Today promised and today delivered; a full bodied blend of excitement, surprise and intrigue, laced with a shot of Bahamian spirit and served in six 75 minute portions, each with a new twist and with a little extra sauce around bubble time. That was your day three at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
At the end of it four names stirred the adrenaline the most with stacks poised to wreak havoc when play resumes tomorrow.
Harrison Gimbel may sound like the name of the hero in some children's magical adventure story, but he is in fact the chip leader tonight, having ventured through the looking glass late tonight to amass a stack some 2,625,000 strong.
Ryan D'Angelo always threatened to finish big and did just that. His 2,092,000 came from aggressive play that stopped for no one and the PokerStars qualifier was relentless in his pursuit of chips.
Englishman Praz Bansi arrived late this afternoon, a prerogative enjoyed by anyone whose million chips have to be packed into two bags and fastened together with duct tape. He'd only just unpacked them when he sent a large chunk to Phil Ivey, nearly 300,000, which restored balance between two players who would embark on an almost day-long duel.
It seemed whenever Ivey had the button he took on Bansi's big blind, back and forth until tournament gods declared their table the next to break. Bansi thrived at his new table but Ivey's day turned sour fast, a crushing hand against Bill Gazes leaving him two yellow chips. Ivey was gone on the next hand while Bansi finished tonight with 2,003,000. He'll need that second bag again.
More subtle was the third of the chip leading trio. Mathew Haugen's rise to second place was a gradual process rather than the shock and awe operation that Gimbel performed. The American PokerStars qualifier rests tonight as Gimbel's closest rival, 2,149,000 to the good.
Their stacks were powered by the full force of chips let loose with the bursting of the bubble.
That came, and went, with the usual delays encountered when corralling 225 poker players and press into a confined space. But today their fall guy was PokerStars qualifier John Leathart, who triggered a surge of all-ins. As one player, Dave Gutfreund, admitted to table mates, after surviving a hellish hour white knuckle riding the bubble, your range tends to change dramatically once you're guaranteed a payday. And so it went. Within minutes tables were being broken, within hours we were left with just 62 players.
Bubble boy John Leathart
Among those departing were Daniel Negreanu, Dennis Phillips, Victor Ramdin, Dario Minieri, Ivan Demidov, Vicky Coren, Luis Medina and PokerStars SportStar Orel Hershiser. Steve Paul-Ambrose was also eliminated, unable to take his run towards a second PCA title any further than the last level of the day. Justin Bonomo was also a late casualty, losing control of a stack that had gone up, then down, then up again before going down for good.
It wasn't all a tale of woe. From the ranks of Team PokerStars Pro remain Johnny Lodden and Florian Langmann, both hanging on with 286,000 and 304,000 respectively. Then there's John Duthie, creator of the EPT, playing his first tour event. With 1,210,000 he's on course for a deep finish; six seasons of pent up poker energy unravelling at last and working wonders.
Chip leader from day 1a William Bentley suffered, losing large chunks of his stack, but rallied at the end of the day to return to where he'd started. Barry Shulman, Eric Froelich, Hafiz Khan and Huck Seed all return tomorrow, as do Jeff Madsen, Liz Lieu and Bryce Yockey. There are others, and their counts and identities can be found on the chip count page.
We wait now for tomorrow when we'll play down to 24 before attention turns to the PokerStars Party where their success will be toasted whether they know it or not. In the meantime if you missed anything from today you'll find it all in the links below; all accurately reported and complete with grammar, spelling and punctuation. Knock yourself out.
As part of the service we can offer you everything from today in five, count them, five languages - Swedish, German, Italian, Spanish and Brazil's Portuguese. If you've read this far and need another, then it might not be worth worrying about. Our thanks also to photographers Joe Giron and Neil Stoddart.
Dario Minieri waiting at the cash desk
So as R&B star Kelly Rowlands poses for pictures with a long line of admirers, and blog hero Nelly re-raises again on the TV table with nothing, on his way to a place in round two, we bid you good night, and point you towards live coverage of the amfAR charity tournament broadcasting now on EPTLive in seven (count them) languages. You can also follow our blog reports right here.
Heroes of stage, screen and sport
Tomorrow promises another day or drama, more celebrities and a food stall special of fish and chips. From 62 players to 24. It should be great. Don't miss it.