Seventy-six survivors entered the Sunset Ballroom in a forgotten corner of the Foxwoods gaming complex at noon Sunday, eschewing fresh air and natural light once more for another eight-hour extravaganza with plenty of WPT dollars on the line for the top 40 finishers. Leading the charge toward hundred-thousandaire status on this, the third of an incredible six days of play, was local boy Paul Snead, who entered the day with $472,700 to his name.
Also in contention as the field returned to action was defending champ Raj Patel, who entered the day in second place as he strove to repeat last year's million-dollar performance with a strong showing in '08. Joining Snead and Patel were the likes of Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Ted Forrest and Kathy Liebert, among other poker heroes of the regional, national and worldwide varieties.
Almost as soon as play began, John Juanda was hitting the road, eliminated after getting all-in with A-K against an opponent with pocket aces. Following soon after was Kathy Liebert, whose own aces failed to improve against an opponent's flopped set of fours.
Where the first two days of this "Classic" event had been characterized by the field's lemming-like predilection for self-destruction, many of the 76 who returned to action on Day 3 seemed to have developed something of a survival instinct (or a Stockholm syndrome-esque love for the casino buffet), as the number of unfortunates heading to the rail in the early going was slim.
Instead, the action focused on the efforts of Snead to maintain big-stack status in the face of the rising tide of his rivals' stacks. Snead took a number of hits in the early going, losing close to $150,000 straight off the bat as his bullying got a bit out of hand and he doubled up some short stacks. This opened the door for a resurgent Patel, as well as heretofore unknown Eddie Ting, who eclipsed both Patel and Snead in the days' penultimate level when he built his stack up to the $600,000 level.
As Ting was doing his proverbial thing, Young Pham, Erick Lindgren and Nam Le were all hitting the road, with each pro busting out within 20 spots of the money. Check out our live updates page for the full details.
Also busting out late in the No-Pay Zone was Barry Greenstein, who battled down toward the money with a short stack and looked primed for the smooth double-up as he got it all-in good with A-Q against an opponent with K-Q. Then a king hit the flop and the father of semi-famous poker player Joe Sebok could not recover, going broke in 44th place.
A few more eliminations and then it was the bubble and hand-for-hand play began. With plenty of short stacks lingering in the field the odds were it wouldn't take long to reach pay dirt, and indeed after only a few rounds of the slow stuff a bizarre hand emerged that ensured that the final zero-sum player was banished.
That player was Svetlana Gromenkova, notorious non-smiler and apparently a woman with some aptitude at the poker table, her grumpy demeanor notwithstanding. In the fateful hand, Gromenkova limped pre-flop and saw Daniel Woolson knock a $5,000 chip off of his stack in the process of raising. The chip crossed the money line and the floor was called, with Robert Richardson arguing that Woolson should be held to a call.
Instead, the floor ruled in Woolson's favor and, thus freed from his obligation to call, he promptly popped it to $12,000. Richardson made it $25,000 to go and then Gromenkova shoved for $100,000 in total. Woolson got the eff out of there but Richardson was happy to play, turning up aces to the Glum Girl's queens and, a flop and a turn and a river later, busting the Queen of Mean in 41st place and thus bursting the bubble.
What followed would not be the traditional "Mad Dash to the Cashier's Table" that characterizes most post-bubble play, as the multitudinous short stacks appeared bound and determined to prolong the process for as long as possible. Consequently, eliminations were rare during the more than 90 minutes of post-bubble play that closed out the day, with only seven unfortunates hitting the rail during that time.
Among the first to hit the rail was 2006 WPT Mandalay Bay Poker Champion Joseph Tehan, who seemed to self-destruct just a little bit in the later going, finally going broke in 38th place with K-10 against A-K and earning, as did every other Day 3 in-the-money elimination, $22,610 for his time.
By the end of the day, Allen Bari had claimed top spot on the leaderboard, banking $814,500. Raj Patel lurks near the top spot with about $723,500 and the aforementioned Ting also remains competitive, with Paul Darden, Ted Forrest, Erik Seidel, Brock Parker, Matt Brady and Chris McCormack all remaining in the hunt.
Action will resume tomorrow at noon Eastern Time and continue until 18 players remain or the WPT producers decide otherwise. Tune in to PokerListings.com throughout your manic Monday for more stomach-churning excitement from the bowels of Foxwoods!
And oh by the way, check out our kickin' Live Tournaments section.