Buonanno Still in Control as Bubble Bursts at WPT Merit Classic

Buonanno Still in Control as Bubble Bursts at WPT Merit ClassicOnly 30 players remain in the PartyPoker WPT Merit Classic in Cyprus, with Antonio Buonanno ending Day 3 as he started it – at the head of the chip counts.

Day 3 of the PartyPoker WPT Merit Classic in Cyprus was a day of two halves – the first half being a very tense approach to the forty-five player bubble, and the second half having a more subdued feel to it; with fifteen players busting out of the event during the final couple of levels to leave a field of thirty.

Going into Day 3, the chip lead was held by Antonio Buonanno; and he got the best possible start to the day when eliminating Toni Judet with pocket Nines > pocket Eights. Toby Lewis also chipped up throughout the first couple of levels, and it was Lewis who held the chip lead as the bubble approached courtesy of an A♠ A > A♣ K encounter against Ali Hassan.

How Does Trickett Do It?

Hand-for-hand play started during Level 17 (blinds 2,500/5,000 – ante 500) and lasted more than an hour. During that time there were some remarkable escapes from elimination, but none more spectacular than that of Sam Trickett.

In yesterday´s PokerNewsReport, we reported on how Trickett had hit runner-runner Quad Aces to eliminate Harprit Gurnam and, while hand-for-hand play was in progress, Trickett pulled off another miraculous victory in a hand he was destined to lose.

With the board showing K♠ 10 9 / A♣ and more than 100,000 chips in the pot, Alexander Lakhov announced he was all-in. Sam Trickett made the call and the cards were on their backs:

Alexander Lakhov: Q♠ J for an Ace-high straight

Sam Trickett: K♣ K for a flopped set of Kings

Lakhov was a ¼ favourite to win the hand and eliminate Sam Trickett as the PartyPoker WPT Merit Classic bubble boy, but the 9 spiked on the River to give Trickett a Full House and enable him to survive.

Louis Salter is the WPT Merit Classic Bubble Boy

Several more intense all-in encounters occurred throughout the rest of the level – Oleksandr Gnatenko finding a Jack to double up against Serdar Saglum A J > A♣ 5♠, and Markus Ross flopping a Full House with pocket Fours to double up against Nicolas Chouity´s flopped trip Jacks.

Eventually one hand had to go against the player at risk, and Louis Salter ended up being the unfortunate bubble boy after moving all-in with A K and running straight into Nicolay Baryshnikov´s A A♠. With no surprises on the board, Salter was eliminated in forty-sixth place, while the remaining players were assure of a $8,500 min-cash.

During the steady stream of action that followed, Toby Lewis lost the chip lead when doubling up 888Poker´s Sofia Lovgren J♣ J♠ > 4 4♣, and Antonio Buonanno reclaimed his position at the top of the leaderboard by busting out Danny Laming in thirty-fifth place 9♠ 9♣ > A J – Buonanno turning a set of Nines.

The final player to bust on Day 3 was Sam Trickett – ironically in a hand against Alexander Lakhov. Trickett had moved all-in with K Q♠ against Lakhov´s A J, but he found no help on the board of A♠ 10 7♣ / 3♠ / 5♠ to leave the WPT Merit Classic in thirty-first place.

Looking Ahead to Day 4 of the WPT Merit Classic

With just thirty players remaining in the WPT Merit Classic, Day 4 promises to be another tense affair. Play is scheduled to continue until a final table of six is set and, with ever-increasing pay jumps as the final table approaches, it could well be a very long day for some.

The thirty players will be entering level 20 (blinds 5,000/10,000 – ante 1,000) when play gets resumes – a possible issue for the likes of Michel Habib (110,000 chips), Dmitry Bayramov (100,000 chips), and Nuri Kural (59,000 chips), but less likely to concern the WPT Merit Classic chip leaders:

# WPT Merit Classic Chips
1 Antonio Buonanno 1,175,000
2 Serdar Saglam 800,000
3 Christian Christner 721,000
4 Alexander Lakhov 641,000
5 Oliver Price 626,000
6 Toby Lewis 617,000
7 Dmitry Gromov 595,000
8 Yuri Salikaev 577,000
9 Abbas Morady 543,000
10 Eddy Maksoud 528,000