Another day at Sochi summit for Shirshikov, with ElkY and Moneymaker chasing still

The inaugural PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event is nearing its business end, and despite a starting field of names typed predominantly with the neglected keys of the laptop, there's still a whole lot of mainstream interest going into Day 5.

With 16 players left, two absolute global superstars remain in contention for the ₽29 million ($514,000) first prize. The Team PokerStars Pro duo of Chris Moneymaker and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier are short stacked, but they are on to the last two tables, both aiming to secure a spot at the final and to prove that while form may be temporary, class is permanent.


ElkY: Still involved, again

It's been 14 years since Moneymaker won the World Series, and nine since ElkY won the PCA. Although both have been stalwarts on the world stage ever since, they would dearly love a PokerStars Championship title to consolidate their reputations, even if the field here is a small-by-their-standards 347.

It is far from a done deal, of course. They have each had enough near misses to be acutely aware of that--and it might have been much better for Moneymaker, had he not lost a massive pot with A♥K♦ into Nadar Kakhmazov's kings at the death.


Chris Moneymaker: Late hit, but on to Day 5

But perhaps they will be grateful not to be the target at the very top of the leader board--even if yesterday's overnight big stack, Pavel Shirshikov, did a fine job today as overall leader.

Shirshikov, a 30-year-old pro from St Petersburg, began and finished the day with roughly the same-sized stack. (His 1.576 is down only marginally on yesterday's finishing 1.604 million.) Shirshikov sat on the feature table for all of today's three-and-a-half levels, and ended the day with the most chips in the room again.


Pavel Shirshikov: Leading again

Here's the full line-up for tomorrow's penultimate day:

Pavel ShirshikovRussia1,576,000
Seyed GhavamIran1,214,000
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussia1,209,000
Lavrentiy NiKazakhstan915,000
Daniyar AubakirovKazakhstan763,000
Timur BubnovRussia710,000
Alexander LakhovRussia669,000
Said ButbaRussia580,000
Vitaliy LiRussia574,000
Dmitry VitkindRussia522,000
Junya YamadaJapan468,000
Oleg ChebotarevRussia445,000
Mikhail RudoyRussia337,000
Bertrand "ElkY" GrospellierFrance181,000
Chris MoneymakerUSA177,000
Nadar KakhmazovRussia127,400

The other immediately recognisable name there is Vladimir Troyanovskiy, who is surely by now the best-known Russian player in the world. Troyanovskiy has been there or thereabouts at PokerStars events for years, and "vovtroy" doesn't just travel well. He's a beast on home turf too.


Vladimir Troyanovskiy: Russian superstar

Head over to the payouts page to see the United Nations of the Eliminated, i.e., the players knocked out today. We bounced around Europe, and either side of the Urals, as 14 players went broke. Jonas Lauck, the WCOOP Main Event champion, is the best-known of the vanquished. Dmitry Chop perished at the hands of Moneymaker, then Anton Gililov's elimination ended Day 4.

Day 4 updates:

• PLAYERS: 16 (of 387)
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6:20pm: Gililov busts to end the day
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Anton Gililov is out in 17th, ending our day. He shoved the button for not much more than 100,000 and Vladimir Troyanovskiy called in the small blind.

Gililov was ahead with A♦K♣ but Troyanovskiy had plenty of equity with Q♥J♠. Then after the full board ran 8♥3♥2♥3♠4♥ Troyanovskiy had a flush. That's the end of that. -- HS

6:15pm: Moneymaker's new toys don't last long
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Immediately after winning that huge pot to knock out Dmitry Chop, Chris Moneymaker raised again. He said he wanted to play with "his new toys". He found a willing buyer in Nadar Kakhmazov who three-bet to 104,000 from the small blind.

The pot had the potential to get big. And, when Moneymaker four-bet to 260,000 it was swiftly met with a shove from Kakhmazov. Moneymaker sensed he could be in trouble but made the call with A♦K♦; the only problem was that Kakhmazov had K♥K♠.

Moneymaker now needed an ace or to hit an improbable straight or flush. It wasn't to be; the 5♠2♥4♣Q♥7♥ board was safe for Kakhmazov and he doubles up to a tournament-high 1,278,000 chips.

Meanwhile, Moneymaker drops all the way back down to just twelve big blinds. - RJ

6:10pm: Who said Butba wouldn't double?
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Level 21 is bringing us a lot of action so far.

Said Butba raised to 35,000 from under the gun Daniyar Aubakirov three-bet to 100,000 from the button. Action folded back to Butba, who had about 160,000 behind, and he called. The flop came A♣K♠6♣ and Butba moved all-in. Aubakirov snap-called and showed A♦8♥, but Butba had the better kicker with A♥Q♣.

A 2♣ came on the turn and a 9♥ completed the board to give Butba the double up. Aubakirov dropped to 815,000 after that hand while Butba doubled to about 550,000. --AV

6:05pm: Ghavam gaining
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Seyed Ghavam now has 1.1 million in chips to work with after taking a sizable pot from Timur Bubnov.

Ghavam brought it in for a preflop raise to 35,000 before Bubnov three-bet to 84,000. That was called and the two players went to a flop of A♥K♦Q♥. It was checked through to the K♥ turn where Ghavam led out for 60,000.

Bubnov stuck around and the 8♣ arrived on the river. Ghavam fired again, this time for 120,000, and Bubnov called behind. Ghavam revealed K♠J♠ for turned trips and Bubnov flashed A♣Q♦ with a disgusted look on his face.

After that beat Bubnov is down to 730,000. -- BK

6pm: Moneymaker doubles, Chop departs
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Chris Moneymaker just eliminated Dmitry Chop and all-but-doubled up at the very same time. Chop was the man to open the betting before Moneymaker three-bet to 90,000. Chop was holding A♠8♦ and had the option to just give it up there and then. But nope, he decided to shove instead. Moneymaker had A♦K♥ and was all too happy to call.

NEIL2836_Chris_Moneymaker_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgChris Moneymaker

The ace-king held up on the 5♦T♣5♥6♥4♥ board and Chop was knocked out in 18th place. Moneymaker is now playing 880,000. - RJ

5:55pm: Under pressure
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

The bigger stacks are really putting the pressure on the shorties. In fact, so are the medium-sized stacks.

