Another five levels have come and gone in Betfair's big show, the £10,000 granddaddy of European high-limit poker tournaments, and at its conclusion we finish with well under three tables of hopefuls remaining, among them a veritable dean's list of poker's greatest minds.
Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow and Erik Seidel join the likes of Justin "BoostedJ" Smith, Brian "sgrugby" Townsend and Johnny "Used to be Bad_IP" Lodden in a spectacular collision of poker all-stars that will take a lot of effort from old Murphy and his Law to avoid producing a star-studded final table after playdown concludes tomorrow.
It's everything the £25,340 guaranteed payout.
The post-bubble period saw a rush of eliminations as those short stacks who'd clung to life finally gave up the struggle in favor of that $50k USD safety net. Among the earliest to vamoose were Jani Sointula and Josh Arieh, the Finn in 35th after a painful hand that saw his flopped set of sixes outdrawn by John Juanda's turned set of sevens.
Juanda, by the way, has turned heads throughout this tournament for his relentless, aggressive play. He and Brandon Adams have played captain at their respective tables since Day 1, and both men look hungry and downright mean in their pursuit of that WSOPE bling. Both men finished high on the chip leaderboard and will be forces to be reckoned with on Day 4 and, likely, beyond.
Meanwhile, the eliminations kept coming, such that midway through Level 15 the survivors numbered only 27, enough for just three tables of poker. It was after the redraw for seats that one of the weirdest hands of the tournament played out, with Scott Fischman aggressively betting T-2 offsuit pre-flop to the point that he doubled up Brian Townsend in a $400k pot when the Cardrunner turned up pocket kings.
It was a head-scratcher, to be sure, and it launched Townsend up the chip leaderboard yet again, although even he'll have a hard time catching up to Juanda and Negreanu, who both finished somewhere around the $650,000 mark, just ahead of Smith's $624,500. Get full chip counts here.
Action resumes at 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday with the final 24 players returning to play down to one nine-handed final table. PokerListings.com will be on the scene from the Empire - and from the Vic, where the crosstown rival European Poker Tour kicks up its London Open. Tune in tomorrow for the most ballingest coverage from both events and we'll pop, drop and lock it all day long.