It all comes down to this.

In what was a rather quick evening – at least when it comes to determining the final table – the 2023 World Series of Poker has worked its way to its final nine combatants. While they are taking a well-deserved day off on Saturday, Adam Walton will be able to luxuriate in the fact that he is by far the chip leader as the only player with over 100 million in chips.

Wild Day of Action

To say it was a “wild day” at the 2023 WSOP Championship Event would be a huge understatement. The 15 survivors from the record field of 10,043 entries came to the tables on Friday afternoon to work down to the last nine. Leading the way was Spain’s Juan Maceiras, who had been dominant over the previous two days in building up a stack of 108 million in chips. There were some threats, however, in Germany’s Jan-Peter Jactmann, Walton, and Joshua Payne, all arranged in the Top Ten looking to jump if Maceiras faltered.

With the WSOP Championship Event, the day that sets the final table usually is an elongated affair. It was obvious from the start, however, that this was not a “usual” WSOP Championship Event as the players let the chips fly from the start of Friday’s fray. Within the first level of the day, several eliminations were made, bringing some to think that it would be a quick Day Eight of action.

The short stack of Jack O’Neill was the first to go in 15th place after he ran his Q-J into the A-Q of Cong Pham and the board blanked out. The next departure was a bit stunning as Payne, who had a wildly aggressive style, saw that playing style finally catch up with him. This time around, however, it was not a bad move that took out Payne – it was simply bad luck.

After Payne raised the betting to 1.6 million, Jose Aguilera made it three bets with a 4.5 million drop off the button. In the small blind was Daniel Weinman, who went deep in thought as to what action to take. He would eventually settle on a four-bet all-in move, worth over 29 million in chips, and now the decision was back on his opponents.

Payne, with fewer chips than Weinman, immediately made the call, but he had to wait for Aguilera to decide what he was going to do. Aguilera eventually settled on a call and the largest pot of the tournament to this point was set with the factions holding these cards:

Payne: K♠ K
Aguilera: Q♠ Q♣
Weinman: J♠ J♣

(Live poker is SOOOO rigged!)

Three power players, three power hands, and there were over 48 million chips in the pot. The flop would come down A-7-4, helping absolutely nobody, but the turn would do the trick. A Jack struck like lightning, shooting Weinman into the lead and leaving both Aguilera and an at-risk Payne looking for either a Queen (for Aguilera) or a King (for Payne) for salvation. The river trey was not what either man was looking for as Weinman scooped up the massive pot, Aguilera dropped to just over twelve million in chips and Payne was out the door of the Horseshoe with his 14th place finish.

Still Plenty of Fireworks Left

Maceiras did not let the fireworks at his neighboring table affect his game. He would outrun Sachin Joshi’s pocket eights with Big Slick on an A-9-7-9-5 board to send Joshi out in thirteenth place. Jachtmann and Pham would clash, with Pham coming out on the losing end of the conflict, to end Pham’s tournament in twelfth place…and this was all before the first break of the day came.

Alec Torelli didn’t fare any better against Maceiras, who once again went to the races with Big Slick and won again, this time against Torelli’s pocket Jacks. That was enough to set the unofficial final table of ten men, with Maceiras dominating the field with 141.3 million in chips. His closest competitor was Walton at 108 million, but that would change over the next three hours.

The highlight of this span was a change atop the leaderboard. Walton would make it two million to go from under the gun and Maceiras made the call from the button. A clash between the top two chip stacks is normally unheard of, especially at this point in the tournament, but the two top stacks saw the 7-5-7 flop and checked their options. A King on the turn brought a check-call out of Walton after Maceiras plopped three million in the center.

A nine on the river seemed to be unremarkable, but it was enough to get the chip lead to change. Walton once again checked and, after Maceiras bet five million, Walton nailed him with a check-raise to 17 million. Maceiras contemplated the situation for over two minutes before he slid out a stack of calling chips and saw the bad news. Walton was the one with Big Slick this time, catching the unnecessary King against Maceiras’ A-8 (complete air) to capture the pot and the chip lead.

The final hand of the night was almost as dramatic, and it would bring the players to the “official” final table. Jachtmann popped the pot to 2.5 million and Aguilera three bet the action to 6.7 million. Jachtmann just called and the twosome saw a 6-5-4 rainbow flop. Jachtmann bet out enough chips that an Aguilera call would put him all in, and so Aguilera did. It was the right decision, Aguilera’s A-J leading Jachtmann’s A-8, but there were two more cards to come. Although Jachtmann was calling for another heart, he instead got a seven to almost lock down the hand completely. Once the board failed to bring an eight that would have split the pot, Aguilera was out in tenth place and the final table was set.

1. Adam Walton (USA), 143.8 million
2. Steven Jones (USA), 90.3 million
3. Daniel Weisman (USA), 81.7 million
4. Jan-Peter Jachtmann (Germany), 74.6 million
5. Juan Maceiras (Spain), 68 million
6. Ruslan Prydryk (Ukraine), 50.7 million
7. Dean Hutchison (United Kingdom), 41.7 million
8. Daniel Holzner (Italy), 31.9 million
9. Toby Lewis (United Kingdom), 19.8 million

After their respite on Saturday, the final nine of the 2023 WSOP Championship Event will come back to the Horseshoe on Sunday at 2 PM (Pacific Time) to do battle. Sunday’s play will take the field down to the final four men, who will come back on Monday to determine who will earn the moniker of “poker’s World Champion” and capture the $12.1 million first-place prize of the 2023 WSOP Championship Event.

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