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Heading into Day 3 of the 2008 World Poker Challenge, one would have to put their money on Phil Ivey. It would’ve been a safe bet to say the least. Not only does Phil Ivey has the distinction of being one of the most talented and respected players in the world, but literally every time he’s cashed a WPT event, he’s final tabled it. Up to this tournament, he’s a formidable 8 for 8 in cashing and heading to the final table. Could he make it 9 for 9? To do so he’d have to stave off a very formidable field. Jason Potter, the chip leader coming into Day 3, is talented online tournament player. Some might remember him as the young player who was held up by knifepoint outside of the Crown Casino in January towards the end of the Aussie Millions. Another talented online player, Jordan Rich, came in second in chips. He’d be sharing a table with a good friend of his, Jason Gray. On top of all these players, Chau Giang, Erik Seidel, David Pham, Tim “Tmay420” West, Lee Markholt, Bryan Devonshire, and Michael Mizrachi were all coming into Day 3. One thing was for sure: Day 3 would be an interesting day, to say the least.

It didn’t take too long to get down to 18, as only one of the players I mentioned – Jason Gray, was eliminated in the process. The final 18 were stacked, to say the least. Devonshire flopped a set early on in the final two tables to knock out two players, but not before one hit a gutshot, which was good until the board paired on the river. He was also responsible for dispatching Erik Seidel in 16th, as he flopped top pair against Seidel’s bottom two pair, which was in the lead until Devonshire tripped up on the turn, leaving Seidel drawing dead and out. Potter took out his fellow online player, Jordan Rich, after flopping a set against him. Mizrachi knocked out two players, leaving the tournament with 12 players. Ivey eliminated West in 11th, as his AJ took down West’s KJ.

With 11 left, here were the stacks:

Bryan Devonshire – 645,000
Michael Mizrachi – 504,000
Lee Markholt – 500,000
Jason Potter – 500,000
Zach Hyman – 370,000
Pat Poels – 320,000
David Pham – 312,000
Phil Ivey – 235,000
Jeff DeWitt – 180,000
Chau Giang – 160,000
Steve Conigliaro – 55,000

Not long after, Conigliaro was eliminated by Pham, to get the players to ten handed play, which was then condensed to one table. As per WPT tournaments, it wasn’t the true final table, as that doesn’t occur until six handed play, which then breaks for the TV Final Table on the following day. This table featured a lot of talent, and unfortunately, only six could make it. Who would fall first?

It took almost three hours, but finally someone busted. Ivey’s stack had wilted away over the hours, and he found himself all in with JT against Markholt’s A8. He flopped a Ten, but runners came to make Markholt a straight, giving him the win. Ivey’s streak was ended, and the table was left with 9. Par for the course with this table, it took forever to knock out the next player. Pat Poels was eliminated in 9th, by Jason Potter. Here were the stack sizes after the elimination.

Lee Markholt – 1,070,000
Jason Potter – 880,000
Bryan Devonshire – 765,000
Zach Hyman – 320,000
Jeff DeWitt – 300,000
Chau Giang – 195,000
David Pham – 160,000
Michael Mizrachi – 135,000

Giang became the short stack after some time, before getting his chips in with pocket tens vs. Mizrachi’s K8, taking a rough beat to get busted in 8th. Unfortunately for Mizrachi, his time would be short as well. Just some time later he got it in with AJ on an A hi flop, much to his dismay after Jason Potter rolled over AK for a dominating position. No help came and Mizrachi was the final table bubble boy. Here were the chip stacks going into the final table:

Jason Potter – 1,156,000
Lee Markholt – 1,137,000
Bryan Devonshire – 674,000
David Pham – 406,000
Zach Hyman – 285,000
Jeff DeWitt – 249,000

This final table had plenty of storylines heading into it. Jason Potter, who has had a rough start to his year given the events in Australia, would be looking to make a name for himself by taking down the championship. Lee Markholt would be making his first WPT Final Table, after his 14 prior cashes which resulted in 0 final tables. Bryan Devonshire, a professional poker player from Las Vegas, has nearly $600k in lifetime cashes, including his 2nd place finish at a WSOP Final Table last summer. David Pham needs no introductions, as he’s been steamrolling the competition in the last year or so. Hyman and DeWitt, two relative unknowns, would be nursing the short stack, and would need some help to survive.

