NAPT Venetian: Day 3, levels 17 and 18 (4,000-8,000-1,000)

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6:38pm: Gimme a break!
Ok, settle down. Players are on a break. They are taking 15 minutes and will return to start Level 19. (Hint: There will be another blog for Level 19. Go there after this.)

6:29pm: Oh, aces, how they can hurt sometimes
Martin Medina played aces the best way he knew how. He risked the rest of his stack of chips on pocket aces preflop. And he was up against the A-Q of clubs belonging to John O'Shea. Those odds aren't bad for Medina to knock out an opponent.

Sure, O'Shea had outs. And as two of them - in the form of clubs - came out on the flop, Medina had reason to sweat. Or bite his hat.

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And when the third club hit the board, Medina was upset. It was a mix of irritated, angry, sad, and plain old disappointed. Being fairly crippled didn't help the situation. He has since calmed down, but he might not be jumping at the chances to play those pretty aces next time.

6:23pm: Olivier crushes Karr
Sometimes, pocket aces work out the way they're supposed to. Mclean Karr pushed the last of his stack with K-Q and found Olivier Busquet ready to call with pocket aces. The board brought 2-J-2-K-4, and Karr was on the road.

NAPT Venetian S1_5KMainEvent_Day3_JoeGiron_IJ76680.jpgBusquet after kicking Karr to the curb


6:18pm: News bits
Dan Shak was seen heading to the cashier cage. Evidently, he was shacked.

Helen Martynov, one of three women left in the NAPT field, was seen scooping about 100K of Fabrice Soulier's chips. She seemed to have doubled through the Frenchman.

6:11pm: Lichtenberger likes it
A tense scene. The five community cards: J♥K♠7♣6♣7♥. Andrew "LuckyChewy" Lichtenberger checked, and Karga Holt bet 160,000 into a pot of about 350,000. Lichtenberger took his time studying the board. Then he began counting out chips in an earnest fashion.

"All in," he said.

The dealer clarified the significance of the raise to Holt -- 224,000 more to call. "I think we have the same hand," said Holt. Finally he called, and when LuckyChewy tabled his cards it was immediately clear Holt couldn't be right -- 7♦7♠.

"I liked the river better than the flop," said a smiling Lichtenberger afterward. "It's not every day you get to make quads." For his part, Holt said he had top two (king-jack).

Lichtenberger surges up to 1.2 million, right around where Eric Blair is at the moment. Meanwhile, Holt slips to 300,000.

6:06pm: Rousso eliminates Rosenblum
The chips went in preflop, as Russell Rosenblum put himself at risk with T♥ 9♥ against the A♣ Q♥ of Vanessa Rousso. The board came 4♦ Q♠ K♦ 4♠ 7♣, and that hand eliminated Rosenblum from the tournament.

5:58pm: A Wong can make a right, sometimes
Danny Wong got all of his money in with K-3 against the A-10 of Ludovic Schlama. That wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for Wong, but the board was 6-5-9-3-K. Two pair took it and gave Wong the double-up.

5:53pm: Oh, the things that could happen
It seems that two of the biggest stacks in the room are seated at the same table. Eric Blair, at last count, had surpassed the million-chip mark, and Steve Billirakis was climbing toward 900K. And add to that table names like Nam Le and Olivier Busquet.

Fireworks? Very likely. Very.

5:51pm: Le avoids getting run over by Karr
Following a 3♠7♣7♥ flop, Nam Le bet 50,000, then Mclean Karr raised to 120,000, leaving himself about 140,000 behind. Le repopped all in, and Kerr quickly called. Le had 7♠4♣ for trip sevens, but Karr had him outkicked with A♦7♦.

The turn brought the 3♥, however, giving both players sevens full. "Ace!" said Karr, but the 6♠ on the river meant they were chopping the pot. Le has 435,000, while Karr is at 280,000.

