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2007 WPT World Poker Open - Day 3

Poker Players Pick Up the Southern Pace - Catfish Reels in Big Fish

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Tuesday night marked the end of day 3 of the World Poker Tour's 2007 World Poker Open at Tunica's Gold Strike Casino and Resort. And poker players faced more challenges than just competing in a $10,000 championship.
Daniel Negreanu
Gavin Smith and Robert ThompsonDaniel Negreanu has shed a few pounds due to his inability to find sustenance here in the south. With a Mississippi menu offering mostly barbecued ribs and chicken fried steaks, the unusually gaunt vegetarian, opposed to fried foods and "carcass" (as he put it), is trying to survive off "fried" (hot) water and legumes. "I was up at 5:30 this morning," he said while gobbling down two of slices of dry bread. "The sound of my stomach growling woke me." Although his diet may be lacking carbs, he ended the day with plenty of chips to savor.

Another challenge for yesterday's board leaders was to hold on to their positions. Other players had a hard time just holding on to their chairs. While the southern tempo of days past has quickened, so have the eliminations. Forty-four players started on five tables at noon, and by the second break, more than 20 were on the rail, including many pros who dominated the field in earlier stages of the competition. Tournament directors conducted a "musical chairs" of sorts, with players changing tables faster than Johnny Grooms could impart his favorite phrase, "Thank you. Please drive through."

Ten minutes into the first round, with the blinds at $1,500-$3,000 and a $400 ante, Gavin Smith took down Jimmy Tran when Tran raised to $12,000 before the flop and Smith called. With a board of 5heart 3diamond 2heart showing, Tran moved all in and Smith immediately called, flashing Tran his pocket fives for a set. Tran had Aspade Kheart for little more than a straight draw. The 10diamond came on the turn and Tran needed a 4 to survive. But the river was the 2club and Tran went home empty-handed.

Robert MizrachiNext out was Mike Carlson, who was eliminated by Justin Marsh. Both players missed the board, with Marsh's high card winning him the hand and sending Carlson to the rail.

Barry Greenstein lost more ground when Robert Mizrachi doubled through him less than 30 minutes into the level. The two went all in withJC Tran pocket pairs, Mizrachi with sixes and Greenstein with kings. But Mizrachi spiked a 6, leaving Greenstein with around $11,000 going into the next hand. In an attempt to double up, Greenstein moved all in with Adiamond Jspade. Mizrachi dealt him a final blow with Kdiamond Qspade, after pairing his king on the flop and holding the lead through the river. Greenstein awarded Mizrachi an autographed copy of his book Ace on the River and exited the tournament to rousing applause.

J.C. Tran eliminated Tom McCormick when Tran called McCormick's all in with Kheart 9heart. McCormick had a better kicker with Aspade Kheart. The board came Jheart 8diamond 2heart7club and though McCormick was still in the lead, Tran was on a straight draw. Sure enough, the 10spade came on the river and another player filled McCormick's empty chair.

Over the remainder of the level, "all in," "player down," and "seat open" calls by dealers had tournament staff scrambling. The tournament was down to four tables, with Halim Labadeh, Mickey Mills, Jerry Thomas, Greg Cash, and Ernie Sherer making their exits.

With the blinds at $2,000-$4,000 with a $500 ante, an attempt was made to color up the $100 chips. But, with action running at a record pace, play was paused and the black chips were racked up and raced off to ensure accuracy.

Young ChoNegreanu came into the day short-stacked and stayed that way throughout the first round. But in three-way action before the flop, Kyle Hamlin raised and Negreanu made his move. He pushed all in from the small blind for around $40,000, and Eskimo Clark, next to act, called, as did Hamlin. The flop came 8spade 7heart 3diamond and Clark bet. Hamlin went into the tank for several minutes before calling with his last $12,000. The players turned over their hands. Daniel had pocket eights (8diamond 8club) for a set, Hamlin had A-K, and Eskimo had A-10. The crowd, rooting loudly for Negreanu, went wild. The 7spade came on the turn, and then the 10spade came on the river to send Hamlin to the rail and triple Negreanu up to around $93,000Victor Ramdin.

After a flop of Kheart 5heart 2diamond, Paul Clark moved all in and Negreanu called with his last $84,000. Negreanu had 10heart 10spade, but Clark had a better pair with Kspade 9spade. But another heart came on the turn with the 4heart and Negreanu still had hope with another 10 or a flush draw. Sure enough, the 2heart came on the river to double Negreanu up and leave "Eskimo" in dire straights.

Hertzel Zalewski, Kyle Hamlin, Ed Ford, Jason Ke, Franco Brunetti, Perry Webb, and Mark Wilds were the next notable players missing the cutoff.

Meanwhile, Clark made a "Hail Mary" play that gave him the right hand with the wrong results. After a flop of Jspade 6spade 5club, he and two other opponents went all in at once. Hoyt Corkins had Matt Russell covered for a side pot, with Clark pushing the shortest stack forward. Clark showed Aspade 3spade for the nut flush draw, Corkins turned over 8heart 7diamond for an open-ended straight draw, and Matt Russell flipped over 6club 6heart for a set. The turn was the 5diamond and the 4spade came on the river. Even though all three players made their hands ‐ Clark completing his flush and Corkins making a straight ‐ Russell had them both beat on the turn with a full house and scooped the pot, sending Clark out on the bubble in 28th place.

