Level 14: 2,500-5,000, 500 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Note: For the official seating and chip counts, click here.
The WPT Champions Cup has the name of every WPT winner engraved on it, one name away from completing a full decade.
Registration closed about halfway thru Day 3, with a final field size of 152 players. The top 18 will finish in the money, earning at least $40,266. First prize is worth $1,196,858.
Guillaume Darcourt began the day third in chips with 356,600, and after five levels, finished the day third in chips with 641,000. Darcourt won the WPT Bucharest title back in Season VIII.
Keeping with his own tradition, Phil Hellmuth (left) showed up late, registering on Day 3. But the strategy didn't work well this time, as he played his first hand to the flop (pictured above) and lost nearly 20% of his stack to Randy Dorfman (not pictured).
Hellmuth was looking toward a comeback when he got it all in with K-K after a 5-4-3 flop, hoping to double up thru Hafiz Khan who had Q-Q. If his kings held up, Hellmuth would have an above-average stack, but a queen on the turn ended his tournament about an hour after he sat down.
Jason Mercier was another late arrival on Day 3, though he was eliminated when he got it all in with JJ against Viacheslav Igin's AK -- a king on the flop ended Mercier's WPT season. Mercier is widely considered one of the top players in the game, though he is still looking for his first WPT Final Table.
Shortly after registration closed, Lamar "Wil" Wilkinson (pictured) got it all in for a huge pot against Ubaid Habib with the board showing 6328 on the turn. Habib had JJ, but Wilkinson had QQ. The queens held up for Wilkinson to eliminate Habib and catapult into the chip lead with 560,000.
David Sands (right) studies WPT Grand Prix de Paris champion Matthew Waxman (left) after a preflop four-bet from Waxman. Sands would eventually fold, and Waxman took this pot. Both players survived the day, though they are both well below average in chips, with 33 big blinds for Waxman and 17 big blinds for Sands.
Antonio Esfandiari was one of the final three players to register, but he had a much better day than most, finishing fourth in chips with 630,100. Esfandiari has had a lot of recent success here at Bellagio, winning the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic last season, and finishing sixth in that same event earlier this season.
WPT Player of the Year points leader Will Failla (seated, center) entertains Heather Sue Mercer (right) as they both sweat the action late on Day 3. Mercer is following the progress of her father, Robert Mercer, who is seated at the table behind Failla. Failla is sweating the 12 players who still have a chance to catch him in the Player of the Year race.
Joe Serock is closest to Failla in the POY race, and can catch him by finishing 15th or higher. The other 11 contenders will need to reach the final table to catch up to Failla, as you can see below.
15th Place or better: Joe Serock
5th Place or better: Moon Kim, David Sands, Matthew Waxman
4th Place or better: Byron Kaverman, Noah Schwartz
3rd Place or better: Mohamed Ali Houssam, Tony Ruberto
1st Place: Antonio Esfandiari, Matt Juttelstad, Miha Travnik, Rinat Bogdanov
Robert Mercer survived to Day 4 with a roughly average chip stack of 301,600. His daughter, Heather Sue Mercer, made a deep run in the WPT World Championship two years ago, but was on the wrong end of one of the most memorable bad beats in WPT history.
In that hand two years ago, Faraz Jaka five-bet all in preflop with 93, and Heather Sue Mercer quickly called with A-A. But the board came 983510 to give Jaka two pair, catapulting him to the chip lead and eliminating Mercer three spots away from the money. Heather Sue is hoping her father has better luck than she had.
Joe Serock (center) was relatively short-stacked, but he won a few big pots late in the day, moving all in on the river here against Michael Mizrachi (foreground, left), and then doubling up thru Brock Parker a short while later after a flop of 542 -- Serock's AA held up against Parker's 33 (open-ended straight draw).
Serock finished the day 17th in chips with 400,800. As pointed out earlier, he needs to finish 15th or higher to catch Will Failla in the Player of the Year race, so it looks like it'll be an interesting sweat for Failla on Day 4.
Nick Schulman moved up the leaderboard when he won a pot worth more than 500,000 against Michael Mizrachi in the final minutes of the day. The final board showed 752109 -- Mizrachi check-raised the flop, bet the turn, and check-raised the river. Schulman tanked for about a minute before calling with QQ, and Mizrachi mucked. Schulman finished the day second in chips with 768,000.
Curt Kohlberg went on a strong run late on Day 3 to take a big chip lead, busting several players on his way to 918,300 in chips. Kohlberg has three WPT Final Tables under his belt, and his best result was a runner-up finish at last season's WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, where he won $586,109.
There are 44 players remaining, and the top 18 will finish in the money, guaranteed at least $40,266. First prize is worth $1,196,858.
Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard:
1. Curt Kohlberg - 918,300 (183 BBs)
2. Nick Schulman - 768,000 (153 BBs)
3. Guillaume Darcourt - 641,000 (128 BBs)
4. Antonio Esfandiari - 630,100 (126 BBs)
5. Rinat Bogdanov - 624,100 (124 BBs)
Day 4 begins Tuesday at 12:00 noon PT, and action will continue for another five 90-minute levels as the field approaches the money bubble. Stay tuned to WPT.com for continuing live coverage.
Level 13: 2,000-4,000, 400 ante
Matthew Waxman raises from middle position, David Sands reraises from late position to 17,700, and Waxman four-bets it to 41,500. Sands tanks for a little while before he folds, and Waxman takes the pot.
Matthew Waxman - 230,000
David Sands - 120,000
Level 10: 1,000-2,000, 300 ante
After losing the majority of his chips in a coinflip, reigning WPT World Champion Scott Seiver gets the last of his stack in preflop holding A-2 to Season X Grand Prix de Paris Champ Matthew Waxman's A-10. Seiver gets no help and he is eliminated late in Level 10 action.
Matthew Waxman - 190,000
Scott Seiver - eliminated
Level 10: 1,000-2,000, 300 ante
Matthew Waxman raises under the gun to 4,000, J.P. Kelly moves all in from late position for 41,900, and Waxman calls with AQ. Kelly turns over 77, and he'll need it to hold to stay alive.
The board comes K5368, and J.P. Kelly wins the pot with his pocket sevens to double up in chips.
J.P. Kelly - 90,000
Matthew Waxman - 165,000
Level 9: 800-1,600, 200 ante
With around 27,000 in the pot and the board reading K1037, Bob Bounahra bets 13,300 from the big blind and Season X Grand Prix de Paris Matthew Waxman calls from middle position.
The river is the 10 and Bounahra bets 25,000. Waxman thinks for over two minutes before calling.
Bounahra mucks immediately, and Waxman tries to muck as well, but the players at the table inform him someone has to show a winner in order to take the pot.
Waxman turns over AQ for just ace-high, prompting tablemate David Paul Steicke to proclaim, "Wow."
Matthew Waxman - 220,000
Bob Bounahra - 65,000