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2012 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 4: Antonio Esfandiari Leads Final 22

Antonio Esfandiari

In a 2009 interview with PokerNews' Lynn Gilmartin, Antonio Esfandiari said his favorite stop on the World Poker Tour at was the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Three years later, it appears nothing has changed.

Esfandari, who won the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio in 2010 and finished sixth in the same event last year, is one day away from reaching the final table for the third consecutive year. Furthermore, Esfandiari cashed in the event in both 2008 and 2009, making for a current streak of five consecutive years in the money at the WPT Five Diamond at Bellagio. Esfandiari was the chip leader entering Friday's Day 4, and he finished on top of the leader board again when the day ended, bagging 1,597,000 chips with 22 players remaining.

WPT Five Diamond Day 4 Top 10 Chip Counts

PlacePlayerChips
1Antonio Esfandiari1,597,000
2Shawn Buchanan1,290,000
3Thomas Winters1,250,000
4Andrew Lichtenberger1,107,000
5Arthur Morris863,000
6Jeremy Kottler851,000
7Jonathan Aguiar732,000
8Yevgeniy Timoshenko716,000
9Ravi Raghaven693,000
10Noah Schwartz656,000

Day 4 began with 60 players looking to reach the money and advance to the penultimate Day 5 at Bellagio. With the top 54 places making the money, six players would leave the Bellagio empty-handed. Among the victims before the money bubble were Ken Aldridge, AP Phahurat and Roland Israelashvili, who landed directly on the money bubble. That locked up a minimum payday of $19,516 for the remaining 54 players, and the focus was now on the final table.

The eliminations came quickly as notables Ty Reiman, Tim West, Lee Markholt, Cary Katz and Chino Rheem were among the first players sent to the cashier. Others eliminated in the money on Friday were Steve Gross, Dan Shak, Will Failla, Andy Bloch and David "Doc" Sands.

WPT Raw Deal host Tony Dunst was sent packing in 27th place when his {A-Hearts}{Q-Clubs} was unable to come from behind against Shawn Buchanan's {9-Clubs}{9-Spades} after all the chips went in preflop. The board ran out {3-Hearts}{2-Clubs}{2-Spades}{K-Spades}{2-Hearts}, and Dunst was sent to the rail. He was followed by Chris Demaci and then John Hennigan, who was eliminated by Esfandiari.

According to the WPT Live Updates team, Hennigan was all in for his last 130,000 with the {A-Spades}{J-Clubs} against Esfandiari's {8-Hearts}{8-Diamonds}, and the {Q-Spades}{8-Spades}{2-Hearts}{A-Hearts}{Q-Clubs} board gave Esfandiari a full house, increasing his stack above the 1 million mark.

The next to go was Phil Galfond, who took a vicious beat at the hands of Day 1 chip leader Jeremy Kottler. With the blinds at 5,000/10,000 and a 1,000 ante, Thomas Winters raised to 25,000 from under the gun, Kottler called from the cutoff, and Galfond moved all in for 261,000 from the big blind. Winters tank-folded, and Kottler opted to call, and he was in bad shape:

Galfond: {K-Diamonds}{K-Spades}
Kottler: {10-Clubs}{10-Spades}

The {Q-Spades}{J-Spades}{2-Hearts} flop brought no help to Kottler, but the {K-Hearts} on the turn made things interesting as it gave Galfond a set and Kottler one extra out to a straight. Sure enough, the {A-Hearts} landed on the river to give Kottler his straight to send Galfond out in 24th place ($31,714).

Frank Rusnak was the final player eliminated on Day 4, and the remaining 22 players bagged their chips for the night shortly after his exit. Outside of the top 10 stacks, several former WPT champs and big name pros are still in the mix, including Theo Tran, Scott Clements, Freddy Deeb, Greg Mueller, Andrew Robl, Brian Rast, Joe Elpayaa, Jeremy Ausmus, Eddy Sabat and Jason Somerville. One interesting fact is that Robl finished runner-up to Esfandiari in 2010.

Day 5 of the WPT Five Diamond will resume Saturday at 12:00 PST. The final 22 players will play down to the six-handed televised table, where each player will secure a payday worth at least $187,856. The winner will be crowned on Sunday and collect the top prize of $1,268,571. Keep it locked in to PokerNews.com for recaps of all the action from Bellagio.

Data and photo courtesy of WorldPokerTour.com.

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