WSOP Main Event: Welcome back

wsop2009_thn.gifWelcome back to the World Series of Poker. It's as though we had never been away.

For the PokerStars players, reporters, friends and family members, today is the morning after the night before. After Nelly and co put on one of the finest parties at Rain at the Palms last night, we could have been forgiven for thinking the tournament was over and we had all won. But it couldn't really be further from the truth.

The fun restarts today in a more traditional fashion for a poker tournament. In front of media row as this is being written, a sea of 2,044 players are unbagging their day three chips with the intention of bagging them up again in about 12 hours time, knowing that they are closing in on the money in the World Series of Poker Main Event. This year's tournament pays its 648th placed finisher, but it does not pay its 649th. There is an outside chance that we will get close to discovering the identity of that unluckiest of players today, and even if we don't, every pot from here on in is crucial.

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As ever, PokerStars is represented in great volume. The Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier is in the top ten percent of players and has all the tournament pedigree to make a huge charge towards the biggest title in his, or anyone's, careers. Dennis Phillips is also extremely well stacked on day three, and another deep charge from him, one year after making the final table, would be a spectacular achievement in the biggest tournament in the game. And did we really get this far without mentioning a man named Eastgate? No one has knocked him out of the World Series Main Event since 2007. He went on a late charge late on day 2b and also has the chips and the game to keep us writing about him for many more days.

The man they are all chasing Amir Lehavot, a PokerStars qualifier from the United States. Lehavot has been hiding from us for the tournament so far, probably behind his stack of more than 600,000 chips. But stand by for a proper introduction to the World Series leader today: we'll have his photo and his story here by the end of the day.

Stand by, then, for a thriller. This day will be special.


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The PokerStars qualifier Perino Smith takes on board some sustenance before day three