If the 2019 World Series of Poker Championship Event were a horse race, the equivalent would be the Belmont Stakes, the longest race of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown. And, if it were like a horse race, we could say we have entered the top of the stretch after Day 5. But it would be one helluva stretch run as 106 players remain with Timothy Su holding the lead by a neck over some hungry competitors.

A New World Champion Will Be Crowned

With the elimination of defending champion John Cynn on Tuesday and the final three former World Champions on Wednesday – Chris Moneymaker, Qui Nguyen and Johnny Chan – there may have been some relief that a new World Champion would come from the 354 players that started on Wednesday. But even with that thought – and the claim ticket for a cash of $34,845 already in the bank – there was still a great deal of work to be done. 888Poker qualifier Dean Morrone held down the P1 at the start of his day with 4.98 million chips, but Lars Bonding (4.04 million), Michael Messick (3.925 million), Warwick Mirzikinian (3.9 million and Henrik Hecklen (3.862 million) were all in pursuit.

After the call to “shuffle up and deal” from inaugural “Big One for One Drop” champion Antonio Esfandiari, who was also in the Day 4 field with a viable stack, the players set off to decide their destinies. As usual, the early moments were filled with the calls of “all in and a call” as players looked to double or head off onto the next tournament. The early victims of these moves included Maxim Lykov, Tom Cannuli, Jay Farber and Cary Katz, who had the unfortunate beat of Big Slick taking down his pocket Kings on a 5-2-3-10-A board.

Although there were these early departures, there was still some joviality amongst the competitors. Allen Kessler was debating a move at his table when someone called the clock on him. Kessler felt this was unjust and that he hadn’t been given enough time to consider his action, bringing some good-natured ribbing from Esfandiari and another pro, Adam Friedman. “There’s another 67 spots until the pay jump, Allen…you’re good to go,” Friedman called from another table to Kessler, who folded in this situation but would double up later.

Numbers Go Down, Tension Goes Up

As the players were eliminated, the tension the players were under began to become apparent. On the ESPN broadcast of the Day 5 action, former professional football player and Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour was the focal point, along with pro player Dario Sammartino. Both men saw their stacks slip through their fingers, but their pathways were a bit different.

In Seymour’s case, it was a surprising lack of aggression that would cost him. After coming into the day as one of the larger stacks in the room, Seymour laid down some big hands in situations that arguably he could have attacked on. As his chips dwindled, Seymour would get his chips in on a steal attempt off the button with a K-4 off suit, but he would run into the pocket Queens of Zhen Cai and the A♦ 3♦ of Anuj Agarwal. Hope was given for Seymour on the 2-6-K rainbow flop, but the Q♠ ended any hopes for him or Agarwal as Seymour hit the rail.

Sammartino’s case was one more of bad fortune than mistimed play. He was also among the leaders until an opponent rivered a straight against him, which sent his stack on the downward trajectory. Sammartino was able to avoid Seymour’s fate, however, and will be back on a short stack on Day 6 with 860,000 in chips that you can believe will be in action early.

A Look at the Leaderboard

With the final 106 men (Jill Bryant was the “last woman standing” this year, eliminated in 116th place) decided, these are the men who have visions of the WSOP Championship Event final table dancing in their heads:

1.Timothy Su, 19.235 million
2. Sam Greenwood, 11.95 million
3. Duey Duong, 11.765 million
4. Warwick Mirzikinian, 11.43 million
5. Luke Graham, 11.28 million
6. Nicholas Marchington, 10.835 million
7. Milos Skrbic, 10.715 million
8. Romain Lewis, 10.6 million
9. Laurids Nielsen, 9.955 million
10. Ian Pelz, 9.635 million

Also hovering in the Top 50 are Andy Hwang (8.66 million), Chad Power (7.48 million), Esfandiari (6.63 million) and Daniel Hachem (6.765 million) who, if he should go on to win the 2019 WSOP Championship Event, would join his father Joe as the only father/son combo to win the biggest prize in poker. The action will resume at noon (Pacific Time) in the Rio’s Amazon Room, where the plan will be to play 5.5 levels and close for the day around 2AM.

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