ESPN’s coverage tonight moved on to Day Three of the Main Event, the first time all the remaining players in the field played at the same time. The pre-show tease indicated that the focus tonight would be on Jeff Lisandro, who was going to win the Player of the Year for the WSOP unless Ville Wahlbeck made the final table. Fellow Aussie and 2005 Main Event champion Joe Hachem joined him at the featured table, while Wahlbeck sat at table two, along with Kenny Tran.
In the first break in the action, McEachern asked Chad whom he liked in the tourney, and Chad replied that if the aliens came to get Phil Ivey for a big cash game on the mother ship, that he would then pick Lisandro. Chad has been picking Ivey to win the Main Event for years, and it’s obvious he will be riding that horse for the rest of the coverage.
An interesting moment transpired at the beginning of play, when Phil Hellmuth sat down at his table, and, as is his habit, went to shake the hand of each player. One of them, Lachlan MacKinnon, refused the offer, expressing his opinion of Hellmuth, which included a few deleted expletives. Hellmuth said that he had shaken the hand of over 2,000 players, and MacKinnon was the only one who had refused, so maybe it said something about MacKinnon. To which MacKinnon cracked, “Yeah, it shows I have more class than over 2,000 people!”
While Lisandro and Hachem were the stars at the featured table, they found a consistent nemesis in the blue-hoodied Klaus Nielsen. After Lisandro raised a pot to 3,600 with , Nielsen called in the big blind with A-10 offsuit. The flop brought 8-K-3, and Nielsen led out with 5,600, which Lisandro called. When a queen fell on the turn, Nielsen checked, and Lisandro bet 11,000. Nielsen then check-raised to 28,600!!! Lisandro folded. It would not be the last time Nielsen out-played one or both of the Australian stars.
The first hour’s wild card hand saw Hachem with the mystery hand, which he raised to 4,100. Nielsen called in the big blind with pocket threes. On a flop of a rainbow suited 8-2-5, Nielsen checked and Hachem bet 6,200 into a pot of 10,800, which Nielsen called. When a deuce came on the turn, Nielsen checked once again, Hachem bet 13,500 and Nielsen once again made a check-raise, this time to 32,000. Hachem folded what the camera revealed was K-Q.
In the middle of the first hour of the telecast, Ville Wahlbeck was eliminated, meaning that Jeffrey Lisandro was officially the Player of the Year. Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack stopped the action briefly to publicly congratulate Lisandro on the feat before play continued. Unfortunately, his new status did not help stop the erosion of his chip stack, which continued to dwindle throughout the telecast.
The second hour soon saw a gaffe by Phil Hellmuth, who got into a raising war with old nemesis Josh Arieh after the flop with just middle pair, when Arieh had flopped top set. Arieh doubled up, and Hellmuth wrote it off to the fact that the last time they had tangled in a pot like that, Arieh had shown him a bluff.
A potentially volatile dynamic was set up on table 2 when David “Devilfish” Ulliott was added to the mix. He was quickly involved in a hand with Kenny Tran, and Ulliott failed to raise Tran out of the pot on the turn, allowing Tran to river an inside wheel draw. After Tran led out, Ulliott begged not to let the hand be shown on television, because he had played it so badly. Devilfish still called the bet, and was disgusted by what he saw when Tran showed the winning straight.
Klaus Nielsen next took on both Hachem and Lisandro in a hand, where he raised to 5,200 with !! Hachem popped it to 15,000 with pocket queens, and Lisandro slow-played pocket kings, just calling Hachem’s raise. Nielsen liked the price he was getting and called as well. When the flop brought 6-4-A, Lisandro checked and Nielsen immediately bet 22,000! Both Hachem and Lisandro reluctantly laid down their hands, fearing that Nielsen had an ace.
The second hour’s wild card hand saw Kenny Tran start the action with a raise to 6,400 with . Dino Bravati re-raised to 15,000 with the hidden hand, and Tran called. With a flop of 10-2-3, Brivati led out for 25,000 and Tran called with bottom pair. A six came on the turn, and Brivati now bet 40,000 into a pot of 83,900. Tran called once more. When the (a third heart) fell on the river, Brivati went all-in, creating a pot of 267,900. Tran, whose nickname is “sick call,” tried to live up to his nickname, but Brivati showed pocket aces to take the huge pot.
Just before the featured table broke, Hachem doubled up against Lisandro when he hit top pair-top kicker on a flop of 5-7-Q. Lisandro put him all-in, but had just pocket sixes, which didn’t improve, as Lisandro’s descent continued.
In one of the worst played hands seen in the entire tournament, Devilfish made the first mistake when he called a pre-flop re-raise from Prahlad Friedman with K-J offsuit (Friedman had pocket queens). The flop then gave Ulliott top two pair, Ulliott raised all-in, and Friedman then made an equally bad play by calling! As luck would have it, Friedman then spiked a queen on the river to send Ulliott to the rail.
As the telecast concluded, we saw both Jason Alexander and Jeffrey Lisandro’s tournaments come to an end, and, with some very dangerous players, including Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier and Phil Ivey, holding very large chip stacks, Day Three came to an end.
Next week’s telecast will feature Day Four, and the busting of the money bubble. As we have still not seen any of the November Nine other than Phil Ivey, it will be interesting to see if any of those players begin to make appearances in next week’s show.
See you then!
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