Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Buy-In: $100,000
Prize Pool: $3,743,000
Entrants: 38

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller

  • Jan 06, '11 - Jan 08, '11


Updates on Final Day (Jan 08, 11)


2011 PCA: Dana batters men in Fish and Chips Showdown

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgBack home in British Columbia, Canada, Dana Weeks helps run five remote fishing lodges so it’s hardly surprising that she has just won the angling part of the inaugural PCA Fish and Chips Showdown.

The Showdown, which is Event #1 of this year’s PCA, is a brand-new tourney that combines fishing on the high seas with high-stakes action at the poker table. The $2,300 buy-in is divided into three different prize pools: the fishing derby ($400 per player), the poker tourney ($900) and the overall champion ($1,000). The overall champion will be determined by a ratio of one-third fishing, two-thirds poker.

Dana has been playing poker recreationally since she was a kid but, despite her top-notch fishing credentials, she still might find her Showdown opponents a challenge on the felt. There are only four of them but together they comprise a formidable line-up of live and online prowess: former world champion and Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker plus online pros Kenneth Hicks, Calvin Anderson and Wade Townsend. Dana’s best live result to date was sixth place in the British Columbia Poker Championships’ Ladies Event in 2007 for $ 5,000.

Now the fishing part of the Showdown is done and dusted, Dana and the four guys are heading over to the main tournament area of Atlantis to compete in the No Limit Hold Em tourney. She said: “I have a huge advantage because I’m a total unknown to these players. My strategy now is just to let them all knock each other and hopefully end up heads-up.”

Dana’s husband Rick, who was caring for the couple’s two children Jacob, nine and six-year-old daughter Mackinly while his wife was out at sea said: “I don’t play poker at all but Dana has been playing since she was a kid and really enjoys it. I’m Chairman of Rugby Canada so next month we’re heading to Las Vegas for the HSBC Sevens World Series and Dana will be competing in the poker tournament we have for that as well.”

Together Dana and Rick run Langara Fishing Adventures (, a pioneering sport fishing business with five lodges in British Columbia’s stunning Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte) islands. Some of the lodges specialize in salmon and halibut sea-fishing while others are for Steelhead Salmon and Rainbow Trout fly fisherman. Rick said: “Dana and I actually met when I was on my way to the Haida Gwaii islands to go fishing 18 years ago … she was working for the airline I chartered the plane with.”

we're going to need a bigger boat_d1.jpg

All aboard

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


2011 PCA Super High Roller: Day 1, level 2 updates (blinds 600-1,200, ante 200)


2.40pm: Break time

2.30pm: Folding from the blinds

Antonio Esfandiari has moved up to around 320,000 chips after a hand featuring Jason Mercier and Sandor Denjan.

On a flop of ASpade SuitJClub SuitQDiamond Suit Denjan checked the small blind and Mercier, who when clean shaven bears a striking resemblance to Karen Carpenter, checked the big. Esfandiari checked in early position for a 9Diamond Suit turn card.

Again the blinds checked, leaving it to Esfandiari to bet 4,300. Denjan checked, as did Mercier for a 7Spade Suit river. More checking form the blinds who then folded to Esfandiari’s bet of 15,000. – SB

2.20pm: Yes, Mrs Cunningham

Backing up the home game theme is the member of the tournament staff carrying around a tray filled with ice and cold drinks. Like the parent, hosting her son’s poker tournament friends, she drifts from table to table offering cans of coke, and ginger ale and the players politely ask for one or the other. But she won’t serve them beer. — SB

2.15pm: Smiling Frenchman

There are few things in this life more infuriating than a smiling Frenchman*, as Caio Pimenta just found out.

After spending a good couple of minutes with his head tucked into the crook of his elbow Pimenta had pushed his cards away with the heel of a clenched fist check-folding to a large bet from Benyamine on a 4Diamond SuitKDiamond SuitJSpade Suit4Club SuitJClub Suit board. The card Benyamine turned over, and the reason he was grinning, was the irrelevant 3Diamond Suit.

“How many diamonds were on the flop?” asked Justin Smith, suddenly interested in the hand. “One? Two?” Benyamine shrugged and continued to smile. — RD

*This is just a mildly xenophobic joke from a Englishman. We love the French. How can a nation of cheese and wine lovers be wrong?

2pm: In Bloom

The latest player to arrive is Viktor Blom who takes his place on table one to the left of Vivek Rajkumar.

“Good morning sir,” said Daniel Negreanu before asking about Blom’s trip to the Bahamas.

“Long travels,” is how Blom described it, having just flown from London to New York, to Miami, to Nassau five hours late and without his baggage. He’s now filling in waiver forms.

Negreanu looked over at Rajkumar who was disappointed the seat to his left was no longer empty. – SB

1.52pm: Unwanted rivers and fashionable late arrivals

Ashton Griffin opened from the button to 3,000 and was called by Negreanu in the small blind before Vivek Rajkumar three-bet to 16,000 from the big blind. Griffin quickly melted away. Negreanu decided to stay out in the sun a little longer.

Flop: 6Diamond Suit10Heart Suit9Club Suit

Both players checked.

Turn: 6Diamond Suit10Heart Suit9Club Suit2Heart Suit

Negreanu led 20,000 and Rajkumar nonchalantly flipped in a green 25,000 chip to call.

River: 6Diamond Suit10Heart Suit9Club Suit2Heart SuitASpade Suit

This was obviously not the river Negreanu was hoping for and he check-folded to a 60,000 bet. — RD

pca_super high rolller_vivek rajkumar.jpg

Vivek Rajkumar: On holiday as well as grinding

LEVEL UP: BLINDS 600-1,200, ANTE 200

1.40pm: Negreanu in action

As already mentioned, there’s a distinct home game feel to the Super High Roller. Egos may be everywhere but they’re all being good naturedly massaged. Some players are also being physically massaged, like Daniel Negreanu, whose iliac crests are being thumbed well, revealing Banana Republic underwear.

He was up against Ashton Griffin in the cut-off who, with a board of 3Heart Suit5Club Suit8Club SuitJHeart Suit, checked to Negreanu on the button who made it 35,000 to play. Griffin then raised to 83,000.

While Negreanu thought things through elsewhere players were being warned that no food was allowed in the tournament room. A hundred grand is one thing, but rules are rules. Justin Smith, busy eating a salad, didn’t take this too well.

Negreanu called for a 3Spade Suit river card. Griffin checked, as did Negreanu, turning over KDiamond SuitKSpade Suit to win the pot and move up to around 300,000. – SB

1.24pm: How much the price of water?

“Cocktails!” hollered Antonio Esfandiari. I was surprised that even a well known baller such as Esfandiari would want to start hitting the beers this early. It turns out that all he was after was some water. Not too much to ask for a $100k surely?

A tournament official indicated that someone had been dispatched to get some water. “Are they bringing it from the river?” asked Esfandiari with a smile.

“Maybe the desalination plant,” Scott Seiver suggested.

You’d expect a $100,000 buy-in to bring added gravitas to an event. No sir, that is not the case. It’s a little like a birthday home game at the moment, albeit one with a $4m prize pool. More tournaments should be like this one. — RD

1.20pm: Welcome to the PCA, in moving pictures

1.12pm: One down

Koen Berendsen is out. No detail as yet but it’s Nick Schulman who leaps into the lead with close to half a million chips. At least Berendsen has the rest of the day free.

Elsewhere Bryan Colin just took a pot from current World Champion Jonathan Duhamel. On a board of 5Heart Suit7Heart Suit7Diamond SuitQClub Suit10Heart Suit, and with about 11,000 in the middle, Duhamel bet 8,700 from the cut off. Colin, who had just checked in the big blind, raised to 26,500. Duhamel laid it down. — SB

1pm: Speaking volumes

In a tournament full of personalities (and by that we mean loud people) it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Phil Laak is the one that we can hear above all. It’s all about the volume; number of words, not decibels.

“Each toe is individually wrapped,” Laak told Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald. The young Canadian stuck his head under the table to look at, I believe, Scott Seiver’s feet.

“He tells me that they help to make you live longer,” Laak continued talking about shoes that have each toe sectioned off, a little like gloves. “There’s a lot of science to it. I was reading this book called ‘The brain that changes itself’ by Dr Norman Doidge.”

Seiver, if it was he, is no longer wearing said scientific shoes but that hasn’t stopped Laak. He was still talking about the benefits of walking around barefoot as I wandered away in ill-fitting squeaking footwear. — RD

pca_super high roller_jelly fish.jpg

The first player out will be dunked into the jellyfish tank (maybe)

12.55pm: All in and a call

No, not really, just the seat draw.

Table 1

Seat 1 – Caio Pimenta

Seat 2 – Justin Smith

Seat 3 – Bill Chen, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 4 – Daniel Cates

Seat 5 – Humberto Brenes, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 6 – Guy Laliberte

Seat 7 – David Benyamine

Seat 8 – empty

Table 2

Seat 1 – William Perkins

Seat 2 – Nick Schulman

Seat 3 – Sorel Mizzi

Seat 4 – Ashton Griffin

Seat 5 – Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 6 – Koen Berendsen

Seat 7 – Vivek Rajkumar

Seat 8 – empty

Table 3

Seat 1 – Antonio Esfandiari

Seat 2 – Shawn Buchanen

Seat 3 – Tobias Reinkemeier

Seat 4 – Eugene Katchalov

Seat 5 – Jason Somerville

Seat 6 – Sandor Denjan

Seat 7 – Jason Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 8 – empty

Table 4

Seat 1 – Mike McDonald

Seat 2 – empty

Seat 3 – Phil Laak

Seat 4 – Masaaki Kagawa

Seat 5 – Andrew Robl

Seat 6 – Scott Seiver

Seat 7 – James Obst

Seat 8 – empty

Table 5

Seat 1 – Andrew Lichtenberger

Seat 2 – Bryan Colin

Seat 3 – Tom Marchese

Seat 4 – Matt Glantz

Seat 5 – Bertrand Grospellier, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 6 – Hoyt Corkins

Seat 7 – Jonathan Duhamel, Team PokerStars Pro

Seat 8 – empty

12.45pm: And we’re off…

Play has begun.

12.40pm: About to start

We’ll be playing nine levels today, eight-max all the way, with a dinner break after level six. There seems to be a lot of jollity considering the size of the $100,000 buy-in. Come on, shove in your 250,000 starting stack blind on the first hand. — RD

12.35pm: Sliding scale

Is there a direct correlation between the size of the buy-in and the length of time allowed by tournament directors for late starts? I believe so. €5,000 EPTs are regularly delayed by 20 minutes and your local £30/$50 freezeout waits for no man – hardly surprising given the five-minute levels. On that pay scale it may mean we’re waiting around five hours for the shuffle up and deal*. — RD

*It won’t be that long.

12.25pm: All aboard

While the Super High Roller marks the start of our PCA live coverage it’s not the first event of the festival. That started about four hours ago when a small band of men and women set sail and plotted a course for the Fish and Chips Showdown, a unique event that combined deep sea fishing, poker and the suspension of credibility. As Hemingway once wrote; “Anyone can be a fisherman in May.” Let’s see how they fair in January. — SB

we're going to need a bigger boat_d1.jpg

We’re going to need a bigger boat

12.17pm: A little perspective

The thought of spending $100,000 on entry into a poker tournament takes some getting used to. As Pete Latham, who works on the TV side of events like this, just pointed out to us, you can play a whole season of the European Poker Tour with today’s buy-in, including the main high roller events, then stop by the World Series of Poker, before playing the entire Latin American Poker Tour. At the end of that you’d still have change for your flight home. – SB

12.15pm: Another short delay

All right, we’re not going to be starting at the updated start time either. Players are still milling around outside. — SB

12.02am: Short delay

It goes without saying we’re not going to be starting on time. We’re told we’ll be under way at 12.15pm. — SB

11.45am: First through the door

Daniel Negreanu is the first player to enter the tournament. Right now there are five tables, with dealers and chips, waiting for them. We’re going to put out neck out and say we will not be starting on time. – SB

11.30am: Names on the list

We already know the identity of some of those registered to play today. They include the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Jason Mercier, Tom Marchese, Sorel Mizzi, James Obst and Nick Schulman. — SB

11.20am: Weather report

Despite an even 26 degrees of sunshine outside (79 degrees in Fahrenheit to our American friends) we’re been promised a storm today. Angry looking clouds were moving in over the Bahamas this morning, not enough to put off swimmers and drinkers looking for an early morning Bahama-Mama pick-me-up, but enough to rattle the palm trees and send the more hair conscious tourist running for cover. — SB

11.10am: It’s finally here

Well here we go. The first day of the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at the beautiful Atlantis Resort, on Paradise Island, a mega-rich strip of real estate just a short swim away from the Nassau, principle town of the Bahamian Island of New Providence. And that’s the last time I’ll be typing out the full address.

As you’ll know by now we’re about to embark on a 10-day, 48-event festival of poker, the largest anywhere in the world outside of the World Series of Poker. By the end of it we’ll have a new Main Event champion, a new World Cup of Poker champion, a new Bounty Shootout champion, a High Roller champion and a Super High Roller champion. And it’s this last one we’ll begin playing for today.


The marina at the Atlantis Resort. Our yacht is just out of shot

If, like my mother, you thought $100,000 was too much for anyone to pay to play a poker tournament you’d be wrong. With a refreshingly cavalier approach to life and the value of the dollar, more than 30 players have so far signed up for this opening Super High Roller barnstormer (pronounced in the same way that you’d sing Viva Las Vegas). That’s a Bentley Continental, with a full tank of gas, to play.

As usual the PokerStars Blog will be on hand to cover every aspect of the event from start to finish, complete with irreverence, correct spelling and grammar. Not only that but can have your say via the comments box below. Today we have an opening day special offer on comments; we’re allowing exclamation marks, text-speak and opinions based on nothing that would resemble fact. Let’s have it, we’re all ears.

Play starts at 12 noon. We’ve already been enjoying the magnificence of the Caribbean’s coastlines, the pleasures of strolling along the beach, being offered everything from banana boat rides to sunstroke. We’ve also got over the fact that we’ve arrived with suitcases full of clothes entirely unsuited to 26 degree sunshine. It’s now time for what we came here for and if you can’t be here yourself the PokerStars Blog coverage is the next best thing. — SB

PokerStars Blog reporting team in the Bahamas (in order of wins on the “Fast and Furious” video driving game in the Games Reef Arcade): Rick Dacey, 4 (he doesn’t even have a drivers license), Stephen Bartley, 0 (but will always get you to your destination safely).

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


Ladies packing for the PCA--Flip flops, suntan lotion, a big bag for money

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgAs 2011 approaches most people that I know are making plans to celebrate with a bottle of champagne and maybe a party with friends. Many of them are also trying to locate a last minute designated driver for the evening so they can enjoy a few drinks before heading back to work the Monday after.

A select group of poker players from around the world however, are looking forward to a different kind of party, one that’s a bit more luxurious. They either had a few thousand to spare to pay their entry to this premier event or won it by playing on PokerStars. And for those players lucky enough to attend, it will be the New Year’s party of the year. At this party, no designated driver is necessary, since everything is within walking distance at one of the most luxurious resorts in the world—The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

Instead of a designated driver they will need a few things however; namely flip flops, suntan lotion and a big bag of money to take home the money they are looking to win at the tournament.

Two of the people who will be making that trek are winners of a Luxury Ladies Poker Event package that they won playing satellites on PokerStars. They will be enjoying five days of what can only be described as a poker player’s dream vacation. They are looking forward to their entry into a $1k buy-in ladies tournament, expense money for airfare, four nights at the Atlantis, a poker boot camp hosted by Vanessa Rousso, and a holistic mind/body beach camp to get their mental game focused on bringing home the loot when it’s all over. The package is worth $3,480, and the two ladies profiled here won it for pennies on the dollar.

Rose Genest, a nurse from Hamilton, Ontario, will be going to the Bahamas as a result of playing a $10 rebuy on PokerStars (total investment of $30). The rebuy got her into the final where she won her seat against 70 other players. She says that she was “in total shock” when she won and when she recovered a bit, she did some “bragging” because she was so proud. It took a week or two for her to come back to earth.

She says she has never been to Atlantis and is looking forward to seeing all the things Atlantis has to offer. Besides the tournament, she is looking forward to meeting some of the women from the PokerStars Women’s League. She says, “I have made so many friends from the league and we keep in touch via emails.” She says she is also looking forward to the boot camp by Vanessa Rousso. Rose says the biggest live tournament she has played prior to this was a $300 buy-in, so she plans to play some bigger tournaments soon as a warm-up to the PCA.

How will she handle the pros she’s bound to run up against at the tournament? “With class, professionalism, and respect. I would treat them as if they were any other poker player.” To help out on that end, she says she has been preparing by watching videos and studying their “moves and style of play.” She says that if she wins she would “play more poker, which is what I enjoy doing.” She would plan to play more events at the WSOP and possibly an NAPT event.

Another qualifier who won her seat on PokerStars is Jennifer Shahade. In addition to being a writer for PokerStars Women (Jennifer writes strategy articles for the site), she is a world class chess player, and a winning poker player. Jennifer has played the Ladies Event at the WSOP and cashed twice, once in 2007 in 17th place, and again in 2008 in 33rd place. Jennifer won her seat in the first tournament she entered on PokerStars, so it looks as though she takes her own advice and knows how to play these things!

Jennifer was hesitant to play the tournament after getting knocked out of a previous tournament on a bad beat. She debated about whether to play, because she was concerned that the result of the previous tournament might influence her play. But apparently, it spurred her on instead, and she went on to win the only seat. The first thing she did after winning was to call her dad. Later that night, she also called her brother, who is a poker pro, to “go over some of the hand histories and discuss some of the key decisions.”

Jennifer has never been to the Bahamas, and in addition to “exploring the Atlantis and walking on the beach,” she looks forward to “meeting ladies from the PokerStars Women’s League at Vanessa Rousso’s boot camp.” She’s also looking forward to experiencing one of the legendary PokerStars parties at the end of the event.

