2011 PCA main event: Oliver takes 42% of chips to final table

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgEight people are set to make PCA history in the fight for the $2.3 million first prize and television stardom.

Led by chip leader Chris Oliver, the final table will be like none in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure's eight-year history. After reaching the final eight of the 2011 PCA main event today, play has been suspended until Saturday afternoon. It will resume under a veil of secrecy and security like no PCA before it. The final table will be sequestered from public view. Why? It will appear on ESPN3.com and ESPN2 in the United States on a one-hour delay. Better yet, the production will appear with the players' hole cards visible. Coverage begins at 5pm on ESPN3.com and then will be simulcast on ESPN2 beginning at 10pm. Viewers outside the United States will be able to watch on PokerStars.tv .

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2011 PCA main event final table

The final table is made up by a host of online wunderkinds and live tourney rounders. They represent the USA, Canada, Panama, and Romania. The group's leader, Oliver, proved to be as unbeatable on Day 5 as he was on every other day. No matter whether he had aces or a couple of unsuited rags, he won. By the end of the day, he'd built up a final table stack that will be hard to topple. At final count, Oliver held 42% of the chips in play. Here's how he stacks up against the other seven at the final table.

2011 PCA main event final table

Seat 1. Mike Sowers (USA) 3,685,000
Seat 2. Max Weinberg USA 3,350,000
Seat 3. Chris Oliver (USA) 19,670,000
Seat 4. Bolivar Palacios (Panama) 2,445,000
Seat 5. Sam Stein (USA) 5,855,000
Seat 6. Anton Ionel (Romania) 3,530,000
Seat 7. Philippe Plouffe (Canada) 1,555,000
Seat 8. Galen Hall (USA) 6,435,000

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Chris Oliver

While Oliver's chip lead may seem unsurmountable, it's not the first time a chip leader has been ahead by such a large margin. In fact, people who remember the 2007 PCA will recall Isaac Haxton entered that six-handed final table with around half the chips in play. He eventually finished runner-up to Ryan Daut. So, there's no telling how this event will end up on Saturday night.

Indeed, there is no scripting a poker tournament. The twists of fate, player whims, and quirks of string theory mean there is no way the PCA, PokerStars, ESPN, or even the PokerStars Blog could pre-write how this tournament's final table would look. Still, there were more than a few people who were holding their breaths at the day's beginning to see if 2003 World Series champ Chris Moneymaker could make the final of this biggest-ever PCA. It was not to be. After a strong start, Moneymaker lost a big chunk of his stack to Galen Hall when Hall flopped a set of tens against the one-time world champion. From there, Moneymaker could never turn it around. He eventually busted in eleventh place for $130,000.


Chris Moneymaker busting in 11th place


Moneymaker's exit preceded that of Ana Marquez by one spot. Marquez was poised to become the first woman to ever make a PCA final table. Despite having the chip lead coming into Day 5, she could not hold on, eventually succumbing to Oliver's constant pressure and inability to lose. No other woman has ever gone as deep in the PCA as Marquez. Before her tenth place finish day, Kathy Liebert held the record for a 12th place result a couple of years ago. Before that, Evelyn Ng was on top with her 22nd place finish in 2005.

Ana Marquez


There were several who went before Marquez and Moneymaker, and a couple after they left, but none with such big stories. But no matter their names, the circumstances of their day made their exits no less painful to watch. You see the details of every brutal hand, cooler, and suckout by clicking the two live update archive links below. For our part, we've seen enough until the final table.

Levels 26 (cont) & 27 updates
Levels 28 & 29 updates

If you're not much for reading and prefer just the bare bones of the day, we have that on the 2011 PCA prize winners page. If you can't read at all (or just like moving pictures and happy colors), you can see a bunch of video blogs over on PokerStars.tv

Also, go say hi to our fellow correspondents over at the German, Italian, Brazilian and Dutch blogs. They're good men, even if they do talk funny.

It's now time for the main event to take a little break. It will resume on Saturday afternoon.

Just because the main event is taking a day off, it doesn't mean we can. We'll all be back tomorrow with coverage of the $25,000 High Roller, the PokerStars World Cup of Poker, and Day 2 of the $5,000 bounty shootout. Indeed, there's lots to do. Between now and then, you'll find us locked in our rooms with an armed guard standing in front of the mini bar.

Photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography