PokerStars Championship Sochi: Lavrentiy Ni leads last six into final table

It proved to be another speedy day in Sochi.

The plan to reduce the remaining field of the PokerStars Championship Main Event from 16 to six took less than four and a half hours, and it leaves us with the prospect of an enticing finale tomorrow.

Lavrentiy Ni, a 28-year-old from Almaty, Kazakhstan, is leading the pack. He was the beneficiary of a three way all-in pot, winning most of the 2.949 million chips that he will carry into the final day. (You can read about that decisive hand in the live blow-by-blow action below.)

Ni's lead is narrow, though. He is just 35,000 ahead of Pavel Shirshokov, who sits with 2.914 million.

Lavrentiy_Ni_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgMain Event chip leader Lavrentiy Ni

Shirshokov has led the field for the past two days in the Main Event and showed little sign of losing any of that form.

Pavel_Shirshikov_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgPavel Shirshikov

Sayed Ghavam, who brought the day to an end by eliminating Daniyam Aubakirov, is the only other player with more than 2 million.

Seyed_Ghavam_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgSeyed Ghavam

Behind him are two Russian pros well suited to the business end of a major poker tournament. Vladimir Troyanovskiy bags up nearly 1.8 million tonight ahead of his countryman Dmitry Vivkind, who has more than 1 million. Both are among the most successful pros in Russia and would surprise no one tomorrow were they to go all the way.

Vladimir_Troyanovsky_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgVladimir Troyanovskiy

Dmitry_Vitkind_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgDmitry Vitkind

Timur Bubnov, a Vladivostok chocolate factory worker (seriously), returns as the short stack. There's a reference to a sweet finish to be made somewhere, or maybe "icing on the cake", but I'm not going to make it.

Timur_Bubnov_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgTimur Bubnov

Here's how they'll line up:

Seyed GhavamIran 21240001
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussiaPokerStars qualifier17910002
Pavel ShirshikovRussia 29490003
Dmitry VitkindRussia 10500004
Lavrentiy NiKazakhstan 29140005
Timur BubnovRussiaPokerStars qualifier7830006

The eliminations today began from right from the start. Mikhail Rudoy was the first to leave, running his fives into Bubnov's tens. Minutes later Chris Moneymaker was making his way to the rail after a bad river transformed his luck into the bad kind.

Chris_Moneymaker_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgMoneymaker kisses Shirshikov's head anyway

Having shoved with pocket sevens Aubakirov called with ace-ten. What's more Pavel Shirshikov admitted he'd folded tens, which promoted Moneymaker to call out to fellow Team Pro ElkY: "I'm gonna kiss his little bald head if this holds."

It held, but only to the river, where an ace ended Moneymaker's Main Event in 15th place.

There was a lot of play before the next elimination. That was when Junya Yamada busted against the ace-king of Dmitri Vitkind who found a king on the flop to beat Yamada's A♥8♦.

Junya_Yamada_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgJunya Yamada stands to await his fate

Vitkind continued to surge, sending ElkY to the rail next.

ElkY, making his second deep PokerStars Championship run of the year, busted in 13th place when his K♥9♠ was undone by Vitkind's Q♦T♣ when a ten hit the turn.

Elky_Mikhail_Rudoy_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgElkY shakes hands with Dmitry Vitkind

Then a flurry of eliminations came along which reduced the field to nine.

Vitaliy Li left next when he ran A♣K♣ into the pocket aces of Pavel Shirshikov. His expression when both an ace and a king landed on the flop spoke volumes for a man whose title dreams had come to an end.

Vitaliy_Li_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgA gracious departure by Vitaliy Li

Shortly after that Alexander Lakhov was on his way, running pocket eights into A♣K♣. The ace on the turn for Timur Bubnov sent Lakhov home in 11th place.

Alexander_Lakhov_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgAlexander Lakhov

Then that enormous three-way all in which turned Ni's tournament around, while ending that of Oleg Chebotarev. Ni's K♠Q♠ turned a flush to topple Chebotarev's A♣Q♣ and Nadar Kakhmazov's A♥Q♦. While that sent Ni up to more than 1.4 million, it put Kakhmazov on the critical list.