On playing against the pros she comments, “There will be lots of differences in the way I approach a hand against someone I recognize as a professional than with an unknown. For instance, if I’m playing with a big time pro who normally plays in much higher buy-in tournaments, I’ll know that they’re not very concerned with bubbling, which may influence some of my decisions.” During the tournament, she says she “doesn’t like to think of the chips as money, because that would make me play way too tight.” And if she wins? She says “It would go right back into the poker bankroll! But I’d take some out to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the final table.”

And finally, there is Elizabeth Bennett-Martin. Elizabeth will be playing the Main Event at the PCA as a three-for-three winner in the satellites. Elizabeth won her seat for the third year in a row by playing the $11 rebuy on PokerStars. The first year she qualified (in 2009) she was one of only seven female satellite winners, and she cashed in 25th place for $40,000. She was one of only fourteen women in the entire tournament that year, playing against 1,333 men.


Elizabeth’s overall investment in the last three years to win three packages has totaled less than $1500. Her first year’s buy-in was earned with a $21 investment on her first try. The last two have cost a bit more, but an investment of under $1500 for packages that total in excess of $45,000 is a pretty incredible return on investment. (Packages include the main event buy-in, seven night’s hotel, and expenses for airfare and food. This year’s package is worth $15,780).

She has brought her entire family along each year, so it is becoming a ritual that they all look forward to. As a matter of fact, her kids check in periodically with her on weekends when she plays poker, anxious to get the green light to start packing again for the Bahamas! She says they give her good luck charms and keep her fortified with Diet Cokes.

In addition to the tournament, what is she looking forward to the most? “My family loves all the water activities and the slides, and we enjoy eating at all the restaurants,” Elizabeth says. She also likes going into town to explore and shop at the Straw Market.

Elizabeth considers herself a “serious recreational player,” who doesn’t plan to play professionally. She is an attorney and loves her job, so would never give it up to play poker. She also coordinates a charity called CLEW (Cambodian Legal Education for Women) that pays for the education of young girls to attend law school in Cambodia. They are currently supporting 25 girls at university. If she cashes again, she plans to donate some of the money to the charity.

These are just a few of the skilled (and lucky!) women who will be playing the PCA in January. We will check in with many more of them during the event and keep you informed of their progress. Until then, play some satellites and win your seat so you can join us there! It’s going to be a blast!

More information: PokerStars Luxury Ladies Event.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


The PCA on five Frequent Player Points

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgLet’s be honest. Going to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is not an experience for budget travelers. It requires a flight to the Bahamas, a room at the high-dollar Atlantis resort, and the buy-in for the event. It all adds up after a while. That’s why so many people (688 at this writing) are working to qualify on PokerStars.

Before you run off and hit a satellite however, you should know that no matter what you do, you’re unlikely to top the return on investment story of the PokerStars player known as tombala85.

I was perusing the PCA Facebook page today and saw that Mad Harper had posted something pretty fun at the top of the page. She wrote:

Two hundred PokerStars Frequent Player Points will get you a PokerStars window sticker, 300 FPPs will get you a T-shirt and 600 FPPs will get you a floatable PokerStars keychain. But back in August, “tombala85” spent just 5 FPPs entering a Round 1 PCA Mega Path satellite. Back in August, the PCA probably looked a long way away and thousands were entering the various PCA Mega Path satellites on offer. But tombala85 not only got through his Round 1 tourney, he then sailed through a further EIGHT rounds to win his trip to the Bahamas – a prize package worth more than $15,500.

You might want to read that again just to get your head around it. See, tombala was one of thousands of people who played in the Mega Path satellites (a multi-leveled qualifying system of satellite tournaments that start at five FPPs). There were several people who earned their PCA package for just a few FPPs, but no one except tombala85 who qualified for the PCA for the lowest possible amount: 5 FPPs. I don’t know the current FPP exchange rate, but it’s safe to say tombala85 has qualified for the PCA for less than 10¢.

All of the 30 Mega Path qualifiers will be looking to match or better Darren ‘Woodylord’ Keyes achievement from 2010. Keyes made it to the PCA after starting in a 75-FPP Round 1 satellite. He worked his way to the top and finished in tenth place for $150,000. His ROI was in the 12 million percent range.


Darren Keyes

With now less than two weeks until the PCA, your time to qualify is running out. Head on over to the EVENTS / PCA section of the PokerStars lobby and start hitting the satellites soon. There still qualifiers running for as little as $1 or 100 Frequent Player Points.

The Frequent Player Points you spend today could be memories of winning millions by the end of next month.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


Brito racking up EPT Player of the Year points

ept-thumb-promo.jpgThe European Poker Tour is just about at its halfway point, and a man from Portugal is running away with the Player of the Year points lead.

Businessman Fernando Brito has knocked off everybody’s socks with a runaway performance in the EPT Awards POY race. At the latest count, Brito maintained an almost silly 1,035-point lead over second place.

Although Brito only managed a min-cash in Prague last week, he hit the €1,000 turbo side event for another pile of points. Before the end of the season, the EPT may name the tourney after him. He finished runner-up in Vilamoura, won in London, and then won again in Prague.


Fernando Brito

Here’s how the Player of the Year race is coming together at the season’s midway point.

EPT Season 7 Player of the Year leaderboard

1. Fernando Brito — 2810

2. John O’Shea — 1775

3. Dario Alioto — 1750

4. Konstantin Puchkov — 1550

5. Kayvan Payman — 1375

5. Yotam Bar Yosef — 1375

7. Kent Lundmark — 1300

7. Toby Lewis — 1300

9. Tomer Berda — 1180

10. Kristijonas Andrulis — 1160

The EPT will hand out eight awards this year. Six of them are based on points accumulated during the main and larger side events. The EPT Achievement of the Year and Players’ Choice Awards will be voted on by EPT players at the end of the season.

To see the standings for all the events, check out the EPT Awards homepage.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


Roberto Romanello wins EPT Prague

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


Roberto Romanello runs over EPT Prague for €640,000


If anyone thought poker was a game lacking emotion, except perhaps that of over-achieving tub-thumpers; or if they believed it to be a game based purely on money, on ego and of one-upmanship against their fellow man, they need only look as far as the European Poker Tour’s newest champion Roberto Romanello, for proof of otherwise.

Tonight, Romanello endeared himself to a poker community eager to see one of its natural talents succeed. After the last hand against runner-up Emiliano Bono, of Italy, Romanello simply couldn’t help it. He covered his face with his hands trying to hide a stream of tears. His attempt to manfully cough it off failed as he looked for a steadying embrace from Thomas Kremser. Even those watching from the stage began to choke up.


Roberto Romanello

So, six days and 562 eliminations after it began, the defining image of EPT Prague will not be one of cards, nor towers of chips or the arms-aloft celebration of some lucky outdraw. It will be of a 34-year-old man, alone in the corner of a room, sobbing helplessly into his arms, completely overcome by emotion, to the utter delight of a contented crowd.


Roberto Romanello

“This means everything to me,” Romanello would say when he’d had a few deep breaths and a sip of beer. “I felt I had so much support here, and I would like to thank everyone who has given it.”


Tournament Director Thomas Kremser embraces Roberto Romanello

It marks the end of a breakthrough year for Romanello who just ten months ago knew exactly how it felt to fall as this final stage. A few hours after his sixth-placed finish in Copenhagen, he was picking at a consolatory dinner in the hotel restaurant, his face speaking more than any words. “It felt like it was my tournament,” he’d said, wondering if he would ever get as close again. Well today he found his answer, one worth €640,000.


Romanello with Emiliano Bono

To see Romanello in action today was to see skilful poker at its best and in its purest form. Serious, and playing with unbroken concentration, Romanello angled his stack for attack, he never weakened, he never lost his resolve and he’s an EPT champion because of it.

For his part Bono showed all the good grace that defeat demands. Today he had been a bundle of contradiction. Quiet while the others put in the legwork, Bono would explode in jack-in-the-box fashion and chest-thump his way through several vital double-ups. With a curious black cloth draped over his head, Bono led a charmed existence which seemed pre-ordained to end with over-achievement. That meant second place for the amiable Italian, who leaves Prague happy with €435,000.


Runner-up Emiliano Bono

The final got off to a lively start. Within minutes Roberto Nulli, one of three remaining Italians, was bidding his opponents farewell, to be followed minutes later by Frenchman Manuel Bevand. Any notion of a quick staccato final seemed assured when Slovakian Jan Bendik followed in sixth place. But then the frost settled. Four hours and nine minutes would pass before Marco Leonzio was dispatched in fifth.


The EPT trophy

Leonzio had been Italy’s brightest hope, reaching the final day as chip leader and was on course to emulate his countryman Salvatore Bonavena’s win in Prague two seasons ago. But while his rise to the top had been swift yesterday, that same impetus vanished today, and he proved unable to counter the precision of Romanello and the quiet focus of Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki. Ultimately it was Romanello who sent him on his way.


Marco Leonzio

Peter Skripka would go next, a player with obvious talent and the right degree of ambivalence to be a perpetual thorn in others’s sides. Horecki had been victim of Skripka’s nonchalant panache but got the last word, out kicking him into fourth place.


