A field of 1,1014 players has been reduced to just 52 hopefuls who are still dreaming of winning the fabled $4 million top prize in the 2023 PokerStars Players Championship. After a dramatic Day 3 took us through the money bubble, just six tables had players at them as play concluded with Bulgarian player Petar Kalev in the lead.

The Money Bubble Bursts

The bubble is always a dramatic point of any tournament, but PokerStars do seem to do it better than most. When 255 players returned to the felt, they knew that only 175 of them would be walking away with the $35,100 min-cash, which represented a serious uptick for players who won their $25,000-entry tickets for nothing on their way into the PokerStars Players Championship.

In the end, it was Mauricio Ferreira Pais who bubbled, and that sent the rest of the room into raptures, in particular players such as Glen Craigen. The Canadian construction worker who won his Platinum Pass in a freeroll tournament was seen punching the air when he made the money and although he busted later in the day, the $46,500 he won will be “life-changing” money for him.

Craigen plans to take the summer to play cash games and daily tournaments in his local casino rather than saddle up on the steamroller for eight weeks of hard physical labor. He was not the only one celebrating a monumental win, with Arlie Shaban also winning the min-cash for nothing, and other Platinum Pass winners joining that duo on the roster of those who were in for the absolute minimum only to win big money.

Big Names Depart Before Play Closes

While many big names made the final 52 who closed out Day 3 still in with a chance of winning the $4 million top prize, others fell by the wayside. NFL star Richard Seymour was hoping to run further than 155th place, and Alex Kulev proved that despite not being among the leaders on Day 1 the former Super MILLION$ winner could go deep, leaving in 151st place.

Others to cash but not make the penultimate day included Shannon Shorr (132nd), Griffin Benger (141st), and Chris Moneymaker (139th), whose lasting ‘Moneymaker Effect’ is still being felt to this day in poker. Justin Saliba (134th), Mustapha Kanit (131st), Jake Schwartz (128th), Chris Day (124th), former WSOP Main Event winner Martin Jacobson (120th), Ema Zajmovic (119th), Kitty Kuo (116th), Triple Crown winner Roberto Romanello (107th), Sergio Aido (104th) and Dario Sammartino (103rd) all finished outside the top 100.

Near the final 52, Alejandro Lococo busted in 89th place, by which point the payout was an eye-watering $53,400. When Paulina Loeliger busted in 78th place, David Peters departed in 73rd and PCA Main Event winner Michel Dattani busted in 67th place.

Andrew Moreno’s tournament ended in 66th place and he was even keener to go further in his tournament career when the event finished for him.

Kalev Leads from Pack of Stars

Chip leader heading into Day 4 is Bulgarian player Petar Kalev, whose stack of 3,360,000 chips dwarfs anyone else’s. It represents 84 big blinds, some way clear of the 70 bigs Blake Bohn (2.8 million) racked up. In third place is Dylan Destefano (2,665,000), while the German poker pro and multiple WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche has 2,360,000 chips with which to attack Day 4.

With Tom Parsons (2,265,000), Marcello Del Grosso (2,200,000), Matthew Hunt (2,075,000) and Thomas Eychenne (1,955,000) all racking up huge stacks too, the top 10 is full of strength and possibly in no bigger spot than the player in ninth place – Daniel Dvoress. The Canadian will come into Day 4 with 1,775,000 chips and is sure to be a huge threat.

Elsewhere, Team PokerStars Pro Sam Grafton (1,590,000) is sure to be major player along with Jeremy Ausmus (1,470,000) who will be looking to add to his five WSOP bracelets with another major trophy. Day 1 chip leader Chris Moorman (1,460,000) isn’t far behind in 15th place and will be looking to close the tournament as strongly as he began it to win $4 million.

2023 PokerStars Players Championship Day 3 Top 10 Chipcounts:

Position Player Country Chips Big Blinds
1st Petar Kalev Bulgaria 3,360,000 84
2nd Blake Bohn U.S.A. 2,800,000 70
3rd Dylan Destefano U.S.A. 2,665,000 67
4th Dominik Nitsche Germany 2,360,000 59
5th Tom Parsons United Kingdom 2,265,000 57
6th Marcello Del Grosso Canada 2,200,000 55
7th Matthew Hunt United Kingdom 2,075,000 52
8th Thomas Eychenne France 1,955,000 49
9th Daniel Dvoress Canada 1,775,000 44
10th Tommy Nguyen Canada 1,670,000 42



James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virginia and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

Back To Top
Back To Top