Day 3 at the inaugural WPT Canadian Open is in the books after a short day of play that nonetheless saw 21 players succumb to the war of attrition that is freezeout-style tournament poker. Although the cards were only in the air for about five hours, there was still plenty of action and plenty of dramatic hands. Here are some of the more interesting stories as players take a five-day break to prepare for the final table.
The big story of Day 3 was the elimination of Artur Kulczycki. Kulczycki, known for his quiet demeanor and uneven chip stacks, pretty much had his run of the tables on Day 2 of the tournament ending the day with his $302,000 in chips, second only to Scott Clements' $426,500. Kulczycki came into Day 3 looking like a favorite to make the TV table, but a split-second mental error was all it took to make his quarter-million dollar dreams come crashing down.
With only eight players left in the running and six making it to the final table next Monday, Artur Kulczycki had had a difficult day, seeing his stack drop down to around $220,000 after four hours of play. But his luck seemed to be changing as he doubled at the expense of Anthony O'Hagan after making a boat with K-Q as his hole cards.
A few hands later, Kulczycki and O'Hagan again found themselves in a huge pot. After some heavy pre-flop betting, O'Hagan led off the post-flop betting with an $80,000 wager, and Kulczycki immediately moved all-in. As he did so, however, he threw his cards in the muck. The floor was called, and it was decided that Kulczycki's all-in bet would stand, but that his cards were considered mucked. This left O'Hagan in the unusual position of being forced to either call the phantom cards or fold, with a call meaning a guaranteed double-up. O'Hagan, down to around $400,000, called the all-in and took down the pot, and a few hands later the erstwhile chip leader Kulczycki was eliminated.
What is interesting about this hand, besides the fact that it marked the elimination of a man who coming into the day had to be regarded as one of the favorites to take down the tournament, is that it wasn't the first time it had happened at that table on Day 3.
Earlier in the day, Adam Lococo, who distinguished himself on Day 2 by demonstrating his inexperience with live poker, making string bets and later immediately moving all-in after flopping quads with pocket fours and appearing perplexed when he didn't receive any callers, made almost the same mistake as Kulczycki.
Lococo moved all-in and the action folded around to Terris Preston in the big blind. Before Preston could make a decision, the dealer began to muck the cards folded by other players at the table. She inadvertently took Lococo's as well, and despite the rookie's protestations, his all-in bet was left to stand with no cards to bolster the chips. Preston called the bet and made the easiest double-up he's likely to see at a poker table.
Ironically, Lococo would be eliminated a few hands later at Preston's expense, moving all-in with pocket sevens and goading a call out of Preston, who showed pocket kings and sent Lococo to the rail in ninth place.
Apart from the aforementioned mental mistakes, Day 3 was notable for marking the demise of many of the remaining pros. Mark Kroon, Tim Anders and Joseph Tehan all made early exits, logging cashes of between $7,205 CAD and $9,367 CAD each.
The remaining pro, proud 2006 WSOP bracelet holder Scott Clements, entered Day 3 with the largest stack and played textbook big-stack poker throughout the day, using his chips to bully other players at his table away from hands and to steal pots that he likely had no business taking. By the time he had busted Bruce Williams to conclude Day 3, Clements had well over $1.1 million in chips, and looks borderline unbeatable going into the final table.
The other competitors to make the WPT soundstage are Anthony O'Hagan, who could be regarded as the Steve Dannenmann of the Canadian Open with his laid-back attitude and "nice guy" table image, as well as Gia Trinh, new PokerStars.com representative Terris Preston, Vince Sessa, and new UltimateBet representative and Day 1 chip leader Steven Buttery. Aside from O'Hagan, who sits with around 70% of Clements' chip stack, the remainder of the field holds around $200,000 chips per person, and that fact, combined with his relative wealth of professional experience, has to make Scott Clements really like his chances going into the fourth and final day of play.