Said Butba had no action in front of him, and on the button he opened to 35,000. However, Junya Yamada had other ideas in the big blind and bumped it up to 112,000. That forced Butba to give it up. --JS

5:50pm: Gililov can't find a customer
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Anton Gililov has been in the sub-ten big blind danger zone for a long time now up on the featured table. In this level alone he's shoved three times and got it through each and every time so far.

8G2A2831_Anton_Gililov_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgAnton Galilov

Yet surely it's just a matter of time before Gililov either doubles up or busts. Just a matter of time... - RJ

5:45pm: Li fills up on the first hand back
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

It was the first hand back from break and Oleg Chebotarev started things off with an under-the-gun raise to 32,000. Vitaliy Li called from his left and the rest of the table got out of the way.

Chebotarev bet 25,000 on the 2♦3♣9♥ flop and Li called, bringing an A♦ on the turn. Chebotarev checked and Li made it 50,000 to go. Chebotarev called and a 9♠ completed teh board. Chebotarev checked one more time and Li bet 130,000. Chebotarev called and then mucked when Li tabled 2♣2♥ for a full house.

Chebotarev dipped to about 600,000 while Li chipped up to about 640,000. --AV

5:25pm: Break time

Well, we made it to the end of the third level of the day without reaching 16 players. We still need to eliminate two more players, and that will require starting another level. We'll start that after a break, in 20 minutes. -- SB

5:15pm: ElkY slowly climbing
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has accumulated a few more chips after getting two shoves through uncontested in the same orbit.


The first saw Lavrentiy Ni limp in the small blind before ElkY moved all in from the big blind. Ni folded and ElkY scooped the pot before he ripped it in again just a few hands later.

In the second hand Ni raised from the cutoff to 31,000 and ElkY moved all in over the top on the button for 204,000. Again Ni folded and allowed ElkY to build to 260,000 in chips. -- BK

5:08pm: Barrels for days
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Mikhail Rudoy fired not once but twice and it was good enough to make Alexander Lakhov surrender his hand.

NEIL2773_Mikhail_Rudoy_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgMikhail Rudoy

The double barrel shot was fired on the turn of a 2♣9♦6♦A♣ board. 85,000 was too much for Lakhov to call and Rudoy won the hand.

Rudoy is at 340,000 now. - RJ

5pm: Four-way action
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Mikhail Rudoy opened to 27,000 and was flatted by Timur Bubnov to his direct left. Oleg Chebotarev then called from the small blind, and Lavrentiy Ni defended his big blind.

The four saw an A♦A♠2♣ flop. It checked to Rudoy and he continued for 32,000, which Bubnov flatted once again. But then Chebotarev sprung into life and raised it up to 86,000. That got everyone to fold and Chebotarev increased to 955,000. --JS

4:55pm: Zhadinsky out in 19th
Level 21 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

It was a roller coaster of emotions for Artsiom Zhadinsky. He was short-stacked and defended his big blind with a weak hand. He liked what he saw on the flop and decided to gamble for his tournament life. Zhadinsky hit his draw, but then his opponent outdrew him on the river.

NEIL2800_Artsiom_Zhadinsky_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgArtsiom Zhadinsky

Dmitry Chop raised to 24,000 from the cutoff that hand and Zhadinsky called from the big blind. The flop came 9♣T♥6♥ and Zhadinsky checked. Chop made it 36,000 to go, Zhadisnky moved all-in for 154,000 and Chop snap-called.

Zhadinsky tabled 8♥4♥ for a flush draw and Chop showed Q♥T♦ for top pair. The turn brought a J♥ to give Zhadinsky the flush, but a fourth heart would give Chop a bigger flush.

The river? 5♥.

Zhadinsky busted out in 19th while Chop chipped up to 441,000. --AV

4:50pm: Small pots and a clock
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

A couple of hands from Table 1:

Dmitry Vitkind opened to 27,000 from the cutoff and Junya Yamada called on the button. Lavrentiy Ni called in the big blind too and they went three-handed to the T♠2♦K♦ flop. Check, check, check.

NEIL2744_Dmitry_Vitkind_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgDmitry Vitkind

The turn brought the 9♠ and Ni led 46,000. Vitkind called and Yamada sighed as it seemed to mean he had to fold. That's what he did.

The river was the 8♠ and Ni now checked. Vitkind took over with a bet of 87,000 and Ni was left sighing now as he folded.

On the next hand, Said Butba opened to 28,000 and action got around to Ni in the small blind now. He three-bet to 75,000 and Butba now had a decision.

He counted out his stack, figuring it was about 300,000, and then he thought some more. Daniyar Aubakirov didn't like the time being wasted and called the clock. Butba and he went back and forth with a bit of chit-chat, but the dealer said that Butba had indeed had sufficient time to make a decision so the countdown began.

About 30 seconds into it, Butba folded. --HS

4:45pm: Grinenko out in 20th
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

When Dmitrii Grinenko squeezed all in with A♣J♥ he probably wasn't sure whether he wanted a call or not. Well, he got past one player but he didn't get through the surging Oleg Chebotarev and his pocket eights.

It was off to the races. Unfortunately for Grinenko, his high card stallion barely got out the starting gate on a 4♣5♦9♦4♠3♠ board and thus he was forced to make a mad dash for the exit.

Oleg Chebotarev, on the other hand, moves up to 660,000 after that pot and then won the next too. He's at the 710,000 mark. - RJ

4:40pm: How unLaucky
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Poker is cruel game sometimes, as Jonas Lauck was just reminded.

Mikhail Rudoy had open-shoved for 190,000 and it folded around to Lauck in the big blind. This was a big blind only pot as it was just after the previous elimination. Lauck peeked down at the A♠K♠ and snap-called with an almost identical stack.

8G2A2790_Jonas_Lauck_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgJonas Lauck

Rudoy turned over the A♦T♦ and was dominated, even after the 7♣Q♣3♠ flop. But the T♣ on the turn was his miracle. The 5♠ completed the board and the dealer set about counting both stacks.

In the end, it turned out Lauck had 195,000, and so was all-in in the very next hand for less than the small blind (3,000 after posting the 2,000 ante).

You'd have thought there was a bounty on Lauck's head by how many people seemingly wanted to play executioner. Not content with taking most of chips, Rudoy opened to 27,000 and Alexander Lakhov made the call. Oleg Chebotarev then shoved over the top, and got both to fold.

Chebotarev had the T♦T♥ and Lauck had the Q♠2♠, with which he'd have some hope on the A♠T♠9♦ flop despite his opponent flopping a set. However, no spade fell on the 4♦ turn or 8♥ river and Lauck was outta here.

Chebotarev is up to 485,000 now, while Rudoy is on 385,000. --JS

4:30pm: Galitski gone
Level 21 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Mikhail Galitski's Main Event has come to an end after he lost a race to Iran's Seyed Ghavam.

Galitski was all in preflop for 202,000 and after an isolation jam over the top from Ghavam the rest of the table folded and the cards went on their backs.

Galitski: Q♠J♥
Ghavam: 7♥7♦

It was a relatively fair fight and while the A♠T♦6♥ flop added some gut shot outs for Galitski, the 7♣ turn saw Ghavam spike a set and leave Galitski chasing only a king to stay alive. The 6♠ river bricked off and with that Galitski was out.

Ghavam meanwhile moves on up to 720,000. -- BK

4:25pm: Runner runner double up for Gililov
Level 21 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Dmitry Chop started off the level with a double up, and now he's doubled up the other short stack at the table.

Anton Gililov moved all-in for 93,000 with A♠7♥ from early position and Dmitry Chop found himself with A♥K♥ in the big blind.

Action folded to Chop and suffice to say he called. The flop came 6♣2♠T♣ to keep Chop in the lead, but then a 9♦ came on the turn to give Gililov a straight draw. The 8♥ on the river completed Gililov's straight and he lived to see another hand.

Gililov doubled to 208,000 while Chop dropped to 230,000. --AV

4:20pm: Zdanovskyi road to recovery comes to abrupt halt
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Yurii Zdanovskyi is out in 23rd, but he at least got a ringside seat to one of the tournament's more intriguing pots as he was knocked out.

He had 46,000 in his stack at the start of the hand and he pushed it forward to get the ball rolling. Action folded around to Lavrentiy Ni, who apparently said "Raise" in Russian, but didn't quite put out enough chips, so was then made to add a few more to make it 80,000 to play.

8G2A2843_Yurii_Zdanovskyi_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgYurii Zdanovskyi

ElkY was in the big blind and he wanted to play too. He called, which meant there was now a side pot ready to be swelled.

The flop seemed to agree with both active players. It was the 5♣T♥4♦ and Ni bet 57,000. ElkY called, leading to the 3♠ on the turn.

Ni counted his stack. He had 260,000, from which he cut out 57,000 and plonked it forward. ElkY called again.

The 3♠ came on the river and it was followed by a predictable shove from Ni. ElkY must have known it was coming as he didn't wait for a count. He folded, leaving himself with only around 300,000.

But wait, who won the hand? Ah yes, back to Zdanovskyi. The all-in player, who sat in silence as this played out, had K♣T♠ and quickly learned that Ni wasn't bluffing.

Ni tabled 4♥4♣ for a flopped set, which was good. Off goes Zdanovskyi, picking up ₽1,335,000 ($23,621 approx) for 23rd. -- HS

4:15pm: Nobody likes a bully
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Junya Yamada has been doing his bit to knock table bully Daniyar Aubakirov down a few pegs. In the latest instance, Yamada raised from the button and faced a small blind three-bet from Aubakirov. He's been doing this a lot.

NEIL2922_Daniyar_Aubakirov_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgDaniyar Aubakirov

Only this time, nobody was going to put Yamada in the corner. He flung his arms forward in the universal sign language known as 'all in'. Aubakirov folded and the sole Japanese representative in this field is up to 575,000. - RJ

4:10pm: LL Cool Seyed
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

LL Cool J, the rapper (in case you had him mixed up with another bloke called LL Cool J) got his name because he was smooth with the ladies. That's what it stands for: Ladies Love Cool James.

I don't know if Seyed Ghavam has a poker nickname yet, but how about LL Cool Seyed? Because if this last hand was anything to go by, the ladies love him too.

It kicked off with a 25,000 open from Timur Bubnov which was then three-bet to 71,000 by Mikhail Galitski. It then folded to Ghavam in the small blind, and after some thinking time he announced he was all in.

Bubnov then re-shoved to isolate, and Galitski let his hand go.

Ghavam - Q♦Q♥
Bubnov - A♥A♣

This hand was a cooler for both; Ghavam pre-flop, and Bubnov post. It fell 4♦Q♠3♣ to flop Ghavam a set, and he remained in front on the 6♥ turn and 4♥ river.

That double up knocks Bubnov down to 695,000, and brings LL Cool Seyed up to 688,000. --JS

4:05pm: Double Chop
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

While there was an extreme lack of pretty much anything last level, this one started off with some showdown action.

Dmitry Chop moved all-in for 120,000 from under the gun over at the feature table and Vladimir Troyanovskiy called from the hijack. The rest of the table got out of the way and we had a feature table showdown.

NEIL2969_Dmitry_Chop_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgDmitry Chop

Chop tabled A♣8♣ and Troyanovskiy showed T♥T♣. Chop was in need of some help and got none on the 2♥Q♦3♥ flop. The A♥ on the turn did pair his ace, but it also gave Troanovskiy a flush draw. But the river was a heartless 7♣ and Chop doubled to 274,000 while Troyanovskiy dipped to 877,000. --AV

4pm: Zdanovskyi starts long road to recovery
Level 21 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

Yurii Zdanovskyi was left with only 18,000 after that skirmish at the end of the last level and he was in the big blind of 12,000 when he returned after the break.

But let me tell you this: they've played one hand of the new level and Zdanovskyi is still seated. It went well for him.

Said Butba opened to 26,000 and Lavrentiy Ni called in the small blind. Zdanovskyi also under-called all-in (a fold would have been particularly tight) and the three of them took to a flop of T♣3♦9♣. Both active players checked.

The 8♠ fell on the turn and Ni checked again. Butba bet 27,000 and Ni let it go.

