There are people who play poker and then there are card players. To some, the difference may not be immediately apparent, but what Viktor Blom is doing in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship might help clear up the matter. The online poker stud better known as Isildur1 is currently leading the field with 1,262,000 chips. We've seen him lead tournaments before and even notch a win or two, but what makes this run special is that it is in an eight-game rotation where Blom had only a week of practice in six of them.
In fact, if you believe Daniel Negreanu and his Twitter accounts of Blom's learning curve, prior to a couple of days ago, the young Swede didn't even know seventh street in Stud games was dealt face down. Blom's response when Negreanu filled him in?
Someone who plays poker would struggle with such a challenge. So many rules, so many strategy elements, it would be overwhelming. For a card player though, who has a masterful sense of game flow, opponents, and general game theory, it is the kind of challenge that can be summed up as "cool."
Blom expressed a little more emotion than "oh cool" late in the action on Day 3 when he got it all-in during a Pot Limit Omaha holding a set of nines to Joe Cassidy's set of tens. With one card to come, things looked dire for Blom, but he spiked the one card that could save him and sent him to the top of the leaderboard and saw Cassidy, who had been one of the big stacks nearly the entire tournament, end the day with less than the starting stack.
Cassidy did at least survive the day, along with 25 other card players looking to capture the Chip Reese Trophy. One of them, Michael Mizrachi, is looking to be the first player to have his name etched on the trophy twice. Cassidy, John Monnette, David "ODB" Baker, Andy Bloch, and Phil Hellmuth are all looking to win their second gold bracelets of the summer. Bloch began Day 3 at the top of the counts, and finished in the middle of the pack. Hellmuth faces an uphill battle. He is starting the day with just 28,000 chips and is the shortest stack in the field.
When play began on Day 3, there were 62 contenders. Five levels later, just 26 remained with folks like Greg Mueller, Scott Clements, Brian Hastings, Barry Greenstein, David Benyamine, Jason Mercier, last year's winner Brian Rast, and the legendary Doyle Brunson falling by the wayside.
The remaining players have some important milestones on the horizon. The 16-person money bubble should hit mid-afternoon. Should the action keep a steady clip, the group may even hit the eight-handed final table by the end of the day. For many, it will be a return trip. This field is packed with people who have been in these games almost as long as the 21 year-old Blom has been alive. Be it through years of experience or natural born talent, this is a field of top-notch card players, so today will be an exciting battle to see which ones can secure a seat at Thursday's final table.
Here are the top ten chip counts from the end of Day 3 of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship:
1. Viktor Blom - 1,262,000
2. David Oppenheim - 1,165,000
3. Daniel Alaei - 1,058,000
4. David Baker - 1,025,000
5. John Hennigan - 992,000
6. Bill Chen - 984,000
7. Stephen Chidwick - 874,000
8. Mike Wattel - 870,000
9. Bruno Fitoussi - 861,000
10. Chris Klodnicki - 859,000
Here are the players eliminated over the course of Day 3 and what position they finished in:
27. Michael Binger28. Dan Shak29. Huck Seed30. Justin Smith31. Alex Kravchenko32. Patrik Antonius33. Jonathan Spinks34. Matt Glantz35. George Danzer36. Doyle Brunson37. Ali Eslami38. Brian Rast39. Qushqar Morad40. Abe Mosseri41. Allen Bari42. Minh Ly43. Daniel Fuhs44. Jason Mercier45. David Grey46. David Benyamine47. Shaun Deeb48. Richard Ashby49. Keith Gipson50. Tom Chambers51. John Hanson52. Barry Greenstein53. Brian Hastings54. Dan Kelly55. Scott Clements56. Greg Mueller57. John D'Agostino58. John Esposito59. Charles Pacheco60. Allen Kessler61. Chad Brown
62. Matt Hawrilenko
Photo by Joe Giron for PokerNews/WSOP