NAPT Mohegan Sun: Seeking second title, Selbst vaults to the chip lead

napt-thumb.jpgIf you have a sense of deja vu, you're not alone. One year and two days ago, Vanessa Selbst ended Day 3 of the NAPT Mohegan Sun with the chip lead. 48 hours later, she went on to win the tournament. This year, it looks like we're doing it all over again as Selbst is once again atop the Day 3 leaderboard, with 1,406,000 in chips, a nearly 400,000-chip lead over her closest competitor, Vincent Rubianes. We've never seen a player win the same event in back-to-back years on the EPT, NAPT, LAPT or any other tour ending in "PT." But after today, the 26 year-old law student-turned Team PokerStars Pro is in pole position to do just that.

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Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst, in pursuit of back-to-back titles

74 players returned to the felt for Day 3, 18 of them unfortunately departing without a penny to show for their work. Among them were Todd Terry, Greg Dyer, David Robinson, Ronnie Bardah, last season's 12th-place finisher Alan Sternberg, and Team Online's Andrew Brokos, whose pocket jacks fell to Andrew Weisner's ace-king. The bubble burst only a few minutes into Level 16. Nick Binger had already seen his pocket aces snapped off when four spades appeared on the board, making Adam Junglen the nut flush with A♠Q♦. The two tangoed again in the bubble hand, Binger getting his stack in before the flop with Q♠Q♥ against Junglen's A♣J♥. Everything looked fine for Binger until an ace spiked on the river to crack his queens.

"Bubbling builds character," Binger told us after the dust had settled. "I have this reserve of character that just keeps growing and growing." We wish we shared his zen attitude, as at least one of us has the tendency to hurl objects and punch walls in that very situation.

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Nick Binger, a true man of character

Three Team Pros survived the bubble-- Greg DeBora, Victor Ramdin, and defending champion Selbst. Our blonde Canadian friend was the first of them to depart, DeBora losing a race with pocket sixes against Christopher Kirkwood's ace-queen to go out in 49th place. Ramdin, after a trademark up-and-down day followed him out the door a short time later. Following an 18,000 under-the-gun raise from Joseph Gibbons, Adam Geyer called on the button and Ramdin put the squeeze on from the small blind, moving all-in for his last 53,500. Nenad Medic tanked for an age in the big blind before four-bet shoving for 206,000, a move that folded out both Gibbons and Geyer. Ramdin's T♣T♦ couldn't catch Medic's J♦J♠ and he exited in 31st place.

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Victor Ramdin awaits his fate

Aside from Vanessa Selbst's remarkable run at back-to-back titles, another one of the day's headlines belonged to Steve O'Dwyer. Down to only 10,000 in chips with an hour left to play on Day 2, O'Dwyer managed to grind his stack back up to the 108,700 he bagged up at the end of the night. Today, nothing could stop him. He started the day by doubling up through mega-stacked Aaron Overton with pocket aces again A♥K♣. He knocked out Jesse Kremer when he flopped a set of sevens against A♥Q♥ and did the same to Michael Quibble when he picked up pocket aces and Quibble shoved with sevens. With 36 players remaining, O'Dwyer lead the pack with 770,000 and finished Day 3 with a formidable 507,000.

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Steve O'Dwyer

O'Dwyer's reign at the top didn't last long. The bullet train that is Vanessa Selbst vaulted to 833,000 in chips after getting maximum value when she turned a straight with 7♦8♦ against Jean-Phillippe Matte's pocket jacks. It wasn't quite the OMG she did WHAT moment like last night's five-bet shove with 4♦8♦, but it sure did the job.

For a while there, we thought the Day 3 chip lead would certainly belong to Vincent Rubianes, a man with a traffic-stopping head of hair who cashed this event last season in 71st place. Rubianes arrived this morning with an average stack and steadily built it all afternoon, reaching a high-water mark of 1.4 million after eliminating Ruben Costa in a million-chip pot. He'd play another one by night's end, this one a game-changer involving our defending champion.

Olivier Busquet led off the action with a raise to 21,000. Rubianes three-bet to 55,000 before Selbst four-bet to 109,000 on the button. Busquet folded and Rubianes called. The flop fell T♣5♦2♣ and Rubianes checked to Selbst, who bet 129,000. He made the call and they went to the turn which landed the J♣. Both players checked. The river was a fourth club, the 3♣ and Rubianes checked a third time, leaving the door open for Selbst to bet 296,000. After a long, tortured tank, he made the call. Selbst turned over K♣K♠ for the second-nut flush and Rubianes mucked. The pot gave Selbst the chip lead with 1,406,000 while Rubianes slipped to 1,023,000, still good for second place.

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Rubianes contemplates a call

We'll be back tomorrow at Noon when our 24 contenders play down to a final table of eight. If you missed any of the action today (or would just like to re-live it), click on either of the links below.

Level 15-16 updates
Level 17-19 updates

For a look at how much everyone bagged up tonight, check out the NAPT Mohegan Sun chip count page. To see where our dearly departed cash finishers ended their tournament, head over to the NAPT Mohegan Sun prizes and winners page. Multimedia nuts, look no further than PokerStars.tv for all your video needs. For a sneak peek of tomorrow's table draw, click over to the Day 4 seating assignments.

That's all for now. There's some Chinese food and a karaoke bar waiting for us.

All photography © Joe Giron/www.joegironphotography.com