On a day when many of the biggest stars and former champions faltered, Andrew Liporace seized the Day 3 chip lead. Liporace bagged 1.1 million in chips, just one big blind over the second-place stack of Danny Yousefzadeh.
"I feel crazy lucky," Liporace said to ESPN.com over Twitter. The New Orleans native has had big chips in the main event before, owning a top-five stack on Day 2 in 2010. In that effort he failed to cash, but was victorious in a $5,000 event at the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in 2012. Yousefzadeh was the first player over 1 million in chips and managed to get there with Phil Ivey to his right. Being chip leader isn't anything new to the man with over $700,000 in tournament cashes and a WSOP Circuit main event title to his name.
"I feel wonderful. I was running good all day and was playing well today," Yousefzadeh said. "It's a good start. I got my trophies, I'm in it for the money. The deeper I go, the better I'm going to feel about it. All I'm going to care about is my daughter. That fame stuff is not for me. I have a 7-year-old daughter, Ariella, who means everything to me."
Ivey didn't fare well against Yousefzadeh, but still managed to bag 552,500 for the night thanks to a strong finish. He'll begin Day 4 with two other half-million stacks, held by 2012's 38th-place finisher Kyle Keranen and Jing Wang.
A total of 1,125 players were sent home short of the money Thursday and some of them were the most prolific stars of the game. Daniel Negrenau didn't make it out of the first level of the day and defending champion Ryan Riess couldn't reach the dinner break. Johnny Chan, Robert Varkonyi and Chris Moneymaker's eliminations left Huck Seed as the only former champion still alive in the event. Antonio Esfandiari, Erik Seidel, Marvin Rettenmaier, Barry Greenstein, Gavin Smith, Dan Kelly and Layne Flack were just a few of the pros to fall and the celebrities didn't do any better.
One of the most dramatic eliminations came at the end of the night. For obvious reasons, Paul Pierce wasn't just another player in the main event, but the focus of much attention since he sat down at the felt a few days ago. The NBA star put up a real fight despite a number of tough table draws, and ultimately fell during the final level of play Thursday. On his last hand, Pierce called a three-bet from Christopher Smith in the cutoff. After a flop of As-Jh-3d, Pierce checked and Smith bet 15,000. Pierce called, leading to a turn 6s where he checked-called a bet of 35,000. A river 4s enticed an all-in from Pierce and sent Smith into the tank. After some time, Smith ultimately called and showed A-J for a better two pair than Pierce's A-4.
Pierce was eliminated in approximately 800th place out of the 6,683 players.
"It's a great atmosphere that has a lot of cool people," Pierce said. "This is the world of poker right here in the Rio. This is the whole world coming to one spot for the last two months and you get a chance to enjoy it. I get a chance to be amongst the best."
A WSOP min-cash is $18,406. Using @paulpierce34's 2013 salary, Pierce would've made that in 2.5 mins on the court.— Andrew Feldman (@AFeldmanESPN) July 11, 2014
After Riess' exit, only one member of the 2014 WSOP main event final table remained: Mark Newhouse. The 2013 ninth-place finisher finished the day with 423,500, an amount he believed he didn't come close to having at this point a year ago.
"I feel just having been this far, I definitely have more experience than the rest of them," Newhouse said. "It should put me ahead of them."
Some other Day 3 survivors include Faraz Jaka, Allen Cunningham, Michael Binger, Ali Eslami, Kenny Tran, Martin Jacobson, Maria Ho, Brett Richey, Matt Waxman and three-time WSOP champion Jeff Madsen.
"My game has just come a long way. I've been playing well," Madsen said. "It goes without saying that nothing compares to the [main event bracelet]. It would be the sickest thing ever to be the world champion. It's becoming more of a thought, but there's a lot of work for it. That would be amazing."
Here are the top 10 chip counts from Day 3:
1. Andrew Liporace (1.12 million)
2. Danny Yousefzadeh (1.12 million)
3. Raul Mestre (988,500)
4. Jesse Wilke (975,500)
5. Scott Blackman (935,000)
6. Andoni Larrabesanchez (923,000)
7. Stephen Graner (911,000)
8. Rasmus Larsen (883,000)
9. David Tuthill (850,500)
10. Roman Valerstein (850,500)
Play resumes at noon PT with the blinds at 2,000/4,000 with a 500 ante. The final 693 players will earn at least $18,406 and the one who survives the rest will pocket $10 million.
Yousefzadeh is the only player over 1 million, but a number of players are cruising with monster stacks as well. With approximately 850 players remaining there are six players over 800,000 in chips, including Raul Mestre who finished Day 2 overall second in chips. Isaac Baron held the lead during early play, and remains a contender with a ninth-place stack of 725,000 in chips.
