Less than one month ago, the 2012 World Series of Poker wrapped up its summer festivities when the October Nine were reached. Last night, ESPN began its Main Event coverage with the first two episodes of 22 (11 weeks) leading up to the final table, which will air near live on ESPN on Oct. 30.
The 2012 WSOP Main Event drew 6,598 entrants, creating a prize pool of $62,021,200. Three Day 1s and two Day 2s took place before the remaining 1,738 players played together for the first time, which is when the ESPN coverage began. Leading the way was France's Gaelle Baumann with 505,800, the only player above the half-million chip mark. Here is a look at the top 10 overall chip counts to begin Day 3.
Day 3 Top Ten
Déjà vu: Last year's ESPN Main Event coverage began with Daniel Negreanu in the spotlight at the feature table. This year was no different as once again Negreanu found himself at the feature table. Here is a look at the feature-table lineup:
ESPN Feature Table
With the blinds and antes at the 800/1,600/200 level, Robert Peltekci opened the action on the first hand with an early-position raise to 3,800 holding . Action folded to Negreanu on the button who called with . Ryan Daniel came along, too, from the small blind with . The flop came down , giving Negreanu the nut-flush draw. Daniel checked his small pair to Peltekci who bet 10,000. Negreanu called, Daniel folded, and the turn fell. A check from Peltekci led to bet of 18,500 from Negreanu. Drawing dead to Negreanu's nut flush, Peltekci folded after a few moments.
Antonio Esfandiari, fresh off a win in the Big One for One Drop, was over at the secondary feature table. Esfandiari, like Negreanu, had a very healthy stack of 205,300. In one hand, Esfandiari opened to 3,500 from middle position with . Gerardo Lubas, sixth in chips to begin Day 3, called from the small blind with . The dealer fanned an flop, giving Esfandiari bottom set, while Lubas caught middle pair. Lubas check-called 6,100 from Esfandiari, landing the on the turn. Lubas, now with two pair, checked to Esfandiari again who bet 14,300. Another call from Lubas delivered the river where he checked for a third time. Esfandiari bet 24,000, Lubas paid him off, and Esfandiari upped his stack to 256,400.
Day 1 and 2 Recap: Among the celebrities who entered the Main Event but were eliminated before Day 3 were Jason Alexander, Ray Romano, and UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre. Aussie cricket star Shane Warne made it to Day 3 and had fiancé Elizabeth Hurley watching from the rail, but Warne was eventually eliminated.
As for other notables, 2010 Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel, 2005 Main Event champion Joe Hachem, 2004 Main Event champion Greg Raymer, Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Vanessa Rousso, Annette Obrestad, Phil Laak, and 2011 Main Event runner-up Marin Staszko were among those who were eliminated before Day 3.
Stars Collide: Ben Lamb and Vanessa Selbst were seated next to each other at an outer table and it was only a matter of time before they clashed. The cameras picked up the action after the river of a board where Selbst had bet 13,600 into a pot of 34,600 with . Lamb put in a raise to 46,200 with , but that didn't deter Selbst. She re-raised to 150,200, putting the pressure on Lamb who ultimately folded. Selbst upped her stack to about 415,000, while Lamb slipped to roughly 205,000. For a full look at how the hand played out, here is PokerNews' coverage of the hand.
Negreanu's Slowplay Backfires: Negreanu had a feeling, but couldn't bring himself to fold the second nuts. Daniel Negreanu raised in early position to 3,600 with and was only called by Marco Ruggeri in the big blind with . When an flop fell, both players checked. Ruggeri picked up outs to Broadway on the turn and bet 4,200. Negreanu, knowing he was miles ahead, called to see the river. Ruggeri bet again, this time 10,500 with his nut straight. Negreanu raised to 31,500, but was met with a reraise shove from Ruggeri for 105,000. A few moments passed before Negreanu called and saw the bad news. That hand knocked Negreanu down to 208,200. Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari spoke about the hand on the "Pro Analysis" feature and both agreed with the line Negreanu took. Laak summed it up when he said, "It's sort of an operation success — patient dies sort of hand."
No Back-to-Back for Heinz: 2011 WSOP Main Event champion Pius Heinz entered Day 3 with a short stack of 36,300 and was eliminated during the first level of play. Gioang Nguyen had opened to 3,400 from early position and Heinz three-bet jammed from the cutoff with . Action folded to Nguyen who called and tabled . Heinz found no help from the board and was sent to the rail.
Mic Check: A new feature for the coverage this year is "Mic Check," where a player is mic'd up for one level. Kicking it off was actor Kevin Pollak. What was on his mind? Well, he needed to use the restroom but didn't want to miss many hands. After finding out about a shortcut to the bathrooms just outside the Rio Convention Center (for WSOP staff and dealers), Pollak anxiously waited for a hand to get heads-up to have a little more time. Once it got there, Pollak quickly made a run for it. Based on where the button was, it appeared as if he missed one hand. Nicely done. He proceeded to do a Christopher Walken impression, and it wasn't half bad. In the second episode, Claudia Crawford donned the mic.
Chad's New College Team: Over the years, co-host Norman Chad has developed quite a few trademark comments when doing color commentary. Among the comments, when talking about an unknown player, he tells what college a player went to and what the team nickname is. Chad, a Maryland Terrapin, will stick with that team name for the rest of the summer. In the past, he's used the Demon Deacons, the Ragin Cajuns, and the Ramblin' Wreck (to name a few). This year, the Golden Gophers appear to be his choice after telling us that Vitas James graduated from the University of Texas at Brownsville (actually the Scorpions).
New Feature Table: In the second hour of coverage, there was a new lineup at the feature table. It included Chris "Moorman1" Moorman (409,700), Ben Lamb (209,700), and Ben "Ben86" Tollerene (96,100). Moorman immediately added to his stack, picking up and eliminating Ross Johnson who got committed his short stack with . The board rolled out , increasing Moorman's stack to 453,000. David Randall joined the table shortly thereafter and had a hefty stack of his own, out-chipping Moorman.
More Pros Fall: More notables continued to fall during Day 3 action. Hoyt Corkins got his stack into the middle after a flop with . South Florida grinder Maurice Hawkins looked him up with and scored the elimination following the turn and river when he made a straight. Eugene Katchalov was all-in with against the of Sean Rice. The flop was safe for Katchalov, but the turn left him in dire straits. The river officially ended his Main Event.
OCTOBER NINE SPOILER ALERT
Getting mentioned toward the very end of the second episode was 2012 October Niner Greg Merson. He began the day with a mere 16,200 but had increased his stack to an impressive 654,000 during the course of the day.
Tune in Next Week: Every Tuesday leading up to the end of October, ESPN will air episodes of the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Be sure to either check your local listings or come back next week for our recap of the action. Next week coverage of Day 3 will conclude.