Niko Soininen: Late surge puts Finn on top

The €10,000 event at the start of an EPT festival is a relatively new addition. It guarantees some high-stakes action early on for those people who need to be encouraged to get anywhere early, while it also acts as a barometer for the size of the tournaments to come.

Here’s the news from the first day of the final European Poker Tour event in Prague: The omens are good.

Through eight 45-minute levels of play today, 96 players sat down in the game. Among those to be eliminated, 15 re-entered, meaning this tournament already comprises 111 €10,000 entries.

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Registration is open until the start of Level 11 tomorrow, allowing any latecomers the chance to get involved. There were 60 entries in this tournament in Malta, so they’ve thrashed that number already. Barcelona’s 240 is out of sight, but this will come a very healthy second.

At this stage in the game, Finland’s Niko Soininen heads the field. He won a huge pot with a set of queens just before the clock was paused, and will return tomorrow with 230,100 to play with. He is the only man with more than 200,000. (The starting stack was 50,000.)

As ever, it’s a super tough field with the following also sitting with big stacks:

Ivan Banic: 180,200
Paul Newey: 158,300
Thomas Muehloecker: 157,200
Brian Senie: 146,600
Akin Tuna: 131,200
Steffen Sondtheimer: 128,300
Charlie Carrel: 118,900
Daniel Dvoress: 104,600
Niklas Astedt: 102,400


Ivan Banic: Second overnight

Special mention to Tuna, who was the first man knocked out. His second bullet went a little further.

The two Team PokerStars Pros who played the event (at least so far) are also still battling. Luca Pagano has 91,900. ElkY has 38,300.

See the full list of 77 survivors and their counts. Then have a flick through the coverage below where you will find at least some of the action. There are more of us tomorrow so it will be more comprehensive.


Day 1 live coverage:

12:35am: Late fallers
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

David Lacer, Aleksejs Meless, Matas Cimbolas and Vojtech Ruzicka have all been knocked out in the past ten minutes.

12:25am: Six more hands
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

The tournament clock is paused and they will play the last six hands before bagging for the night. Niko Soininen has just won an enormous pot with a set of queens and has become the first and only player to break through the 200,000 chip mark.

12:20am: No more Heath
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

Ben Heath is the latest player to be knocked out. Niko Soininen took his chips. Meanwhile, Steve O’Dwyer is back in.

12:15am: How the short stacks do it
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

Neither Vojtech Ruzicka nor Connor Drinan had especially big stacks. Ruzicka’s was about 17,500 and Drinan’s about 28,000 and action folded to the former in the small blind, with only the latter behind him. Ruzicka opted to limp.

Drinan checked and they saw a flop of 2♥6♦7♣. Both players checked. The A♥ then appeared on the turn and Ruzicka bet 1,100. Drinan called.

The 6♣ completed the board and Ruzicka checked. Drinan bet 3,000 and, after a while pondering, Ruzicka moved all-in. It was 15,200 and Drinan thought about it for a while. But then he flicked his cards away.

12:05am: Khoreshenin tank-shoves on Ivarsson
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

Alexander Ivarsson has built his stack up to around 90,000 after early accidents, but just lost a pot to his new neighbour Oleksii Khoreshenin.

They got about 6,500 into the pot pre-flop–Ivarsson from the button, Khoreshenin from the small blind–and saw the 4♦7♣3♠ emerge. Khoreshenin bet 3,600 and Ivarsson quickly raised to 9,000.

Khoreshenin now went into the tank and, after a good couple of minutes, Ivarsson asked for a clock. The tournament official came over and told Khoreshenin he had a minute to make up his mind. Khoreshenin nodded.

After about 40 seconds of the countdown, Khoreshenin moved all-in, for about 20,000 total. Ivarsson folded in the blink of an eye.

11:55pm: Last level
Level 8 – Blinds 500/1,000 (100 ante)

They are heading into Level 8, the last of the day. Simon Deadman was also spotted walking out of the tournament room shortly before they ended Level 7. Like Steve O’Dwyer, he may or may not opt to re-enter tomorrow.

11:40pm: All-in or not all-in?
Level 7 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Bryan Roberts bet 8,600 at a board reading 6♦2♥6♣3♣. He had got to the turn from the small blind in a hand against Mustapha Kanit, who was in the cutoff. Kanit called.

The river brought the 7♦ and Roberts moved his stack of 18,200 over the line. Actually, that’s not quite true. He was using one 100-denomination chip as a card protector, and it sat there still. He had not said, “All-in” leading to some debate around the table as to whether he was all-in.

