Day 3 of the Main Event is probably the most heartbreaking one. Unlike Days 1 or 2, in which players come with high hopes, but bust out before they get too invested, Day 3, players start to get close enough to a payday that the exit stings all the more. For the first time in the tournament, the starting fields combine under the same roof. By day’s end, they were in the same room, and yet, the money bubble will not burst until Day 4 on Friday, so the hopes of the 746 players still in this event remain intact another 12 hours or so.

When Day 3 began, there were 1,871 hopes entering the Rio, including chip leader Phil Ivey. The ten-time bracelet winner’s tenure at the top did not last long though. Within 30 minutes, it was poker pro Isaac Baron who ascended to the top spot and stayed there for the majority of the afternoon, knocking out players like Andrew Lichtenberger along the way. While Baron ruled the field before the dinner break, after the dinner break, it was one of Ivey’s tablemates, Mehrdad Yousefzadeh, who would be the first player to pass the million-chip mark. Yousefzadeh, who took 181st in the 2005 WSOP Main Event, didn’t end the day on top, though he was close. He just missed out on the honor, as Andrew Liporace surged past him to end the day with 1,128,000 to Yousefzadeh’s 1,124,000.

While those players chipped up, several other big stacks and big names headed home, including this year’s Poker Player Champion John Hennigan, Day 1 big stack Nick Divella, Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Marvin Rettenmaier, and Matt Matros. It was a particularly brutal day for past winners of this event, as five began, but only one, Huck Seed, survived with 249,000. Johnny Chan, Chris Moneymaker, Robert Varkonyi, and last year’s winner Ryan Riess were less fortunate, exiting over the course of the day. The celebrities in the field didn’t fare too well either. Kevin Pollak busted early in the day, and NBA star Paul Pierce put up a valiant fight, at one point chipping up over 200,000, but got knocked out by qualifier Christopher Smith late in the day shy of a payday.

While 746 players survived Day 3, 53 of them will still go home empty-handed, as we may finally have all the players in Amazon, but we still have around six tables to bust before the field is guaranteed a payday. Play ended slightly earlier than planned once the last table in Brasilia broke, so the players still have 53 minutes left in Level 15 when play resumes on Friday.
While he may not be quite at the heights he was when he started, Ivey is still very much in this event, and even finished with slightly more than he started with, 552,500. Some of the other notables back in action for Day 4 include November Niner Mark Newhouse, brothers Mukul and Vinny Pahuja, Matt Waxman, Abe Mosseri, Daniel Alaei, and NASCAR driver Jason White.

Day 4 gets underway at the Rio at 12pm on Friday. As always, live updates from the floor will be available on Here is a look at the top ten official chip counts from the end of Day 3:

1. Andrew Liporace – 1,128,000
2. Mehrdad Yousefzadeh – 1,124,000
3. Raul Mestre – 988,500
4. Jesse Wilke – 975,500
5. Scott Blackman – 935,000
6. Andoni Larrabe – 923,000
7. Stephen Graner – 911,000
8. Per Karlsson - 891,500
9. Rasmus Larsen - 883,000
10. Roman Valerstein - 850,000