The plan was for players to reach the money and then pack it up to return on Wednesday, but because 17 of them had been eliminated before the tournament had completed two levels, a vote was taken. The money winners unanimously agreed to continue until they were down to 18. One entitled to weigh in was Negreanu. The 2007 WPO would be his fourth consecutive cash, setting a new World Poker Tour record, breaking a tie he'd previously held with Barry Greenstein.

With the tournament down to three tables, more cards were drawn and new seats were taken as players racked up their chips and took theirJohnny Grooms positions.

Young Cho doubled through Victor Ramdin, who was feeling no love and fading fast. Ramdin went all in on the turn with two pair and Cho called him with a made flush. The river didn't help Ramdin, forfeiting all but around $90,000 of his chips to Cho.

At another table, with four-way action before the flop, Gavin Smith, Robert Mizrachi, and Mark Seif limped to James "Catfish" Bullard, who checked his option. The flop came Kheart Jdiamond4diamond. Seif checked, Catfish bet around $14,000, Smith folded, and Mizrachi raised $60,000 more. Seif got out of the way and Catfish put Mizrachi all in for his last $25,000. Catfish turned over K-9 for top pair and Mizrachi had Adiamond 3diamond for the nut flush draw. The turn was another king and the river was a blank, sending Mizrachi out in 27th place with $17,137. Seif was crippled, while a monster pot catapulted Catfish into second chip position.

Kido PhamNext out were Sung Joo in 26th place and Harold Mahaffey in 25th place, both earning $17,137 for two-and-a-half days' work.

Ramdin couldn't catch a break, as he and Brian Gabrielle both went into an all-in situation with straight draws, though Ramdin was ahead withDon Mullis the overcard. But a jack, which paired him on the river, completed Gabrielle's hand and sent Ramdin home in 24th place with $17,137.

Mark Seif was nothing more than Catfish bait when he counted on his pocket nines to buoy him out of deep waters. But Catfish had snagged a pair of aces, sending Seif out "hook-line-and-sinker," in 23rd place with $17,137.

After a flop of Kheart 10heart 6diamond, Hoyt Corkins checked to Young Cho, who bet $40,000. Corkins called and the turn was the Qclub. Corkins checked again and Cho moved all in. Corkins called with Kspade Qspade, but Cho had a set with 6club 6heart. The river was the 10spade and Corkins was eliminated in 22nd place with $17,137.

Negreanu was determined to do more than just cash on day 3, and in a brave attempt, called an all-in bet by Kido Pham with a flush draw. Pham had bottom pair, then tripped up on the turn to take the wind out of Negreanu's sails. But a spade on the river turned the tide for Negreanu and doubled him up to around $216,000 going into the next hand.

Riding the wave, Negreanu went after a short-stacked Matt Graham, who pushed "blind" for around $60,000. Negreanu called and turned over Jclub Jspade. Graham peeked at his cards for the first time and turned over Jheart 3spade. Graham knew he was fishing for mermaids and miracles, and went out in 21st place with $17,137.

James BullardNegreanu was on a roll, and if his name wasn't enough to command table respect, his run with the deck was. Pham put it to the test when he called an all-in by Negreanu with a board of Adiamond 8club2diamond7club6club. Negreanu turned over 5club 4club for a straight flush and Pham mucked his hand in disgust. Negreanu showed his Mississippi spirit by walking around the tournament arena and spouting catch phrases, complete withMark Seif "y'all" and "fixin' to." A roving photographer remarked, "I've been in this business a long time, but I've finally heard it all." He mirrored most of the amused crowd's sentiments.

Michael Schneider was the last player to bubble out on day 3, when his suited connectors missed a high board and Justin Marsh made a set on the flop. Schneider went out in 20th place with $17,137.

Normally, that would be enough to cap off an exciting day of tournament play. But before Johnny Grooms could announce, "Dealers, finish the hand you're on," going into the break, the biggest upset of the day was happening on table 31. Young Cho was dominating the field with a monster lead, but just before the bell, he got tangled in Catfish's net. Cho raised $50,000 on the turn in heads-up action against Catfish on a board of 9heart 8diamond 5diamond Jheart. Catfish announced, "all in," and Cho went into the tank for several minutes, finally calling. Catfish turned over 7club 8club for a pair, and Cho, holding 6diamond 3diamond, was on a diamond draw with one card to come. The river was the 5club and the dealer pushed Catfish an $860,000 pot, doubling him up and flip-flopping the advantage from Cho to his opponent.

"There's no known cure for a catfish bite," said Bulllard as he stacked his chips.

The tournament was on its 14th level and the blinds increased to $4,000-$8,000 with a $1,000 ante.

Gavin Smith moved all in preflop with pocket kings against Young Cho, who held pocket queens. After the players revealed their hands, Don Mullis announced that Cho was even more behind since he'd folded one of the queens. But the case queen came on the flop and Smith watched helplessly as the dealer added two more blanks to the board, sweeping Smith's kings into the muck. Smith was the last player of the day to face elimination, out in 19th place with $17,137.

Here are the top ten going into Tuesday:James Bullard

James Bullard: $966,000
Young Cho: $674,000
J.C. Tran: $566,000
Robert Thompson: $466,000
Daniel Negreanu: $446,000
Brian Gabrielle: $323,000
Gary Kainer: $300,00
Jeremy Tinsley: $295,000
Bryan Sumner: $290,000
Edson Putrus: $255,000

Play resumes at noon on Tuesday as 18 players battle it out to become one of the final six to compete at the WPT televised feature table. Stay tuned to CardPlayer.com for more exciting action, bringing you day 4's action live, with updates, photos, short video clips, and the nightly Circuit radio show.