PCA 2013: Jerry Wong with the advantage as main event reaches final

After a short day yesterday it took a little longer than expected for main event players today to go from 21 to a final eight, set to return tomorrow.

There was perhaps not the drama to close as there was yesterday, when Dimitar Danchev won a massive hand to take a sizeable lead. Instead, it was the inevitable departure of Ryan Fair in ninth place that wrapped up the day as the clock struck 9pm. The remaining eight have one more session to contemplate, a day that to one of them at least will be worth $1,859,000.

Danchev didn't keep the lead, slipping into seventh place, but to the final he will go. Instead the lead switched to Jerry Wong, a 30-year-old pro from Brooklyn, who had his best day yet to bag up the lead with a stack worth 7.4 million.

Chip leader: Jerry Wong

Wong won several key pots today, notably against Fair that left him with the advantage tomorrow. What he does with that will depend on his form on Sunday and his sleep tonight. Wong confessed to being bitten by a mosquito last night, denying him sleep. He never found the bug and faces the same torture tonight, although the thought of a seven figure first prize is usually enough to herald the arrival of insomnia.

That it was Fair that fuelled Wong's rise, and who departed in ninth, marked the greatest turnaround. The cocksure Fair, who has preferred to direct his energy into his game rather than speculating on his talents with the press, had led, but crashed out despite appearing to be one of the biggest talents in the field.

Ryan Fair

Forever dressed in a bulky knitted hat, and insistent on almost permanent massage, the American, who won the 2010 SCOOP $10,000 main event, found that the 'energy' thing, however weird, worked, but only up to a point. He left with the same expression of ambivalence on his face that he'd worn all week. When the time came to leave he was not interested in performing a walk along the TV catwalk and simply exited stage left.

It was to be expected but the main event lost a lot of good names today.

Guillaume Rivet departed first, quickly followed by EPT Grand Final winner Mohsin Charania, who was never able to recover from the queens vs. kings clash of last night. Anthony Borde, who qualified on PokerStars for $10 followed them to the rail in 19th place, ahead of Olivier Busquet in 18th. Both Charania and Busquet headed straight for the high roller.

Anthony Borde

Eddy Sabat has finished in the money of the PCA main event in each of the last four years, and scored his best result to date today, although he will be disappointed not to have advanced further than 17th place. Manig Loeser was lost in 16th, one place before Michael "That's What I'm Talking About!" Lipman. Darren Elias went in 13th and Robert Mizrachi in 12th.

George Clyde-Smith is another player to be described as having played the tournament of his life this week. Another $10 qualifier, Clyde-Smith turned that into $95,000 today, an incredible performance and one that shatters his previous best.

George Clyde-Smith

Their departure means tomorrow's final will look like this.

Seat 1. Joao Nogueira. 2,890,000
Seat 2. Dimitar Danchev. 1,995,000
Seat 3. Andrey Shatilov, 3,220,000
Seat 4. Owen Crowe, 2,900,000
Seat 5. Jerry Wong, 7,400,000
Seat 6. Jonathan Roy, 1,525,000
Seat 7. Joel Micka, 6,475,000
Seat 8. Yann Dion, 2,535,000

Of that bunch Joao Nogueria, with 2,890,000 chips, is perhaps the most intriguing. Having qualified online for $10, the 21-year-old Portuguese arrived in the Bahamas set to play his first ever live tournament. He's now turned that into his first ever final table, and done it on one of poker's biggest stages.

Joao Nogueira

It hasn't exactly been an easy process. Unable to speak English, a member of the Portuguese press took it upon himself to communicate on his behalf as well as translate dollar amounts into euros. Still unable to comprehend the enormity of what he'd achieved, Nogueria has promised a party for the residents of his home town of Lagares, which we reported earlier is only five times the size of the room he's playing in.

The same can be said of Joel Micka in second place. The 24-year-old from Washington put in a strong performance, one that leaves him within touching distance of the lead with
6,475,000 chips.

Joel Micka

Both Andrey Shatilov in third and Owen Crowe in fourth have track records at this level, while Yann Dion is poised to beat his previous best result at the Aussie Millions in 2012. Then there's the short stack Jonathan Roy who demonstrated only two months ago how to win a major poker tournament at the WPT in Montreal. His type rarely let a thing like chip counts put them off their stride. It would be foolish to write him off.

Jonathan Roy making friends

All of this is of course academic until tomorrow brings answers. Play resumes at 1pm tomorrow although it will be under a one hour delay with all the action available, with hole cards, from 2pm on EPT Live. They'll be there for the first hand through to the last.

That brings play to a close in the main event but the high roller players on, with action from that found on our live coverage page. You'll also find details of all the side event news here including action from the World Cup of Poker, and the Ladies event, which kicked off this afternoon.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter