PokerStars Championship Panama: Timofeev ends Day 4 tops among final 12

Last night play ended in the PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event with a fish story -- or fish and chips story -- as James Salmon had the most chips of the 30 survivors from the field of 366.

Salmon continued to swim near the front all day today, leaving most of the others in his wake. But the player who would hook the most to conclude Day 4 was the Russian Denis Timofeev, who'll return tomorrow tops of 12 with a big stack of 2,070,000.


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Everyone trying to catch Timofeev-er


There were some big names among the final 30, though a few hit the rail relatively early as the field swiftly shrunk. Jason Wheeler lost a race near the start along with the rest of his stack, and Jason Koon soon followed after running pocket fives into Anthony Diotte's aces.

Among the other early casualties today were frequent deep-runner Pablo Gordillo, big-stack-from-yesterday Caufman Talley, and Andres Carrillo. Carrillo was looking to replicate his performance here at the Sortis Hotel a year ago when he won the last LAPT Panama Main Event, but the Colombian had to settle for a 23rd-place finish.

So some big names were gone, then came the elimination of the biggest player left in the field -- literally -- as MMA champ Tito Ortiz was finally down for the count after a hand with Byron Kaverman, ending his run with an impressive 22nd-place finish.


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Kaverman punched out Ortiz

Following Ortiz was the lone remaining woman in the field, Panama's own Jessica Perez, who made it to 21st. A few knockouts later they were suddenly down to two tables and playing the last level of a shortened Day 4.

Kaverman and Harpreet Gill were both challenging for the lead early on, with Salmon reemerging on the feature table to end the night closest to Timofeev.


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Salmon still doing swimmingly

But by mid-afternoon it was Timofeev moving ahead of everyone. A last-level knockout of the Frenchman Alexandre Viard in 16th helped Timofeev extend his lead at the close. Then Kenneth Smaron took out both Vasyl Vertianov (15th) and Mark Radoja (14th), then on the last hand at the feature table Robin Wozniczek took out JC Alvarado (13th).

Meanwhile on the outer table Timofeev's Day 4 ended splendidly with his collecting yet another pot -- this time with a straight flush.

Speaking of collecting, Timofeev collected a silver spade last fall in a side event at EPT Malta, and at the moment he's best positioned to grab the coveted Main Event one here on Monday -- but much work is to be done. Here's what the stacks will look like when Day 5 begins:

NameCountryChips
Denis TimofeevRussia2,070,000
James SalmonUSA1,612,000
Byron KavermanUSA1,236,000
Robin WozniczekGermany1,194,000
Kenneth SmaronUSA1,104,000
Harpreet GillCanada1,080,000
Jonathan AbdellatifBelgium670,000
Anthony DiotteCanada558,000
Michael LechUSA457,000
Igor YaroshevskyyUkraine422,000
Vincent AllevatoCanada420,000
Luis MataVenezuela162,000

Come back tomorrow when the last 12 reassemble at 12 noon, and we'll find out together who among these final 12 will emerge as the next PokerStars Championship Main Event winner. --MH

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5:55pm: Straight flush to cap Timofeev's fine day
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Denis Timofeev was already the chip leader long before the last hand of the day. And he has just sealed his wonderful few levels by making a straight flush on the last hand of them all. He perhaps didn't win as many chips as he would have liked, but he'll take it. He's bagging the most tonight.

This hand began just as the clock ran down to the end of play. But cards were with the players, so they carried on Timofeev opened to 27,000 from under the gun and Kenneth Smaron was the first of three callers.

Harpreet Gill also called, saying "If I fold, I can't win, right?" and then Jonathan Abdellatif called in t ebig blind too.

Both Adbellatif and Smaron checked the flop of T♣8♣K♥ and Smaron bet 57,000. Gill quickly folded. Abdellatif also quickly folded. But Timofeev called.

The 7♣ fell on the turn and both remaining players checked. Then the 4♥ came on the river and Timofeev tank-checked again. Smaron quickly checked behind and exposed A♦T♦.

Silently, Timofeev exposed his J♣9♣ as his opponents' eyes stuck out of their heads on stalks. "Whaaaaat?" Igor Yaroshevskyy said.

That was a lovely way to end the day for Timofeev. We'll have a full wrap up very soon. -- HS

5:50pm: Alvarado busts on the final hand of the night
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

The final hand of the night was a memorable one as there was an all-in and call. Pre-flop it was JC Alvarado who got the action started. He raised to 28,000 from utg+1 and Robin Wozniczek flat called on the button.

The flop fell 9♦7♣3♦, Alvarado checked, Wozniczek bet 31,000, Alvarado check-raised to 90,000 total, Wozniczek shoved all-in and Alvarado called all-in for 359,000 total. The Mexican was first to show, he had A♦T♦ and had 12 outs against Wozniczek's K♥K♣.

The 2♣ turn and 4♣ river kept the German PokerStars qualifier in front and reduced the field to 12 players. --NW

5:46pm: Cooler ends Rodoja's day
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Igor Yaroshevskyy opened for 25,000, but when play made it to Mark Radoja, he re-raised to 67,000. Now it was up to Ken Smaron. He shoved all-in, covering Radoja. Yaroshevskyy mucked, but Radjoa made the quick call for his 400,000 stack. It was chilly .

