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ESPT7 Barcelona: Benny Glaser shines brightest on Main Event Day 1A

"Estrellas" means stars, of course, and after a long Day 1A in the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event there were a number of stars shining brightly at night's end. 

The brightest of the bunch, however, was Benny Glaser of the U.K. Fresh off a double-bracelet performance at this summer's World Series of Poker, Glaser's star continues to radiate today as he bagged 360,000 chips, the most of anyone in this first of three Day 1 flights.

EPT13_Barcelona-127_Benny Glaser.jpg

Benny Glaser

Building such a big stack makes for a nice picture, wouldn't you agree?

EPT13_Barcelona-130_Benny Glaser.jpg

Chips and "cheese"

Others finishing up the night strong were Marco Torres (322,000) and Adrian Aguila Exposito (317,000). 

EPT13_Barcelona-124_Adrian Aguila Exposito.jpg

Adrian Aguila Exposito

Those two join Glaser to lead a group of players who will carry comfortably large stacks to Day 2 on Saturday, including Israel Lao (258,500), Abdelkarim El Haddouti (252,500), Hai Ng Zhang (249,500), Aleksei Istomin (244,500), Rafael Ubeda (237,500), Marco Sposito (229,000), Hassan Sey (223,000), Johan Jakobsson (213,500), Michele Perego (210,500), and Moises Parrilla (200,000).

EPT13_Barcelona-125_Israel Lao.jpg

Israel Lao

Fabian Deiman -- who led for part of the late afternoon and early evening -- also finished well with 187,500. Meanwhile as far as the red spades go, Liliya Novikova of Team PokerStars Pro Online bagged up 64,500, while Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki failed to survive the day. Horecki joined Heinz Traut, Adam Owen, Bruno "Foster" Politano, and Victor Sbrissa among the many eliminated. 

Indeed, with 639 entered only 145 or less than a quarter of the field survived Day 1A. Click here for a full rundown of all the Day 1A survivors' stacks, and for the blow-by-blow chronicling of today's action check out the live updates just below.

Play resumes early tomorrow with a 10 a.m. start. A bigger turnout is expected for Day 1B, and we'll be here once more to bring you all the action as we see who comes out, who makes it through, and who positions him or herself to make a deep run and become the next big ESPT star.  

More mañana! --MH

Full Day 1A Live Updates:

12:16am: Day 1A has concluded

All of the remaining tables have played out their final hands, and the plastic bags and pens have been brought out. Benny Glaser appears to be the one who'll be bagging the most chips before everyone leaves tonight. We'll be back shortly to confirm that suspicion and wrap up today's action. --MH

12am: Three more hands
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400, Ante 400

The clock has struck midnight, and the tournament clock stopped as well as staff has announced there will be three more hands dealt at each table, then Day 1A will be done. --MH

11:57pm: Owen out
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400, Ante 400

Adam Owen hung on for nearly all of Day 1A, but has finally lost the last of his stack to join the many Day 1A knockouts. --MH

11:53pm: Knocked out twice by the same hand
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400, Ante 400

Daniele Vullo and Guillaume Lichiere were involved in a preflop all-in situation that saw Vullo taking T♣T♠ up against Lichiere's K♦7♦. The board came 5♠A♦2♣Q♠5♣, giving the hand to Vullo, and Lichiere got up and bid the table adieu.

Then he was called back. It happened he had Vullo covered -- by exactly 500 chips, or just a little over an ante.

Back in his seat, Lichiere would be all-in on the next hand versus Radu Lungu, and he could only laugh when he saw Lungu's hand -- T♣T♠. Same suits, even.

Lichiere had 8♠4♦, and while an eight flopped so did another ten, and by the turn he really could leave.

Lungu is up to 138,000, while Vullo has 55,000. --MH

11:41pm: The home straight
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400, Ante 400

There's just 20 minutes left to play today before the chips go in the bags. Right now our chip boss is Adrian Exposito with 300,000, but with so many stacks hovering around the 240,000 mark that could - and is very likely to - change. --JS

11:27pm: Owen avoids getting caught by Net
Level 13: Blinds 1,200/2,400, Ante 400

It's the last level of the night, and Adam Owen was just now all-in again.

After an opening raise to 5,500 by Rembert Net from early position, it folded to Owen who jammed all-in from the button, and when the action folded back to Net he called.

Owen showed A♦J♥ and Net A♠J♣. "Keep it red," Owen asked the dealer, who dutifully spread the Q♦7♦A♥ flop. 

"That's pretty red," said Owen.

The turn was red, too -- the 3♥ -- assuring a chop and Owen's survival. He has about 34,000 right now while Net sits with 58,000. --MH


11:23pm: Former frontrunner Fabian fights off foe (and shows the bluff)
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000, Ante 300

Fabian Deimann was an early chip leader on this Day 1. A few levels later and his stack hasn't quite kept up with a few others around the room, but he's certainly doing whatever it takes to catch up, including running huge bluffs with air.

The board showed the J♠4♦4♠2♣3♣ and it was a heads-up pot between Deimann and Maria De Augustin. Action was on Deimann, and with 60,000 in the middle he decided to jam and put his opponent all in. De Augustin had around 70,000 behind so it was a bold and aggressive play which after a few minutes of tanking eventually paid off.

After De Augustin folded, Deimann turned over the K♦Q♠ for just King-high. --JS

11:12pm: 200 left
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000, Ante 300

The big board is showing 200 players remain from the Day 1A starting field with about a level-and-a-half left to go. --MH

11:06pm: Overwrought by an overpair
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000, Ante 300

Arriving on the flop amid an already tense situation, there was something in the neighborhood of 90,000 in the middle in a hand between David Garcia Silva (small blind) and Peter Zolnai (big blind).

The board showed 9♦9♠4♦. Silva had acted already, pushing his entire stack of 104,900 forward as an all-in bet, and was sitting with arms folded, well hidden beneath his jacket's hood. 

EPT13_Barcelona-121_David Garcia Silva_Peter Zolnai.jpg


Meanwhile Zolnai was in a state approaching agony, having rechecked and determined that what he had left -- about 85,000 -- didn't match Silva's bet.

EPT13_Barcelona-122_David Garcia Silva_Peter Zolnai.jpg


Finally a single word came from beneath the hood: "Clock." Zolnai had one minute to make a decision. 

EPT13_Barcelona-123_David Garcia Silva_Peter Zolnai.jpg

...I do?

With about 15 seconds to go, Zolnai finally released his hand. Silva then showed his -- K♣K♦.

A big smile spread over Zolnai's face, as he patted his chest and said thanks to his opponent for showing, then mouthed the word "jacks."

Zolnai keeps that 85,000 after folding, while Silva bumps up to almost 200,000. --MH

10:55pm: A long hand, a big pot
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000, Ante 300

Yep, this one took a while. More than ten minutes in fact. But we stuck around to the bitter end.

It started with a 4,500 open from Dan Hoeidahl (utg+1) which was called by Antonio Martins in the cut-off and Andras Vaczo in the big blind. The dealer fanned a 4♣7♥K♣ flop and it checked to Martins, who made it 6,500 to go. Vaczo then stuck in a raise to 16,500, Hoeidahl folded and Martins made the call.

The 2♠ turn fell and Vaczo continued for 15,600. Here's where things slowed down considerably. Martins took a good four minutes to make the call and see the 3♥ on the river. With 32,500 behind there was only one move left for Vaczo and that was all-in. He got the red triangle and then we waited on Martins' decision.

And waited. And waited some more.

Around five minutes later he made the call, and Vaczo revealed his 4♦4♥ for a flopped set. Martins had to show his hand and it was the A♦J♦ for air. A hero call gone awry, but if he'd have been right, we'd be saying he was a genius.

Martins is down to 21,000 after that hand, while Vaczo climbs to 136,000. --JS

10:42pm: Adam Owen and the number three
Level 12: Blinds 1,000/2,000, Ante 300

It's a new level, with the antes now 300 and the two blinds adding up to 3,000.

After a player limped in from middle position and the small blind called, the action was on Adam Owen in what had become a three-handed situation.

Owen looked at his hand, then announced he was all-in. The dealer counted out the amount of his raise -- exactly 33,300. 

After some thought player in middle position folded, then the small blind tossed her cards as well. Owen then decided to show his cards.

Really, he couldn't resist -- he had 3♠3♣.

Owen is up around 35,000 now, and his table is all thinking of the number three. --MH


10:18pm: Last break of the day

We'll be back in 20 as players have gone on break. --JS

10:10pm: Zhang roars over Leo
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600, Ante 200

Israel Leo opened and ran straight into a three-bet by Hai Ng Zhang to 8,600. When the action folded back to Leo, he stuck in a four-bet, making it 19,600 to see a flop. Zhang made the call.

It came the 6♠J♥Q♦ and Leo decided to lead out into the last aggressor with a 13,500 bet. Zhang wasn't done though; he raised again, this time to 29,700. That was too much for Leo in the end, and Zhang raked in the bloated pot. --JS

9:56pm: Barros bounced by Stoenescu
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600, Ante 200

Santiago Lopez Barros was all-in and at risk for his last 15,600 with A♠6♣, and appeared destined either to double or at least survive with a split after Andrei Stoenescu called him from the blinds with A♦5♣.

The 4♣8♦A♥ flop gave both a pair, and with that four the chances that Barros's kicker would earn him the pot inched upward slightly. Then came the turn -- the 5♦ -- pairing Stoenescu's five and leaving Barros looking for a six, seven, or eight to grab back the advantage.

But the river was the 3♣, and Barros is out. Stoenescu now has about 105,000. --MH 

9:50pm: Traut out
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600, Ante 200

We've done this before today (see the posts about Jonn Forst below) -- noted a player battling with a short stack, then returned to discover the player had been eliminated. Such was the fate just now of Heinz Traut, who has been eliminated here in Level 11. --MH

9:45pm: Benny Glaser - please accept my apology
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600, Ante 200

Benny Glaser won two WSOP bracelets this year within a few days of each other.

He also won a bracelet last year.

The UK pro has more than $900,000 in live tournament winnings.

And yet I didn't immediately recognise him.

Rewinding a few minutes (before the blinds went up), Laurentiu Dumitru opened in the cut-off to 2,500 and got a call from Dennis Bijen in the small blind. Glaser then raised to 14,000 from the big blind and only Dumitru called.

The two saw a 7♣2♠6♦ flop and Glaser continued for 14,000 again. Dumitru then decided to move all-in over the top for 31,000, which Glaser snapped off with his J♦J♥. Dumitru had the 9♠6♠ for a pair of sixes, but also picked up a flush draw on the 3♠ turn. The T♦ river though would seal his fate and send him on his way.

