PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event Day 3 live updates


11:52pm: Jason Acosta flips to victory! Wins PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event ($38,220); Mike Gagliano runner-up ($28,116)
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (10,000)

All night, Mike Gagliano kept noting how he could not beat Jason Acosta in a coin flip. Sure seemed like, be it pre- or post-flop, Gagliano was right, as Acosta fought back from a substantial chip deficit to even things up, then was sitting with about a 4-to-1 lead.

Funny then, that this all came down to a coinflip. Gagliano open-shipped his last 900,000 or so all-in preflop and Acosta was quick to call with A♥K♥. Gagliano had 6♣6♥.

The Q♠J♣9♣ flop kept Gagliano out front, but did give Acosta a gutshot in addition to his overcards. The J♥ pairing the board on the turn meant there was now a chance to counterfeit Gagliano's pair as well.

The river 9♦ did just that, double pairing the board so Acosta's kicker played to give him the pot and the victory. The online qualifier collected $38,220.

Heads Up_Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5959.jpg

Jason Acosta - PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event champion

After a hard-fought battle, Gagliano takes home $28,116 for second place.

Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5821 (1).jpg

Mike Gagliano - 2nd place

That concludes the Main Event here at Resorts in New Jersey. Click here for a full recap of the exciting final day with more on the latest PokerStars champion. --JW

11:45pm: Gags struggles
Level 27 - Blinds 30,000/60,000 (10,000)

After a recent hand against Jason Acosta, Mike Gagliano is clinging to his last million in chips.

Acosta is sitting on four million, 80% of the chips in play. Gags is maintaining his composure, but based on how the cards are falling right now, he could be forgiven for being a little frustrated. The blind levels just moved up. Gagliano has around 16 big blinds to work with. --BW


11:38pm: The duel continues
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000)

Heads Up_Mike Gagliano_Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5914.jpg

Heads-up for the trophy

11:30pm: Acosta wins a big pot
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000)

A decent-sized pot has gone the way of Jason Acosta and he's now out in front by 2,900,000 to 2,100,000.

The pot started with Acosta making it 100,000 to go, Gagliano three-betting to 300,000, and Acosta making the call. On the 9♥K♠9♠ flop, Gagliano checked, Acosta bet 150,000, and Gagliano called. The T♥ turn was checked through, and the 2♠ completed the board.

Gagliano bet around 350,000, and Acosta snap-called and showed J♣9♣. Gagliano flashed a king before mucking. --NW

11:16pm: It's a tie
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000)

The three-bets preflop have been few and far between this heads-up match, but even when a pot does get somewhat large pre, there is no guarantee there will be many fireworks postflop.

Jason Acosta raised to 100,000 and Mike Gagliano made it 300,000 to play. Acosta called and the two took a flop of A♦T♥9♣.

Both players checked, then the turn brought the 7♠. Gagliano bet 250,000 or so, Acosta folded, and Gagliano showed the A♣ before raking in the pot to even things out at 2.5 million each.--JW

10:55pm: Acosta still out in front
Level 26 - Blinds 25,000/50,000 (5,000)

It's small pot poker at the moment with the biggest pot of the last dozen hands equating to just 12.5 big blinds.

The chip counts have barely changed with Jason Acosta still playing around 2,700,000 and Gagliano around 2,300,000.

It feels like this is the calm before the storm... is a big pot brewing? --NW


10:27pm: Break time
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

Break time, ladies and gents. The final two are on a quick bathroom break. The counts are fairly close to even. Mike Gagliano sits on 2,385,000 and Jason Acosta has 2,640,000.--JW

10:15pm: Jason Acosta doubles through Mike Gagliano
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

The chip lead has changed hands due to a huge pot in which Jason Acosta got a full double-up.

The hand began when Acosta raised to 90,000 from the button and Mike Gagliano made the call. The T♣4♠T♦ flop checked through and the 8♦ fell on the turn. Gagliano bet 125,000 and Acosta called. On the 6♣ river, Gagliano bet 300,000 and Acosta paused a few beats before moving all-in. Gagliano shot out of his seat, taken aback by what had just happened.

He wanted a count and it was established that Acosta was all-in for 1,105,000, so it was 805,000 for Gagliano to call. He began to think through the hand out loud.

Heads Up_Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5927.jpg

"You think A-10 is just good?" he wondered -- to himself more than anyone else. "Exactly eights makes sense, sort of," he continued.

Heads Up_Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5934.jpg

"Could you have fours? I don't know... man this is gonna kill me," he added.

Heads Up_Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5932.jpg

Gagliano thought for another minute or so and then called.

"I got there with the straight," said Acosta who showed 9♠7♦. Gagliano showed 7♥5♥ for a worse straight. "Sick river," he said.

After that hand Acosta is up to 2,700,000 while Gagliano drops to 2,300,000. --NW

10:06pm: Acosta's lucky seven
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

Mike Gagliano raised to 90,000 on the button and Jason Acosta called in the big blind. The flop came A♠A♦7♣ and Acosta checked to Gagliano, who bet 65,000. Acosta called, then the turn brought the 7♠. Both players checked.

The river was the 9♠. Acosta checked and Gagliano bet 150,000. Acosta clarified the amount, then called, telling his opponent, "I have a seven."

"That is gonna win," Gagliano responded. Acosta took the pot with 8♠7♥ and moved up to 1,470,000. Gagliano is down to 3,550,000. --JW

9:55pm: A dozen hands of back and forth
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

Not a ton to report I'm afraid. In the last 12 hands there have been four walks and Mike Gagliano has won seven pots, while Jason Acosta has taken five.

The most interesting of hand occurred when Gagliano raised to 90,000 on the button and Acosta called. Neither player bet the 4♠3♦K♥ flop, but Acosta led for 55,000 on the 6♦ turn, called by Gagliano. On the 7♦ river, Acosta bet 105,000 and Gagliano instantly called.

Acosta showed J♥4♥ but Gagliano had a straight as he held K♠5♦.

The chip stacks are still basically the same as when Acosta doubled up, with Gagliano perhaps getting one or two big blinds back over the course of that 12-hand period. --NW

9:44pm: Acosta doubles
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

Mike Gagliano raised to 80,000 on the button and Jason Acosta moved all in from the big blind for 715,000 total. Gagliano set a stack of 5,000 chips in, indicating a call.

Gagliano held A♣8♠ and was racing with Acosta's 6♠6♣. The flop fell T♥9♣5♠ and the 7♦ on the turn gave Gagliano an open-ended straight draw, but Acosta held on the Q♥ river to double up to 1,440,000. Gagliano is still out front with 3,580,000.--JW

9:37pm: Chip counts to start heads-up play
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

Michael Gagliano - 4,410,000
Jason Acosta - 615,000

Heads Up_Mike Gagliano_Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_7JG9939.jpg

Heads-up play begins

9:35pm: Eli Kim eliminated in 3rd place ($20,683)
Level 25 - Blinds 20,000/40,000 (5,000)

What a pot. We're now heads-up as Eli Kim just busted to Mike Gagliano in a huge pot. This is how the hand went down: Kim raised to 70,000 from the button, Gagliano three-bet to 210,000, Kim four-bet to 650,000 (he had about one million behind), Gagliano shoved and Kim snap-called.

Gagliano: A♣Q♠
Kim: 2♥2♣

This was a pot for 3,400,000 of the 5,000,000 in play and it went the way of Gagliano as the board came 6♦A♦3♦9♥9♦. --NW

Eli Kim_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5810.jpg

Eli Kim - 3rd place


9:31pm: Kim battling back
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

After losing more than half a million in the hand with Mike Gagliano, it looked like Eli Kim's run good had started to run cold. Well, it's back.

