One of the most wonderful parts of the World Series of Poker every summer is seeing which players make a name for themselves. A couple of final tables or a noteworthy bracelet can be the catalyst to years of success as a noteworthy poker professional. So far this year, we’ve seen a couple of players breakthrough with impressive WSOP runs. Now, some of them are looking to really leave their mark in one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

When Day 3 of this year’s PPC began, there were several big names near the top of the list of the 78 returning players. David Benyamine started out as chip leader, but it was Brit standout Matthew Ashton who vaulted to an early lead after a three-way all-in during a PLO hand pushed him into seven-figure territory with chips. Ashton has proven his mixed game prowess already this summer, making three final tables so far.

While Ashton surged early, he trailed off a bit as the day progressed, making room for Don Nguyen to surge up the counts. The runner-up to Mark Radoja in this year’s $10,000 Heads-Up event ended up bagging a chip-leading 2,059,000 when Day 3 concluded. He is the only player heading into Day 4 with more than 2 million chips. Thanks to some big pots, like a two pair over two pair hand in Stud against Jason Gray or a hand where he eliminated Roman Yitzhaki, Nguyen is in pole position heading into the penultimate day of play.

Joining Nguyen near the top of the counts is recent bracelet winner Mike Gorodinsky, who finished with 1,650,000. The third place finisher in the 2011 PPC, Minh Ly, rounds out the top three with 1,458,000.

After starting the day with 78, just 26 players remain in contention for the Chip Reese Trophy after six levels of play. The chances for a repeat winner were cut a little thinner with the elimination of Brian Rast midway through the day, though 2009 winner David Bach will be returning for Day 4, albeit as one of the shorter stacks.

Some of the other players who saw their PPC runs come to an end today include five-time bracelet winner David Chiu, David Oppenheim, Barry Greenstein, Brian Hastings, Jason Mercier, Jeff Lisandro, recent bracelet winner Steve Sung, Owais Ahmed, and October Niner Jeremy Ausmus.

This day also saw Doyle Brunson’s run in this tournament draw to a close. The Poker Hall of Famer managed to grind his short stack and stay alive numerous times, but he ultimately exited midway through the day at the hands of Ofir Mor.

The start of day chip leader Benyamine did manage to survive the day, as did other notables like John Hennigan, Main Event Champs Jonathan Duhamel, Joe Hachem, and Huck Seed, as well as Greg Mueller, Erick Lindgren, and John Juanda, though Juanda will be coming back with the shortest of stacks, just 89,000 chips.

Play resumes at 2pm PT on Wednesday. Of the 26 remaining players, 16 will earn a payday and eight will return on Thursday July 4th to play down to a new Poker Players Champion.

Here are the top ten chip counts headed into Day 4 of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship:

1. Don Nguyen – 2,059,000
2. Mike Gorodinsky – 1,650,000
3. Minh Ly – 1,458,000
4. Michael Glick – 1,130,000
5. John Hennigan – 1,085,000
6. David Benyamine – 1,052,000
7. Troy Burkholder – 1,047,000
8. Jonathan Duhamel – 1,038,000
9. Mike Leah – 980,000
10. Matthew Ashton – 912,000

A complete list of chip counts is available on