I knew I recognised Glaser but I wasn't sure of the name, so I asked to see his ID card. When I got back to my laptop and looked it up, the name of a three-time bracelet winner stared back at me.

Sorry, Benny. Won't happen again.

Meanwhile, he's helping with the reporting of his Day 1A success (see below). --JS

9:33pm: Traut still splashing
Level 11: Blinds 800/1,600, Ante 200

Estrellas Poker Tour Season 5 Player of the Year Heinz Traut has been battling with a short stack for much of the afternoon and early evening, but he remains among the pool of players as Level 11 begins. He currently has a little less than 10,000. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-46_Heinz Traut.jpg

Heinz hanging on


9:31pm: Cristino cracks aces
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200, Ante 200

Israel Lao Cristino had to have liked the way a hand he just played developed. After negotiating his way to the river versus Vatche Pierre Wartanian, he watched his opponent push all-in once the board had completed Q♦5♠4♣6♠7♣.

Cristino called the push, tabling 8♦8♥ for a rivered straight. That beat Wartanian's A♦A♥, and the latter headed to the exit.

Meanwhile Cristino's table broke, and he racked up about 180,000 before leaving for his ne seat. --MH

9:20pm: The masked man takes it down
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200, Ante 200

Malta's Rembert Net must have an important event coming up in his life, as he's wearing a surgical mask presumably to prevent himself from getting sick. Our money is on the EPT Main Event being that important event.

Anyway, after Adam Owen opened to 2,800, he was called by Miguel Arriaza, Net, the small blind, and the player in the big blind - Mykhailo Gutyi. They all saw a 4♠4♦2♦ flop and it checked around to Net, who took the betting lead with a 5,200 wager. The only player to call would be Gutyi.

The A♦ hit the turn, and that prompted Gutyi into taking an aggressive line. He put out 5,200 himself, matching Net's river bet, but Net was caught (get it?) and came along to see the 7♦ river. Four diamonds were now on board and that slowed down Gutyi. Net, however, made it 13,000 to play. After a minute Gutyi made the call, but mucked when he saw Net's 9♦9♠ for a flush.

Rembert Net is now playing 79,000, and as far as we know he's in ripe health. --JS


The man in the surgical mask

9:06pm: Might as well have been aces
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200, Ante 200

Lijo Lander open-pushed his last 13,000 or so from early position, and it folded around to Richard Johansen in the blinds. He leaned forward to confirm Lander had him covered, and as he called Lander nodded as he tabled his hand.

"Yep, I have aces," he grinned while turning over 5♦5♥. The table chuckled while Johansen answered with a nod. "You might as well," he said showing his 4♥4♣.

The board ran out 8♦9♥T♦7♣K♥, and Johansen wished the table good luck before departing. Meanwhile Lander is still short with about 25,000. --MH

8:55pm: Notable stacks after dinner
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200, Ante 200

Before the players came flooding back in, we nipped around to pick up the biggest stacks, and some of the notables in the room. Here's how they look. --JS

Gianluca Bernardini - 300,000
Johan Jakobsson - 195,000
Fabian Deimann - 157,000
Daniel Patzner - 140,000
Daniele Primerano - 138,000
Stefano Locorotondo - 135,000
Lucian Draghici - 130,000
Hassan Sey - 128,000
Julien Arethuse - 128,000
Liliya Novikova (Team PokerStars Online) - 53,000
Adam Owen - 46,000
Dominik Panka - 29,000
Marcin Horecki (Team PokerStars Pro) - 22,000

EPT13_Barcelona-104_Gianluca Bernardini.jpg

Gianluca Bernardini has a giant stack

8:47pm: Play resumes
Level 10: Blinds 600/1,200, Ante 200

Players are back from dinner and in their seats, ready to play the last four 45-minute levels of the night. We're doing a check of the big stacks once more at the moment, so stay tuned to see who among the remaining players is beginning the evening session with the chip advantage. --MH


They're back


7:31pm: Dinner time

The remaining 310 players are now heading on a 75-minute dinner break, so we will too. (You wouldn't want us to go hungry, would you?)

See you back here at 8:45pm. --JS

7:20pm: Big Popa river bet
Level 9: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

With the board showing the 7♣8♦7♥J♥9♣, Russia's Daria Feshchenko was in a tough spot. She'd checked over to her sole opponent, Alexandru Popa of Romania, who bet 8,300 into the 14,000 pot. It was a big decision, for a third of her stack. In the end she made the call, but mucked when Popa showed his 9♥9♠ for a rivered full house. Feshchenko has 16,200 left. --JS

7:14pm: Time and money
Level 9: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Amid our evidence gathering, we encountered a moderately-tense situation at Kilian Kramer's table. The board showed 7♦5♣A♦8♣, and it looked as though after a Kramer check and a half-pot sized bet from David Garcia Silva, Kramer had shoved all-in for his last 51,500 -- not quite half what Silva had behind.

Silva thought and thought, then Kramer thought it'd be a good idea to call the clock. It wasn't long after that Silva let his hand go, preserving his stack of 112,000. Kramer meanwhile is up around 80,000 now. --MH

7:02pm: Sit, sit... it's a split
Level 9: Blinds 500/1,000, Ante 100

Ivan Kalac had open-pushed his stack of almost 12,000 from middle position, and just as it appeared the shove would get through Bernhand Gotz called from the blinds. Kalac had A♥T♣ and was a little dismayed to see Gotz had woken up with A♦K♣, then as the board rolled out 6♥Q♣Q♦6♣5♥, Kalac got up to go.

"Wait... it's a split," said his neighbor, and after recognizing the two pair on the board meant the players' kickers didn't play, Kalac smiled and sat back down.

Kalac is still on just about the same short stack he had before the hand, while Gotz has around 80,000. --MH


6:44pm: It's all relative
Level 8: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Ruben Puras was in middle position, and after checking his cards set his remaining short stack forward as an all-in raise. It folded to Fabian Deimann in the big blind, who leaned forward while peering at Puras's stack.

"About 14?" he asked, and as Puras began to count Deimann waved his hand as he folded. "13,600, actually," said Puras with a chuckle. "It doesn't matter," said Deimann with a grin.

Preserving that small stack and his seat does matter to Puras, but Deimann can't be blamed for having a slightly different perspective on things at the moment. He's up over 155,000 now, still the apparent chip leader as the dinner break approaches. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-95_Fabian Deimann.jpg

Right now, Deimann is da man

6:40pm: Team Pokemon Online
Level 8: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Liliya Novikova might be a member of Team PokerStars Online, but there's another game beginning with Poke that she's also into.

Yep, you guessed it -- Pokemon Go.

The tournament room has been turned into a PokeStop, making it the perfect hunting ground for Pokemon trainers like Novikova. However, as the dealer just had to tell her, you can't play on your phone when you're in a hand!

After Daniel Garijo opened to 2,000, Novikova three-bet to 5,000 on the button and Garijo came along. The two saw a K♠3♣J♥ flop, and while Garijo was thinking how to act Novikova was trying to catch some Pokemon. She was asked to put her phone down, which she did, before Garijo checked. She checked back.

EPT13_Barcelona-98_Liliya Novikova.jpg

Liliya Novikova - poker and Pokemon

The 7♣ hit the turn and now Garijo led out for 5,500. Novikova glanced at her phone - with its PokeBall flashing on screen - then glanced at Garijo and raised again to 15,000. Garijo had 12,000 behind, while the Pokemaster-in-training had 13,000 back. Eventually Garijo laid it down and Novikova raked in a nice pot, bringing her stack to around 44,000.

Two hands she eliminated another player at her table, before finally catching the Magikarp she'd been hunting for. --JS

EPT13_Barcelona-101_Liliya Novikova.jpg

Magikarp - the one that almost got away

6:25pm: Setback for Suarez versus Locorotondo
Level 8: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Ruben Suarez was one of the big stacks we noted just a short while ago. The Venezuelan isn't that far removed from a runner-up finish in the LAPT9 Panama event in May, good for a $86,660 payday.

Just now Suarez appeared prime to jump into first position here, chip-wise, in a hand against Stefano Locorotondo of Italy. The latter was all-in and at risk with A♦J♦ versus Suarez's Q♠Q♣, and after the 8♣5♠4♠ flop and 2♦ turn, Locorotondo was already standing and preparing to head toward the exit.

Then came the river... the 3♣! Locorotondo hesitated just a moment before recognizing he'd made a wheel, and while tapping the ace he sat back down to claim a stack of about 55,000.

Meanwhile Suarez is still in good shape with about 90,000. --MH

6:15pm: Saumont takes a hit
Level 8: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

Victor Saumont opened to 1,400 and picked up a caller in Fabien Dietsch. The two saw a 9♣K♣4♦ flop and Saumont wasted no time in firing out a c-bet of 1,900, but Dietsch didn't budge.

After the call, the 5♥ turn landed and prompted another bet from Saumont, this time 4,200. Once again, Dietsch went nowhere and we went to the J♥ river. Saumont slowed down, checking it over to his fellow Frenchman who now took the betting lead with a 6,200 stab. Saumont made a quick call only to see Dietsch turn over the A♥A♦; Saumont flashed the K♠Q♣ before handing his cards to the dealer.

Dietsch is up to 47,000, while Saumont has dipped to 20,000. --JS

6:01pm: The short list of big stacks
Level 8: Blinds 400/800, Ante 100

There are 440 players left from the Day 1A starting field, and after a relatively rapid circuit around each of the remaining tables we have a few big stacks to report to you.

From our survey Fabian Deimann appeared to have accumulated the most chips thus far today, having spun his 25,000-chip starting stack all of the way up to 150,000. Here's the short list of pre-dinner big stacks.

Fabian Deimann -- 150,000
Daniel Patzner -- 145,000
Ruben Suarez -- 145,000
Ahmed Mehdi -- 142,000
Oscar Mas Pons -- 140,000
Peter Zolnai -- 112,000
Marian Virlanuta -- 108,000

EPT13_Barcelona-42_Fabian Deimann.jpg


They'll be playing through Level 9, then will come the 75-minute dinner break. --MH


5:49pm: Arethuse enthused by flop
Level 7: Blinds 300/600, Ante 100

After a 4♥6♦T♠ flop a big three-way all-in just developed involving Julien Arethuse, Carl Watts, and a third short-stacked player. Arethuse was in the enviable spot of having 6♥6♣ on that board, which made Watts's pair of tens with A♠T♣ a big underdog while the third player's K♦8♦ had only the slightest of backdoor possibilities.