Here were the payouts awaiting the final table participants:

1: $493,815

2: $271,625

3: $149,862

4: $103,030

5: $93,664

6: $84,297

The blinds were starting off at 8k/16k, with a 2k ante. Just a few hands into play, Jeff DeWitt got it in with a Jack hi flush draw on a King hi flop vs. David Pham’s pocket queens. DeWitt never got there and was eliminated in 6th place for $84,297.

After the quick elimination, with the blinds already going up to 10k/20k, with a 3k ante, here were the stack sizes:

Lee Markholt – 1,450,000
Jason Potter – 1,128,000
Bryan Devonshire – 654,000
David Pham – 430,000
Zach Hyman – 245,000

The players battled forever, all the way through 15k/30k, with a 4k ante, until the next bustout occurred. Markholt eliminated the most decorated player at the final table, in David Pham, dominating Pham’s A2 with his AT. Pham was eliminated in 5th for $93,664. Here were the stacks after Pham’s bustout.

Lee Markholt – 1,945,000
Zach Hyman – 854,000
Jason Potter – 736,000
Bryan Devonshire – 372,000

Just a few hands later, Potter came over the top of a Hyman opening raise, and Devonshire called all in. Potter flipped over 33, and Devonshire had AQ of clubs. An 886 flop gave Devonshire a few extra outs, and the T on the turn gave him outs on the river, and the ace of spades on the river was good enough to give him the win in the hand. Devonshire more than doubled up, ending the hand with 918k, and Potter was hurting, down to below 300k. Just a few hands later, Potter got it in with A3 vs. Zack Hyman’s A5. This hand most often ends in a chop, but the Q84 all spade flop gave Hyman a huge chance to win, as he was holding the A of spades. The turn 8 left them chopping unless Hyman hit a spade or a five. The 7 of spades left the former chip leader out. Jason Potter went home in fourth place, earning $103,030. Here were the stacks:

Lee Markholt – 1,925,000
Zach Hyman – 1,035,000
Bryan Devonshire – 945,000

The blinds were up to 20k/40k, with a 5k ante. Could Markholt close out his first WPT Final Table? With these blinds there were no guarantees, as things could change at any instance. If Hyman or Devonshire were able to double up, they would become the chip leader. Soon after the blind jump, Markholt crippled Hyman in a blind vs. blind situation, flopping top pair and betting every street, extracting max value from Hyman. Hyman was eliminated a few hands later, when his KJ couldn’t get there vs. Devonshire’s 99, sending him home in 3rd, with $149,862. Going into heads-up play, Devonshire was down by almost 900k, with Markholt holding nearly 2.4 million to Devonshire’s 1.5 million in chips. However, heads-up play only lasted two hands.

Markholt limped in the small blind for 40k, and Devonshire checked, sending them to the flop. On a 432, two spade flop, Devonshire lead for 60k, and was called by Markholt. The turn came a Jack, prompting Devonshire to bet 150k, which was raised by Markholt to 600k. Devonshire moved all in over the top, and was called immediately by Markholt. Markholt flipped over J4 for top two pair, which left Devonshire’s 84 drawing dead.

After 15 cashes, Markholt not only made his first WPT Final Table, but he had won it for $493,815. Devonshire wasn’t sent home empty handed, as he took $271,625 for his efforts. Keep posted to FTR Blogs in the coming weeks as the EPT stops in San Remo and Monte Carlo, the WSOP Circuit comes to town in Indiana, and the WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic goes down!