The young Californian entered Day 3 of the USPC second in chips behind Victor Ramdin, Matt Glantz, Eric Weiner, Will "The Thrill" Failla, Mike "Little Man" Sica, Lou Esposito, Tim West, Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy, Ryan Young, Alex Bolotin, Allen Kessler and WSOPE last-American-standing Matt McCullough.
With nobody quite sure how long Day 3 would last (and the money bubble popping at 18th place), players wasted no time in eliminating each other as the action got underway at 1:15 p.m. (EDT) from the poker room at the Taj. Among the first to go was McCullough, the nurse anesthetist who rode a Bodog Poker qualifier to third place at the World Series of Poker Europe in September.
McCullough got the last of his chips in with A9o against Emad Alabsi's pocket queens and saw the flop come Q-6-6, giving Alabsi the full house and more or less wrecking his own chances. The board wound down A-2 and McCullough was eliminated. Hey, can't finish third in them all, Matt!
Brian Powell and a short-stacked Alex Bolotin would bust shortly afterwards, before Will "The Thrill" Failla finally succumbed to the war of attrition. Short-stacked more or less from Day 1, Failla finally gave up the ghost when his big slick ran into Gavin Smith's rockets early in the first level of play. No love came on flop, turn or river, and that was the end of the Thrill ride.
By the end of the first level 13 players had been eliminated, including Tony Cousineau and Lou Esposito, the latter of whom fell victim to the Birdguts show when Gavin Smith called his middle-position raise out of the big blind with Q-10 and saw the flop come Q-10-x. Esposito, holding A-10, shoved for his short-stack and Smith promptly put him into, and then out of, his own peculiar brand of misery.
When players returned for the second 90-minute round of the day, Smith and Madsen were neck-and-neck for the chip lead, holding $410,000 and $409,000 respectively. Their competition continued to fall by the wayside, as Vadmir Trincher, Charlie Bae and Blake Purvis would fall before Houston-area physician Steve Nguyen got all-in bad with A♠ 5♠ to Victor Ramdin's A♣ T♦.
Ramdin would sustain his advantage and bust Nguyen in what would prove to be one of the sole bright spots of the Guggenheim of Guyana's day. Ramdin would ride another roller coaster, seeing his chips ebb and flow like the North Atlantic tide before washing him ashore at the $89,500 mark at the end of the day.
"Little Man" and born entertainer Mike Sica would follow Nguyen to the rail. Sica, blessed with a table assignment that included Smith, Failla and Bill Gazes, got all-in on a T♥ 6♥ 3♥ flop and saw Gazes and Tommy Wang call. Wang bet out Gazes on the 2♥ turn and showed A♥ K♣ for the flush as Sica hollered to the railbirds to "Fire up the limousine!" He turned up pocket sixes and cried for a paired board but was rewarded instead with a blank, and thus the Little Man headed to the rail the victim of the dreadful Cloven-Hoofed Set.
The second level of play saw only eight players eliminated, but that was enough to bring the numbers down to 31, with rumors abounding that the tournament officials would halt the day once four more players had bustified.
As the rumors swirled, Jeff Madsen was trying to end the day as early as possible, going after Lawrence Paden in an atrocious hand that saw the Wunderkind put Paden all-in for his last $100,000 on a Q♠ 6♥ 3♠ flop. After some thought, Paden made the call and turned up A♠ 9♠ for the nut-flush draw. He was well ahead of Madsen, however, as the FullTiltPoker pro had naught but 7♦ 5♦ for seven-high with the gut-shot straight.
It being Madsen's day, however, after the turn card was the 6♣ the river was the 4♥, giving Madsen the gutterball and sending Paden up and to the rail, albeit not very quietly.
"You're a joke, kid," he told Madsen as he stood to leave. "You're a ****ing joke."
"F*** you," Madsen replied. "Why can't you be a good ****ing sport and just shake my hand?" Then he turned away, grinned and began stacking his mountain of chips.
Tim West and Alan Schein would fall shortly after Madsen's brush with profanity, and then with 28 players remaining Eric "E-Dub" Weiner took the bullet, falling with Q9o to Leo Walker's pocket deuces to knock the field down to its last three tables.
But those three tables would have to wait until tomorrow, as the tournament staff swarmed the tables with bags and tags and despite the near-unanimous protestations of the remaining players, declared the day over and dismissed the field.
Thus we return tomorrow with three full tables remaining, led by the aforementioned Madsen with $697,500 and seconded by a distant Gavin Smith, with $369,500 (for full chip counts click here).
The action will begin at 1:15 p.m. (EDT) and continue until we've established a final table of nine, which judging by the exuberance with which this field eliminates itself could take a matter of minutes. Tune in early and you won't miss a thing as PokerListings.com brings you the essential coverage of the 2007 USPC, direct from (sigh) Atlantic City.