Since its inception in 2007, the World Series of Poker Europe offered WSOP Main Event November Niners a chance to prove themselves during the downtime before the biggest final table of their poker careers.
In its first outing, WSOP Asia Pacific might just offer those same players a shot at redemption. That appears to be the case for this year’s Main Event 4th place finisher Russell Thomas, who is leading the final 15 players in the AU$10,000 event.

When Day 3 of the Main Event began on Saturday, Thomas was in the middle of the pack of the 94 returning players. It was only after Rupert Elder’s elimination in 41st place burst the money bubble that Thomas began to really climb the counts. After busting a couple of players in smaller pots, Thomas then busted Balleur Gaetan when he picked up pocket kings to Gaetan’s A-Q to move to 1.8 million and the top of the counts. He ended with 1.677 million, which puts him just in front of German pro Benny Spindler, who spent most of the day as chip leader and ended with a more than respectable 1.5 million.
Longtime pros Daniel Negreanu and One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari are also in the mix, as is Winfred Yu. Esfandiari almost went out of the tournament as the bubble boy, but amanged to double up not once but twice during hand-for-hand bubble play to keep him in the hunt for another bracelet. Should Negreanu make it to the final table, he will be the first person to final table both the WSOPE and WSOP APAC Main Events, while Thomas would be the first player to final table both the APAC and WSOP Main Events.
Joseph Cheong had a shot to become the first person to final table the WSOP Main, the WSOPE Main, and the APAC Main, but he stumbled after the money burst, exiting in 32nd place. Other notables who made the money include Erik Seidel (39th), Jeff Lisandro (35th), Kevin Song (30th), and 2007 Main Event final tablist Raymond Rahme, whose elimination in 16th place brought Day 3 play to a close.
Cheong may have missed out on Main Event history, but he still has a shot at a big win down under thanks to the $50,000 High Roller event. Cheong is one of 37 players who entered in the non-bracelet event. Several of those players elected to take advantage of the re-entry option in the tournament, bringing the total number of entries to 44. The total prize pool for the event came in at $2,156,000. The top six players finish in the money and 1st place pays $825,000.
The field was an interesting mix of pros and regional recreational players like Richard Yong and Paul Phua. Some of the players who came and went over the course of Day 1 included Phil Ivey, Jason Koon, Jeremy Ausmus, Sam Trickett, Mike Watson, John Juanda, Erik Seidel, JC Tran, and Jean-Robert Bellande.

The High Roller ended with 11 players remaining and none other than Joseph Cheong leading the way. Cheong ended the day with 1.5 million chips from his 150,000-chip starting stack. Others still in the hunt include Phua, Jonathan Duhamel, Joe Hachem, and Marvin Rettenmaier.

The Main Event resumes action at 3pm local time on Sunday and will play down to an eight-handed final table. Meanwhile the High Roller will resume at 4pm and play down to a winner. The late starts allow for the made-for-television Caesars Cup event to film earlier in the afternoon. Both the Caesars Cup and the High Roller final table will be filmed for TV and also livestreamed on ESPN3 and Live updates of the Main Event and the High Roller will continue to be available on as well.
Main Event Chip Counts:

1. Russell Thomas – 1,677,000
2. Benny Spindler – 1,505,000
3. Kahle Burns – 1,469,000
4. Daniel Marton – 1,325,000
5. George Tsatsis – 1,161,000
6. Antonio Esfandiari – 1,050,000
7. Daneil Negreanu – 827,000
8. Tino Lechich – 654,000
9. Raj Ramakrishnan – 644,000
10. Mikel Habb – 439,000
11. Yaser Gueden – 385,009
12. Winfred Yu – 354,000
13. Jordan Westmorland – 321,000
14. Michael Pedley – 310,000
15. Joe Feldman – 187,000

AU$50,000 High Roller Chip Counts:

1. Joseph Cheong – 1,500,000
2. Elton Tsang – 937,000
3. Paul Phua – 815,000
4. Lo Shing Fung – 612,000
5. Jonathan Duhamel – 604,000
6. Philip Gruissem – 530,000
7. Tom Hall – 389,000
8. Joe Hachem – 371,000
9. Marvin Rettenmaier – 354,000
10. Devan Tang – 223,000
11. Kyle Cheong – 214,000