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2009 WSOP: Horan Nabs Early Lead in NLHE #52

Antonio Esfandiari

Day 1 of Event #52, $3,000 Triple Chance No-Limit Hold'em, saw the arrival of 854 entries to the Rio on Sunday afternoon. Some of the noteworthy names who took part included Erick Lindgren, Mike Sexton, Dennis Phillips, Jordan Morgan, Gavin Griffin, Humberto Brenes, Barny Boatman, Kathy Liebert, Neil Channing, David Singer, Eli Elezra, Michael Mizrachi, and Phil Hellmuth. After ten levels of play, Australian Timothy Horan took the chip lead among the remaining players heading into Day 2, followed by Harris Pavlou, Karfa Holt, and Antonio Esfandiari (pictured).

The Triple Chance event gave each player 3,000 in chips along with two rebuy chips, each good for another 3,000. Players could use the chips any time during the first three levels of play, with any remaining chips automatically turned in at the end of Level 3. Tony Cousineau went to the extra chips early, after flopping a diamond flush with {8-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds} on the {A-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds} flop, only to see his opponent turn over {Q-Diamonds}{J-Diamonds} for the nut flush. Cousineau would be one of the first to make his exit from this event, subsequently turning his attention to Event #51, where he was still alive. Daniel Negreanu, Theo Tran, Archie Karas, Eugene Todd, and Vanessa Rousso all joined Cousineau on the rail before the end of the third level.

Phil Hellmuth, arriving late as usual, got off to a fast start, flopping a Broadway straight with {A-Hearts}{10-Diamonds} to move over 17,500. Unfortunately his early success didn't last long and Hellmuth was gone before the dinner break. Erik Cajelais held the early chip lead after eliminating Vicky Coren with just king-high. On the flop of {9-Spades}{8-Spades}{8-Diamonds}, Coren moved all in with {7-Spades}{6-Spades} and Cajelais called with {K-Spades}{10-Spades}. With the top half of Coren's straight-flush draw in her opponent's hand, Coren was left looking for any remaining five, six, seven, or ten for the win. The turn and river brought no help for Coren as she was eliminated, as Cajelais moved to 57,000 in chips.

Richard Grace became one of the chip leaders towards the end of Level 6 by winning a huge pot without ever seeing a flop. The hand began with Grace making a raise to 800, and his opponent reraised to 2,400. Grace raised again to 7,400, and his opponent put in the fourth raise to 19,000, upon which Grace shoved all in for 55,000 and his opponent finally decided to fold. Grace had approximately 75,000 in chips as the players went on their dinner break.

Liv Boeree moved all in shortly after the dinner break with her pocket fives, only to see Erick Lindgren make the call with pocket tens, sending Boeree to the rail. She would soon be joined by Sorel Mizzi, Eric Froehlich, and Richard Grace, whose flopped pair of aces was no good against Isaac Baron's turned straight.

Jeff Lisandro busted a small stack when his {3-Diamonds}{3-Clubs} won a coinflip against an opponent's {A-Hearts}{J-Spades}, commenting, “You don't get Player of the Year by folding.” Lisandro’s amazing run at the WSOP this year continued, taking his stack over 110,000 when his {A-Hearts}{10-Spades} flopped another ten to knock out a player holding pocket sixes. Andy Black wasn't as fortunate, his {K-Clubs}{K-Hearts} losing to a player holding {K-Spades}{Q-Diamonds} when the opponent caught a runner-runner straight on the {10-Diamonds}{4-Clubs}{2-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{J-Spades} board to cripple Black, who was sent packing a few hands later.

The final hour brought another rush of eliminations as Antonio Esfandiari worked his magic, when his {K-Spades}{J-Diamonds} flopped another king against an all-in player holding {Q-Spades}{Q-Hearts}. Michael Mizrachi's success came on the river, as he was involved in a three-way hand with J.J. Liu and another player. Liu held pocket tens, Mizrachi was all in with {A-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds}, and the other all-in player showed {A-Hearts}{J-Hearts}. Liu loved the {7-Clubs}{3-Clubs}{2-Hearts} flop, as well as the {6-Spades} on the turn. But the {K-Clubs} on the river doubled up Mizrachi to 40,000 and sent Liu down to around 90,000, while the third player headed to the exit. Maria “Maridu” Mayrinck wasn't as fortunate with her pocket nines, which remained second-best against her opponent's pocket tens.

When play ended for the evening, just 149 players remained for the scheduled 2pm restart on Monday, with only 81 players destined to make the money. Tim Horan from Sydney, Australia surged into the chip lead on one of the final hands when his pocket kings held up to eliminate a player holding A-K, sending Horan to 149,000 in chips. Fellow Aussie Harris Pavlou finished second with 137,300.

Among the notable names returning in the top 20: Antonio Esfandiari (127,900), Isaac Baron (114,000), Jeff Lisandro (113,800), Kirill Gerasimov (106,400) and Shane “shaniac” Schleger (100,700). Erik Cajelais, Johnny Lodden, Eric Lynch, An Tran, Mike Caro, Ian Frazer, and David Plastik also return for Day 2. PokerNews will be there to follow all the tournament action on a very busy Monday afternoon with six tournaments in action as the 2009 World Series of Poker moves into the home stretch.

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