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A unique tournament has just begun in London, England. Gathering twelve of the game’s finest minds and biggest egos, the PartyPoker.com Premier League III looks set to host some of the most exciting poker action around.

A mix of the old and new, the reserved and the extrovert, should make for some engaging play. Even the poker brat himself, Phil Hellmuth, will be there, alongside experienced needlers Tony G and Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott. These combustible personalities are sure to make good television, but for poker fans a chance to scrutinize the play of the new faces will be just as enthralling. Internet cash-game king Tom Dwan, otherwise known as “durrr,” will be featured along side WSOPE champion Annette Obrestad and the recently crowned WSOP main event supremo, Peter Eastgate. The twelve strong field is rounded out by Roland de Wolfe, Andy Black, Nenad Medic, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi and J.C. Tran.

The intriguing format sees a series of 6-player heats, with points being awarded in order of finishing position – 10 points being the highest possible reward. Once the heats have been completed the top 4 players will automatically qualify for the final table, and a chance at grabbing a chunk of the $1.25m prize pool. The next four players will then compete in two heads-up matches to see who will snatch the final two final-table seats.

Play got under way on Monday, with the first heat ending in a tense heads-up battle between Peter Eastgate and J.C. Tran. The reigning WSOP champion came into the contest with a 2:1 chip advantage, but failed to make it tell against one of the finest tournament players on the planet. In the final hand, Eastgate made a fatal push with Q-3, only to see Tran insta-call with A-K. A blank board gave Tran 10 points and put him atop the leaderboard.

Tom “durrr” Dwan has been tipped by some to run away with this event, his $6 million internet cash haul a testament to his fantastic talent. It may come as a surprise then to hear that he was undone by fast-talking Aussie Tony G in heat 2. The second heads-up battle of the event ended when Tony’s A-5 hit the board to put him well ahead of Dwan’s J-2 off.

Tuesday saw another two heats completed, with a victory for European tournament sensation Annette Obrestad. Heat 4 followed quickly after with a second victory for J.C. Tran. His 100% record at the tables gave him a commanding lead and all but assured his presence on the final table. He came close to making it three out of three when play resumed this morning, a repeat of heat one’s heads-up contest ended with Peter Eastgate taking home maximum points. Heat 6 began recently and will conclude later this evening.

TV commentator and poker expert Jesse May has controversially tipped the Devilfish for the win, claiming he has the ability to dominate the tables if he can resist the temptation to fall into despair when things don’t go his way. Ulliott has not fared well in the opening rounds however, although May’s 2nd and 3rd picks – J.C. Tran and Tony G – look like wiser investments. He also contended that Tom Dwan will not even make the final table. Citing his over-aggression and relative lack of tournament experience as factors that may limit his success. With five heats down, the league table looks as follows:

JC Tran 26
Peter Eastgate 16
Vicky Coren 14
Juha Helppi 14
Tony G 12*
Annette Obrestad 10
Tom Dwan 8*
Andy Black 7*
Nenad Medic 6
Roland De Wolfe 6*
Devilfish 3*
Phil Hellmuth 3*

(* indicate players that have played 2 heats, rather than 3).