Radoja: Q♥Q♦
Smaron: K♣K♦

The board ran clear and Radoja was out in 14th place for $20,860. -- BW

5:44pm: Small Mata
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Luis Mata is the clear short stack on the feature table. He'd dropped to just nine big blinds by the time he found a spot to shove. He got no takers though, but still boosted his stack by almost 33%. --NW

5:40pm: Alvarado chips up
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

J.C Alvarado has chipped up to 355,000 after winning a pot against Anthony Diotte. The latter raised from UTG and Alvarado flat called from the big blind. On the 2♠A♥5♥ flop Diotte c-bet 24,000 and Alvarado smooth called. The 7♠ turn checked through and Alvarado then bet half pot (60,000) on the J♣ river.

Although Diotte gave it a good think he ultimately released his hand and drops to 586,000 as a result. --NW

5:30pm: Vertianov's vertigo, out in 15th
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Vasyl Vertianov follows Alexandre Viard out of the door and we no longer have any players with last names that begin with V.

On the hand immediately after Harpreet Gill got Kenneth Smaron to fold to his aces, Smaron climbed back into the saddle with a raise to 27,000 from early position.

Vertianov thought for a while but then moved all-in for a little more than 300,000. Action folded back to Smaron and he called pretty swiftly.

Vertianov: K♣J♦
Smaron: A♣K♥

The A♠ was among the cards on the flop and Vertianov could not catch up.

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Vasyl Vertianov: Out in 15th

That sends him out in 15th and trims our field to seven on each table. -- HS

5:25pm: Free show from Gill
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

When Ken Smaron came in for a raise to 27,000, Harpreet Gill decided to re-raise to 78,000. He didn't get any action, but he wanted everyone to know he wasn't messing around. He showed everyone two black aces...for free! --BW

5:15pm: Kaverman steadily accumulating chips
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

The pots continue to be on the small side on the feature table but there was another pot that made it to showdown. Robin Wozniczek raised to 26,000 from the cutoff and Byron Kaverman defended his big blind.

Kaverman came out firing on the 8♣3♣8♦ flop and Wozniczek called. The T♣ landed on the turn, both players checked and the 2♠ hit the river. Kaverman checked it over to Wozniczek and the German PokerStars qualifier reached for chips.

He bet 56,000 and Kaverman went into the tank. After a minute or so Kaverman threw in the call and Wozniczek showed Q♠J♠. Kaverman could, not unsurprisingly, beat that and his A♣3♥ took the pot.

After winning that hand he's up to 1,346,000. --NW

5:10pm: Viard eviscerated
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

This tournament is now minus a man in a bright green fisherman's hat. In other words, Alexandre Viard is out.

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The end of Alexandre Viard

It folded all the way to Denis Timofeev in the small blind and he eyed Viard's tiny stack from behind his chip-leading towers. He moved all-in.

Viard found A♣7♥ and called, but Timofeev had him strangled with his A♦K♣. The ace on the turn ended it and Viard hits the rail in 16th.

He is the last player to get $16,080. Everyone else is now guaranteed at least $20,860. -- HS

5:05pm: Making omelettes. Or not.
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Harpreet Gill just lost a pretty big pot to Kenneth Smaron, but sent a verbal salvo over to his opponent with a threat that he might have felted him.

"I knew if I hit, I get all your chips," Gill said.

"You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs," a table-mate added. But this cookery lesson stopped short of the full meal.

Smaron opened to 27,000 from the hijack and Gill called in the cutoff. Jonathan Abdellatif called in the big blind and those three took to a flop of Q♦K♥6♦.

Abdellatif checked, Smaron bet 45,000 and only Gill called.

The dealer placed the 5♠ on the turn and Smaron bet 88,000. Gill called again.

The 4♣ appeared on the river, and Smaron moved all-in. He had about 390,000 in his stack, which would represent just less than half of what Gill still had in his.

Gill folded very quickly, but muttered the felting threat. "I needed an ace or a nine for the nuts," Gill said, putting himself on jack-ten.

Smaron said nothing, stackingup about 580,000. Gill still has about 980,000. -- HS

5:02pm: Lech gets tricky as Allevato loses another
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Right after losing that pot to Byron Kaverman, Vincent Allevato got involved in a pot against Michael Lech. The Canadian raised it up from the cutoff and Lech defended from the big blind. Lech then called bets of 31,000 and 53,000 respectively on the A♥9♦5♠ flop and 4♠ turn. Both players then checked the J♥ river. Lech showed A♣K♥ and although Allevato didn't need to show he turned over A♦T♠.

After that hand Lech is up to 490,000 while Allevato is down to 454,000. --NW

5:52pm: Kaverman defends, collects
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

It's been a gentle start for the new feature table who've played no pots of note so far. One did go to showdown though. It involved Vincent Allevato and Byron Kaverman, with the former raising from the button and Kaverman calling from the big blind.