Zdanovskyi was delighted by how this had turned out. He had J♣T♥ and so was ahead of Butba's A♣K♣.

The 2♦ river card was a blank, so Zdanovskyi's comeback is on! -- HS

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3:55pm: Play resumes
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (ante 2,000)

We're into the third level of the day. A reminder: the plan today is to play three levels. If by that time we are not down to 16 players we will play on until we are.

3:35pm: Take a break

Players have gone on a 20-minute break. --JS

3:34pm: Bubnov ends level well
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

A good spell to finish the level for Timur Bubnov. He's taken his stack from 600,000 to 965,000 in the space of three hands, the latter in a four-way hand in which got to a turn: 2♥5♠9♣7♠. Bubnov kept betting though, forcing other to fold. --SB

3:32pm: Ni to the face
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

When there's a break only seconds away, most of the time players at the table will start to pack up their things, whip their iPhones out and get ready to have a well-deserved rest. So, if you have two players at the table who aren't doing this you can be pretty confident they will turn up with some pretty decent hands.

NEIL3017_Lavrentiy_Ni_PCSochi2017_29May17.jpgLavrentiy Ni

That's what just happened to Lavrentiy Ni and Yurii Zdanovskyi. There was an under the gun open from Zdanovskyi and action was folded around to Ni. He waited so long that it could easily have been one of those "he doesn't know it's his turn to act" hilarious moments. But it wasn't. He knew it was his turn to act, and after a few minutes of thought, he acted decisively by shipping his entire 200,000+ stack into the middle.

Quick as a whippet without dinner, Zdanovskyi called. He had Q♦Q♦. Li's 9♣9♠ was in deep trouble.

The J♦A♠T♠ flop didn't bring Ni any favours, but a nine on the turn certainly did! His rail erupted into cheers while Ni, ever the sportsman, kept an impassive face and offered Zdanovskyi his condolences.

Zdanovskyi is down to just 18,000 (AKA 1.8 big blinds) while Ni shoots up to 430,000 courtesy of that nine-ball on the turn. --RJ

3:30pm: Grinenko finds little reason to grin
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

It's Dmitrii Grinenko on the very short stack now after another pot went to Timur Bubnov without a showdown.

Grinenko raised to 20,000 from the cutoff and Bubnov called in the big blind. They were heads up to the flop of J♠J♣6♣.

Bubnov checked and Grinenko continued for 18,000. Bubnov called, leading to the 8♠ on the turn. They both checked that, which brought the T♦ on the river.

Bubnov took over with a bet of 42,000 and Grinenko took a long while in the tank, looking at the 128,000 he had left, before opting to fold and preserve it.

Bubnov is riding high with 730,000 --HS

3:25pm: Yurii Zdanovskyi doubles with ease
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

When you get dealt ace-king you're usually pretty happy to get all the chips in preflop. That's exactly what happened to Yurii Zdanovskyi when his shove was called by Daniyar Aubakirov's Q♥T♦.

The ace-king was a decent favourite and stayed that way on the 3♠4♣2♣ flop. A king on the turn sealed the deal and Zdanovskyi is now on a less-stressful 230,000. Aubakirov's see-saw day continues; he's down to 780,000. --RJ

3:20pm: Yamada lets Li off the hook
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Yurii Zdanovskyi is in dire straits with precisely 11 big blinds and one ante in his stack. That's 111,000 and the result of a hand against ElkY.

ElkY started it, with a raise to 20,000 from the button. Zdanovskyi called in the big blind and they went to a flop of 7♣K♣A♣. Zdanovskyi checked and ElkY bet 22,000. Zdanovskyi called.

The wet board got wetter after the 8♣ turn and Zdanovskyi checked again. ElkY bet again, this time for 42,000, and Zdanovskyi tank-folded, leaving himself that meagre 111,000. --HS

3:16pm: Ghavam trying but failing
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

If there's anyone attempting to liven up the action on Table 1, it's Seyed Ghavam. He's opening hands very frequently and has taken down quite a few small pots in this level without much trouble.

However, all of that hard work was ultimately for nought after he got embroiled in a hand versus Mikhail Galitski. Ghavam raised preflop and Galitski called from the big blind. Galitski then check-called 23,000 on the ace-high flop before both checked the turn .

It was Galitski's turn to be the aggressor on the river, betting 32,000 and bringing a quick fold from Ghavam. Galitski moves up to 300,000 while Ghavam is right back to square one on 270,000. Still, at least he's having a go... --RJ

3:12pm: ElkY runs into quads
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has dropped to 600,000 in chips after paying off Daniyar Aubakirov's river bet.

The board read J♦7♠7♦2♠ on the turn and Aubakirov fired for 45,000 from the big blind. ElkY called and the 2♥ river double paired the board. Aubakirov reached deeper this time and decided on a bet of 140,000.

ElkY took around two minutes to finally call to see Aubakirov table 7♥7♣ for the stone cold nuts. With that pot Aubakirov eclipses 1.1 million. --BK

NEIL2761_Elky_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

So siiiiiick

3:10pm: Moneymaker closing in on a milly
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Chris Moneymaker raised to 23,000 from early position and Dmitry chop called from the button. Gililov called from the big blind and the flop came 7♦4♠T♣. Moneymaker bet 32,000, Chop called and Gililov left the hand. A 6♥ came on the turn and Chop bet 51,000 when checked to.

Moneymaker asked for a count and Chop showed about 151,000 behind. Moneymaker bet enough to put him all-in and Chop thought. After about four minutes, Chop decided it wasn't worth it and let his hand go.

Chop was left with his 151,000 while Moneymaker chipped up to about 900,000. --AV

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3:07pm: The Kazakh who's named Ni
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

In arguably the first hand I've reported that didn't require me to cut and paste the name, Ni opened Li called.
Lavrentiy Ni kicked things off by making it 20,000 to play which Vitaliy Li called on the button. The flop came 6♠T♥3♣ which Ni bet at, making it 22,000. Li called.

Both checked the K♦ turn for the T♠ on the river. Ni checked, Li bet 35,000 and that was that.

Ni drops down to 190,000 now, while Li is up to 750,000. --SB

3:05pm: Yamada lets Li off the hook
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Junya Yamada just won a decent pot from Vitaliy Li, although the armchair geniuses may be wondering whether he could have squeezed out a bit more from a near perfect run-out.

