Only 35 players returned to action at the World Poker Tour Championship on Wednesday. When the day was all said and done, 18 players remained, all in the money and guaranteed at least $47,033. Coming into the day, it was Shawn Buchanan who claimed the top spot on the leaderboard, but Faraz Jaka had himself one heck of a day on the felt and finished as the chip leader with 3.117 million.
Jaka began the day in sixth place with 852,000 chips. In the first level of the day, he picked up a nice pot by eliminating Kyle Bowker from the tournament after he spiked a queen with his against Bowker’s pocket tens. From there, Jaka stayed rather quiet from until a hand with Matt Stout a couple of levels later. The board read on the turn with over 100,000 in the pot and JJ Liu checked to Stout. Stout fired 75,000 before Jaka raised to 200,000. Liu folded her hand and Stout made the call. The river completed the board with the and Stout checked. Jaka fired a hefty 400,000 and Stout quickly called. Jaka tabled a king-high straight holding the and Stout mucked his hand.
Shortly after that, Jaka got involved in a massive clash with Heather Sue Mercer. First, Mercer raised to 40,000 with the blinds sat at 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante. Jaka reraised to 110,000 before Mercer then four-bet to 300,000. Jaka didn’t back down and announced that he was all-in. Mercer made the quick and easy call with pocket aces. In true Jaka fashion, he tabled the . After a board of , Mercer’s WPT hopes were flushed down the toilet as Jaka improved to two pair and won the largest pot of the tournament thus far.
From there, Jaka rode a little bit of a roller coaster for the rest of the day, doubling up Billy Baxter before crushing Stout’s straight with a rivered full house. After that, it was Liu’s turn to double through Jaka and then Baxter doubled through him for the second time. In the last level, Jaka lost a few more chips to Nikolay Evdakov, but not enough to make him slip from the top spot.
David Benyamine is the closest competitor to Jaka on the leaderboard overnight. Late in the evening, Benyamine busted Todd Terry, won a nice pot versus Olivier Busquet and then sent Maroun Jazzar home in 19th place as the final elimination of the day. He called the short-stacked Jazzar’s all-in bet with and got there against , making two pair. Jazzar's elimination not only ended the day, but it put all of the remaining players in the money. Benyamine wrapped up the day with 2.35 million chips.
Some of the other players who were sent home during action on Wednesday included Dave “Devil Fish” Ulliot, past champion Carlos Mortensen, and defending champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Timoshenko’s elimination at the hands of Josh Arieh meant that a new champion will be crowned.
Among those still alive and vying for the title are Jason Lester, Cliff Josephy, Eric Baldwin, Scotty Nguyen, Phil Hellmuth and David Williams. Here’s a look at the final two tables of play and how the opponents stack up.
Seat 1: Eric Baldwin - 880,000
Seat 2: Shawn Buchanan - 1,224,000
Seat 3: John O'Shea - 495,000
Seat 4: J.J. Liu - 674,000
Seat 5: David Benyamine - 2,350,000
Seat 6: Phil Hellmuth - 1,377,000
Seat 7: Cliff Josephy - 458,000
Seat 8: Scotty Nguyen - 941,000
Seat 9: Olivier Busquet - 1,088,000
Seat 1: Nikolay Evdakov - 1,426,000
Seat 2: Robert Cooper - 662,000
Seat 3: David Williams - 2,072,000
Seat 4: Jason Lester - 421,000
Seat 5: Josh Arieh - 303,000
Seat 6: Billy Baxter - 1,630,000
Seat 7: Faraz Jaka - 3,117,000
Seat 8: Tony Cousineau - 60,000
Seat 9: Matt Stout - 274,000
Not only does Jaka lead the pack going into Day 5, but he is also leading the way in the WPT Player of the Year race. Busquet sits in a multiway tie for second place on that leaderboard.
Play resumes tomorrow at noon in Las Vegas where the schedule is to play until the final table is reached. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.