Oleg_Chebotarev_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgOleg Chebotarev fell victim to a three-way all in

That took the Main Event down to nine players, and more importantly one table. Shortly after play restarted Said Butba's day came to an end, leaving us with the official final table of eight. Butba shoved with king-queen but couldn't connect with anything on the board to beat Ni's pocket eights.

Said_Butba_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgSaid Butba

The chips counts showed Kakmazov as the short stack, largely a result of that three-way pot with Ni. Looking for a spot to shove he found a good one. He had pocket kings. He shoved, and Ghavam called with ace-queen. The kings were quickly dethroned by an ace and a queen on the flop. We were down to seven.

Nadar_Kakhmazov_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgNadar Kakhmazov in happier times

Needing one more elimination to wrap up the day it looked as though we'd be here for a while. The stacks were deep and nobody showed any sign of being in a hurry. But then a hand between Auberikov and Ni left the former will little more than ten big blinds, down from nearly 2 million earlier in the day.

Daniyar_Aubakirov_PCSochi2017_wrap.jpgDaniyar Aubarikov departed in seventh

He needed to act, and saw a lifeline with pocket queens. But sometimes it's the big hands that get you into trouble, and when he shoved Ghavam called with pocket kings. Ghavam made a set on the flop, but Auberikov had flush outs on the river, but nothing on the river. His departure in seventh brought play to an end.

We now wait for play to restart tomorrow at 1pm, with the "cards up" live stream starting at 2pm. You'll be able to follow all the action through to the finish on the PokerStars Blog.

For now you can find a full list of payouts by clicking here. We'll see you tomorrow. - SB

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Day 5 coverage archive

4:25pm: And we're done!
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

After less than five hours of play here in Sochi, we're done for the day. The premature end came about in a manner that no player at this final could have avoided: pocket queens versus pocket kings.

It was the promising Kazakhstan star Daniya Aubakirov, with the Q♦Q♣, and Seyed Ghavam who held the K♠K♦. Aubakirov was the player at risk and, after a K♣5♣2♠ flop, he was in critical condition. A 9♣ on the turn offered him a club-shaped lifeline, but when the river was the Q♥, his set wasn't good enough.

A full wrap of the day, and chip counts is coming soon. -- RJ


Daniyar Aubarikov's exit takes us to our final day

4:25pm: Bubnov jams on Aubakirov
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Daniyar Aubakirov attempted a pre-flop raise from the short stack but it didn't work out after Timur Bubnov had another idea.

Aubakirov made it 50,000 to go from early position but when it folded to Bubnov in the cutoff he moved all in for 725,000. With 418,000 behind Aubakirov decided against a call as Bubnov raked in the pot and climbed to around 840,000. -- BK

4:15pm: Ni wins the preflop war
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

There were almost as many bets as there are players at the final table.

Dmitry Vitkind raised to 52,000 from the cutoff and Lavrentiy Ni three-bet to 144,000 from the small blind. The big blind folded and Vitkind threw in a re-raise to 340,000. Ni looked down at his massive stack and then threw in a five bet to 813,000. That was good enough to take it down and Vitkind quickly folded.

Ni won that pre-flop war and chipped up to 2.89 million while Vitkind dipped to 1.24 million. --AV

4pm: Troyanovskiy ekes out some value
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Vladimir Troyanovskiy is a very good player. That's not exactly groundbreaking news but he just proved it once again in a well played hand versus Dmitry Vitkind.

Troyanovskiy called a raise preflop and check-called a bet on the 3♥3♠Q♣ flop. It then went check-check on the 5♦ turn before Troyanovskiy then bet 80,000 on the 7♥ river. Vitkind didn't look thrilled with the situation but called anyway.

Troyanovskiy showed down Q♥J♠ and, with that excellent river value bet, now moves up to 1.7 million. It places him third in the tournament. Vitkind has 1.59 million. - RJ

3:55pm: Aubakirov approaching danger zone
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Well the final seven players were all relatively deep but now Daniyar Aubakirov is down to just 16 big blinds.

He opened the cutoff for 50,000 and Lavrentiy Ni called on the button before the dealer spread a flop of 8♥7♥4♦. Aubakirov continued for 55,000 but Ni played back at him for 135,000. Aubakirov wasn't done, however, he put in a quick re-re-raise to 300,000.


Daniyar Aubakirov: Short now

Ni stuck around and the 4♥ paired the board on the turn. The action was checked through and the J♦ river card completed the board. Aubakirov picked up the lead again with a bet of 425,000 to leave himself with only 400,000 behind. Despite the display of strength Ni moved all in and was met with an immediate fold from Aubakirov.

That pot sees Ni climb to 2.626 million in chips. -- BK

3:45pm: Kakhmazov out, down to 7
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

There goes another one.

Our tournament short stack, Nadar Kakhmazov, found himself with pocket kings and was hoping for a double up.

Kakhmazov raised to 58,000 from the early position that hand and Seyed Ghavam three-bet to 131,000. Kakhmazov moved all-in for 379,000 and Ghavam called with A♠Q♣.


Nadar's nadir

Kakhmazov was looking to dodge an ace, but the Q♠2♥A♣ flop gave Ghavam an ace and a queen. Kakhmazov needed a king, but the 8♦ on the turn and 4♦ on the river were devoid of any royalty.


Seyed Ghavam: Chipping up

Kakhmazov hit the rail in eighth while Ghavam chipped up to 1.49 million. --AV

3:35pm: If you check-raise turn, turn, turn, turn, turn, tuuuuuuuuuurn
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

We know that Daniyar Aubakirov is aggressive, but this might have been his ambitious attempt at flexing his muscles yet.

Everything was progressing in a straightforward manner until the turn. Pavel Shirshikov had raised and bet the flop - Aubakirov had called and called. Then the turn came down making the board read 4♥2♥4♦K♣. Shirshikov continued to bet....and then all hell broke loose.

Aubakirov then check-raised to 305,000! It was a huge bet but the stakes were about to get even higher. Shirshikov looked down, thought it over and then slid out 575,000 for a rare double raise on the flop. The action was back on Aubakirov - did he want to play one of the biggest pots in the tournament so far?

The answer was no. Aubakirov folded his hand and Shirshikov continued his tremendous run today. He's now on 3.1 million while Aubakirov drops down to 900,000 but gains the love of neutral poker fans around the world. - RJ

3:25pm: Butba booted in ninth, official final table set
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (ante 3,000)

Said Butba moved all-in for 200,000 from early position and Lavrentiy Ni called from the cutoff. The rest of the table got out of the way and we got our first showdown at the unofficial final table.


Said Butba: Don't look back in anger

Butba turned over K♠Q♠ and Ni tabled 8♥8♣ for a race. The board came 3♦3♠T♣2♣2♦ and we got down to our official final table. Butba became our ninth place finisher and Ni chipped up to 1.85 million. --AV

3:15pm: Kakhmazov moves in
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

It was the first hand of the unofficial final table but that didn't seem to halt the action.

Timur Bubnov raised to 40,000 in the small blind before Nadar Kakhmazov shoved all in from the big blind for 276,000. Bubnov deliberated for around a minute before finally letting it go and Kakhmazov showed that he'd stuck it in with A♦K♠. -- BK

3:05pm: New seats
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

A couple of players scooted off before details of the redraw had been noted by tournament staff, but this is how we think they'll line up when they come back. There may be a couple of small errors:

1: Nadar Kakhmazov, Russia, 279,000
2: Timur Bubnov, Russia, 1,096,000
3: Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Russia, 1,595,000
4: Seyed Ghavam, Iran, 206,000
5: Pavel Shirshikov, Russia, 2,620,000
6: Dmitry Vitkind, Russia, 1,770,000
7: Daniyar Aubakirov, Kazakhstan, 1,557,000
8: Lavrentiy Ni, Kazakhstan, 1,600,000
9: Said Butba, Russia, 1,170,000

2:50pm: Last table
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

That rash of eliminations has taken us down to our last nine. They will redraw then reconvene around one table. Full details of the draw, and their stacks, are incoming.

