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Updates from level 23 of EPT Vilamoura, brought to you by Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Howard Swains and Simon Young.

Selected approximate chip counts, updated throughout the day, are available on the chip counts page. The EPT tournament structure can be found on the EPT tournament structure page. The full payout structure and prizewinners to date are on the payout structure page.

Previous coverage: Day 1a | Day 1b | Day 2 | Day 3 | Level 18 updates | Level 19 updates | Level 20 updates | Level 21 updates | Level 22 updates

Blinds: 12,000-24,000 (2,000 ante)

1.58pm: End of the level
That’s level 23 in the books. Players are now taking a 15-minute break. We’ll be back shortly – take a look at the chip count page for the latest, err, chip counts.

While you wait for the new level, here’s how the video blog team set out the start of today’s action…


Watch EPT6 Vilamoura Final Table Intro on PokerStars.tv

1.55pm: Hi-ho, Silva
On the last hand before the break, Joao Silva moves all in for 290,000. Nobody wants to play with him, though, and he picks up the blinds and antes.

1.50pm: Franklin’s good call
Ryan Franklin opened the pot with a raise to 55,000 from under-the-gun and was called only by Pierre Neuville in the big blind. Both players checked through the 3♥7♦9♣ flop before Neuville led out for 70,000 on the 3♠ turn. Franklin called as he did when Neuville bet 125,000 on the 7♥ river. The call was good as Neuville could only muster K♥J♥ to Franklin’s 8♣8♦.

1.45pm: Neuville the new force
Pierre Neuville explained last night how he was unafraid of getting involved with the aggressive youngsters at the table, and today he’s proved to be good to his word. He’s not afraid to take on aggressive older players either. Two hands have just taken Neuville very close to the chip lead. They played out like this:

First up, Joao Silva raised to 60,000 and Neuville called in the cut off. The flop came 5♣4♠10♠ and Neuville called a 70,000 bet from Silva. The turn was 4♣ and after Silva checked, Neuville bet 120,000 and won.

That was merely small fry compared with this one though. Neuville raised from early position, making it 60,000. Antonio Matias called in the small blind and the two of them saw a flop of 2♦7♣5♥, which they both checked. The turn was K♦ and Matias bet 105,000, which Neuville called. The river was another king, this time K♠ and Matias bet 227,000. Neuville announced that he was all in – a total of 1,063,000.

Matias didn’t like it much, but said: “I have to call. I call.” Neuville exposed 5♠5♦ for the flopped set and the rivered full house. Those two kings on turn and river had been the worst thing in the world for Matias’ A♣K♣ and he relinquished the chip lead for the first time since about 1987.

1.33pm: Clock fold
The action was folded around to Michel Abecassis on the button who raised to 60,000, called by Pierre Neuville in the small blind to see a 3♥3♠K♥ flop. Both players checked before Neuville led out for 65,000 after the 2♥ came down on the turn. Call. Neuville bet 125,000 on the 2♣ river and after a long dwell Abecassis folded, but only after the clock had been called.

1.25pm: Massive pot, no information
Don’t get your hopes up: this hand is the poker equivalent of a detective novel with the last page ripped out. Ryan Franklin opened from under-the-gun to 55,000. It was the second successive pot he had done so. Although he got it through the first time, Antonio Matias was lying in wait on the second occasion and called the raise. The flop came 3♠3♣K♦ and Franklin bet 105,000 at it, but Matias raised to 250,000. Franklin wasn’t done: he made it 405,000 more and Matias called. All of this took place in a deathly hush, and things didn’t change on the turn of 3♥. Franklin silently checked, Matias announced all in and Franklin instantly folded, shipping about half his stack to the chip leader.

1.23pm: Raise and takes
First Joao Silva takes the blinds and antes with pre-flop bet of 60,000. Then Pierre Neuville repeats the trick with a 62,000 pre-flop bet on the next hand.

1.20pm: Sarwer aggression
After winning the blinds and antes on the previous hand, Pierre Neuville again bets 62,000 but gets a call from Jeff Sarwer on the button. The flop comes 10♦2♦7♣ and Neuville bets 95,000, only for Sarwer to hit back with 215,000. At this point two of your PokerStars Blog team members discussed possibilities. “Neuville has kings,” said one. “No, he has A♦3♦,” said the other. Neuville folds and quite clearly your two bloggers need a lesson in hand analysis.

