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Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari is the run away chip leader at the tournament that has, quite possibly, the longest name ever, the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Star World Poker Classic!

A grand total of 439 players parted company with $10,300 in exchange for 30,000 tournament chips, creating a prizepool of $4,248,600, with $870,124 of that going to the eventual winner. In what can only be described as a bizarre move by the organisers, the tournament is paying the top 100 finishers, almost the top 23%, when the industry standard is usually between 10-15% at the most.

There were 137 players who survived the first two days of play, meaning that 37 of those who returned to the vast Fontana Lounge at The Bellagio, Las Vegas were going to leave empty handed. The last of those players, and therefore the tournament's bubble boy, was the unfortunate Ali Eslami. With the blinds at 1,500/3,000 and a running ante of 400, Scott Vener moved all in from middle position for 35,000 and when the action reached Eslami on the button, he called off his remaining chips, being covered by just 1,600.

As play was hand-for-hand the players had to wait until all the other hands were completed before turning over their own hands and when they did it was a classic race. Eslami held AhKs against the ThTs of Vener. The final board ran out Qs-7d-4c-7h-Jd and with it Eslami was eliminated in 101st place with only memories to show for his efforts, oh and a huge round of applause from the rest of the players, each now guaranteed $12,669!

Over the course of the next four hours, the 100 players were slowly whittled down and when the screens around the card room showed that just 54 players remained, the tournament director paused the action and called it a night. When the players return to The Bellagio later today, they will play the remaining 15 minutes of level 15, meaning the blinds will be 2,500/5,000/500a, and each player will take home at least $13,725.

Leading the way is former magician, Antonio Esfandiari, who with a 1,082,500 stack is the only player to pass the million chip mark. Making up the top four are Doug Lee (782,500), Vanessa Rousso (694,000) and Freddy Deeb (654,000). The field still has many well-known face in it, including Sorel Mizzi, Bryn Kenney, Andrew Robl and the man the tournament is named after, 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Doyle Brunson.

Should Esfandiari go on an win this event it will be his second WPT title, as he won the $9,900 LA Poker Classic back in 2004 for a career best cash of $1,399,135. The "High Stakes Poker" regular has live tournament winnings of $3,637,993 and is a very good friend of Betfair Poker sponsored pro, John Tabatabai.
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