The money bubble loomed when Day 3 of the World Poker Tour Jacksonville Main Event got under way on Monday. Forty-two of the original 393 players returned to play down to a final table of six, but only 40 would get a minimum payday of $7,510.
Victor Coelho began the day as the massive chip leader with 945,000 in chips, 340,000 more than his next closest competitor, Connor Drinnan. They were joined at the top of the leaderboard by Alex Venovski, Darryll Fish, Sam Soverel and Allie Prescott.
At the other end of the spectrum were Deshun Boone and Jacob Naquin. The two players began the day short stacked and ultimately saw their tournament lives end short of the money. The honor of bubble boy went to Naquin, who three-bet all-in for around 125,000 with ace-six but ran into the ace-jack of Soverel. The bigger ace held up and the remaining 40 players were officially in the money.
From there, a handful of notables hit the rail in a flurry, including Dan Buzgon, Mike Beasley, Nick Grippo, Brandon Steven, and Corey Burbick; all walked away with a min-cash. They were joined later by Brian Hawkins and Prescott, leaving just 17 players remaining when the dinner break arrived.
Ben Zamani was the first to hit the rail after the break, and then former WPT champion Dwyte Pilgrim made his exit in 16th place after another impressive run in a major event. According to the WPT Live Updates team, Pilgrim raised to 34,000 from under the gun (blinds 6,000/12,000/2,000) and action folded around to Coelho, who moved all-in, having Pilgrim covered. Pilgrim called with and was flipping against Coelho's , but the sent Pilgrim to the rail with $17,525.
Coelho continued to build his stack as the field thinned, but it was Anthony Ruberto who claimed the pole position and never looked back late in the day. After eliminating Zamani, Ruberto knocked out Barry Wiedemann (14th place), Doug Raney (12th), and Connor Drinnan (11th), to boast a massive stack of more than 3.5 million at the "unofficial" final table of 10 players.
Ruberto then dealt the final blow to Chris Tryba, who exited in 10th place. Tryba was left with just three big blinds when his couldn't improve against Fish's , and he was removed from the tournament by Ruberto moments later.
Lisa Hamilton, the lone female remaining, made her presence known by eliminating Michael Messick in ninth place. Messick five-bet all-in with pocket tens, Hamilton called with , and the (5s} spelled doom for Messick. Then, Venovski moved all-in preflop with and was called by Soverel's , and the on the turn left only seven players trying to survive the day.
It took less than 10 hands to reach the official final table. Matt Ezrol moved all-in from the button for 277,000 with and Coelho called from the small blind with . Coelho paired his king on the pot and Ezrol was sent packing in seventh place.
The remaining six players will return at 1200 EST (1700 GMT) on Tuesday with a top prize of $325,928 going to the winner. The final table will be live-streamed on WorldPokerTour.com, with Tony Dunst and Jonathan Little as commentators.
Here's a look at the seat draw for the final table:
Final Table Seat Draw
*Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour.