Twenty-three players returned to the Rio for the biggest buy-in no-limit hold’em event in WSOP history, the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em Anniversary Tournament. With a field stacked full of former world champs, high stakes cash game players, and internet wunderkinder, there was never a doubt that the action in the Amazon Room would be rocking. The players didn’t disappoint, taking less than eight hours to thin the field down to the final nine survivors as Isaac Haxton took the chip lead into the final table.
The action continued apace with the end of Day 3, when four players busted in the final six hands. After the restart of the tournament on Day 4, four players went home within the first few orbits including Andrew “good2cu” Robl (23rd), Frank Kassela (22nd), David Chiu (21st), and Neil Channing (20th). All four players picked up $71,858 for their efforts.
Andy Black was next to fall when he moved all in from the hijack and found a caller in Dani Stern from the small blind. Black tabled , dominated by Stern’s . Black surged ahead on the flop, but Stern flipped the tables when the hit the turn. The river was the , and Black’s run was over in 19th place ($71,858).
After Black’s elimination, the remaining players condensed to two tables as the bustouts continued to fly. Matt Glantz busted in 18th ($96,171) at the hands of Lex Veldhuis, and then Dani Stern claimed another victim in Clark Hamagami (17th, $96,171). Greg Raymer flirted with big-stack status for much of the day, surging to the upper reaches of the leaderboard when he busted Doshi Suresh in 16th place ($96,171). Lex Veldhuis then joined the multiple-elimination club when he busted David Baker in 15th place ($128,666).
Brian Rast picked up $128,666 for his 14th-place finish when he got all his money in as a huge favorite. He moved all in over the top of Vitaly Lunkin’s preflop raise with , and Lunkin made the call with . The flop came down , and Lunkin hit a two-outer to flop a full house. The on the turn was no help to either player, and Lunkin’s boat improved to quads when the hit the river.
Brian Townsend went out with a bang, coming up on the shortest end of a three-way all-in. Townsend moved all in preflop from the button, and Alec Torelli moved all in from the small blind. Noah Schwartz, having both players covered, thought for a moment in the big blind before calling for all his chips. Schwartz was ahead with pocket queens to Torelli’s , and Townsend needed help with . Schwartz’s lead didn’t last long as Torelli flopped a set on the board of , then improved to quads when the case ten hit the turn. Torelli moved near the chip lead with that hand as Townsend busted in 13th place ($128,666) and Schwartz found himself crippled.
As the final table bubble approached, play slowed down considerably. Isaac Haxton took out Matthew Marafioti in 12th place ($172,120) when Marafioti ran his pocket queens into Haxton’s kings. No help on the board for Marafioti, and he was done for the evening. Greg Raymer then busted Keith Lehr in 11th place ($172,120) when his held up against Lehr’s on the board of . With Lehr’s elimination, the final ten players consolidated to one table for the last elimination of the night.
It took awhile, as the short stacks continued to double up, but finally Tony G succumbed in 10th place ($172,120). Tony G called all in preflop after a raise from Alec Torelli. Vitaly Lunkin called from the small blind, and the two live players checked down the board of . Tony G showed for middle pair, but it was no good in the face of Lunkin’s , and Tony G was the final table bubble boy.
With the final table set, the players began to bag their chips for the evening. Isaac Haxton emerged as the chip leader late in the day, with Vitaly Lunkin hot on his heels. Greg Raymer and Lex Veldhuis both finished the day with healthy stacks, while Ted Forrest and Noah Schwartz nursed their short stacks to final table seats.
The chip stacks and seating assignments looked like this at the end of Day 3:
Seat 1 - Ted Forrest (560,000)
Seat 2 - Noah Schwartz (660,000)
Seat 3 - Alec Torelli (2,340,000)
Seat 4 - Isaac Haxton (5,955,000)
Seat 5 - Greg Raymer (3,345,000)
Seat 6 - Justin Bonomo (1,685,000)
Seat 7 - Lex Veldhuis (3,805,000)
Seat 8 - Dani Stern (1,300,000)
Seat 9 - Vitaly Lunkin (4,565,000)
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