PokerStars Championship Panama: What a fish! James Salmon leads Main Event

It's not as if it hasn't happened before, but goodness, it was impressive to watch what Igor Yaroshevskyy was doing here in Panama. He led both Day 1 flights by a country mile. He led at the end of Day 2 on the money bubble. After a full day of play where more than half of the remaining field was eliminated, the Ukrainian held the chip lead until there were only 30 minutes left in the day.

Then he lost it in a big way. A triple barrel bluff cost him half his stack and elevated James Salmon to the top spot on the board. Read what happened here.

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James Salmon

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Igor Yaroshevskyy

At the closing bell tonight Yaroshevskyy has 506,000 in chips and was forced to watch Salmon bag up what used to be his. Salmon has 1,020,000, good for the lead heading into Saturday's Day 4 action.

While that was the hand of the day, it will only get tougher from here. Throughout the afternoon, poker veteran JC Alvarado put on a clinic, taking his stack from 103,000 at the start of the day to 648,000 tonight. He's in third place right behind Germany's Robin Luca Wozniczek.

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JC Alvarado

We were also keeping a close eye on Tito Ortiz today. He played strong at the featured table all day long, but decided to make a stand from the small blind with king-queen late in the day. He ran into aces. Nevertheless, he managed a last-minute double up to finish with 117,000.

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Tito Ortiz losing

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Tito Ortiz winning

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And really happy about it


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It all happened on a day where more than 90 minutes burned off the clock while the field tried to eliminate seven players and hit the money bubble. Over the course of the afternoon and early evening, a great many notable players fell off the board. Among them were Davidi Kitai, Steven Thompson, Steve O'Dwyer, Jose Rosenkrantz, Erik Cajelais, Martin Finger, and Ari Engel. To see who made money and who did not, you can have a look at the PokerStars Championship Panama results page.

With only 30 left in the field and three days to eliminate all but one of them, tomorrow could end up being a short day. Play on Saturday is scheduled to last four levels.

It will all begin at noon Panama time (ET-1). We'll have live updates on that as well as some stories from the three-day High Roller scheduled to run from tomorrow until Monday.

If you are so inclined, you can recline and read back through all of our updates from the day by scrolling below. We'll be back tomorrow to do it again.

Until then, nighty night from Panama City.


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7:45pm: Day 3 done

We'll be back with a complete wrap-up of the action in a few minutes.

7:40pm: Palma dominated and busted
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Jeiko Palma almost made it to the end of the day. With just three hands left at his table, Palma moved all-in from the cutoff for 37,000. Luis Alejandro Mata called from the button and the blinds released.

Palma turned over A♣Q♠ and Mata had him dominated with A♠K♠. The 3♦9♥2♦8♥9♦ board was devoid of any queens and Palma hit the rail in 31st while Mata chipped up to about 320,000. --AV

7:38pm: Ortiz takes a big hit
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Tito Ortiz is down to 10.5 big blinds after losing a big pot to Roman Pavliuk. The latter opened to 15,000 from the hijack and Ortiz then three-bet to 30,000 from the small blind. "A rare Tito Ortiz three-bet," noted Matt Broughton in the commentary booth.

They'd soon need the four-bet klaxon as Pavliuk made it 60,000 to go. Ortiz swiftly jammed for a a little over 230,000 and Pavliuk called all-in for 168,000 total. Ortiz showed K♥Q♦ and he was in trouble as Pavliuk held A♠A♥. The 5♦8♣J♥ flop missed Ortiz, but he got a sweat on the K♠ turn. The 2♣ was a brick though and Ortiz dropped down to 65,000 as a result. --NW

7:36pm: Sudden action
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

The elimination of Taran Parmar leaped us over a pay-jump, and certainly broke some of the tension simmering still on Table 1. That's where a few short stacks have congregated, players who are certainly being a little, let's say, deliberate about their actions.

However as soon as Parmar was knocked out he came by the table in question, which was actually in the middle of a hand featuring the exceptionally short Jeiko Palma Kuzmicic, the pretty short Pedro Pollino and the quite short Harpreet Gill.

Pollino bet 18,000 at a board of 4♥Q♣6♥, Gill put in a raise to 37,000 and that won the pot.

On the next hand, Denis Timofeev opened to 15,000 and then Pollino moved all-in for 99,000. Timofeev folded. -- HS

7:32pm: Wozniczek knocks out Parmar
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Pablo Gordillo got things going with a hijack raise to 14,000, then Robin Luca Wozniczek made it 28,000 from the cutoff. That's when Taran Parmar pushed all in from the button for about 140,000, and the blinds folded.

Gordillo folded, too, but Wozniczek called in a flash and when he tabled A♠A♣ Parmar stood up.

"F*ck! I'm dead," he said with a big grin as he showed A♥Q♠. But the 2♦3♦4♣ flop meant he was still live and drawing for a chop, then the Q♥ turn even gave him a couple of outs to win.

The river was the 4♦, though, and Parmar is out as the remaining players reach another pay jump. With just a few hands to go, Wozniczek now is up to 710,000. --MH

7:26pm: De Benedictis hits a Greenstein
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Fabrice De Benedictis was down to 83,000 and put them all-in from the cutoff with A♠8♦. Robin Luca Wozniczek was on the big blind and called with T♣T♦. De Benedictis got saved on the river of a 2♣3♦6♣4♥A♥ board and doubled up to about 200,000 while Wozniczek dipped to 490,000. --AV

7:19pm: Meran Matias spikes the river
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

From early position Samuel Gagnon raised it up to 14,000, and he picked up calls from Allberto Meran Matias and James Salmon. The Canadian player c-bet 20,000 on the T♥3♣Q♥ flop and Meran Matias was the only caller.

The 9♣ hit the turn and Gagnon fired again. He bet 50,000 from his stack of 154,000, and Meran Matias smooth called again. The K♠ completed the board and both players checked it down. Gagnon turned over A♦Q♠, but Meran Matias had made two-pair with K♦Q♣. He's up to 401,000 while Gagnon is down to 104,000. --NW

7:18pm: Sapitavicius turns jacks into chips
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Taran Parmar raised to 15,000 from middle position, then Michael Lech three-bet to 38,000 from the button. The action got to Arunas Sapitavicius in the big blind, and he shoved all in for about 125,000 total. Parmar thought a while before folding, then Lech called.

Sapitavicius had J♦J♥ while Lech had A♥Q♦. The K♥2♠5♥K♦7♦ board kept Sapitavicius's jacks in front, and he now has about 290,000. Lech still has a healthy stack of 515,000 while Parmar is on 155,000. --MH

7:15pm: Minutes of our life we will never get back
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Suffice to say, JC Alvarado is a little peeved with a couple of his table-mates. He started off a little confused, then a little impatient and then, yes, a little peeved.

This was a really slow hand--unnecessarily slow in (at least) Alvarado's opinion--and it ended up going almost nowhere. To break with impartiality for a while, I'm going to say I think Alvarado had a point.

Aleks Dimitrov got things started with a raise to 13,000 from under the gun. Action folded fairly swiftly to Luis Mata on the button. Mata three-bet to 27,000.

The blinds got out of the way and the decision was back on Dimitrov. But absolutely nothing happened for at least three or four minutes. Alvarado, at the other end of the table, stared pointedly at Dimitrov, then at the clock, then at the dealer, then at Dimitrov. Eventually he said, "Do you know it's on you?"

Dimitrov, who had a stack of about 140,000 in front of him, indicated that he did indeed know it was on him. He then waited another minute or so, and that prompted Alvarado to call for a clock.

The tournament supervisor came over and read Dimitrov his rights. He had one minute, etc., etc.

Dimitrov sat motionless until he had ten seconds left, at which point the verbal countdown starts. Then nine. Then eight. Then seven. Then six. Then five. Then four. Then three. Then two. Then...he moved his tower of blue chips forward for an "almost" all-in raise.

Alvarado slammed a handful of chips down on the table and rolled his eyes.

It wasn't quite an all-in bet because Dimitrov still had one blue chip left behind the tower. But the table's torment still wasn't over.

Now Mata, who had had about six or seven minutes to prepare for this eventuality, went into the tank. After about 30 seconds, he asked for a count of the raise. Cue more eye-rolling. The dealer said that the total bet was now 134,000 (and that Dimitrov's spare 5,000 was not yet in play).

The tournament supervisor was still in attendance at the table, and quickly granted Alvarado's request for Mata to go on the clock. Mata motioned that he hadn't had that long to make his decision, but the supervisor countered that he had had plenty of time while Dimitrov was in the tank.

This time the countdown reached ten, then nine, then eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...and out. Mata's hand was dead. He keeps his stack of about 200,000, while Dimitrov adds 27,000 (and blinds and antes) to his.

The next player out gets $9,780, while the one after that gets $12,480. So there is a pay-jump for everyone to worry about but this was a little silly.-- HS

7:04pm: Breaking: Yaroshevskyy loses the chip lead
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

For the first time in forever Igor Yaroshevskyy has lost the chip lead and it happened it a monster pot under the bright lights of the TV table. The Ukrainian player opened to 14,000 from the hijack and James Salmon smooth called from the cutoff.

On the 3♥4♦K♥ flop Yaroshevskyy continued for just 12,000, Salmon raised it up to 28,000 and Yaroshevskyy then came over the top and made it 100,000 straight. Call from Salmon. The 2♣ fell on the turn and Yaroshevskyy was not slowing down. He bet 127,000 and Salmon, who had 367,000 back at this point, was not for shifting.

So there was now almost 500,000 in the pot and Salmon had but half that back. The T♦ hit the river and Yaroshevskyy emptied the clip. He set Salmon all-in and Salmon did not like it at all. He sat back in his chair and looked puzzled as to what to do. Eventually he decided to call and Yaroshevskyy mucked. Salmon showed K♣Q♦ for a great call. He'd been put to the test and passed it. As it was an all-in pot Yaroshevskyy's cards had to be turned over and it was revealed he had 8♦7♠.

After that pot Salmon as 979,000 - good for the chip lead - while Yaroshevskyy is down to 488,000. --NW

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Igor Yaroshevskyy

6:59pm: Big one for Timofeev
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Here's a big, last-level-of-the-day pot involving four players, starting with Aleks Dimitrov who raised to 13,000 from middle position. Jonathan Abdellatif was next up, and he three-bet to 40,000 from the hijack seat, with Luis Alejandro Mata calling from the button.

The action got to Denis Timofeev in the big blind who four-bet shoved all in for 257,000 total, then Dimitrov repopped it all in over that and after a bit of time both Abdellatif and Mata got outta there.

Timofeev tabled A♠Q♠ and had the edge over Timofeev who complimented Dimitrov's play as he showed his K♣8♣. The flop then came 7♣T♠9♣, giving Timofeev both straight and flush draws with two cards to come. The 8♥ turn kept Dimitrov in front, but the Q♣ river completed a flush for Timofeev and he survives winning a big one.

Timofeev climbs way up to 610,000 after all of that, and Dimitrov has 355,000. --MH

6:54pm: Koon drops some chips to Wozniczek
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Jason Koon was facing a tough river decision in a hand against Robin Wozniczek. He was faced with a bet of 38,000 and there was almost 70,000 in the pot. A full 7♦K♣K♥8♦7♣ board was on the felt and Koon was talking out loud. "Can you ever be bluffing?" he was saying.

He talked to himself a little more and then called. Wozniczek turned over K♦T♣ and Koon said, "You had me the whole way." He's down to 135,000, while Wozniczek is up to 425,000. --NW

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Jason Koon rocking the Sturgill Simpson shirt

6:53pm: Fonseca fails to survive
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Alberto Fonseca limped from the small blind and Robin Luca Wozniczek raised to 16,000 from the big blind. Then, at lightning speed, Fonseca four-bet, Wozniczek moved all-in and Fonseca called.

Fonseca turned over A♥J♦ and was flipping against Wozniczek's T♦T♥.

The 6♥9♣6♦2♣4♦ board fell in Wozniczek's favor and he eliminated Fonseca. Wait, no he didn't. The dealer counted out the stacks and it turned out Fonseca had Wozniczek covered. Wozniczek doubled to about 500,000 while Fonseca was left with 13,000.

Fonseca then lost those the following hand.

Michael Lech raised to 13,000 and Fonseca moved all-in from the button. Taran Parmar called from the big blind and the flop came J♥5♠4♣. Lech bet 10,000 and Parmar folded.

Lech turned over Q♠Q♦ and Fonseca showed A♠9♣. Fonseca was hoping for an ace, but the turn and river brought a 6♦ and 3♣ instead. That was it for Fonseca. --AV

6:49pm: One for the pocket fivers
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Here's news of a huge call from Jonathan Abdellatif that will have subscribers of a certain online poker community purring--and any poker lover applauding, no matter their affiliation.

Denis Timofeev, who has recently been moved into the main field from the feature table, opened from early position to 13,000. Pedro Pollino called from one seat along, and then Abdellatif called on the button. Those three players took to a flop of K♥K♠8♦.

Timofeev led out. He made it 17,000 to go. Only Abdellatif stuck around.

The dealer put the 7♣ on the felt on the turn and Timofeev increased his bet by a decent chunk. This time it was 55,000 to call. Abdellatif was fine with that. He called once again.

The K♣ fell on the river and Timofeev took a long time to ponder his options before opting for a bet of 135,000.

Abdellatif took a couple of minutes, but then made the call. He was instantly rewarded when Timofeev turned over his J♥2♥, otherwise known as an airball. Abdellatif exposed his 5♥5♦.

Pocket fives--Hello Adam! Hello Lance! Hello Kevmath!--were good. Abdellatif now has around 690,000 while Timofeev is down to 135,000. -- HS

6:42pm: Morales of the story: king-jack no good
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Arturo Morales is out, leaving this field without a representative from Costa Rica.

He got his last 70,000 in with K♥J♣ pre-flop and Kenneth Smaron gave him a spin with A♦2♦. The only board card that connected with any of them was the 2♣ on the turn. And that was the end of the road for Morales.

Smaron has around 490,000 now--and a pretty good stream of the basketball on his iPad to boot. -- HS

6:41pm: Lech picks off Koon
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Taran Parmar opened for 13,000 from the hijack seat, Jason Koon called from the cutoff, and Michael Lech called as well from the small blind.

The flop came 9♠6♥7♥. Lech checked, Parmar continued for 18,000, and both Koon and Lech called. All three then checked the A♠ turn.

The river was the 5♦, and after it checked around to Koon he bet 63,000. Lech thought for a while before calling, and Parmar tossed his cards away.

Koon showed he had bluffed with J♦T♦, and Lech turned over A♥Q♥ for aces to win the hand. "That makes me sad," said Koon. "That's the hand I thought you fold."

Lech is close to 700,000 now, while Koon is at 225,000 and Parmar at 215,000. --MH

6:37pm: Abdellatif continues to accumulate chips
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

It's been a decent start to the level for Jonathan Abdellatif. The Belgian eliminated his compatriot Davidi Kitai on the first hand back from the break and I just saw him win another pot. Denis Timofeev was the pre-flop aggressor in this one, he opened to 13,000 from the hijack and picked up calls from Abdellatif (small blind) and Jeiko Palma. So it was three-way to a 9♦2♠J♣ flop. All three players checked and the 3♦ fell on fourth street. Abdellatif led for 26,000 and Palma was the sole caller.

The K♥ river went much the same was as the flop and Abdellatif's Q♥J♥ proved the winner at showdown as Palma had missed his flush draw with A♦6♦. --NW

6:33pm: Moran makes an exit
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Jose Moran moved all-in for about 70,000 from early position and Roman Pavliuk re-shoved for about 200,000 from the button.

The blinds folded and Moran tabled A♥Q♠ to Pavliuk's T♦T♣.

The board ran K♦6♥6♦5♣6♣ and Pavliuk filled up. Moran was eliminated in 35th while Pavliuk chipped up to 280,000. --AV

6:29pm: Masis over Wozniczek
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Alberto Fonseca Masis raised from the small blind, Robin Luca Wozniczek three-bet from the big, Masis made it 61,000 to go, and Wozniczek called.

The flop fell 9♣3♥3♦, and Masis didn't wait long before pushing all in with his last 152,000. Wozniczek thought about a minute, then pushed his cards away with both hands to fold.

Both Masis and Wozniczek are right at 275,000 after that hand. --MH

6:23pm: Kitai's long grind comes to an end
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Davidi Kitai isn't exactly known for his ability to grind out a short stack, the man likes to play pots. However, he's been shortstacked for the last two days and has grinded in out admirably without ever getting his hands on anything resembling a playable stack.

He came into Day 3 as the second shortest stack in field yet climbed over more than one pay jump before his run came to an end. In his exit hand he shoved for 36,000 with K♥4♥ and Jonathan Abdellatif looked him up with A♠9♥. The Q♥2♦3♦T♥7♠ board couldn't save Kitai and he headed to the exit. --NW

6:10pm: Back for one last level
Level 17 - Blinds 3,600/6,000 (ante 1,000)

Players have returned for one last level today. The full counts for the remaining players are on the chip-count page. As you can see, that was a very good level for JC Alvarado. -- HS

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A man at peace with his thermos, JC Alvarado

5:50pm: Break time for 36
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

The end of the level has come. It comes to us all. Thirty-six players will take a 20-minute break before coming back to play the last 90 minutes of the day. -- HS

Taran's tale of four-deuce
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Alberto Fonseca Masis raised to 12,000 from the button and watched as Robin Luca Wozniczek called from the small blind, then Taran Parmar pushed all in for about 115,000 from the big blind.

Masis thought a bit then called, and after Wozniczek busted Parmar expressed dismay when he saw Masis turn over K♥Q♦.

"He called me with king-queen!" called Parmar across the room to a friend. "I have four-deuce! I wanted him to fold!"

Sure enough, Parmar had 4♠2♠ and a big grin on his face at situation. Others said how it was not such a bad spot for him with that hand, but he was still laughingly shaking his head when the flop came K♦2♣J♥.

"Oh f*ck!" he said. "I hit a deuce but he hit a king!"

The 8♥ turn left Parmar down to one card, then it came... the 4♣!

The table erupted, and Parmar let out a yell followed by a "sorry bro" to Masis who took it all in good spirits. Parmar bumps up to 220,000 on that one, while Massi is at about 240,000.

"I was gonna have to tell everybody what hand I busted with... I didn't want to have to say four-deuce!"

No, he won't. Instead, he'll have a much more fun four-deuce story to tell. --MH


5:45pm: Two in a row for Abdellatif
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Jonathan Abdellatif is a recent addition to Table 4 and while he's not been making any friends, he has been gathering chips. He three-bet to 35,000 over the top of Fabrice De Benedictis's opening raise and Benedictis, who is from Switzerland, decided to call.

The A♠5♣2♥ flop checked through and the 3♥ fell on the turn. De Benedictis check-called a bet of 29,000 and the J♣ filled out the board. Again De Benedictis checked and this time Abdellatif made him play for everything he had. Abdellatif moved all-in for an effective 90,500 and De Benedictis recoiled in the face of this aggression. He took his headphones off, that probably indicated this was a tough decision, and thought for some time before folding.

That pot took Abdellatif up to 330,000 and he put 11,000 of that stack to work on the next hand. Jeiko Palma called and Davidi Kitai did likewise. On the A♥9♥8♠ flop the action checked to Palam and he bet 12,000. Abdellatif was the only caller.

The T♥ turn checked through and the K♠ fell on fifth street. Abdellatif bet 35,000 and Palma insta-called. Abdellatif rolled over K♥9♦ and it was the winner. He's playing a stack of 425,000 now. --NW

5:40pm: Duarte doesn't fool Alvarado
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Luiz Duarte hoped the board was scary enough to run JC Alvardo off on the river. With 3♥K♣K♠[7]dJ♠ sitting in front of him, Duarte pushed his last 115,500 into the middle. Alvarado didn't make the quick call. If he called and was wrong, it would cost him around 1/3 of his stack. After thinking it through, Alvarado decided he was good. He was right. He had A♣J♣, good enough to beat Duarte's Q♦T♥. Duarte is now gone. --BW

5:35pm: The right side of the cooler to be on
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

We're not sure of the exact betting action, but Felix Bleiker was all-in for around 225,000 and Vincent Allevato was the player who was looking to knock him out. The reason for this huge pot soon became clear. Allevato had A♦A♥ and Bleiker held K♣K♠.

The 8♣A♠Q♣6♥4♥ board only strengthened Allevato's holding and he was pretty pumped at winning such a big pot. By the time the river was dealt he'd already gone across to another table to tell Anthony Diotte about the hand. He's up to 650,000 now. --NW

5:30pm: Gordillo takes out Tamrakov
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

After a Mark Radoja hijack open to 11,000, Pablo Gordillo three-bet to 33,000 from the next seat over. Action on Kliment Tamrakov on the button, he pushed all-in for 86,500, and both the blinds and Radoja stepped aside.

Gordillo called, however, turning over A♠7♠ while Tamrakov showed J♦J♠. The A♦2♣5♦ flop swung the advantage Gordillo's way, and he stayed in front through the K♥ turn and 3♦ river to send Tamrakov out in 39th place.

After the hand Radoja remarked he would have made a flush with those diamonds on the board, and it sounded like Gordillo asked him if he'd have called had Tamrokov not gotten involved.

Radoja nodded. "I don't fold to three-bets," he said, and both laughed.

Gordillo has 428,000 now with which to contend with Radoja on his right. --MH

5:25pm: Tito update
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

If you want to know how Tito Ortiz is faring today, tune in to PokerStars Live, where he is currently mixing it up on the feature table. It's a little difficult for us to keep tabs on that table as well as the others, but occasionally we can dip in.

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Tito on the TV

Just recently, Ortiz played a pot of more than 170,000 but it went to James Salmon. Salmon bet 74,000 at the river, with the board showing T♥4♥K♦6♣4♣ and Ortiz folded.

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James Salmon: Fought Tito and won

Salmon has moved up beyond 400,000 now. Ortiz still has 374,000. -- HS

5:20pm: Koon bounces Blanco
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Jason Koon came in for a raise to 12,500. Lucas Blanco considered the bet an the moved all-in for a little more than 100,000. He had barely touched his chips before Koon had called and flipped over K♦K♠. Blanco only had pocket sevens. He missed the board entirely and was soon gone in 40th place. Koon is now up to 390,000 having started the day with seven big blinds. --BW

5:20pm: It's a Gill game
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Play had slowed at Harpreet Gill's table until he open-raised once and got no callers, then did so again from the cutoff for 104,500 and got a customer in Arunas Sapitavicius from the blinds.

Gill had A♣J♦ and needed the board to improve his hand to beat the 6♥6♦ of Sapitavicius. The A♥Q♦5♦ flop did just that, giving Gill a pair of aces, and after the 5♠ turn and K♠ river he'd survived with a double-up.

Gill has 218,000 now, while Sapitavicius has 255,000. --MH

5:15pm: Mind games
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Taran Parmar looked pained.

He was grabbing his head and sighing. In a very John Nash fashion he started moving his hands around and mumbling calculations. He knew there was about 70,000 in the pot and a T♥7♦A♥K♥7♣ board in front of him. He knew that Jason Koon, the only other player in the hand, had just bet 47,000, but he couldn't figure out what he had.

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Taran Parmar: Pained

He kept on running different scenarios in his head until Lucas Blanco called the clock.

"I just don't know what you have," Parmar said.

Maybe the curiosity was too great or maybe he thought he had Koon beat, but Parmar eventually called. Koon turned over Q♦J♦ and Parmar shook his head and mucked.

His mind was still on that hand even as a new one was dealt.

"Check, check on the turn," Parmar said, partly to Koon but mostly to himself. "Bet the flop. I thought you thought I might try to steal."

But Koon had the straight and chipped up to 270,000 while Parmar dropped to 120,000. --AV

5:10pm: Adios to Adrien Allain
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

I picked up the action on a 8♣K♠T♠ flop to see Michael Lech (small blind), check the action over to Adrien Allain (hijack). Allain bet 17,000 and Lech called. On the 2♥ turn Lech checked again and Allain, the EPT12 Grand Final runner-up, bet 23,000 and once more Lech made the call.

On the 9♥ river Lech had the opportunity to complete a hat-trick of check-calls as when he checked for a third time Allain shoved all-in for 145,000. Lech only had 170,000 himself and his facial gestures indicated he had a pretty tough decision on his hands.

A couple of minutes passed and Lech made the call. Allain despondently flipped A♠Q♥ and Lech showed K♦7♦ to take the pot. He's up to 430,000 now. --NW

5pm: Veni Davidi vici
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Davidi Kitai was one of the especially short stacks at the time of the bubble bursting. And to provide an update on the Belgian player, his situation has remained largely unchanged ever since.

Just now he open-raised his short stack twice -- first from the button, then from the cutoff -- and earned folds in both cases. Those blinds and antes put him just over 70,000 right now.

