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World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic Day 4: Field Shrinks from 54 to 15, Esfandiari Remains Chip Leader

Antonio Esfandiari

The World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic kicked-off on December 3, 2010, and continued yesterday with Day 4 of the tournament. The $10,000 buy-in event originally drew 438 players but only 54 returned at the start of the day with Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari leading the way with just over a million in chips. Rounding out the top five were Doug Lee (702,500), Vanessa Rousso (694,000), Freddy Deeb (654,000), and Nick Phillips (559,000).

The tournament resumed with the start of Level 15, 2,500-5,000 blinds with a 500 ante, and it didn’t take long for action to heat up. Doyle Brunson, who began the day 13th in chips, found an early double when he bet a {A-}{10-}{9-} flop, Phillips moved all-in, and “Texas Dolly” made the call. Brunson’s {A-}{K-} was ahead of Phillips’ {A-}{J-} and remained so as the turn and river changed nothing. With that hand, Brunson chipped up to 680,000 while Phillips fell to 210,000.

Early eliminations of the day soon began to mount and included David Sklansky (49th-$16,892), Allen Kessler (45th-$16,892), Dan Shak (41st-$16,892), Jonathan Little (38th-$21,116), and David “Bakes” Baker (28th-$25,339). Baker’s last hand was particularly sick while he was among the chip leaders, moved all-in from the cutoff, and received a call from Andrew Robl from the button:

Robl: {A-Clubs}{K-Clubs}
Baker: {A-Spades}{K-Spades}

Robl had Baker covered and created a pot worth over 2 million, though it looked as if it would end in a chop. The {K-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{2-Diamonds} flop gave Robl a freeroll to runner-runner clubs, but it was the {3-Clubs} on the turn that made it an immediate threat. Much to Baker’s dismay, the river was the {2-Clubs} and a cruel twist of fate sent him to the rail while Robl vaulted to 2.1 million.

Will Failla (27th-$25,339), Thor Hansen (25th-$25,339), Deeb (24th-$25,339), and Marco Traniello (20th-$33,785) all followed Baker out the door in later levels of the tournament. During the last level of the night, a hand developed that resulted in the elimination of one of the biggest name players in the field. In the hand, Rousso raised to 40,000 from the cutoff, Brunson moved all-in for 247,000, Kia Mohajeri tank-called, and Rousso got out of the way.

Brunson: {A-Clubs}{J-Spades}
Mohajeri: {A-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}

Brunson was in bad shape and couldn't improve as the board ran out {9-Hearts}{6-Spades}{6-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{4-Spades}. Brunson, who had been card dead since his early double, was eliminated in 18th place and earned $33,785 for his efforts.

In another late hand, Robl had raised to 50,000 from middle position only to have Sorel Mizzi move all-in for 454,000 from the cutoff. Robl called with his {A-Clubs}{K-Hearts} and was off to the races against Mizzi’s {6-Diamonds}{6-Spades}. The {J-Spades}{2-Hearts}{2-Diamonds} flop was kind to Mizzi as was the {3-Hearts} turn. Robl needed to catch an ace or king on the river to eliminate his opponent and become the tournament chip leader. Unfortunately for him, the {4-Diamonds} appeared. Mizzi, who looks to overtake Thomas Marchese in various player-of-the-year races, doubled to 945,000 on the hand.

While eliminations were the order of the day, 15 players managed to survive when Level 20 ended. Amazingly, Esfandiari, who began the day with the chip lead, ended as such with 2.68 million. World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up John Racener sits in second place with 1.9 million while Robl (1.75 million) and Mohajeri (1.694 million) sit in third and fourth respectively. Also still in the mix are Mizzi (1.38 million), Andrew Lichtenberger (915,000), Rousso (888,000), and Amit Makhija (756,000).

Action is set to resume at noon on Tuesday when the remaining field will play down to the televised final table of six on their way to becoming the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic champion!

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