The World Poker Tour is down to the penultimate day after taking the final 45 players down to the final six in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. It will be a stacked – and deeply stacked – final table led by Milos Skrbic and Dylan Linde, who have to fight off several top-flight pros if they are going to square off for the championship.

Start of Day Chip Leaders – Not So Good

The 45 players who came back on Friday at the Bellagio were led by Mo Arani’s 2.2  million stack, joined by two other players over that two million level. Former World Champion Joe McKeehen was nipping at Arani’s heels with 2.03 million in chips, while Patrick Mahoney started Friday’s action with 2.005 million. All three would find difficulties in their efforts to make it deeper, however.

To be fair, all three would make the final three tables of action (27 players), but Arani was surprisingly the first to go. Barry Hutter would take a sizeable chunk of chips off of Arani to take him out of the lead, then John Dibella would finish the job. On a Q-6-2 flop, Dibella check-raised an Arani bet of 165K to 400K. Undaunted, Arani moved all in and Dibella beat him to the pot with the call. Arani had caught a pair of sixes with his K-6, but Dibella had the goods with his A-Q for top pair. Running deuces on the turn and river didn’t change a thing as Arani packed his bags and hit the rail in 20th place.

For McKeehen and Mahoney, the story was a bit better. Both men were in very good shape as the final table bubble approached, but a couple of key hands would derail them. For McKeehen, it was a battle against Andrew Lichtenberger that started his demise. After battling over a board of 2-3-3-2-5. McKeehen and Lichtenberger built a pot of over 3.7 million chips. Lichtenberger was first to show his 5-4 for two pair, fives up, and McKeehen stared the veteran pro down before tossing his hand to the muck. Although he would make the unofficial final table, McKeehen wasn’t able to regain the mojo and would fall at the hands of Skrbic in ninth place.

Mahoney’s journey was either more exciting or more painful, depending on your viewpoint. Down to seven players, Mahoney was trying to sneak into the final six as the short stack in the event. After Lisa Hamilton opened up a hand and Mahoney found pocket tens in the big blind, he decided to make his final stand. After Mahoney moved all in, Hamilton called and showed a pocket pair of Kings to crush Mahoney’s pocket tens. A King on the flop sent Hamilton into a dominant position and, to add insult to injury, the case King came on the turn to give Hamilton an unbeatable hand of quads. What made it worse was a ten came on the river, giving Mahoney a worthless full house (and how many times can you say that) as he headed to the rail with his seventh-place finish.

Skrbic and Linde – Slow and Steady to the Top

For Skrbic and Linde, it was a case of slow and steady grinding to reach the top of the table. Both men were in the middle of the pack at the start of action on Friday but worked their way through the Day 4 minefield extremely well. It never seemed that they went backwards at any point in the day and, with eight players remaining, Linde actually took over the lead. In a clash with Lichtenberger, Linde was able to get him to fold after firing bullets in all four betting slots (pre-flop, flop, turn, river). He would hold onto that lead until Skrbic took a hand from Hutter on the final table bubble to eke out an edge that he’ll carry into the action on Saturday.

1. Milos Skrbic, 8.43 million
2. Dylan Linde, 7.78 million
3. Ping Liu, 7.325 million
4. Andrew Lichtenberger, 5.865 million
5. Lisa Hamilton, 5.34 million
6. Barry Hutter, 5.31 million

It isn’t selling this final table short to say that anyone is capable of taking the title. It also isn’t selling it to say this final table could take some time; even on his short stack, Hutter still has 66 big blinds to play with (blinds will be at 40K/80K with an 80K big blind ante), so he can afford to wait for a bit and not get too crazy. The player who walks away with the title of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event later today will have a wealth of holiday bounty under their tree:  a seat to the 2019 WPT Tournament of Champions, their name on the WPT Champions’ Cup and a bump to their bankroll of $1,631,468.

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