PokerStars player Peter Skripka

Horecki’s hopes of a first EPT title would also be lost some two hours later. Three-handed, the man from Poland suffered in two key hands, against both Romanello and then Bono, before Bono, in an Ace-Jack vs Ace-King encounter, delivered the coup de grace. The Italian edged a jack on the river, leaving Horecki with a result equal to his third place in London back in 2008.


Romanello and Bono console third-placed Horecki

An hour and 15 minutes later, after an exhausting final table, Romanello had what he’d come for, an EPT title. We’d be happy to see him get a second.

The drama is in the detail, all of which can be studied at length at the links below.

Level 26 & 27 updates

Level 28 & 29 updates

Level 30, 31 & 32 updates

That concludes our live coverage from Prague, made memorable for snow, dancing Santas, and a Welshman in a fuzzy hat, sobbing gently and clutching his EPT trophy.

Our thanks go to our foreign bloggers, working in German, Dutch and Italian. Thanks also to our photographer Neil Stoddart, who provided all the images this week.

We’re now going to take advantage of the early finish and the free bar proffered by Mr Romanello by way of celebration. Maybe after that we’ll check-up the travel news from home, peer through the window at the snow in Prague, and gulp.


The Prague Hilton, going weird

Provided we get through the ice blockade we’ll be back on 6 January 2011 with live coverage of the first events at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on Paradise Island. As ever it promises everything that poker players would want, with all the conch chowder and pink drinks you could wish for.

Until then it’s good night, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Prague. Here’s a video to sign off with for the night…

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


EPT Prague: Final table, level 30, 31 &32 updates (blinds 100,000-200,000)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg9pm: Roberto Romanello wins EPT Prague and €640,000

Roberto Romanello opened to 575,000 from the button and Emiliano Bono three-bet to 2.475 million. Romanello quickly announced that he was all-in and his Italian counterpart made the call just as quickly.

Romanello turned over 10Spade Suit10Club Suit and Bono showed ADiamond SuitJClub Suit to set up a huge race for the title. Romanello looked understandably apprehensive given how well Bono has flipped in the last couple of days. To be fair to Bono he had been a game opponent and had gambled when he felt he had to. This was to prove the biggest flip of all.

The flop dropped down 10Diamond Suit4Club Suit4Diamond Suit giving Romanello tens full and the Italian Bono very few outs. The 5Heart Suit on the turn sealed it and the Welshman burst into tears overcome with emotion, unable to see the 4Heart Suit dealt to the river. It was a fair result and Bono gave Romanello a hearty handshake with a wide smile, as he should given that he takes home €435,000 himself.

A very worthy winner, Romanello takes the trophy, glory and €640,000 – or will when he can dry his eyes. Amazing scenes.

A full wrap of today’s final will be with you shortly. — RD

8.50pm: Romanello wins

Romanello wins a race to take down EPT Prague – details to come! — SY

8.47pm: Bono bets for the pot

Roberto Romanello raised to 475,000 on the button and Emiliano Bono called to go to the 6Heart Suit5Diamond Suit7Diamond Suit flop where he check-called the Welshman’s 625,000 continuation bet. Both checked the JHeart Suit turn before a 500,000 Bono bet on the 8Heart Suit river was good to get Romanello to fold. — MC

8.38pm: No change in chips as blinds go up

As we go into the 100,000-200,000 level we find ourselves at pretty much the same spot as when the heads up began. Roberto Romanello is on just shy of 11 million and Emiliano Bono is on 6 million. Bono won the last pot before the blinds increased with 6Heart Suit7Club Suit on a 5Heart Suit7Heart Suit8Spade Suit3Club Suit8Club Suit flop. Bono check-called 160,000 on the flop and a further 160,000 on the river. Romanello showed pocket deuces. — RD

8.30pm: Three-betting or no betting

Emiliano Bono treated Roberto Romanello to a bit of the old three-betting before the Welshman did it right back to him the next hand. Neither player had the goods to continue and folded.

The next hand Romanello limped in from the button and Bono checked. Both players checked down the QSpade Suit5Heart Suit10Heart SuitKDiamond Suit2Spade Suit board. Bono showed an ace but Romanello took the pot with 5Club Suit3Diamond Suit. — MC

8.20pm: Another one for Bono

Emiliano Bono just three-bet Roberto Romanello’s 355,000 button raise to 855,000. Romanello dragged his cards towards him and looked at them again before tossing them towards the dealer. He never really looked like playing on.

Apart from that hand it has mainly been raise and takes. — RD

8.15pm: Romanello gets some back

Roberto Romanello has won his first post-flop pot of this heads-up duel. He raised to 370,000 from the button and Emiliano Bono called to go to the 8Diamond Suit6Heart Suit2Club Suit flop. The action was checked to the 9Heart Suit turn where Bono led for 420,000. Call. The river came AHeart Suit and the Italian check-folded to Romanello’s 1.135 million bet. — MC

8.10pm: Bono slowly catching up

Emiliano Bono is slowly catching up with Roberto Romanello. A few blinds have been traded with button raises and both post-flop pots being pushed towards the Italian. A simple 450,000 continuation bet on a 3Club SuitAClub Suit7Spade Suit flop was enough to win one pot while Bono check-raised the turn of a 3Spade Suit2Spade Suit5Club SuitAHeart Suit board from 175,000 to 420,000. Romanello passed. — RD

8pm: Bono wins the first pot

The first hand of heads-up play went to the Italian, Emiliano Bono. He raised to 380,000 from the button and Roberto Romanello called. There was no more betting until the river when the board read 4Diamond Suit3Club Suit3Diamond Suit9Heart SuitKDiamond Suit and Bono bet 450,000 when checked to him. Romanello folded quickly. — MC

7.54pm: Running

Heads-up play has begun

7.45pm: Heads up stacks

We’ve had a small break before the heads up with Roberto Romanello leading with 10.13 million and Emiliano Bono chasing with 6.8 million. — RD

7.40pm: Bono bounces Horecki

Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki has been eliminated in third place by the charmed Emiliano Bono. Bono raised to 385,000 from the button and quickly called once Horecki moved all-in for about 1.5 million chips. Romanello folded from the big blind in between.

Horecki: AHeart SuitKClub Suit

Bono: AClub SuitJDiamond Suit

The board ran 10Club SuitADiamond Suit8Heart Suit2Heart SuitJSpade Suit. There was a stunned silence rather than the usual raucous celebrations from the Italian. He offered his condolences to the understandably gutted Horecki before the reality that he’s heads-up for an EPT title set in. Horecki is €247,000 richer but he’ll just be think of what could’ve been for the moment. — MC


Marcin Horecki looks stunned…


… before Emiliano Bono and Roberto Romanello offer commiserations

7.35pm: Horecki out…

… details coming.

7.32pm: Horecki in real trouble

Marcin Horecki is down to around 1.6 million, just ten big blinds while Roberto Romanello has regained a convincing chip lead. Horecki had limped from the small blind and Romanello had checked. Both players checked the flop before Horecki led 180,000 into the 9Diamond Suit10Diamond SuitKClub Suit4Diamond Suit board and Romanello raised it up to 595,000. Horecki made the call.

The Team PokerStars Pro checked the ASpade Suit river and Romanello slowly stacked out 1.495 million and pushed it across the line. While Horecki didn’t snap call he didn’t take long to push 15 green and black 100,000 chips forward. Romanello showed JDiamond Suit3Diamond Suit for the flush. — RD

7.20pm: Romanello doubles Bono

Earlier on we saw Marco Leonzio snap call for his tournament life with queen-jack and now Emilliano Bono has done the same. He raised to 370,000 from the button before calling all-in when Romanello shoved.

Bono: QDiamond SuitJClub Suit

Romanello: AHeart Suit10Spade Suit

The board ran JSpade Suit5Heart Suit3Diamond SuitKHeart Suit10Diamond Suit to double Bono up to just over six million. Romanello drops back to 7.5million. — MC

7.12pm: Horecki staying focused

Marcin Horecki looks like a man fighting the effects of final table frustration. The Team PokerStars Pro is in a horrible spot at the moment with Roberto Romanello on his left. While Bono seems largely content to pass a lot of hands their equal stack sizes means that the Pole has to be extra careful when raising from the small blind into Romanello’s big blind as the Welshman is more than happy to either apply pressure pre-flop with his monster stack or call in position.

Either way it’s not great for Horecki.

Here’s a quick video update from the man himself… — RD

7pm: Off again

Three-handed play has restarted and we’re now on huge blinds of 80,000-160,000 and a 20,000 ante. — SY

6.42pm: Break

That’s the end of the level. We’re now on a 15-minute break. — SY

6.38pm: The scores on the doors

A quick appraisal of the chip stacks shows that Roberto Romanello is leading with around 10 million chips to Horecki’s 3 million and Emilliano Bono’s 3.6 million. If Romanello should be the next player to win a large all-in he would have an almost unassailable lead in the heads up. Should Horecki double through he stands a great chance to take on Romanello. If it’s Bono who makes it to the heads-up he will have to open up his game, he’s been playing incredibly tight and has been managing to find hands when absolutely necessary. — RD


Martin Horecki

6.25pm: Great call by Romanello

Roberto Romanello just made a great call against Marcin Horecki to seize firm control over this finale. He raised to 245,000 from the button and Horecki defended from the big blind to see the QClub Suit6Club Suit7Spade Suit flop where the action went check-check. The turn came 5Heart Suit and Horecki took over the initiative with a 265,000 bet was soon facing a raise to 575,000. Call.