The board ran out 5♣ then 4♣, the all-in player hit the rail, and Arethuse bumped up over 60,000 while Watts slipped to 35,000. --MH

5:36pm: Vasta has it, knocks out Cojacariu
Level 7: Blinds 300/600, Ante 100

After preflop back-and-forthing between Vlad Cojocariu (hijack) and Carlmelo Vasta (button) resulted in a pot of almost 20,000, the first three community cards came all hearts -- 8♥T♥K♥ -- prompting a bet of 6,800 from Cojocariu. Vasta called that bet, then after the 7♣ turn watched Cojacariu commit his last 7,000 or so, and Vasta called again.

Vasta showed his hand first -- Q♥9♥ for a flopped flush -- and Cojocariu nodded wearily as he turned over his A♦K♠. Cojacariu was already drawing dead, thus making the two-pair making A♣ river no matter, and he departs. Meanwhile Vasta has close to 60,000 now. --MH

5:32pm: Aggression pays off for Mehdi
Level 7: Blinds 300/600, Ante 100

As the blinds keep increasin' the pots keep on growin', and an almost 30,000 pot just slid Hamzeh Mehdi's way.

Picking up the action on a Q♣8♠9♦ flop, Craig Mehlbaum checked to Mehdi who made it 4,900 to play. The only other player in the pot was Laurent Durand and he made a quick call, followed by Mehlbaum.

The turn was the 4♦ and it checked to Mehdi once more. Now his bet was 7,400 and again and Durand took no time to match it. That was too much for Mehlbaum though, who threw his hand away but kept a close eye on the remaining action. The 7♥ completed the board, but there'd be no more betting after all; both checked, Mehdi showed the A♠J♣ for Ace-high, and Durand mucked.

Mehlbaum was disgusted, suggesting he likely threw away the best hand. In this case, any pair or even Ace-King would have been enough. Mehdi is up to 68,000 after that one. --JS

5:18pm: Late registration ends
Level 7: Blinds 300/600, Ante 100

The start of Level 7 means the end of late registration. We'll find out soon just how many came out for this first of three Day 1 flights, but know already the total exceeds the 592 who played Day 1A a year ago. --MH


4:52pm: Break time

They've reached the end of Level 6 and the second 15-minute break of the day. --MH

4:44pm: Big slick serves Oliveira
Level 6: Blinds 250/500, Ante 75

Gorki Oliveira has reduced the total number of players left by a couple more after the Brazilian earned a double-knockout just now. 

In a three-way all-in situation before the flop, Oliveira had a big hand -- A♦K♥ -- and the biggest stack versus Jan Nader Zadeh's K♠6♠ and Andrejs Maklecovs's 9♦9♣. The flop came 2♣3♥A♣ to put Oliveira in front, and after the Q♦ turn and 4♣ river, both Zadeh and Maklecovs were ousted.

Oliveira has a little less than 50,000 now. The big board shows 510 left from the 635 Day 1A entrants (so far), although will soon be updated thanks to Oliveira. --MH

4:38pm: Arias trebles up through two notable names
Level 6: Blinds 250/500, Ante 75

Dominik Panka and Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki are sat opposite each other right now, and neither of them could bust out Carlos Arias despite both calling his all-in.

The hand started with a 1,200 open from Horecki which Panka called, only for Arias to shove for 5,500. Both made the call, and a potential side pot began.

An A♥K♣J♦ action flop hit the felt, yet both checked, taking us to the 2♥ turn. Now Horecki put out a 3,000 bet and that was enough to get Panka out of the way, so the cards were on their backs.

Horecki had flopped well with his A♣Q♣, but Arias' A♦K♠ was even better, giving him two pair. The river was a brick and Arias trebled up. --JS

4:28pm: Horecki playing by the book
Level 6: Blinds 250/500, Ante 75

Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki has an enormous 1,000-page paperback book open before him at the table. He's about a sixth of the way into it, and if it weren't in Polish we might be able to give you an idea what the book is about.

Just now he paused his reading, though, after the player to his left open-raised a short stack of just over 3,000 from under the gun and the table folded around to Horeck in the big blind. He looked down at 8♥6♥, and after judging the raise amount, the stacks, and other aspects of the situation, made the call.

Was it "by the book"? Perhaps so, but when his opponent tabled 9♥9♠ Horecki knew he'd need help to earn the knockout. The A♥2♥3♦ brought a flush draw and some promise for Horecki, but the Q♣ turn and A♠ river did not, and he took a small hit before returning to his reading.

Horecki has about 45,000 at present as the next break of the day approaches. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-50_Marcin Horecki.jpg

Horecki, with book nearby

4:12pm: Sbrissa sunk
Level 6: Blinds 250/500, Ante 75

Among the recent knockouts was LAPT6 Brazil champion Victor Sbrissa who battled with a short stack over the last couple of levels before hitting the rail. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-59_Victor Sbrissa.jpg

Sbrissa sbusted

4:07pm: 635 and counting
Level 6: Blinds 250/500, Ante 75

They've moved into Level 6, the last one today before late registration closes. So far 635 players have entered this freezeout event (i.e., no re-entries!), and the big board is showing 540 of them remain. --MH


4:10pm: Run Good Russell
Level 5: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

Former November Niner Russell Thomas is in the mix here today. His girlfriend Kitty Kuo - a fantastic and entertaining pro in her own right - is also here in Barcelona, but she's opted not to play Day 1A.