2:45pm: Ni sends Cheboterev out and leaves Kakhmazov short
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

This hand started when Oleg Chabotarev shoved pre-flop for 317,000 under the gun. Lavrentiy Ni then went into the tank, as others at the table chatted about Pavel Shirshikov's previous winning hand.

Finally Ni, with 600,000 or so behind, shoved. Nadar Kakhmazov was next to him. He didn't fold immediately. Instead he moved all-in too.

Ni: K♠Q♠
Kakhmazov: A♥Q♦
Chaboterev: A♣Q♣


Lavrentiy Ni hits his flush draw

Kakmazov had both covered, but nobody felt particularly confident. The stood and waited for the board.


The flop had given Ni a flush draw, and the turn delivered it. That sent Cheboterev out, and reduced Kakmazov to 275,000. Ni meanwhile moves up to 1.4 million. He looked pretty happy about it. - SB


Oleg Chebotarev hits the rail

2:40pm: Lakhov out in 11th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

They're dropping like flies today. We have just lost Alexander Lakhov in 11th place. He was the loser in a pair versus over cards race against Timur Bubnov.

Lakhov had pocket eights, Bubnov had A♣K♣ and an ace on the turn was all she wrote for Lakhov.

Bubnov moves up to 890,000. - RJ

2:36pm: Vitaliy Li out in 12th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

Pavel Shirshikov nearly doubled up.

It was a massive preflop all-in and Shirshikov and Vitaliy Li were nearly even in chips. But Shirshikov had Li covered by a mere 10,000 chips, so instead of doubling, he knocked out Li and took the tournament lead.

The hand started when Shirshikov raised to 46,000 from the cutoff and Li three-bet to 120,000. Daniyar Aubakirov re-raised to 275,000, Shirshikov thought for a bit and then threw in a five-bet to 477,000.

Li moved all-in, Aubakirov got out of the way and Shirshikov called. Li turned over A♣K♣ and Shirshikov tabled A♠A♠.


Pavel Shirshikov knocks out Vitaliy Li

The 8♠K♦A♥ flop all but sealed the deal and then an 8♥ on the turn left Li drawing dead. The river was an inconsequential 5♥ and tournament staff counted out the big stacks: 1.15 million for Li and 1.16 for Shirshikov.

Li became our 12th place finisher while Shirshikov took over the lead with about 2.5 million. --AV


Vitaliy Li: Time to say goodbye

2:35pm: No Li way for Lakhov
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

Vitaliy Li is now up to 1.2 million after a hand against Alexander Lakhov.

Lakhov opened for 50,000 under the gun which Li, who wears his cap sideways, raised to 112,000. With the action folded back to him Lakhov called.

The flop came 7♣7♠2♥ which Lakhov checked. Li then made it 85,000 to play, forcing Lakhov to fold.

Lakhov, on 412,000, remains perilously short, while Li continues to build his stack. - SB

2:30pm: ElkY eliminated in 13th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

After Chris Moneymaker's early elimination there was only one Team PokerStars Pro left in the field. But now we're afraid it's our solemn duty to tell you that we now have none. Yes, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier has been eliminated just short of a PokerStars Championship final table again.

ElkY's demise came when he shoved K♥9♠ for seven big blinds into Dmitry Vitkind. He called with Q♦T♣ and all eyes were on the dealer.


The end of the road for ElkY

The 7♥8♦8♥ flop was encouraging for ElkY but a T♦ turn put signalled the end of the superstar Frenchman. His 13th place finish here echoes a heartbreaking 12th place finish in April at PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo.

Vitkind, meanwhile, is on a surge right now. He's up to 1.7 million. - RJ


Adios ElkY

2:25pm: Kakhmazov wins pot
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

Daniyar Auberkirov just lost a pot to Nadar Kakhmazov. Auberkirov opened for 40,000 on the button which Kakhmazov called from the big blind for a flop of 7♣8♣6♦ which was checked both ways.

On the A♠ turn Kakhmazov checked to Auberkirov who raised to 45,000. Kakhmazov called, and checked the Q♠ river. Auberikov tried again, betting 105,000 this time. Kakhmazov called.