The river came an interesting looking 2Club Suit and Horecki led for 680,000. This sent Romanello so deep into the tank he needed a special blind of nitrox to keep breathing. He emerged and made the call. “Nice call,” said Horecki as he slid his cards into the muck. Romanello tabled 9Diamond Suit7Diamond Suit to take the pot and move to over 11 million in chips. Horecki was left with 3.2 million and Bono is still singing with 3.8 million. — MC

6.15pm: Three, two, one…

We’re still waiting for that car crash to take place with the last six pots being settled pre-flop. Roberto Romanello has taken three post, Emilliano Bono two and Marcin Horecki just one. — RD

6.12pm: How do we get home

Team PokerStars Blog is starting to get seriously concerned about how we get home, with snow causing chaos at airports back in the UK. I don’t want to spend Christmas in Prague. — SY

6.10pm: Romanello gets value

Roberto Romanello managed to get some value out of Marcin Horecki on the river with a sneaky little bet. The pot started with a Horecki small blind completion and a Romanello check to a 2Heart Suit5Diamond Suit10Heart Suit flop. Horecki check-called a 180,000 bet here and a 335,000 on the 8Heart Suit turn. The river came 9Spade Suit and Romanello bet a relatively small 205,000 prompting the Pole to say: “Why so much?”

Romanello didn’t respond and Horecki made the call after thinking for another minute. Romanello tabled QSpade Suit9Heart Suit for a rivered pair and it was enough as Horecki folded. — MC


Roberto Romanello

5.57pm: Nothing to see here

After pointing out that more people were watching the €300 Random Bounty tournament a few feet away, Marcin Horecki made a bet that stuck, the first in a while, getting a call from Emilliano Bono in the big blind. The flop came JClub Suit10Diamond Suit8Club Suit which both players checked for a9Diamond Suit on the turn. Again Bono checked to Horecki who bet 330,000. Bono passed. – SB

5.52pm: Dynamics

It’s an interesting three-way dance here with Marcin Horecki and Roberto Romanello both seeming to be chasing the win more then Emilliano Bono. It makes for some interesting dynamics, particularly between Horecki and Romanello.

Romanello opened for 300,000 from the button and was called in the big blind by Horecki. The Team PokerStars Pro led 305,000 into the 5Spade Suit3Club Suit3Spade Suit flop and Romanello grabbed two large stacks of orange 25,000 chips and raised to 1.275 million. Horecki passed. Romanello is on a little over 7 million now. — RD

4.42pm: Cagey play

The first few hands of three-handed play has been a cagey affair. No flop has been seen and only one raise was put in. The other three hands were all walks for the big blind. It won’t stay that way for long. — MC

5.37pm: Down to three

Scratch another. Peter Skripka is our fourth-place finisher, calling the all-in move of Marcin Horecki. Horecki, in the small blind, showed KSpade Suit10Spade Suit. Skripka in the big blind showed 7Club SuitKHeart Suit.

There was no messing around with the board, a straightforward flop of 10Club Suit10Heart Suit2Spade Suit to give Horecki a set. The turn ADiamond Suit[ and river JHeart Suit made no difference. Skripka out. Horecki up to around 5,500,000. — SB


Peter Skripka

5.34pm: Man down, man down!

Details to come, but his first name is Peter. His last is Skripka. — SY

5.30pm: Players are back from break

The four remaining players are back in their seats after the short break. Check the chip counts here. With just under 17 million chips in play we have 140 big blinds left on the table. — RD

ept prague_final table_snow.jpg

The PokerStars Blog’s enemy: snow is nobbling our flight home

PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT Prague (in order of what type of cake they would be): Rick Dacey (Cheesecake), Simon Young (Currant bun), Marc Convey (Fishcake) and Stephen Bartley (Gingerbread). Photos by Neil Stoddart.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


EPT Prague: Final table, level 28 & 29 updates (blinds 50,000-100,000, ante 10,000)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg5.13pm: End of the level

That’s the end of level 29. There is now a 15-minute break. — SY

5.12pm: Pro Bono

Emilliano Bono opened for 375,000 and Peter Skripka moved a stack of black chips into the middle, a raise to 2,000,000. I don’t usually use exclamation marks but Bono, throwing protocol to the wind, yelled: “All-in! Yes!” and turned over KClub SuitKHeart Suit.

Out came the black cloth, his little affectation, placed squarely on his head and patted down like a chimp would performing a circus trick. Skripka had called. Marcin Horecki, who had left for the break, came running back to watch.

The flop came 5Heart Suit3Club Suit10Diamond Suit. All the while Bono was calling for a king. “King! King!” A turn 10Heart Suit, a river 6Diamond Suit.

Bono let out a howl, turning to friends on the rail and screaming, veins bulging in his neck, face turning red. I imagine the same thing happens in chess, and in Bridge matches. Bono then shouted something at Skripka who said nothing and continued to count out the 2,545,000 chips this hand had just cost him. He’s down to 2,285,000. Bono though rockets up to 5,180,000. — SB


Emilliano Bono can hardly watch…


… then celebrates his success

5.10pm: Later, later

“Later,” said Emilliano Bono with anger in his eyes as he passed to a 400,000 Peter Skripka bet on a 6Spade Suit2Spade SuitQSpade Suit8Diamond Suit board. Skripka had opened for 250,000 and was called by Emilliano Bono in the big blind before both players had checked the flop.

“Later you have no more chips,” replied Skripka with a brilliant level of Russian disdain in his voice. — RD

5.09pm: Seven high no good

There was no small blind the hand after the elimination so when Marcin Horecki raised it was into the sole big blind of Peter Skripka. The Russian defended to see the 2Heart Suit8Diamond SuitQHeart Suit flop where he check-called a 235,000 continuation bet. Both players checked down the 3Diamond SuitKHeart Suit turn and river before Horecki announced: “Seven high,” and flashed 7Diamond Suit. Skripka tabled 9Spade Suit9Heart Suit and took the pot. — MC

5.05pm: So long Leonzio

It took four hours and nine minutes but we’ve finally had another elimination. Fifth-place finisher today is Marco Leonzio, the chip leader coming into the day, who was just dispatched by Roberto Romanello.

In truth Leonzio’s day had effectively come to the end of its natural life when he was left with a little more than a big blind after his run-in with Marcin Horecki. Now he moved in with JClub Suit3Spade Suit behind a raise by Peter Skripka, and a re-raise by Roberto Romanello. Romanello took their side pot and turned over QDiamond Suit4Diamond Suit with which to deal the hammer blow to Leonzio.

The board ran 8Club Suit4Spade Suit7Diamond Suit6Spade Suit2Diamond Suit. Leonzio out in fifth place. Romanello up to more than 6,000,000. — SB

5pm: Leonzio granted a stay of execution

Marco Leonzio was down to fumes with just over one big blind to his name and incredulously folded with 50,000 of his 130,000 stack invested in the small blind after Marcin Horecki limped the button. Horecki won that pot with a 100,000 bet into Peter Skripka’s big blind on the ADiamond SuitAHeart Suit10Heart Suit flop.

Leonzio stuck in his last 70,000 from the button and was called by Skripka in the big blind. The dealer pulled the chips in and was about to deal the flop when Roberto Romanello said: ‘I haven’t said check,’ and started chopping out a 275,000 raise. Skrika let his frustration show and open folded KDiamond SuitQSpade Suit.

Romanello: ADiamond Suit9Spade Suit

Leonzio: QSpade Suit3Spade Suit

Leonzio was on the verge of his exit with the board set at 4Heart Suit3Heart Suit6Heart Suit9Diamond Suit but the QHeart Suit on the river tripled the short stack up to 260,000. Expect someone to kill him off with a metaphorical shovel shortly. — RD


Marco Leonzio

4.55pm: Horecki doubles to cripple Leonzio

Marco Leonzio is the short stack with 130,000 after doubling up Marcin Horecki. The action folded to the in the small blind and he open shoved for just over 1.85 million. Leonzio looked down at QDiamond SuitJClub Suit and snap called. Horecki’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw what the Italian called with. He was ahead with ASpade Suit3Diamond Suit and stayed that way through the 6Diamond Suit9Club Suit2Diamond Suit2Heart Suit8Club Suit board. — MC

4.50pm: From the blinds

A flop of AClub Suit4Heart Suit8Spade Suit and a hand that at first looked likely to fizzle out. Peter Skripka in the small blind checked as did Roberto Romanello in the big blind. On the 8Heart Suit turn Skripka checked to Romanello who bet 100,000. Skripka then raised to 375,000 which Romanello called.

