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Day 3 Recap: Together at Last

The Two Day Twos Combine to Obliterate the Bubble

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Jeff "Mr. Rain" Banghart ended day 2A of the main event of the World Series of Poker as the chip leader, but lost the chip lead before he even played again. In fact ,Banghart couldn't have even tangled with the two players who overtook him, Gus Hansen and PokerStars Supernova Hevad "RaiNKHan" Kahn. Today that was made possible. The entire remaining field was at last all playing at the same time today as 797 hopefuls returned to continue the tortuous journey to $8.25 million, and a spot on the wall in the Amazon Room. Six players already with their faces adorning the walls returned today to deny the other hopefuls, as past main event champions Berry Johnston ('86), Huck Seed ('96), Scotty Nguyen ('98), Chris Ferguson ('00), Carlos Mortensen ('01), and Robert Varkonyi ('02) were among the players today. Chris Ferguson would end up bowing out early in the first hour of play when he pushed all in with A 5, but could not catch up to his opponent's Q Q.

The first player to cross the $1 million chip mark was $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. fifth-place finisher Kenny Tran, who scooped a monster pot while eliminating event No. 15 runner-up Andy Philachack. Both players checked the 9 8 7 flop. With the J on the turn, Philachack bet $20,000, Tran raised to $60,000, Philachack reraised to $120,000, and Tran moved all in. After Philachack called, there was over $1 million in the pot, and Philachack was drawing slim as he held K 10 to Tran's Q 10. The river card was the J and Tran surged to the top of the leader board.

Hand-for-hand play was started fairly soon into the day's action. Ted Forrest was eliminated in the first of what would be a series of 15 drawn-out hand for hand sessions. Some pros took full advantage of the timid play of the short stacks. Lee Watkinson out-chipped all of the players at his table, and he simply tapped them in each of the 15 hands, without looking at his cards. Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi made a resteal from the big blind with the always-dangerous Q-3, pushing his opponent off with an all-in push. John Sigan of Strongsville, Ohio was this year's bubble boy, busting out when his Q-Q was cracked by Vandy Krouch's 6 5 on a 8 6 4 7 4 board. Sigan, along with the previous eight finishers, will have a chance to play a freeze-out tournament, the winner of which will receive an entry into the 2008 main event, and a year's supply of Milwaukee's Best (though for some the latter might not be a great incentive).

Among those in the first payout bracket were bracelet winner Jan Sorenson (602nd), Gavin Smith (592nd), Rolf Slotboom (559th), and Tony Hachem (552nd). "Famous for their family" seemed to be the theme for the day as three lesser-known family members, including Tony Hachem, outlasted their more-accomplished kin. Shirley Williams showed up her son David by finishing in 465th place. Hien Tran cashed in 444th place, besting his brother J.C., current leader in the Card Player Player of the Year race. J.C. could only muster a 493rd-place finish. And finally, Todd Brunson bowed out in 459th place, while his sister Pam lasted nearly 100 players longer, exiting in 364th place. Nick Binger is enjoying a little role reversal, as he plays on to day 4. Last year Nick watched as his brother finished third in the main event, while this year it is Michael's turn to watch from the rail. Another noticeable railbird may be Men "The Master" Nguyen, whose brother Ut is still in contention.

Other notables who finished in the money include Amnon Filippi, Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy, Chris "The Armenian Express" Grigorian, Fabrice Souiler, Chip Jett, Bruno Fitoussi, Andre Boyer, Dan Heimiller, Robert Mizrachi, and writer/director Todd Phillips. Two players who have come fairly close to the victory in the past also couldn't last the day as the 11th-place finisher from last year, Leif Force, exited in 392nd place this year, and 1997 main event runner-up John Strzemp busted in 379th.

On Day 4, 337 will return to play with plenty of fodder for all angles. The chip leader is the young Dario Mineri ,who amassed a staggering $2.4 million in chips, a full million ahead of his nearest competitor. Also sitting with a million in chips are Kenny Tran, day 2A chip leader Jeff Banghart, and Gus Hansen. Hansen, the darling of the World Poker Tour audiences, has always faltered in front of the ESPN cameras on the World Series stage, but he seems primed for a deep run this year. Also still very much in the mix are the five other main event champions mentioned earlier, 2003 fourth-place finisher and bracelet winner Jason Lester, 2002 runner-up Julian Gardner, recent bracelet winner Bill Edler, Sorel Mizzi, Chad Brown, Mimi Tran, Brandon Adams, Thor Hansen, Card Player's own Diego Cordovez, Player of the Year contender Jared Hamby, and PokerStars representative Humberto Brenes. On the Hollywood side: Tobey Maguire, Sully Erna, and Sam Simon are all still in the running moving into day 4. And in a heart-triumphing-over-adversity story, Hal Lubarsky, a player who is legally blind (playing with the help of an assistant), is still very much alive with nearly $500,000 in chips.

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