The Q♦3♥9♥ flop checked through and the T♣ fell on the turn. Kaverman chanced his arm, he bet 45,000 and Allevato called. No chips would make their way into the pot on the Q♠ river and Kaverman's T♥5♣ was good at showdown. --NW

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Byron Kaverman

4:43pm: Viard squeezes, picks up pot
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

On the outer table it was Jonathan Abdellatif making a button-raise to 26,000, then the big-stacked Denis Timofeev calling from the small blind.

Alexandre Viard was next to act. Following the redraw he was the shortest of the 16 players left, chip-wise, and after watching the action to his left he chose to push all in with the 152,000 he had. That earned quick folds from both of his opponents, and Viard bumps up close to 230,000. --MH

4:30pm: New line-up
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Here's the new line-up, in seat order:

1 - Byron Kaverman
2 - Michael Lech
3 - JC Alvarado
4 - Anthony Diotte
5 - James Salmon
6 - Robin Wozniczek
7 - Vincent Allevato
8 - Luis Mata

1 - Harpreet Gill
2 - Vasyl Vertianov
3 - Igor Yaroshevskyy
4 - Jonathan Abdellatif
5 - Denis Timofeev
6 - Alexandre Viard
7 - Mark Radoja
8 - Kenneth Smaron

4:23pm: Gill cuts down De Benedictis
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Harpreet Gill opened for 40,000, then Fabrice De Benedictis three-bet all in with his last 225,000 or so and after it folded back to Gill he called in a flash.

De Benedictis: 7♦7♥
Gill: K♥K♦

Gill had the big preflop edge, and he was ahead at the end as well after the board came 2♠Q♦J♣2♣A♥. De Benedictis finishes 18th while Gill is up around 1.15 million. --MH

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Fabrice De Benedictis

4:22pm: Three betting
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

On Table 1, Vasyl Vertianov opened to 25,000 from under the gun and then folded after Byron Kaverman three-bet to 67,000 from one seat along.

On Table 2, Vincent Allevato opened to 27,000 from UTG+1 and then folded after Mark Radoja three-bet to 80 from one seat along.

Three-betting is cool, kids. -- HS

4:21pm: Can't cool off Timofeever
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

JC Alvarado raised to 26,000 from the cutoff, Denis Timofeev made it 75,000 to go from the button, then it folded back to Alvarado who paused a beat and then called.

Both checked the 2♣3♦7♥ flop, then Alvarado also checked the 6♣ turn. Timofeev bet 55,000, and Alvarado called. The Q♠ the completed the board and both players checked quickly in response.

Alvarado turned over A♠9♠ for ace-high, but Timofeev had three-bet him with 5♥3♥ to have a pair of treys to take the pot.

Timofeev is the chip leader, and now has a bit over 1.3 million while Alvarado is at 360,000. --MH

4:20pm: Arunas Sapitavicius eliminated in 17th place
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Short-stacked Arunas Sapitavicius just got it all-in with A♣T♦ versus James Salmon's A♥Q♠. The board ran clean for Salmon, and Sapitavicius went out in 17th place for $16,080.--BW

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Arunas Sapitavicius


4:15pm: Gill picks off Kaverman
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

A three-way pot developed on Byron Kaverman's table and it was the American who was the pre-flop aggressor. He opened to 30,000 from under the gun and picked up calls from Harpreet Gill (utg+1) and Robin Wozniczek (small blind).

On the K♥J♥2♣ flop Kaverman gave up the betting lead and Gill decided to bet. The Canadian fired out a bet of 42,000 and Kaverman was the only caller. Both players checked the 7♠ turn and the 4♦ fell on the river. Kaverman thought for a while and then led for 73,000. This sent Gill into the tank and he flicked his three remaining 25K chips into the pot to indicate a call. Kaverman showed Q♥T♠ for a busted draw and Gill showed he'd made a great call with 5♠5♦ to win the pot. --NW

4pm: Timofeev hits the summit
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

They are back to the action after the latest break. The full chip counts for the field are over there on the chip-count page. Denis Timofeev has edged ahead, with Byron Kaverman not far behind.

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Denis Timofeev

3:36pm: Break time
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

They'll take another 20-minute break now.

3:35pm: Lech shoves, Vertianov thinks and thinks and...
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

In the last hand of the level, Michael Lech raised from under the gun and got a caller in Vasyl Vertianov called from the cutoff, then after the Q♥3♠J♠ flop Lech continued for 28,000 and Vertianov called.

The turn ws the 2♦. Lech checked, and Vertianov fired 55,000. Lech then check-raised all in for around 300,000, and as the other tables finished up their hands and players went to break, Vertianov went deeeeeep into the tank.

After much rechecking of cards, recounting of chips, and more meditation... Vertianov folded. --MH

3:25pm: Kaverman breaks Matias
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Editor's note: Just assume that every decision in this hand took as long as it takes to brush your teeth in the morning. That will save you having to read the sentence "And then he thought for a long time" for each action.

In a hand that took most of the afternoon to play (or, perhaps more accurately, about ten minutes) Alberto Matias came in for a raise to 25,000. He got a call from Vasyl Vertianov in the small blind. That's when Byron Kaverman made it 90,000 to play out of the big blind. After a long think, Matias came along. Vertianov made quick work of his fold.

On a flop of 7♣3♦8♠, Kaverman led for 45,000 and Matias simply called. Both players (eventually) checked through the A♦ turn. The 4♥ came on the river, and Kaverman checked that too. Matias (yes, after several minutes) announced he was all in for 195,000. Kaverman eventually called, breaking both Matias' heart and stack. Matias had K♦K♠. Kaverman held A♣J♦. Matias busted in 19th place for $16,080.--BW

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Byron Kaverman

3:20pm: Mata knocks out Pavliuk
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Roman Pavliuk spent most of today's almost-two levels folding hands as the field whittled down to 20 players. That streak ended just now when he open-raised with his last 120,000 from the hijack seat.

The action moved to Luis Mata on the button whom we were just noting has been on the short side himself, but more active. Mata got a count, then spent some time thinking and counting out his own chips to see that 120,000 represented a little less than half what he had. Finally he re-raised all in, and that scattered everyone else.

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Roman Pavliuk: Out in 21st

Pavliuk showed A♥2♥ while Mata had 9♠9♦. The 6♦6♥7♥ flop gave Pavliuk a flush draw, but the Q♠ turn and 8♠ river didn't complete it and he's out in 20th. Move Mata up to 380,000 now as Level 19 winds down. --MH

3:15pm: Gill over Matias
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Harpreet Gill raised to 24,000 from the button, and after a long time in the tank Alberto Meran Matias called from the big blind.

The flop came 5♠3♦J♦, and after Matias checked, Gill bet 25,000 and Matias didn't take that long to call. Matias check-called a bigger turn bet from Gill after the 6♣ fell on fourth street, acting even more quickly. And after the 7♣ river it went check-check in a flash.

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Harpreet Gill

Matias showed 9♥9♦ while Gill had that beaten with Q♦Q♣, and the latter collected the small pot.

Gill has a couple of giant stacks of blue (5,000 chips) that are more challenging to count than the standard 20-chip stacks, but we'll guesstimate he's on around 755,000 right now. Matias we're more sure about -- he has 405,000. --MH

3:10pm: A Mata of time
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

As far as the outer two tables are concerned, Table 3 has had relatively more action worth reporting than Table 2, as a scan of our recently shared hands suggests.

One bit of news from Table 2 -- Luis Mata is on the short stack there, and has twice jammed all-in before the flop without getting any action. We expect at some point he'll get a customer, though, should he continue in the same vein.

Mata is on just over 200,000 right now. --MH

3:05pm: Lech doubles through Kaverman
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Michael Lech was down to his last 159,000, so when it looked like Byron Kaverman was stealing from the big blind, Lech got it all-in. Problem is, Kaverman had A♣9♣ and Lech only had K♥6♥. Good thing for Lech then that made a six on the turn to double up.--BW

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Michael Lech, right, is sticking around even as Jason Koon, left, is long gone

3pm: Yaroshevskyy continues to slide
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Igor Yaroshevskyy is down to 30 big blinds after losing pot of that size to Jonathan Abdellatif. It was Yaroshevskyy who got the action started, he raised to 23,000 from the hijack and Abdellatif called from the big blind.

The 3♠5♣Q♦ flop is where the fireworks really started. Abdellatif checked, Yaroshevskyy bet 14,000, Abdellatif check-raised to 51,000 total and Yaroshevskyy called.

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Jonathan Abdellatif

The 3♣ hit the turn, Abdellatif bet 78,000 and Yaroshevskyy called once more. There was now 316,000 in the pot and Yaroshevskyy had just 306,000 behind. On the 9♠ river Abdellatif shoved all-in and Yaroshevskyy released his hand. After that pot Abdellatif is up to 908,000. --NW

2:50pm: Perez falls to Wozniczek's queens
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The table folded around to Robin Wozniczek in the cutoff who has remained quite active as short-handed play continues. He again raised, this time to 22,000, then Jessica Perez pushed all-in from the button for a little over 100,000. The blinds got out, and Wozniczek called right away.

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Jessica Perez: Downed by queens

Perez had A♠6♠ and needed help versus Wozniczek's Q♠Q♦. The Q♥T♥3♦ flop gave Wozniczek a set, but the K♣ turn card did leave Perez with possible straight outs. The river was the 8♣, however, and Perez has been eliminated.

Wozniczek is up to 870,000 and comfortably in the top five with 20 players left. --MH

2:45pm: pm: BK KOs TO
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The Bad Boy of Huntington Beach, the People's Champion, the MMA legend Tito Ortiz is no more. After an impressive run through the field here over the past week, Ortiz was down to his last 50,000. When Byron Kaverman opened to 20,000, Ortiz put it all-in. Kaverman called quickly with T♥T♠. Ortiz was racing with A♦Q♣ but couldn't hit the board.

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Tito Ortiz and his eventual assassin, Byron Kaverman

While it's no prize fight purse, the $16,080 Ortiz just earned for 22nd place is a nice little prize for the big man. Kaverman builds his stack to 1 million. --BW

2:40pm: De Benedictis continues to climb
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

It's been a good level so far for Fabrice De Benedictis. The Swiss player just won a decent pot against Igor Yaroshevskyy to climb to 366,000. He opened from the button and Yaroshevskyy called from the big blind.

De Benedictis bet 32,000 on the A♥T♣9♠ flop and a further 42,000 on the 5♣ turn. Yaroshevskyy called both barrels and both players then checked the 5♦ river. Yaroshevskyy showed K♦J♥ for king high and it was no good against the pocket sixes of De Benedictis. --NW

2:35pm: Two for Matias
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Alberto Meran Matias and Byron Kaverman have been tangling of late, going up against each other in consecutive hands just now.

In the first Matias raised from early position, Kaverman called, then Matias continued on an ace-high flop and Kaverman let it go.

Then on the next hand Kaverman opened for 25,000 from the hijack, Matias defended his blind with a call, then Matias checked the 3♦Q♦6♠ flop. Kaverman continued for 17,000, but Matias check-raised big to 79,000 and Kaverman folded.

alberto_meran_matias_panama_day4.jpg

Alberto Meran Matias: Tangling with Kaverman

Kaverman still has about 965,000, while Matias has chipped to 520,000. --MH

2:25pm: Four-bet klaxon!
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Over on the feature table Igor Yaroshevskyy - who the commentators have decided to call Gary - raised to 23,000 from under the gun. It passed to Jonathan Abdellatif on the button and he three-bet to 75,000. It passed back to Yaroshevskyy and he put in a four-bet. He made it 175,000 to go, leaving himself just 275,000 back. The commentators noted that it looked as if Yaroshevskyy was committed and Abdellatif elected to fold. He's down to 658,000, Yaroshevskyy is up to 545,000. --NW

igor_yaroshevskyy_panama_day4.jpg

Igor Yaroshevskyy: Spying a four-bet

2:15pm: All aboard for Chop City
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

It was a pot worth more than a million, but it was always going to be split in two. Robin Wozniczek opened to 23,000 and got action from Byron Kaverman. The flop came down Q♥T♣J♠. What you should know here, and what seemed pretty evident throughout was that both guys had ace-king. Nevertheless, they went through every bit of Hollywooding on the 9♥ turn and 3♠ river in the hopes their opponent had something like pocket kings. They ended up getting it all-in and then confirming it was all just a big waste of time. --BW

2:10pm: Carrillo falls to Diotte's aces
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Coming back from the break, Andres Carrillo had 154,000 and on the first hand dealt he open-raised all he had left from early position. It folded to Anthony Diotte on the button who called, and both blinds quickly folded.

Carrillo: A♠9♠
Diotte: A♣A♥

Bad news for Carillo, although the 3♣K♠2♠ flop gave him a flush draw and some hope. But the turn was the 2♣ and river the 7♣, and Carillo is out in 24th -- a nice run for the Colombian who just last year won the final Latin American Poker Tour Panama Main Event right here in the Sortis.

Diotte is up to 730,000 now. --MH

2:08pm: De Benedictis doubles
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

On the first hand of the level there was a double up at the feature table. Fabrice De Benedictis shoved for 133,000 with 9♣9♦ and Igor Yaroshevskyy called with A♥J♥. The Q♠4♥K♦ flop meant Yaroshevskyy had 10 outs to eliminate De Benedictis. The 5♣7♠ turn and river kept De Benedictis in front and he's up to 288,000. Yaroshevskyy is down to 454,000. --NW

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Fabrice De Benedictis

2:05pm: Ever onwards
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Off they go into Level 19. The full chip counts for the remaining players are on the chip-count page. No surprise to learn that James Salmon continues to lead. -- HS

james_salmon_panama_day4.jpg

James Salmon

1:47pm: End of the level

Players are now on a 20-minute break.

1:48pm: Captain Kaverman
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

In one of the last hands of the level, Tito Ortiz limped from middle position, then Robin Wozniczek (cutoff), Jessica Perez (button), and Vasyl Vertianov (small blind) all called as well. Byron Kaverman checked his option in the big blind, and the flop fell 6♠5♠T♥.

It checked around to Wozniczek who bet 12,000, and Perez called. Then Vertianov check-raised to 30,000, and before Kaverman could act Ortiz accidentally folded his hand out of turn.

Acting with his usual deliberation, Kaverman then reached for raising chips, and Wozniczek grinned a little knowing what was coming. Kaverman put out a reraise to 84,000, and Wozniczek and Perez folded. Vertianov took a while thinking about it, but he folded, too.

Kaverman has the chip lead now, and is way up to 1.15 million. Meanwhile Ortiz (130,000) and Borrego (110,000) are both in the danger zone. --MH

1:45pm: Talley goes
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

The action folded to Caufman Talley in the small blind and he raised to 54,000, leaving 53,000 back. Igor Yaroshevskyy re-raised all-in and Talley then waited. The reason was that the players were on a mini-bubble. The player who went out on 24th would receive $12,480, while survive to 23rd spot and you're guaranteed $16,080.

caufman_talley_panama_day4.jpg

Caufman Talley: Out

Talley waited for a hand to finish on the outer table and then committed the rest of his chips. He showed J♠J♣ and was flipping against Yaroshevskyy's A♣K♣. The ace high A♠Q♠2♥ flop was bad news for him and it didn't get any better on the Q♥3♠ turn and river.

23 players remain. --NW

1:40pm: Nut flush brings chips to Viard*
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Down to just 124,000 Alexandre Viard moved all-in from the hijack and Caufman Talley looked him up from the big blind. Viard opened A♥9♥ and was dominated by the A♦J♦ of Talley. The 8♥4♥7♦ made this hand a flip. Viard was now 47% to win the hand. The 6♣ turn gave him more outs. He had 18 river cards that were going to work for him (too many outs?) and the 7♥ completed his flush.

The Frenchman is up to 268,000 while Talley is down 103,000.
*© Joe Stapleton--NW

1:35pm: Abdellatif takes one from Smaron
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

There have been precious few showdowns at the feature table since play went eight-handed again. In fact, there's been only one. This one. Kenneth Smaron opened to 18,000 from utg+1 and Jonathan Abdellatif defended from the big blind. On the 2♠6♣Q♥ flop Smaron continued for 17,000 and Abdellatif smooth called. The 3♥ turn checked through and the 9♣ completed the board. Abdellatif fired out a bet of 44,000, which was just over half the pot. Smaron tanked for a couple of minutes and then called. Abdellatif showed Q♣T♥ and it was the best hand as Smaron mucked. The Belgian is up to 782,000, while Smaron drops to 423,000. --NW

1:30pm: Timofeev nearly at a million
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Denis Timofeev is closing in on 1 million chips after winning another pot from Anthony Diotte. It wasn't especially big, but it gives Timofeev about 910,000 and represents a fine rebuilding program since a big downturn yesterday afternoon.

This pot began with a raise to 20,000 from Timofeev on the button. Vincent Allevato called in the small blind and Diotte called in the big.

All three players checked the J♦3♣J♣ flop and watched the 6♠ appear on the turn. Allevato checked, Diotte bet 28,000, and only Timofeev called.

Diotte took a long while to decide whether to bet the 2♣ river. But ultimately he checked, allowing Timofeev to check behind. Diotte's 7♦5♣ was a whiff. Timofeev's K♦6♦ was good. -- HS

1:23pm: More for Kaverman; Borrega battling
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Jessica Perez has been on the short stack for much of the first level today, though that hasn't prevented her from being aggressive.

Just now she open-raised all in and earned the blinds and antes. Then on the next hand Robin Wozniczek opened for 18,000 from the cutoff, and Perezthree-bet to 40,000 from the button.

It folded to Byron Kaverman in the big blind who sat for a while, then reraised himself to 92,000. Wozniczek folded, but after pausing a beat Perez called. An all-club flop -- 4♣A♣T♣ -- and a big leading bet from Kaverman forced her to fold as well, though, and Kaverman took the pot.

Kaverman is up to 940,000 now while Perez has right at 200,000. --MH

NEIL0071_Byron_Kaverman_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Byron Kaverman

1:13pm: Counts from the feature table
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

1. James Salmon - 1.188 million
2. Jonathan Abdellatif - 615,000
3. Kenneth Smaron - 512,000
4. Igor Yaroshevskyy - 449,000
5. Arunas Sapitavicius - 393,000
6. Caufman Talley - 229,000
7. Alexandre Viard - 145,000
8. Fabrice De Benedictis - 117,000

1:13pm: Gordillo gone in 25th
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

We're down to the final three tables in the Main Event and it's the dangerous Pablo Gordillo who's been eliminated. He raised to 18,000 from the cutoff and called after Alberto Meran Matias three-bet to 43,000 from the button.

A Q♥2♠6♥ flop hit the felt, Gordillo checked, Meran Matias bet 30,000 and Gordillo went into the tank. He had about 120,000 total and he capped his cards as he tried to come to a decision. It took him a couple of minutes, but he then jammed all-in. It took Meran Matias about two seconds to call and it was time for a showdown. Gordillo opened 8♥7♥ for the flush draw, while Meran Matias held K♥K♠. The 7♣ turn gave Gordillo more outs, but the Spaniard missed them all on the 6♣ river.

With his exit they'll now be a short break while they break down to three tables. --NW

12:59pm: Gill gets some from Diotte
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

With the board showing 6♠2♣2♥J♥, Harpreet Gill fired 75,000 and got a call from Anthony Diotte. Gill then bet another 70,000 after the K♦ river and got another call from his opponent.

Gill turned over J♣9♥ for jacks and deuces, and Diotte mucked. Gill moves up to 580,000 while Diotte still has a lot with 805,000. --MH

12:58pm: Two short stacks, two shoves, two becomes one
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Samuel Gagnon was down to 72,000 and he moved all-in from under the gun. Nobody was interested in playing with him, so Gagnon survived.

The same could not be said for Pedro Romanzo, however, when he three-bet jammed for 51,000 over the top of Jonathan Abdellatif's open.

