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2012 World Series of Poker Day 40: Merson and Lehr Heads-Up, Puchkov Eyeing History

Konstantin Puchkov

It was another fun day at the 2012 World Series of Poker as four more tournaments played out. In Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em — Six-Handed, and Event #58: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better, the plan was to play down to a winner, but each tournament paused and will resume Friday. Event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Day 1b, Alex Cordero was able to build the biggest stack and will go into Day 2 with 100,475, but not far behind him is Jake Cody. Also starting on Thursday was Event #60: $10,000 2-7 Lowball (No-Limit). Konstantin Puchkov was able to build the biggest stack on day one, and will return on Day 2 with a good chance of getting his 11th record-breaking cash.

Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em — Six-Handed

Day 3 of Event #57 began with several heavy hitters still alive in the field. Among them were Jason Mercier, Eugene Katchalov, Andrew Lichtenberger, Shannon Shorr, and Nick Maimone, but all hit the rail. At the end of the day, two players were left standing to duke it out for the title; Keith Lehr and Gregory Merson.

Katchalov was one of the first to hit the rail on Thursday when he shoved his {K-Spades}{J-Spades} into the {A-Clubs}{Q-Clubs} of Shannon Shorr preflop. The board ran out {7-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{2-Spades}{Q-Diamonds} and Shorr's pair of ladies was enough to eliminate Katchalov and send him to the rail, but not before collecting his $35,442 for 21st place.

Mercier was eliminated a little later when he got in a blind versus blind confrontation with Shorr who moved all-in from the small blind holding a bit more than Mercier was holding. Mercier called it off with {A-Clubs}{9-Spades} and was up against Shorr's {K-Diamonds}{10-Spades}. The flop fell {10-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Spades}, giving Shorr the lead. The {6-Hearts} on the turn and the {6-Diamonds} on the river kept Shorr ahead eliminating Mercier in 14th place, collecting $44,119.

With the elimination of Nick Maimone in ninth, and Layne Flack in eighth, players moved down to an unofficial final table. Timothy Adams was eliminated in seventh to bring the remaining players to the official final table. On his final hand, Adams moved all-in over an open raise holding the {8-Diamonds}{8-Clubs} and was called down by Edward Sabat who held the {A-Spades}{9-Hearts}. An {A-} hit the flop and Adams couldn't catch up from there. He was sent home in seventh, collecting $100,696 for his finish.

Action was slow at the start of the final table, with several pots being traded back and forth, but Andrew Lichtenberger finally hit the rail in sixth place. He got all of the chips in holding {A-Hearts}{K-Clubs} and was called by Merson who was holding {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}. The flop fell {K-Hearts}{J-Hearts}{6-Diamonds} to give Lichtenberger a commanding lead, but the turn was the {10-Hearts}, leaving him looking for a heart for the win, or a {Q-} for a chop. The river was the {A-Clubs}, which wasn't enough to save Lichtenberger from elimination. He did, however, collect $140,351 for his efforts.

Also making an appearance at the final table was Shannon Shorr, who began the day with a short stack but was able to build it, thanks to several hands. Shorr made it all the way to three-handed play but couldn't close the deal. He ended up moving his short stack all-in against Merson with {8-Spades}{5-Spades} but was quickly called. Merson was holding {A-Diamonds}{9-Spades} and the board fell {2-Spades}{j-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}{k-Diamonds}{6-Clubs} staying safe for Merson who captured the knock out. For his finish, Shorr received $455,362.

Merson and Lehr played heads-up for nearly an hour before calling it quits and deciding to return to finish up Friday instead. Merson will return with a 2:1 chip lead over Lehr, but it's still anyone's game. Play will resume at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) and will conclude when a winner is reached.

To see who else was eliminated Thursday, or how Merson and Lehr reached heads-up play, make sure you check out the live reporting blog for all the updates.

Event #58: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better

At the beginning of Day 3 in Event #58, 31 players remained. Among them were Scotty Nguyen and David “ODB” Baker. Both players made it to the final table but fell short of the gold. Returning on Friday for three-handed play, are Roch Cousineau, Chris Bell and Viacheslav Zhukov. Cousineau will hold the chip lead when the players return on Friday.

Several notable players were eliminated on Thursday including Bryan Devonshire (29th - $8,392), Antoine Saout (19th - $10,310), and Antony Lellouch (14th - $16,255).

Scotty Nguyen's run for gold ended when he got his chips in against David Baker on a {3-Spades}{5-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds} board. Nguyen was holding {3-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{9-Clubs} for trips, but Baker held {3-Clubs}{A-Diamonds}{6-Spades}{K-Clubs} for trips with a better kicker. The turn was the {Q-Diamonds} and the river was the {2-Hearts} giving Nguyen no help and he was sent home in eighth place, collecting $33,789.