Just now, he managed to flop trip sevens with J♦7♦ against Jason Acosta and pick up around 400,000 of Acosta's chips in the process. Acosta is now the short stack with around 650,000. Kim is sitting on 1.7 million. --BW

9:21pm: Gagliano has it
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

Mike Gagliano raised to 60,000 on the button and Eli Kim defended his big blind. The flop came T♣T♠2♠ and Kim checked to Gagliano, who bet 60,000. The turn was the 5♠. Kim checked, Gagliano bet 150,000, and Kim called.

The river was the T♥. Kim checked again and Gagliano bet 500,000.

"Huh," Kim said with a sigh. He thought about 20 seconds, then called.

Gagliano turned over J♠T♦ for quads, which had Kim's A♠5♥ for a full house bested. After the hand, Gagliano is up to 2,550,000, which is about as much as Kim, who is down to 1,125,000, and Jason Acosta have put together.--JW

9:15pm: Big blind special for Kim
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

Mike Gagliano's button raise to 60,000 was called in both spots and it was far from the first family pot of three-handed play. On the 4♠2♦9♣ flop Jason Acosta elected to lead for 80,000, Eli Kim called, but Gagliano jumped out the way.

On the 3♣ turn Acosta bet 175,000 and Kim announced he was going to raise. He made it 500,000 straight and Acosta folded. Kim showed 9♦2♥ for a flopped two pair.

"You guys gave me value," he said. "You can even make the nine-two work for you," joked Gagliano as Kim stacked the chips. --NW

9:06pm: Inevitable victory ahead for Kim
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

"Yayyyy! Two pair wins!" Eli Kim declared, tabling yet another winning hand.

"Is it ever going to end?" Jason Costa asked.

It's become apparent the Kim is running good in just about every way. An inordinate number of his hole cards have been pocket pairs. When they aren't, he seems to find a way to make two pair on board. It's, in a word, frustrating for his two opponents.

"Just give him the trophy," Mike Gagliano said. --BW

8:50pm: David Johnston eliminated in 4th place ($15,215)
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

It folded to Eli Kim in the small blind and with David Johnston having just 125,000 left, Kim raised enough to set him all-in. "It's suited," said Johnston as he called and showed 8♠3♠. Somehow he found himself dominated as Kim opened 8♣4♣.

The K♦5♠4♦9♠7♣ board couldn't save him and we're now down to three players, with both Eli Kim and Jason Acosta hovering around 1.9 million and Mike Gagliano at about 1.15 million. --NW

Daniel Johnston_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5878.jpg

David Johnston - 4th place

8:43pm: Acosta doubles through Johnston
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

David Johnston raised to 70,000 and Jason Acosta moved all in from the big blind before 945,000 total. Johnston had a little over a million behind and thought for 30 seconds or so before calling.

Acosta turned over Q♦Q♠ and Johnston showed T♦T♠. The Q♣9♥4♥ flop gave Acosta top set, but the T♠ on the turn did give Johnston a single out heading to the river. He did not hit it though, as the river came 4♠ to give Acosta a huge double up to almost 2 million and leave Johnston with 135,000.--JW

Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5875.jpg

Acosta survives

8:38pm: Kim: Let's make a deal
Level 24 - Blinds 15,000/30,000 (5,000)

In addition to having the chip lead, Eli Kim also has an open mind about doing some business here among the final four. Now that Affleck is gone, Kim has broached the subject of doing some sort of chop. More than anything, he's concerned about the glory of winning.

"I'm here for the trophy," he said.

The question is moot right now. No one else seems to have even considered a chop, and Kim got no takers on his suggestion.  --BW


8:25pm: Matt Affleck eliminated in 5th place ($11,193)
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Eli Kim opened from under-the-gun and to his immediate left Matt Affleck shoved for 164,000 total. It folded back to Kim and he instantly called.

Affleck: K♠Q♠
Kim: A♠K♦

Matt Affleck_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5866.jpg

Searching for a queen

The 8♠8♥A♣4♦9♠ board favored Kim and eliminated Affleck. After that hand Kim is up to 1,630,000. --NW

Matt Affleck_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5870.jpg

Matt Affleck - 5th place

8:25pm: Eli Kim keeps falling
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Eli Kim raised to 55,000 from under he gun and David Johnston called in the small blind. The flop came K♠K♥2♣ and Johnston checked to Kim, who bet 65,000. Johnston called.

The turn was the 9♠. Johnston checked, Kim bet 65,000, and Johnston called.

Both players checked the 4♣ river and Johnston chowed J♣J♠ to take the pot and chip up to 1,225,000. Our onetime big chip leader Kim is down to 1,525,000.--JW

8:20pm: The Amazing Shoving Affleck!
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Down to just a few big blinds, Matt Affleck is in shove or fold mode. In the last few minutes, there have been few hands where Affleck hasn't announced all-in. It is starting to drive Mike Gagliano a little nuts, primarily because his big blind hands have been absolute trash, and he's having to fold to very small shoves.

"I'm losing my mind here," he said.

He is also starting to regret agreeing to play on tonight instead of breaking until tomorrow. With the exception of Affleck, the remaining players are fairly deep. What was once a short day could now be a fairly long night. --BW

Matt Affleck_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5858.jpg

All-in Affleck

8:08pm: Johnston shoves on Gagliano
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

There's been no shortage of big pots during this level and the latest involved David Johnston and Mike Gagliano.

The former raised to 55,000 from the button, Gagliano three-bet to 170,000 out of the small blind, and Johnston called.

On the J♦J♠2♣ flop Gagliano c-bet 130,000, but folded when Johnston moved all-in for 675,000. After that hand Johnston is up to 1,145,000 while Gagliano is down to 1,050,000. --NW

8:03pm: Mike Gagliano doubles through Matt Affleck
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 60,000 on the button, David Johnston called in the small blind, and Mike Gagliano moved all in from the big blind for 642,000. Affleck reraised all in behind him for about 100,000 more. Johnston folded.

Gagliano turned over Q♠T♠ and remarked what bad shape he was in. "Jacks, huh?"

Jacks, indeed. Affleck revealed J♦J♠.

Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5851.jpg

Gagliano going for the double

The flop came A♦K♥5♦, keeping Affleck in front. The turn was the 7♥ and Affleck was still good to go, but the Q♥ on the river paired Gagliano up to double him to 1,300,000 and leave Affleck with right around 100,000.--JW

7:55pm: Acosta gets sneaky
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

The action folded to Jason Acosta in the small blind, and after he completed Eli Kim checked his option from the next seat. The 6♥8♠A♠ flop checked through and the 5♠ fell on the turn. Acosta bet 26,000 and Kim made the call. The 9♥ fell on the river and Kim called a further 30,000.

"I have top set," said Acosta, showing A♦A♥ for a sneakily played pair of aces. Kim didn't show, but said: "I had a pair of threes." --NW

7:48pm: Matt Affleck doubles
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Matt Affleck moved all in from under the gun for 362,000 and action folded around to Eli Kim in the big blind.

"I've doubled up enough people today," Kim said. He thought for a little while longer then slid in the chips to call, saying, "Hope I get lucky this time."

It wasn't so lucky for Kim though, as he held 6♣6♦ to Affleck's Q♣Q♠. Affleck stayed out front on the K♣8♦2♥J♥7♣ board and doubled to 720,000, while Kim dipped to 1,785,000.--JW

7:35pm: Mike Gagliano doubles through Eli Kim
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

After an open to 55,000 from David Johnston, the triangle was requested by Mike Gagliano as he moved all-in for 316,000. Eli Kim wanted a count, he called and Johnston folded.

Kim: A♥3♥
Gagliano: 8♠8♣

The K♠A♠7♣ flop put Kim in the lead, the 3♠ gave him two pair, but Gagliano now had a flush draw and it completed on the J♠ river. That means Gagliano is up to around 720,000 while Kim drops back to 2,050,000. --NW

Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5821.jpg

Gagliano gets some back

7:32pm: Eli Kim had options
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

Eli Kim wasted no time coming back from dinner and raised to 50,000. Mike Gagliano called in the big blind and the two took a flop of Q♣6♠3♠. Gagliano bet 60,000 and Kim called. Gagliano checked when the turn brought the 9♦. Kim bet 100,000 and, after some thought, Gagliano called.

The river was the 4♠. Gagliano checked again, then Kim moved all in, having Gagliano's remaining 360,000 or so easily covered. Gagliano folded and Kim showed his Q♠8♠ for a flush.

"Nice flush," Gagliano remarked.

"I had the queen, too," Kim added. He is up to 2,145,000.--JW

7:25pm: Play resumes; 5 remain
Level 23 - Blinds 12,000/24,000 (4,000)

The five remaining players -- all that's left from the 208 who started -- are back in their seats and play has resumed. Here's a look at the updated counts here at the start of Level 23:

Eli KimUSA2,061,000
David JohnstonUSA1,084,000
Jason AcostaUSA908,000
Michael GaglianoUSA578,000
Matthew AffleckUSA390,000

The next man out gets $11,193, and there's $38,220 up top for the winner. --MH


6:28pm: Dinner break

The final five players are now on an hour-long dinner break.

6:26pm: Kim gets some back
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

On the next hand Eli Kim got some chips back from Jason Acosta. It was a blind on blind pot, Kim bet 45.000 on the 4♦A♥3♦ flop and Acosta called. On the 5♣ turn Acosta came out firing, he bet 60,000 and Kim called. The 2♦ fell on the river and Acosta check-called a bet of 125,000. "Flush," said Kim and he showed K♦5♦ to win the pot. "I wasn't calling to chop," said Acosta as he mucked. --NW

6:25pm: Big double for Acosta through Kim
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

With just a few minutes to go before the break, Eli Kim opened for 45,000 from under the gun and it folded around to Jason Acosta in the big blind. He checked his cards and announced he was all in, and after his chips were counted Kim saw he'd pushed 567,000 total.

Kim thought just a short while before calling. "I think I finally got my chips in good," said Acosta, tabling A♠K♥. "Ah, I wasn't sure if you were just bluffing," said Kim who had K♦Q♥. "Hey I've got a live queen," he added hopefully.

The board ran out jack-high -- 3♣J♣7♠2♦9♣ -- and Acosta doubles to almost 1.16 million. Kim now has about 1.68 million. --MH

6:22pm: Johnston in seven-figure territory
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

David Johnston raised to 40,000 out of the small blind and Mike Gagliano called in the big blind. The flop came Q♣7♣6♠. Johnston bet 50,000 and Gagliano called. the two checked the Q♦ on the turn, then the river brought the J♥. Johnston bet 125,000, Gagliano folded, and Johnston took the pot to move into seven-figure territory. He's up to 1,075,000. Gagliano is down to 550,000.--JW

6:10pm: Jason Acosta doubles through Matt Affleck
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

From the cutoff Matt Affleck opened to 45,000, David Johnston smooth called and Jason Acosta then moved all-in for 261,000, Affleck re-shoved and Johnston folded. "Am I crushed?" asked Acosta as he showed T♥T♦. He was racing against Affleck's A♣K♦ and despite a Q♠J♠2♥ flop Acosta held up on the 8♥ turn and J♦ river.

He's up to around 570,000 while Affleck drops to around 500,000.--NW

Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5762.jpg

Acosta shoves, survives

5:52pm: Got a little shovy there for a moment
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

Two hands, two straight all-ins for you.

The first was David Johnston open for 40,000 from the cutoff, Mike Gagliano three-bet to 110,000 from the button, then Johnston reraise-shove over the top, prompting a quick fold from Gagliano.

Johnston has over 920,000 now, while Gagliano is at around 620,000.

In the next hand, Jason Acosta again open-shoved his short stack of 145,000, but got no callers.

Things quieted after that, with Gagliano, Eli Kim, and Matthew Affleck taking turns picking up small pots. --MH

5:49pm: All-in for a small profit
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

Eli Kim raised to 40,000 from under the gun and Matt Affleck reraised to 100,000 behind him. David Johnston was next to act and made it 200,000 to play from the button. Kim folded, then Affleck shoved all in, having Johnston covered. Johnston called with A♥K♠. Affleck showed A♣K♣. It was a chop on the T♥5♦2♠2♣6♥ board and they split the amount of Kim's bet along with the blinds and took their chips back.--JW

5:46pm: Kim finds out where he is at
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

Eli Kim raised to 55,000 from the cutoff and Matt Affleck made it 130,000 to play on the button. Kim reraised to 380,000 and Affleck folded.

Kim showed Affleck his ace-queen and explained he wanted to now where he was at. "I knew if you shoved I was no good," Kim explained.

"Well," tablemate Gagliano said with a laugh, "Everyone figured out where they were at, it just took a little longer than it could have. Glad we straightened that out."

Kim found out where he was at and moved up to 2.36 million. Affleck is down to 960,000.--JW

5:40pm: All about Acosta shoving
Level 22 - Blinds 10,000/20,000 (3,000)

The last couple of round of action have been dominated by Jason Acosta and his all-in shoves. He's the clear short stack at the moment and is trying to do something about changing that. He's shoved three times in the last nine hands, two of them got through without a sweat, but on the third Matt Affleck wanted a count. It was 267,000 to call, but Affleck folded, as did David Johnston.

After all that shoving Acosta is up to 312,000. --NW


5:29pm: Sridhar Sangannagari eliminated in 6th place ($8,234)
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Sridhar Sangannagari raised to 42,000 from middle position and Mike Gagliano reraised to 90,000 behind him. Action got back to Sangannagari, who moved all in for around 170,000. Gagliano called with K♦K♣. Sangannagari showed Q♠J♥.

The Q♦6♦5♣ flop kept Gagliano out front, but the Q♥ on the turn gave Sangannagari the advantage in the hand. The celebration did not last long though, as the river was the K♠, giving Gagliano a full house and the pot. Sangannagari is out in sixth place and Gagliano moves up to 870,000.--JW

Sridhar Sangannagari_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5831.jpg

Sridhar Sangannagari - 6th place

5:15pm: Rocco Dicondina eliminated in 7th place ($6,057)
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000)

From middle position, Matt Affleck raised to 36,000, and after one fold it was Rocco Dicondina's turn. Having checked his hand, he set his last 145,000 forward as an all-in push, and it folded back to Affleck who thought just short bit before calling.

Affleck: Q♣9♣
Dicondina: A♥K♦

Dicondina had the preflop edge, but the J♥J♣9♥ flop swung the advantage Affleck's way. Dicondina was already standing when the 9♠ turn card hit to leave Dicondina only drawing very thinly to tie, then the 3♦ river sealed it and he's out in seventh.

Affleck is at 870,000 now. --MH

Rocco Dicondina_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5814.jpg

Rocco Dicondina - 7th place

5:05pm: Rocco Dicondina getting short again
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Rocco Dicondina limped in from under the gun, Matt Affleck completed the small blind, and David Johnston checked his option in the big blind.

The flop came down K♥Q♦5♥ and all three checked. The turn was the K♠ and action checked to Dicondina, who bet 25,000. Affleck folded, but Johnston check-raised to 75,000 total. Dicondina thought a while before folding pocket tens face-up. He is down to 160,000. Johnston is up to 620,000.--JW

4:57pm: Small triple-up for Dicondina
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000)

Matt Affleck opened from early position for 40,000, and it folded to Rocco Dicondina who just called, leaving himself 32,000 behind. It folded to Mike Gagliano who also called on the button, and the trio saw the flop come Q♦K♠5♥.

Affleck checked, and Dicondina put his last chips forward. Gagliano rechecked his cards and folded, and with a not-so-excited look Affleck called the tiny bit more and turned over his J♠J♦. Indeed, Dicondina had connected with the flop, making two pair with his K♦Q♣, and after the 9♠ turn and 4♣ river, he survived with a small triple-up.

Dicondina has 222,000 now, while both Affleck and Gagliano are hovering around 635,000. --MH

Final Table_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_7JG9926.jpg

Final table action

4:49pm: Rocco Dicondina getting shorter
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Rocco Dicondina raised to 37,000 from middle position. Eli Kim called in the small blind and Matt Affleck called in the big blind. The flop came A♦4♣3♦. All three players checked, then the turn was the 2♠. Kim bet 36,000, Affleck folded, and Dicondina, who had around 100,000 behind, folded as well.--JW

4:41pm: Kim over Affleck with ace-king
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000)

Eli Kim raised to 44,000 from the small blind, Matt Affleck called from the big blind, and the flop came Q♦5♥6♠. Kim quickly bet 40,000, and with side-eye look at Kim on his right, Affleck called. Kim then checked the T♠ turn, acting quickly as usual, and after a short while Affleck bet 105,000. Kim thought just a bit, then called.

The river was the T♣, and again Kim quickly tapped the table. After a few seconds Affleck checked back, and when Kim showed A♥K♣, Affleck mucked.

Eli Kim_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5836 (1).jpg

Kim keeps collecting

Kim is very close to 2 million now, while Affleck has 780,000. --MH

4:40pm: Rocco Dicondina doubles up
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Here;s what you need to know about the remaining players.

Seat 1: Eli Kim, 33, Little Ferry, New Jersey/USA
Eli Kim is a 33-year-old warehouse manager from Little Ferry, New Jersey, which sits along the Hackensack River north of Newark. He took some time off to play in this Festival, bringing a bankroll of $2,000 to Resorts for the week. "The first thing I tried to do was satellite," he said. "Didn't work." Despite having to buy-in directly, Kim has already guaranteed himself a positive return on that investment, as each of the final eight players are guaranteed at least $4,455. Kim finished Day 1b with 97,200 chips, but Day 2 didn't go quite as well as the first. Though he survived until the end, he failed to earn much of an increase, entering Day 3 in 14th place with 113,500 chips and 24 players remaining. The penultimate day began well for Kim, but he found himself in a world of trouble with 14 players remaining. Kim went to war with pocket jacks against Dan Howe's pocket kings, and although he had Howe slightly covered, Kim had committed most of his own stack drawing to two outs. He found one of them right on the flop, running out jacks full to earn the knockout and a much-needed chip increase.

Eli Kim_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5808.jpg

Eli Kim

Seat 2: Matt Affleck, 29, Seattle, Washington/USA
It's not often that one of the biggest storylines from the WSOP Main Event occurs prior to the November Nine. But six years ago, Matt Affleck was the unfortunate exception to that trend. After losing his stack to Jonathan Duhamel during final table playdown day, then-23-year-old Affleck was put through some of the most agonizing moments the cameras have ever captured in the game of poker. Affleck's aces were cracked by Duhamel's jacks, leaving the former in tears as he was forced to depart in 15th place with a $500,165 consolation prize. Six years later, the poker pro from Seattle is still prolific at the tournament tables. He finished 10th in the Monster Stack Event at this year's WSOP, earning $78,264. Shortly thereafter, he made his long-awaited WSOP final table debut, finishing third in the $1,500 NLH Event for a $184,456 payday. Affleck is yet to win a bracelet, but he's in good shape to scoop the first PokerStars Festival Main Event title here in Atlantic City. With more than $2.1 million in his live résumé, the 29-year-old pro is certainly one of the experienced players in the finale.

Matt Affleck_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5673.jpg

Matt Affleck

Seat 3: David Johnston, 30, Toms River, New Jersey/USA
David Johnston is a 30-year-old player from Toms River, just a short drive up the coast from Resorts Casino Hotel. He has nearly $200,000 in live tournament earnings, with much of that coming right here in Atlantic City. Despite a myriad of final tables on Johnston's record, he's still looking for his first live tournament victory, and he's put himself in good position to chase that goal heading into the final day of this Main Event. Johnston bagged up a sizable stack after Day 1a, finishing just inside the top ten with 91,500 chips. He bided his time throughout the majority of Day 2 before going on a late-day heater, eliminating several players during the final level to perch himself atop the overnight leaderboard with 534,000 chips and 23 players remaining.

Daniel Johnston_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5816.jpg

David Johnston

Seat 4: Rocco DiCondina, 68, Toms River, New Jersey/USA, PokerStars qualifier
Rocco DiCondina is a 67-year-old recreational player who was born and raised in Rome, Italy. He now makes his home in nearly Toms River, New Jersey, and he's a frequent visitor to the poker tables of Atlantic City. This performance represents DiCondina's sixth in-the-money finish on record, and a seventh-place finish or better would guarantee him the largest payout of his career. Whatever he does end up winning, it will be pure profit for DiCondina. He is in this Main Event on a complete freeroll after winning one of the five seats given away in a raffle at the welcome party. He's already parlayed that ticket into nearly $4,500 with plenty more up for grabs.

Rocco Dicondina_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5811.jpg

Rocco Dicondina

Seat 6: Sridhar Sangannagari, 41, Piscataway, New Jersey/USA, PokerStars qualifier

Sridhar Sangannagari comes from Piscataway, New Jersey. He plays mainly online on, where he has a Sunday Special title to his name. Sangannagari claims to like turbo events. "This is not a turbo, but with the eliminations going so fast, it feels like one," he said. Sangannagari has gone through many ups and downs during the PokerStars Festival Main Event, describing his journey to the final table as a roller-coaster: "That's my way of play. From a chip leader to short stack and back." Apart from poker, the 41-year-old enjoys playing volleyball and also likes to read books and watching movies. Sangannagari is married and has to sons with his wife, ages four and six.

Sridhar Sangannagari_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5819.jpg

Sridhar Sangannagari

Seat 7: Michael "Gags30" Gagliano, 30, Rockaway, New Jersey/USA
Michael Gagliano lives just a two-hour drive from Atlantic City. His first live tournament victory came five months ago when he took down the $2,500 NLH Event at the World Series to pick up whopping $448,463 along with his first bracelet. The 30-year-old pro went on to win October's Parx Casino Big Stax for another $104,999, then notched a historic victory here at Resorts one week later. Gagliano became the very first winner at a PokerStars Festival, lifting the trophy in the $2k NL Hold'em 6-Handed Event. "Now I have about three wins but this is my first PokerStars trophy," he said in his postgame interview. "It's always special to win the spade." Gagliano started this Main Event strongly on Day 1b, bagging up the biggest stack at the end of the day. He has been near the top of the counts ever since, masterfully navigating his way to the final table. Traveling around the live circuit, mainly in the States, the poker pro has racked up nearly $1.5 million in live tournament earnings. When not at the tables, he plays guitar and dabbles in computer gaming, but he dedicates most of his spare time to his three-year-old daughter.