The hand started when Li opened to 23,000 from the hijack and Yamada called in the big blind. Both players checked the Q♠8♦2♣ flop and then the 4♦ came on the turn.

Yamada checked, Li bet 23,000 and Yamada called, leading to the A♣ on the river. Yamada checked again and Li bet 28,000. Yamada quickly called.

Li turned over A♠J♥ with the confidence of a man who thought his rivered ace was good. But Yamada then exposed his 4♥4♣--a turned set--and dragged in the pot.

Li puffed his cheeks out in relief. It looks as though he may have paid off any kind of raise there. Li has 730,000 still and Yamada is up to 530,000. --HS

NEIL3010_Junya_Yamada_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Did Yamada miss some value?

3pm: Shove/take
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Mikhail Galitski picked up a few chips -- taking him to around 215,000. Oleg Chebotarev opened from under the gun, making it 25,000, and Galitski in the UTG+1 seat jammed for 185,000.

It folded all the way back to Chebotarev and he folded too. --HS

2:55pm: Zhadinsky doubles through Shirshikov
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The short stack took a bite off the monster stack.

Pavel Shirshikov raised to 24,000 from early position and Artsiom Zhadinsky called from the small blind. The flop came 3♣9♦2♣ and Zhadinsky checked. Shirshikov bet 30,000, Zhadinsky raised, Shirshikov quickly moved all-in and Zhadinsky snap-called all-in for 215,000.

Both players showed a pair of nines. Zhadinsky turned over J♣9♣ and Shirshikov tabled K♠9♠ for a better kicker. Zhadinsky had a flush draw though and he hit it when the 6♣ came on the turn. The river brought a 5♣ and Zhadinsky doubled to 496,000 while Shirshikov dipped to 1.4 million. --AV

2:52pm: Vitaliy Li fights back against Aubakirov
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Daniyar Aubakirov has been an absolute menace since Day 1 of this tournament. But, in Vitaliy Li, he finally found someone who is willing to play back at him.

Li three-bet an Aubakirov raise to 59,000 and was quickly called. Li then bet 65,000 on the A♠9♥5♣ flop and was called in a flash. Another Li bet came on the J♥ turn and this was, in the eyes of another live reporter, "a top five all-time snap-call."

Finally, the T♦ river. With the pot already swelling out of control Li then jammed for his remaining 275,000. This time Aubakirov had seen enough and folded.

Li is up to 640,000. Aubakirov, meanwhile, is on 780,000. --RJ

2:50pm: Chebotarev hits flop against Lauck
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Jonas Lauck is now in a spot of bother after paying off what he correctly deduced was a value bet from Oleg Chebotarev. His read didn't help him get away.

The hand began with folds to Chebotarev on the button. He then raised to 21,000 and Lauck called in the big blind.

They then looked at a flop of A♦5♣5♠ and Lauck's check-call of Chebotarev's bet began a pattern.

The turn was the T♥ and it went check-call again. Chebotarev's bet was 45,000.

The 2♥ came on the river and Lauck checked again. Chebotarev bet 80,000 and Lauck then said that he thought it was a value bet. Chebotarev didn't say anything, but revealed that it was indeed a value bet when Lauck called and Chebotarev tabled 5♦6♣.

It puts Chebotarev to around 550,000, but leaves Lauck with 195,000. --HS

8G2A2790_Jonas_Lauck_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Do you feel Laucky, punk?

2:45pm: Butba doubles
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Said Butba has doubled up after an interesting hand with tablemate Daniyar Aubakirov.

Butba raised to 23,000 from a moderately short stack and Aubakirov three-bet to an even 50,000 on the button. Despite having only 111,000 behind Butba made the call and the flop landed a monochrome 6♥5♥T♥.

Butba then lead with an all-in jam for his remaining 84,000 and after he and Aubakirov exchanged some words in Russian, Aubakirov called off with two overcards and no hearts.

Butba: 7♠7♦
Aubakirov: A♣Q♣

Butba faded danger on the 3♠ turn and 8♥ river to secure the double up while Aubakirov fell to right around a million in chips. --BK

2:40pm: Zdanovskyi vs Yamada
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

The short stacks of Yurii Zdanovskyi and Junya Yamada just faced each other in a hand that went the way of Yamada.
Zdanovskyi opened from the cut off for 21,000 and slowly put his sunglasses on. Yamada, who had Zdanovskyi covered, was in the big blind and called for the flop of 3♦8♣4♠.

Yamada checked. Zdanovskyi went to his stack and bet 21,000, only to see Yamada reach for his and raise to 54,000. Zdanovskyi folded, slowly removed his sunglasses, and counted his last 180,000.
Yamada meanwhile moves up slightly to 425,000. --SB

2:35pm: Stalled in neutral
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Since the redraw, Table 1 has been poker's equivalent of watching paint dry whilst being pinched on the arm by an overly eager toddler.

It's been dull and a little painful. All pots have either been a walk, a raise and take or, if you're lucky, ones that have gone to the flop only for all players to check it down.

Come on guys, sort it out!*

*Disclaimer: they are playing for a lot of money and can do whatever they please. --RJ

2:30pm: Vitkind dims Aubakirov
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Daniyar Aubakirov lost the following pot, leaving him with 1.08 million, but he is still clearly the dominant force at Table 1.

Moreover, after securing first place at the WPT Main Event in Amsterdam earlier this month (part of the MonteDam Swing) Aubakirov is making a real name for himself. He could very easily become the first break-out star of Kazakh poker, which is not as ridiculous as it might sound. There are a lot of players over there, and it stands to reason that they'll have a bright young thing.

Anyway, like I say, he lost this pot, so let's shine a spotlight on Dmitry Vitkind instead.

Vitkind opened to 22,000 from under the gun and Aubakirov three-bet to 59,000 from three seats along. Vitkind called and those two alone were active to the Q♥7♥K♥ flop.

Vitkind check-called Aubakirov's 35,000 continuation bet, then they both checked the T♦ turn.

After the 3♥ brought a four-flush on board, Vitkind bet 68,000 and Aubakirov folded.

