Just after noon on Friday, "Captain" Tom Franklin, a Gulfport, Mississippi professional player for the last two decades and a World Series of Poker veteran, gave the "Shuffle Up and Deal" call, triggering Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event, and setting to work the combined fields of 2,044 players. Almost thirteen hours and five levels of fierce competitive poker later only an estimated 810 players were still in contention as the officials called it a wrap.
Seen among the crowds taking their seats as Day 3 began were Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, Kenny Tran, Bertrand Grospellier, Paul Wasicka, Dan Harrington, J.C. Alvarado, Marc Karam, Joe Hachem, Nick Binger, Eugene Katchalov, Kirill Gerasimov, Jeff Lisandro, Fabrice Soullier, Kara Scott, Luca Pagano, Lee Watkinson, Jesper Hougaard, Dennis Phillips, Alexander Kostritsyn, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Antonio Esfandiari, Sorel Mizzi, defending champ Peter Eastgate, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Eric 'Rizen' Lynch, Greg "FBT" Mueller, J.C. Tran, Thor Hansen, Josh Arieh and Phil Hellmuth.
Many of them would see their 2009 Main Event hopes turn to dust by the end of the day - some even before the 6.45pm dinner break. Among those hitting the rail were Erik Seidel, Roland de Wolfe, Jason Young, Bill Gazes, Jennifer Harman, Bill Edler, Dario Alioto, Humberto Brenes, Jean-Robert Bellande, Ville Wahlbeck, Greg Raymer, Carlos Mortensen, Liz Lieu and Raymond Rahme.
Lasting beyond the dinner break but not making it to the end of the day were John Juanda, Shawn Buchanan, Josh Arieh, Jeff Lisandro, Brandon Demes and Kirk Morrison, along with celeb player Jason Alexander, who gave an exceptionally good account of himself.
Other celebs who did well to make day three but were eliminated earlier in the day included former Aussie cricket star Shane Warne who started strongly but fell two hours into the tournament, and L.A. Lakers Guard Jordan Farmar. It was not clear at press time whether other celebs such as actor Lou Diamond Phillips, "The Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon and French star Patrick Bruel were still in the running.
The chip lead to start the day was held by Amir Lehavot on 610,000.
A highlight came mid-afternoon, when Media Director Nolan Dalla announced that Jeff Lisandro has been judged WSOP Player of the Year for 2009, pursued closely by Finnish phenom Ville Wahlbeck. Lisandro achieved a 355 point total in a remarkable and historic run this year, picking up three bracelets over the course of the seven weeks. In a dazzling display of talent, the Australian-born but Italy-resident pro ran over three final tables to win the Stud Triple Crown - one bracelet in each of Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz. Displaying his legendary cool, Lisandro courteously acknowledged the roar of approbation that the announcement generated in the Amazon room.
When play restarted after the dinner break, the field was down to 1,071, a loss of a thousand players in just three levels, and had shrunk sufficiently for all players to be accommodated in the Amazon Room at the Rio. With two levels to go, the field was looking more hopefully toward the money bubble, which kicks in when the field hits the 648 level. Players in positions 577 through 648 will receive $21,365 according to the payout structure this year.
Hellmuth was heard complaining at an apparently controversial decision taken by tournament officials to send players on a twenty-minute colour-up break right before producing the bags to officially end the night, effectively stalling the action for the day.
Just before 1am Vegas time Saturday, Day 3 was officially ended with an estimated 810 players remaining to go forward to Day 4. Unofficial indications were that Internet and tournament poker ace Bertrand Grospellier is the likely chipleader after an outstanding day's play that has built his chip stack to around 1,380,500. Other big stacks were noted for Ludovic Lacay (925,000) , Christian Heich (870,000), Adam Bilzerian (830,000) and Jordan Morgan (785,000,000), with Phil Ivey, Alex Kostritsyn, Phil Hellmuth and Kenny Tran also doing well.
Average stack as the day ended was approximately 240,519.
Official numbers from the World Series of Poker Main Event Day 3 action have confirmed that Bertrand Grospellier leads the 789 survivors going into Day 4 with a chip stack of 1,380,500.
The top ten after Grospellier are:
Ludovic Lacay 896,000; Jason Brice 858,500; Benjamin Jensen 835,500; Kasper Cordes 796,000; James Akenhead 794,000; Billy Kopp 792,000; Tyler Patterson 784,000; Adam 'Nestegg' Bilzerian 767,000; Christian Heich 735,500; and Jordan Morgan 705,000.
Significantly further back in the 789 player field are a few of the more recognisable names in the game:
Justin Bonomo 517,500
Dennis Phillips 510,000
Phil Hellmuth 485,000
Kara Scott 456,500
Mike Sexton 414,000
Nick Binger 394,000
Amir Lehavot 387,000 (chip leader going into Day 3)
David Benyamine 381,500
Phil Ivey 371,000
Lou Diamond Phillips 359,500
Joe Sebok 297,500
Sorel Mizzi 297,000
Peter Eastgate 292,500 (last year's Main Event winner)
Andy Black 277,500
Hevad Khan 272,500
Patrick Bruel 245,500 (celeb player andFrench movie actor)
Joe Hachem 239,500
Chris Ferguson 232,500
Noah Boeken 180,500
Thor Hansen 164,000
Jesper Hougaard 148,000
John Monnette 129,500
Greg 'FBT' Mueller 101,500
Source: InfoPowa News