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Day Three From the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event

52 Players Shrink to 21 on Day Three

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There are 52 cards in a deck of playing cards. At the beginning of day three of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship, there were 52 players remaining. That is where the similarities between these two numbers end, though, because the 52 players remaining were comprised of more aces and kings than the decks of a mechanic, a riverboat cheat, and a shady backroom card dealer combined.

The early hours of the day were not kind to many of these kings of the game. Cyndy Violette was the first to exit, in 52nd place. She was followed to the rail in the early stages of the day by David Sklansky, Greg Mascio, David Williams, and Scotty Nguyen. The defending H.O.R.S.E. champion, Chip Reese, was eliminated in 47th place by Eli Elezra. Elezra ensured that a new champion would be crowned at this year's event by busting Reese with a larger two pair in seven-card stud eight-or-better. Elezra had become a fan favorite in his own right to challenge for this year's title, after accumulating a metropolis of chips during day one. Sadly, he would make his exit late in day three.

Erik Seidel, Annie Duke, and Phil Ivey also traveled to the rail in the wee hours of the poker morning and action was down to five tables. All of them were stacked. The featured table was shuffled back and forth in a game of musical tables, so that all the boisterous personalities could share in the television limelight. The speed of action ebbed and flowed with the games, slowing for the split-pot varieties and stepping on the gas when the straight high games came to town. The pace of bustouts kept rolling steadily along nonetheless, and Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren, Steve Sung, Isabelle Mercier, Sam Grizzle, Robert Mizrachi, John Juanda, David Oppenheim, and Tuan Le all fell during an especially brutal stretch of play. Most of this damage was done during a round of Texas hold'em just before the dinner break. The blinds were high and the chips were flying. Andy Bloch was also eliminated during the mayhem, so neither the champion nor the runner-up from last year would return to the final table. The only two alumni who remained from the H.O.R.S.E. class of 2006 were David Singer and Dewey Tomko.

Amnon Filippi rode solid play to the $1 million mark as the dinner break approached. He was the first player to reach that milestone in the tournament and he used the big stack to his advantage the rest of the evening. He would end the night as chip leader with over $2 million. The players went on their dinner break promptly at 7:30 p.m. and returned at 9 p.m. Twenty-five players remained and only four more needed to go before day three would come to an end. Mike Wattel was the first to go after the dinner break and then the players redrew for seats at the final three tables:

ESPN Featured Table

Seat No.1: Bruno Fitoussi
Seat No. 2: Daniel Negreanu
Seat No. 3: Justin Bonomo
Seat No. 4: Greg Raymer
Seat No. 5: Amnon Filippi
Seat No. 6: Mike Matusow
Seat No. 7: Dewey Tomko
Seat No. 8: Max Pescatori

On-Deck Circle

Seat No. 1: Mark Gregorich
Seat No. 2: Pat Pezzin
Seat No. 3: Steve Wolff
Seat No. 4: Kenny Tran
Seat No. 5: Chris Reslock
Seat No. 6: Phil Hellmuth
Seat No. 7: David Singer
Seat No. 8: Rob Hollinik

The Boondocks:

Seat No. 1: Tim Phan
Seat No. 2: Noah Jefferson
Seat No. 3: Toto Leonidas
Seat No. 4: Gabe Kaplan
Seat No. 5: Barry Greenstein
Seat No. 6: Freddy Deeb
Seat No. 7: Thor Hansen
Seat No. 8: John Hanson

Phil Hellmuth made a strong showing in the H.O.R.S.E. event, but his run came to an end when he ran into Kenny Tran after dinner. The game was razz, and Tran had 6 3 (3 8 A 5) J turned up on the table. Hellmuth then peeked at his last hole card before mucking. He then walked away from the table and mused with himself about his demise.

Many players then plunged into the depths of their stubborn resolve as poker players to survive into day three. Mark Gregorich doubled up numerous times as the last two eliminations of the evening loomed, while Dewey Tomko tripled up on one hand. Toto Leonidas would double up once through Thor Hansen, but he was unsuccessful on his second attempt, and was eliminated in 22nd place. His bustout came less than a minute after the elimination of Rob Hollinik in 23rd place. The tournament clock stopped and the players bagged up their chips. Max Pescatori was then moved to the seat next to David Singer to balance out the tables. This was the seat that Hollinik had vacated just minutes before. Play will start tomorrow at 2 p.m. The remaining 21 players will play down to the most sought-after final table in the world of professional poker tomorrow.

Here is a look at the top of the leader board:

Amnon Filippi: $2,343,000
Kenny Tran: $1,959,000
Bruno Fitoussi: $1,248,000
John Hanson: $1,215,000
David Singer: $1,017,000
Freddy Deeb: $963,000
Tim Phan: $889,000
Barry Greenstein: $700,000
Mike Matusow: $696,000
Gabe Kaplan: $625,000

Tune into CardPlayer.com for all the event logs from day four of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2 p.m.