Vitkind has around 400,000 now, but is still trailing our future Kazakh megastar. --HS

NEIL2739_Daniyar_Aubakirov_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Kazakh-Dan Aubarikov

2:25pm: Kakhmazov takes some from Troyanovskiy
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Nadar Kakhmazov has been fairly active at the feature table and his stack has taken a few swings. Now he's back up to over 500,000 after taking a big pot off Vladimir Troyanovskiy.

Troyanovskiy raised to 22,000 from the hijack that hand and Kakhmazov three-bet to 65,000 from the small blind. Troyanovskiy called and the flop came 9♠7♣A♣. Kakhmazov made it 82,000 to go and Troyanovskiy called.

A 7♦ came on the turn and Kakhmazov moved all-in for 202,000. Troyanovskiy folded and dipped to 781,000 while Kakhmazov rose to 514,000. --AV

2:20pm: Rudoy builds through Bubnov
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Mikhail Rudoy is raking in chips after securing a double up through Timur Bubnov.

Initially Bubnov raised to 24,000 under the gun and Rudoy defended his big blind to see a flop of 3♣5♥6♥. Rudoy checked it over to Bubnov who continued for 26,000, only to see Rudoy snap jam over the top for 90,000.

Bubnov took around 45 seconds to call and the cards went on their backs.

Rudoy: 7♣5♣
Bubnov: A♦K♠

Rudoy had the best of it with middle pair and a gut shot against Bubnov's overcards and he managed to hold as the Q♣ turn and 7♥ river completed the board.

He moves up to 235,000 while Bubnov dips to 810,000. --BK

2:15pm: But for Butba
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

ElkY (that's Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, but I get tired of typing the Bertrand and Grospellier bit) opened from under the gun. He'd made it 20,000 which Said Butba called in middle position for a flop of 2♣J♥Q♣.

Another bet from ElkY, this time 20,000, which Butba called for the T♠ turn, which was checked both ways for the 5♥ on the river. That was checked too, and ElkY's A♥6♥ was topped by Butba's A♦J♣.

Butba is still short, but in better condition than he was a few minutes ago, up to 230,000. --SB

2:10pm: Spin & Go to Sochi
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (ante 1,000)

Down to just 23 players, we have one player remaining who qualified for this event via a PokerStars Spin & Go. That guy is Timur Bubnov, who currently sits fourth in chips. --JS

You can win your seat to one of countless PokerStars live events around the world. Click here to open an account and get started.

2:08pm: Double Chop
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

We got a double up at the feature table.

Chris Moneymaker raised to 17,000 from the hijack and Dmitry Chop moved all-in for 110,000 from the small blind. Moneymaker called and we had a feature table showdown.

Chop turned over K♥J♥ and Moneymaker tabled T♣9♠. The board ran 7♥3♣6♦6♠J♠ and Chop doubled to 236,000 while Moneymaker dipped to 689,000. --AV

2:05pm: Aubakirov power
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Daniyar Aubakirov has enough chips to do pretty much as he pleases at the moment, and he chose to lay the pain on Said Butba, who is one of the short stacks.

Aubakirov started it, raising to 17,000 from UTG+1 and getting two callers from the blinds. Butba was in the small blind and Dmitry Vitkind was in the big.

The dealer gave them the 2♠8♥5♥ on the flop and Butba led at it for 23,000. Vitkind folded, but then Aubakirov jammed and Butba had to make a decision for his last 140,000.

He folded, leaving him with only 14 big blinds as the level goes up. --HS

2pm: Denis Pavlenko out in 24th
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Dmitrii Grinenko just won a race against Denis Pavlenko to send the latter to the rail.

Grinenko's J♣J♠ hit a set on the flop to leave Pavlenko's A♣Q♣ essentially drawing dead. Pavlenko departs the tournament while his conqueror is now playing 340,000. --RJ

1:55pm: Seats AND chips
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

We're back underway playing the last five minutes of Level 19. Here are the chips and seat draw. --JS

Jonas LauckGermanyPokerStars qualifier390,50011
Dmitrii GrinenkoRussiaPokerStars qualifier209,00012
Seyed GhavamIran 221,00013
Mikhail RudoyRussiaPokerStars qualifier120,00014
Timur BubnovRussiaPokerStars qualifier906,00015
Denis PavlenkoUzbekistanPokerStars qualifier56,00016
Oleg ChebotarevRussia 455,00017
Mikhail GalitskiRussia 162,00018
Daniyar AubakirovKazakhstan 1,085,00021
Lavrentiy NiKazakhstan 290,00022
Bertrand "ElkY" GrospellierFranceTeam PokerStars Pro890,00023
Vitaliy LiRussia 450,00024
Yurii ZdanovskyiUkraine 250,00025
Said ButbaRussia 175,00026
Dmitry VitkindRussia 44,00027
Junya YamadaJapan 410,00028
Dmitry ChopRussia 122,00031
Alexander LakhovRussia 604,00032
Anton GililovRussia 428,00033
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussiaPokerStars qualifier971,00034
Artsiom ZhadinskyBelarus 224,00035
Chris MoneymakerUSATeam PokerStars Pro787,00036
Nadar KakhmazovRussia 190,00037
Pavel ShirshikovRussia 1,730,00038

1:45pm: New seats
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Here's where they are all now sitting. Stack details to follow:

Table 1

1: Jonas Lauck
2: Dmitrii Grinenko
3: Seyed Ghavam
4: Mikhail Rudoy
5: Timur Bubnov
6: Denis Pavlenko
7: Oleg Chebotarev
8: Mikhail Galitski

Table 2

1: Daniyar Aubakirov
2: Lavrentiy Ni
3: Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier
4: Vitaliy Li
5: Yurii Zdanovskyi
6: Said Butba
7: Dmitry Vitkind
8: Junya Yamada

Table 3

1: Dmitry Chop
2: Alexander Lakhov
3: Anton Gililov
4: Vladimir Troyanovskiy
5: Artsiom Zhadinsky
6: Chris Moneymaker
7: Nadar Kakhmazov
8: Pavel Shirshikov

1:40pm: Break time
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

They're taking a tournament break while they do the redraw. We'll have details of where they're sitting, and what they're sitting with, very soon. - HS

1:30pm: Troyanovskiy busts Voitovich, down to 24
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

That's it, we're down to our final three tables.

