The 2022 World Series of Poker Championship Event has certainly been one for the ages. The tournament nearly broke the record for number of players, and it has also brought us some wonderful action on the felt. The event is now in its final days, with a long day’s night on Wednesday leading to a stoppage, the unofficial final table, and a tie atop the leaderboard.

Former Champion with Respectable Run

35 players came back on Wednesday with the dream of being the one to capture the title of “World Champion” and, perhaps more importantly, the $10 million first place prize going to the winner. Jeffrey Farnes was atop the standings with his 37.825 million in chips, but he was closely pursued by Brian Kim (33.875 million) and Phillippe Souki (32.475 million). The eyes of many, however, were a bit further down the leaderboard.

The “recognized” 2020 champion of this tournament, Damian Salas, was on the short stack with his 5.8 million chips, but he was looking to silence many critics. In 2020, WSOP and Caesars officials made a tremendous error in offering what was TWO “Main Events” for the WSOP due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online version – at that time what was thought was going to be the ONLY “Main Event” for the WSOP that year – was won by Stoyan Madanzhiev, and it was thought he would be recognized as the World Champion for 2020.

That was not good enough for Caesars and the WSOP, however. The organization held a mockery of a hybrid event, playing out two tournaments – one international, one Stateside – online. Those final tables came together in a live setting, with the International “champion” playing the U. S. “champion” for the “official” World Championship. Salas was able to defeat U. S. winner Joseph Hebert to win the asterisked 2020 title.

Thus, Salas was out to prove that the 2020 shenanigans were not a fluke. The Argentinian was able to fight valiantly off the short stack, but a second title was not to be. He would commit his final chips to the center with an off-suit K-10, only to be looked up by Day Three chip leader Aaron Mermelstein’s K-Q on the big blind. The Ace-high flop did not hit either player, allowing Mermelstein’s Queen to play and knocking out Salas in 27th place in the tournament.

Mermelstein, Conniff Carry Pro Banner

With his knockout of the 2020 titleholder, Mermelstein was flying high in the tournament. He was at 51 million chips and looked to be in the chip lead. He added some more chips to his stack by eliminating Kamal Bittar in 26th place, but then came a couple of missteps that were both against a dangerous Kenny Tran.

Mermelstein would double up Tran at first to drop from the top of the leaderboard, then saw Tran hit an unlikely runner-runner flush to send Mermelstein to around seven million in chips. Now fighting from the short stack, Mermelstein’s would commit his stack with 8♠ 7♠ against Adrian Attenborough’s pocket deuces, only to see Attenborough get better in flopping a deuce. Mermelstein caught a gutter ball straight shot on the turn, but it failed to materialize, sending him home in 20th place.

The news was a bit better for the former World Poker Tour World Champion Asher Conniff. The last man to officially win that title, Conniff started the day at 8.675 million chips and was able to continually add to that stack through the day. He would eventually work his way up to over 30 million in chips as the sun rose in Las Vegas on Thursday morning before WSOP officials made a difficult decision. With ten players remaining and having put a 17-hour day into the books, WSOP officials decided to end the play for Day Seven and send everyone off for a bit of a rest in a rather unique situation:

1. Matthew Su (USA), 83.2 million
(tie) Espen Jorstad (Norway), 83.2 million
3. Matija Dobric (Croatia), 68.65 million
4. Aaron Duczak (Canada), 56 million
5. John Eames (United Kingdom), 54.95 million
6. Adrian Attenborough (Australia), 50.8 million
7. Michael Duek (USA), 49.775 million
8. Jeffrey Farnes (USA), 35.35 million
9. Asher Conniff (USA), 29.4 million)
10. Phillippe Souki (United Kingdom), 13.5 million

The final ten men (the “Last Woman Standing” in the 2022 WSOP Championship Event was Efthymia Litsou, who battled her way to an 18th place finish in the tournament) will resume hostilities at 2PM (Pacific Time) on Friday, with the plan to play to the final four players. Those men will then come back on Saturday to play down to the eventual champion, who will take home the title of World Champion, the specially crafted WSOP bracelet, and the $10 million first place prize.

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