Things looked especially bright for Hevad Khan, who entered the day in second place with $232,900 chips, and Young Phan, who came in with $202,300. Little did anybody know that it would be the relatively unknown Day 1 chip leader Dan Hicks who would steal the show.
Going into the day there were 73 players including Khan, Phan, Binger, Sheree Bykofsky, Tiffany Williamson, David Fox, Louie Esposito, Brett Richey, Eric Haber and Bernard Lee. The pessimistic members of the media were thinking it could be a long day.
The first two levels pretty much single-handedly changed that view. In just two hours of play 36 players were eliminated.
Sadly, among them was poker player and media personality Bernard Lee. Lee came over and talked to the media table following his exit from the tournament. Apparently Lee, who was short-stacked, couldn't get a hand to save his life and finally decided to make a re-raise all-in with A-Q in late position. Unfortunately a player in late position looked him up with KK and that was it for Lee.
Lee has a regular blog over at ESPN and you can check it out here.
On the other side of things Binger was having an extraordinary morning. He started the day with $150,000 and built that up to approximately $260,000 in the early stages. Unfortunately Binger hit a wall with an ill-timed bluff when he fired a $90,000 bullet on the river of a Q♥-7h-2♠ 10♣ J♣ board. His opponent held pocket tens for the set so he called.
Binger dejectedly showed A-J when his opponent asked to see the hand. Binger was understandably frustrated and one had to wonder if it was time for some mega-tilt.
Amazingly Binger kept his composure, not only through that hand, but the entire day as well. In the later stages of the tournament Binger told a tablemate that he'd only been all-in once during the entire tournament and he was a 3-1 favorite in the hand.
You like bad beats? You might like this one. Soheil Shamseddin was in rough shape against his opponent with KK versus AA pre-flop. The board came K♣ 8♥ 7♦ K♠ 3♣ for the unnecessary, but fun (for Shamseddin), quad kings.
Not good enough for you? How about Ed Pham's A♦ Q♦ versus Sumeet Batra's J♥ J♠? While the jacks are only a 53.8% favorite what developed on the board was indeed memorable.
The flop came K♦ J♦ 9♠ and Batra had made a set but Pham had the royal flush draw. The turn brought about the fabled poker hand with the 10♦. Despite the fact that Batra was drawing dead the dealer flipped over the K♥, giving him a useless full house. Where's the bad beat jackpot when you need it?
Anyway, back to real life. The bubble burst with very little excitement. Only one hand of hand-for-hand was played and once again the players seemed to put the emphasis on getting through the day.
The field's last remaining woman, poker book author Sheree Bykofsky, was eliminated early in the money but fortunately took home $8,083 for her 27th-place bust-out.
In an interesting table draw Binger, Khan and Phan were all seated next to each other one point during the later part of the evening. Although it's unknown how well they actually knew each other all three were downright cordial and at one point were all sharing funny stories about the Commerce Casino in L.A.
Phan told one particularly memorable story about a player throwing a cup of coffee on the head of another player. Talk about steamed!
They were having such a great time that Phan didn't even seem to care when he was eliminated. He made a play with A-K from the button and big blind caught him with KK.
"You weren't supposed to have a hand," laughed Phan.
Phan didn't even seem particularly bothered when no ace arrived on the board and he was sent packing. He just picked up his Heineken, wished everybody luck and headed for the payout booth.
Tournament organizers had to be somewhat disappointed because just one hand earlier, Khan had been eliminated when his A♣ Q♥ failed against Eric "Sheets" Haber's pocket eights. Two of the most well-known poker players remaining were eliminated 13th and 14th.
You know what they say, "When one door closes, a window opens"? (By "they" I mean your mother.) Well, Haber and Hicks jumped in that window, stole everybody's chips and then jumped back out and laughed about it.
Haber, who started the day with a minuscule stack of approximately $20,000, finished with a stunning $927,000, while Hicks, who seems to be getting the hang of this chip leader thing, is leader for yet another day with $1,118,000.
Can Hicks go 3-3 and end Day 3 with the chip as well? Or will Haber or Binger seize the opportunity and take the lead (and the win) for themselves?
You'll have to tune in tomorrow at 2 p.m. (EST) to find out.