Huck Seed doesn't have a huge stack, but he is the last former main event champion playing after Chris Moneymaker went down in frustrating fashion. Even after running into quads, Moneymaker sat healthily with more than 50 big blinds. Late in the leve, he flopped a set of eights on a board of 8s-7h-3s and after the betting escalated to where over 320,000 was in the center of the table, Raymond Ezzie seized it all as his As-Ks hit the Js on the turn to give him the winning flush. A disappointed Moneymaker bolted out the door and down the hallway as quickly as possible, failing to make the money in this event once again.
Seed has approximately 200,000 at the final break of the night. He last cashed in the main event in 2012.
The biggest rail by far belongs to Paul Pierce who is putting up a fight on Day 2. Seated at a table filled with successful live and online pros, including Michael Binger and Harry "ugotabanana" Kaczka, Pierce has held his own and currently sits on a stack of 180,000 in chips. He desperately wants to cash in this event. For him, it's not about the money, but validation.
"It would be great," Pierce said of the potential of making money. "It's showing me how far I've come over the years as a poker player and learning the game. It's more than the cards. You have to endure the atmosphere. You have to endure a lot of things when you come to a big tournament like this."
The atmosphere for Pierce includes added pressure. With ESPN cameras ready to capture every hand and a number of members of the media ready to report on his every step, concentrating on what's in front of him is key. To keep him focused he's utilized a constant massage, sunglasses and headphones ... just like any other seasoned pro.
Other recent eliminations include John Hennigan, Christina Lindley, Marvin Rettenmaier, Haralabos Voulgaris, Steven Dannenmann and Kyle Cartwright. Players have one more two-hour level to play tonight, but it's possible that action will be stopped earlier if the tournament staff believes the money bubble is approaching too quickly.
Small blinds: Earl Barron busted out from the event, but is hanging around the Amazon Room keeping an eye on Paul Pierce. Derek Gregory, too. Jeff Madsen has an autographed picture of Phil Hellmuth with him. Blinds are now 2,000/4,000 with a 500 ante. 2013 main event final table member Mark Newhouse has over 600,000. Raj Vohra is among the leaders. He's been in this spot before. Let's see if he's learned to slow down. The green 25,000 chip is being introduced during this level.
Thank you everyone for all the support over the last year. It has been one hell of a ride— Ryan Riess (@RyanRiess1) July 11, 2014
It's always interesting to see how former champions approach the main event after their victory. Riess approached it with true class and offered such positivity throughout the process. Forever included with the game's victors, Riess wanted this. He wanted to have another deep run. In his eyes, it was his event and, really, you can't blame him for that. There's a difference between having pride and being cocky about your achievements. Constantly playing the modest card, Riess was a great representative over the past year and will continue to be moving forward.
There are only two former champions left in the field: Huck Seed and Chris Moneymaker.
The eliminations piled up over the past few hours with many familiar faces walking out the door. Johnny Chan is one of them. Robert Varkyoni too. Actor Kevin Pollak, Matthew Ashton, Erik Seidel, Greg Mueller, Earl Barron, Billy Baxter, Ole Schemion, Jake Cody and Blair Hinkle as well. They're burning through tables in Brasilia and there's a real strong possibility that everyone will reach their final stop in the Amazon Room later this evening.
The pace of play is picking up, but will slow down before the night is over as the money bubble approaches. The minimum payout of $18,406 isn't the world to everyone in the field, but to many still in contention, a min-cash would mean everything. The field is still scattered with a good amount of amateurs just having a good time. You can see it in their faces and the enjoyment they display of emotion when they're talking to their friends and family on the rail. You can hear it in their voices as they're talking at the table or asking for an autograph during a break. This is their dream and it is alive and well.
Then there are those who have been here before.
Since the November Nine concept was implemented in 2008, we've learned much about the competitors that make it to the biggest final table in the world. We learned about their backgrounds, their passions and their motivations. Here's a look at the players who have made post-boom final tables and are trying to get back in 2014:
- 2013 - Mark Newhouse and Amir Lehavot are the only players left. Newhouse began the day with a 200,000 stack and has increased it to 325,000. Lehavot is hovering below average.
- 2012 - If anyone is still in it, it's Andras Koroknai, but I haven't seen him in a few hours.
- 2011 - Eighth-place finisher Anton Makiievskyi has 125,000. Runner-up Martin Staszko has 60,000. Pius Heinz did not play.
- 2010 - None
- 2009 - Some guy named Ivey made this one. He's hovering at about 400,000.
- 2008 - None
- 2007 - None
- 2006 - Allen Cunningham and Michael Binger are the sole representatives from this year's final table. I still think it's harder to find anyone who has more patience in this event than Cunningham. He has 210,000 in chips. Binger is seated with Paul Pierce.
- 2005 - Steven Dannenmann was seated with Riess and lost more than half his stack so far today. Dannenmann hasn't cashed in the main since his runner-up finish.
- 2004 - None
- 2003 - Chris Moneymaker is trying to make the money in the main event for the first time since his win.
Players will go on dinner break at 6:40 p.m. PT. After a 90-minute break, they'll return for two more levels.
Small Blinds: Paul Pierce was signing autographs for players at another table in between hands. ... A few notables with chips: Antonio Esfandiari, Joe Kuether, Martin Jacobson and Dan Smith. ... Mukul and Vinny Pahuja are sitting with their backs to each other. ... Nearly half of the Brasilia Room is empty. ... The filming of the "Side Action" segments concluded to the enjoyment of many in the Amazon Room that felt there was too much noise. ... There are no available masseuses in the Amazon Room. ... Bernard Lee ran J-J into 10-10. After seeing a 10 on the flop, Lee is on his way out of Vegas. ... There have been a few moments of audible celebration. That's more than OK at this point. ... Day 3 ended last year with 666 players. There were fewer players then, and that number isn't attainable this year since the money bubble comes at 693 and must be part of the television broadcast. ... There are lots of tired faces out there, and remember players don't have another day off until Tuesday. ... Haralabos Voulgaris has been trying to get the WSOP staff to get Paul Pierce a more comfortable chair. I honestly don't think a chair will make him more comfortable. Maybe another massage?.
The biggest elimination of the level came in the form of Daniel Negreanu. The 2013 WSOP Player of the Year had a rough Day 2C, going from one of the chip leaders to one of the shortest stacks at the end of the day. Despite a plan for patient play on Thursday, Negreanu ran into a bit of a cooler and lost most of his chips in on a Q-high board holding A-Q. His opponent, Jeffrey Chang, held K-K to win that pot. He was eliminated shortly after.
Negreanu's WSOP featured some good runs and of course an $8 million score from the Big One For Drop. He said he wanted to be transparent about his efforts and posted his results on Twitter.
WSOP Final Total: Events 32 Cashes 9 Hours 292 Buyins $1,233,000 Payouts 8,545,408 Profit $7,055,001 Time for golf this week— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 10, 2014
Also eliminated during this past level was 2013 WSOP main event runner-up Jay Farber, Gavin Smith, Theo Jorgensen, Humberto Brenes and Dan Kelly.
Phil Ivey continued to build his stack, but he lost the overall lead to Isaac Baron, who has cashed twice in this event in the past four years. He finished 85h in the 2012 main event and earlier this year finished third in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event. Baron chipped up over 850,000 so far today and recently eliminated Andrew Lichtenberger.
On the celebrity front, Paul Pierce has struggled on Day 3 and is one of the shortest stacks in the field heading into Level 12. Kevin Pollak, seated with Olivier Busquet and Maria Mayrinck, has dropped nearly a third of his stack since the start of the day.
With the blinds at 1,000/2,000 with a 300 ante, the current chip leaders are:
1. Isaac Baron (875,000)
2. Munir Shahin (640,000)
3. Steve Tripp (615,000)
4. Phil Ivey (583,600)
5. Raul Mestre (528,000)
6. Michael Aron (512,000)
7. Barry Hutter (500,000)
8. Tim Stansifer (471,000)
9. Morgan Popham (458,000)
10. Chanracy Khun (450,000)
Small Blinds: Ivey's table broke early during the second level, and he's now in the Amazon Orange section where he should be for the rest of the day. Defending champion Ryan Riess is seated with 2005 main event runner-up Steven Dannenmann and is down to about 40,000. Chris Moneymaker has more than 200,000. There was a joker dealt during a hand today. The WSOP tournament staff decided to deal another card to allow the hand to continue. Our ESPN team is shooting our Side Action segments Thursday. Without giving too much away, it is going to be a rather entertaining crew of players doing a variety of entertaining poker-related activities.
And everyone is chasing Phil Ivey.
Ivey had a main event day that every poker player in the world dreams of. The 10-time bracelet winner started the day among the leaders, but separated himself from the pack to become the biggest stack in the room just a few hours in. The hand that padded Ivey's stack featured a three-way all-in after a flop of 10-9-6. Ivey flopped bottom set and trailed the flopped straight of Lazaro Hernandez. As the table stared at the 300,000-chip pot, Hernandez, holding the best hand, said "good game" and Ivey asked him why. His reply: "You're Phil Ivey."