Mike Gagliano_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5822.jpg

Mike Gagliano

Seat 8: Jason Acosta, 30, Little Ferry, New Jersey/USA, PokerStars qualifier
Amateur poker player Jason Acosta plays mainly online and prefers cash games. "Tournaments are very time-consuming," he explained. It was online on PokerStars where Acosta won his seat to the Main Event. He's guaranteed to collect his biggest live cash, making it to the final table. The 30-year-old owns a trucking company and claims to be a big sports fan, cheering for the baseball New York Mets and football Dallas Cowboys," he said. "So far, it's been a great season," added Acosta, who himself was a footballer in high school, playing as a cornerback.

Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5817.jpg

Jason Acosta

4:36pm: Jason Acosta shoves
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Jason Acosta raised to 35,000 from middle position and Rocco Dicondina defended his big blind. The flop came K♥Q♥Q♠ and both players checked. The turn was the 8♦. Dicondina bet 35,000 and Acosta called.

The river was the A♦. Dicondina checked, then Acosta moved all in for around 175,000. Dicondina folded and Acosta took it down to move up to 380,000. Dicondina is back down to 120,000.--JW

4:34pm: Rocco Dicondina doubles up
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (1,000)

Rocco Dicondina raised to 32,000 and Sridhar Sangannagari reraised to 80,000 behind him. Action got back around to Dciondina, who moved all in for 155,000. Sangannagari called with A♣Q♠. Dicondina showed 8♠9♠. Dicondina managed to spike his nine on the K♥5♥4♠K♠9♥ board to survive on the river and double up to 310,000. Sangannagari is down to 520,000.--JW

4:25pm: Updated chip counts; 7 remain
Level 21 - Blinds 8,000/16,000 (2,000)

Eli KimUSA1,880,000
Matthew AffleckUSA1,110,000
Michael GaglianoUSA665,000
David JohnstonUSA640,000
Sridhar SangannagariUSA562,000
Jason AcostaUSA198,000
Rocco DicondinaUSA91,000


4:08pm: Break time

The magnificent seven are off on a 15-minute break. --MH

4:06pm: Kim adds more
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

In the last hand of the level, Sridhar Sangannagari raised to 32,000 from the cutoff seat, Eli Kim made it 90,000 to go from the big blind, and Sangannagari called.

The flop came 6♦9♦3♦, and after Kim led for 90,000, Sangannagari raised to 220,000. At that Kim pushed all in, and after tanking a bit Sangannagari folded. Kim showed his hand -- T♠T♦ -- and claimed the pot.

Heading into the break Kim is the big leader now with somewhere close to 1.8 million, while Sangannagari has about 560,000. --MH

3:56pm: Affleck back in seven-figure territory
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (1,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 30,000 from under the gun, David Johnston called behind him, and Eli Kim defended the big blind. The flop fell Q♦Q♥6♥ and Kim checked to Affleck, who bet 40,000. Johnston called and Kim folded.

Both players then checked the K♠ turn and T♣ river. Affleck showed 8♥8♠, which was good enough to take the pot and move to 1,070,000. Johnston, who started the day as chip leader, is down to 440,000.--JW

Matt Affleck_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5693.jpg

3:50pm: Kim bluffs Gagliano
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

Mike Gagliano raised to 25,000 from middle position and only Eli Kim called from the button. All three postflop streets then featured similar betting patterns, until the river.

On the 7♠3♦7♣ flop, Gagliano check-called a bet of 33,000 from Kim. Then on the 4♦ turn he again check-called, the bet being 40,000.

The river was the 8♣, and when Gagliano checked once more, Kim again bet relatively quickly for 70,000. Gagliano thought a bit, then folded this time.

"You have tens?" Gagliano asked. "Or did you bluff me?"

"You want to know?" grinned Kim, then he showed his hand -- Q♠9♦.

Gagliano had his answer, but Kim got the chips. Kim's up aroudn 1.54 million now, while Gagliano has 785,000. --MH

3:42pm: Gagliano takes from Affleck
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 30,000 from under the gun and Mike Gagliano called on the button. The flop came A♣T♥6♦ and Affleck bet 45,000. Gagliano called, then the tur brought the Q♠. Affleck checked, Gagliano bet 85,000, Affleck folded and Gagliano took the pot. Gagliano is up to 850,000. Affleck sits on 910,000.--JW

Making a Bet_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Final Table_Giron_8JG5906.jpg

Gagliano bets, collects

3:33pm: Some for Sangannagari
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 24,000 from the button, Sridhar Sangannagari called from the big blind, and the flop fell J♥7♠2♣.

Sangannagari led for 32,000 and Affleck called, but after the 8♥ turn card Sangannagari checked, then Affleck fired 80,000. Sangannagari thought a while then called, then both players checked the 3♣ river.

Sangannagari opened 7♦6♦ for sevens and Affleck mucked, and Sangannagari now has 785,000. Affleck slips just a little to 960,000. --MH

3:25pm: Peter Smyth eliminated in 8th ($4,455); Javy Ounthongdy eliminated in 9th place ($4,455)
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

Oftentimes play slows up on the bubble of a final table. Such was not the case here, where we just had a double knockout to take the field down to seven players.

First, Peter Smyth raised to 30,000 from middle position. Then, Jovy Ounthongdy moved all in from the button for around 125,000. Smyth starts to ask for a count, unaware there were players really thinking over what to do.

Turns out Smyth was wrong. Eli Kim had a decision, well sort of. It apparently wasn't much of a decision though, as he shoved all in for around 775,000, which had Smyth covered.

Now Smyth had a much tougher choice. He thought for quite a while before calling for his 540,000 chips. Here is what everyone had:

Ounthongdy: 6♥6♦
Smyth: Q♦Q♣
Kim: A♣A♦

The 5♣4♥3♦ flop was a scare for Kim, as Ounthongdy flopped an open-ended straight draw. The J♥ on the turn kept thing as is, but the A♥ river gave Kim a winning set, a double KO, and the chip lead with around 1.5 million chips. Ounthongdy is out in ninth place, Smyth takes eighth, and seven players remain.--JW

Peter Smyth_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5801.jpg

Peter Smyth - 8th place

Jovy Ounthongdy_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5793.jpg

Jovy Ounthongdy - 9th place

3:20pm: Seating assignments for the nine-handed table
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

Here's how the final nine are seated, with some approximate chip counts as well:

Seat 1: Eli Kim -- 765,000
Seat 2: Matt Affleck -- 1,050,000
Seat 3: David Johnston -- 565,000
Seat 4: Rocco Dicondina -- 185,000
Seat 5: Peter Smyth -- 540,000
Seat 6: Sridhar Sangannagari -- 735,000
Seat 7: Mike Gagliano -- 755,000
Seat 8: Jovy Ounthongdy -- 125,000
Seat 9: Jason Acosta -- 265,000

There are 45 minutes left in Level 20. --MH

3:15pm: Robert Cheung eliminated in 10th place ($3,562)
Level 20 - Blinds 6,000/12,000 (2,000)

"I'm going in!"

So said Robert Cheung after Matt Afflect had opened for 27,000 under the gun and it had folded to him on the button. Cheung was reraising all in for his last 125,000, and after the blinds got out Affleck studied for a short while before calling.

Cheung showed his 8♠8♣ and Affleck his K♦J♦, and through the 7♠Q♦A♣ flop and Q♠ turn, Cheung remained ahead with his eights.

Then came the river... the A♥! Cheung's pair had been counterfeited, Affleck won the pot, and Cheung is out in 10th.

"Okay," said Cheung with a smile as he stood. "Give me my money!"

Affleck is up around 1.05 million now, and with nine left they are redrawing once more to sit around the not-quite-final final table. --MH

Robert Cheung_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5785.jpg

Robert Cheung - 10th place


2:42pm: Acosta doubles through Ounthongdy
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Jason Acosta open-pushed his last 111,000, then Jovy Ounthongdy reraise shoved behind him and all folded.

Acosta: A♠5♥
Ounthongdy: 9♣9♦

The flop fell J♥8♣A♥ to hit Acosta's hand, and the 2♣ turn and Q♥ river meant he'd survive. He has 237,000 now, while Ounthongdy is back down to 165,000. --MH

Jason Acosta_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5774.jpg

2:20pm: He did say he refused to leave...
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Robert Cheung moved all in for 81,000 from under the gun and action folded to Peter Smyth in the big blind, who quickly called with A♠K♠.

"That is what I want to see," Cheung proclaimed, revealing 3♦3♣.

The tiny pair held on the Q♦9♦5♥7♠6♦ board and Cheung doubled once again, up to 170,000. Smyth is down to 550,000.--JW

All In_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5770.jpg

The mighty treys

2:25pm: Perfect flop helps Ounthongdy double through Gagliano
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

After a Mike Gagliano min-raise from under the gun it folded to Jovy Ounthongdy who called, then after the 7♥]A♥8♠ flop it was a check from Ounthongdy, a bet of 23,000 from Gagliano, a check-raise to 56,000 by Ounthongdy, and a call from Gagliano.

The turn was the 3♠, and Ounthongdy set out a bet of 70,000, leaving himself approximately 115,000 behind stacked in a single column. Gagliano thought for a half-minute, then set out a stack big enough to put Ounthongdy all in, and the latter called in a flash.

Ounthongdy flipped over A♦8♥ for two pair, and Gagliano somewhat less enthusiastically showed he'd flopped two pair, too, but was behind with 8♣7♦. The river was the J♣, and Ounthongdy bounds up to 455,000 while Gagliano now has 715,000. --MH

2:20pm: Chris Dombrowski eliminated in 11th place ($3,562)
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Chris Dombrowski raised all in for 167,000 and Sridhar Sangannagari called behind him. It was a flip, with Dombrowski holding A♠J♣ to Sangannagari's 6♦6♠. The pair held up on the T♣4♣2♠2♣8♥ board and Dombrowski exited in 11th place. Sangannagari moved up to 470,000. After the hand, Rocco Dicondina was moved to Dombrowski's old seat to balance tables with ten players remaining.--JW

Chris Dombrowski_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5686.jpg

Chris Dombrowski - 11th place

2:05pm: Set of sixes saves Sangannagari
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Peter Smyth opened to 25,000 from under the gun, and when the action reached Sridhar Sangannagari in the small blind he reraised all in for 123,000 total. After getting a count, Matthew Affleck called the shove, and following a short bit of thought Smyth got out.

Sridhar Sangannagari had 6♣6♦ while Affleck had 9♥9♣, and it appeared the field was about to be trimmed to 10. But the flop fell Q♥6♠5♥ to give Sangannagari a set. The 8♥ turn added straight out for Affleck, but the river was the 5♦ and Sangannagari survives.

Sangannagari has about 280,000 now while Affleck is still sitting very comfortably with 920,000. --MH

1:55pm: Robert Cheung stops and goes
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Sridhar Sangannagari raised to 22,000 from under the gun and, after some thought and counting of his own stack, Robert Cheung announced "call " from the small blind.

The flop fell 9♠5♠2♣ and Cheung moved all in for his remaining 65,000. That was enough for Sangannagari to lay it down. Cheung moved up to 105,000, while Sangannagari dropped to 110,000.--JW

1:55pm: Peter Smyth doubles
Level 19 - Blinds 5,000/10,000 (1,000)

Peter Smyth raised to 30,000 and Sridhar Sangannagari reraised to around 80,000 out of the small blind. Smyth moved all in for 261,00 total and, after a count and some thought, Sangannagari called.

Sangannagari was live with K♦9♣ to Smyth's A♥Q♥, but the T♣3♠2♥J♣4♦ board was clean for Smyth, who doubled to 535,000. Sangannagari fell to 175,000.--JW


1:47pm: Tom Revello eliminated in 12th place ($2,870)
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Tom Revello raised to 18,000 from under the gun and Peter Smyth reraised to 46,000 behind him. Sridhar Sangannagari called in the small blind. Matt Affleck was next to act and thought for over a minute before reraised to 166,000.

Action moved back to Revello, who took a good two minutes before moving all in for 437,000 total. Smyth and Sangannagari quickly folded and Affleck asked for a count. He had Revello covered, but not by much, as he had around 315,000 behind his bet. Affleck called, unsure if his Q♠Q♣ were going to be good.

They weren't. Revello had K♥K♠ and looked good on the 8♣5♣5♠ flop. The A♣ turn helped Affleck though, as he was the only player with a club and a chance at a flush. The river brought no club, but it did bring the Q♥ to give Affleck a full house and the pot. He now appears to be chip leader with 1,100,000. Revello finishes in 12th place.--JW

Thomas Revello_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5732.jpg

Tom Revello - 12th place

1:38pm: Sangannagari over Affleck
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 13,000 from under the gun and it folded around to Chris Dombrowski (small blind) and Sridhar Sangannagari (big blind), both of whom called.

The flop came J♠A♦4♦, and after Dombrowski checked, Sangannagari bet 32,000, Affleck called, and Dombrowski folded. The 7♥ turn brought a long look from Sangannagari at Affleck followed by a check, with Affleck then checking behind while looking back at Sangannagari.

The river was the Q♠, and after just a beat Sangannagari pushed all in with his last 260,000 or so. Affleck rechecked his hand, looking at his cards for a long while, then thought some more, looked at his hand one last time, and folded.

Sangannagari is up to about 365,000 while Affleck has about 505,000 right now. --MH

1:30pm: Nicholas Aguilera eliminated in 13th place ($2,870)
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Nicholas Aguilera raised to 18,000 from middle position and Mike Gagliano called from the button. The flop came K♦8♥2♦ and Aguilera bet 18,000. Gagliano called.

The turn was the 9♥. Aguilera bet 37,000 and Gagliano again called.

The river was the 4♦. Aguilera shoved all in for around 100,000 and Gagliano quickly called with 8♦T♦ for a flush,which had Aguilera's A♥Q♥ for ace-high easily beat. Gagliano took the pot to move to 970,000. Aguilera finishes in 13th place.--JW

Nicholas Aguilera_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5745.jpg

Nicholas Aguilera - 13th place

1:29pm: Ounthongdy survives versus Smyth
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

With about 40,000 in the middle and the board showing 8♥Q♦T♣, Jovy Ounthongdy pushed all in for 127,000 and after some thought Peter Smyth called.

Ounthongdy had A♠K♥ while Smyth was ahead with K♦Q♦. But the J♥ happily fell for Ounthongdy on the turn to fill his straight, and after the 9♣ river he survived.

Both Ounthongdy and Smyth are sitting on about 300,000 now. --MH

1:24pm: Dicondina spikes nine to survive
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Rocco Dicondina open-raised all in with his last 101,000 from under the gun and it folded all of the way around to Nicholas Aguilera in the big blind who'd yet to check his cards.

Acting quickly, he squeezed the first. "It's a good one," he said. He then peeked at the other and swiftly said he was calling. He had A♣A♠.

Dicondina had 9♦9♠ and things looked bleak for him, but the 9♣3♠K♥ flop turned things around in a hurry. The turn was the 6♥ and the river the 4♥, and Dicondina survives with almost 220,000 while Aguilera slips to just under 130,000.

The pair bumped fists afterwards, and Aguilera said "My turn next time, huh?"

As it happened, on the next hand Aguilera would push all in and get no callers, and show his hand as he collected the blinds and antes -- pocket nines. --MH

1:20pm: Peter Smyth shoves
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Jovy Ounthongdy raised to 18,000 from the cutoff and Peter Smyth called in the small blind. The flop came T♦9♠8♦ and Smyth checked. Ounthongdy bet 18,000 and Smyth asked him how much he has left. Ounthongdy counted out 129,000 behind his bet. Smyth announced he was all-in, Ounthongdy folded, and Smyth took the pot to chip up to 410,000.--JW

1:16pm: Kim takes a few from Gagliano
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

After Nicolas Aguilera min-raised to 16,000 from under the gun and Rocco Dicondina min-reraised to 32,000 from the next seat over, it folded back around to Jason Acosta in the big blind who pushed all in with his last 115,000, and Aguilera quickly folded. After pausing just a beat, Dicondina called and tabled his J♣J♥ while Acosta had A♣K♦.

The 5♦2♥A♥ flop helped the all-in player, as did the K♠ turn which gave Acosta two pair. The river was the 9♠, and Acosta is back to 170,000, Dicondina down to 120,000, and Aguilera is at 210,000.

"I've never run so good," said Acosta afterwards. "That's how you win tournaments," answered Aguilera. "I guess that's why I've never won one," grinned Acosta.

He's still one of 14 who have a chance at winning this one. --MH

1:12pm: Dan Howe eliminated in 14th place ($2,870)
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Jason Acosta raised to 20,000 from under the gun and Dan Howe moved all in for around 180,000 in late position. Eli Kim was in the blinds and thought a minute before announcing he was all-in as well, for around 230,000. Acosta puffed his cheeks with air, let out a sigh, and folded what he would later say was pocket tens.

Kim turned over J♥J♣ and Howe showed K♣K♦. Howe looked to be in good shape to double, but the flop fell J♦8♦2♥, sparking a sharp inhale from Kim, who didn't quite celebrate, but inhaled and held his breath through the 2♣ turn and T♦ river hoping his set would hold. It did, and an apologetic Kim gave Howe his condolences and wished him well, telling him it was nice playing with him.

"I gotta shake your hand before you go," Kim told him.

"Nah, that is alright," Howe replied before heading to the payout desk to collect his 14th-place earnings. Kim is up to 390,000.--JW

Daniel Howe_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5692.jpg

Dan Howe - 14th place

1:06pm: Kim takes a few from Gagliano
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Eli Kim has been on a short stack for a while, but that hasn't kept him from remaining active opening pots and staying involved.

Just now he opened again -- this time to 18,000 from early position -- and it folded around to Mike Gagliano in the big blind who called. The flop came A♦5♣6♥, and after checking Gagliano called Kim's 24,000 c-bet. The turn brought the K♠ and another check from "Gags," and when Kim bet 35,000, Gagliano let his hand go.

Kim is at 235,000 now, while Gagliano is up aroudn 695,000 to challenge David Johnston for the current chip lead. --MH

1:05pm: It's all rigged!

As play slows down here a little bit, we need to take a moment to congratulate Jason Somerville who last night won the 3rd Annual Chad Brown Memorial Tournament, proving 1) He's pretty good at this poker thing and 2) Everything is clearly rigged.

Winner Jason Somerville_Chad Brown Charity Tournament_2016 PSNJ Festival_Giron_8JG5658.jpg

1:02pm: Thomas Revello shoves
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Sridhar Sangannagari raised to 23,000 from early position and Tom Revello called on the button. The flop fell K♣Q♥2♣ and Sangannagari bet 45,000. Revello paused for a bit, then called.

The turn was the A♠. Sangannagari bet 82,000. revello paused again, but this time he moved all in for 244,000. Sangannagari thought about it, then folded, remarking Revello probably held king-queen.

"Something like that," Revello replied. He is now up to 370,000. Sangannagari is down to 245,000.--JW

12:55pm: John Kim eliminated in 15th place ($2,870)
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Down to just 25,000, John Kim open-raised all-in from the hijack seat and got two callers -- Rocco Dicondina (cutoff) and David Johnston (big blind).

The 7♦3♠T♣ flop earned a leading bet of 30,000 from Johnston, and Dicondina got out of the way. Johnston turned over 7♥5♥ for sevens, while Kim had a couple of live cards and a gutshot draw with J♦8♦.

The turn was the 6♥ and river the K♣, though, and Kim hits the rail in 15th place. --MH

John Kim_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 3_Giron_8JG5719.jpg

John Kim - 15th place

12:53pm: Robert Cheung refuses to leave
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Our intrepid photographer Joe Giron was photographing the action, including Robert Cheung, the short stack in the field who has been the short stack in the field since yesterday. Cheung, aware of his situation, leaned over to Peter Smyth and said, "I know what the photographer is thinking. Shoot him before he goes out. No need to worry. I am not going anywhere. I refuse to leave," he ended with a chuckle.--JW

12:47pm: Johnston dents Dicondina
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

David Johnston opened for 18,000 from middle position and got a single customer in Rocco Dicondina calling from the big blind. The 8♣T♦7♥ flop saw Dicondina check, Johnston bet 20,000, Dicondina check-raise to 50,000, and Johnston call. Then after the 7♠ turn Dicondina led for 75,000, and Johnston called.

The river brougth the A♣ and a check from Dicondina, and Johnston took that as an invitation to fire 100,000. Dicondina tanked for some time, then let his hand go, and he keeps his 285,000. Meanwhile Johnston is up over 710,000 now. --MH

12:47pm: Chip counts at the break
Level 18 - Blinds 4,000/8,000 (1,000)

Michael GaglianoUSA754000
Matthew AffleckUSA604000
David JohnstonUSA547000
Sridhar SangannagariUSA437000
Rocco DicondinaUSA430000
Jovy OunthongdyUSA365000
Christopher DombrowskiUSA356000
Peter SmythUK327000
Thomas RevelloUSA289000
Nicholas AguileraUSA230000
Eli KimUSA208000
Jason AcostaUSA180000
Daniel HoweUSA152000
Robert CheungCanada117000
John KimUSA33000


12:19pm: Robert Cheung doubles
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Jovy Ounthongdy raised to 14,000 from middle position and Robert Cheung moved all in for 46,000 from the button. Chris Dombrowski was in the small blind and reraised to around 85,000. Ounthongdy thought a minute, then folded what he said was ace-queen.

Cheung was happy his opponent folded, as he held A♥T♣ to Dombrowski's 8♥8♦. Cheung paired his kicker on the Q♣T♥2♠4♦5♥ board and he doubled to 115,000. Dombrowski is down to 350,000.--JW

12:15pm: David Vamplew eliminated in 16th place ($2,331)
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Matt Affleck raised to 14,000 from middle position and EPT champ David Vamplew reraised to 37,000 in position. The flop came A♦T♥9♥ and Affleck bet 40,000. Vamplew called.