Kakhmazov: 5♥8♦
Auberikov: 9♥3♥

Kakhmazov's eight was good. He looked around for a reaction. None came. - SB

2:15pm: Aces are kind to Vitkind
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

It takes a special hand to take on Vladimir Troyanovskiy in the form he's been in today. Luckily for Dmitry Vitkind he picked up the most special hand of all: pocket aces.

Vitkind three-bet a Troyanovskiy open to 130,000 and was called. He then bet 115,000 on the Q♦6♣8♣ flop and was called by the chip leader Troyanovskiy. It looked like a huge pot was in the offing but then both players checked down the 4♣ turn and J♠ river.

Vitkind showed his aces and it was the best hand. Troyanovskiy flashed a seemingly irrelevant king for good measure. Vitkind moves up to 1.49 million while Troyanovskiy drops to a still-massive 1.8 million. - RJ

2:10pm: Li V Ni
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Vitaliy Li has lifted his stack to over 1 million now after taking a pot from Lavrentiy Ni.

Li button-raised to 48,000 and Ni defended before the flop landed 7♥K♣Q♦. Both players then checked and the 8♦ arrived on the turn. Ni opted to lead out for 76,000 and Li made the call to see the J♠ river complete the board.


Vitaliy Li: Ace-queen

It went check check on the end and Ni flashed 7♦3♦ for a pair of sevens, no good against Li's A♣Q♦. Following that pot Ni drops to 770,000 in chips. -- BK

2pm: Shirshikov can't call Kakhmazov, Aubakirov closes in on 2 million
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

The secondary table hasn't brought us any eliminations this level, but it has given us a bit of action.

Pavel Shirshikov raised to 48,000 from under the gun and Nadar Kakhmazov called from the button. Alexander Lakhov was on the big blind and threw some chips in for a trip to the flop.


Outer table action

The flop came T♦A♦6♠ and Shirshikov bet 60,000 and Kakhmazov moved all-in for about 500,000. Lakhov got out of the way and Shirshikov folded an A♠ face-up. There was some discussion in Russian and Kahmazov chipped up to 720,000 while Shirshikov dipped to 1.05 million.

Then two of the bigger stacks collided, but decided to settle it pre-flop.

Daniyar Aubakirov raised to 45,000 from middle position and Lavrentiy Ni three-bet to 136,000 from the hijack. Action folded back to Aubakirov and he made it 280,000. Ni thought for over a minute and eventually let his hand go. Ni dropped to 900,000 while Aubakirov is now sitting with about 2 million. --AV

1:55pm: Yamada gone in 14th
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Japan's Junya Yamada was in the danger zone and needed to make something happen. So when chip leader Vladimir Troyanovskiy opened to 42,000 from the hijack, he jammed for 211,000 on the button.


Junya Yamada: Will his prayers be answered?

It then folded to Dmitry Vitkind in the big blind, and he re-shoved over the top for more than 700,000. Troyanovskiy folded and the cards were flipped.

Yamada - A♥8♦
Vitkind - A♠K♦

Yamada found himself dominated, and the K♥2♠3♦Q♣8♠ meant the best hand held up. Yamada made his exit, and Vitkind moved up to 979,000. --JS


Junya Yamada: The game is up


No hard feelings


Dmitry Vitkind: Moving close to 1 million

1:50pm: Big pot between the 'ovs
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

A big hand just played out between Auberkirov and Pavel Shirshikov that takes Auberikov up to more than 1.6 million.

Shirshkirov opened to 47,000 from the button which Auberkirov called from the big blind for a flop of 4♦5♣2♦.

Auberkirov bet 55,000, then called when Shirshkirov raised to 135,000. On the 3♣ flop another bet from Auberkirov, 225,000 this time which Shirshkirov called. Both then checked the Q♥ river.

Auberkirov showed 4♣3♠ for two pairs. No aces anywhere as Shirshkirov mucked. He drops to 1.25 million. - SBBig pot between the 'ovs
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

A big hand just played out between Auberkirov and Pavel Shirshikov that takes Auberikov up to more than 1.6 million.

