The 2021 World Series of Poker seems as though it should be closer to the conclusion, but we have still got several days until a champion is eventually crowned. The money bubble popped on Thursday night, determining the 1000 players who would earn a new line on their Hendon Mob resume. Friday night’s action took those 1000 souls down to 292, with a strong Top Ten list that includes the so-far only champion of the PokerStars Poker Players’ Championship.

Tough Battle to Get to the Money

Thursday saw the 2362 player field reunited for the first time inside the halls of the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino. Day 3 had an audacious task – getting to the money – and the players set off on that course early on Thursday. Conrad De Armas was at the helm of the ship to start the action, closely pursued by former World Champions Chris Moneymaker, Phil Hellmuth, Qui Nguyen, Martin Jacobson, Joe Hachem and Scott Blumstein all still alive to become a repeat World Champion.

A few of the former winners of the Championship Event did not make it through the day. Hellmuth’s departure was particularly cruel as he got his final chips in with his pocket Jacks leading against Jacob Thibodeau’s pocket eights, but an eight on the turn flipped the hand over to Thibodeau and sent the 16-time WSOP bracelet winner to the rail. By the time Hellmuth got there, though, Hachem and Blumstein were there to greet him.

The big story of the Day 3 action was the play of Jessica Cai. Cai never seemed to make a mistake through the Day 3 proceedings, ending up the day with the chip lead with her 1.796 million chip stack. By no means was this a secure lead, however, as the Top Five were separated by less than 250K in chips:

1. Jessica Cai, 1.796 million
2. Phachara Wongwichit, 1.773 million
3. Joshua Remitio, 1.671 million
4. Ehsan Amiri, 1.574 million
5. Roman Valerstein, 1.56 million

Of the Top Ten players four nations – the U. S., Thailand, Australia and Germany – are represented, lending credence to WSOP officials for the expansion of the Championship Event to allow for international players to make the trek to Las Vegas. Other notables that were hanging around the top at the conclusion of Day 3 included Stephen Chidwick, Toby Lewis, Andy Black and Niall Farrell.

Money Divvied Up on Day 4

The players came back on Friday with renewed vigor, something that will come when you are guaranteed a $15,000 payout for your efforts. As per usual after the money bubble pops, the early Day 4 action was replete with the short stacks taking their stabs towards moving forward. Many of these attempts would come up short, however.

Taking home the minimum payday from the WSOP Championship Event were such players as Mustapha Kanit (971st place), Kathy Liebert (938th place), Ivan Demidov (912th place) and Mark Newhouse (910th place) and Jacobson (844th place). Once the payout level jumped at 828th place Roland Israelashvili (805th), Billy Baxter (733rd), Alex Outhred (720th), Robert Mizrachi (718th), and David Williams (688th) all picked up some cash.

Cai would start the day as the chip leader, but a couple of missteps through the early action left her all in after the dinner break. Going up against Casey Coughlan, Cai decided to go to battle with her Big Slick, but Coughlan had the goods with his pocket Aces. The Jack high board did not provide Cai with any support, sending her to the rail with a middling payday and dreams of what might have been.

The dream is still alive for several top players, however. The champion of the first (and, so far, only) PokerStars Poker Players’ Championship in 2019, Ramon Colillas, stormed through the Day 4 action in racking up five million chips towards Day 5. Despite mounting such a charge, Colillas is only 500K in chips ahead of Demosthenes Kiripoulos’ 4.5 million in chips. The Top Ten as we head to Day 5 looks like this:

1. Ramon Colillas, 5 million
2. Demosthenes Kiripoulos, 4.5 million
3. Stephen Song, 4.417 million
4. Stephen Chidwick, 4.376 million
5. Zachary McDiarmid, 4.093 million
6. Jonathan Dwek, 3.955 million
7. Jason Osser, 3.9 million
8. Dragana Lim, 3.801 million
9. Fernando Rodriguez, 3.442 million
10. Matthew Jewett, 3.398 million

Other notables in the upper echelons of the standings include Keith Lehr (2.914 million), Toby Lewis (2.637 million), Chance Kornuth (2.327 million), and Koray Aldemir (1.933 million). Those with work to do if they want to extend their stay at the WSOP Championship Event include Matt Waxman (289,000), David Lappin (294,000), Steve Zolotow (310,000), Oleksii Kravchuk (510,000), and Jonathan Aguiar (605,000). There are only two World Champions still standing, Chris Moneymaker (decently stacked with 621K in chips) and Qui Nguyen (1.146 million).

The cards will hit the air for Day 5 action at the 2021 WSOP Championship Event at 11AM (Pacific Time). PokerGO will continue its live streaming of the tournament at 3PM (Pacific) as the field tries to whittle the 292 survivors down through another five levels to a more manageable number.

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