: Coren in bad position
Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren is showing a small increase, up to 33,000, but that healthy start is far outweighed by the fact that she has Swedish EPT Copenhagen runner-up Per Linde, and former world champ Joe Hachem, on her left. It’s hardly the most fortuitous of table draws. – RD
1.28pm: The gambler
“Jani is a gambler”, said a Finnish reporter, referring to Jani “KObyTAPOUT” Vilmunen. One player who doesn’t need to be told that is Kevin MacPhee.
The American is down to 8,000 after seven-bet shoving pocket kings into the Finn, who called off with big-slick. The ace came and it left MacPhee is a state of full blown tilt. Let’s hope he can get his head back together and realise he still has more than 50 big blinds to play with. — MC
1.21pm: Blom watch
Viktor Blom is in the house. Well, to be more specific, he’s sat in a chair two seats to the right of Australian Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem (yes, Joe’s brother). Blom already has a lot of chips (45,000) in front of him in a range of denominations and seems happy to open pretty much every pot. After catching trips on the river against Hachem to score a nice pot, the next few he open raised and passed on the flop. I think it’s fair to say that his pre-flop opening range is pretty wide. — RD
1.10pm: Late arrivals to the ball
Max Lykov has won an early pot from two other players at his table, neither of which was Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, who has now taken a seat at the Russian’s table.
Elsewhere Viktor Blom is on the ascendant, seizing a pot from a French player, showing Q♦9♥ on a board of J♠7♣Q♠9♦3♦, to which his opponent folded sharpish. – SB
1.05pm: Channing all-in
I walked past Neil Channing’s table and he informed me that he has already been all-in. He said he got involved in hand with a gent at the other end of the table who’s been in almost every pot.
Channing raised to 225 to face a three-bet to 650 from that player. The Brit put in a four-bet to 3,025 and was called. The flop came down  and Channing used all the chip denominations available to him to bet 6,625 but was raised to 15,000. Channing moved all-in and his opponent tank-folded pocket eights face-up. He’s up to 41,000 as a result. — MC
1pm: A page turner
Poli Rincon, who used to dazzle on the football fields of Spain before attempting the same at its’ poker tables. That attempt hasn’t gone to well right now, having lost out in a big hand against Kristoffer Thorsson.
Thorsson, who has adopted the habit of reading a book as he play, something we do (let me just finish this paragraph….) while working on the blog, had just shown 6♦7♦ on a board of 4♠5♠J♦3♣6♣. Money was going in and it was all coming back one way.
Thorsson up to 47,000. Rincon ruing the day. – SB
12.54pm: Don’t cry, Wolf
Elmar Dirnberger, aka ‘The Wolf’, has lost half of his stack. It’s not a great start for the cheroot-smoking Austrian. After calling a three-bet pre-flop, Dirnberger called another three-bet on the Q♦5♥6♦ flop for 5,750, another 7,000 on the 7♣ turn before tank folding to a 15,000 shove on the K♠ river. — RD
12.48pm: Fashion watch
Players beware! Roberto Romanello is wearing a novelty Spanish matador hat. Last time that I recall him sporting a ridiculous piece of headgear was at EPT Prague which he won for €640,000. That time round it was a headband with a shock of fake hair. — RD
12.40pm: Rent-a-quote quiet
Neil Channing is one of those players that I consider a rent-a-quote when you’re reporting live from the tournament floor. He’s almost always talking, either to an individual or to the table at large. And when he’s not enaging those directly around him he’s usually hollering over to someone a couple of tables away.
I’ll hone in on Channing, I thought, he’ll be good for some overheard banter. Not so. Despite a quick exchange of pleasantries Channing is staying quiet. It is level 1, I suppose, and for a man more nocturnal than not this is still very much the morning. Give him a cup of tea. — RD
12.35pm: The field
We’ve pretty much got the line-up we expected. An all-star line-up that contains the same Season 7 flashbacks we noticed yesterday. EPT Deauville finalist Alex Wice is in one corner, at the same table as EPT Berlin finalist, and Team PokerStars Pro Joep van den Bijgaart.
Max Lykov, who reached tine final table in San Remo, plays today, wearing a rather nice tank top; his countryman Alex Kravchenko (currently on 29,900) sits a few tables along.
Who else? Chad Brown and Vanessa Rousso play today, as does Daniel Negreanu who sits a few seats along from Jose Barbero. Up one table is Raymond Wu, all the way from Asia, in another direction is Neil Channing, all the way from Maida Vale.
Galen Hall is taking his seat, as is Xuan Liu. And who’s that saluting, sitting next to yesterday’s High Roller runner up Benny Spindler? It’s the lone wolf himself, Elmar Dirnberger. – SB
12.25pm: Team Pros on the go
Team PokerStars Pros Eugene Katchalov and Ivan Demidov have shown their table what they’re all about very early on.
Katchalov is to the left of Nam Le and three-bet his 250 button raise to 1,500. Le called to see the K♦2♦9♠ flop but folded to a 2,000 bet.
Moments later, on another table, Ivan Demidov was three-way to a 10♦5♥4♦ flop. One opponent bet 450 but the Russian check-raised to 1,350 from the small blind. Both his opponents folded. — MC
12.10pm: Cards are in the air
Make that ten minutes. — SB
12pm: Minutes away
Play is due to start in five minutes. — SB
11.55am: When you’re smiling…
Gloria Balding introduces Day 1B with some help from Alex Kravchenko…
11.45am: Players arriving
We’re all in place, with the happy, smiley faces of hopeful poker players filing into the casino to sign up and sit down. As we said, yesterday there were 302 players, of which 132 will return tomorrow. Here’s a list of all of them.
The contrast from outside to inside Casino Gran Madrid is quite a stark one. Outside, it’s hot, sunny and the air is filled with the smell of scorched clutch. Inside, the sweet scent of vanilla, the look of elegant lighting and the happiness that comes with being close to great wealth. — SB
10.30am: Welcome to Day 1B
On to Day 1B in the Madrid Grand Final. Yesterday a field of 302 took their seats, an all-star cast of poker’s aristocracy. Today, you can expect the same, only on a larger scale as the second flight effect takes effect.
As we write players are making the short hop, skip and mini-bus jump from the city to the Casino Gran Madrid. So are we for that matter, and they’ll be full details of what’s in store today after the players arrive, and after we catch up to them, pretending we were here all along.
Stay tuned. — SB
Casino Gran Madrid
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Madrid (in order of money lost on yesterday’s Kentucky Derby): Stephen Bartley (significant losses), Marc Convey (could have been worse) and Rick Dacey (quick weep and everything’s fine).