PCA 2015: Juan Etcheverry leads final 59 as Ronaldo confounds critics to stay alive

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) is down to its final 59 players after a day on Paradise Island that was far from heavenly for most. A returning field of 175 suffered an enormous cull through the eight hours of play, with the great, the good and the chancers-on-a-beano hitting the rail in their droves.

The big stacks had a field day, of course, none more so than Juan Etcheverry who is the tournament chip leader. He has 1,704,000 at this stage, 213 big blinds, and won a pot worth more than a million chips in the final level to soar into the lead. Until that point, Kevin Schultz and Chance Kornuth, both from the United States, had been right in contention, but their 1,165,000 -- a total both of them share -- will have to settle for second.

juan_etcheverry_pca2015_day3.jpg

Juan Etcheverry: Leader

chance_kornuth_pca2015_day3.jpg

Chance Kornuth

kevin_schulz_pca2015_day3.jpg

Kevin Schulz

Those two were not the only assassins. Juan Martin Pastor, well known on the Latin America Poker Tour, and a Supernova Elite on PokerStars, was nonetheless dismissed last night for having a name that was too similar to Juan Manuel Pastor, the Spanish player, for some reporters to grasp. But he set about making sure his name is the one that will be remembered from the Bahamas this week, amassing the first stack of more than a million - even if it later slipped to 930,000. It means that Schultz and Kornuth are the filling in an Argentinian sandwich at the top of the leader board.

juan_martin_pastor_pca2015_day3.jpg

Juan Martin Pastor: Remember my name

Everybody knew at the start of the day what at least one big story would be. The bubble was bobbing into view, due to burst when the 120th player was eliminated, and that meant a nerve-shredding two-and-a-half levels for the short stacks. It didn't get any easier when hand-for-hand started two from the money and a series of double-ups (or bubble-ups, as we like to call them) gave unlikely jolts to near dormant hearts but increased the palpitations in others.

Eventually, after the stallers were damned and elbows were poked, Arne Kern took the unluckiest walk of the them all. It left the players with the biggest reputations focusing on heading to the final table, while others were happy to simply freewheel until they ran out of steam.

arne_kern_pca2015_day3_bubble.jpg

Arne Kern: Can barely look

Strange as this game can be, some of the freewheelers outlasted the juggernauts. Elizabeth Bennett-Martin, for instance, had only two big blinds at bubble time, and had been all in many times before, but doubled up on the first hand after it burst and was still involved into the last level. She ended up 65th for $24,140. However, Daniel Negreanu's race was long run by that point. He departed in 94th after a "day where everything went weird" ended by running jacks into Pratyush Buddiga's queens.

daniel_negreanu_pca2015_day3_tv.jpg

An abrupt end to the fun for Daniel Negreanu

Liv Boeree's dreams of taking a second EPT title were dashed when she lost an enormous pot with aces against Diego Gomez, and was then polished off by John Patgorski. Her 73rd was worth $20,580, or "not enough" in poker parlance. Andre Akkari, ElkY and Team Online's George Lind III also picked up a min-cash. Better than nothing, but not by much.

liv_boeree_pca2015_day3.jpg

Liv Boeree: Another PCA deep run ends slightly short

No one is going to be surprised to learn that Jason Mercier and Jonathan Duhamel still fly the Red Spade into the deep stages. Mercier min-cashed this one last year and expressed his insistence that he wouldn't do the same again. So far, he has been good to his word, bagging 447,000 tonight. Duhamel, meanwhile, once made four final tables within a week in this room, but has clearly decided to distill his run good all into one tournament this time. He has 266,000.

It was an up-and-down day for Naoya Kihara, but it finished on an uptick. The Japanese player has 509,000 and is the last remaining member of Team Online in the field.

naoya_kihara_pca2015_day3.jpg

Naoya Kihara: Last Team Online-r

It is probably not exactly as unexpected to see Ronaldo still involved as the tournament heads into its fourth day. That's a polite way of saying, "What's that, now? The footballer can play poker too?" But it seems he can. The Brazil great has taken his tournament into extra time, outlasting his coach, Akkari, and about 750 others too to bag up 512,000 chips tonight.

He scored a big double up too during the last level, and now has enough to do battle with the Argentinians. Here's what it means to him:

ronaldo_pca2015_day3_money.jpg

Ronaldo: Goal!

The top ten stacks at this stage are as follows:

1. Juan Etchverry -- 1,704,000
2. Chance Kornuth -- 1,165,000
3. Kevin Schulz -- 1,165,000
4. Juan Martin Pastor -- 930,000
5. Jim Collopy -- 889,000
6. Ambrose Ng -- 877,000
7. Emrah Cakmak -- 815,000
8. Diego Ventura -- 643,000
9. Rami Boukai -- 625,000
10. Eugenio Pacelli Mattar -- 607,000

Tomorrow they will play another five levels as the race to the $1.5 million first prize is turned up another notch.

Our coverage today included the moment that Andreas Samuelsson cracked aces to get his day started, and a terrific chat with Jesse May on the subject of just about everything and anything.

Chris Moneymaker and Theo Jorgensen waxed lyrical about the swings of the game, but Ole Schemion refused to let anything slip on the subject of his balloon.

Mexico began its defence of the Americas Cup of Poker, while others just kicked back at the tailgate party in the Players' Lounge.

Join us tomorrow for an equally bumpy ride.

atlantis_rubber_rings.jpg