5:49pm: Paredes poking at million mark
It was a giant, "Yes!" that got us running to a table near the rail. Such a noise can mean anything. It can mean, "I doubled up to 1/8th the average stack" or it can mean, "I may soon have the chip lead." In this case, it was the latter. The action of the hand happened before we could get it all, but the upshot of all of it was Paredes' Q♥T♦ was good on a 7♦[T♣3♦4♣[8♥ board against the seven Cody Slaubaugh held in his hand.

Slaubaugh wasn't amused by the outburst, and deadpanned, "Are you excited."

Paredes didn't seem to catch Salughbaugh's drift.

"I was down to 100 in chips at the start of this level!" Paredes exclaimed (and we're assuming he meant 100,000).

"But are you excited," Slaughbaugh said again, this time his voice even more dry.

Paredes considered this. "Well, I was excited on the river.

The point here is that Paredes, who either started the level with 100, or more like 100,000 chips, had 467,000 for the all-in bet, which the bemused Slaughbaugh had to call.

The hand puts Paredes up near 1,000,000, while Slaughbaugh is left to count his few hundred thousand.

(We think, for the record, Paredes was, in fact, excited.)

5:34pm: Marafioti out
Matt Marafioti was just now all in for his tourney life with 9♥9♦, but unfortunately was up against Joseph Cheong's K♠K♥. The community cards were J♠7♥K♦[10c]4♥, and Marafioti hit the rail. Cheong is at 425,000 now.

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Matt Marafioti

5:31pm: Pay the Billirakis
Francois Talbot opened with a raise to 20,000 from middle position, then Mclean Karr reraised to 50,000 behind him. Steve Billirakis then made it 85,000 to go from the small blind. Talbot responded by going on all for about 320,000 more, Karr folded, and Billirakis went into the tank.

About three minutes later he emerged. "Okay," he said, pushing the needed chips forward. Billirakis showed 8♥8♦ and Talbot A♠K♦. The board came 9♦6♣2♦J♥3♦, and Talbot is out. Billirakis now bounces way up to 1.1 million.

5:30pm: Update on the ladies
A quick survey of the field shows there are three ladies among the remaining players: Vanessa Rousso, Helen Martynov, and Christina Lindley.

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Christina Lindley

5:20pm: The time to win races...
...is now. This is something Tom Sinistaj seems to know. All-in with A♦Q♦, he was up against Max Katz's pocket threes. Sinistaj pulled his ace on the flop, good enough to best Katz's unimproved pair and send the Russian to the rail.

5:11pm: We're back
Players are back from break and cards are once again in the air. There are currently 75 players left still battling for that $827,648 first prize.

To see who cashed and for how much thus far (places 76-128), check out the prize pool and winners page.

4:55pm: Break it up
Players are on a 15-minute break.

4:53pm: Gamble, gamble
As he has been doing frequently, Steve Billirakis just opened with a raise to 16,000 -- this time from the hijack seat -- and Brian Horton called from the button. Alexis Cordova also came along from the blinds. The flop came 5♠8♦6♣, and Cordova instantly pushed all in for 106,000. Billirakis let it go, and Horton took a moment to consider what to do.

"All right," he exhaled finally. "Gamble, gamble."

He showed 7♥7♣ for an open-ender, while Cordova showed 5♣5♦ for the flopped set. The turn was the Q♠ and the river the 2♥, and Cordova survives. Both players ended with similar stacks after that one, with Cordova at about 240,000 and Horton 225,000.

4:37pm: Pilgrim's progress
Dwyte Pilgrim just won an all-in confrontation when his A♠A♣ held up. "That's why you play poker, baby!" he said. Pilgrim bounces back to 410,000.

4:33pm: Which winner would you like to play, ma'am?
Vanessa Rousso was down to a little more than 100,000 chips and moved all-in in early positon with T♥T♦. Kyle Zartman called her with A♦Q♥. By the the river fell, Rousso could claim four different hands that beat the ace queen: pair, set, boat, and quads. The T♣6♣3♥3♣T♠ board was good for the double.