Kanit and Roberts seemed to be in agreement that he wasn’t all-in. They pointed to the chip behind the line and the lack of verbal declaration. But the tournament supervisor pointed out that he had left himself less than one big blind, which means he is actually all-in. Steve O’Dwyer, to Kanit’s right, concurred with this ruling.

It didn’t matter. Kanit folded anyway, leaving himself with just shy of 50,000.

Post-script: A couple of hands later, Steve O’Dwyer was knocked out.

11:40pm: Senie gets serious
Level 7 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Brian Senie isn’t messing around. He is sitting with about 127,000 at the moment, adding about 10,000 to his stack without needing to see a flop.

He opened to 2,200 from early position and found a call from Max Silver two seats to his left. Then Marc McDonnell three-bet to 7,300 from the button, from a stack of 27,800.

Senie asked to see the full extent of McDonnell’s stack before announcing that he was all-in. He covered both opponents very comfortably (Silver has about 70,000) and the both folded quickly.

11:30pm: ElkY three-bet by Stuer
Level 7 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier is sitting with about as many chips as he had at the start of the day, and has his Mau5 figure sitting, as usual, on top of them. It’s been a quiet day and when he tried to get something started recently, Julian Stuer cut it short. ElkY raised to 1,600 from under the gun, action folded to Stuer on the button, and he three-bet to 2,800. ElkY quickly folded.

11:25pm: Tuna cans Kozlov
Level 7 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Akin Tuna burnt through his first buy-in in the blink of an eye, but he is now sitting with about 140,000–the tournament chip-lead–on his second bullet. He just sent Martin Kozlov to the rail in what looked like a bad beat. “What can you do?” someone at his table said as the chips were pushed in Tuna’s direction and Kozlov headed away.

Vladimir Troyanovskiy followed Kozlov out the door. He was eliminated by Fiodor Martino.

11:10pm: Newey emerges at the top of the counts
Level 7 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Paul Newey is another man in form. He made the final table of both the High Roller and the Super High Roller at the recent Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) event in Macau. Now here in Prague, where he once finished second in a Super High Roller event, he is leading the way as the tournament heads into Level 7.


Paul Newey: In fine form

Here are the big stacks:

Paul Newey: 135,000
Alexandr Komarov: 125,000
Akin Tuna: 120,000
Thomas Muehloecker: 120,000


Alexandr Komarov

10:50pm: Schemion sticking around
Level 6 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Ole Schemion’s last few chips–less than 20,000–hardly comprised a “stack”. There was only about eight chips in total. Both Joseph Chemaly and Ivan Gabrieli fancied adding them to their own stacks nonetheless, but ended up not prepared to pay the price.

Schemion opened to 1,300 from the hijack and Chemaly called in the cutoff. Then Paul Newey called in the small blind and Gabrieli called in the big blind.

Four of them saw the flop of 3♦8♠4♥ and both Newey and Gabrieli checked. Schemion bet 2,500 and only Newey folded. The other two paid to come along.

By this point, Schemion only had 12,800 left and, after the 2♦ came on the turn, he moved all-in. Chemaly was interested. Very interested. But eventually he folded. Gabrieli took less time. He folded too.

10:40pm: Hajiyev back, and back at it
Level 6 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Ramin Hajiyev has re-entered pretty quickly after busting. He is now sitting the other side of the dealer to Vlad Darie, and is getting busy already. Darie opened to 1,500 from the hijack and Hajiyev three-bet to 4,300 from the cutoff. Darie called.

Both players checked the flop of Q♥J♥10♥ then, after Darie also checked the 4♦ turn, Hajiyev bet 6,600 and won.

We now have eight re-entries, which means 103 entries total.

10:25pm: Two down
Level 6 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Two all-ins, two calls, two eliminations on two tables just after the break. They took place simultaneously and details are sketchy on both of them.

First up, Micael Rocco accounted for Ramin Hajiyev. There was about 8,000 in the pot pre-flop ad then Rocco checked the flop of Q♦10♣J♥. Hajiyev bet 4,000 and Rocco called. The 3♦ came on the turn and they got it all in there, Hajiyev with the nuts at that point — A♦K♠ — but Rocco with plenty of outs with his K♦J♦.

Any ace would have chopped it, but any diamond would be good for the outright win, and there on the river was another diamond. Hajiyev took his leave and Rocco stacked up about 100,000.