Hernandez was right. Ivey made a full house on the river to knock out his opponents and move into the chip lead. The Amazon Room began to buzz with talk of Ivey's chip count and while the comments weren't filled with desperation, the acknowledgement of Ivey in this position was comical to many.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I had a pretty big day," said Ivey at the end of Day 2C. "This is the most chips I've ever had after Day 2."
Ivey was the first and only player to have more than 500,000 in chips. He peaked at approximately 520,000 and loosened up at the end of the night, which resulted in a small setback. Still, Ivey was in command of a table whose total chips of the other eight players may not have equaled Ivey's stack.
"$10 million means a lot. It's a lot of money. I'm trying to win it, but more importantly I want to win the main event," Ivey said in an interview for the Day 2C Poker Edge podcast. "It's been my dream since I first started watching poker. As you get older you and start playing more tournaments, and you start thinking about your place in poker history. To win the main event would be a big part [of my legacy]. Hopefully I get it done this year."
Despite the chip lead, it's Day 3 and we can't crown Ivey just yet. A number of other players had some big success on Day 2C, including Raul Mestre, who finished the day with 477,900, good for second overall.
"It’s obviously been an incredibly good day for me. I haven't won many huge pots, it's just when I've been bluffing, they’ve worked -- I've been lucky they didn't have a strong hand," Mestre said to BLUFF. "I just managed to win almost every medium pot, which is crazy. I understand I've been running like a demon here."
Mestre finished 427th in 2009, the same year Ivey made the final table.
Others advancing to Day 3 with above-average stacks include Poker Players Championship winner John Hennigan, Griffin Benger, Daniel Alaei, Tom Marchese and Greg Mueller.
"The main event is a roller coaster mentally and emotionally and you have to stay composed," Mueller said. "You can't get too rattled ... You just have to try and plug away. The main event is the sickest tournament ever."
Mueller finished 226th in 2013 and after that event he spent nine months trying to get himself back into mental and physical shape for the WSOP. Five cashes and numerous cash game successes later, he's happy with his progress.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was a rough day to be a world champion. Phil Hellmuth, Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, Joseph Hachem, Berry Johnston, Carlos Mortensen and Scotty Nguyen all busted, leaving Robert Varkonyi as the sole former champ survivor on the day. Hellmuth's elimination was the result of a few questionable plays and as he said on Twitter, he "Busted myself in #WSOPMainEvent."
Here are the unofficial top 10 chip counts from Day 2C:
1. Phil Ivey (505,000)
2. Raul Mestre (477,900)
3. Morgan Popham (407,600)
4. Peter Neff (389,200)
5. Isaac Baron (387,200)
6. Steve Tripp (380,400)
7. Brian Townsend (361,700)
8. Horacio Chaves Cortes (350,300)
9. Paul Bennett (343,700)
10. John Hennigan (342,700)
The entire field resumes as one beginning at noon PT Thursday. Another 10 hours will leave a field ready to make the money Friday and get one stop closer to winning the $10 million first-place prize.
Small blinds: Paul Pierce survived the day with 48,600 in chips. Touching story by BLUFF about Phil Hui and his dedication of the main event. Both Gerard Pique and Martin Kampmann busted during the last level of the night. The UFC fighter and soccer star sat next to each other for a few hours Wednesday. The outside feature tables aren't drawing too many fans. Players were complaining about the depth of the rail, which is understandable given the different table dimensions that are necessary for the television broadcast. This year, 693 players make the money. Beers were flowing at Ivey's table at the end of the night. Corona was the beer of choice. Congrats to Gaelle Baumann, the last woman standing from the 2012 WSOP, for winning the media tournament. Yup, a pro won the media event. Again. A few pros played with bounties on their heads, and they crushed us. My Q-Q lost to Q-J all-in preflop. Fun game. The grinder of the day award goes to David Baker, who fought for most of the day under 20,000 before finally getting chips later in the the night. Kareem Marshall leads Sean Yu, Christian Harder and Scott Clements in the final four of the WPT 500. The event, held at Aria, had a $1 million guarantee that was crushed to the tune of $1.8 million. Last year's final table is down to just defending champion Ryan Riess, Jay Farber and Mark Newhouse. Daniel Negreanu had a "horrendous last level of day 2 WSOP main event. Down to 39,800..." ESPN.com's Bernard Lee finished with 118,400.
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