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WPT Bellagio Five Diamond, Day 3 Photo Recap
Level 16: 3,000-6,000, 500 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Antonio Esfandiari is the defending champion in this event, winning last year's WPT Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic on his birthday.
This year, his birthday fell on Day 3 of the tournament, and the Royal Flush Girls (from left to right: Angelique Velez, Ivy Teves, Danielle Ruiz, and Brittany Bell) planned to surprise him with a birthday cake during one of the breaks.
Some of the most notable players in the field busted early in the day, including Phil Hellmuth (pictured above, giving an exit interview), Erik Seidel, and Doyle Brunson.
Dee Dozier studies the board of AQ273 after her opponent puts her all in on the river. When Dozier called, her opponent immediately mucked, and Dozier flipped over her A10 to claim the pot and double up. Dozier and Vanessa Selbst are the only two women to survive to Day 4.
As the Royal Flush Girls waited just out of sight to give a birthday cake to Antonio Esfandiari (right), he became involved in a huge three-way preflop all-in situation against Darren Elias (left) and Vanessa Selbst (center).
Elias was the short stack with 33, Esfandiari had 99, and Selbst had them both covered with AK.
The board came 742Q10, and Antonio Esfandiari (right) gives a double-fist pump as he wins the pot with his pocket nines to more than double up.
Before Antonio Esfandiari even had time to stack his chips (as you can see, bottom left), the Royal Flush Girls greeted him with a birthday cake. It just kept getting better and better for Esfandiari on his birthday.
With only 11 tables in the main tournament area (out on the casino floor), and 100 players finishing in the money, the money bubble stretched across two rooms. This was the only table in the poker room for the money bubble, and it was a tough one.
In seat order, clockwise from the dealer: (1) Jason Dewitt, (2) Vanessa Selbst, (3) Antonio Esfandiari, (4) Carlos Mortensen, (5) David Steicke, (6) Chris DeMaci, (7) Andrew Robl, (8) Dee Dozier, (9) Will Molson.
When the separated field was playing hand-for-hand on the money bubble, Assistant TD Thang O (background, left) stayed on the phone with the main tournament area to make sure the table in the poker room was playing hands at the same time as everyone else.
While they wait for the next hand, three-time WPT winner Carlos Mortensen (center) chats with Vanessa Selbst (bottom left).
It took several hands for the money bubble to burst. Brent Sheirbon (center left) got it all in preflop with JJ. Unfortunately for him, John Krpan (right) had QQ. The board came low, and Krpan offered a consolatory handshake to Sheirbon as he finished in 101st place to become the "bubble boy."
With the remaining players in the money, the stakes increase as they begin looking toward the final table. Here, the cameras capture a three-way hand between WSOP November Niner Matt Giannetti (right), Steven Koplow (far left), and Nicolas Fraioli (top left).
Koplow was all in preflop with A7, completely missing the board of J62102. With action continuing between Giannetti and Fraioli, Koplow assumed he was about to be eliminated. But Giannetti bet Koplow out of the hand on the turn and turned over a gutshot straight draw. Giannetti took the side pot, and Koplow surprisingly won the main pot with ace high to triple up.
After being crippled the previous hand by Dwyte Pilgrim (far left), Carlos Mortensen (standing center) moved all in preflop with 76. The flop came 953, and David Pham (bottom right) bet another player out of the pot with K9 (pair of nines). Mortensen never caught up, and was eliminated in 71st place.
Defending champion and Birthday Boy Antonio Esfandiari (right) studies Matt Glantz, who just five-bet it preflop to 108,500. Esfandiari would eventually fold and forfeit the pot.
Glantz already has two WPT cashes this season, finishing 12th at the WPT Borgata Open in September and 12th at the WPT Foxwoods World Poker Finals in October. He also had a 12th place finish in the September Epic Poker League event.
As you might expect, Glantz has received a lot of ribbing from his friends who predict that he'll finish 12th here as well.
Dee Dozier (left) faces a preflop raise from Dwyte Pilgrim (right). They would soon get it all in, with AA for Dozier and JJ for Pilgrim. The board came Q10497, and Dozier doubled up in the final half hour of the day.
Soi Nguyen started the day fourth in chips, and continued his good run on Day 3, finishing second in chips with 1,380,000. At one point, Nguyen took a pot after flopping top set with pocket queens, and David Williams said, "Must be nice to flop top set all the time."
The next hand, Nguyen played a pot with JJ -- and flopped middle set. He won that pot too.
With about an hour left in the day, Kyle Julius (pictured) played the biggest pot of the tournament against Alexander Debus, who five-bet all in preflop with A-K. Julius called with Q-Q, and it was a race situation in a pot worth more than 900,000.
The board came low, neither player improved, and Julius won the pot with his pocket queens to catapult to the top of the leaderboard with 950,000.
Julius didn't stop there, adding another 50% to his stack in the final hour to finish with 1,457,000 heading into Day 4.
Here's a look at the chipleaders heading into Day 4:
1. Kyle Julius - 1,457,000 (242 BBs)
2. Soi Nguyen - 1,380,000 (230 BBs)
3. Antonio Esfandiari - 805,000 (134 BBs)
4. Larry Wells - 704,000 (117 BBs)
5. Scott Clements - 563,500 (93 BBs)
Day 4 begins Friday at 12:00 noon PT, and the field will play another five 90-minutes levels with no dinner break. Stay tuned to WPT.com for continuing live coverage as they play down closer and closer to Sunday's televised WPT final table.
09:26 AM, 12/09/11