Our most recent elimination started when Ruslan Voitovich raised to 20,000 from under the gun and Vladimir Troyanovskiy called from the cutoff.

The flop came Q♦5♠7♦ and Voitovich bet 36,000. Troyanovskiy raised, Voitovich moved all-in and Troyanovskiy quickly called.

Voitovich turned over K♠K♦ and Troyanovskiy had him beat with A♦A♥. Voitovich needed a king to stay alive, but the turn brought an 8♠ instead. The river also brought an eight, the 8♦, and that was that.


Vladimir Troyanovskiy: Assassin

Troyanovskiy chipped up to 971,000 while Voitovich was eliminated in 25th. We're now down to our final three tables and the tournament has paused for a full redraw. --AV

1:28pm: No lack of heart
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Alexander Lakhov just made a gutsy play that will have Artsiom Zhadinsky stewing things over for a good while. Zhadinsky opened the pathway for his own destruction by three-betting a Lakhov raise. When the action was back on Lakhov, he moved all in.

He covered Zhadinsky, meaning that the sole Belarussian's tournament life would be on the line if he called. He didn't. And then, to add insult to injury, Lakhov let out a sigh of relief and flashed the 5♥. OUCH!

Lakhov is now on 650,000 with Zhadinsky on just 250,000. - RJ

1:25pm: Savchenko out in 26th
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Artem Savchenko becomes the next faller, leaving 25 in the Main Event.

Vitaliy Li opened for 18,000 in the button which Savchenko, having looked down at 3♦7♦ called with a level of optimism that keeps this game strong.

And he probably felt a slight surge of adrenaline when the flop gave him a double-belly-buster (that's the first time I've ever used that phrase on the blog) landing 9♥6♠5♥. Savchenko checked to Li who bet 20,000, figuring he had the advantage over the short stacked Savchenko's stack of 90,000. Savchenko replied by moving all in. Li called in a flash with K♥8♥.

Savchenko needed a four or eight, but also to fade a heart. The turn 6♣ and river 5♦ made that calculation irrelevant. Savchenko was out and Li, who was gracious in victory, moved up to 415,000. - SB

1:15pm : Jungen felted
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Ulrich Jungen is out. The PokerStars qualifier from Switzerland got it in with a flush draw--his Q♦8♦ was live against Daniyar Aubakirov's K♣J♠ on a flop of 9♦5♦3♠--but the turn K♠ and river T♣ didn't help Jungen. He went out in 27th. -- HS


Ulrich Jungen: Seated for the last few seconds

1:10pm: The rich get richer
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Pavel Shirshikov came into today as the tournament chip leader and he shows no signs of relinquishing that stranglehold on the competition.

His latest squeeze was Said Butba, who dared call a button raise from Shirshikov. The Q♦3♥Q♣ flop saw Butba check-call a 17,000 bet. The turn was 7♦, Butba checked again and Shirshikov bet again. This time it was 37,000.

Butba unstacked his chips and counted them out. It looked like he was considering a shove but eventually he decided to fold. Shirshikov rakes in yet another pot and is up to 1.71m while Butba slums it with 200,000. - RJ

1:05pm: Gililov felts Filipenko
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Picking up the action on a 7♥3♥Q♦ flop, Anton Gililov had a bet of 18,000 in front of him and Yehor Filipenko shoved over the top for 127,000. Gililov snap-called with his K♥T♥ flush draw, and that was miles ahead of Filipenko's 2♥6♥ inferior draw.


Yehor Filipenko busts

The 8♥ turn left Filipenko drawing dead, so the 2♦ river changed nothing.

Filipenko is out, Gililov is up to 420,000. --JS

1pm: From the blinds
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Mikhal Galitski had watched the action folded around to him in the small blind. To his left was Ulrich Jungen in the big blind, one of the short stacks left in the event. So he bet 16,000. Perhaps to his surprise Jungen called.

Galitski had another go on the 4♦Q♣T♦ flop, testing Jungen's resilience. The answer to that test was a raise to 27,000 (leaving Jungen 83,000 behind), which Galitski called for the J♦ turn. Both checked that, and on the T♣ river Galiski moved all-in.

It was a "performance all-in". Galitski grabbed handfuls of his stack and plonked it forward, putting each handful on top of the last in a tower, until the tower fell over.

The dealer didn't laugh, but everyone else did, including a spectator who had wandered into the restricted zone. It was only his laugh that alerted the tournament staff to his presence, and he was promptly asked to leave.

With Galitski's all-in counted - 153,000 - the decision was now with Jungen. He was in no rush, but eventually folded, taking Galitski's stack up to 195,000. - SB

12:55pm: Aces propel Bubnov into the millions
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

There was a huge pot on Table 2 involving Timur Bubnov and Artsiom Zhadinsky that just saw Bubnov shoot into the millionaire's club.

When Bubnov's 42,000 three-bet was called by both Zhadinsky and Alexander Lakhov it looked likely that a huge pot was brewing. Then, when Bubnov bet 56,000 on the K♦4♥9♣ flop and was called by Zhadinsky those suspicions were confirmed.

Another huge bet and call - 72,000 this time - came on the 2♣ turn. The river was 3♥ and Zhadinsky checked a final time. Bubnov was done betting though and checked behind, showing red aces. They were good and Bubnov raked in a huge pot.


Bad times for Artsiom Zhadinsky

Zhadinsky is down to just 75,000 but, as mentioned, Bubnov is soaring up, up and away with over one million. - RJ

12:52pm: Lipkin all in and out
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Oleg Lipkin is the latest player to fall. He shoved for 101,000 after Said Butba opened to 16,000, and it folded to Dmitrii Grinenko in the big blind. He thought for a while before making the call for around half his stack, and Butba folded his 4♠4♣ face up.

Lipkin - A♦9♠
Grinenko - Q♠Q♥


Oleg Lipkin can't hit an ace

Lipkin needed an ace, but got no help on the 2♣2♠7♠J♦2♥ as the queens improved to a full house. Lipkin hit the rail, and Grinenko increased to 317,000. --JS

12:50pm: Gililov gives to Ni
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Lavrentiy Ni and Anton Gililov just went to war but it was Ni who ended up on top.

On a flop of 5♦7♦9♦ Ni checked from the big blind before Gililov bet 20,000. Ni opted to play back at him with a reraise to 54,000, but Gililov clicked it back again to 90,000.

With only 213,000 in his stack Ni moved in to send Gililov deep into the tank. After a few minutes of deliberation Gililov decided against it and dropped to 271,000. A big smile broke out on Ni's face as he raked in the pot and climbed to 335,000 in chips. -- BK

12:45pm: Moneymaker takes feature table lead
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Chris Moneymaker raised to 18,000 from the button and Nadar Kakhmazov called from the big blind. The flop came 7♦T♣6♠ and Moneymaker thought.

"You must bet," Kakhmazov said.

"I don't have to bet," Moneymaker said. "No law that says I do."

Moneymaker bet 20,000 and Kakhmazov called.

"I was gonna check, you talked me into it though," Moneymaker said.


Chris Moneymaker: Good start

The turn brought a 4♦ and another check. There were no demands from Kakhmazov and Moneymaker checked behind. The river brought an 8♠ another check from Kakhmazov. Moneymaker, uncoerced, bet 66,000 and Kakhmazov folded.

Moneymaker took down the pot and took the feature table chip lead with 803,000. --AV

12:35pm: Zdanovskyi sears Chop
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Dmitry Chop has just lost a big portion of his stack after losing a race versus Yurii Zdanovskyi. Holding just 15 big blinds, Zdanovskyi shoved from the button with pocket fours and was called by Chop's A♣T♦.

The 2♥6♥7♣J♦7♥ board did Chop no favours and he's now in a critical state with 10 big blinds. Zdanovskyi more than doubles to 260,000. - RJ

12:30pm: "I have a flush," Said Butba
Level 19 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

He didn't actually say that. The guy's name is Said Butba. But he did have a flush, and he chose to play it cautiously.

It folded to Butba in the small blind and he completed, before Daniyar Aubakirov bumped up his big blind to 23,000. Butba made the call to see an 8♠A♥4♥ flop, which he then checked. Aubakirov continued for 8,000, and Butba tossed in the one big blind.

On the J♣ turn, Butba checked to the aggressor once again who continued for 26,000. The call was made.

The 8♥ river completed the board and put three to a flush out there. Butba (who, remember, has a flush), checks it to Aubakirov once again who fires for 40,000. Butba calls quickly - raising didn't seem to be a consideration - and Aubakirov was forced to show his 5♦6♥ for air. Butba turned over the T♥9♥ for the flush, and he took it down.

Butba is up to 265,000 now, while Aubakirov drops to 920,000. --JS

12:25pm: Moneymaker making rubles
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

Aces have been good to Chris Moneymaker, whether he has them or is playing against them.

The former WSOP Main Event champion scored two double ups with pocket aces last night, and he started off today by cracking them and scoring another big double up.

Seyed Ghavam raised to 17,000 from under the gun and Moneymaker called from the button. Nadar Kakhmazov called from the big blind and all three players went to the 6♦6♠3♠ flop.

Ghavam led the way for 22,000 and Moneymaker called. Kakhmazov folded and a 2♦ came on the turn. Ghavam opted for a check and Moneymaker bet 45,000. Ghavam raised to 130,000. Moneymaker thought for a bit and then moved all-in for 278,000. Ghavam called instantly and turned over A♠A♦. Moneymaker had a flopped set with 3♥3♣ and a 7♦ came on the turn to give him the double up.

Ghavam dropped to 302,000 while Moneymaker doubled to 662,000. --AV

12:20pm: Steady start
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

A cautions start on Table 1, for all but Yehor Filipenko. The Ukrainian moved in three hands in a row, from the button, the cut off and the hijack, without any interest. That nudged his stack up slightly though to about 130,000.

The stalemate didn't last long though. A hand or two later, after Dmitry Chop opened for 16,000 Lavrentiy Ni shoved for 81,000. Chop called and flipped up K♠T♥, but was out flopped and out-turned by Ni's K♥Q♦ on a board of 7♠Q♥7♥A♣5♠.


A double for Lavrentiy Ni

Ni doubles, Chop is chopped to about 200,000. - SB

12:15pm: ElkY cracks jacks
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

ElkY is one of the biggest names left in the field, and he's on his way to becoming one of the biggest stacks too. The Frenchman just eliminated Mikalai Vaskaboinikau to take his stack over the 800,000 chip mark.


Mikalai Vaskaboinikau: First out today

It was slightly fortuitous for Grospellier, his Q♦T♥ outgunning Vaskaboinikau's J♣J♥ by hitting a queen on the river. - RJ

12:05pm: Millionaire's playground
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (ante 1,000)

There are only two players who come into today's field with more than a million chips and, by a weird twist of seat-draw fate, they're both on the same table.

Chip leader Pavel Shirshikov has 1.604 million and he's sitting directly opposite Daniyar Aubakirov with 1.018 million. If these two get involved in a big pot then stand back - all hell might break loose. - RJ

11:45pm: Greetings once more from Sochi

We're back in Sochi for Day... where are we? Four! For Day 4 of the PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event. Yesterday a field was whittled down at speed to just 30, all of whom return today for a shot at the last 16.

I know what you're thinking - "30 to 16? That's not much!" and you'd be right. We're moving pretty quickly in Sochi. But the less time we spend focusing on Day 4, the more time we can spend looking forward to Day 5.

8G2A2536_Mountains_PCSochi2017_Neil Stoddart.jpgThere are mountains here in every direction

Like yesterday, and the days before that, play starts at noon. Getting down to 16 might take several levels, or it may take just one or two. One thing we can guarantee is fireworks of the indoor, poker kind. We've seen little tendency towards caution or restraint, and long may that continue.

Stay with us for live updates, while the PokerStars Live team will be broadcasting alongside. If you click here at sometime around 12 noon local time (10am UK, 5am ET) you'll go straight to the stream. Although let's be clear America, all this could be done before you wake up.-- SB

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PokerStars Blog reporting team in Sochi: Howard Swains, Jack Stanton, Ross Jarvis and Stephen Bartley. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog