(Photo Caption: This is what 1,000,000 in chips looks like.  And at the end of Day Three, five players have this amount in their stacks, or more.  Coming ahead on Day Four, players will finally reach the money.  Each of the top-666 finishers is guaranteed $19,227 in prize money.)

New Jersey Poker Pro Dave D'Alesandro Leads 2012 World Poker Championship

Notable Players in the Top 100 – Include Leo Wolpert, Vanessa Selbst, John Phan Marcel Luske, Shaun Deeb, David Tuchman, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, J.P. Kelly, Maria Ho, Johnny Chan, Eric Baldwin, John Juanda

2011 “WSOP Player of the Year” Ben Lamb Eliminated
Celebrities Survive -- including Actor Kevin Pollak and NHL All-Star Goalie Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks)

Among the Post-Dinner Break Bust Outs -- Ben Lamb, Dan Harrington, Robert Varkonyi, Plus 300 More
When Day Four begins on Friday at noon, the forthcoming 2012 World Poker Champion will be sitting somewhere inside the building.  No one knows who this player will be.  Indeed, any one of the 720 or so remaining players could still achieve poker’s ultimate triumph.
On the previous day, all championship participants were positioned inside the Rio Las Vegas for the very first time since the Main Event Championship began one week ago.  The previous six sessions 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 began at noon (scroll down for earlier developments).  The second-half (post-dinner break) action included the following highlights:
DAVE D'ALESANDRO ENDS DAY THREE AS CHIP LEADER:  Dave D'Alesandro, a professional poker player from Wenonah, NJ is king of the poker mountain -- at least for the moment.  He leads all players with 1,100,000.  D'Alesandro is a highly-accomplished online pro and live tournament player, with nearly $1 million in career earnings in live events.
THE MILLION-CHIP MAN:  At 10:15 pm, Ben Alcober became the first player to cross the 1,000,000-chip mark.  The 28-year-old professional poker player from Chino Hills, CA became the first of the 900 or so remaining players (at the time) to cross the million-chip threshold.  Shortly after the dinner break, Alcober rocketed from 960,000 in chips (his pre-dinner count) up to about 1,020,000.  Alcober has spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, not just playing poker, but in other activities as well.  Prior to playing poker full-time, he was a talent manager for several top nightclubs on the Las Vegas Strip.  While Alcober was the first to get there, he did not manage to stay in seven-figure territory the whole day.  Alcober lost a big pot late in the action to fall to 789,500 chips headed into Day Four.
NOTABLE PLAYERS IN THE TOP 100:  Includes Leo Wolpert (2009 WSOP Heads-Up Champion), Vanessa Selbst (two-time gold bracelet winner), Sorel Mizzi, John Phan (two-time gold bracelet winner), Marcel Luske, Shaun Deeb, David Tuchman (ESPN broadcaster), Antonio Esfandiari (two-time gold bracelet winner and Big One for One Drop winner), Gavin Smith (professional party-king and gold bracelet winner), J.P. Kelly (two-time UK gold bracelet winner), Maria Ho, and Johnny Chan (1987/1988 World Champion)
THEY'RE BUSTED REDUX:  Dan Harrington (1995 World Champion and Poker Hall of Famer), Phil Galfond (gold bracelet winner and high-stakes player), Nick Schulman (two-time gold bracelet winner), Michael Binger (gold bracelet winner), Barny Boatman (veteran UK player), Will "The Thrill" Failla , Robert Varkonyi (2002 World Champion), Eugene Katchalov (gold bracelet winner), Brian Hastings (gold bracelet winner), and Soi Nguyen (2010 November Niner).
THE TOP TEN:  Here are the top ten chip counts headed into Day Four. Complete chip counts are available on
1. Dave D'Alesandro -- 1,100,000
2. Sean Rice -- 1,076,000
3. Jacob Balsiger -- 1,065,000 
4. Leo Wolpert -- 1,003,000 
5. Ben Greenberg -- 963,000 
6. A.J. Jejelowo -- 928,000
7. Daniel Rudd -- 834,500 
8. Jonathan Seelbach - 824,000
Michael Ferrell -- 821,000
10. Paul Volpe -- 820,000 
STILL AN AMERICAN GAME:  Approximately one-third of the Main Event Championship participants were international (non-American) players.  Given the great success of many players from around the world, it's no surprise that six different nations were represented among last year's November Nine.  However, this year American players have stacked the top-twenty.  No less than 17 of the top 20 chip leaders are from the United States.  Of course, there is still a lot of poker left to be played.
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 Middle of the Pack
Among the Pre-Dinner Break Bust Outs -- 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
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 his 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 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.
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 15th in chips (note that the exact position is constantly changing at press time).  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 has about 450,000 in chips and remains as one of the tournament's best stories at the moment (ranked 32nd unofficially at end of Day Three).
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 the latest chip leader 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. 
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 Bonyado (three-time gold bracelet winner), Karina Jett (runner up in 2011 Ladies World Championship), and Jerry Yang (2007 World Champion).


-- by Nolan Dalla