1.15pm: No further than the flop
Jeff Sarwer started proceedings with a raise to 65,000 from under-the-gun and was called by Pierre Neuville on the button and Jan Skampa in the big blind. Neither of them hung around though after a 135,000 bet from Sarwer after the 7♦6♣5♦ flop.

1.10pm: Neuville firing
João Silva raised to 60,000 from the cut-off but folded to a re-raise to 150,000 from Pierre Neuville in the small blind.

1.05pm: Four-bet
Jan Skampa, who has been the most active player despite the two big stacks to his left, opened again from early position. This time he was made to regret it though. Skampa raised to 56,000; Jeff Sarwer re-raised to 135,000; and Antonio Matias, re-re-raised to 500,000. Skampa quickly scarpered, Sarwer thought a while longer but let it go, and Matias showed Q♠Q♦.

On the next hand, Matias opened to 48,000 and Michel Abecassis shoved for around 300,000. Matias folded.

1pm: Andrei Vlasenko, eliminated in eighth place for €31,234
Andrei Vlasenko is the first player eliminated today. The action started with a 55,000 raise from Ryan Franklin that was called by Antonio Matias in the small blind before Andrei Vlasenko moved all in from the big blind. Franklin then moved all in behind, forcing the chip leader to fold. Vlasenko showed 9♦9♣ was behind Franklin’s 10♠10♥. The board ran Q♥A♦3♦J♠6♥ sending Vlasenko home in 8th place for € 31,234.

12.50pm: Skampa going nowhere
Antonio Matias raised to 56,000 from early position and Jan Skampa called in the big blind. The flop was 5♦K♠K♣ and Skampa check-called Matias’ bet of 56,000. The 9♥ turn brought a repeat: Skampa checked, Matias bet 56,000, Skampa called. The river was A♣ and they both checked. Matias was first to show: Q♥10♥ and Skampa’s J♠J♣ took it.

12.47pm: Early action
The action is folded around to Michel Abecassis who completes and Pierre Neuville checks his option from the big blind. After the flop came down K♠2♥6♦ Abecassis check-folded to a 40,000 bet.

On the next hand Jeff Sarwer raised it up to 52,000 from early position and was called by Ryan Franklin in the big blind for a 7♦10♣K♠ flop. Franklin then check-folded to a 55,000 bet from Sarwer.

12.40pm: Portuguese men of war
After a straightforward first hand – Jan Skampa raising to 41,000 from the cut off and taking it – the second hand of the final table was more complicated, and more costly for Joao Silva. Antonio Matias raised to 42,000 from the button and Silva called in the big blind. The flop came 5♦K♦A♣ and after Silva checked, Matias bet 58,000, which Silva called. The turn was K♥ and Silva bet 75,000 (three of the new gold 25,000 chips). Matias was unimpressed, depositing a raise to 250,000 in the middle. Silva folded.

12.35pm: Cards in the air
After introductions to each player, applause and more applause the final table is now underway.

12.20pm: Hang in there
Finishing touches being made. The start can’t be too far away now.

12pm: Pick your winner

The line up for today. You can find their profiles here.

Antonio Matias, Portugal, 3,003,000
Jeff Sarwer, Canada, 1,983,000
Ryan Franklin, United States, 1,047,000
Pierre Neuville, Belgium, 1,027,000
Jan Skampa, Czech Republic, 926,000
Joao Silva, Portugal, 780,000
Michel Abecassis, France, 488,000
Andrei Vlasenko, Russia, 371,000

11.50pm: Ready for the start
We’re nearly ready for the start of the EPT Vilamoura final table, we’re just short a few players. Eight to be exact. We assume they’re off somewhere having their picture taken or perhaps suggesting which of their features they’d like exagerated/toned down on any future MS Paint portrait.

In the meantime some housekeeping. There’s nine minutes remaining on the current level 22, with blinds still pegged at 10,000/ 20,000 with a 2,000 ante. Then things will revert to the blind levels detailed above for 75 minute levels until we have a winner some time tonight.

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