Thomas was in the big blind so I waited to catch the action. Luke Haward opened to 1,100 before Dennis Oberscheimer jammed for his 3,000 short stack. It folded to Thomas, who gave it up, before Haward made the call.

Haward - J♠T♠
Oberscheimer - A♦Q♦

The board ran out 4♦9♠7♥6♣2♠, which hit nobody. Oberscheimer's Ace High was good and he more than doubled up, albeit just to 7,000. --JS

EPT13_Barcelona-60_Russell Thomas.jpg

Russell Thomas

3:58pm: Hissou dismisses another
Level 5: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

Jordi Escriu Guals was all-in with T♦8♦ and an open-ended straight draw on a 7♥9♦K♣ flop, hoping to improve enough to best Sirzat Hissou's pair of kings with K♦Q♦. The T♠ turn did bring some improvement for Guals in the form of a pair of tens, but the A♣ fell on fifth street, and Guals is out.

Hissou is up around 68,000 now. --MH


Well over 600 have entered thus far on Day 1A

3:55pm: Grafton gone
Level 5: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

On our way back to the tournament room we saw Mr. Sam Grafton chatting away to someone in the hallway. As personable and friendly as he is, it's not like him to get up in the middle of a tournament. So it could only mean one thing -- he's out. A quick inspection of his former seat provided the evidence. --JS

EPT13_Barcelona-57_Sam Grafton.jpg

Grafton gets got

3:45pm: Panka pays
Level 5: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

Dominik Panka has just given a large chunk of his chips to tablemate and next-door neighbour Martin Meciar from Slovakia. It was quite an interesting hand, and it started with a 1,100 open from Panka, who sits second on Poland's all-time money list behind Dzmitry Urbanovich.

It folded to Omar Diez, who made the smallest raise possible to 1,800 - 700 more, just like Panka had made it. Meciar was in the big blind and made the call, before Panka raised it to 5,500. That brought an end to Diez's experiment, but then Meciar moved all-in for 16,800 total.

It was 11,300 more for Panka to call, which was just shy of the pot itself. Panka thought for a minute or two before making the call with the A♠5♠, which trailed Meciar's A♥K♠. The 6♣K♦K♥ flop left Panka drawing dead, doubling Meciar up to around 35,000 and bringing Panka's stack down to 20,000. --JS

3:28pm: Traveling in comfort
Level 5: Blinds 200/400, Ante 50

It's a typical scene in the spacious ballroom here in the Casino Barcelona where about three-fourths of the tables are taken up with ESPT Barcelona players, with much of the last quarter occupied by the €10,300 Single-Day High Roller crowd. By the way, there are already more than 130 entries in that one.

A soft hum of chip riffles and table talk fills the space, though the overall excitement level is decidedly moderate. In other words, appropriate for this first of what is scheduled to be a four-day event, the final table of which won't be happening until next Monday.

The noise-canceling headphones are out in high numbers as well. It's similar to watching a number of people settling in for a long-distance flight -- not unlike the one some of us took to come here -- with many pacing themselves and staying relaxed for the marathon of a tournament that lies before them. --MH


Staying in tune


3:22pm: Forst forced out
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

Shortly after checking in on last year's ESPT Barcelona Main Event runner-up Jonn Forst, we returned to find his seat empty after he'd lost the last of his short stack. --MH

3:20pm: Politano knocked out by a lady
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

Bruno 'Foster' Politano has just been eliminated from Day 1A. He moved all-in from the button for around 7,000 with pocket Kings, and was in a great spot after Canada's Nicolas Malo Majeau woke up with pocket Queens in the big blind. However, the good soon turned to bad for Foster as the flop came the 5♠Q♦A♥, followed by the 6♦ and 4♣. The Brazilian tapped the table with a smile and made his exit. --JS

3:16pm: Have you seen this man?
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

Shyam Srinivasan is one of the biggest winners in online poker tournament history, and yet unless you've watched plenty of the EPT Live coverage, you might not have heard of him. I hung around his table long enough to catch him in a hand, and to see how his tablemates were playing against him. Did they know this is a man with more than $9 million in online earnings?

Well, he was certainly playing aggressive enough that they might have come to that conclusion. After a 750 open from Mohamed Gherby, which was called by Francis Kintu Sinabuly, Srinivasan three-bet to 3,000. Both called and it was three to the flop.

It fell 5♣A♣2♠ and checked back to the Canadian, allowing him to continue for 3,700. Only Gherby called this time, taking us to the 2♦ turn which paired the board. Gherby checked once more and Srinivasan threw out a 6,900 bet. Gherby asked to see how much more he was playing - around 11,000 - before announcing "All-in."

Srinivasan made a quick fold. Perhaps Gherby was aware of him after all. --JS

3:03pm: Not Forst's first rodeo
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

The finish to last year's Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event was a memorable one, with Mario Lopez ultimately outlasting the 3,292-entry field to win a €408,000 first prize

On his way to the win, Lopez made a huge call with second pair of a big bluff by Jose Carlos Garcia during four-handed play. At heads-up Lopez then struck a deal, then battled through a tough duel to win the title.

Lopez's final opponent was Jonn Forst who earned €338,000 for his runner-up finish, the biggest cash by far for the Austrian. Forst is back again this year to try to make it one spot further in this year's ESPT Main Event, although has gotten off to a slow start and sits with less than 10,000 chips halfway through Level 4. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-63_Jonn Forst.jpg

Forst seeking a first

2:55pm: Panka a banker in Barca
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

2014 PCA Main Event champ Dominik Panka has arrived to play here on Day 1A. He's only seen one flop so far - and he can't have liked it too much as he didn't invest much, giving his hand up on the flop. One thing he does like is playing poker in Barcelona - having two good cashes over the past couple of years. The first was an 11th place finish in the EPT Main Event - also in 2014 - for €77,600, followed by a fifth in a €2,150 Turbo for €27,480 last year. --JS

2:45pm: Charmpilas piling chips
Level 4: Blinds 150/300, Ante 50

Three players saw a flop come A♣2♠4♣, and Georgios Charmpilas led with a bet of 7,500. Next to act was Juan Bastida Perez who had been all-in before during the early levels, and he pushed all-in again by raising to 10,950. A third player then reraised all-in for a little more, and Charmpilas called.

Charmpilas had 4♥4♦ for a set of fours, but Perez had flopped a wheel with 4♥4♦. Meanwhile the third player had straight and flush draws with 6♣5♣, but the A♦ turn and A♠ river added up to a full house for Charmpilas, earning him a double-knockout as the fourth level begins.

Charmpilas is way up around 90,000 now. --MH


2:15pm: Break time

With three levels down and 10 more to go on Day 1A, players are now taking their first 20-minute break of the day. --MH

2:10pm: Semi-bluffs lead to double-up for Charmpilas
Level 3: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

One had the nut flush draw, the other had an up-and-down straight draw.

Prior to the hands being revealed, a 23,000 pot had been created on the J♦9♠5♠ flop by Greece's Georgios Charmpilas and Spain's Jose Antonio Sojo Borrego. The turn then came the K♦ and Charmpilas moved all-in for his last 12,625. Borrego made the call, showing his 8♠T♦ up against the A♠K♠ of the player at risk.

Both had draws on the flop, so it's safe to assume a semi-bluff war took place. By the turn, though, Charmpilas improved his Ace-high lead by pairing his King. The river was the 6♥ which changed nothing, and secured a full double up for Charmpilas to just shy of 50,000.

Borrego is still healthy with a 43,000 stack. --JS

1:55pm: Grafton's gift of gab
Level 3: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

"Marcin! You still have some of that WPT Prague money left, do you?" called Sam Grafton with a grin to a passing Marcin Wydrowski who just arrived to take his seat in the ESPT Barcelona Main Event. 

Wydrowski, who won the WPT Prague Main Event in December 2012, nodded and smiled in response as he found his seat.

"Sam! I keep hearing your voice!" laughed a player from the neighboring table, referring to the usually loquacious Grafton. Grafton's on a hiatus at the moment from his Global Poker League commentating, and so has found another context in which to chat.

Grafton is hovering at around 20,000, down a bit from the 25,000 starting stack which Wydrowski presently sits behind. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-56_Sam Grafton.jpg

"Sam I am"

1:50pm: On the clock
Level 3: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

There are some tough decisions being faced around the room, evident by the two clock-calls we just saw in the past five minutes.

The first took place in a hand between Martijn van den Assem and Antonio Postiglione. The board showed the 5♣5♠2♠2♥T♠ - a board offering full houses and flushes. On the river, van den Assem bet 5,000 into a 9,500 pot and Postiglione was deep into the tank before the clock was called five minutes later. He eventually gave it up, allowing the PokerStars Qualifier from the Netherlands to rake in the chips.

A few tables over, it was David Monino Marquez who was being put to the test by the UK's Luke Haward. On a 6♥5♠A♠7♠ board, Haward checked and Marquez made it 3,050 with around 5,000 in the pot. Haward took his time before raising it up to 9,650 - a significant chunk of chips at this stage. The clock was called on Marquez, but he gave his hand up pretty quickly into the countdown. --JS

1:35pm: Looking back at last year's pace
Level 3: Blinds 100/200, Ante 25

They've moved along into Level 3 without a break, with 559 players currently shown as having registered on Day 1A.

Last year's first Day 1 flight (also the first of three) drew 593 players, a number clearly within reach here today with late registration open through Level 6. A total of 3,292 participated in last year's ESPT Barcelona Main Event, creating a prize pool of nearly €3.2 million. --MH


A packed house


1:24pm: Vacher vanquished
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

With the board showing T♥3♠2♠, a decent-sized pot already developed, and several players left to act behind, Jose Antonio Sojo Borrego led with an all-in push that knocked out everyone except Frederic Vacher who called with his remaining chips. 

Borrego quickly tabled his T♦T♠ for top set, and Vacher less enthusiastically showed he was well behind K♥K♦. The turn was the 6♦ and river the Q♦, and Vacher was sent railward before the end of the day's second level. Meanwhile Borrego is already up close to 70,000, one of the bigger stacks in the room at present. --MH

1:15pm: Best known for...
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

Victor Saumont directed the excellent poker documentary 'Nosebleed'. He also had a deep run in this year's WSOP Main Event, finishing 257th for $36,708. He's also a photographer for various French poker sites, and a friend of the PokerStars Blog.

However, according to my colleague Martin Harris, Saumont is best known for finishing third in the EPT12 Grand Final Media tournament -- a little €20 event predominantly existing as an excuse for bloggers to drink -- in which Harris finished second.

Whatever you know him for, Saumont is in the Day 1A field and things are going well so far. I just saw him pick up a pot after an open to 400 and two calls. He made it 2,000 to go from the big blind and got everyone to fold. --JS

EPT13_Barcelona-45_Victor Saumont.jpg

To Victor go the spoils

1:04pm: Surveying the field
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

The passes through the tables are taking longer to complete as the field continues to expand. 

Among those spotted during a recent circuit were Rumen Nanev, Victor Sbrissa, Alex Difelice, Pascal Vos, Anatoly Filatov, and ESPT2 San Sebastian Main Event champion Fabian Deimann. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-41_Fabian Deimann.jpg

Fabian Deimann

1pm: First Team Pro sighting
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

There has been a distinct lack of the red spade in the first hour of play today, but we've spotted our first Team Pro joining the field.

Poland's Marcin Horecki has more than $1.3 million in live earnings, his biggest cashes coming with two third-place finishes in EPT Main Events for a combined $882,154. Let's see how he gets on here today. --JS

12:45pm: A whole 'nother level
Level 2: Blinds 75/150

More than 500 are now in their seats as Level 2 begins, with more arriving every minute. --MH


Fresh starting stacks for new players


12:35pm: Owen owning early on
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

The UK's Adam Owen is a mixed game beast, with plenty of cashes picked up at the WSOP and scores in EPT side events -- including a second-place finish here in Barcelona last year in the €5K Razz for €28,395. That doesn't mean he skips NLHE events though, having taken his seat right from the start here on Day 1A.

After an open to 250, Owen defended his big blind and two players saw a A♦K♣T♠ flop. Both checked, and the 2♣ arrived on the turn. Owen now opted to bet 300, which was called, before firing again on the 5♠ turn - this time for 500. That got his opponent to fold, and got Owen off to a nice start. --JS

12:24pm: Familiar faces
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

An early look at the player list shows a few familiar names among those who are coming out for Day 1A, among them Yury Gulyy, Vitaly Lunkin, Liliya "Liay5" Novikova of Team PokerStars Pro Online, and Estrellas Poker Tour Season 5 Player of the Year Heinz Traut. --MH

EPT13_Barcelona-40_Liliya Novikova.jpg

Liliya "Liay5" Novikova

12:10pm: Foster shows how to raise
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Bruno "Foster" Politano might be well-versed in the world of live tournament poker (he made the WSOP Main Event final table after all), but that doesn't mean everyone is.

After an open to 300, Foster called on the button before a three-bet from the small blind made it 1,050 to play. There was an issue with the way the raiser had put in his bet, however, and Foster began to explain to him the correct way to put chips in and announce your raise. Both players called.

The flop came the 2♥8♦7♦ and the three-bettor continued for 1,000. That got the initial opener to fold, but Foster - as if continuing his teaching - bumped it to 3,000. That got his opponent to fold and the Brazilian took down the pot. --JS

12:06pm: The first of many second thoughts
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

"Why didn't I go all in?"

So said Oleg Mordassov following one of the first hands of the day over on Table 13. He uttered the question shortly after tabling his seven-six, which together with the community cards added up to a ten-high straight -- good enough to best an opponent's pocket rockets. 

Alas for Mordassov, he only claimed a small pot for having cracked the aces. --MH

12:04pm: Players filing in
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

There are already more than 450 players in their seats as the first level of the day gets underway, with more streaming in steadily. The final Day 1A tally is sure to be big, with late registration open through the start of Level 7. --MH



12:00pm: Shuffle up and deal!
Level 1: Blinds 50/100

Players are in their seats and cards in the air for this first Day 1 flight of the Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event. Back soon to share who is part of today's field. --MH


11:30am: ESPT7 Barcelona Main Event about to begin

Welcome to sunny Barcelona where the sky is blue, and the nearby Mediterranean is even bluer. Even the felts in the tournament room in Casino Barcelona are blue. We aren't, though, but rather happy and excited to herald the start of another season of the European Poker Tour with our coverage of Day 1a the €1,100 buy-in Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event.

So far the seventh season of the Estrellas Poker Tour has crowned two Main Event champions. Back in March, Spain's own Pablo Gordillo won at ESPT7 Madrid, collecting €69,746 for topping a 491-entry field. Then in June it was Jonathan Schuman of England making it through an 844-entry turnout in Marbella to earn €96,159 after a three-way final table deal. 

As is typically the case, we'll expect a much bigger field for this ESPT entry. We base such expectations on what we've seen in the past, such as a year ago when there were a whopping 3,292 entries to create a prize pool of nearly €3.2 million. The awesome Argentinian Mario Lopez was the victor, adding the ESPT6 Barcelona Main Event title and €408,000 first prize to his two Latin American Poker Tour titles and other accolades. 

Today we'll be watching the first of three Day 1 flights, each of which will consist of thirteen 45-minute levels with a dinner break coming at the end of Level 9. Starting stacks are 25,000. Play kicks off in about a half-hour at 12 noon, and that's when our start-to-finish coverage will begin as well. Stay close as we begin down the long path to find out together who will be the next ESPT Main Event champion! --MH


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

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

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the ESPT7 Barcelona Main Event: Jack Stanton and Martin Harris. Photography by René Velli and Carlos Monti. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter @PokerStarsBlog.

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