PCA 2012: Jason Koon leads high rollers but Duhamel in pursuit
You shouldn't be reading this. At least not yet. No, it's not because we're breaking some 40 minute rule that embargoes the results of the high roller until the live stream has finished streaming. It's because we expected the 56 remaining returning players to take all night, playing down to eight. After all, last year they played into level 20 and had to stop for the night, exhausted and with 12 players left.
But poker doesn't always follow a schedule or a routine. Within half a level we'd lost seven players this afternoon. A level later seven more had gone. We were down to four tables soon enough but the steady flow of eliminated never ebbed, even when the tournament director, whose job it is to know these things, predicted it was going to clam up.
The high roller event in full swing
But it didn't, not even at the bubble, and tonight, with the clock striking 9.20pm, the last player of the day was eliminated, leaving a final eight, led by Jason Koon with 1,646,000 chips.
Finishing ahead: Jason Koon
Koon was swept into an early lead, sending various players to the rail to cement his advantage. The funny, always positive and courteous type, Koon impressed today without much stench of ego. It will be his biggest final table and he'll tackle it with aplomb.
Behind Koon by just 116,000 chips is Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel, bagging up 1,530,000.
On course for title two: Jonathan Duhamel
To say Duhamel is having a stellar PCA would be a gross understatement. The Canadian has played five events at the PCA and reached the final table in four of them; that includes winning the $5,000 side event. He's playing like a man with something to prove, as some former World Champions do. If Duhamel needed vindication (he didn't) he has it now. He may as well go on and win the whole thing.
At the opposite end of the chip count table is Team PokerStars Online's Randy Lew. A World Record holder from earlier in the week, Lew arrived to play today as the short stack. Then his stack skyrocketed before easing off. Soon Lew was fighting a rear-guard all day and tomorrow will return as the short stack once more.
Randy Lew has them right where he wants them...
But before he's written off remember this: When Lew reached the final table in Macau in the last weekend in November (his first time playing on the APPT), he was also the short stack. If you're not familiar with how that turned out, Lew won it. Don't write him off just yet.
Ahead of Lew will be Michael Telker and Govert Metaal.
The Dutchman Metaal is something of a high roller specialist having finished fifth in this event 12 months ago.
Same again for Govert Metaal
Isaac Haxton, himself no slouch, will also return. A player of infinite talent who is unlikely to allow his stack, half the size of Koon's to be a hindrance.
In his natural environment: Isaac Haxton
Leonid Bilokur (quiet and stern looking) and Nicolas Fierro (quiet and thoughtful looking) complete the line-up, each with more than a million chips.
Learned: Leonid Bilokur
On fire: Nicolas Fierro
Here's how they'll line up:
Jason Koon -- 1,646,000
Jonathan Duhamel, Team PokerStars Pro -- 1,530,000
Nicolas Fierro -- 1,181,000
Leonid Bilokur -- 1,139,000
Isaac Haxton -- 762,000
Govert Metaal -- 545,000
Michael Telker -- 397,000
Randy Lew, Team PokerStars Online -- 197,000
A last word for the ninth-place finisher who brought the day to a close.
Nick Yunis had been one of the leaders as the likes of Barry Greenstein, Ville Wahlbeck, Jennifer Harman, Mike McDonald, Galen Hall and Elio Fox were eliminated, and should have been a welcome addition to the final.
A player passionate about his game, Yunis started the day as chip leader, lost the lead, then pulled most of it back to give the appearance of all being fine.
But, never afraid to take on the big stacks, Yunis clashed repeatedly with Jonathan Duhamel, using the determination you'd expect from a man who, after being eliminated from the high roller on day one, forced his way back in via satellite, before returning today as chip leader.
One last re-buy?: Nick Yunis
That resolve had not faded tonight when he took on Duhamel in a make-or-break pot, the type that can make a champion. Yunis grabbed it but Duhamel won it. The final table will be less interesting without him.
To find out the finer details of all that took place today, check out the links below. You can also find details of prize money on the relevant tabs on our live coverage page.
From 56 to 8 as high rollers return
The astonishing rise of Randy Lew
Who wants to be a millionaire?
Seats open here there and everywhere
Seeing is believing
Duhamel mauls Perkins and Wahlbeck on way to a million
Quiet bubble pop
The business end of the high roller event
It leaves one more day of play for the high roller and for the entire PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Like the main event today, the final table of the High Roller event begins at 12 noon (we're told that it will be more likely 1pm) tomorrow, broadcast live on PokerStars.tv albeit with a 40-minute delay.
You've seen the line-up; you've seen what's at stake. Only a exceptional finale would do for such a noteworthy poker festival. These guys are unlikely to disappoint.
Meanwhile there's still more poker going on here with the World Cup of Poker, with Rick Dacey reporting, on the WCP VIII page. Just give yourself time to get to grips with the rules.
Until then, it's goodnight from Atlantis.
All photography © Joe Giron/www.joegironphotography.com