He's come and conquered 320-plus players so far. Just 40 more to go. --MH

4:58pm: Garg! He's gone
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

It was a flop of 4♣7♣8♠, and JC Alvarado's bet (which went unrecorded due to the speed at which it all played out) seemed pretty confident. Lokesh Garg apparently didn't read it that way, because he decided to bluff at it. He moved all-in and got a quick call from Alvarado.

"I have nothing," Garg said. "I need a six."

Garg had A♥5♠. He had seven outs to try to beat Alvardo's red kings. He didn't get there, and Garg was gone. Meanwhile Alvardo is up to 450,000. --BW

4:55pm: Allevato: $&*#*&! Oh, nevermind
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Vincent Allevato had come in for raise to 16,500, and Lucas Blanco re-raised to 59,500. Allevato thought for a moment and then announced he was all-in. Blanco snap-called with a single chip. When he flipped over his cards, Allevato uttered an expletive usually reserved for less family-friendly venues. He only had A♦J♦. It was going to cost him all of his 200,000+ stack.

Until that J♦ hit on the turn. Cancel the expletive!

It cost Blanco all but 165,000 of his chips. Meanwhile Allevato is sitting on around 450,000 now. --BW

4:50pm: Lebedev leaves
Level 15 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Mark Radoja has increased his stack -- and decreased the field size -- after knocking out Sergey Lebedev.

Lebedev's last-stand hand was K♥J♠ while Radoja had A♥J♦, and after the board went Q♥Q♠A♣5♠6♦ Radoja had two pair and a winner, sending Lebedev to the exit.

Radoja is at 318,000 with that pot. --MH

4:45pm: Yaroshevskyy doubles one up
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Igor Yaroshevskyy can lose a hand, it's true, we saw it.

Samuel Gagnon moved all-in for 33,000 from the hijack and Yaroshevskyy called from the big blind. Gagnon turned over J♦6♦ and Yaroshevskyy showed 7♦8♠.

Yaroshevskyy surprisingly didn't hit quads or a full house on the 3♦T♦9♠ flop, but he did hit an open-ended straight draw. Yaroshevskyy wouldn't hit it though. The turn brought a T♥, and a K♠ completed the board.

Gagnon doubled to 70,000 while Yaroshevskyy dropped to about 980,000. --AV

4:42pm: Bleiker gets a boost
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Kenneth Smaron has been driving the action at his table. He's been involved in a fair few pots. In the current orbit I'd seen him three-bet squeeze and have to fold to Mark Radoja's shove and win a pot on the river against Michael Lech.

On the next hand he opened to 10,000 from under the gun, Felix Bleiker then shoved for 107,000 and Smaron instantly called. He rolled over J♣J♥ and was ahead of Bleiker's A♥6♥. The 5♥8♥9♣ flop gave Bleiker a decent shout in the hand. The Q♦ turn was a brick but the 4♥ river kept him alive.

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Kenneth Smaron

He's up to 227,000 while Smaron drops to 499,000. --NW

4:41pm: Wozniczek punches out Ponomarev
Level 15 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Dmitry Ponomarev is out, having lost the last of his chips following a pre-flop all-in clash with Robin Wozniczek.

Ponomarev had 9♥9♦ and Wozniczek A♥K♥, and the 7♦2♣A♠2♥6♠ gave Wozniczek the better two pair to send Ponomarev railward.

We recall Wozniczek as a player who was pushing all-in during the very first level of his Day 1 flight after becoming super short, super early. Now, though, he's sitting comfortably in the money on Day 3 with a stack of 415,000. --MH

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Robin Wozniczek: From short stack to the money

4:40pm: Lokesh Garg, slayer of kings
Level 15 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Following a Pedro Romanzo Pollino bet of 20,000 on a 8♠8♦9♦ board, Lokesh Garg pushed all in with his last 85,000 and Pollino called.

Pollino had K♣K♥ and was ahead while Garg was drawing to a flush with K♦Q♦. The 5♠ turn kept things as they were, but the 3♦ fell on the river and the spoils went to Garg.

Garg is up to 272,000 now while Pollino is at 255,000. --MH

4:35pm: Gruber out on a turbulent river
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Rivers have been rough on short stacks today.

Adrian Gruber moved all-in for about 65,000 with Q♣Q♦ and Lucas Blanco called with A♣Q♠. The T♦K♠4♦ flop was devoid of any aces, but it did give Blanco a straight draw. The turn brought another K♦ and Gruber was hopeful the river would be free of any unpleasantries.

It wasn't.

A J♥ completed the board and Blanco's straight. Gruber was eliminated in 47th place while Blanco chipped up to 385,000. --AV

4:25pm: No luck for the Irishman; O'Dwyer out
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Steve O'Dwyer flies an Irish flag beside his name on the poker databases, but on this St. Patrick's Day, the luck of the Irish was nowhere to be found.

Alexandre Viard started the mess by moving all-in for 60,500. Bulgaria's Aleks Dimitrov kept it going by simply calling. Play folded around to O'Dwyer who moved all-in for 186,000. Dimitrov wasted little time in calling.

Viard: 7♦7♠
Demitriov: Q♣Q♦
O'Dwyer: A♣K♦

O'Dwyer couldn't pair up, but Viard spiked his seven on the river, thus tripling up to more than 180,000. Meanwhile, Dimitrov took the sizeable side pot and is sitting on around 300,000.--BW

4:15pm: Back to it
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (ante 500)

Forty-eight players are returning to play Level 16, but 47 of them can be forgiven for feeling slightly despondent. Igor Yaroshevskyy now has more than 1 million chips while his closest challenger, Denis Timofeev, has 585,000. Full details of this one-man show are on the chip-count page.

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The unstoppable Igor Yaroshevskyy

3:59pm: 20-minute break

Players are on their second 20-minute break of the day. They will return to play two more 90-minute levels. --BW

3:58pm: Another river good to Thompson
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

A little while ago after the bubble burst Steven Thompson was all in and at risk and behind until a lucky river card saved him. Well, in the last hand of Level 15 he's done it again, this time versus Dmitry Ponomarev.

Thompson had A♥T♦ this time versus his opponent's K♠J♠, and after the 9♥Q♥6♠ flop and K♦ turn Ponomarev was ahead with a pair of kings. But fifth street was the J♥ -- two pair for Ponomarev and a straight for Thompson, and the latter survives again.

Thompson has about 120,000 going to the break, which is about what Ponomarev has as well. --MH

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Steve Thompson

3:55pm: Morales doubles
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Arturo Morales has doubled, getting his last 50,000 or so in after a flop of T♥8♠4♠. Jason Wheeler called. Wheeler had Q♣9♣ but Morales had A♣J♥ and the K♥ and 4♦ on turn and river changed nothing.

Morales is up to 121,000. Wheeler has 195,000. -- HS

3:53pm: Alex vs. Aleks
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Alexandre Viard was down to his 23,000 and moved them all-in from the button. Aleks Dimitrov re-raised to 37,000 and Steve O'Dwyer, who'd raised to 9,000 from the hijack, folded.

Dimitrov turned over A♥T♣ while Viard showed T♦T♥. The J♦5♦4♣Q♦2♣ board didn't bring an ace and we saw no elimination. Viard doubled to 65,000 while the hit put Dimitrov at 230,000. --AV

3:51pm: Rosenkrantz is dead
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Jose Rosenkrantz needed to get lucky because he'd gotten unlucky. He didn't.

He'd committed his final 25 big blinds from the big blind with T♦T♥. He'd jammed over the top of Caufman Talley's small blind open. He could reasonably have expected his tens to be good here, but Talley had him pipped with pocket jacks.

The 2♥A♣A♥7♥4♠ board didn't bring him a reprieve and the Costa Rican headed to the payouts table. Talley is up to 330,000. --NW

3:48pm: Mata-game
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

An interesting three-way pot developed between Luis Alejandro Mata (big blind), Luis Duarte (cutoff) and Lokesh Garg (button).

Mata checked after a 8♥Q♥K♣ flop and Duarte bet 12,000. Garg made it 28,000 to go, Mata called, and so did Duarte. But then after the T♥ turn Mata pushed for 40,500, and neither Duarte nor Garg had enough with which to continue and they each folded.

All three have similar stacks now, as Duarte is on 175,000, Mata 165,000, and Garg 160,000. --MH

3:44pm: Perez perishes
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Luis Perez is out in 53rd, moving all-in for his last 20,000 with K♥9♣ but finding Lucas Blanco behind him with A♣Q♦.

