NAPT Mohegan Sun: Beasley overtakes Selbst for final table chip lead

napt-thumb.jpgPoker tournaments are funny. Staring at one long enough is like looking directly into the sun. When you turn away, there is nothing but a giant orange circle in your eyes. You're blind to anything else.

Today Vanessa Selbst is that giant orange circle and Mike Beasley is that anything else.

Here is what you need to know about Vanessa Selbst:

At the end of Day 3, she strode confidently away from the tournament room as the chip leader by 40,000 chips over Scott Seiver. She traveled the 1.3 miles to a nearby Hyatt hotel and walked directly to the front desk. When asked what she needed, she said, "Yes, I have a reservation for tonight, but I'm going to need a room for tomorrow night, too."

The unstated yet clear implication was this: Selbst had no intention of leaving town at the end of Day 4, because she planned on being on Sunday's final table.

The past 18 months have been a New England heater for Selbst. At the World Poker Finals, Selbst won two tournaments and took third in another. Now, she's here in New England again (not too far from her hometown in Brooklyn) and running over the field in a way that has even the grizzled pros scratching their heads.

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Selbst is a gambler who has proven her ability to read people's souls like a close captioned children's program. Today, she called a four-bet shove for $1.7 million (42 big blinds) with A♥5♥...and was right. Later, after she'd amassed nearly a third of the chips in play, she heard of an aces versus queens hand going on at the other table. She poked her head in and said, without a hint of irony, "That's not interesting."

Before Peter Jetten exited the tournament today, he sized Selbst up in two sentences. "There is no mystery to Vanessa's game," said Jetten to the table, including Selbst. "She just puts everybody on seven-high and proceeds from there."

Jetten might have been joking, but it's clear that even the people bent on ruining Selbst's run are so confused by her strange poker alchemy that even the most prideful among them can't find a way to criticize her. Her only big misstep of the night was getting it in crushed against Alistar Melville for a sizable pot.

That was what we knew about Selbst. She'd been burned into our retinas and was sure to leave this day with the chip lead.

But on the periphery of that giant, scorching sun was longtime tournament rounder Mike Beasley. Soft-spoken and loudly-dressed, Beasley and his flame-covered shirts are known around the circuit. His play, however, is understated. At no point until the end of the day did anyone look at him and think, "There is our end-of-day chip leader."

And yet, there he was, busting ninth place finisher Brandon Hall and moving into the chip lead. It's a lesson for us all: just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there.

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Mike Beasley

It's tempting to spend another 500 words deconstructing the Selbst-Beasley dynamic, but there is a final table to cover tomorrow.

Among the people aiming to knock off Selbst and Beasley are three World Series of Poker bracelet winners: Scott Seiver, Derek Raymond, and Cliff Josephy. They are joined by relative unknowns Mike Woods and Alistar Melville in the quest for the title here at Mohegan Sun. They are stacked up like this:

Seat 1: Scott Seiver -- 1,125,000
Seat 2: Cliff Josephy -- 1,940,000
Seat 3: Vanessa Selbst -- 4,545,000
Seat 4: Derek Raymond -- 1,545,000
Seat 5: Mike Beasley -- 4,985,000
Seat 6: Mike Woods -- 2,950,000
Seat 7: Jonathan Aguiar --1,555,000
Seat 8: Alistar Melville -- 2,940,000

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Take Brandon Hall out of this picture and that's what your final table will look like

There was almost a possibility of a double-Vanessa final table. Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso clung tenaciously to the possibility of an NAPT title all day long, but ended up succumbing in tenth place.

Rousso waves goodbye

There will be a lot of handicapping Sunday's final table, and there are bound to be countless analyses on how these titans will match up. However, unlike many tables we've seen in recent months, this table is simply too unpredictable to make any serious wagers. Beasley and Selbst are running the show now, but with the aforementioned crew out to get them, anything could happen. Here's what they'll be playing for:

1. $750,000
2. $428,000
3. $240,000
4. $190,000
5. $150,000
6. $115,000
7. $85,000
8. $60,244

How did it get to this point? We have the answers in our live coverage. Go check it out if you dare.

Level 21
Level 22
Level 23
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Level 26

That's it for tonight.

Please join us back here at noon ET for our live coverage of the NAPT Mohegan Sun final table.

All photography © Joe Giron