Abdellatif looked him up with A♠T♣ and Romanzo was in trouble with the A♦5♥.

The flop brought hope for Romanzo. It fell 4♦3♠K♦. The 8♣ on the turn was a blank. As was the K♥ on the river. That was the end of that for Romanzo. He was out in 27th. -- HS

12:55pm: Dimitrov down
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

A third knockout to report, this one Aleks Dimitrov in 28th place.

Dimitrov's last hand began with an opening raise to 17,000 by Denis Timofeev, and when it got to Dimitrov in the small blind he three-bet pushed for 117,000 from the small blind. Mark Radoja then reraise-shoved from the big blind, forcing a fold from Timofeev.

Dimitrov: 2♥2♣
Radoja: 7♣7♥

The board came an uneventful 3♠8♦T♣K♠6♥ and with Dimitrov down there are 27 players left. --MH

12:55pm: Borrego over Gordillo
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Pablo Gordillo and Jessica Perez Borrego were just involved in a hand that was three-bet preflop, then Borrego shoved on a 2♥Q♣4♠ flop and Gordillo let his cards go.

Borrego is at 255,000 after that one, and Gordillo down to 155,000. --MH

12:48pm: Salmon still besting Yaroshevskyy
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

James Salmon continues his stranglehold over Igor Yaroshevskyy, making a thin value bet on the river in a blind-versus-blind encounter and getting paid.

The two of them got to the river for the absolute minimum. Action folded to Yaroshevskyy in the small blind, he completed, Salmon checked his big blind and they checked flop and turn. The full board read 2♣K♦T♣8♥3♦.

Yaroshevskyy checked again but Salmon bet 54,000. A perplexed yet curious Yaroshevskyy called and mucked after Salmon showed him Q♦T♥. -- HS

12:47pm: Tito triples up
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

"All-in with a massage," said Tito Ortiz as he shoved for 34,000 from middle position. Pablo Gordillo gave it a good think and as he was doing so Ortiz began talking about what hands he could have. The TD politely reminded him that you can only talk about hands when heads-up and Ortiz apologised.

Gordillo ended up folding, but Robin Wozniczek and Jessica Perez Borrego called from the blinds. The two active players then checked it all the way down on a A♠6♣8♦4♠6♦ board. "Anyone got an ace?" asked Ortiz to his opponents. Wozniczek didn't he had K♦Q♥, Perez Borrego showed 9♠7♠ for a combo draw that had missed the river and Ortiz then opened J♣J♦.

He triples up and is almost back to where he started the day as he's now playing a stack of 110,000. --NW

NEIL0015_Tito_Ortiz_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Tito Ortiz

12:45pm: Gagnon shoves, picks up minimum
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Action folded to Samuel Gagnon in the small blind and he jammed for about nine big blinds. Igor Yaroshevskyy had plenty more than that, including one big blind already out in front of him, but folded. -- HS

12:41pm: Koon falls to Diotte
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

A little earlier Jason Koon was in the big blind. "Don't do it, bro," he jokingly said as his tablemates folded one by one, ultimately giving him a walk. Koon then showed ace-king, saying "I told you" and with a chuckle asking them to do the same for him when they had big hands.

Just now Anthony Diotte didn't fulfill that request in a hand that saw Koon open from the cutoff, then he and Diotte engage in some preflop back-and-forthing resulting in Koon being all in for his last 400,000-plus with 5♦5♥ while Diotte had woken up in the BB with A♠A♥.

The board ran out 9♣T♣6♥8♦J♠, and Koon had run out of chips. He wished the table good luck as he left to collect his 29th-place prize money, while Diotte is now way up to 870,000 after a hot start to the day. --MH

NEIL0055_Jason_Koon_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Jason Koon

12:40pm: Abdellatif v Smaron v Viard
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

No doubt that there's already an interesting dynamic developing on the feature table, with each of Jonathan Abdellatif, Kenneth Smaron and Alexandre Viard attempt to assert authority.

All three of them just got involved in a pot, which Smaron was able to pinch with a bet on the turn. but Abdellatif got some back with a check-raise on the next hand.

Hand 1: Abdellatif got things started with a raise from under the gun. Smaron called in the hijack and Viard called in the big blind. It meant three of them saw the flop of K♥J♠6♠.

Abdellatif did not continue, but Smaron bet 29,000 and only Viard called. The 3♥ came on the turn and Smaron's bet this time got it through.

Hand 2: Smaron opened UTG+1 and Abdellatif called in the big blind. The flop this time fell Q♣9♦6♥ and Abdellatif checked. Smaron bet 15,000 but then Abdellatif raised to 54,000 and Smaron folded. -- HS

12:34pm: Kaverman flush with chips
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

A big pot just played out between Byron Kaverman and Vasyl Vertianov. It was one of those pots that might've been even bigger but for a tricky river card. The action in the hand was actually started by Jessica Perez. She raised to 19,000 on the button, and Vertianov and Kaverman called out of the blinds.

The dealer fanned a A♦K♦Q♦ flop, the action was checked to Perez, and she c-bet 28,000. Vertianov check-raised to 58,000, Kaverman called and Perez left them to it. The 3♦ turn put a fourth diamond on board. Vertianov slowed down as he check-called a bet of 86,000.

The 3♥ river paired the board, and both players were content to check it down. Vertianov showed J♥T♦ but Kaverman had him pipped with J♦7♣. He's up to 690,000, while Vertianov drops to 500,000. --NW

1:29pm: Yaroshevskyy still active
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Despite a huge accident in a pot against James Salmon yesterday, which cost Igor Yaroshevskyy his dominant chip lead, Yaroshevskyy is quickly back into his aggressive stride today.

After Jonathan Abdellatif opened to 20,000 from the hijack, Yaroshevskyy three-bet his big blind, making it 70,000 to go, and Abdellatif let him have this one. -- HS

12:28pm: Short stack shorter
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Samuel Gagnon is the short stack on the feature table, but still opted to call from the big blind, from a stack of 101,000, and Alexandre Viard opened to 19,000 in the hijack.

The flop brought the A♠3♠2♥ and one check and one c-bet (of 10,000) later, and the hand was over. Viard took it, leaving Gagnon with 82,000. -- HS

12:27pm: Diotte pushes, Lech relents
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

With the board showing 2♠A♣4♠K♦ and a small pot already developed, Anthony Diotte checked from the cutoff, Michael Lech bet 24,000 from the button, Diotte check-raised to 68,000, Lech made it 120,000 to go, then Diotte shoved all in.

That last move was enough for Lech who let his hand go in a flash, preserving his stack of 365,000. Diotte, meanwhile, has moved up to 450,000. --MH

12:26pm: Wheeler rolls out in 30th
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

We have our first elimination of the day to report, as Jason Wheeler has been knocked out in 30th place.

Wheeler's last-stand hand began with a cutoff raise to 19,000, then Arunas Sapitavicius three-bet to 51,000 from the next seat over on the button. The blinds stepped aside, then Wheeler pushed all in with his last 175,000 or so and Sapitavicius called.

Wheeler had 8♦8♥ and was hoping the pair would hold against the A♥Q♠ of Sapitavicius, and the 2♠6♣9♣ flop was find for "jdtjpoker." But the A♣ fell on fourth street to give Sapitavicius a better pair, and after the J♣ river Wheeler rolled out the door.

Sapitavicius is up to 450,000 now. --MH

NEIL0033_Jason_Wheeler_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Jason Wheeler

12:19pm: Ortiz runs into aces
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Tito Ortiz started the day with just 15 big blinds, and he just lost half his stack to Robin Wozniczek. The American opened from the hijack and Wozniczek then three-bet to 62,000 out of the small blind. "I call," said Ortiz.

On the 2♦4♥2♣ flop Wozniczek bet 100,000 - which was more than enough to set Ortiz all-in - and the former MMA fighter shook his head a couple of times before folding. Wozniczek showed A♠A♦ as he took the pot. --NW

12:10pm: Slow fast day in store
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Although the trimming of a 30-player field down to 16 shouldn't take all that long today, it may be a surprisingly slow fast day--if the evidence of the first hand on Table 1 is any indication.

The button started in Seat 7, which meant that Jessica Perez Borrego had the first option on the first hand pre-flop and she quickly folded. However Vasyl Vertianov, next to act, took a good long while before he announced a raise, making it 18,000 to play.

Action folded over to Pablo Gordillo on the button, who double-checked how much the blinds were, then called. The blinds released and those two saw a flop of 9♦5♥4♠.

After another good minute in the tank, Vertianov said, "Raise" and put out 25,000 in chips. It wasn't strictly a raise given no betting to that point, but the intention was clear enough.

Anyhow, Gordillo folded after a couple of beats and the game is up and running. Or jogging, to be more precise.

(Meanwhile Tito Ortiz took a delivery of a tomato juice with ice and emptied a miniature of vodka into it. He's on the Saturday lunchtime bloody marys. One more reason to like this guy.) -- HS

11:30am: Four to two

Good morning everybody and welcome back to Panama where we have a very simple task in the $5,000 PokerStars Championship Main Event. There are 30 players coming back at the start of play. The day will end when there are 16 remaining. There are eight seats around each table. You do the math(s).


Ready to embark on your own poker adventure? Sign up for PokerStars and begin your journey. Click here to get an account.

Action begins in Level 18, where blinds are 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000). James Salmon leads the way and is the only man with more than one million chips. His closest challenger, Robin Wozniczek, has 658,000, so that is a substantial lead.

Tito Ortiz won the last hand of the night last night to double up and keep his hopes alive. Everybody has locked up at least $12,480, but eyes are all on the near $300,000 first prize.

We'll have all the action here.

PSC Panama_Velli-296_Merchandise.jpg

If the hat fits

Take a look at the official website of PokerStars LIVE, with tournament schedule, news, results and accommodation details for the PokerStars Championship Panama and all other Festival and Championship events.

Also all the information is on the PokerStars LIVE App, which is available on both Android or IOS.

PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $5,000 Main Event: Martin Harris, Howard Swains, Alex Villegas, Brad Willis and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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