The board ran J♣T♦7♠2♥A♠ and Perez rapped the table in appreciation of a game well played as he headed to the cash-outs table. He will eventually find $7,720 in his bank account. -- HS

3:41pm: Pouliot sent to the rail
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

By our count there are just two Panamanian players left in this tournament and one female player. Sitting in the cross section of that particular Venn Diagram is Jessica Perez Borrego. She's got a top five stack as well, because she just accumulated the chips of Serge Pouliot.

Pouliot, who is a Canadian PokerStars qualifier, opened to 10,000 from under the gun and Perez Borrego three-bet to 25,000 out of the small blind. Pouliot announced he was all-in, for about 155,000, and Perez Borrego quickly called.

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Jessica Perez Borrego: The happy centre of a Venn diagram

She turned over K♦K♠ and Pouliot showed A♦Q♠. The J♥6♠2♠7♣9♠ board didn't bail out Pouliot and he was done. Perez Borrego now has around 440,000 to her name. --NW

3:38pm: Lebedev staying alive
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Sergey Lebedev got his last 31,150 in the middle with T♠7♠ and experienced PokerStars Blog readers will already know that he ends up getting a double up. The specificity of that chip count suggests his opponent, in this case Mark Radoja, needed to know exactly how much it was in order to pay him off.

Radoja called the shove with 3♠3♦ and a stack of more than 220,000. But the 7♣ on the turn of an otherwise uninteresting board meant Lebedev breathes again. -- HS

3:36pm: Abdellatif sacks Sanchez
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Yobrahin Sanchez moved all-in for about 50,000 with A♦J♥ and Jonathan Abdellatif called with J♣J♠.

The T♦K♥6♠ flop added some outs for Sanchez, but he wouldn't hit any of them. The turn brought a 4♠ and the river was a 4♦. Sanchez hit the rail in 54th while Abdellatif's stack grew to 310,000. --AV

3:32pm: Kaverman hits one-outer, continues bad day for Talley
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Caufman Talley looked down at a stack of around 170,000 and said, "We're running bad."

He might have said that earlier, when the overnight seat draw landed him on the table with the only player who could eliminate him. However it's actually since that table broke, separating him from Igor Yaroshevskyy, that things have got even worse for Talley.

He just lost a big pot to Byron Kaverman, doubling up Kaverman in the process. If another player at the table is to be believed, Kaverman hit a one-outer to survive and take a chunk of Talley's chips.

No one is to blame. The hands played themselves. Kaverman had 9♣9♥ and three-bet jammed from the big blind for 110,000 after Talley opened the button. Talley called with K♦K♣.

The board brought the 9♦ and nothing else dramatic, which was the gin card for Kaverman. "I folded eight-nine!" Harpreet Gill said.

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Byron Kaverman extending his stay

Kaverman, who was a super short stack on the bubble, now has about 250,000. Talley has less than half of what he started with today. -- HS

3:31pm: Gonzales downed by ducks
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

JC Alvarado raised to 5,000 from the hijack and got a couple of callers, then Jose Gonzales reraised all in to 35,500 from the big blind. Alvarado called the push and the others got out, and Gonzales showed A♣7♥, seeing he had two live cards versus Alvarado's 2♦2♥.

The board didn't hit either of those live cards, though, coming J♥6♠4♦4♠5♣, and Gonzales is out. Alvarado has 184,000. --MH

3:30pm: Abdellatif wins the one that matters
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

It was a rollercoaster five minutes for Jonathan Abdellatif who lost one hand and won another. The good news for followers of the Belgian players is that he won the bigger of the two pots.

In the first of the two hands Jose Moran Guzman jammed all-in for 38,000 with A♦J♦ and Abdellatif gave him a spin with A♣T♣. The Mexican made the nut flush by the river of a 6♥Q♣K♦2♦5♦ board.

Then Abdellatif got involved in a big pot against Sergey Lebedev. We missed exactly how the chips went in but the Belgian held K♠K♦ and Lebedev pocket queens. Both made sets on the 4♦K♥4♠Q♥A♠ board but Abdellatif's was better. He got a full double and was all-in for 131,000. Lebedev was left with around 35,000 after that hand. --NW

3:28pm: Cajelais latest casualty
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Erik Cajelais is out, having pushed his last 30,000 or so in behind Q♥8♣ and then watched Jose Moran Guzman push all in behind him with A♦K♦ to scatter the field.

The board brought five low cards -- 3♠3♥5♦6♣6♠ -- and Cajelais is out. Guzman has about 125,000 now. --MH

3:25pm: Thompson back to five figures
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Vincent Allevato raised to 9,500 from the hijack and Dmitry Ponomarev called from the cutoff. Steven Thompson did the same from the small blind and Alberto Fonseca called from the big blind.

All four players checked the 5♣J♦J♠ flop and a 4♠ came on the turn. Action checked to Thompson and he bet 9,500. Only Ponomarev called and a 3♥ completed the board. Ponomarev bet 30,000 when checked to and Thompson called after some thought.

Ponomarev showed J♣9♣ for trip jacks and Thompson folded. The pot put Ponomarev up to about 165,000 while Thompson dipped to 87,000. --AV

3:24pm: Yaroshevskyy dents O'Dwyer
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

A sizeable pot just played out between Steve O'Dwyer and Igor Yaroshevskyy and even the great O'Dwyer is, it seems, unable to halt the unstoppable force that is Yaroshevskyy.

The Irishman opened from early position to 9,000 and picked up three callers. On the 2♠3♠T♥ flop O'Dwyer c-bet and Yaroshevskyy was the only caller. The 5♥ turn didn't slow O'Dywer down, he bet 34,000 and Yaroshevskyy stuck around. The [4]s river completed the flush draw and put four to a straight on board. O'Dwyer checked it over to Yaroshevskyy and folded when the Ukrainian bet 47,000.

After that hand Yaroshevskyy climbs to 94,000 and O'Dwyer is down to 125,000. --NW

3:16pm: Cajelais gets Lebedev-eled
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Sergey Lebedev raised to 9,000 from middle position, leaving himself 70,000, and it folded to Mark Radoja in the small blind who called. Erik Cajelais then checked his hand in the big blind and announced he was reraising all in, and Lebedev called immediately to put himself at risk while Radoja stepped aside.

Lebedev had the hand you want in such a spot -- A♣A♥ -- while Cajelais held K♦Q♥. The flop was seven-high and the turn a six, meaning Lebedev had locked up the hand even before the river was dealt.

Put Lebedev on 178,000 now, while Radoja has 245,000. Meanwhile Cajelais slips to just under 30,000. --MH


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Erik Cajelais

3:15pm: Kings beat the quads that never were
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Alberto Fonseca didn't like it. He took a deep gulp. But then he called for his tournament life. He was right.

Fonseca opened to 10,000 from UTG+1 and picked up three callers: Adrian Gruber in the cutoff, Dmitry Ponomarev in the small blind and Lucas Blanco in the big blind. Might as well tell you now, Fonseca had pocket kings, so can't have been delighted to see this many opponents.

That probably went double when he saw the flop. It came Q♥T♥T♣. All four players checked.

The 8♠ fell on the turn and Ponomarev checked. Blanco bet 29,000 and Fonseca now had his first decision. He opted to call and re-evaluate on the river. (Gruber and Ponomarev folded.)

The T♦ popped out, filling Fonseca's boat but potentially keeping any ten ahead. Blanco then opted to move all-in, covering the 50,000 or so Fonseca had back.

That's when Fonseca gulped. But, credit to him, he didn't take very long at all over his decision to call. Blanco showed Q♦2♠ (again, a hand that had played itself) but the K♣K♦ was still best.

Blanco was left with 205,000. Fonseca's all-in call was 71,000 so he has about 250,000 now. -- HS

3:14pm: Easy come, easy go for Kudrjavcevs
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Eduards Kudrjavcevs was involved in two all-in pots in a row on table seven, winning one and losing the second. In the first Karim Zerzour shoved for 23,500 with 9♣9♦ and Kudrjavcevs, who was in the big blind, had an easy call with J♣J♠. The Latvian flopped a set of jacks and there was no miracle runner-runner for Zerzour.

On the next hand it folded to Kudrjavcevs in the small blind and he set Jason Koon all-in for the American's final 31,000. Koon took a look at his cards and then called with A♣6♥. Kudrjavcevs was live with T♦5♣ but the 3♠Q♠A♥7♥4♦ board kept Koon in front and he doubled. --NW

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A timely double for Jason Koon

3:08pm: O'Dwyer runs into quads
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Steve O'Dwyer fired a bet of 45,000 on the river with the board showing 6♣A♠6♠8♦6♦. It was a decent-sized bet relative to the pot, almost matching it.