Michael Rocco: Closing in on 100,000

As that was playing out, this was happening alongside: Andrey Andreev bet 15,000 at a flop of 6♦8♦10♣, which was enough to put his opponent, Timothy Adams, all-in. (I don’t know how they got there, nor actually whether Andreev’s 15,000 was a raise.) Adams called and showed Q♥10♥ and was ahead of Andreev’s A♣8♣. But the Q♣ turn and 3♣ river soon swung the pendulum in Andreev’s favour and sent Adams to the rail.

10:10pm: Break time
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

That’s the end of Level 5. Players are gradually drifting away for their second, and final, break of the day. When they return in 20 minutes, we’re playing three more levels then bagging and tagging.

10pm: Six down
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Seven players have now hit the rail: Akin Tuna, Stefan Huber, Chris Brammer, Sam Grafton, Martin Finger and Juha Helppi. All of Tuna, Huber and Finger are back in; Grafton, Brammer and Helppi are yet to reappear.

10pm: Astedt shows a five
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

They’re coming at Dimitar Danchev from all angles and now Niklas Astedt has just won a pot from the seat immediately right of the former PCA champion.

Danchev opened to 1,200 from under the gun and Astedt was the only caller, in the big blind. That took them to a flop of Q♠4♠10♥ and Astedt check-called Danchev’s continuation bet of 900. The J♥ came on the turn and Astedt checked again. Danchev bet 7,300 this time, a far chunkier bet than before.

But that was nothing. Astedt had a quick glance at Danchev’s stack and moved all-in, covering Danchev’s 21,000 by about 50K. Danchev quickly folded and Astedt showed him the 5♠. Danchev frowned and nodded. What else could he do?

Astedt now has about 95,000.

9:50pm: Sound the four-bet alert
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Any of these guys could have had absolutely anything, but each in turn seemed to know what the other was up to. That’s the power of position in this game.

It started with a raise to 1,200 from Orpen Kisacikoglu in the hijack. Aliaksei Boika, one seat along, sniffed out a light position raise, so three-bet to 3,500. But then Alexandros Kolonias, on the button, sniffed out the sniffing out and four-bet to 8,500. Kisacikoglu and Boika both folded.

Either that or it was queens against kings against aces and two brilliant folds. But I’m not so sure.

9:45pm: Ponakov at it again
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Dimitar Danchev (SB) and Aleksey Ponakov (hijack) got about 8,700 in the pot pre-flop, consistent with at least a raise, a three-bet and a call. Possibly more, and possibly other players were involved too.

Nevertheless, it was only those two involved when the flop came K♦6♥10♥ and Danchev bet 3,000. Ponakov called. The turn was the Q♥ and Danchev checked. Ponakov bet 4,700 and Danchev went into the tank. He sat there silently for a couple of minutes, then all of a sudden quickly snapped out of it, as though shaking himself from a stupor, and instantly folded.

9:35pm: The 100 club
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

While a number of players have around 70,000 in their stacks at the moment, and can consider things to be going very well, there are a handful with closer to 100,000 who are likely to be the happiest in the room.

They include:

Vlad Darie — 115,000
Konstantin Uspenskiy — 110,000
Jaroslaw Sikora — 105,000
Pierre Neuville — 105,000
Dario Sammartino — 102,000
Thomas Muehloecker — 98,000
Akin Tuna — 95,000 (second bullet, but making this one count)

Stefan Huber has now also been eliminated but he re-entered.

9:20pm: Brammer busts to Sammartino
Level 5 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Only two players have been eliminated so far from this tournament, the second, Chris Brammer, making his way out the door just as Level 5 began. I didn’t see the hand but Dario Sammartino was stacking up the chips. He now has about 110,000.


Chris Brammer

9pm: Two pair for Stuer
Level 4 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Martin Finger opened to 1,000 from the cutoff and Julian Stuer three-bet to 3,000 from the button. The blinds folded, but Finger wasn’t giving up yet. He called.

The flop came A♣J♣8♣ and both players checked. It led to the 5♥ appearing on the turn. Finger check-called Stuer’s bet of 3,200 and they went to the 10♠ on the river. Finger checked again and Stuer bet again, this time 7,700. Finger called but mucked when Stuer turned over his A♦5♦.

9pm: Aldemir pushes out two
Level 4 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Koray Aldemir raised to 1,000 under the gun and didn’t stop betting until the pot was won. Before that, he picked up a call from Jean-Noel Thorel in the cutoff and Isaac Haxton in the big blind and the three went to a flop of Q♣3♦10♦.

Haxton checked, Aldemir bet 1,925 and Thorel called. Haxton called too.

The 7♠ came on the turn and Aldemir bet 6,150. Thorel checked his cards, but folded. Haxton didn’t need a second look. He folded too.

8:50pm: Billard bullies Troyanovskiy
Level 4 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Vlad Darie has about 115,000 chips, which is more than double the starting stack. But his role in the following hand was a cameo at best. He left Francois Billard and Vladimir Troyanovskiy to play a pot that might have put one of them close to his chip stack.

Billard opened to 900 from under the gun and Troyanovskiy called in the cutoff. Darie called in the big blind too and three of them saw a flop of 7♦J♥J♠. Darie checked, Billard bet 900 and only Troyanovskiy called.

The turn brought the 8♠ and Billard’s check allowed Troyanovskiy to take over. He bet 3,500. Billard called to see the Q♠ on the river.

Billard checked again and Troyanovskiy bet 5,325. That’s when Billard moved all-in for about 42,000–almost precisely what Troyanovskiy still had in his stack.

Troyanovskiy didn’t ask for a count, but thought long and hard about the decision. Eventually he folded, allowing Billard to build his stack and Vlad to maintain the chip lead at the table. That’s Vlad Darie, not Vlad Troyanovskiy, just to be clear.


Vlad Darie: Chip leader

8:40pm: They’re back
Level 4 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

They’re back. Davidi Kitai and Dmitry Yurasov are among the latest to buy in.

8:20pm: Break time
Level 3 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Players are heading off for a 20-minute break. The clock shows 78 entries, including one re-entry. Akin Tuna is the man to have been eliminated and then rebought.

8:15pm: So much easier if you’d just shoved
Level 3 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Daniel Dvoress and Matas Cimbolas had invested about 19,000 between them to get four cards out on the table. They were 2♣9♠4♠J♥. Dvoress bet 11,000 and Cimbolas called.

Then K♣ came on the river and Dvoress checked. Cimbolas bet 7,500 and that put Dvoress deep into thought. As the clock ran down towards the end of the level, which would bring the first 20-minute break of the day, Dvoress said, “This would be so much easier if you’d just shoved.”


Matas Cimbolas: A confusing non-shove

Cimbolas cracked a slight smile, but mostly kept impassive, hand over mouth and peering forward. Eventually Dvoress threw out a call and Cimbolas knew he was beaten. He waited to see if Dvoress would show his cards, then he went to muck his own, even before Dvoress had tabled his hand. Then he realised he should show just in case and turned over 5♠6♠.

Cimbolas had tried to bluff at it with a missed flush draw, but perhaps lost less than he would have if he’d have hit. Dvoress showed his K♠J♠, which was always better.

7:55pm: Yan right to be a disbeliever
Level 3 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

David Yan is one of several players in the room on a hot streak. He came second in a €25K High Roller in Barcelona, won the WSOP Circuit event in Berlin and another €25K High Roller in Malta. He just won a pot from Jason Wheeler here too, not falling for Wheeler’s trickery in the big blind.

Danut Chisu set the ball rolling with a raise to 700 from under the gun. Yan called in the cutoff and Wheeler called from the big blind.

The three of them took in a flop of 9♣3♣5♠ and Wheeler checked. Chisu bet 1,025 and Yan called. Wheeler called too.

The 2♦ came on the turn and Wheeler bet 3,000. With all those small cards out there, it made sense that he could have hit something. Chisu believed him and folded, but Yan stuck around.

The Q♣ came on the river and Wheeler fired 7,500 this time. Yan called again, forcing Wheeler to show his 2♣4♦. Well, it was something. And it was actually ahead on the turn, but Yan’s A♦Q♠ caught up.

7:35pm: Local hero
Level 3 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

The continued success of poker depends on its ability to attract new players, and any professional who can garner some recognition in the mainstream is thus rightly considered highly valuable to the game. The driver who ferried me from airport to hotel yesterday told me that he didn’t know anything about poker before about two months ago, but then he read about a Czech guy “winning millions” in Las Vegas. Now he watches poker on the TV when he gets home from work.

That Czech guy–let’s call him a local hero–has just taken a seat in the €10K event today. His name is Vojtech Ruzicka and he won close to $2 million for fifth place in the World Series Main Event.


