Day 3 of Event #15 began with 15 players in contention for the $508,640 first-place prize and the most sought after piece of poker jewelery in the world, a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. It ended with two players, Davidi Kitai and Gordon Vayo, almost even in chips and having to return for an unscheduled Day 4.
Alen Bilic was the first casualty of the day and he was followed to the cashier’s desk first by Ukraine’s Artem Metalidi then by Pratyush Buddiga, Gabriel Andarade, Ryan Olisar, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Bill Burford, and 13-time WSOP champion Phil Hellmuth.
Hellmuth’s exit in eighth place, at the hands of Vayo, meant the unofficial table was reached and play headed over to the “mothership” in the center of the Amazon Room.
Seven-handed play lasted around 40 minutes and ended with the elimination of Germany’s Heinz Kamutzki.
It took 32 hands before the players at the final table got some extra elbow room by virtue of a player busting out. That player was Zachary Korik. Fourteen hands later, John Andress moved all in from the small blind for 230,000 and Vayo called from the big blind. It was the of Andress versus the of Vayo. The flop put Vayo in the lead and he stayed there through the turn and river.
Next to head to the cashier’s desk was Mark Darner, who on Hand #60 of the final table three-bet all in over the top of a Kitai opening raise with the . Ruberto came over the top for 30,000 more and Kitai folded. Ruberto had made his move with the and stayed ahead on the flop, the turn, and the river.
Three-handed play lasted 61 hands, including a number of split pots and double ups, before something finally gave and heads-up play was set.
Vayo limped on the button, Ruberto raised to 225,000 from the small blind, and Kitai raised to 455,000 from the big blind. Vayo mucked, Ruberto moved all-in for 1.52 million and Kitai called. Kitai flipped over the and was dominating Ruberto’s . The flop paired Kitai’s kings, but the on the turn gave Ruberto a lifeline in the hand because he could now hit a diamond to win the pot. A diamond failed to appear on the river (), and Ruberto headed to the cashier’s desk to collect $200,476 — a superb result considering he started the day last in the counts.
Going into the heads-up match, Kitai held a chip advantage of 5.84 million to 1.45 million over Vayo, but over the course of 40 hands, Vayo managed to claw his way back into contention and actually held a narrow lead of 3.75 million to 3.545 million when play ended for the night.
When Level 30 ended at almost 2:10 a.m. on Sunday morning, the players were given the option to play one more level or pause the tournament and return to their seats once they had managed to get some sleep. They agreed to do the latter and headed into the warm Las Vegas night knowing that they have locked up at least $314,535 for their efforts and that one of them will win $508,640 and a WSOP gold bracelet before Sunday is over.
Keep your browsers locked to PokerNews on Sunday when we will bring you continued hand-for-hand coverage of the conclusion of Event #15.