The turn was the 7♠. Affleck announced hew was all-in, having Vamplew's remaining 140,000 or so covered. Vamplew thought about it a little while, then called, tabling A♠J♥. Affleck turned over 9♦9♠ for a set of nines. The river brought the 3♥ and Vamplew was eliminated in 16th place. Affleck is up to 555,000.--JW

David Vamplew_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 2_Giron_8JG5310.jpg

David Vamplew - 16th place

12:05pm: Seating assignments for the last two tables
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

They've redrawn for seats around the final two tables. Here's where they are:

Table 1
Seat 1: Peter Smyth
Seat 2: Robert Cheung
Seat 3: Chris Dombrowski
Seat 4: Sridhar Sangannagari
Seat 5: Matt Affleck
Seat 6: David Vamplew
Seat 7: Jovy Ounthongdy
Seat 8: Thomas Revello

Table 2
Seat 1: Jason Acosta
Seat 2: Nicholas Aguilera
Seat 3: John Kim
Seat 4: Rocco Dicondina
Seat 5: Daniel Howe
Seat 6: Mike Gagliano
Seat 7: David Johnston
Seat 8: Eli Kim

There are 15 minutes left in Level 17. --MH

11:59am: Jesse Elliott eliminated, down to two tables
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Jesse Elliott moved all in from late position for 69,500 and Chris Dombrowski called in the small blind. The NJCOOP champ Elliott showed A♠K♠. He was racing with Dombrowski, who held 7♦7♣.

The 8♠3♣2♠ flop brought Elliott a flush draw to go with his overcards. The 4♥ on the turn was no help, nor was the 4♣ on the river, so Elliott was eliminated in 17th place while Dombrowski chipped up to 370,000.

The final 16 players are now redrawing for seats at the final two tables.--JW

11:50am: Kim takes from Smyth
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

With about 90,000 in the middle and the board showing 8♠A♥9♦, Eli Kim and Peter Smyth were having a conversation about the stacks of chips sitting in front of each.

Kim couldn't quite see how much Smyth had left, so he obliged by rearranging them a bit to accommodate. Then Kim said he was all in, and Smyth had to look closely to see how much his opponent was pushing forward.

It was Kim doing the accommodating this time, moving chips and helping show he'd bet about 145,000. Smyth examined the 290,000 he had behind and decided to let his hand go, and Kim showed his cards -- A♣9♥ for two pair -- as he collected the pot.

Smyth said he'd folded ace-queen suited to keep that 290,000, while Kim is up to 235,000 now. --MH

11:39am: Wayne Gerichten eliminated
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Nicholas Aguilera raised from middle position and Wayne Gerichten moved all in from the big blind for his last 23,000. Aguilera called with 4♠4♣ and Gerichten showed 6♠2♠. Gerichten got no help from th eA♥K♦7♣8♠3♣ board and he was eliminated in 18th place. Aguilera is up to 315,000.--JW

11:39am: John Kim doubles
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

John Kim was all-in preflop for his last 48,000 holding 5♠5♣ to Sridhar Sangannagari's A♦T♦. The fives held on the K♠Q♥9♥K♣4♣ board and Kim doubled to 105,000. Sangannagari is down to 365,000.--JW

11:30am: Peter Smyth doubles
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Dan Howe raised to 13,000 from the cutoff and Peter Smyth reraised to 36,000 from the big blind. Howe announced he was all-in, having Smyth's 122,000 chips covered, and Smyth quickly called, announcing, "I have aces."

He did indeed have A♠A♥, whiel Howe held A♦K♥. The aces held on the Q♦7♣2♠7♥T♣ board and Smyth doubled. Both players now sit on around 250,000.--JW

11:27am: Randy Lew knocked out by Jovy Ounthongdy
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

After Jovy Ounthongdy opened from middle position and Jason Acosta called from the hijack seat, Team PokerStars Online Pro Randy "nanonoko" Lew went all in from the button for his last 87,000, prompting a reraise-shove from Ounthongdy that forced Acosta aside.

Lew had picked up a big pair with J♠J♣, but Ounthongdy had a bigger one with Q♦Q♣, and after the community cards came 3♠2♥4♠T♦T♥ Lew's Day 3 has ended quickly with a 20th-place finish.

Ounthongdy is now up to 375,000. --MH

Team PokerStars Pro Randy Lew_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 2_Giron_8JG5278.jpg

Randy Lew

11:23am: Robert Cheung doubles
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Eli Kim raised to 12,000 from middle position and Robert Cheung moved all in fro mthe small blind for 32,500. Kim called with A♠2♣ and Cheung was out front with A♣T♥. Cheung's kicker held on the A♦Q♥6♦9♣Q♣ board and he doubled up to 75,000. Kim is down to 140,000.--JW

11:20am: John Gulino eliminated
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

It was a battle of the blinds with John Gulino in the small blind and Rocco Dicondina in the big blind. The two got it all-in preflop with Gulino holding A♠K♦ to Dicondina's J♠J♣. The 8♠5♠3♠ flop gave both players flush draws, but Gulino's was the bigger one. The A♥ on the turn officially gave Gulino the lead in the hand, but Dicondina managed to spike the J♦ on the river to hit his set and eliminate his second opponent in the span of ten minutes to move to 350,000. Gulino was eliminated in 21st place.--JW

11:11am: Jack Duong eliminated
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (500)

Jack Duong moved all in on the button for his last 42,000 and John Gulino called in the small blind. Rocco Dicondina was in the big blind and thought a minute before reraising all in for an additional 63,500. Duong sighed, Gulino called, and there was a three-way all-in with Gulino covering both players:

Gulino: 3♥3♣
Dicondina: A♥K♥
Duong: T♦6♦

There was not much suspense after the flop fell 9♥7♥4♥, giving Dicondina the nut flush, though the 9♠ on the turn did leave Gulino drawing to two outs to a full house. The river 4♠ secured the pot for Dicondina and send Duong home in 22nd place. Dicondina is up to 255,000 and Gulino is down to 95,000.--JW

11;08am: And that's it for that level
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (1,000)

Because we ended with only a few minutes left in Level 16 last night, we're already up to Level 17!


11:02am: Darren Elias eliminated
Level 16 - Blinds 2,500/5,000 (500)

Darren Elias moved all in from under the gun for his lat 65,500 and Eli Kim called in late position. Elias turned over 7♣7♦ and Kim was out front with T♣T♠. Elias got no help from the 8♦6♣3♦J♥8♠ board and he was eliminated on the first hand of the day in 23rd place. Kim, meanwhile, is up to 160,000.--JW

Darren Elias_2016 PSNJ Festival_Main Event Day 2_Giron_8JG5214.jpg

Darren Elias


10:50am: Day 3 almost underway
Level 17 - Blinds 3,000/6,000 (500)

The final 23 players are getting situated and unbagging as day 3 sets to commence. The plan for today is to play from 23 to the eight-handed final table. Currently David Johnston is poised with the best chance to lock up one of those eight seats. He leads the field with 527,000, but Mike Gagliano and Chris Dombrowski are sitting on big stacks as well.

Blinds begin at 3,000/6,000 (1,000). Away we go...


PokerStars Festival New Jersey live reporting team: Jessica Welman and Brad Willis. Photography by Joe Giron.