Vojtech Ruzicka: A taxi driver’s favourite

As far as I can see, Ruzicka is the only Czech player so far seated in this one, but he is now joined by high roller regulars Dario Sammartino, Jean-Noel Thorel, David Yan, Max Silver and Sam Greenwood. Musti is here too, bro.

max_silver_ept13_prague_10k.jpgMax Silver

7:25pm: Pagano pushes out Andreev
Level 2 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Most of the betting in this hand took place with such exaggerated nonchalance that it was as if they were tossing in chips by accident. After action folded to Luca Pagano in the small blind, he made what looked like a 3X raise. Andrey Andreev pushed out the call as though he had accidentally just jogged the table and the chips had fallen off his stack.

The flop brought the 3♥10♣3♦ and Pagano flicked out a gold 1,000 chip as though dusting crumbs from his lap, but that was nothing compared with the raise to 3,000 from Andreev, who pinged the three gold chips forward as though shooing away a wasp. Pagano called.

The 6♦ came on the turn and Pagano checked. Andreev now threw 6,000 over the line and Pagano called. Only now did either player seem actually to realise they were playing a sizeable pot.

The J♠ came on the river and Pagano bet 11,000. Andreev had seemed certain that this pot was his — at least as far as the turn call from Pagano. Now he was not so sure and, in fact, his fold on the end gave it to Pagano.

7:15pm: The unmistakable Bertrand
Level 2 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

The tournament board now shows 66 players registered for this event, the latest of whom has gold-rimmed shades, bleached-blonde hair and a Team PokerStars Pro patch on his sleeve. I know what you’re thinking: a return to Barry Greenstein’s disco phase. But no. ElkY is in the house.


ElkY: Not Barry Greenstein

7:05pm: Ivarsson’s wings clipped by Ponakov
Level 2 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Of approximately 85 percent of the poker tournaments I’ve watched Alexander Ivarsson play, he has been chip leader at the end of Day 1. He is pretty fearsome company, particularly in the early stages, and has a very happy habit of building great mountains of chips.

By contrast, I don’t recognise Aleksey Ponakov at all, but the Latvian has just taken a pretty hefty chunk of chips from Ivarsson in Level 2, meaning his Swedish opponent will need to work some magic to rise up the counts again.

They were at the turn with the board reading 4♥6♥4♦9♠. Ivarsson, who was in the big blind seat, bet 5,300 and Ponakov, two seats to his right, called. This put the pot at around 20,000.

The 6♦ came on the river and Ivarsson bet 12,000 at it. Ponakov thought a while and then raised all-in, covering the 24,700 Ivarsson had behind. Ivarsson thought for a little while about whether he wanted to be the first man out, but opted not to risk it. He folded, shipping the pot to Ponakov.

A quick Google reveals there’s a player named APonakov from Latvia who has amassed more than $1.7 million in registered online tournament winnings. One suspects we may have found our man.

6:50pm: The Unbearable Lightness of Poker
Level 2 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Sam Grafton has showed up to today’s tournament with a copy of Milan Kundera’s The Joke. Put it this way, I don’t think Mike Matusow has read it. But Grafton isn’t finding much time to delve into his literature. He just played, and won, a small pot against both Niall Farrell and Dietrich Fast, between whom he is sandwiched.


Niall Farrell and Sam Grafton: “I prefer his short stories”

Farrell opened this pot, making it 500 to go on the button. Grafton called from the small blind and Fast called in the big. The flop came A♦3♣8♥ and both Grafton and Fast checked. Farrell bet 600 and both opponents called.

The 5♣ appeared on the turn, which they all checked. Then Grafton bet 1,025 at the K♣ and, like dissident writers after the Prague Spring, both Fast and Farrell skittered off to live in exile in France.

6:45pm: Moradi turns set, wins big
Level 2 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

A bet of 11,500 at this stage is pretty big, even if we have just entered Level 2. Abbas Moradi pushed out that much on the river in a pot against Nick Petrangelo with the board reading 2♥10♥3♠4♣J♥.

Petrangelo didn’t take too long before making the call, but was shown 4♦4♥ by Moradi and that turned set turned out to be good.

This is the stage of the tournament where new tables are opening and players are moving almost every five minutes, so there’s no guarantee that Petrangelo will be able to get those chips back. Juha Helppi, for instance, has been to at least three tables already and the tournament is not even one hour old.


Juha Helppi: A rare moment when he’s not moving tables

And, yes, no sooner is that written than Petrangelo finds himself in the big blind and moved to the latest table to open.

6:40pm: A lock to beat Malta
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

A couple of months ago in Malta, Dietrich Fast won the equivalent of this event. There were 60 entries and Fast won €174,600. Level 1 is not yet over and there are already 44 entries to this event, suggesting we’ll race past the Malta total in no time at all.

Earlier in the season, Nick Petrangelo won in Barcelona. There were 240 entries into that tournament (195 uniques, plus 45 re-entries). I think it’s unlikely we’ll get quite that many players, but it’s been a good start.

Latest arrivals include Simon Deadman, Pascal LeFrancois, Andrey Andreev and, I think, Aliaksei Boika, fresh from his EPT Malta Main Event title.

6:30pm: More new arrivals
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

The latest influx of players includes Connor Drinan, Steffen Sondtheimer, Andrey Shatilov, Ben Heath, Dietrich Fast, Ali Reza Fatehi and Chris Brammer. Actually, at time of writing Sondtheimer is only standing on the rai, but I suspect he’ll be seated at some point today.

6:20pm: A note about structure
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Our day today is as follows: we’ll play three 45-minute levels and then take a 20-minute break. Then we’ll play two more 45-minute levels and have a 20-minute break. Then we’ll play three more 45-minute levels and then go home. It should be done by around 12:45am.

6:20pm: Petrangelo finds aces early
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Nick Petrangelo and Charlie Carrel were at a flop: 3♣9♥10♠. Carrel was under the gun and Petrangelo in the big blind. Petrangelo bet 450 at that board and Carrel raised to what looked like about 2,000. Petrangelo called and they saw the 4♣ on the turn.

Petrangelo checked and Carrel bet 2,500. Petrangelo called. Then both players checked the 4♠ on the river. Petrangelo showed his A♥A♠ and Carrel mucked. It’s not the kind of hand that changes much in the grand scheme of things, but then few really do at this stage of the game.


Charlie Carrel: Can’t beat aces

6:20pm: A Red Spade appearance
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Luca Pagano has joined the fray, becoming the first Team PokerStars Pro to enter the action. Pagano has a pretty good history in High Roller events. He made the final table in the first he ever entered, and has only played one other than that. So it’s a 50 percent final table hit-rate for him.


Luca Pagano: 50/50

6:10pm: Flooding in
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

There’s every indication that this is going to be a big tournament. Not only is it taking place in the same room as the first Eureka Main Event satellite, which is huge (250 players and counting), but the seat-draw table is also surrounded by a swarm of players already. In addition to those mentioned below, I can now see Julian Stuer, Pierre Neuville, Senh Ung, Paul Newey, Nick Petrangelo, Charlie Carrel, Tim Adams and Patrick Leonard.

Better perhaps even than that is that there are at least six players now seated who I can’t identify. New players entering a €10,000 tournament is a good sign for all of us.

6:01pm: Chit-chat
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

No prizes for guessing where most of the volume is coming from in the early stages. Sam Grafton is sitting next to Niall Farrell, which means the two Brits are getting involved in some early chit-chat. Isaac Haxton is at the other end of that table, and safe to say Grafton’s voice is carrying all the way up to Haxton’s ears as well.

6pm: Action under way on time
Level 1 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

On the stroke of 6pm, action is under way in Prague. There are already 20 players registered and seated, including: Nicola D’Anselmo, Isaac Haxton, Ivan Banic, Brian Senie, Bryan Piccioli, Orpen Kisacikoglu, Sam Grafton, Juha Helppi, Daniel Dvoress and Niall Farrell.

5:45pm: Getting started with the €10K

Good afternoon everybody and and an unseasonably warm welcome to Prague. It’s not that our welcomes aren’t always warm, it’s just that it’s December, this is the capital of the Czech Republic, and yet people are walking down the streets in fewer than nine layers of clothing. It’s positively balmy here today.

At 6pm we get started with the €10,300 No Limit Hold’em curtain raiser. And this is particularly special as it marks the beginning of the final event under the branding of the European Poker Tour (EPT). There will likely be plenty of references to this being the end of an era this week, but in reality it’s only a slight tinkering with brand names. I’d be very confident that we’ll all be back here around this time next year for something very similar.


Positively balmy in Prague

Today’s schedule is pretty simple: you cough up €10K for a 50,000-chip starting stack and eight 45-minute levels begin at 6pm. There’s one optional re-entry. Registration closes at the start of Day 2. Blinds start at 100-200 (25 ante) in Level 1.

By my calculations, and factoring in two 20-minute breaks, play will finish at around 12:45am.

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Take a look at the official website of the EPT, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for EPT13 Prague.

Also all the schedule information is on the EPT App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

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