Vasyl Vertianov then took a moment to count out chips and raised to 120,000. That provoked a slight smile from O'Dwyer, who after studying a few seconds said "call."

Vertianov turned over T♥6♥ for quads, and O'Dwyer grinned again, nodding as he mucked.

Vertianov has around 440,000 now while O'Dwyer has 150,000. --MH

NEIL9407_Steve_O'Dwyer_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Steve O'Dwyer

3:07pm: Phillips out
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

They just keep dropping.

Michael Phillips was down to just a few big blinds and put them all-in with Q♠2♦. Kenneth Smaron called with 8♣8♦ and stayed in the lead after the board came 3♠2♣K♠K♦9♠.

Smaron absorbed Phillips's tiny stack and chipped up to 430,000 while Phillips finished exited the tournament in 60th. --AV

NEIL9441_Kenneth_Smaron-_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Kenneth Smaron

2:56pm: Kitai resurgent
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Davidi Kitai showed extreme patience in the pre-bubble period to stick around with a frankly insulting number of chips. But has patience paid off in fairly dramatic fashions as he has recently found back-to-back-back doubles and may yet prove a threat.

Double 1: Kitai open-jammed less than 10,000 with Q♠7♥ and Pedro Pollino called with A♣J♥. The board ran 9♣3♦Q♥Q♦7♦ to give Kitai a full house and 21,000 chips.

Double 2: Kitai was in the small blind and, after JC Alvarado opened the button to 10,000, Kitai moved all-in for 19,500. Alvarado called with A♦8♦ but Kitai's A♠J♠ survived all sweats through a board of 2♠K♣6♦5♦5♠.

Double 3: Kitai was now in the cutoff and Alvarado opened to 9,000. Kitai shoved for 45,500 and Luiz Duarte called in the big blind. Kitai this time had Q♦Q♠ and was not outdrawn by Duarte's 8♥8♣.

And with that, Kitai is back in six figures. -- HS

NEIL9461_Davidi_Kitai_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

2:53pm: Yaroshevskyy-ing ahead of the field
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

There was a fresh round of chip counts at the recent break, so we knew already just how much Igor Yaroshevskyy had then.

As the field shrunk to 64 Yaroshevskyy's table broke, and while most players did fine with a single rack, he required no less than four to transport all of his chips.

That also gave us a chance to count Yaroshevskyy's chips once more. He was nearing a million at the break, though now has just over 890,000. --MH

2:52pm: Lucky sevens
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Daniel Ades moved all-in for 30,000 from middle position and Alberto Fonseca called from the cutoff. Ades turned over Q♥J♣ and Fonseca showed 7♦7♣ for a flip.

There was a jack in the window for Ades, but then Fonesca hit a seven on the river of a 3♦A♠J♠2♠7♠ board.

"That was the seven from yesterday," Fonseca told Steven Thompson. Apparently Fonseca had gone all-in with pocket sevens against pocket tens yesterday and hit a seven. Fonseca is now up to 130,000 while Ades hit the rail in 65th. --AV

2:51pm: AA finds KK and doubles 77K
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Adrian Allain, who was runner up to Jan Bendik in the last EPT Grand Final in Monaco, remains in contention to become the second PokerStars Championship champion.

"Back in the game," Lokesh Garg said after sliding 77,000 of his chips in Allain's direction, the result of a double up.

Garg opened the pot from early position, making it 11,000 to play. Robin Wozniczek called from a couple of seats along, then Allain squeeze-shoved from the big blind for 77,000 total.

Garg called and Wozniczeck quickly folded.

Garg: A♥Q♥
Allain: K♣K♦

The dealer did not delay in delivering a board of K♥9♠5♣7♣T♠ and Allain has around 170,000 now. -- HS

2:46pm: River saves Thompson
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Vincent Allevato opened to 10,500 and it folded to Steven Thompson in the small blind who put his entire stack of 56,500 forward. The action got back to Allevato who called the push.

Thompsons showed K♠T♠ and was behind Allevato's A♠J♠, and after the 3♣J♥2♠ flop that gave Allevato a pair of jacks, Thompson was up out of his seat in anticipation of heading over to the payout table.

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Vincent Allevato

The 5♥ turn didn't stop Thompson's momentum, but when the K♣ fell he froze and let out a grunt of satisfaction, following it up with more noises signifying he was happy to be keeping his seat.

Thompson has close to 120,000 now, whiel Allevato has about 370,000. --MH

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Steven Thompson

2:41pm: Semel Sacked
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Eric Semel was down to about 25,000 and moved all-in with A♣K♥. Caufman Talley called and showed 7♥7♦ for a flip. The A♠3♣3♥ flop fell in Semel's favor, but then a 7♠ came on the turn to give Talley a full house.

Only an ace could save Semel, but the river brought a 9♣ instead. Semel exited in 68th place while Talley chipped up to 275,000. --AV

NEIL9319_Caufman_Talley_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Caufman Talley

2:39pm: The end for Engel
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)
Ari Engel had squeaked into the money with just 10,000 left and although he folded on the first shuffle after the bubble burst, on the second he took a stand.

He raised to 8,000 - leaving just 1,500 back - Taran Parmar raised to 16,000, Jeiko Palma called and when it got back to Engel he put his final 1,500 in. On the Q♦T♦4♥ flop Parmar bet 16,000 and Palma folded pocket sevens face up.

Engel opened A♦T♣ for middle pair, but he was drawing thin against Parmar's A♥Q♣. Engel stood up and he had no need to sit back down as the 9♣ turn and 8♣ river kept Parmar in front. --NW

NEIL9348_Ari_Engel_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Ari Engel

2:37pm: Been gone, so long
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Following the bubble bursting, Aaron Been got his short stack in behind A♦4♦ and was up against Byron Kaverman's A♥T♣.

The board came 5♠T♥6♥3♠9♣, and with a "good game" for the table Been departed. Kaverman was short just a while ago, and is still below the average with about 120,000. --MH

NEIL9558_Aaron_Been-_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Aaron Been

2:36pm: Four out double quick
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Four players were knocked out within two hands of the bubble bursting. Aaron Been was first, Eric Semel was second, Jordan Saccucci was third and Ari Engel was fourth. They were 71st, 70th, 69th and 68th respectively. Some details about their bustout hands will be with you shortly. -- HS

2:31pm: One big blind not enough for Bubble Boy Lefort
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 500)

Sitting at the feature table with only 4,000 left, Thomas Lefort needed some help to avoid being eliminated on the bubble. He only held J♥6♣, and it was never any good against Denis Timofeev's A♣6♥. The board ran out Q♥Q♠5♣Q♦7♦, and Lefort was gone in 72nd place. Everyone else is now in the money.

You can check out the chip counts from the break right here.

NEIL9707_Thomas_Lefort-_PCP2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Thomas Lefort

2:28pm: Surely he knows the answer to this
Level 15 - Blinds 2,000/4,000 (ante 5,000)

Pablo Gordillo opened to 10,000 from early position and action made it around the table to Byron Kaverman in the big blind. Kaverman had a question for the dealer. "What happens if two people are knocked out at the same time?" Kaverman said.

Kaverman has nearly $10 million in live tournament earnings, and it's fair to say he has seen a few bubbles in his time. He probably knew the answer to this already, but sought clarification from the floor just to be sure.

(FYI: If two players go out from different tables, they split the 71st-place money. If they go out on the same table, the biggest stack gets the prize and the smallest goes home empty handed.)

Whatever the explanation, Kaverman ended up folding after a minute or so. Gordillo opened the next pot too, making it 10,000 to play again. Again he picked up the blinds and antes.

Gordillo must have been doing this a lot. He has about 380,000 now, which is about 100,000 more than the stack with which he started the day. -- HS

2:20pm: Can we do it now?

Players are back from break for another 90-minute level. How many hands will it taken to break this stubborn bubble?--BW


1:55pm: That's it: Break time
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

The first level of the day is over and the bubble did not burst. They're taking a 20-minute break. -- HS

1:50pm: Bubble up again!
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Marcelo Filartiga Villalba is breathing a quick sigh of relief as the level comes to an end on the bubble. He got his last 25,000 all-in with pocket queens versus pocket tens and managed to hold on for the win. There is one more hand at each table before the 20-minute break. --BW

1:45pm: Man down
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

It's bubble time here in the Main Event and the unfortunate 73rd place finisher is Sebastian Medina. He three-bet all-in for 33,000 with J♦J♣ after Jeiko Palma had opened to 8,000 from under the gun. Palma asked for a count and then called with A♣9♠.

A crowd gathered as the dealer produced a 7♣9♦4♥ flop. The A♣ turn vaulted Palma into the lead and he improved to a full house on the 9♠ river. One more player will leave empty handed, everyone else will earn at least $7,720. --NW

1:40pm: Phillips finds a fold
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

During the second hand of hand-for-hand play, Michael Phillips found himself with a difficult decision pre-flop after his table folded to him.

Sporting a Wisconsin cap, Phillips was dealt a hand that obviously looked enticing for him, and he thought a while about whether or not to put in his last 30,500. "I guess I have a lot of time to think about it," he said, alluding to the hand-for-hand situation.

Wisconsin won a close game last night in the first round of the NCAA tournament to survive and advance. After about three minutes, Phillips settled on that close decision finally by folding, meaning he, too, survives. But whether he advances into the money remains to be seen. --MH

1:35pm: Ades survives on the soft bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Hot on the heels of Alberto Meran's bubble-up, the second was over on Table 1 and it was Daniel Ades who was at risk. The Argentinian had shoved from the big blind for just 15,000 and Vincent Allevato, who raised from the button, called the extra.

While they were waiting for play to finish on the other tables there was a bit of table talk about what the two players had. Ades had, apparently, folded pocket sevens face-up only one hand ago so it was likely he had something good.

"I've only looked at one," Ades said to Allevato.

"You must have an ace then," Allevato replied.

"No, I have a queen," Ades said, and flashed a queen.

"I have a card higher than that," Allevato said, indicating he held a king in his hand.

When it came time for showdown we got the full picture. Allevato showed K♣7♥ and he was ahead of Ades's Q♠J♣. A A♠T♣8♠9♦Q♣ run out meant Ades was home and hosed after the turn. He's still short on chips of course, but can breathe a little easier now. --NW

1:30pm: Small double on the bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Alberto Meran raised to 6,500 from the hijack and it was the perfect amount to put Jordan Saccucci all-in.

Saccucci called all-in for 6,500 from the big blind and both players waited a few minutes until the rest of the tables were done. Meran turned over K♦5♥ and Saccucci was in the lead with K♦8♥.

The board came K♠4♥J♦A♣J♣ and Saccucci doubled--another bubble up--to about 17,000 while Meran was still left with close to 200,000. --AV

1:25pm: O'Dwyer adds
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

On the first hand of hand-for-hand play, Steve O'Dwyer added a nice boost to his stack in a lengthy multi-way hand that ultimately didn't go to showdown. He's up to 280,000 now. --MH

1:20pm: Cooler on the bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Caufman Talley came in for a raise to 7,500, and Lucas Blanco three-bet to 23,500. Talley went into the tank. He had Blanco covered by more than 300,000, but the decision ended up requiring a tournament official to put Talley on the clock. In the end, Talley made his decision about 20 seconds later, making it 59,000. Back to Blanco who decided he was ready to commit it all. It ended up being about 100,000 more. Talley called with a single chip and turned over Q♣Q♥. He saw one of the two hands he didn't care to see: A♥A♠.

The board offered quite a bit of drama, coming down J♥6♦9♣T♠T♣, but ultimately Talley couldn't suck out.

"Always a sweat!" Martin Finger said from his spot at the end of the table.

Blanco now has about 330,000. Talley is still fine with 310,000.--BW

1:15pm: Big pot, slow checks
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Eduards Kudrjavcevs raised to 7,000 from the hijack and Vasyl Vertianov re-raised to 21,000 from the button. Action folded back to Kudrjavcevs and he threw in a four-bet to 62,000. Vertianov called and a T♣J♦Q♣ flop hit the board.

Both players checked and then checked again when a 9♠ fell. They weren't fast checks though. Both players thought for about a minute before each of them.

Kudrjavcevs checked again when a T♦ completed the board and Vertianov bet 50,000. Kudrjavcevs called and mucked after Vertianov turned over K♣K♥. The pot put Vertianov up to 360,000 while Kudrjavcevs dropped to about 130,000. --AV

1:13pm: Early hand for hand
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

We're still two places off the money, but a stalling epidemic has broken out. The tournament staff have therefore announced hand-for-hand play a little earlier than usual to grease these wheels and get us through the bubble. -- HS

1:12pm: Parmar's dark check pays off
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Taran Parmar just won a decent sized pot against Luis Alejandro Mata. It was Parmar who got the action started, he raised to 7,500 from the cutoff and called after Mata had three-bet to 18,000 on the button.

A 4♣Q♦9♥ flop hit the felt, but before it did so Parmar checked in the dark. Mata continued for 16,000 and Parmar then sprung a check-raise, he raised the minimum so it was another 16,000 for Mata to stay in the hand. He tanked for a couple of minutes and then released his hand. Parmar showed 9♣9♦ for middle set as he took the pot. --NW

1:11pm: Radoja pushes Cajelais off hand
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Mark Radoja open-raised from the small blind, then Erik Cajelais re-raised from the big blind. That prompted an all-in push by Radoja, and Cajelais took about a half-minute before letting his cards go.

Radoja has 218,000 and Cajelais 92,000. --MH

1:10pm: Big stacks battle on bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

There are 73 players left -- two from the cash. Neither chip leader Igor Yaroshevskyy nor Caufman Talley are in danger of missing the money. Nor are they shy about mixing it up with each other.

Just now Talley made it 7,000 to go from the button, Yaroshevskyy three-bet to 30,000 from the big blind, and Talley called. The flop came Q♥6♥7♠, and Yaroshevskyy led for 22,000 with Talley calling. Both ended up checking the 8♥ turn and A♥ river, acting especially quickly on the latter street.

Talley tabled A♠6♠, having rivered two pair to beat Yaroshevskyy's pair of queens with K♣Q♣, and Talley took the pot to move up to 490,000. Yaroshevskyy continues to set the pace with 725,000. --MH

1:05pm: No bluff from Kitai
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Down to just 17,500 Davidi Kitai moved all-in from UTG+1. Action passed to Ari Engel and he capped his cards. He had just 27,000 back so it's possible this was just for show. But, Engel wanted a count. He then thought for a little while longer before pushing his cards towards the dealer. Everyone else folded too and Kitai added almost 50 percent to his stack without showdown. "No bluff, no bluff," he said as he took the pot. Much of what you hear at a poker table is lies, but with just six big blinds you suspect Kitai wasn't at it this time. --NW

1pm: Talley gives up one to Duarte
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Luiz Duarte raised to 7,500 from the hijack seat, Caufman Talley (third in chips to start the day) three-bet to 31,500 from the big blind, and Duarte called. Both checked the A♥K♣Q♦ flop, then Talley bet 49,000 on the 7♦ turn and Duarte called.

The river was the 5♦, and Talley thought for a while before checking. Duarte quickly checked behind, and Talley surprisingly mucked his hand without there being a showdown, conceding the pot to Duarte.

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Luiz Duarte: Getting folds without even betting

"Show the bluff!" Martin Finger cracked to Duarte -- who hadn't bet at all, as a bluff or otherwise -- and the latter grinned.

Duarte is up to 280,000, while Talley has about 415,000. --MH

12:55pm: Down to 73 as Escobar exits
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Jario Escobar couldn't quite believe what had just happened. He stood by the chair that he'd just been evicted from and sipped on his still warm coffee. He'd planned to drink that while playing some cards, but fate had transpired against him and he picked the wrong time to tangle with Michael Lech.

The latter had opened to 6,000 from the cutoff with A♠Q♠ and Escobar had defended from the big blind with 3♦3♣. The 9♠3♠J♠ flop was therefore pretty favourable for both players. Escobar elected to lead for 15,000 and Lech just called with the nuts. On the A♥ turn Escobar moved all-in for 35,000 and Lech made the easy call. The 7♥ river didn't pair the board and that was that for Escobar, while Lech moves up to 170,000.

There are 73 left, 71 get paid. --NW

12:50pm: Another double for Diotte
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

"Justice," said Anthony Diotte. "Finally."

He'd just gotten saved on the river and more than doubled to 85,000.

In that hand, there was about 40,000 in the pot and Diotte moved in on a J♦8♣4♠ flop. Kamal Abdel called and Jessica Perez folded. Abdel turned over A♦J♣ for a pair of jacks while Diotte tabled 9♣9♠. The river was an unhelpful 7♦ for Diotte, but then the river brought the much-needed 9♥.

anthony_diotte_panama_day3.jpg

Anthony Diotte: Patience pays off

Diotte celebrated, raked in the pot and chipped up to 85,000 while Abdel dropped to 115,000. --AV

12:45pm: Jacked up on the bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Sebastian Medina Echavarria just managed a bubble-up vs. Ari Engel. Echavarria got his last few chips in with J♣J♠ and, after a full clock countdown on Engel, got a call. Engel had A♦T♦. The board, K♠9♣J♦2♦ gave Engel all kinds of outs by the turn, but the river was the 5♣ and Echavarria doubled to around 42,000. Engel, meanwhile, is down to 25,500.--BW

12:43pm: Diotte is breathing
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Anthony Diotte is breathing -- still. That's what he just reported following a couple of hands during which breathing might well have been somewhat difficult for him.

In first he'd opened then called Alexandre Viard's reraise-shove for about 40,000, with Diotte holding A♥9♣ and Viard J♠T♦. Diotte was ahead before the flop, then his edge increased when the flop came 2♥A♦Q♦ to give him a pair. He was still up after the 2♦ turn, but the K♥ river made a straight for Viard to save him.

That hand left Diotte just 5,500, nearly half of which had to go in for the ante and small blind on the next hand. That one saw Jason Wheeler open and three players call, including Diotte. No one bet the J♦8♣Q♠ flop, but a delayed Wheeler c-bet on the J♠ turn chased the others.

"I haven't looked," Diotte said as he showed Q♥8♦ and saw he was ahead of Wheeler's A♣9♦. "Wow!" said Diotte whose hand remained best through the 5♦ river.

"I'm breathing!" Diotte confirmed, who is back to 22,000. --MH


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12:42pm: Big names, small stacks
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 300)

Some of the best players left in the field find themselves in that uncomfortable position of hugging the bubble. Davidi Kitai was short stacked for all of Day 2 and he returned today with just 20,000. He's stayed afloat thus far but was just faced with a decision for his remaining 22,000.

Pedro Romanzo Pollino raised under the gun and it folded to Kitai in the big blind. He took his time, was it possible he was just stalling? Evidently not, he tanked for a minute or so and then folded 4♦4♠ face up.

"Why not take a flop? See what happens!" said Ari Engel--although, as previously noted, the 2016 Aussie Millions winner is himself a little short on chips and has also made at least one tight fold.

Elsewhere Jason Koon is another playing a sub 20 big blind stack. He's got a recent boost when he shoved for 39,000 over the top of a raise and a call. Both players folded and Koon said: "Number two," and showed K♣K♥ as he took the pot. --NW

12:40pm: Calling the clock and showing hands
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

As play tightens, decisions lengthen.

The clock is being called quite often as players are deciding whether to gamble so close to the money. The two most recent clock calls ended with players folding and showing hands.

Ari Engel and Taran Parmar were faced with a T♥4♦9♥ flop and there was about 10,000 in the pot. Engel bet 4,000 and tanked after Parmar raised to 12,000. The clock was called and it hit zero. Engel's hand was killed and he turned over 8♠7♣.

An open-ended straight draw wasn't worth the gamble.

A few tables over Robin Wozniczek raised to 6,00 from middle position and Yobrahin Larez re-raised to 14,500 from the small blind. Wozniczek four-bet to 32,500 and Larez had about 110,000 behind and thought. A player called the clock and with a few seconds left, Larez folded A♥K♦ face up. --AV

12:35pm: Finger afraid of nothing
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

While the bubble may have some people playing cautiously, it's having no effect on Martin Finger's psyche. Just now, he went to a 8♣3♣T♠ flop and checked out of the big blind and to the massive chip leader Igor Yaroshevskyy. Yaroshevskyy bet 10,500. Finger waited just a moment for putting in the check-raise to 32,000. Yaroshevskyy showed Finger some respect he might not have shown others on the bubble and mucked. Finger is now up to about 112,000. --BW

martin_finger_panama_day3.jpg

Martin Finger: No caution

12:32pm: Bubble caution
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

It's nearly time to hit the money bubble, and it would be an understatement to suggest that play and aggression have slowed down in the field, as we've noted. Kamal Bittar and Alexandre Viard just engaged in a little bit of that. Bittar check-called 6,000 on a 3♦9♦3♣ flop. Both players checked through the 4♣ turn. On the 4♥ flop, Bittar bet out 10,500 and eventually got a call from Viard. Bittar held 9♥7♠, good for the win and a few extra chips.--BW

12:30pm: Kitai hanging on
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Davidi Kitai started today in the danger zone -- DANGER ZONE!! -- returning to just a handful of big blinds and in danger of bubbling.

After folding the first few hands today he just got involved and survived the skirmish, but still sits with about 28,000. --MH

12:25pm: The hazards of short-stacking on the bubble
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

They are just four off the money now, and things are getting tense for the short stacks.

Over on Table 7, Karim Zerzour opened with a raise to 6,000 then watched Allberto Meran Matias three-bet him from the button for 22,000 total -- just over the 21,000 Zerzour had behind after his raise. It folded back to Zerzour who thought a bit before folding, not too pleased at having lost another quarter of his stack.

On the next hand Felix Bleiker raised to 7,500 from the hijack seat, then Marcelo Filartiga pushed for 28,000 from the big blind, prompting a Bleiker fold. --MH

12:18pm: Early double for Koon
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Jason Koon started off Day 3 with a double up.

Karim Zerzour called from under the gun and action folded to Koon on the small blind. Koon called and Jordan Saccucci did the same from the big blind.

All three players checked the J♦Q♣T♣ flop and a J♠ came on the turn. Zerzour bet 6,000 when checked to and only Koon called. A T♦ completed the board and Koon moved all-in for 12,000.

Zerzour verbally announced the call and mucked when Koon turned over J♣3♣. Despite the double up, Koon is still short with about 45,000. --AV

12:16pm: Perez perishes
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

The remaining players are now one spot closer to the money as Hector Perez Salgado was just eliminated by Arunas Sapitavicius. Salgado, from Colombia, got his remaining 29,000 in with K♣Q♥ and was behind, but live, against the A♠6♠ of his Lithuanian opponent. The 7♥8♣6♣5♣5♥ run out didn't bring him a reprieve however and he's out. --NW

12:15pm: Carter gets got
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

On the first hand of the day at Table 1, Michael Carter got his entire short stack of 14,500 in the middle before the flop and had two callers behind him in Vincent Allevato and Steven Thompson.

The other two both checked down the 8♣K♠J♣ flop and J♠ turn, then after the A♦ river Allevato tossed out a bet and Thompson released his hand.

Allevato tabled A♣J♦, having gone runner-runner two pair, and Carter showed his Q♦9♠ before departing. Allevato has about 285,000 now and Thompson 120,000. --MH

12:10pm: Tito's lucky charm
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

Today is a day a lot of people are wearing green, but when Tito Ortiz showed up for a Q&A session this morning, he was wearing a pink hoodie. Turns out, that hoodie once belonged to Felipe Ramos. One night Ortiz was at dinner with Ramos, and Ortiz's son was cold. Ramos, being the cool guy he is, gave Ortiz's son the hoodie. Today, Ortiz has squeezed into the pink jacket and is expecting it to help his good luck continue. --BW

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Tito Ortiz tells Q&A moderating's Brad Willis about his hoodie

12:05pm: Away we go
Level 14 - Blinds 1,500/3,000 (ante 500)

The button has been drawn in Seat 1 and cards are now in the air. We'll play four 90-minute levels today and then bag it all up again. -- HS

11:30am: Prepare for the bubble

Good morning all and welcome back to the Sortis Hotel & Casino, Panama City, Panama for Day 3 of the PokerStars Championship Main Event. We have 78 players remaining from the 366 who started and today we will play either four or five levels, trimming the field much further.

The first order of business will be the bubble, which will burst when the player leaves in 72nd place. That means seven of our returning field will leave empty handed and the remaining 71 will have guaranteed themselves at least $7,720.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say this: I think Igor Yaroshevskyy will make the money. The runaway chip leader has around 200,000 chips more than his closest challenger and more than 700,000 more than the players will the fewest at this stage.

Beyond that, anything is possible. Play starts at noon.


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PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $5,000 Main Event: Martin Harris, Howard Swains, Alex Villegas, Brad Willis and Nick Wright. Photography by Neil Stoddart.

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