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Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso

4:23pm: Cash is in the air tonight for Phil Collins
You'll remember the name because of his position near the top of the leaderboard on Day 1. Some might remember Phil Collins for his contributions to the music industry, but that's another story...and another Phil.

But poker-playing Collins lost his momentum today and pushed the remainder of his chip stack all-in with A♥ K♥ only to find that Cody Slaubaugh was eager to make the call with K♠ K♦. The board brought nothing but 7♣ 8♠ 7♦ Q♥ T♣, and Collins exited the stage.

4:17pm: Chen busted by Men
Friend of PokerStars.net Bill Chen has been eliminated from the tournament.

He started the hand with A♥ J♥ and made it 7K from the button, and Men "The Master" Nguyen called. The flop came A♦ 5♦ 2♠, and Chen made it 25K to go with his top pair. Nguyen check-raised to 60K, and Chen responded with an all-in move for the rest of his chips. Nguyen called and showed J♦ 7♦ for the flush draw. Chen had the advantage.

NAPT Venetian S1_5KMainEvent_Day3_JoeGiron_IJ76579.jpgGetting it in with the best of it...


The turn was innocent enough as the 6♥, but the T♦ dropped on the river to knock Chen out of the tournament. Gracious as always, he shipped his chips to Nguyen and approached the payout line.

NAPT Venetian S1_5KMainEvent_Day3_JoeGiron_IJ76585.jpgAnd realizing he was mastered.


4:01pm: The Blair Rich Project
Check out the chip counts page to see the latest totals as of the end of Level 16. There you'll find a new chip leader listed -- Eric Blair with 1.2 million.

We just caught up with a hand involving Blair, in fact. The Q♣Q♦K♦ flop had brought a bet from Olivier Busquet from UTG, and a call from Blair on the button. The turn was the 4♣. This time Busquet bet 62,000, and Blair made the call.

The river was the 4♦. Busquet took a minute, then tapped the felt. Blair checked behind, and Busquet showed A♦Q♥ for queens full, and Blair [10d]9♦ for a flush on the end. Busquet said he'd hoped for a Blair bet there, but Blair had avoided the temptation.

Blair loses a few on that one, but his money-making plans continue unabated. He remains at the top of the leaderboard with 1,050,000. Meanwhile, Busquet now has 515,000.

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Eric Blair

3:49pm: Miscikowski is a machine
Vanessa Rousso opened the hand with a raise from middle position, and chip leader Daniel Miscikowski called from the big blind. The pair made their way to the river with the board showing 5♣5♠Q♥7♣[10c], at which point Miscikowski fired out a sizable bet. Rousso thought a while, wondering aloud if he were bluffing. Finally she called, and when he showed A♣3♣ she mucked. "A flush-making machine!" she said with a wry grin.

That table broke just after the hand. Rousso racked about 160,000 for the trip to her new seat. Meanwhile Miscikowski is needing a couple of extra trays for his. He's still gathering them, but it looks as though he's nearing the 1,000,000-chip mark.

3:43pm: Our winners so far
We took the time during the break to check in with everybody who has busted out so far. You can find the complete list by scrolling down on our NAPT Venetian winners page.

3:42pm: Back from break
We're back from break with just more than 90 players remaining

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3:37pm: Kuo out, three women remain
Just before the break, Mark Muchnik eliminated Kitty Kuo. His K♥K♠ outlasted her A♣9♠ when the board went 3♦J♣8♥J♥7♣. Muchnik how has about 205,000.

Kuo's elimination means that with 91 players remaining there are three women left in the field. Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso went to the break with 280,000. Christina Lindley has 202,000. And Helen Martynov has 139,500. 


NAPT Venetian reporting comes courtesy of bloggers Martin Harris, Jennifer Newell, Brad Willis and photographer Joe Giron.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in North American Poker Tour