David Baker looked poised to take the tournament down, but after losing a few pots, he was finally taken down by Cousineau. After calling a 115,000-chip bet preflop, Baker and Cousineau got the chips all-in on a {K-Hearts}{9-Clubs}{6-Hearts} board. Baker held the {A-Spades}{Q-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds}{j-Hearts} for a flush draw, pair of queens, and a gut-shot straight draw, but Cousineau's draw was better with the {A-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{8-Spades}{3-Clubs}. The turn was the {5-Spades} giving Cousineau an almost unbeatable straight, and left Baker searching for an non-heart {10-}, but the river was the {A-Diamonds}, eliminating Baker in fourth place. He collected $100,820 for his finish.

After Baker's elimination, players decided to bag it up and resume Friday at 1400 PDT (2200 BST). The final three will play it out at the stage in the purple section of the Amazon room and will conclude with a winner.

To make sure you don't miss the crowning of a champion, or to see who else busted on day three, make sure you check out the live reporting blog for all the updates.

Event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em – Day 1b

Nearly 3,000 players showed up for Day 1b of Event #59, and plenty of fresh faces hit the felt and then hit the rail one by one. Some pros who showed up for Day 1b who won't be continuing on to Day 2 include Dennis Phillips, Faraz Jaka, Kevin Saul, Lauren Kling, Andy Frankenberger, and J.C. Tran.

Several pros were able to build stacks, though, and will return in the group of 726 players who remain. Ben Yu, Sam Grizzle, Jeff Madsen, and Amanda Leatherman were just some of the players who moved on.

Jake Cody got a rush late in the day that helped propel him among the chip leaders. In one hand, a player opened in early position to 900. Cody, directly behind him, three-bet to 2,400. The action folded back to the original raiser who put in a fourth bet to 5,500, and Cody jammed it in with a covering stack. Cody held {A-Spades}{A-Diamonds} and his opponent was holding {A-Hearts}{Q-Clubs}. The board was all bricks and that pushed Cody to nearly 70,000 in chips, which he was able to carry to the end of the day.

Friday the two Day 1s will combine in one room and continue play. Action will begin at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) and players will play 10 levels. The money bubble will burst Friday when only 468 players remain, and that should make for an action packed day.

Make sure you don't miss any of the exciting hands from Day 2 of Event #59 where the money bubble will burst and players will continue on their path to a gold bracelet where our live reporting blog will have you covered with constant updates.

Event #60: $10,000 2–7 Lowball (No-Limit)

Tucked away in the corner of the Amazon Room, 101 players showed up to play no-limit 2–7 lowball in Event #60. The field was stacked with notable players including Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, David "Bakes" Baker, Mike Matusow, and Erik Seidel, who will all return on Friday along with the other remaining players to continue playing down to a champion.

Plenty of players didn't make it through the day, though, including Galen Hall, Phil Hellmuth, Chad Brown, and Michael Mizrachi.

Negreanu built a healthy stack on Thursday. During one hand with over 20,000 in the pot, Negreanu and Nick Schulman were heading to the draw. Schulman who was in the big blind stood pat, and Negreanu took one card. Schulman checked to Negreanu, who checked his card, and then checked the action saying, “Eh, the pot's big enough.” Negreanu showed {10-}{7-}{6-}{5-}{3-} which was good enough to take the pot and push him to nearly 80,000 chips. Negreanu finished the day with 94,200 chips, good enough to put him among the top 10 stacks.

The final 54 players will return Friday at 1400 PDT (2200 BST) and play 10 levels, or until there are only seven players remaining. Konstantin Puchkov leads the pack and could make history by locking up his 11th cash of the 2012 World Series of Poker and breaking the late Nikolay Evdakov's record for most cashes in a single year.

Make sure you don't miss a single draw and check into the live reporting blog where we will bring you all the action from throughout the day.

On Tap

On Friday, both Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed and Event #58: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or-Better will return and award bracelets.

Event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em will also return and combine the players who survived both Days 1a and 1b. Event #60: $10,000 2–7 Lowball (No-Limt) will bring back the remaining 54 players and attempt to play down to a final table. The World Series of Poker National Championship Circuit Freeroll will get under way on Friday, and Saturday is the event that we've all been waiting for — the World Series of Poker 2012 Main Event.

To make sure you don't miss any of Friday's exciting action, make sure you check out the live reporting blog for updates from throughout the day.

Video of the Day

Is poker more luck than skill, or vice versa? Recently, we asked the pros whether luck or skill is more important in tournament poker. Eric Froehlich, Lex Veldhuis, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and others weigh in on the subject. What do you think? Let us know below.

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