The 2013 World Series of Poker $10,000 Championship Event has reached crunch time, with the money bubble popped early in the day and the true contenders beginning to emerge from the 6352 players who started the tournament last Saturday.
An even 666 players came back on Friday for Day Four play, but eighteen of those players would be wondering why they bothered to come back at all. With “only” 648 players receiving the minimum payday ($19,106), the first eighteen players knocked off on Friday would have nothing but a seat slip to show their accountant for their efforts at the WSOP. Pretty safe with his chip lead was Maxx Coleman, who came to Day Four at the head of the table with 1.071 million in chips (the only player over the million mark). All eyes in the Amazon Room, however, were on the defending champion of this tournament, Greg Merson, and Doyle Brunson as they attempted to navigate the early waters to the cash.
Naturally, the early action was tense as those who wouldn’t cash were determined. When Yuri Dzivielevski was eliminated in 650th place at the hands of Gaetano Preite barely an hour and a half into the Day Four proceedings, only one player was left to become the infamous “bubble boy (or girl).” That was determined only two hands into hand-for-hand play, when professional poker player Farzad Bonyadi flopped top pair/top kicker on a J-5-3 board, only to see Nick Schwarmann hit a runner-runner ten and King to push his A-Q up to a Broadway straight to end his tournament in 649th place and send all the survivors to the money.
Following Bonyadi’s departure, a sense of relief washed over the Amazon Room followed by a wave of players heading to the cash out cage. One of those that would be eliminated through the afternoon’s play was Brunson, who never seemed to gain any traction on Saturday. After starting the day with 626K in chips, Brunson saw his stack slowly slip through his fingers. On his final hand, Brunson would get his shortening stack into the center with a K-10 against the pocket tens of Sergei Stazhkov and, after the board came with no saving King, Brunson departed the Amazon Room to a raucous ovation for his 409th place finish ($28,063).
For the record, this cash by Brunson makes him the only player in WSOP history to have cashed in the Championship Event in each of its five decades of existence, quite the achievement for “Texas Dolly”; we can only hope that this isn’t the last time Doyle will step to the WSOP stage (he had decided to not play in this year’s WSOP roster of events, but broke that to take part in the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship and the Championship Event).
Brunson had plenty of company that would join him on the rail as darkness fell on Sin City. Grant Hinkle, Jake Cody, David Plastik, Tuan Le, Isaac Haxton, Day One/Two chip leader Mark “P0kerH0” Kroon, Michael Mizrachi, Stephen Chidwick and Rupert Elder were all either already there or would become observers instead of players in the event. Merson, looking to defend his championship, would keep steaming forward.
After coming into the day with 390,500 in chips, Merson meticulously worked his stack to put himself into position to defend his title. By the end of the evening, Merson had worked his way up to 635K in chips, good for 123rd place in the remaining field, but he’s looking up at several large stacks that will have the upper hand when play resumes on Saturday afternoon:
1. Jon Lane, 2.839 million
2. Sami Rustom, 2.485 million
3. Grayson Ramage, 2.438 million
4. Victor Cianelli, 2.197 million
5. Seaver Kyaw, 2.06 million
6. Yann Dion, 2.025 million
7. Kevin Williams, 2.007 million
8. Vincent Robert, 1.976 million
9. Robert Sichelstiel, 1.91 million
10. Ami Alibay, 1.89 million
There are a host of familiar names that are in the Top 30, where it can be conceivably argued that we will find our next World Champion. Brett Richey (11th, 1.817 million), Vladimir Geshkenbein (14th, 1.8 million), Amir Lehavot (15th, 1.783 million), Mark Newhouse (22nd, 1.611 million), Australia’s Jackie Glazier (23rd, 1.595 million), Max Steinberg (24th, 1.591 million), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (26th, 1.563 million), Rep Porter (27th, 1.526 million) and Simon Ravnsbaek (29th, 1.506 million) can all be found in the Top 30, while Annette Obrestad and J. C. Tran are just outside of the Top 50.
Today’s action in the Amazon Room at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino will feature another five levels (two hours each) and will attempt to whittle the field down from its current 239 survivors. It is expected that the field will drop to around the 50 player mark by the end of action tonight, setting up for Sunday’s Day Six play that should bring the field down to the final 27 and Monday’s penultimate Day Seven, where the “November Nine” for 2013 will be determined.