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Day Three of the L.A. Poker Classic

Satellite Winners Desperate to Cash Slow Down the Action


The money bubble at a World Poker Tour tournament is, more often than not, a harrowing and stressful experience. The fear of playing for days and leaving with nothing can turn even the most seasoned professional into a passive nit, opting to limp into the money before turning the aggression back on. Monday night at the 2008 L.A. Poker Classic, the desperation to finish in the money hit an all-time high, as player after player took turns stalling, often unapologetically.

Theo Tran on day 3 of the LAPCThings started out well enough, the 136 remaining players were quickly whittled down over the first four levels to a more manageable field of 68. Then, with only 63 spots being paid, things began to get a little frustrating. Over at table 7, a player only known as “Bobby” began to get himself into some difficult situations, often taking more than five minutes to act on his hand. The table kept their composure for most of it, trying to convince themselves that he may have had a tough decision to mull over. Eventually, after the fourth consecutive five-minute decision, Theo Tran began to boil over and the floor was called. We still had four more bustouts before hand-for-hand play was scheduled to begin, but now a decision needed to be made.

Mike Carson, one table over, then took it upon himself to press the issue. Carson believed it was unfair for his table to see more hands than the others and thus had the floor called over after refusing to play his hand. This upset David Singer, who was undoubtedly looking to take advantage of the bubble. The combination of another table beginning to stall and Carson's actions forced the tournament director make the decision to start hand-for-hand play early, hoping to alleviate any tension and quell the blatant stalling at table 7. While some viewed the slow moving process of hand-for-hand play as tedious and unneccessary, most thanked Carson for extinguishing the potentially shady situation.

Phil Hellmuth, all smiles before the bubbleThings failed to settle down, however, as Phil Hellmuth got into a loud altercation with another player at his table. According to the other players, Hellmuth had been abused with bluffs over and over again, and he was also about to boil over. He finally exploded out of his chair when a loud player at his table gloated with the rail after hitting a straight on the river. His opponent offered a mock-truce and a handshake, but Hellmuth declined until play was finished.

Antonio busts before the moneyDuring this time, players still continued to play extraordinarily slow, despite the change in structure. After Antonio Esfandiari had busted in 65th place, Theo Tran began to raise at will, picking up roughly 50 percent of the hands played at his table. At one point, it was folded around to Tran in the small blind and he stated, “I will take a blue button, dealer,” referencing the blue all-in buttons given to the players in all-in situations. His opponent in the big blind was none other than “Bobby,” who was still sitting there with six chips to his name. He stared “Bobby” down, and then said, “I haven’t even looked at my cards, yet.” Nonetheless, “Bobby” folded and Tran squeezed out his 5-2 offsuit.

Ironically, “Bobby” became the bubble boy when he decided to call all-in with Q-5 offsuit after Aaron Been raised preflop. That’s right, he waited for more than two hours, folding premium hands, only to finally get all of his chips in the middle with Q-5 offsuit — poetic justice, indeed.

After the bubble had burst, the players were given the remaining 20 minutes in the last level of the night to trim the field a bit. When the dust settled, 58 players were left standing, all still in the hunt for the nearly $1.6 million first-place prize.

Here are the players who busted in the money just before the day ended, earning $22,020:

60. Marcel Sabaag
59. Ray Henson

Here are the top 10 players and their chip counts:

1. Kyle Burnside — 781,000
2. Phil Ivey — 656,000
3. Jennifer Tilly — 569,000
4. David Singer — 561,000
5. Yury Parad — 560,000
6. Mike Hamparsomian — 499,000
7. Theo Tran — 470,000
8. Scott Montgomery — 454,000
9. Daniel Fuhs — 444,000

Play will resume tomorrow at 12:30 P.M. PST and continue until either 27 or 18 players remain.