On the 7Diamond Suit river both players checked, Skripka showing 4Club Suit4Diamond Suit to win the pot. Romanello folded an ace. — SB

4.45pm: Romanello gaining momentum

Following an un-called shove from Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki, Roberto Romanello has won three pots in a row. It started with a three-bet to 650,000 which knocked Peter Skripka off his button raise and then it was a matter of two simple raise and takes. The three pots added 850,000 to Romanello’s stack and he must be on around 6 million now. — RD


Roberto Romanello

4.40pm: All-in is the popular move

There’s so much in the middle now that the players are upping their aggression. The action folded around to Marco Leonzio in the small blind and he put in a raise to 350,000 but ran to the Tuscan hills when Peter Skripka moved all-in for just under 2.5 million chips. — MC

4.35pm: Ten minutes

A ten-minute period featuring very little you’d call a highlight. Marcin Horecki moved all-in. Peter Skripka made the necessary requests for a full count and then promptly folded.

Emilliano Bono and Roberto Romanello saw a flop of JSpade Suit3Heart SuitASpade Suit but that was it. Bono bet to win a small pot. — SB

4.25pm: Three-bet from Skripka

Peter Skripka just pushed Emilliano Bono off a 255,000 open with a three-bet to 750,000. The Italian looked like he might move in but after a count of Skripka’s stack he opted to pass. — RD

4.20pm: Italian flavour

Emilliano Bono and Marco Leonzio haven’t played that many hands against each other today so it was nice to see one play out. Bono opened to 325,000 from the cut-off and Leonzio called from the small blind to go to a 7Diamond SuitJHeart Suit9Spade Suit flop. The action went check-check to bring an 8Diamond Suit turn. Bono quickly check-called a 350,000 bet to go to the 5Club Suit turn where he check-folded to a 500,000 bet. — MC

4.15pm: In the Skripka

Peter Skripka opened for 250,000 from under the gun which was called by Marco Leonzio in the big blind. The flop came 3Heart Suit2Diamond SuitKClub Suit which both checked for an AClub Suit turn. Leonzio checked to Skripka who bet 250,000. Leonzio called for a JHeart Suit river which again Leonzio checked. Skripka then bet 725,000 forcing the fold from the Italian. — SB

4.09pm: Please stop saying that

Roberto Romanello is playing some great poker and giving some entertaining chat but is letting himself down by insisting on talking about himself in the third person. Why, oh why, Roberto?

“I said earlier ’don’t bluff the Romanello’ but you do it anyway,” said Romanello after calling Peter Skripka’s 150,00 bet on the river of a KClub Suit2Club SuitQHeart Suit8Heart SuitKHeart Suit board, flashing a 7Heart Suit after Skripka insta-mucked his hand. — RD

4.03pm: Thanks, boss

Play was just stopped on every tournament so that the dealers could give their boss, Thomas Kremser, a Christmas present. I am still waiting for my blogging staff to buy me a present, although Rick Dacey offered me a two-day-old cookie. — SY

4pm: First hand back

The average stack is only 33 big blinds deep now so this level should throw up more action than the last.

The first hand back saw Roberto Romanello raise to 315,000 from first position and Emilliano Bono called from the next seat. Heads-up to the 7Heart Suit9Spade Suit3Diamond Suit flop where Romanello continued with a 430,000 bet. Bono thought for a while and stared at his opponent before mucking. — MC

3.55pm: Off again

Play has restarted. Blinds are now up to 50,000-100,000 with a 10,000 ante. — SY

3.38pm: Level up

That’s the end of the level. There will now be a 15-minute break. — SY

3.35pm: Raise and take

Emilliano Bono has added 320,000 to his stack just by raising and taking the blinds and antes twice. The action folded around to him in the small blind and he raised it up to 180,000 and Marcin Horecki folded from the big blind. The next hand saw Marco Leonzio get a walk before Bono raised to 230,000 from the cut-off in the hand after. Peter Skripka was in the big blind and folded. — MC

3.32pm: Horecki in shove-fold move

After that loss to Peter Skripka’s jacks Marcin Horecki is now the player in shove-fold mode. Skripka opened for 180,000 and Horecki shoved all-in to claw some of his chips back. — RD


Marcin Horecki

3.30pm: Three to the flop

Marco Leonizo opened for 165,000 from the button and was called by Skripka in the small blind and Roberto Romanello in the big blind. Skripka led for 200,000 into the 6Spade Suit9Club Suit3Diamond Suit flop folding both of the other players out. — RD

3.28pm: Lesson learned

Marcin Horecki opened for 165,000 and Peter Skripka moved all-in. “Every time you raise he moved all in,” said Romanello to Horecki with a small amount of frustration. “It happens every time.”

Horecki said nothing. Romanello checked his own cards, asked how much the all-in was for—1,275,000—and passed. Horecki called.

JDiamond SuitJClub Suit for Skripka, AClub Suit10Club Suit for Horecki.

“An ace is coming,” said Skripka. “Today I am unlucky.”

Not too unlucky. The board ran 10Heart Suit6Spade Suit5Spade Suit7Heart SuitQHeart Suit. A vital double up for Skripka to 2,500,000 but Horecki falls to 2,100,000. — SB

3.25pm: Small one for Leonzio

Marco Leonzio took a small pot off Peter Skripka in a battle of the blinds. The action folded around to the Italian in the small blind and he completed before the Russian checked his option. The flop came down 10Club Suit8Heart Suit9Club Suit and both men checked to the 6Diamond Suit turn.

“No, no, no, my friend,” said Skripka trying to stop Leonzio from betting. But it didn’t work as Leonzio led for 125,000. Call. The river came ASpade Suit and both players checked. Leonzio tabled 9Diamond Suit8Club Suit for two-pair and took the pot as Skripka folded. — MC

3.20pm: You got ace-king?

Roberto Romanello opened for 255,000 and Emilliano Bono three-bet from the button to 630,000.

“You want to gamble? You got ace-king?” asked Romanello.

“I got two cards,” replied Bono, who has 2.5 million behind.

Romanello passed as Bono moved up to 3.4 million. — RD

3.15pm: Skripka picks up a vital pot

Peter Skripka is the short stack at the final table but he’s trying really hard not to be. Marcin Horecki opened for 165,000, Skripka moved all-in for 1.23 million and the Russian picked up 300,000 by taking the raise and blinds. — RD


Peter Skripka

3.10pm: Romanello giving out lessons

Roberto Romanello is handing out lessons in poker to his tablemates. First he did it with his actions and then with his tongue. Peter Skripka raised to 200,000 from the cut-off but folded, flashing ASpade Suit, when Romanello three-bet to 600,000.

The very next hand Marco Leonzio was in the big blind and when it was Romanello’s

turn to act he said to Leonzio: “See. Are you paying attention, my friend? This is how you fold. You never fold when it’s my big blind.”

“What about me?” jumped in Emilliano Bono. “You always raise my big blind.”

“That’s because we’re Napoli-Roma,” responded Romanello.

The hand ended and Romanello continued to talk to Leonzio in Italian and then translated. “I said to him that he has to learn to fold if he wants to become a good player”. — MC

3.05pm: Ahead or behind?

Peter Skripka moved all in (all bar 25,000) from the small blind for a million. Romanello was in the big blind and said: “Let’s see if the first one is good.” It was, he said. A king. He then picked up the cards and held them closer to his face, ready to squeeze.

“If it’s better than king-ten,” he said, “I’ll call.”

Skripka wanted to look, too, and said something that made Romanello think he was already ahead. “This might be winning already,” he said.

After some more chat, and Skripka insistence that Romanello call, the Welshman had a change of heart.

“OK, now I think I’m losing,” he said. Romanello then mucked his KSpade Suit4Spade Suit. Skripka showed 3Spade Suit3Club Suit. — SB

3pm: Slowing

There’s been no major confrontations since the Royal Flush. Here’s a quick snippet of the last few hands.

1. Roberto Romanello opens for 205,000 from the cut-off and takes the blinds.

2. Marco Leonzio three-bets Marcin Horecki off a button raise.

3. Peter Skripka shoves from the small blind and Romanello folds 2Club Suit7Heart Suit face up.

4. Romanello raises to 225,000 from the small blind into Emilliano Bono’s big blind and takes the pot.

Fifth-place finisher before the end of the level? — RD

2.50pm: Royalty makes an appearance

A novelty hand at the final table with a royal flush making an appearance. Peter Skripka opened for 200,000 from the button which Roberto Romanello called from the small blind. Emilliano Bono also called in the big blind for a flop of KDiamond Suit10Diamond SuitADiamond Suit.

All three players checked for a QDiamond Suit on the turn. Romanello checked while Bono bet 225,000. Skripka called while Romanello folded.

The river came 4Diamond Suit. A flush for everyone but when Bono bet 450,000 Skripka tanked. “Do you have a diamond?” he would ask. But Bono sat still, idly passing the time looking innocent. Skripka called. “Yes, royal!” shouted Bono, who showed the JDiamond Suit then turned and beamed at his friends on the rail, celebrating like it was a reflection on all of his effort. For his part Skripka folded 9Diamond Suit.

