Aussie Millions Day 3: Sal, Seiver and Sorel soaring as down to 36
Exactly 36 players have just counted their stacks, all of varying sizes, filled up some white bags, written their names and chip counts in their best cursive and made their way out of the Crown Poker Room in Melbourne.
Tonight, they rest, for tomorrow they try their best to make the final table of the 2014 Aussie Millions.
The player with the chip lead is a Western Australian by the name of Sal Fazzino. It was the final hand of Day 3 that would see Fazzino rocket into the lead.
Fazzino's story of good fortune was Gareth Dwyer's bad beat tale. It was one of those situations that couldn't be avoided. Dwyer held 4♠4♣ and flopped a set on a K♣J♠4♦ flop. Fazzino held J♣J♦. The chips went in on the 5♦ turn and that, as they say, was history. At least for Dwyer, anyway.
Fazzino, known as "ugritaly' online, has been part of the Australian poker scene for many years, but has never really broken through with a truly large live score. That could change this weekend. He starts Day 4 with 1,540,000 in chips
Following Fazzino on the chip leader board is talented US grinder Darren Rabinowitz with a stack of 1,232,000. The next two names on the list you will definitely recognise. First we had Scott Seiver with 1,133,000 and Sorel Mizzi with 1,099,000. Mizzi will be looking to make it four time's a charm after making deep runs in the Aussie Millions in all three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011.
Seiver was a chip leader for much of the evening and will now be looking to add a second Australian tournament result to his resume after posting his first in the recent Aussie Millions $25K Challenge.
Usually with 36 players remaining in a tournament like this you would think that Scott Seiver and Sorel Mizzi were just about as big as the names would get, but they are joined by at least a dozen other big names in the poker world.
There's the most successful Aussie Millions player in history Erik Seidel, along with fellow internationals such as Ami Barer, John Juanda, Jake Balsiger, Eoghan O'Dea and Craig McCorkell.
Also still alive going into the penultimate day are Team PokerStars Pros Jonathan Duhamel, Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree and Raymond Wu.
Mercier is quite simply one of the most successful players of the last decade; Duhamel, a WSOP World Champion, knows how to navigate these $10,000 buy-in tournaments just fine; Wu is the unheralded hero of Asian poker; and Boeree is fresh off a runner-up finish in the UKIPT Edinburgh Main Event.
Of course considering the name of the event, it's no surprise that plenty of Australian poker players are still alive heading into Day 4, including Tam Truong, 2008 APPT Sydney champion Martin Rowe and Australia's 2nd all-time tournament money earner Jeff Rossiter.
All of these player have done what dozens of others couldn't do as Day 3 began with 109 players and ended with just the 36 who are headlined by the aforementioned stars of poker. That means 37 players went home empty handed today, including the bubble who was simply "Downes on his luck".
The plan on Day 4 is to play down to the final table. It's going to be a long day to get there, but with so many big names still in contention, it's certainly not going to be a boring day. Be sure to check in with the Aussie Millions page where you can find all the chip counts and the Day 4 table draw. Be sure to join us back here at the PokerStars Blog from 12:15 p.m. on Friday!