WPT Venice Grand Prix Day 3: Erion Islamay Moves To The Lead On Slow Day Of Action

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It was a slow day of action for Day 3 of the World Poker Tour’s stop at the Casino di Venezia Ca Vendramin Calergi in Venice, Italy, yesterday. How slow was it? After rocketing through two thirds of the survivors on Day Two, only half of the 36 remaining players were eliminated over the span of Thursday’s action.

Ludovic Lacay led those 36 players to the felt on Thursday, with the original plan to be for the runners to get down to the nine handed unofficial final table. With a host of top players in pursuit, including Poker Hall of Famer and WPT announcer Mike Sexton, Kara Scott, two time WPT champion Marvin Rettenmaier and fellow WPT winner Matt Salsberg, the action kicked off Thursday afternoon and it became evident early that it was going to be a long night.

Several of the short stacks were able to double up within moments of the opening bell, but one that didn’t was the ClubWPT qualifier for the tournament, Socrates Ioannides. After shipping a good bit of his stack to Salsberg, Ioannides went to battle with Max Pescatori and actually hit the 9-9-3 flop with his 10-3. Problem was Pescatori hit it also with his A-3, which proved to be good enough after the turn and river to eliminate Ioannides short of the money.

Two other notable names would join Ioannides soon after his departure. After bluffing off a sizeable chunk of his stack to Eddie Tasbas, Daniel Cates would leave when his K-Q was unable to catch Ivan Gabrieli’s pocket deuces. A few hands later, Liv Boeree would join him after her Q-9 was defeated by Antonino Zito’s K-J.

The big surprise on the departure list (and short of the money also) turned out to be Rettenmaier, whose final hand also changed the top spot on the leaderboard. After three-betting the action, Rettenmaier saw Xia Lin four-bet him to 40K. After everyone else cleared the way, Rettenmaier pushed his remaining stack to the center and Lin called. The race was on – Rettenmaier’s A-K versus Lin’s pocket Queens – and it looked to be all over when the flop came with an Ace and a King. The turn kept Rettenmaier in the lead, but a Queen on the river ended his run in giving Lin a set.

Erion Islamay began to gain some momentum as the money bubble approached. He knocked out Tasbas to reach 185K in chips as he set his sights on the bigger stacks ahead of him. Sexton was one of those stacks, after he eliminated former WPT champion Giacomo Fundaro to get to the 400K mark, and Lacay (who had been on the rollercoaster through the early action) was still in the mix with 380K.

As the sun faded in the Venice skies, the bubble was reached following the elimination of Day 1 chip leader Steve Behm. Bubble play would last for almost an hour before Salsberg was able to knock off Pescatori to bring the remaining 21 players to the money and send the players off to a dinner break. Once back from that break, the action slowed down tremendously as the players looked to maximize their payout from the WPT Venice.

Islamay continued to slowly grind his way up the ladder, working some chips from Martin Staszko to climb over the 250K mark. Scott, meanwhile, was using her stack like a machete as she bullied Robert Begni out of a pot to push herself to 390K. After the eliminations of Daniele Mazzia, Francesco Delfoco and Davor Lanini (in 21st through 19th places, respectively), the final eighteen players gathered together at two tables and REALLY slowed the pace of play. Over the next two hours, the players basically shuffled chips until tournament officials decided to call for a stop in the Day Three action.

When the chips fly on Friday in Venice, Islamay will be the player that everyone is looking up at:

1. Erion Islamay, 470,000
2. Marcello Montagner, 460,000
3. Giuseppe Pastura, 432,000
4. Xia Lin, 425,000
5. Mike Sexton, 414,000
5. Kara Scott, 414,000
7. Ludovic Lacay, 402,000
8. Rocco Palumbo, 378,000
9. Ivan Gabrieli, 295,000
10. Martin Staszko 251,000

On down the table, Matt Salsberg (196,000) is still in contention in the tightly bunched field, just ahead of Lauri Pesonen (195,000), while the other lady left in contention for this WPT title, Giorgia Tabet, has some work to do with her 150K stack.

The action on Friday will play down to the six handed WPT final table and, if Thursday’s play is any indication, it promises to be another long day. Besides being taped for the Season XI television broadcasts, the WPT Venice Grand Prix will put another name on the WPT Champions’ Cup and pay the winner $180,097.

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