Fifty-five players returned to the Casinos Poland at the Hyatt Hotel on Friday for Day 3 of the PokerStars.com EPT Warsaw. Within about eight hours, that number had been whittled down to the final 24 who are now guaranteed to walk away with a paycheck this week. The day belonged to the Canadian chess-grand-master-turned-poker-player Jeff Sarwer who surged to the top of the leader board and never looked back.
The cards went in the air shortly after noon local time, and within moments, players were already beginning to file out the door. Team PokerStars Pro Thierry van den Berg was the first to depart after losing his all-in coinflip before his seat had even warmed up. Less than an hour later, defending WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate was cut down with pocket jacks in a three-way all-in showdown. The pocket queens of Tome Cardoso Moreira sealed the Dane's fate to leave Luca Pagano as the final Team Pro left standing.
EPT Barcelona winner Carter Phillips finally had his run-good wear off during the middle stages of the day as well. Phillips was the double-up station for his table, and he sank deeper and deeper into his chair as pot after pot was pushed away from him. About three hours in, Phillips got the rest of his shortened stack in with , and the of Ruslan Prydryk was good enough to notch the elimination on a board that ran .
Other notables who failed to escape this middle day included Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi, Mihai Manole, and Mel Judah.
Coming in with the chip lead, Clayton Mozdzen had a rough start to his day as well, and he fell back into the middle of the pack before long. The online qualifier rallied hard during the final few levels, though, and he managed to finish the day in second place overall.
Antony Lellouche started Day 3 in the bottom half of the field, but he found two early doubles to boost his stack back into contention. He ended with a fifth-place chip stack, and fellow-French pro Michel Abecassis is in the mix as well. Also still contending for the trophy are Scandinavians Peter Hedlund and Yani Souintula, Russian Vitaly Lunkin, and American Shaun Deeb.
Everyone's looking up at Jeff Sarwer, though. Way up. The 41-year-old Canadian was a chess prodigy from early childhood, and his story was the inspiration for the film "Searching for Bobby Fischer". A ten-time World Youth Chess Champion, Sarwer has made the transition from checkmate to check-raise, and his new hobby has been a successful one thus far. Sarwer shot up the scoreboard today with very few missteps, and he came dangerously close to topping 1 million chips with the blinds still in the 2,500/5,000 range. Having a two-to-one chip lead on his nearest competitor for the bulk of the day, Sarwer bagged up 956,500 at the end of the night which puts him nearly 400,000 in front of his closest rival.
The two-outer elimination of Thomas Pettersson in 26th place put the field squarely on the money bubble, and hand-for-hand play lingered for almost an hour. Domantas Klimciauskas doubled up his short stack once, but he was not so fortunate the second time around. On a flop of , Klimciauskas got himself all in with . He was soon presented with some bad news as he ran smack into Oleksandr Vaserfirer and his . Klimciauskas was unable to overcome his opponent's set, and his exit drew a small celebration from the 24 in the money players who were all packed tightly around the perimeter of the bustee's table.
With that, the chips of the 24 survivors were bagged and tagged for the overnight soak. They'll be back in action Saturday at 12:30 p.m CET, and our live reporting team will be inside the ropes to bring you every flopped flush and rivered straight in real time.