It was chip up or move out day Thursday at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship Main Event as 85 was turned into just 28 and we inched ever closer to crowning a 2009 champ Down Under.
Betfair Poker qualifier Annica Ivert came in with the chip lead, and although it wasn't as big a day as yesterday, she still managed to chew up and spit out enough of the competition to stay near the top of the leaderboard when five two-hour levels were finally through.
However, much of the star power that came to the Crown Casino almost as stacked didn't fare nearly as well.
Joe Hachem Bounced at Aussie Millions
The hopes of a nation sat on the shoulders of 2005 Main Event champ Joe Hachem after a late double propelled him into this Day 3 with a shot at a deep run.
Unfortunately, the Melbournian Team PokerStars Pro member bounced before the 64-player money bubble burst, getting crippled when he failed to catch with two overs against a pair of nines and finally packing it in after his ladies got turned out by a weak ace.
When we got to 65 players, a man by the name of William Zemljaric attempted to bluff his way out of a bad spot, finding it impossible to push Richard Ashby off top set with ace-queen high and exactly zero fold equity - funny how that works.
Zemljaric went home broke, with just the PokerListings.com Single Worst Poker Play Ever award from our own Owen Laukkanen to console him, and the bubble was popped.
With all those shenanigans out of the way, we returned to our regularly scheduled programming, which included almost every big name player in the tournament going broke.
1998 Main Event champ Scotty Nguyen said goodbye getting sucked out on the river by trip fours against his pocket kings. Patrik Antonius flopped trip jacks, but lost all his chips when the aforementioned Ashby rivered a boat.
Full Tilt pro Matt Vengrin couldn't suck out with an underpair, Mike "Timex" McDonald failed to fade a three-outer, Raymond Rahme ran into a rivered flush and Clonie Gowen was victimized by an old fashioned suck-resuck scenario.
Fortunately, the news wasn't all bad for poker's elite. Noah Schwartz ran aces up into a set to bust, but not before he shipped most of his chips over to November Niner Kelly Kim in a set-over-set debacle with a third player holding the best pre-flop hand all-in as well.
Kim walked away with a $600k+ pot and retains a legitimate shot at the Millions when play gets going on Day 4 tomorrow sometime after 12:30 p.m. in Melbourne.
Betfair Poker pros Annette Obrestad and Sorel Mizzi came into the day with big stacks, but this was an up-and-down affair for them. Both stayed in the hunt, with the former keeping up with the big-stack Joneses by getting some poor sucker to shove drawing dead against her flopped flush and the latter recovering from chip-and-a-chair status in the late goings to amass a mid-sized stack.
With most of the top names out EPT 5 London runner-up Michael Tureniec saw a clear path to the chip lead and took it.
Sydneysider Rajkumar Ramakrishnan and $1,100 No-Limit Prelim winner Christian Heich are close; an Aussie chef by the name of Stewart Scott managed to find a spot up there with him, as did fashion designer Christopher Chronis and the incredibly busy Ashby.
Antonio Casale made the final table here last year, and back-to-back appearances are not out of the realm of possibilities yet, as he sits in the top 10 overnight.
2007 APPT Grand Final champ Grant Levy is right in the thick of things and although EPT final tablist Andrew Chen and Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman are short, they should not be counted out just yet.
They'll play down to the final table tomorrow and PokerListings will follow all the action live from the Crown Casino all day long.
With a shot at the $2 million AUD first-place prize hanging in the balance, Day 4 will feature the kind of desperate drama, chilling thrills and fever-pitch excitement usually reserved for a Hollywood blockbuster.