Day 3 of the World Poker Tour’s foray into Russia at the Casino Sochi has worked its way down to the final 17 players. With a payday of over $250,000 on the line, Oleg Pavyluchuk will be the one in the best position to take down the championship as he holds the chip lead with his 1.785 million in chips.

From 96 to the Money

There were going to be some unhappy people leaving the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a bitter taste in their mouths. With the WPT Russia only paying the final 63 players, that meant there would be 33 unfortunate poker players who would have nothing to show for making the third day of the tournament. When the tournament resumed at noon in Sochi, Denis Kushnerov led the way as top tournament pros Aleksandr Denisov and Konstantin Puchkov lurked in the Top Five.

One of the first departures of the day was one of only two former WPT champions left in the field. Andrey Pateychuk started the day with one of the shorter stacks in the room and couldn’t find a way to multiply it. He would depart only 15 minutes into the day and he wouldn’t be the last notable name to head to the exits.

Once there were 72 players in the tournament – one table to the money – the WPT kicked in their “Action Clock” and the pressure ramped up even further. As Kushnerov continued to hold his lead, Mikhail Galitskiy emerged as a contender after he called a bluff out of Aleksandr Merzhvinskiy with his flopped flush with a 7 6. Merzhvinskiy held on for dear life with his remaining 30,000 in chips as he weathered the departures of Vladimir Rozhkov (65th place) and Sergey Chantsev (64th) to scrape his way into the money.

Filatov Departs in Cruel Fashion

After 63 players celebrated their moment in the sun of earning a WPT cash, the doors to the cage opened and players began claiming their pieces of the prize pool. Merzhvinskiy was one of the first to earn some money, but he was soon followed by partypoker Ambassador Anatoly Filatov. In the Filatov situation, the departure came through a rather cruel bad beat.

In the small blind, Filatov opted to just complete and Aleksei Istomin decided to raise it up. Filatov didn’t want to mess around, however, as he moved his chips to the center. Istomin felt the Russian poker professional was just trying to bully him and made the call, but that wasn’t the case. Filatov had a decent pocket pair of sevens to go against Istomin’s A 10.

The flop was about as good as Filatov could have expected, coming down 3-7-K with no diamonds to remove the potential for a flush while giving him a set. Holding roughly a 3:1 edge over Istomin, Filatov stared in disbelief as first a Queen came on the turn and a stunning Jack came on the river to give Istomin a runner-runner Broadway straight. With his flopped set crushed, Filatov could only pack up and head into the Sochi evening.

Kushnerov Down, Pavyluchuk Up

It was about this time that fortunes flipped for our leaders. Kushnerov, holding court at the featured table, began to falter as the evening action wore on. Just after the dinner break and holding only about 200K in chips, Kushnerov found himself all in against Sedrak Bagdasaryan and holding the worst of it. His K♠ J♠ was down to Bagdasaryan’s pocket sixes and, after a 5-3-4-7 flop and turn, the “worst of it” went to the “knocked out” as Kushnerov exited in 28th place.

Pavyluchuk, meanwhile, moved up the leaderboard in a rather subtle fashion. He didn’t draw the attention of the WPT floor reporters, even when the tournament was down to three tables, as he built a stack that would hold a good edge over his competition. When the players bagged up for the night, it became evident that Pavyluchuk was the chip leader.

1. Oleg Pavyluchuk, 1.785 million
2. Mikhail Galitskiy, 1.7 million
3. Denys Shafikov, 1.565 million
4. Yauhen Kontush, 1.27 million
5. Viktor Kudinov, 1.19 million
6. Anatoly Zuev, 1.175 million
7. Oleg Breshkov, 810,000
8. Aleksey Gortikov, 740,000
9. Nikolay Fal, 715,000
10. Aleksei Istomin, 690,000

The final 17 players will be back in their seats at noon (4AM Eastern Time) on Saturday for what might be a short day of play. They will work their way down to the WPT final table of six, which will then determine the champion on Sunday. All the players are assured of a $14,358 payday, but they all have their eyes on the $255,258 (which includes a seat to the 2019 WPT Tournament of Champions) that will be the champion’s reward.

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