By Simon Young

The short-stacks have a haunted expression while their dreams are being systematically smashed to pieces. Some may get a rush of cards and flourish again, but the great majority will shrivel and die like the autumn leaves and join the 700 of today’s 2,379 starters who have already gone to the rail. And we’ve only played two levels.

Quite frankly, there’s something of a slaughter going on in Day 2B. Stalk the corridors of the Rio and a stream of bent-over figures, with their chips and hopes extinguished, shuffle past and head for the exit. Some are on the phone to their loved ones, who no doubt listen with great sympathy to the bad beat stories, while others walk sadly in silence, hardly able to believe what has happened. They contributed to the greatest poker show on earth, but the cruelty of this game is that they will be forgotten before sundown.

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James McManus, right, and Cory Albertson share the felt

For every empty seat, however, there is a big stack growing fatter. As we move into level three, PartyPoker has several players threatening to make a run for the top of the leaderboard. Jan Skampa, from the Czech Republic, continues to build and is now on 150,000, while James McManus from Ireland has shot through 120,000.

James, who has been playing professionally online this year, started today with 63,000 at the same table as Cory Albertson, who had a great run at the recent PartyPoker Million VI cruise, finishing third for $160,000. They’ve since had their table broken, with James being moved just yards away, right next to the rail in the Orange section.

Meanwhile, PartyPoker’s Stephen Kenna, also from Ireland, continues to hold his own against the likes of Johnny Chan, Shawn Sheikhan and Willie Tann. He’s on approaching 90,000.

Those we have lost today include lawyer Phil Green from the UK, France’s Paul Testud and Christian Jeppsson from Sweden.

*** The players enjoy an extra 20 minutes to their break after level two as the green 25 chips are taken off the table.

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