PCA 2012: Jaka leads final eight after late session at main event
There was a curious atmosphere as the final table was forged from the 24 remaining players who returned to the tournament room at Atlantis today. Playing late into the night, with the clock nudging 12.30am, order, to a certain extent, had been given a temporary leave of absence, giving way to crowds of merry revellers, roped in behind a rail that had been moved to just a few feet from the main table.
The room itself looked like a theatre after a rock concert. Beer cans will remain scattered across the carpet until the morning shift clocks on, while the poker players, drunk on high spirits, the success of their friends and a bottle of Hennessey Cognac being passed around.
Two tables remain
For the players that place is bed. It took a while for them to get there.
As the last hand played out there was a vast difference in the reactions of the players. The established pros such as Xuan Liu, Anthony Gregg, Ruben Visser and Faraz Jaka, allowed themselves a smile but looked more relieved than anything.
David Bernstein and John Dibella meanwhile celebrated as though they'd just woken up in the End Zone, clutching the ball. Bernstein set off on what was almost a lap of honour, cheered on by refreshed friends looking on.
It had been a long day, but one that has set up a great 2012 PCA final table tomorrow - Great players playing other great players, rarely fails to deliver.
That sense was instilled with ten players left. It was easy to sense something exciting was in the making.
A look along the rail gave it all away. Boeree, Negreanu, Mattern and Binger. A bit further down there was D'Angelo, Elder and Nitsche. Even Casey Kastle. All had come to see the candidates for coronation, standing a few feet behind the players they'd come to rail.
For the most part that was Xuan Liu, on course for the biggest day of her poker career. She returns tomorrow second in chips. Topping the table though is Faraz Jaka, chip leader again after a week you could only describe as exceptional.
Chip leader, just: Faraz Jaka
Here's how they'll line up:
Seat 1 - Mark Drover, 1,430,000
Seat 2 - Anthony Gregg, 1,160,000
Seat 3 - David Bernstein , 1,960,000
Seat 4 - Ruben Visser, 4,400,000
Seat 5 - Faraz Jaka, 6,470,000
Seat 6 - John Dibella, 3,465,000
Seat 7 - Xuan Liu, 6,355,000
Seat 8 - Kyle Julius, 6,450,000
Jaka's lead however is only a slim one, there being just one big blind separating him, Liu and third-placed Kyle Julius. The average stack tomorrow will be just 33.5 big blinds, critically low, and could make for some surprises when play restarts.
Regardless of what surprises are in store a hat tip to go to Gregg who becomes the first person ever to reach a second PCA main event final table. Quiet and unassuming he may be, but there will be heroic cheers for the American should he emerge victorious tomorrow.
That will be at the later time of 1pm tomorrow, although coverage will feature a 40-minute delay as the live broadcast begins, cards and all, which you can watch in its entirety on PokerStars.tv.
It will doubtless be unmissable, and while you wait you can find details of all the action today, as well as all the stories from a long day at Atlantis, on the PokerStars Blog, with the position of today's fallers, which included Alex Fitzgerald and Martin Jacobson, detailed on the prize pay-outs tab on our live coverage page.
For now, content yourself with posts from today's main event action...
Jaka leads as high rollers take their seats
A change in atmosphere with 24 left
Everything, (but then again nothing) to see here
Alafogiannis puts pedal to metal
Down to two tables, Visser leads
Beef provolone and chips
Playing our tune at Johnny Rockets
Xuan Liu pushing ahead
Women dominating both on and off the table
Gregg gets into trouble
Time now to call it a day, unless you're a high roller follower, in which case you can follow the conclusion of today's action via the PokerStars Blog.
Until tomorrow at 1pm, it's goodnight from Paradise Island.
All photography © Joe Giron/www.joegironphotography.com