NAPT Venetian: 24 Sail Through to Day 4
When we started at noon on Saturday, there were nearly 90 tables filled with 872 players, filling the entire poker room and curling all around the immediate environs, zig-zagging every which way. Sort of like those famous canals of the Italian city from which the Venetian gets its name.
Like so many gondoliers, players have been navigating their way in and out of trouble for three days. Now just 24 have found their way safely to our final three tables.
Andrew "LuckyChewy" Lichtenberger began Day 3 atop the leaderboard. He'd spend much of the day adding to that big stack, at times living up to that nickname as he frequently was fortunate enough to catch big pairs to take large bites of his opponents' stacks. He'd lose that chip lead early on, though, when David Miscikowski ended up claiming a big pot from Kevin Eyring. A preflop battle culminated in Eyring shoving all in with J-2, and Miscikowski hanging in by calling with A-Q. The hand held, and the Californian pro was all smiles behind his new pile of chips.
It took about 90 minutes for our first 19 eliminations today and the bursting of the cash bubble, with Daniel Schreiber the unfortunate player to go out penniless in 129th. Soon followed folks like Jon "PearlJammer" Turner (126th), Ryan O'Connor (119th), Andrew Robl (113th), James Mackey (111st),
Also among the first wave of casualties who did take home some of the cabbage were Team PokerStars Pros Greg Raymer and Tom McEvoy. McEvoy got bragging rights between those two, finishing 101st -- one spot ahead of the Fossilman.
Following those to the rail were Jimmy Fricke (97th), Daniel Makowsky (88th), and Friend of PokerStars.net Bill Chen (81st). Meanwhile, Eric Blair rose up the leaderboard, passing Miscikowski and the one million-chip mark. Steve "MrSmokey1" Billirakis soon challenged Blair, as did David Paredes. But then Lichtenberger -- hitting quad sevens and getting paid by Karga Holt -- retook the advantage, moving up toward the 1.5 million mark.
The march to the cashier's cage continued, among those Phil Collins (80th), Chris Bell (76th), Dan Shak (65th), Ludovic Schlama (63rd), and Nam Le (55th). All were glad to cash, but the large portion of that $4 million-plus prizepool has been reserved for those who could survive through to tomorrow and beyond.
By the time the dinner break came, just 47 players were left, with Lichtenberger, Blair, Steve O'Dwyer, and Thomas Fuller leading the way. Men "the Master" Nyugen was the first to go following the break, followed shortly thereafter by Dwyte Pilgrim (43rd) and Helen Martynov (42th). Martynov's elimination left just two women in the field -- Christina Lindley, nursing a short stack, and the ever-active Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso.
Once Al Rogers went out in 37th, players reconvened around four tables, and after a slow period with no eliminations, the players started to fall at a rapid clip. Also of note, a big hand in which Sam Stein took a huge chunk out of Lichtenberger's stack. Finally three players were knocked out within a couple of minutes of each other -- Blake Buffington (27th), Andy Seth (26th), and Rousso (25th) -- and the final three tables were set.
When the dust cleared Eric Blair ended the day toting the biggest stack with 3.7 million, followed by Sam Stein with 3.409 million and Steve Billirakis with 2.372 million.
Should be an exciting day on Tuesday as players play down to the final eight-handed table and a shot at that $827,648 first prize. Also on tap tomorrow, the $25,000 Bounty Shootout begins. We'll be covering that one, too.
Big money on the line, with many of the world's best players here vying for it. Be sure to come back to the PokerStars blog tomorrow to see where the NAPT Venetian waters take them.
All photography © Joe Giron.