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World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic: The Field Shrinks Dramatically While Alaei Crushes

Daniel Alaei

Day 3 action in the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic saw the field shrivel to 36. Daniel Alaei (1,664,000) rose to become chip leader and is followed by Steven Landfish (1,172,500).

These two are followed closely by fellow pros Josh Arieh (1,112,000), Scotty Nguyen (981,500), Matt Waxman (951,500) and Joseph Elpayaa (921,000).

Possibly the biggest story of the day came from the massive eliminations as a number of the game's top pros hit the rail during the day. By the final level, the busted player list, looking like a "who's who" poker graveyard, included David Pham, Doyle Brunson, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Cornel Andrew Cimpan, Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Dani Stern, Soheil Shamseddin, Gavin Smith and one of the Day 3 chip leaders, Sorel Mizzi.

The ugliest exit was Lederer's elimination. After moving all-in pre-flop with {a-Diamonds}{k-Clubs} versus Curt Kohlberg's {k-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}, Lederer's day ended when a queen fell in the window giving Kohlberg his three-outer.

Seidel also took a horrendous beat when he was eliminated after his pocket aces were cracked by Carter King's runner-runner four-card flush.

Alaei rose to the top of the chip counts after he scored the largest pot of the tournament against Bryan Devonshire. On a flop of {a-Hearts}{a-Spades}{6-Spades}, Alaei checked in the small blind and Devonshire made it 18,500 only to have Alaei raise to 42,000.

Devonshire then paused briefly before reraising to 108,500 — and Alaei called. The turn brought the {4-Hearts}. Alaei checked and Devonshire bet 161,000 only to find Alaei raising him again, this time moving all-in for 400,500. Devonshire made the call with {A-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds} only to find that Alaei had him out-kicked with the {A-Clubs}{K-Hearts}. The river brought a meaningless {10-Diamonds} and Alaei jumped to 1,050,000 in just one hand.

Unfortunately for Yegor Tsurikov, Alaei wasn't finished winning huge pots. In the hand that eliminated Tsurikov, Alaei played his opponent like a fiddle.

Pre-flop, Alaei raised from middle position and Tsurikov reraised from the button to 60,000. Alaei made the call and the flop came {k-Spades}{8-Spades}{8-Clubs}, and Alaei check-called Tsurikov's bet (amount not disclosed). The turn brought the {2-Hearts} and Alaei slickly checked again. Tsurikov fired out a bet of 185,000, and once again Alaei smooth-called. The {9-Diamonds} hit on the river, Alaei checked for a third time, and Tsurikov moved all-in for his remaining 415,000. Alaei insta-called with {9-Hearts}{8-Hearts} for the full house, dragging the monster pot.

Although Alaei sits atop the chip counts with a comfortable lead, a number of elite players remain afield including Arieh, Nguyen, Jamie Rosen, Mike Sowers, Matt Stout, Joe Cassidy, Chad Batista, John Juanda and Antonio Esfandiari. All are in the mix with sizable stacks.

Considering that the blinds will go up with the start of Thursday's action, plenty of fireworks may occur among the big stacks in play.

Top Ten Chip Counts:

1. Daniel Alaei - 1,664,000
2. Steven Landfish - 1,172,500
3. Josh Arieh - 1,112,000
4. Scotty Nguyen - 981,500
5. Matt Waxman - 951,500
6. Jamie Rosen - 803,000
7. Mike Sowers - 801,000
8. Matt Stout - 705,000
9. Joe Cassidy - 689,500
10. Brent Hanks - 669,500

The 36 remaining players hit the felt at noon on Thursday at the Bellagio as they charge toward the $1,428,430 first-place prize.

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