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2012 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 3: Esfandiari Crushing

Antonio Esfandiari

Thursday marked Day 3 of the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic and play concluded with 60 players left from the original starting field of 503. Leading the way was the one and only Antonio Esfandiari, who bagged up 918,500 in chips — nearly 300,000 more than Freddy Deeb finished with in second place.

WPT Five Diamond Day 2 Top 10 Chip Counts

PlacePlayerChips
1Antonio Esfandiari918,500
2Freddy Deeb622,000
3Thomas Winters586,000
4Eddy Sabat519,000
5Brian Rast508,500
6Noah Schwartz478,000
7Yevgeniy Timoshenko472,500
8Andrew Lichtenberger470,000
9John Hennigan447,500
10Ty Reiman434,000

As you can see, plenty of former WPT champions are scattered about the top 10. Joining Esfandiari and Deeb were Noah Schwartz, Yevgeniy Timoshenko and John Hennigan.

Esfandiari was steadily cruising along until a massive hand came up against Shawn Cunix during Level 14 with the blinds at 1,200/2,400/400. From early position, Esfandiari raised to 5,600, and AP Phahurat called behind. A third player called, then Cunix made the call out of the big blind, creating a four-way pot before the dealer spread the {K-}{9-}{2-}. Cunix was first and checked, then Esfandiari fired 13,000. Phahurat put in a raise to 50,000, and the unknown player behind him folded. Cunix then reraised all in for over 300,000. Esfandiari made the call, and Phahurat folded.

Esfandiari had flopped the nuts with top set of kings, having Cunix now sinking his head with bottom set of deuces. Neither the turn or river could produce a miracle deuce, and Cunix was eliminated in what would be the biggest pot of the tournament thus far. With that pot, Esfandiari climbed to nearly 900,000 in chips.

Cunix joined fellow former WPT champions Matt Giannetti, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, JC Tran, Scotty Nguyen, Matt Salsberg and Joe Hachem on the rail. Mizrachi began the day as the chip leader but was unable to advance to Day 4.

Outside of the top 10, Chino Rheem, Dan Shak, Jason Somerville and the WPT's own Tony Dunst all had successful days. Rheem finished with the most of that bunch at 417,500 and kept himself toward the top of the leaderboard throughout the day. In 2008, Rheem won the WPT Five Diamond for over $1.5 million.

Also on Day 3, the official prize pool was released. First place is worth just under $1.27 million and the top 54 spots will be paid at least $19,516. From the 503 entries, there were 368 individual players and 135 reentries, 272 players fired one bullet, 71 players took two shots, 18 players entered three times, three players fired four times, one player was in for five $10,300 entries, and three players went so far as six.

Although the tournament hasn't reached the money yet, Esfandiari is doing all he can to put himself into the talks for best year on the felt. After an amazing World Series of Poker that saw him capture The Big One for One Drop title and win his third gold bracelet in Europe, Esfandiari could further astonish by winning a third WPT title.

Furthermore, Esfandiari has an amazing record at the WPT Five Diamond. He has cashed every year since 2008, including winning the event in 2010 and coming in sixth place in 2011. Needless to say, he's the favorite moving forward.

Day 3 of the WPT Five Diamond will resume on Thursday at 12:00 PST. Keep it locked in to PokerNews.com for daily recaps from Bellagio.

Data courtesy of WorldPokerTour.com.

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