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Day 3 at the WPT Borgata Poker Classic

The Tournament Field Shifts Gears During the March to 27


Day 3 of the World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Classic was a great example of the drastic way that the speed of play can change in the course of a poker tournament. Ninety-nine players began the day and things started slowly amongst a groggy field that was still shaking off the cobwebs from yesterday. In the first level of play, only nine players were eliminated.

When the 90 remaining players returned from break, the unforeseen force that drives the speed of tournament play shifted up a gear, and the collectively-accepted strategy of moving all in proved to be fatal to many players. On the inevitable march to the money bubble, Cliff Josephy, Erik Cajelais, Fred Goldberg, and Isabelle Mercier were thrown to the wayside before the size of the tournament field was 56.

Although the top 54 players would leave the Borgata with some cash, a strange double-bubble developed. The tournament had not even moved to hand-for-hand play when the speed of play shifted into park, and pots proceeded without much action. That was until Bill Kontaratos ousted Benjamin Palmer in 56th place in the penultimate bubble hand. Pocket jacks Justin Bonomogot the job done when no aid came on the board to assist Palmer’s K-2.

Now the real money bubble set in, and hand-for-hand play was instituted on the tournament floor. The bubble kept going, and going, and going ... through the end of one level and into the next, while a break was put on hold and anxiety soaked the air. The bubble finally burst when one player, who chose to remain nameless, had let his chip stack dwindle to 19,500, which he used to call a 22,000 preflop raise from Justin Bonomo. Rep Porter also jumped into the fray and the board ran out 10 6 6 J 10. Both Porter and Bonomo checked this board down and Porter won the hand with K 10. The anonymous short stack mucked his hand and strolled from the room penniless.

The rest of the field went to a break after the hand, and action began anew 15 minutes later. The slow play of the bubble hovered in the room after the money bubble, and play was stuck in the mud during the hour before dinner. Only four players were sent to the rail during this time, most notably John Hennigan.

It wasn’t until the tournament field returned from dinner that things started to heat up and the unfortunate began to fall in rapid succession. Here is a look at the most notable eliminations that occurred on the road to 27:Vanessa Rousso

In one of the final elimination hands of the evening, David Tran became the first player in the tournament to reach 2 million in chips: Tran opened the eventful pot and Bill Kontaratos raised to 100,000. Tran made the call and the flop brought 10 9 9. Tran checked, Kontaratos bet 200,000, and Tran moved all in. Kontaratos went into the tank for several minutes with 250,000 left behind and he eventually decided to call with A K. But Tran turned over pocket aces. Kontaratos was looking for a runner-runner miracle to stay alive at that point, but it wasn’t in the cards. The turn and river fell 3 and 9. Tran's pocket aces gave him the pot and pumped his stack to a robust 2.285 million, while Kontaratos was eliminated in 30th place.

Tran finished the day as the chip leader a few minutes later with 2,078,000, which is four times the average stack at this point. Had it not been for Scott Blackman’s fortuitous possession of quad kings in a large hand, which gave him a final stack of 1,622,000, no one would be even close to Tran. To take a look at the rest of the chip counts, click here.

The final 27 players will return tomorrow to battle for the right to sit at the final television table of six, which takes place on Thursday. Day-4 action will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time in the Borgata poker room. Stay tuned to to follow all the action in live updates, chip counts, photos, and videos.