Heading into the third and final day of Event # 45: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em, the narrative of the tournament has been defined by contrast. Day 1 witnessed thousands of amateurs with little experience trying to overwhelm the professionals in the field, and players being culled at a dizzying pace. In one of the last chances to take home gold in this year’s WSOP, both the average joes and the grizzled pros flocked to the Rio for their chance to win a bracelet.
During the more methodical Day 2, a pair of poker greats emerged from the wreckage and built commanding chip stacks. Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari both displayed distinctly different styles as they made their runs, and the Poker Brat’s vocal play eventually saw him exit in 28th place.
Now that Day 3 has arrived, our chip leader Jonathan Driscoll (1,247,000) has stamped his name on the tournament with authority. After moving to Hellmuth’s table late in the night, Driscoll proceeded to dismantle the 11-time bracelet winner with devastating precision. The native of Quebec, who is sharing a house with friend and defending Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel, managed to get under Hellmuth’s skin. He eventually finessed an ill-timed semibluff shove from the legend and claimed his entire stack in stunning fashion.
Driscoll will do battle with fellow million dollar man Kenneth Griffin (1,133,000), as well as young tournament pro Andrew Teng (723,000). His most formidable opponent, however, may just be Antonio Esfandiari (663,000). The Magician burst on the poker scene in 2004 by winning both the $10,000 L.A. Poker Classic ($1,399,135) and the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em ($184,860), and after a bit of a dry spell, he has retaken his seat at the table of poker’s best players. A win here today would give Esfandiari his second bracelet, elevating him to the upper echelon of poker players who have climbed the mountain twice.
The PokerNews team will be here until the final hand is dealt, so check in with us throughout the day to follow all of the action as a new champion is crowned here at the WSOP.