DAY THREE -- DINNER BREAK HEADLINES
Photo Caption: Take one last look. Because he's gone -- as in out. 2011 World Poker Champion Pius Heinz was one of Day Three's earliest casualties, so the race is on to determine the new Main Event Champion.
LATE UPDATE: 8:05 PM Ben Alcober has vaulted to the top of the current chip counts at the Day 3 dinner break. Alcober enters the last two levels with 940,000 in chips.
Pius Heinz Eliminated -- 2011 World Champion Goes Out Early on Day Three
Australian Cricketer Shane Warne Out -- Sixth Straight Year Legendary Athlete Has Played Main Event
Gaelle Baumann Slips -- French Female Who Led After Day Two Now in 36th Place
Happy Meal for A.J. Jejelowo -- Currently in 3rd Place
Peter Eastgate, Sammy Farha, John Racener, Jeff Shulman, Barry Greenstein, Vicky Coren, Marco Traniello, Earl Barron, Nenad Medic, Farzad Bonyadi, Karina Jett and Jerry Yang -- Among the Bust Outs
(Writer's Note: All information accurate as of 8 pm PST on Thursday)
The 2012 World Poker Champion is now sitting somewhere inside the building. No one knows who it is. Indeed, one of the 1,005 or so remaining players at the dinner break on Day 3 will achieve poker’s greatest triumph and even they don't know just yet that they will be the victor.
On Thursday afternoon, all championship players were positioned inside the Rio Las Vegas for the very first time. The previous five days carved away more than 80 percent of the 6,598 players who started what is the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history.
Day Three for the 1,765 remaining players began at noon. The first half of the session included several notable developments. Among the highlights and notable developments were:
HEINZ SAYS AUF WIEDERSEHEN: The Defending World Poker Champion is Out! Pius Heinz acquired a lot of uncharacteristic short-stack practice in this year's Main Event. The defending World Champion was below the average chip stack for nearly the entire duration in the tournament -- which lasted into the third day. Heinz spent much of Day One clawing and scratching his way to survival. Day Two was another grueling test of patience and discipline. Heinz' tournament clock finally expired about an hour into play on what was his third session. He began the day with only 36,300 -- about one third of the average stack size. Then, he was dealt pockets sixes and moved all in. Heinz' timing could not have been worse. According to PokerNews, he ran into a roaring freight train -- Gioang Nguyen's pocket aces. Heinz said "auf widersehen" to the 2012 WSOP. The entire poker world raises a collective toast to Pius Heinz for representing our game well as the reigning champion.
WARNE HEARS SOUND OF CRICKETS OVER HIS SEAT: Shane Warne might not be a recognizable name in the United States -- which suits the international sporting star just fine. But Google his name, and the screen will light up like a Christmas tree. Hey, the man is dating British actress Elizabeth Hurley, okay? Unfortunately, Warne didn't run quite as well in the Main Event. Playing in poker's World Championship for the sixth consecutive year, the retired professional cricketer enjoyed a nice rush during the first two days, but Warne finally went bust during the third hour of Day Three. We look forward to Warne's return next year.
NEW NATIONAL CHAMP WON'T BE WORLD CHAMP: Ryan Eriquezzo had his poker dream come true yesterday. He won the 2012 WSOP National Championship. The victory paid $416,051. Eriquezzo also received his first WSOP gold bracelet. Unfortunately for Eriquezzo, the magic his enjoyed on the ESPN stage the previous day did not carry over into the Main Event. He arrived on Day Three with a healthy chip stack. But Eriquezzo went out just at 1:30 pm, just before his official gold bracelet ceremony. Still, Eriquezzo will undoubtedly look back on the 2012 WSOP as a personal and professional triumph.
HAPPY MEAL FOR A.J. JEWELOWO: The Day Three dinner break is going to be a real "happy meal" for A.J. Jewelowo. He's third in chips following a monster run during the first half of Day Three. Jewelowo burst upon the poker scene 14 months ago at the WSOP Circuit Regional Championship, which took place at Harrah's New Orleans. Jewelowo won first place and $235,000 in prize money. He is a 28-year-old medical researcher at Rice University. Prior to moving to Houston, where he now resides, Jewelowo graduated from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. Jewelowo has about 750,000 in chips at the moment.
YEAR OF THE WOMAN? Gaelle Baumann sat in the spotlight of the poker world following her extraordinary two-day run. She was in first place entering Day Three, all alone atop the leaderboard. Baumann remains very much in strong contention, currently ranked in the top forty unofficial chip counts. The French woman was the chip leader at the end of Day Two in this year's Ladies World Poker Championship. She went on to finish in 15th place (Event #51). Baumann still have about 450,000 in chips and remains as one of the tournament's best stories at the moment.
She isn't the only woman finding success on Day Three either. The Charlie's Angels -- Liv Boeree, Vanessa Selbst and Maria Ho, all good friends, all sit within a few spots of one another -- all in the Top 100.
THEY'RE BUSTED! Peter Eastgate (2008 World Champion), Sammy Farha (three-time gold bracelet winner; second to Chris Moneymaker in 2003 Main Event), John Racener (second to Johnathan Duhamel in 2010 Main Event), Jeff Shulman (2010 November Nine), Barry Greenstein (three-time gold bracelet winner; Poker Hall of Fame inductee), Victoria Coren (U.K. media personality), Marco Traniello (36 WSOP cashes in seven years -- leads all players), Earl Barron (former NBA player -- Miami Heat), Nenad Medic (former Canadian gold bracelet winner), James Dempsey (former gold bracelet winner), Farzad Bonyani (three-time gold bracelet winner), Karina Jett (runner up in 2011 Ladies World Championship), and Jerry Yang (2007 World Champion).
As the players head to dinner break, there are just about 1,000 contenders remaining in this year's Main Event and expected 750-800 who will survive the night. Here is a look at the top five unofficial chip stacks:
1. Benjamin Alcober -
2. Armando Fernandez - 850,000
3. AJ Jejelowo - 752,500
4. Dane Lomas - 720,000
5. Greg Merson - 715,000
NEXT UPDATE: FRIDAY -- 1 AM PST (END OF DAY THREE)