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The money bubble burst in the 2012 World Poker Tour (WPT) Merit Cyprus Classic Tuesday as the tournament drew one day closer to the final table. 53 players began Day 3, 36 made the money, and just 19 emerged at the end of the night to live to see Day 4. Erik Cajelais, who started the day in second place, inched up one spot to take the lead with 1.19 million chips going into Wednesday. The chip leader entering Tuesday, Sam El Sayed, is still near the top of the leader board, sitting in fourth with 950,000 chips.

One of Cajelais’ bigger hands was also one of the oddest of the day. A number of players, including Cajealis, limped pre-flop to see a flop of A-J♣-T. After Cajelais checked, Mansour Khorramshani looked at the 21,000 chip pot and decided that moving all-in for 205,000 would be the proper move. A bit perplexed, Cajelais eventually calls after some tanking with K-2. Khorramshani reveals A♣-Q for top pair, but it was a tenuous lead. The 6 on the turn clinched the hand right away for Cajelais, as Khorramshani had no way to beat the nut flush. That pot took Cajelais up to about 880,000 at the time.

Erik Cajelais has had success on the World Poker Tour, but has never been able to get over the hump and take down a title. He’s come agonizingly close a couple times. In 2007, he finished as the runner-up in the WPT Turks and Caicos Poker Classic, winning $225,000. Then, just a few months ago, he placed fourth in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars, a $256,300 score. He’s had similar near-misses at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), as well. Not long before the Turks and Caicos runner-up, he did the same at the 2007 WSOP in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. This year, he had another second place finish in the $2,500 Mixed Hold’em event.

Fortunately for Cajelais, the World Series of Poker has expanded beyond Las Vegas. In 2009, he was able to nab his one and only bracelet at the WSOP Europe, winning the £2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Omaha event.

The 19 remaining players will return to the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Casino for Day 4 on Wednesday. The plan is to play down to the official six-handed final table before pausing the action to get ready for the final day on Thursday. This is one of the few WPT events that will not be televised.

2012 World Poker Tour Merit Cyprus Classic – End of Day 3 Chip Leaders

1.    Erik Cajelais – 1,190,000
2.    Artur Voskanyan – 1,035,000
3.    Walid Bou Habib – 986,000
4.    Sam El Sayed – 950,000
5.    Ran Azor – 893,000
6.    Andrey Shatilov – 686,000
7.    Robert Mizrachi – 586,000
8.    Eddy Maksoud – 564,000
9.    Victor Paraschiv – 483,000
10.    Gilboa Yossi – 464,000
11.    Husnu Sincar – 358,000
12.    Kiryl Radzivonau – 352,000
13.    Kemal Sevevi – 311,000
14.    Tolga Demirel – 265,000
15.    Marvin Rettenmaier – 212,000
16.    Julien Ehrhardt – 194,000
17.    Joseph El Khoury – 180,000
18.    Aram Vartevanyan – 159,000

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