Shirshkirov opened to 47,000 from the button which Auberkirov called from the big blind for a flop of 4♦5♣2♦.

Auberkirov bet 55,000, then called when Shirshkirov raised to 135,000. On the 3♣ flop another bet from Auberkirov, 225,000 this time which Shirshkirov called. Both then checked the Q♥ river.

Auberkirov showed 4♣3♠ for two pairs. No aces anywhere as Shirshkirov mucked. He drops to 1.25 million. - SB

1:45pm: Turning up the volume
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

Daniyar Aubakirov opened for 40,000 in middle position and got calls from Nadar Kakhmazov and Vitaliy Li in the big blind.

Kakhmazov is an imposing figure at the table, not for his stature necessary but for the noise coming from his headphones. We now all know the lyrics to whatever he's listening to, and the chorus was beginning to grate among staff.


Nadar Kakhmazov: Keep it down!

The flop came 6♥9♦9♥ which Li checked. Aubakirov bet 40,000 which Kakhmazov called before Li raised to 95,000. It was good to win the hand. The floor sheepishly approached Kakhmazov about the music. He complied with a groan. The dealer said, "Thank you." - SB

1:40pm: ElkY and Troyanovskiy tangle again
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

The two biggest names up on the feature table just won't leave each other alone.

This time ElkY opened to 40,000 from the hijack and Vladimir Troyanovskiy defended his big blind. They went to a K♠T♣8♣ flop and it checked through, leading to the A♥ turn. Troyanovskiy checked it, and ElkY made a delayed c-bet of 45,000. Call.

The A♣ river completed any flushes and paired the board. Troyanovskiy checked again, and the Team Pro fired for 85,000. That bet was called, and Troyanovskiy's A♦9♦ for trips was best against ElkY's K♣J♠.

ElkY is now playing 14 big blinds with a 287,000 stack, while Troyanovskiy is up to 2.1 million. --JS

1:35pm: Chebotarev chipping up
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

Oleg Chebotarev is battling back from the short stack after winning two hands in quick succession.

The first saw Chebotarev get a walk in the big blind before showing pocket sevens. In the second Daniyar Aubakirov raised to 40,000, Nadar Kakhmazov called on the button and Chebotarev moved all in for right around 300,000 from the small blind.

The shove got through and Chebotarev climbed to a new total of 410,000. -- BK

1:30pm: ElkY takes from Troyanovskiy
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 2,000)

ElkY has just chipped up a little courtesy of Vladimir Troyanovskiy's big stack.

Troyanovskiy opened to 45,000 from the cutoff and ElkY was his only caller in the big blind. The flop fell J♣4♠7♠ and it checked through to the 4♣ turn, on which ElkY led out for 55,000. Troyanovskiy made the call and we were off to a river.

The dealer laid the 5♠, putting three spades out there. ElkY fired again for 95,000 and got Troyanovskiy to fold. That brings ElkY up to 519,000, and leaves Troyanovskiy with 1.91 million. --JS

1:25pm: All chasing Troyanovskiy
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000)

They're heading into Level 22 now, with blinds at 10,000/20,000 (ante 3,000). Chip counts were updated in full at the break (on the chip-count page) and it's Vladimir Troyanovskiy at the summit now.


Vladimir Troyanovskiy: Chip leader

1:05pm: Pause the action

Players are now on the first 20 minute break of the day. -- SB

12:55pm: Kakhmazov falls further
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

It's been a bad end of the level for Nadar Kakhmazov, but a very good end for Daniyar Aubakirov. The latter opened to 32,000 in the hijack and was three-bet to 76,000 by Kakhmazov on the button. Back to Aubakirov, he four-bet to 176,000 and got a call.

The flop came 4♥K♥5♦ and Aubakirov continued for 75,000 which got a call, leading to the 3♠ turn. Aubakirov now checked, and Kakhmazov came in for a 230,000 bet.


Daniyar Aubakirov: Good end to the level

That wouldn't get too far though as Aubakirov then snap-shoved over the top. Kakhmazov had to fold and has left himself with 685,000, while Aubakirov is up to 1.41 million. --JS

12:50pm: What a difference a K makes
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Alexander Lakhov has been on a hot streak these past two hands. First he opened to 36,000 from UTG+1, and got one caller: Nadar Kakhmazov in the big blind. Lakhov had pocket queens (he showed afterwards) and put in a c-bet on a flop with three low cards. That took it down.

On the very next hand Lakhov was under the gun and this time he only opened to 35,000. Kakhmazov was his only caller again, this time from the small blind, and they went to a T♠Q♠2♠ flop. That checked through, and the 6♦ hit the turn.

Kakhmazov decided to lead out here fort 48,000 but Lakhov made a quick call to see the 8♣ river. Kakhmazov fired again for 78,000, and Lakhov snap-called. Kakhmazov showed the K♥J♥ for a busted up-and-down straight draw, but that was no good as Lakhov showed the A♠A♦.

Queens = 36,000. Aces = 35,000. What a difference a K makes.

Lakhov is up to 675,000, Kakhmazov is down to 1.085 million. --JS

12:45pm: A little less for Lakhov
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

It wasn't a happy fold for Alexander Lakhov. He grabbed his two cards and threw them into the muck after a the river put a straight on the board.

Lakhov started that hand with a raise to 35,000 from the hijack and Lavrentiy Ni called from the big blind. The 6♥9♥8♦ flop prompted a bet to 43,000 from Ni and Lakhov called. A 5♥ came on the turn and both players checked. That's when Ni bet 65,000 and Lakhov thought. He did think for long though and folded in frustration.


Lavrentiy Ni: Stacking chips

The hand put him down to about 400,000, but at least he got a small consolation pot the next hand. Lakhov raised to 36,000 the next hand and Nadar Kakhmazov called from the big blind. The flop came T♦5♥T♠ and Lakhov took it down with a c-bet. --AV

12:40pm: ElkY doubles!
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier is the last remaining Team PokerStars Pro in the field and, after winning a race, he's now got some chips to play with too.

Short stack ElkY shipped his remaining 11 big blinds into the middle from early position and found a willing caller in Said Butba. The cards were on their backs and ElkY had found a monster - A♦K♦ - but Butba had pocket tens to leave them virtually mathematically even heading to the flop.


ElkY: On the up

The K♣J♠Q♥ flop gave ElkY top pair and the 4♦6♦ turn and river saw him retain his lead in the hand and get a full double up. ElkY is now o n 396,000 while Butba drops just below that mark. - RJ

12:35pm: Butba bets on himself
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

When he's not making deep runs on the PokerStars Championship tour, Said Butba owns a sports betting company in his native Russia.

He's bet on himself this week and so far it's going very well. He just picked up a small pot against Seyed Ghavam to take his stack up to 492,000. - RJ

12:25pm: Like taking candy from a bubba
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Vladimir Troyanovskiy just won a monster 1,000,000 chip pot on the feature table to take the overall tournament chip lead. His victim was confectionery factory worker Timur Bubnov, who qualified for this tournament via a low-stakes PokerStars Spin & Go.

Bubnov opened the hand by raising to 33,000 on the button. Troyanovskiy defended his big blind. The 4♦6♠A♥ flop brought a bet from Bubnov and a check-raise from Troyanovskiy up to 85,000. It was called.

Troyanovskiy continued his aggression on the 4♣ turn, betting 112,000 and getting another call. The river was 9♥. Troyanovskiy bet one more time and Randy 'nanonoko' Lew, on commentary for the live stream, said it was very unlikely he was bluffing. Bubnov perhaps disagreed and made the call. However, Troyanovskiy flipped over A♦6♦ for a flopped two pair that was good.

Troyanovskiy moves up to 1.8m while Bubnov may be in need of some sugar after that one - he's down to 500,000. - RJ

12:20pm: Moneymaker makes his exit
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Chris Moneymaker was fortunate enough to get his money in the middle in a great spot but it wasn't to be for the Team PokerStars Pro as he leaves us in 15th place for ₽1,815,000 ($32,115).

