In golf, the third day of a tournament is usually called “Moving Day” because the players who truly stake themselves as contenders to win the title make their biggest moves up the leaderboard. The same holds true in the late stages of a poker tournament – the players who are poised to battle it out for the championship make their surge up the board the day before the final table is set. Thursday’s Day Seven at the 2023 World Series of Poker Championship Event was its “Moving Day” as several contenders, and some new faces, put themselves in position for their run at poker’s mythical World Championship.

49 Players with a Dream…

Thursday’s action kicked off with 49 men still holding on to a dream of winning poker’s most prestigious tournament. Two of those players, Joshua Payne and Juan Maceiras, had pulled away from the field for the most part as the only players over the 40 million chip mark. That didn’t mean there weren’t challengers left, as Alec Torelli, Toby Lewis, and WSOP-C terror Maurice Hawkins were arranged down the leaderboard.

As seen on the PokerGO stream, Payne was quite problematic for those who joined him on the feature table. Because he was holding the largest stack in the Horseshoe, he could easily play hands – and make moves – that his opponents couldn’t feasibly justify countering, even if they were correct. One hand in the early action demonstrated this fact thoroughly.

After Bryan Obregon opened betting to 500K with only an A♠ 5♠, Daniel Vampan made a dubious move in only calling from the button with pocket Queens. Payne, in the big blind, decided to look the players up with an 8-7 off suit and the flop came down A-7-3. Nobody took the bull but, after an eight came on the turn, Payne checked his two pair to Obregon, who had a top pair of Aces. He put out a bet, enough to get Vampan to go, but now Payne woke up with the check-raise to 2.6 million.

Obregon made the call and the duo headed to the river. A trey fell there to pair the board and counterfeit Payne’s two pair, as Obregon now held Aces up over Payne’s eights up. Sizing up his opposition, Payne opted for the power game and moved all in on the A-7-3-8-3 board. Obregon had two pair, but the board presented potential trip outs (with the treys). Additionally, if Obregon folded, he would still have a viable stack for battle (6.7 million chips). In the end, Obregon let his winning hand go as Payne shot over the 50 million mark.

The news also wasn’t good for other members of the featured table. Fan favorite Masato Yokosawa from Japan got his chips in good against Vampan, but his Big Slick was outdrawn by Vampan’s Big Chick on a Q-J-3-2-2 board. Daniel Weinman was able to stay ahead and eliminate Diego D’Aquilio’s baby Ace when he caught a set with his Jacks on a Q-J-8 flop.

Maceiras Begins His Charge

While Payne was holding court on the feature table, Maceiras was running roughshod over his patch of baize. He opened betting from early position to see Mark Teltscher look him up from the big blind. A 3-9-8 flop seemed to be innocent, but Maceiras’ 800K flop bet was met by Teltscher moving his stack to the center. Maceiras never hesitated in getting matching chips into the pot and the cards went to their backs.

Maceiras: pocket tens
Teltscher: Q 9

Teltscher had caught on the flop, but it didn’t best Maceiras’ hand. The turn Ace and the river seven didn’t help him any further as he hit the cage in 32nd place. Maceiras, for his part, stacked up Teltscher’s chips to the tune of 62 million.

Maceiras continued to torment the field as they stormed by the final three tables down to only two. By the end of the night, Maceiras was the only player to eclipse the 100 million mark in chips. He’s pretty much set for a spot at the final table (barring a massive brain freeze), but who will join him is still up for grabs amongst the remainder of the field:

1. Juan Maceiras (Spain), 108 million
2. Adam Walton (USA), 75.475 million
3. Jan-Peter Jachtman (Germany), 70.775 million
4. Steven Jones (USA), 67.9 million
5. Toby Lewis (United Kingdom), 50.05 million
6. Ruslan Prydyk (Ukraine), 43.75 million
7. Jose Aguilera (Mexico), 37.6 million
8. Joshua Payne (USA), 31 million
9. Sachin Joshi (United Kingdom), 27.775 million
10. Daniel Weinman (USA), 21.75 million
11. Dean Hutchison (United Kingdom), 17.5 million
12. Daniel Holzner (Italy), 14.75 million
13. Alec Torelli (USA), 14.275 million
14. Jack O’Neill (United Kingdom), 11.7 million
15 Cong Pham (USA), 8.7 million

Today is the day that the players will set the nine-handed WSOP final table for its most hallowed tournament. Any of these players could find themselves there, even the shorter stacks with some timely fortune could get themselves back in the mix. Friday’s action could be rather quick, or it could last well into the wee hours of Saturday morning, hence the tournament will take a day off on Saturday to allow the players to gather their bearings for the stretch run. By tomorrow morning, we will know the nine men who will vie for the largest first-place prize in the WSOP Championship Event’s history of $12.1 million.

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