WSOP: Kenny Hallaert leads, Esfandiari 7th after WSOP Main Event Day 3 | poker news

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Tim Fiorvanti/ESPN
Antonio Esfandiari had a great time as many things unfolded on Day 3 of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. He bagged 1,381,000 chips, good enough for seventh overall in the final 800 players.

It was a moving day on Thursday in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, with more than 60 percent of the field participating in Day 3 going away empty-handed and the rest walking away with either a small win or increased hopes of a place in the November Nine and the $8 million first place prize.

800 players advanced on Day 4, 40 of them bagged at least 1 million chips. Belgium’s Kenny Hallaert had the best day of all, building a 1,709,000 stack to take the chip lead into Friday’s action.

“I started the day with 410,000 and that was quite a lot in chips,” Hallaert said, “and my stack just kept growing throughout the day. I won a big hand in the first level where I had the nut flush against a set, and I won a big hand just before the bubble when my queens held against ace-king. I haven’t lost any big pots, I’ve never encountered big hands and it’s been like this for three days, which is one of the reasons I have a big stack now.”

Despite his exalted position, Hallaert recognizes the battle ahead.

“The tournament just went into the money,” said Hallaert. “Of course it’s a dream, and I might have one of the biggest chances, but if you look at what the average chip stack will be at the final table, I only have a small part of it.”

Unlike many of the 800 players still fighting for the title, Hallaert knows what it’s like to hit a deep run in this tournament. In fact, in 2015 he gained a lot of experience fighting through large fields; In addition to his main event result, Hallaert placed fifth in the first Colossus event.

“Last year in the Main Event I had my deepest run, I finished 123rd,” said Hallaert. “It would be a big achievement for me if I could beat that. From day 5 last year, [it] was [feeling] this could get serious – there were 200 players left and unfortunately I didn’t make it. [This year], I’m hoping to make Day 6 – I’d say that’s a small goal at this point – but if I don’t make it I won’t be disappointed. I was the chip leader so I could check that off my bucket list.”

As Hallaert is well aware, there is still a long way to go before he gets a spot on the November Nine, including a number of players who are currently in close competition for the top stack. Jared Bleznick (1,607,000) and Kilian Kramer (1,400,000) are both in the top 5, while Antonio Esfandiari (1,381,000) and Marc-Andre Ladouceur (1,302,000) crack the top 10.

“It was a good table today, everyone had a great time,” Esfandiari said of his Day 3 experience. “I tend to do well when people are having fun at the poker table. But [there were] definitely some good players. I got bluffed at a key point where I was about to call, but the kid played really well and bluffed me a bit.”

Esfandiari is also no stranger to deep runs in the Main Event; In 2015 he was 168th and in 2009 he was 24th. He’ll be in a position of power to start the game on Friday and that puts him squarely in his sweet spot as he starts Day 4 in seventh place.

“No-limit hold’em is a whole different game when you actually have chips,” Esfandiari said. “Instead of just having to wait for cards, you can just play anything. It’s definitely a lot more fun.”

Notables are spread across the lead group and hold seven-figure stacks. Shaun Deeb, Eugene Katchalov, Ray Dehkarghani, Steve O’Dwyer, Tom Marchese, Jon Turner, Antoine Saout, Melanie Weisner and Brandon Adams all fall into this category.

Only four previous champions are hoping for a repeat win before heading into action on Friday. Greg Raymer (732,000), Johnny Chan (588,000), Ryan Riess (270,000) and Tom McEvoy (202,000).

There will be no back-to-back champion as Joe McKeehen was eliminated just before the bubble burst on Thursday. 14-time WSOP bracelet winner and 1989 WSOP Main Event champion Phil Hellmuth also failed to make the money. Among the prominent participants, Ray Romano and soccer star John Arne Riise also failed because of the money.

After the bubble burst, the expected flood of eliminations followed. Scott Clements (1,007), Farzad Bonyadi (977), Noah Schwartz (971), Dan Sindelar (935), Shannon Shorr (911) and Kristen Bicknell (885) were among the 211 to go in the money once fell.

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Tim Fiorvanti/ESPN
Kenny Hallaert has the entire chip lead going into Day 4 of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Top 10 chip counts

1) Kenny Hallaert (Hansbeke, Belgium) – 1,709,000

2) Jared Bleznick (New York, NY, USA) – 1,607,000

3) Duy Ho (Honolulu, HI, USA) – 1,480,000

4) Kilian Kramer (Vienna, Austria) – 1,400,000

5) Mark Zullo (Seville, OH, USA) – 1,390,000

6) Myung “Mike” Shin (Milwaukee, WI, USA) – 1,385,000

7) Antonio Esfandiari (Las Vegas, NV, USA) – 1,381,000

8) Nolan King (Boynton Beach, FL, USA) – 1,355,000

9) Jasthi Kumar (San Ramon, CA, USA) – 1,351,000

T-10) Marc-Andre Ladouceur (Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada) – 1,302,000

T-10) Farhad Jamasi (Ocoee, FL, USA) – 1,302,000

Adam Furgatch masters the Main Event bubble in no time

Unlike some previous years where multiple players busted on the same hand, Adam Furgatch won the traditional bubble boy prize of a seat in the 2017 WSOP Main Event unchallenged before hand-to-hand play could even begin. After a brief pause to allow staff to be sure they were on the right number, WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel walked over to Furgatch’s table and after a quick chat, assigned him an open seat to the 2017 WSOP Main Event.

“The famous quote goes that the day you drop out of the Main Event is the saddest day of the year for a poker player,” Furgatch said, “And yes, it’s sad, you always want to do better, but the The experience of being The Bubble Boy is actually more exciting than if I lasted a few hands longer and made $5,000.”

This was Furgatch’s second WSOP Main Event, and he hasn’t left empty-handed. He first won a live satellite to secure his seat in 2015 and made the most of his opportunity by finishing in 387th place for $24,622. Furgatch didn’t come in with any intention of simply folding to the money, but the cards just didn’t cooperate for most of Day 3.

“I was really card dead, no playable hands,” Furgatch said. “I think there was one hand that I should have folded at the end. I thought I had to win another pot [to get into the money], but again, I’m the bubble boy. That is better? It’s definitely more exciting except for [the possibility] out of a chip and a chair once you’re in.”

Small blinds: After three starting sessions, there were 4,360 entries for the $1,111 Little One for One Drop event. Jeffrey Papola leads with 197,700 he bagged on Day 1C on Thursday. The prize pool reached $3,924,000 with $525,520 and the last bracelet of the summer awaiting the champion… Four players who started Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event have reality TV experience in their background. While Maria Ho’s 765,000 (Amazing Race) and Garrett Adelstein’s 175,000 (Survivor) got them through Day 4, Anna Khait (Survivor) and David Williams (Master Chef) both failed to make the money.

What’s next: Friday’s action begins with the final 30 minutes of Level 16, with blinds of 3,000/6,000 and a 1,000 ante, starting at 12:00 PM PT. Five full poker levels follow, with play scheduled to end around 1am on day 4 WSOP: Kenny Hallaert leads, Esfandiari 7th after WSOP Main Event Day 3 | poker news

Ryan Sederquist

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