8G2A3074_Chris_Moneymaker_PCSochi2017_30May17.jpgChris Moneymaker all in

Having started the day as a shortstack, Moneymaker ripped all in preflop for right around 150,000 and Daniyar Aubakirov made the call to put him at risk. Much to the surprise of the table Pavel Shirshikov folded pocket tens face up in the big blind before the cards went on their backs.

Moneymaker: 7♣7♦
Aubakirov: A♦T♠

Shirshikov's fold was great news for Moneymaker and he wasn't shy about letting everybody know.

"I just got lucky maybe," Moneymaker said before calling out to teammate Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier on the feature table. "I'm not home yet but I like my chances a lot more now."

Moneymaker faded danger through the 2♥2♠Q♦ flop and with two of Aubakirov's outs dead he was in excellent shape to double up.

"I'm gonna kiss his little bald head if this holds," Moneymaker said about Shirshikov next to him.

8G2A3117_Chris_Moneymaker_PCSochi2017_30May17_v2.jpgThe kiss and the little bald head

The J♣ turn brought a gutshot Broadway sweat but it was the A♣ on the river that saw Aubakirov take the lead to eliminate Moneymaker.

He departs as Aubakirov climbs to 900,000 in chips -- BK

12:15pm: Li ain't afraid of no chip leader
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

The very first hand from the outer table involved Vitaliy Li taking some much needed chips from the biggest stack in the room, Pavel Shirshikov.

The latter had opened to 32,000 on the button, which got Chris Moneymaker to lay down his small blind hand. Li then defended from the big blind, and the two went heads up to a 2♠J♦7♦ flop.

Li checked it, after which Shirshikov continued for one big blind: 16,000. Li made the call.

The turn was the 8♦, which put three diamonds on board. Interestingly, Li opted to lead out on this card for 35,000, leaving himself just over 200,000 behind. Shirshikov got the message and let his hand go. --JS

12:10pm: Rudoy doesn't last long!
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Mikail Rudoy will have come into today with hopes of running up his 337,000 stack. Sadly for Rudoy, those hopes lasted exactly one hand. After a raise from Timur Bubnov, Rudoy moved all in. It was quickly called by Bubnov.

8G2A3048_Mikhail_Rudoy_PCSochi2017_30May17.jpgMikhail Rudoy exits in 16th

The cards were on their backs and Rudoy needed help:

Rudoy: 5♠5♥
Bubnov: T♣T♦

The board ran out 9♥2♠7♠9♠Q♣ to eliminate Rudoy in 16th. Bubnov is now over 1,000,000. - RJ

12.05pm: Play starts
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (ante 2,000)

Cards are in the air. Here we go. -- SB

11.50am: Welcome back to Day 5

Welcome back to Sochi, or more specifically Krasnaya Polyana, about 30km from Sochi, along the river between spectacular woodland and mountain views, none of which we've seen. What we have seen, from the opulence of the also spectacular Casino Sochi is a field of 387 whittled down to a final 16, ten of whom will depart today as we seek our first Sochi final table.


Here's how the players will line up at the start in about ten minutes from now...

Alexander LakhovRussia 66900011
Pavel ShirshikovRussia 157600012
Chris MoneymakerUSATeam PokerStars Pro17700013
Vitaliy LiRussia 57400014
Daniyar AubakirovKazakhstan 96300015
Lavrentiy NiKazakhstan 91500016
Nadar KakhmazovRussia 127400017
Oleg ChebotarevRussia 44500018
Said ButbaRussia 58000021
Mikhail RudoyRussiaPokerStars qualifier33700022
Vladimir TroyanovskiyRussiaPokerStars qualifier120900023
Seyed GhavamIran 121400024
Junya YamadaJapan 46800025
Bertrand "ElkY" GrospellierFranceTeam PokerStars Pro18100026
Dmitry VitkindRussia 52200027
Timur BubnovRussiaPokerStars qualifier71000028

Pavel Shirshikov leads, just as he did the day before. We also have two Team Pros in Chris Moneymaker and ElkY still in the running. You can follow their progress, and that of everyone else, with our live updates. They'll cover every step of the day as we play down to six. You can also watch the action yourself on PokerStars Live. Clicking here will take you straight to the live stream. -- SB

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