The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship continued on Friday at the Rio in Las Vegas with the start and completion of Day 3.
Poker’s world championship resumed play with a total of 1,796 players who survived the combination of three second-day flights. For the first time, action included the entire playing field under one roof.
Friday’s participants played five more levels, of two-hours each in duration. With periodic 20-minute recesses and a break for dinner, that made for another nearly 13-hour marathon filled with lots of poker action and quite a few surprises.
The biggest news of the day was reaching the prize money, which included the largest number of players ever paid in the Main Event. That moment took place at about 9:30 pm PST during the middle of Level 14. The top 1,000 finishers collected at least $15,000 each. All players who have survived to this point in the tournament are guaranteed to receive a payout of at least that, or more..
By night’s end, there were 661 survivors from this session who still remain alive in this year’s world championship.
Here were some of the highlights from Day 3:
A NEW TOP-TEN LEADERBOARD (COMBINED FIELDS)
From the previous day, Amar Anand, from Shrewbury, MA became the first player to hit the 500,000 chip mark. He remained at, or near the top, most of the day.
However, a major breakthrough took place shortly after the dinner break when Brian Hastings, from Hanover Township, PA became the first player to cross the million-mark in chips. He plateaued to nearly 1.3 million at one point and then lost a bit back, finally settling down in 3rd place overall.
By day’s end, the top-ten chip leaders from this session were as follows: CHIP COUNTS
THE FATE OF FORMER WORLD CHAMPIONS
Of all the former WSOP Main Event winners, five now remain alive in this year’s championship.
Seven champions started Day 3 – including Phil Hellmuth, Jim Bechtel, Scotty Nguyen, Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, Joe Hachem, Jonathan Duhamel, and Ryan Riess. However, only Bechtel, Hellmuth, Riess, Duhamel, and Hachem lasted the session. The 1993 champ, Bechtel, heads the group in chips at the moment.
Greg Raymer was short on chips and hit the rail early in the day. Later in the day, Scotty Nguyen followed him to the door, although not before cashing first.
CELEBRITIES IN THE WSOP SPOTLIGHT
When Day 3 began, the two biggest names from the sports and entertainment world still alive in the championship were Brad Garrett (actor and stand-up comedian), Fatima Moreira (3-time Olympic Gold Medal champion from The Netherlands), Patrick Bruel (French actor/singer and gold bracelet winner), and Shane Warne (cricket legend from Australia).
By day’s end, one had been eliminated, two had cashed and one remained. Garrett went out about 100 spots short of the money. Moreira, Bruel enjoyed a much happier fate and made it into the money while Shane Warne bagged 111,500.
The three part-time poker players join several other notable celebrities who have cashed in the Main Event in prior years – including the late Telly Savalas (actor), Gabe Kaplan (actor), Lou-Diamond Phillips (actor), and Kevin Pollack (actor and comedian).
SEVERAL MORE WSOP GOLD BRACELET WINNERS ELIMINATED
A large number of gold bracelet winners saw their 2015 WSOP experience come to an end.
Among the most notable former winners to hit the rail were – Greg Raymer, Cyndy Violette, Daniel Colman, Brandon Shack-Harris, Steve Gee, Igor Dubinsky, Steve Sung, Sean Dempsey, Eric Froehlich, Brian Yoon, Leo Wolpert, Keith Lehr, Cliff Josephy, Blair Hinkle, Hoyt Corkins, Amir Lehavot, Alex Bolotin, Mike “the Mouth” Matusow, Daniel Alaei, Michael Binger, Sorel Mizzi, Steve Zolotow, Allen Cunningham, David Bach, and Dan Kelly.
OTHER WELL-KNOWN POKER PROS WHO WENT BUST
Among the most notable names (non-WSOP winners) who went out on Day 3 were – Jennifer Shahade (former chess champion), Antoine Saout (former November Niner), Dennis Phillips (former November Niner), Billy Pappas (in last year’s November Nine), Kenna James (40 WSOP cashes), Maertin Staszko (former runner up in Main Event), and others.
THE 2015 GOLD BRACELET WINNERS BUST-OUT CLUB
There were 67 gold bracelet tournaments leading up to the Main Event. Accordingly, many players will return home with the satisfaction of having achieved poker’s most coveted prize, winning the WSOP gold bracelet. However, most won’t be adding the crown jewel of poker to their resume, since their Main Event is now over.
Among those eliminated during the Day 3 session were:
-- Jacquelyn Scott, who won this year’s Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship.
-- Andrew Barber, who won his first WSOP gold bracelet just days before the Main Event began, fell short of the money and did not cash.
BUBBLE PLAYER (1,001st-Place Finisher)
Roy Daoud, who was born in Lebanon, raised in Canada, and now lives in Dubai, ended up as the official 1,001st-place finisher. Since only the top-1,000 players were paid, that made him the bubble finisher of the 2015 Main Event. That was the bad news.
The good news was that Daoud successfully high-carded for a spot into the 2016 Main Event, becoming the first player to qualify for next year’s championship. The seat was paid for by WSOP.com sponsor Black Clover, maker of poker caps and other athletic sportswear.
WORLD WAR 2 VETERAN WILLIAM WACHTER (UPDATE)
Lots of excitement surrounded the spectacle that 94-year-old William Wachter, a World War II veteran, had made it into day three. He was the oldest player in the field this year. Wachter cashed in the Main Event and remains very much in contention with about 160,000 in chips.
The 2015 WSOP Main Event Championship continues with Day 4 which will be played on Saturday, starting at Noon PST. There will be 661 survivors who will return for the next playing session. Play continues for four more days until the 2015 version of poker’s “November Nine” is determined.