WPT: Ryan Hughes Leads the Final 19 at the Beau

Hughes is the only player with a seven-figure stack
Hughes is the only player with a seven-figure stack

Day 3 of the World Poker Tour’s Southern Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi may have gotten off to a slow start, losing just 6 players in the first two hours of play, but by day’s end the action was virtually non-stop.

When the day began, 66 players took their seats in the tournament area, but six levels of poker later only 19 remained and the money bubble had burst. Nick Schulman was the first bustout of the day, followed by notables like Ben Klier, Jason Mercier, Ali Eslami, and Jonathan Little. As the action plodded along, players like Ryan Hughes and Alexander Kuzmin began to amass big stacks, with Hughes taking complete advantage of the looming money bubble by ramping up the aggression and picking up the majority of pots.

With the 27-person money bubble just a few players away, Gavin Smith hit the rail, followed shortly thereafter by Michael Benvenuti in 29th place. Once Benvenuti busted, players went to hand-for-hand play, which dragged on for two hours without an elimination. While Hughes was chipping up, other players seemed to just be doing their best to tread water. Twice, Alistair Melville blinded down to just a couple of big blinds, but managed to get it all-in and more than double up.

David Diaz was not so fortunate. He raised to 10,000 on the button with blinds at 2,500/5,000 ante 500 and Hughes shoved in on him out of the big blind. Diaz decided it was time to take a stand for his remaining 120,000 and called with AJ. Hughes was behind but live with 9T and managed to flop trip nines to bust Diaz in 28th place and end hand-for-hand play.

Once the bubble burst, action was rapid fire as players like Luke Staudenmaier, Todd Keikoan, Yuval Bornshtein, and Lee Markholt all busted. The day ended with just 19 survivors and Hughes leading the pack with 1,014,000. He is the only player past the million-chip mark and his next closest competitor, Kuzmin, has 780,500. Shannon Shorr rounds out the top three with 593,000 after rallying back from a short stack on the money bubble.

The WPT has never seen a player win the same event twice, but there are two players here who could end that nine-year drought. Both Allen Carter and Hoyt Corkins have experienced the winner’s circle in Biloxi before and both are still alive with just 3 tables remaining. Carter is well above average with 530,000, while Corkins is sitting on 258,000 after doubling up Bobby Keller late in the day. Other name pros still in the running for the final table include Jordan Smith, Chad Brown, and WSOP bracelet winner Hilbert Shirey, who final tabled this event the same year Carter won.

Day 4 of play is scheduled to begin at 1PM CT and continue until the six-handed televised final table is set.

Here are the top ten chip counts headed into Day 4 of play:

1. Ryan Hughes – 1,014,000
2. Alexander Kuzmin – 780,500
3. Shannon Shorr – 593,000
4. Allen Carter – 530,000
5. Otis Wright – 476,000
6. Bobby Keller – 432,000
7. Vitor Coelho – 338,000
8. Patrick Mahoney – 286,500
9. Dermot Blain – 283,500
10. Hilbert Shirey – 273,000

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