Bono up to 3,000,000 while Skripka falls to 1,500,000. – SB


The Royal Flush board

2.35pm: Romanello opens two pots, loses both

Roberto Romanello is trying to run the show here but things aren’t quite working out for him at the moment. He’s opened the last two pots and lost both. A button raise to 205,000 was three-bet to 505,000 from Marcin Horecki in the big blind. Romanello passed.

The next hand Romanello opened for 230,000 from the cut-off, was called by Marco Leonzio in the big blind and folded to a 250,000 donk bet on the 10Diamond Suit3Spade Suit10Spade Suit flop. — RD

2.20pm: The final five

The players are returning from the break and all have a decent shot at winning their first EPT title and €640,000.

Seat 1. Marco Leonzio – 3,925,000

Seat 2. Peter Skripka, PokerStars Player – 2,880,000

Seat 3. Roberto Romanello – 5,085,000

Seat 4. Emilliano Bono – 1,595,000

Seat 5. Marcin Horecki, Team PokerStars Pro – 3,445,000

ept prague_day 5_bottles.jpg

What awaits the winner here in snowy Prague

PokerStars Blog reporting team at EPT Prague (in order of baguettes dropped) : Simon ‘Sure hands’ Young (none), Stephen ‘Baguette catcher’ Bartley (none), Marc ‘Cheese dropper’ Convey (one) and Rick ‘Ham blunderer’ Dacey (also one). Photos by Neil Stoddart.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.


EPT Prague: Final table, level 26 & 27 updates (blinds 30,000-60,000, 5,000 ante)

ept-thumb-promo.jpg2.05pm: And relax…

That’s the end of level 27. Level 28 is up next, but first it’s a 15-minute break. — SY

2pm: Skripka poker

The level looks to be running down without further eliminations. Skripka and Romanello flirted in the blinds, Skripka completing, Romanello raising and Skripka re-raising to take the pot. Five minutes left on the level. – SB

1.55pm: Not a good flop for queens

Peter Skripka opened for 160,000 from the hijack and Roberto Romanello three-bet to 560,000 from the cut-off. Skripka made the call. Both players checked down the AClub SuitKDiamond Suit3Club Suit2Heart Suit6Heart Suit board at an incredibly fast rate with Skripka tabling ASpade SuitJHeart Suit to trump Romanello’s QSpade SuitQDiamond Suit. It was pretty far from being the perfect flop for pocket queens. — RD

1.45pm: Leonzio loosens up

Marco Leonzio started the day as chip leader but he’s hardly put his stack to work at all today. That just changed, though, as he played two hands in a row.

Firstly, he raised to 180,000 from the cut-off and was called by Roberto Romanello. There was no more betting through the QDiamond Suit6Diamond Suit8Spade Suit7Heart Suit10Spade Suit board and Leonzio took the pot after he revealed ace-ten.

That might have upped his confidence as the very next hand he raised to 180,000 from under the gun. Marcin Horecki called from the big blind to see the 6Spade Suit3Heart SuitJSpade Suit flop where he check-called a 220,000 continuation bet from the Italian. Both players checked the 8Diamond Suit turn before Horecki led out for 430,000 on the 4Spade Suit river. Leonzio thought for 30 seconds and slid his cards into the muck. — MC

1.40pm: A flop

A flop of 7Diamond Suit7Spade SuitAClub Suit and Marcin Horecki bet 65,000 from the small blind which Marco Leonzio called in the big blind. They both checked the 10Diamond Suit turn for a 10Club Suit river, at which point Horecki bet 275,000 to win the hand. — SB

1.35pm: More for Wales

Roberto Romanello has extended his lead a little further after taking a pot off Peter Skripka. Romanello raised to 135,000 from under-the-gun and Skripka defended from the big blind to see a 2Heart SuitJHeart Suit5Spade Suit flop. It can’t have suited him, though, as he check-folded to a 175,000 bet from Romanello. — MC


Roberto Romanello

1.31pm: Double for Bono

Emilliano Bono has just doubled through Marcin Horecki. Bono is the tightest player at the table and has been a short stack for the majority of the last two days. He’s certainly been flipping well and that trend didn’t change when he flopped a set with his pocket fours.

The action passed to Bono in the small blind who shipped it in for 850,000. Horecki looked at his first card and didn’t look too interested but as he peeled the second his jaw dropped open a little; a sigh perhaps? The total shove was for 850,000, around a quarter of Horecki’s stack and the Team PokerStars Pro obviously had a decision in front if him.

Against some players I think Horecki would have snap called with his ASpade Suit6Diamond Suit but Bono had been showing down bigger hands only. “You want me to call?” asked Horecki. Bono shrugged.

“Do you want me to call or not?” he asked again. “So sick.” Horecki made the call.

Horecki: ASpade Suit6Diamond Suit

Bono: 4Diamond Suit4Heart Suit

The door card was the 4Club Suit and Bono leapt to his feet and started shouting in Italian (this has proved to be standard procedure for the player from Rome). The board ran out 4Club SuitQSpade SuitAHeart SuitKClub Suit9Spade Suit as Bono doubled to 1.7 million. Horecki down to 2.5 million. — RD

1.25pm: Rolling Romanello

Roberto Romanello has never sounded so sure of a call. After Peter Skripka opened from the button for 170,000, Romanello raised to 605,000 from the small blind. When Skripka moved all-in Romanello looked up to the floor staff calling the hand and in his clearest voice said: “Call.” Then, fearing this might be misconstrued, he said call again.

Romanello turned over KHeart SuitKDiamond Suit to Skripka’s 3Heart Suit3Club Suit. Breathing heavily, suspended in a black and white world of win or lose, Romanello waited for the board. First a flop of 7Club Suit5Spade Suit8Diamond Suit. Then a 4Heart Suit turn to give Skripka chop options. Then a 10Club Suit river card to double up the Welshman.

Romanello made no victory noise. Skripka tapped the table. Romanello up to around 5,500,000 chips now to Skripka’s 2,600,000, and now takes the chip lead. — SB

1.20pm: Chip leading double up…

… for Roberto Romanello. Details coming soon. — SY

1.18pm: Horecki lets one go

Peter Skripka is back into the chip lead after forcing Marcin Horecki off a hand. The Polish pro raised to 140,000 from the button and Skripka called to go to the 7Heart Suit7Spade SuitAClub Suit flop where the action went check-check. The turn came ASpade Suit and Horecki faced a check-raise up to 275,000 after he bet 105,000. Call. The river came 2Diamond Suit and the Russian led out for 925,000. Horecki thought for a long while but folded. — MC


Marcin Horecki

1.15pm: Skripka on top

Peter Skripka has inched into the chip lead with more than five million. — SY

1.10pm: “Don’t bluff the Romanello!” – part two

It’s not the first time that we’ve heard Roberto Romanello talk about himself in the third person and, in fact, it’s not the first time we’ve heard him utter these words: “Don’t bluff the Romanello.”

Romanello opened for 155,000 and was called by Marco Leonzio in the big blind. Both players checked the 2Spade SuitADiamond Suit10Club Suit flop before Leonzio led 230,000 into the 6Heart Suit turn. Leonzio made a large 700,000 bet on the 10Heart Suit river, asking a question for over half of Romanello’s stack. The Welshman slowly but surely made the call and Leonzio quickly mucked his hand. Romanello said: “Don’t bluff the Romanello,” and showed the 9Heart Suit.

He is up to 2,800,000 now and has a favourable seat draw with Peter Skripka, arguably the other most aggressive player at the table, directly on his right. — RD

1.05pm: Marco the man

Flashes of action, sparked mainly by Marco Leonzio. After Marcin Horecki bet 120,000 from the cut off Leonzio called on the button for a flop of 7Club Suit2Club Suit5Club Suit. Horecki threw in another 115,000 which Leonzio bumped up to 410,000. Horecki paused for a moment but then passed. Leonzio took the blinds and antes on the next hand with a cut-off raise that went uncontested. — SB

1pm: Has he found what he’s looking for?

Emilliano Bono seemed like he wanted to continue further in a hand versus Roberto Romanello but folded rather than pulling the trigger. Romanello raised to 145,000 from the cut-off and Bono was the only caller from the button to go to the AClub Suit8Heart SuitKClub Suit flop. Romanello continued with a 180,000 bet causing Bono to tank. The man from Rome kept looking back at his cards but ultimately folded to leave himself with just over one million chips. — MC


Emilliano Bono

12.54pm: Post-flop poker

Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki had raised and taken the blinds on the previous hand when he opened for 115,000 from the hijack. He found call from Marco Leonzio in the cut-off and Peter Skripka on the button. Leonzio was the only player who claimed to like the 9Spade Suit5Spade Suit10Heart Suit flop and bet 350,000. Skripka quickly mucked and Horecki took a little longer to do so, but pass he did. Leonzio scooped 450,000. — RD

12.52pm: Level up

That’s the end of level 26. We move straight into level 27 without a break. Blinds are now 30,000-60,000 with a 5,000 ante. — SY

12.51pm: Another one gone

Jan Bendik has become the sixth-place finisher at EPT Prague after he was eliminated by Peter Skripka. Bendik, with AClub SuitKDiamond Suit, bet 150,000 from early position which Skripka raised to a little more than 2,000,000 from the big blind with 9Club Suit9Heart Suit. The flop was kind to Bendik, landing as it did JClub SuitKHeart Suit10Club Suit. But the 9Diamond Suit turn changed that, and the 4Spade Suit river card confirmed the man from Slovakia’s elimination. Skripka up to nearly 5,000,000. — SB

12.50pm: The storm before the calm

A quiet patch after two early eliminations. Raise and take being the order of the day, the only flop seen in anger came after a bet of 115,000 from Marcin Horecki on the button which was called by Marco Leonzio in the small blind.

