Ryan Hughes Continues Domination In Season XV WPT® Five Diamond Main Event

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Ryan Hughes continued to dominate

Ryan Hughes continued to dominate the Season XV World Poker Tour® Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,400 Main Event on Wednesday, and he once again finished with the chip lead to end the night. After entering Day 3 with 364,400 in chips atop the returning 277 players from the record 791-entry field, Hughes went on to bag up 1.212 million in chips to take the lead to Day 4.

From the 277 players that returned to action on Wednesday, 75 remained to close out the day. With the top 72 places set to cash in the event, the beginning of Thursday’s Day 4 will be ever important.

Hughes maintain his place at the top of the leaderboard for all of Day 3, never seeming to drop a big pot that would set him back. Big pots, little pots, they all came Hughes’ way on Day 3, which was much of the same experience that he had on Day 2.

In one late pot on Wednesday, Hughes fired a bet of 40,000 on the final board of Th9s8d6cKh after his opponent, Ty Reiman, checked to him. Reiman thought for a little bit before he made the call, but Hughes had the Kd7h for a straight to send Reiman’s cards into the muck unseen. That pot helped moved Hughes to more than 1.2 million in chips.

While Hughes was quietly dominating in the corner of the iconic Bellagio poker room, Christian Harder was in another corner laying down a hammer of his own. In the final level of the night, with the blinds at 2,500-5,000 with a 500 ante, Harder, Koon, and a third player found all the money in preflop in a clash of big hands with chips flying.

Koon had opened from middle position to 12,000, the player on the button moved all in for 29,500, and then Harder reraised to 65,000 from the big blind. Koon ended up shoving for 315,000-320,000, and Harder quickly called with the AdAc. Koon was not pleased with the AcKh, and the third player in the hand held the KsQs. The board came Js7c3h9h3d and Harder’s stack boomed to 839,500.

With that big pot, Harder was able to finish second in chips, and his decision to hope on a last-minute flight on the morning of Day 2 to get to Las Vegas from Maryland has so far proven to be a very positive one. After he won the three-way all in, JC Tran leaned over from the table next to Harder’s and asked, “Christian, is that the best plane ticket you’ve ever purchased?” Harder nodded with a smile as he stacked his chips.

Along with Hughes and Harder, plenty of big names remained in the field, including three-time NFL Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour, Season V WPT® Player of the Year JC Tran, and a trio of past WPT Five Diamond Main Event winners in Joe Hachem, Antonio Esfandiari, and Dan Smith.

For Esfandiari, his performance thus far in the WPT Five Diamond Main Event is nothing he’s not used to. Esfandiari cashed five straight years in this event from 2008-2012, including winning the entire thing in Season IX in 2010 for $870,124. What’s more is that Esfandiari followed up his victory with runs to the final table in each of the following two years in 2011 and 2012.

Then you’ve got notables Justin Bonomo, David Pham, Chris Klodnicki, Barry Hutter, Dan O’Brien, David “Doc” Sands, Aaron Massey, and Mike “The Mouth” Matusow advancing to Day 4 as well. Needless to say, the field is stacked from wall to wall, and play from here on out will be nothing short of exhilarating with the bursting of the money bubble coming on Thursday’s Day 4, followed by the highly anticipated run to the final table.

Of those to be eliminated on Day 3 were Lisa Hamilton, Curt Kohlberg, Mike Leah, Gordon Vayo, Will “The Thrill” Failla, and Ben Palmer.

Palmer went out in Level 16 with the blinds at 2,000-4,000 with a 500 ante when he jammed the Qh5h from the hijack seat for 35,000, and Seymour called from the small blind with the 9d9h. Seymour’s nines held, despite Palmer flopping a flush draw, and the former NFL star scooped the pot.

Seymour went on to bag up 230,000 in chips for Day 4.

For a complete list of chip counts, click here.

Day 4 will commence on Thursday at 12 p.m. local time at Bellagio in Las Vegas, with the plan to play another seven 90-minute levels. The money bubble is only a few eliminations away, and first place is worth $1.938 million. Stick around and follow coverage right here on WPT.com, because you will not want to miss the rest of the Season XV WPT Five Diamond Main Event.