It doesn’t matter how you add it up, when the world’s greatest poker event opened up it’s doors, 6,865 people ponied up $10,000 for a chance to sit down and play.

Some were, professional, some were amateurs, some were daydreamers and some had never even played the live game. Every single ingredient in that primordial poker stew had one thing in common – hope.

After four consecutive day ones, two consecutive day twos and a nice day off, we were back in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for day three. Did hope spring eternal for the PartyPoker qualifiers, let’s find out?

There were 1,864 players left and 33 of them were PartyPoker qualifiers. In addition to that number we also had PartyPoker Team Pro’s Giovanni Rizzo and Bodo Sbrzesny. In fact Giovanni Rizzo started the day with 148,700 chips and early on during the first level of play, we were observing his table when we struck up a conversation with Andrew Ferguson.

Right in his eye line was the Poker Brat

The next thing you know we were being asked by the Dealer to speak English despite it being the only language we know! Rizzo was in stitches but luckily it didn’t affect his game. He was up over 200,000 not long after. One person who does count the Queens English as his native tongue is Kevin Howe, and Howe found himself sharing a table with a lot of cameras, because right in his eye line was the Poker Brat himself – Phil Hellmuth.

Markus Ritt has had an exciting WSOP after finding himself on the feature table during day one, but it was not going so well early on in day three. The board was reading and Ritt bet 12,200 from the small blind and his opponent raised to 25,500 in the hijack. After taking his time to ponder his next move Ritt moved all-in and his opponent snap-called. Ritt had for third pair and an open ended straight draw but his opponent was ahead with . The on the river sealing Ritts fate and in a blink of an eye he was down to 89,200.

The ever-smiling Primoz Cimerman was also having a great tournament and was making good calls like this for fun. Cimerman raised under the gun and was three-bet by the player sat to his direct left and Cimerman called. The flop was and Cimerman check-called a 7,000 bet. The turn was the and again Cimerman check-called, this time 16,000. On the river Cimerman was faced with a third barrel of 45,000 and he called whilst flipping over and it was good as his opponent mucked his cards unseen.

Jeppe Bisgaard was sharing table presence with Dennis Phillips and early in the first level we saw Bisgaard win a series of pots to take him over the 160,000 mark. Raymond Rahme had a tough starting table with Christophe de Meulder and Steven van Zadelhoff seated next to him.

Qualifiers and Team Pros locking horns

Then you had two tables with PartyPoker qualifiers and Team Pros locking horns. Firstly, Dario Pavan and Ramin Henke were seated on the same table, and then you had Tom Carpenter, Neil McFayden and Team Pro Bodo Sbrzesny all playing together. Carpenter started with 300,000 chips but tried to bluff Michael De Gilio in one particular hand. De Gilio wouldn’t take the bait and Carpenter had lost nearly half of his stack.

Then McFayden took a bite out of Sbrzesny in the following non-showdown hand: Sbrzesny raised to 3,700 under the gun and after a button cold-call Neil McFayden three-bet squeezed from the small blind making it 15,000 total. Sbrzesny then four-bet to 30,000, the button folded and McFayden moved all-in and Sbrzesny released his hand. Carpenter (120,000), McFayden (250,000) & Sbrzesny (93,000). Moving on a few tables and Richard Sparks was all-in for his tournament life and received a bit if a scare. He three-bet jammed [ax][tx]and was called by [ax][5x]. A flopped five signifying the end for Sparks until a rivered ten saved the day.

As we entered the Pavilion our ears were filled with the orchestra that is the chip cricket sounds. One person who was not listening to the riffling of chips was Jeppe Bisgaard. Bisgaard had opened from the button and the big blind called. The flop came down [9x] [4x] [3x] and when the big blind checked, Bisgaard open shoved and the big blind called. The big blind had [kx][kx]and Bisgaard and neither the turn nor river could help the PartyPoker qualifier.

One person still surviving was Scott O’Reilly. O’Reilly started the day as one of the lowest stacks in the field with 15,200 but after an [ax][ax]v [ax][kx]confrontation O’Reilly doubled up. He then found himself in a blind v blind all-in battle [jx][jx]v [qx][tx]and before you know it he is sat on 120,000.

Moving into level 12 and the giant that was Joakim Noren Olssen was eliminated. How? Death by 1,000 cuts was the table verdict when we enquired about his elimination. Fatih Dayik was the next person eliminated after he moved his last 20,000 in the middle holding [kx][jx]and was defeated by his opponents [ax][5x]. Dario Pavan followed Dayik out of the door after losing the following hand: Pavan raised under the gun with [ax][ax]and he received a call in middle position. The flop was [8x] [2x] [2x] and Pavan’s c-bet was called. The turn was the [jx]and Pavan check-raise-jammed and his opponent called and unfortunately for Pavan his opponent had flopped eights full of twos.

Four more eliminations at the end of level 12, Marc Blais making a stand with [4x] [4x] but was defeated by his opponent’s [ax][kx]and then PartyPoker Team Pro Bodo Sbzresny was eliminated not long after moving tables, his meeting on a board with all the money going in on the flop. Jason Layland met his demise after shoving with on the button and the big blind called with pocket kings. Over at Robin Ylitalo’s table and he was looking like someone had pulled his soul out of his body and hung it out to dry. A quick chat revealed he had lost the majority of his chips when his [ax][kx]was battered by [kx][kx]and then he moved his last 10,000 into the middle holding and was picked off by [kx][tx].

At the right end of the leader board, PartyPoker Team Pro Giovanni Rizzo had increased his stack to 270,000 and here is one of the hands that got him there. There was a raise under the gun to 3,500 and Rizzo raised to 8,500 and the raiser called. The flop was [qx][6x] [2x] and Rizzo bet 6,500 and his opponent check-called. The turn was a second [qx]and once again Rizzo’s opponent checked, so he bet 17,000 and his opponent check-raised all-in and Rizzo called. The river bricked off and Rizzo won a huge pot after his opponent showed for a bluff.

Nicolas Fierro with a whopping 754,500

Rogelio Martinez Sada was also flying high with 220,000. Sada’s biggest pot of the day came after he hit a straight on the turn on a board of [4x] while holding for a pot of over 100,000. Tom Carpenter was back up to 260,000. We saw the active Carpenter staring at a board of and a bet of 32,000 in front of him. His opponent was in the tank and Carpenter called the clock on him and he eventually folded. Carpenter told the table he had [ax][ax]and his opponent said he folded [ax][qx]. Then Andras Kovacs came from absolutely nowhere to grab a 360,000 chip stack after beating pocket kings in all-in pots twice, first with [ax][kx]and secondly with [ax][jx].

Going into the dinner break and we had 1,050 players left and Hendrik Alebregtse and Markus Ritt were not amongst them. Ritt left the building after raising with [kx][qx]under the gun. His opponent called in the big blind. Ritt decided to three-barrel bluff on a board of [ax][7x] [2x] [jx][6x], not a bad move unless your opponent flopped a set of sevens!

Patryk Hopner was hanging over the table like a rotting carcass and the vultures were circling, but just as the first one dug in to take a bite, Hopner fought back and before you know it he had over 100,000 chips. How? In his own words, I got very lucky. He managed to come from behind in all-in pots on three occasions, [ax][2x] v [ax][8x], [ax][5x] v [ax][9x] and [kx][jx]v [ax][qx].

“He is a luck box,” said a random tablemate.

At the end of the fifth level of play we had 19 PartyPoker qualifiers (including our one last remaining Team Pro Giovanni Rizzo) who were putting their chips in a plastic bag that would not be opened again until Day 4. Heading that list was once again Nicolas Fierro with a whopping 754,500.

  • Nicolas Fierro 754,500
  • Andras Kovacs 694,500
  • Ross Martin 370,000
  • Giovanni Rizzo 358,500
  • Ramin Henke 310,000
  • Primoz Cimerman 307,500
  • Per Strom 278,000
  • Robin Colbin 262,000
  • Neil McFayden 234,000
  • Ryan Smith 206,000
  • Jody Howe 184,000
  • Clement Tripodi 182,500
  • Patryk Hopner 159,500
  • David Lenz 116,500
  • Jan Philippi 90,000
  • Kevin Howe 86,000
  • Jonnie Sonelin 76,000
  • Rogelio Martinez Sada 59,000
  • Richard Sparks 51,900

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