WSOPE: Cheong Leads Last 24 in Main; Juanda Tops High Roller

Joseph Cheong holds the overnight chiplead with just 24 players left in the WSOP Europe Main Event. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

The 2012 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event has reached its most critical point, with just one day’s play separating the final 24 from one of the biggest final tables of the year.

When play began for the day there were 77 contenders still in the running, but by the time the dinner break arrived the bubble had burst and just 36 remained. In the 90 minutes from the time the bubble burst to the dinner break, 12 players were eliminated, but it would take two full levels to match that when players returned.

The strength of the final 24 should become apparent simply by looking at the top ten chip counts at the end of the night. Chipleader Joseph Cheong had a massive day, winning a coinflip with Dan Smith early and never really looking back. He made his big push for the overall lead over the final few hours of Day 3, despite getting extremely unlucky in a pot worth more than the stacks of all but five players at the end of the day.

“Wow just got it in on flop with 2 2 vs 9 T on a 9 9 2 flop for 800k pot and it ran out 4 4 #timetorebuild,” Tweeted Cheong as he shipped a big part of his stack to Curt Kohlberg with less than a level to play. Rather than letting himself get too down, though, he managed to dominate his table over the final level and still hold the chiplead going into the penultimate day of the tournament.

Cheong is one of four players in the field that still has a chance at WSOP Player of the Year, with two other players in the top ten gunning for the title as well. Phil Hellmuth finished the night in sixth and could take the lead with as little as a fourth place finish in this tournament. Timothy Adams sits in ninth place at the moment, and, like Cheong, he would need to win this tournament to have a chance. Andy Frankenberger is well below average, but with more than 18 big blinds his hopes are far from dead either. To keep up with the potential outcomes of the WSOP POY race, click here.

Then there’s Jason Mercier, who bagged enough chips to finish the night in fifth place and is looking for his third career WSOP bracelet and biggest live win in this tournament. His friend Kyle Julius is just outside of the top ten, looking towards adding a massive win to two big scores for second place finishes at the 2012 PCA and Event 50 at this year’s WSOP. Liv Boeree could become the second woman to win the WSOPE Main Event as she enters Day 4 with a stack just below average.

Scott Seiver has been hanging around with a stack of less than half average for the majority of this tournament, by his own account, but if he can get a hold of some chips he’ll be very dangerous. David Benyamine has been on the biggest stages and succeeded, as he looks for his second bracelet as well. Joe Kuether is one of the shortest stacks in the field, but he’s quietly put together a strong year which is very evident when looking at the BLUFF Player of the Year race, where Kuether could jump all the way up to third with a win. Finally, there’s Steve Dannenmann, a throwback to the early days of the poker boom when he finished second to Joe Hachem in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. Adding this title would be a massive feather in his cap, though by his demeanor throughout the tournament this far certainly indicates that he’s very happy just to be here.

To get to this point, though, more players had to fall in the process. Bruno Fitoussi, Kevin Stammen and J.C. Alvarado each made early exits after dinner, while Philipp Gruissem and Kitty Kuo, the next-to-last woman in the field, each made it deep into the day before going out. With an hour left in the day, Bertrand Grospellier became the final player to go out on Day 3, bringing a redraw with three tables left. Nobody went out in that final hour, and 24 is the number they’ll start at on Wednesday. Here are the payouts for all of the players who went out after dinner.

  25. Bertrand Grospellier – € 22,982
  26. Ben Roberts – € 22,982
  27. Vladimir Troyanovskiy – € 22,982
  28. Hui Chen “Kitty” Kuo – € 22,982
  29. Philipp Gruissem – € 22,982
  30. Steponas Venckus – € 22,982
  31. Emil Patel – € 22,982
  32. Axel Pergolizzi – € 22,982
  33. J.C. Alvarado – € 21,250
  34. Kevin Stammen – € 21,250
  35. Bruno Fitoussi – € 21,250
  36. Prosper Masquelier – € 21,250

Play will resume at noon local time Wednesday afternoon, with 24 players getting down to the official final table of eight by the end of the day. The tournament will be live-streamed with hole cards on ESPN3 on Thursday afternoon. Here are the top ten stacks going into Day 4 of the WSOPE Main Event.

  1. Joseph Cheong – 1,381,000
  2. Paul Tedeschi – 1,071,000
  3. Sergii Baranov – 1,055,000
  4. Christopher Brammer – 956,000
  5. Jason Mercier – 824,000
  6. Phil Hellmuth – 741,000
  7. Max Silver – 656,000
  8. Curt Kohlberg – 607,000
  9. Timothy Adams – 577,000
  10. Joe McGowan – 518,000

€ 50,000 Majestic High Roller

It was a very busy day in the final major event of the series, with 43 players entering and at least eight re-entries already recorded. There’s still a full level in which players can register or re-enter on Day 2 Wednesday, so that already large number should continue to climb. The tournament is over for some though, as the option to re-enter was only given immediately following a bust-out, with that option removed once another hand had been dealt.

Eugene Katchalov, Greg Merson and Ziv Bachar were among those players who decided that € 50,000 was enough for them and decided to call it a day. John Juanda opted to re-enter not once, but twice, and that decision may just pay off for him as he grabbed the overnight chiplead with 538,000, thanks in large part to a big pot against Marvin Rettenmaier late in the night. Rettenmaier and Dan Smith were among others who decided to try again and re-enter, bringing some of the shorter stacks into Day 2.

With registration open until the end of Level 9, the prizepool is still growing, with some of the biggest names in poker hoping to leave Cannes with a fat payday on their way out. Richard Yong finished eighth in the Big One for One Drop and hopes to do even better in this event. David Benefield, Mike Watson, Tony Guoga, Tobias Reinkemeier, Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel all finished in the top ten as well. Play will resume at 4 pm local time, with the tournament scheduled to play through Wednesday and Thursday. Here are the chip counts for the top ten stacks heading into Day 2.

  1. John Juanda – 538,000
  2. Richard Yong – 408,200
  3. David Benefield – 375,100
  4. Mike Watson – 370,900
  5. Jean-Noel Thorel – 355,000
  6. Tony Guoga – 350,000
  7. Tobias Reinkemeier – 348,800
  8. Daniel Negreanu – 320,200
  9. Erik Seidel – 293,800
  10. Paul Newey – 291,500
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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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