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Shaun Deeb was still good natured after his ill-fated exit from the WSOP Main Event on Day 3. (Photo Courtesy of Cardplayer.com)

One thing that I love about Poker is this almost obsessive-compulsive desire that many players have to make pithy, one-liner statements about the nature of the game.  It’s almost like the more quippy lines you have, the more equipped you are as a player – – for example, “You play the man, not the cards,” and “The key to no-limit is putting a man to a tough decision for all of his chips,” are two relatively common nuggets of advice that are passed around card rooms quite commonly.

But tell those to Shaun Deeb, a man who played out both of those “truisms” to perfection, got his opponent to call an All-In Pre Flop with A6o (against Deeb’s AA), and still managed to lose the pot to a 2nd wayward 6 on the river.  (Of course the tough river beat will get you another poker “nugget” – – “That’s poker, Baby!”)  That hand, more than any other, probably sums up Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event the best.  For some players, it is a rocket ship ride to the top, a chance to build a big stack, and a day where the money bubble is coming rapidly into focus.  For others, it’s a Day of tight-solid play and sometimes desperate moves.  But wherever a player is, Day #3 is crucial, because you can’t make the money bubble without surviving these last few land mines in your path.

With that theme in mind, we thought it worthwhile to highlight a couple of players who are in very nice shape going into Day 4, a few others who are treading the proverbial water, and a couple who are seemingly on life support for their tournament lives as they look toward poker’s priciest money bubble bursting sometime on Friday afternoon:

Big Stacks to Build On:

++ Daryl Jace (1.28 Million after Day 3):  Jace has been snatching up big pots at the right time, and he will likely take a slightly passive approach heading to Day 4, at least until the bubble bursts.  He can use the stack to pick up orphan pots when they’re available, but its tough to imagine him making a lot of big moves before Friday’s dinner break.

++ Patrick Poirier (1.32 Million after Day 3):  Much like Jace, it would not be surprising to see Poirier wait it out through the bubble, not because he plays timidly, but because there’s so little to gain in marginal spots with the money as close as it is.  Just to put it into perspective, these two chip leaders are still both short of having even 1% of the chips in play, so there’s still a huge marathon to come if they want to really run deep.

Medium Stacks Aiming to Survive:

++ Sam Simon (509K):  The co-developer of FOX Hit “The Simpsons” has proven that he’s much more than the average celebrity-turned-poker-player, building a healthy stack that will still be well over 75BB Deep going into Day 4.  While he will still have to be active throughout the day to avoid nursing a short stack on Day 5, it still seems quite possible that Simon will be celebrating a WSOP Main Event cash along with 600+ others very soon.

++ Vanessa Rousso (298K):  I like a lot of things about Rousso as a tournament player, but her table should be hating the fact that she’ll hit the ground with a decent amount of ammo on Friday afternoon.  She’ll be in less-than-desperate stack building mode throughout the day, no doubt about it.

Short Stacks that Need a Hot Deck:

++ Phil Hellmuth (77K):  Less than 25BB headed into Day 4 means that Hellmuth won’t have much room to trap anyone.  He either runs it up to 500K in a hurry or busts in the first level of the Day.  He isn’t one to timidly blind off in fear of missing the money bubble.

++ Kristy Gazes (< 100K):  We missed an “official” final count on Gazes’ dwindling stack, but with the escalating blinds and antes, we know that her wiggle room is going away quickly, and it won’t be long on Friday before she tangles for her tournament life.  Hopefully her next big pot turns out better for her than her big battle on Thursday, when she ran her well-meaning JJ into an opponent’s QQ and took a big hit.

Stay tuned to FlopTurnRiver.com for further updates, and Good Luck at the Tables!!