The flop came 8Heart SuitQDiamond Suit5Diamond Suit at which Horecki bet 135,000 to win the hand. – SB

12.37pm: Bevand out in seventh for €71,000

Manuel Bevand has just been busted by Roberto Romanello who has now chipped up to around two million. Bevand shoved his remaining 500,000 into the middle from early position and Romanello announced all-in from the small blind. Jan Bendik passed in the big blind.

Romanello: 10Club Suit10Diamond Suit

Bevand: KDiamond Suit2Diamond Suit

“King!” pleaded Bevand, half-jokingly it seemed, as he stood and pumped his arms out wide. The Frenchman knew only too well that he was a dog to Romanello’s pocket pair and the 8Spade Suit7Heart Suit3Club Suit flop did him no favors. The ADiamond Suit turn failed to help either, and as the 7Spade Suit river fell the Frenchman nodded as if to acknowledge his solid run – and that today was not his day. Bevand scores €71,000 for his seventh-place finish. — RD


Manuel Bevand

12.30pm: Video

12.28pm: Nulli and void

Roberto Nulli is the first player to be eliminated from this final table. He open shoved for 700,000 from under the gun. Bevan tank-folded what he later said to be king-queen, and it turned out to be a good fold as Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki flat called one seat later. Another player to wisely fold was Roberto Romanello in the big blind who open folded pocket nines.

Nulli: AHeart Suit10Club Suit

Horecki: QSpade SuitQHeart Suit

The board ran 10Heart SuitQDiamond Suit3Heart Suit4Diamond SuitJClub Suit hitting top set for the Pole to take us down to seven players. Nulli takes home for €54,550 for his efforts. — MC

12.22pm: Good hand for Bevand

Manuel Bevand just moved all-in on the button, getting called by Marcin Horecki and Marco Leonzio in the blinds.

They checked down the board of 4Heart Suit5Diamond Suit5Heart SuitJClub SuitJHeart Suit and Bevand tripled up, showing JDiamond SuitQHeart Suit to Horecki’s QClub Suit3Club Suit and Leonzio’s AHeart SuitKDiamond Suit. – SB

12.18pm: It’s Thomash Kremsher

Shocking evidence here of hard boozing by Thomas Kremser and his tournament team. It was only noon and already they were chucking it down their throats.

Actually, Kremser had just kindly bought Christmas champagne for his whole team, including dealers, as a thank you for their hard work this week. Team PokerStars Blog is still waiting for its bosses to buy them a Christmas drink. It may be a long wait…


Thomas Kremser and team

12.16pm: The Bendik double

PokerSars qualifier Jan Bendik was the short stack at the start of play and got it all in on the very first hand. He shoved on the button and was called by Manuel Bevand in the big blind:

Bendik: ASpade Suit6Club Suit

Bevand: KDiamond SuitQHeart Suit

The board ran AClub SuitQClub SuitJSpade Suit9Club SuitJHeart Suit to double up Bendik but leave Bevand on around 130,000. — SY

12.13pm: Off we go

The final table at EPT Prague is under way. Sounds like we have a double up for Jan Bendik on the first hand. Details to come. — SY


The final table

11.55am: Any minute now

There’s a raised stage at one end of the tournament room and players are taking their seats. We should be under way shortly. — SB

11.50am: Final table day

Welcome to live coverage of the final table of the European Poker Tour in Prague. A total of 563 players has been reduced to just eight who return today to play to a winner who will walk away, or be carried away if he’s Italian, with a first prize of €640,000.

Who are these noble gladiators? We’re glad you asked. Details of all the finalists, their likes and dislikes, or thereabouts, is all detailed below. — SB

Seat 1: Marco Leonzio, 38, Pineto, Italy – 5,075,000 chips

Leonzio, 38, has played poker for many years but only took up Texas Hold’em three years ago. The real estate agent, from Pineto on the Adriatic Sea, is usually a cash game player who uses his winnings to play live events.


The EPT Prague final table is by far his best result, although he has two previous EPT cashes, finishing 16th in Vilamoura earlier this year and 118th in San Remo last season.

Seat 2: Peter Skripka, 24, St Petersburg, Russia – PokerStars player – 4,010,000

Skripka has been playing poker for six years, mostly as a professional, and usually focuses on multi-table tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $200 to $500.


The PokerStars player has cashed online for $100,000, form he has brought with him to live poker in Prague. Skripka, a keen FC Zenit fan, said: ‘I will try to play some good poker at the final table, not just fold.’ It’s a mark of modesty from the Russian, who has impressed many people on his way to the final.

Seat 3: Roberto Romanello, 34, Swansea, Wales – 1,220,000

Romanello is a well-known figure on the international poker circuit, and has played numerous EPT events. His best result on the tour to date came in Copenhagen in February, where he finished sixth. He also cashed in Barcelona last month.


Roberto Romanello

Since turning professional in 2005, Romanello has made nearly $900,000 in live tournament earnings. Romanello took up poker while convalescing from a sports injury and in the first two weeks of playing qualified for a WPT event. He also enjoyed a deep run at his first WSOP in 2006 and final tabled the £5,000 WSOP Europe pot-limit Omaha event last year.

Romanello, who comes from Swansea, in Wales, still helps his family run their chain of up-market fish-and-chip shops.

Seat 4: Roberto Nulli, 35, Italy – 745,000

Nulli began playing online poker in 2005 and plays at under the name ‘nemo33838’. His best result to date is a 13th place finish at EPT London worth £30,000 and he’s now in the money again.


This is his second live tournament final table, following his runner up finish in February at a €1,500 no-limit hold’em event in Portomaso, in which he earned €17,900.

The father of two prefers to play live cash games, principally pot-limit Omaha and 2-7 lowball. Nulli also loves to travel and while his prize money from Prague will go towards more poker, some will be used for a non-poker holiday.

Seat 5: Jan Bendik, 46, Poprad, Slovakia – 445,000

Bendik, who owns an electricity company, has been playing poker for six years now as a hobby, which now dominates his free time.


Poker has been a very fruitful for Bendik and he’s amassed more than $600,000 in tournament winnings up to this event. This is his first EPT main event cash but he has finished in the money in three side events, including victory in the EPT Barcelona €1,000 event three weeks ago, worth €68,860. Jan is being vocally supported by friends on the rail.

Seat 6: Emilliano “MiloRomaAA” Bono, 35, Rome, Italy – 1,530,000 chips

Bono started playing poker live in 2007 and online a few months afterwards. Poker is still just a hobby for Bono, who works as a real estate agent, but he is a regular on PokerStars, mainly playing multi-table tournaments.


The married father-of-two won his seat in the EPT Prague Main Event in a live satellite and this is by far his best live result to date, although he nearly made the final of the IPT Venice Main Event in January, where he finished ninth for €9,000. Bono loves fitness and travel and is excited to make the Prague final.

Seat 7: Manuel Bevand, 34, Paris, France – 615,000

Manuel Bevand played his first EPT in Warsaw in 2007 and since then has cashed six times, including in 23rd at last season’s Grand Final. Prague has been particularly good for Manuel. He finished 19th in Season 5, 22nd in season 6 and has now reached the final – his best live result to date.


Originally from Lyon, the 34-year old turned pro in 2006. Bevand has always enjoyed games, programming video games on the family computer at age eight and becoming a noted computer game designer for a big French studio. Bevand also excelled at the card game Magic : The Gathering.

After cutting his teeth playing cash games – live and online – Manuel is now focused almost exclusively on multi-table tournaments. He has written an advice manual for aspiring poker professionals and is the founder of the popular “Club Poker Radio” show.

Seat 8: Marcin Horecki, 33, Warsaw, Poland – Team PokerStars Pro – 3,290,000

Born in Poland, Horecki is a former member of the national alpine skiing team but was forced to quit the sport due to injury. Horecki studied for BA and MA degrees and then worked in corporate finance. He also began playing Magic: The Gathering around this time, a game that would introduce him to the poker tables at PokerStars.


In 2006, he came close to making the final table of the €1,000 NLHE event at the Barcelona Open and this gave him the confidence he needed to turn pro. He has a total of six EPT cashes to date including his career-best third place finish at EPT London in Season 5 earning £303,439.

Horecki joined Team PokerStars Pro during the WSOP in July 2008. He is currently leading the Polish All Time Money List.

This EPT is brought to you by PokerStars, the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour. Win your way into the biggest events Europe has to offer at Europe.

Jump to
SpinnerPreviousPage 2 of 3Next
Newsletterbanner Twitterbanner Fbbanner

Poker Twitter Feed Twitter-bird

More Poker Tweets