With a gray and drizzly London day outside, 111 players returned to the warmth of the Hilton Metropole for Day 3 of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour London. With only 104 places paying out, seven unfortunates would have to head back into the rain empty-handed and one unknown free roll qualifier would lead the way.
After a quick and no-nonsense start, our bubbler was Italian Piero Mormina, whose pocket threes lost out to a rivered straight after floppy-haired PokerStars Caribbean Adventure final tabler Benny Spindler made a speculative call with J-8. And once the bubble burst, it was as though someone had opened the floodgates, letting loose a deluge of mangled poker players as they busted left, right and center all over the Hilton ballroom that provided the venue.
Arnaud Mattern was another early in-the-money casualty as his set of eights was flushed away when David Rawnsley turned the nut flush and Mattern failed to fill up on the river. Liya Gerasimova, Justin "BoostedJ" Smith and JC Tran soon followed, as well as Tommy Vedes who blew up after starting the day as chip leader.
The carnage continued with Maridu Mayrinck, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Jeff Lisandro and Darus Suharto all busting out as the day progressed, while, incidentally, Jason Mercier who recently finished fourth in the WSOPE Main Event, was winning the £2,500 no-limit hold'em side event for another £115,800.
Mercier wasn't the only player having a good day. Michael Berry was also having a pretty fantastic day. Virtually unknown even on the close-knit U.K. circuit, he won his seat in a massive freeroll run by PokerStars.com in conjunction with the Daily Mirror newspaper. But, however he arrived, he accumulated chips steadily throughout the day and finally ended up as chip leader going into Day 4. Rags to riches indeed.
Chasing Mr. Berry for the title, though, will be a clutch of fearsome big-name pros including Annette Obrestad, Peter Eastgate, Benny Spindler and Vivek Rajkumar who are all among those still in the running.
Join us at PokerNews at noon GMT+1 when we'll be playing right down to a final table.