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Merson, Sylvia and Balsiger Three-Handed for the Gold

Greg Merson holds the lead

Day 8 of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event and the first night of the final table is in the history books, and play only took approximately seven and a half hours. The final three players moving to tomorrow are Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger.

With high expectations, this final table didn't disappoint. Although the action seemed to get off to a slow start, it only took 30 hands before the first player hit the rail, and that was former WSOP bracelet winner Steve Gee. He was eliminated in a spectacular hand against Russell Thomas where Thomas called Gee's river shoved on a board of {7-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{3-Spades}. Thomas held the {Q-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs} to beat Gee's {8-Diamonds}{8-Clubs} and send him to the rail.

Next out the door was Robert Salaburu. He called all in from the big blind after Sylvia shoved his big stack from the small blind. Sylvia held the {Q-Clubs}{5-Clubs} against Salaburu's {7-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}. Sylvia hit a queen on the river, and eliminated Salaburu from the field.

Michael Esposito fell in seventh place at the hands of Merson. He got the last of his money in dominated with the {A-Spades}{J-Hearts} versus Merson's {A-Clubs}{K-Spades}. The flop, turn and river ran out {9-Spades}{7-Diamonds}{4-Spades}{6-Spades}{8-Clubs}, and Esposito was eliminated.

Then, it was the lone non-American to hit the rail in sixth place. Andras Koroknai became the first Hungarian player to reach the WSOP Main Event final table, but he won't become the first Hungarian to win the gold as he got a little too frisky with his stack. Koroknai six-bet all in holding the {K-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds} after Merson had five-bet. Merson called with a dominating {A-Spades}{K-Spades} and held as the board ran out {8-Hearts}{3-Spades}{2-Clubs}{7-Spades}{7-Hearts}.

When the final table began, Jeremy Ausmus was the short stack and the only player under 10 million. He battled his way all the way down to five-handed play, but that's where his run would end. On a board of {9-Clubs}{8-Spades}{3-Spades}{3-Diamonds}, Sylvia checked, and Ausmus fired 1.5 million. Sylvia check-raised to 3.6 million, and Ausmus moved all in for around 14.5 million. Sylvia called with the {A-Clubs}{9-Hearts} for two pair, nines and threes. Ausmus needed help holding the {10-Spades}{7-Diamonds}, but had plenty of outs to a straight or a ten. The river completed the board with the {5-Spades}, and that ended Ausmus' run.

Thomas was then eliminated in fourth place to set the stage for the final day of play. He got all in preflop with the {A-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} against Balsiger's {A-Spades}{K-Clubs}, and once again it was the short stack who held a dominated hand. After the board came {Q-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{5-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}, Thomas was left with fourth-place money and a ticket out the door.

Tomorrow's final day of play will see the 2012 WSOP Main Event champion crowned, and it will be Merson who takes the chip lead into action. He bagged up 88.35 million, while Sylvia is in second place with 62.75 million. Balsiger will be bringing up the rear with 46.875 million, but this is really anyone's ball game.

The action is scheduled to kick off at 5:45 PM local time tomorrow, so be sure to tune right back in to PokerNews for all of the action. Until then, good night from Las Vegas!

Tags: Greg Merson

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