PCA 2013: Shaun Deeb storms to the lead as high rollers reach final

In the shadow of the main event final table, the $25,000 High Rollers played on in almost reverent silence as the returning 79 players set about surviving what most acknowledged was going to be a very long day.

Over on the main television stage friends of the finalists, some more well-oiled with the local liquor than others, cheered and banged for their boys, sending an echo of funky encouragement around the room. Occasionally a high roller would look across at the shenanigans before turning back to their game. After all, there was a day of carnage to survive.

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The tournament in full flow

And it was considerable carnage. There seemed no end to the eliminations, represented by a descending player figure on the tournament screen. It was hard to have total confidence in this number, given that after 14 hours of play yesterday it only ever seemed to go up, with 44 players re-entering. It was easier to believe that the screen was somehow broken and that it would continue to rise with every all-in called.

But tumble it did. First Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier would go, then David Sands, Jason Mercier, Erik Seidel, Darren Elias and Philipp Gruissem.

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Jason Mercier

More would follow, and fast, including Jonathan Duhamel, Carlos Mortensen, Phil Hellmuth (an hour and a half after first entering), Isaac Haxton, Justin Bonomo and Mike McDonald. The list went on, like a directory of top poker alumni, an endless string of champions and winners of something, signing off from the PCA for another year.

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Phil Hellmuth

By the time the money came around there was still no let-up, and four hands was all it took to burst it and send Nicholas Petrangelo home empty-handed.

Last night players and tournament staff had looked nervously at the structure, looking at the number of players and the time allotted to play it. Something didn't add up. Would levels have to be removed? Would play have to go six-handed? But players and staff preferred to take their chances. It turned out to be a wise move. We anticipated a 4am finish, we got midnight instead.

That came after the money bubble burst at 24, opening the door for Brandon Myers, Jeff Gross and Max Silver to depart in quick succession, all for $54,980.

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Max Silver

With the departure of Rachid Ben Cherif just two tables remained. The inevitable slowing occurred, but one by one the high rollers reached a final eight. Nick Schulman, Mickey Petersen, Matt Stout and Shawn Buchannan falling before the last hurdle to leave a final eight, to return tomorrow, looking like this:

Shaun Deeb, 2,400,000
Vanessa Selbst, 1,650,000
Vladimir Troyanovsky, 1,510,000
Ole Schemion, 1,230,000
Mike Watson, 1,200,000
Tobias Reinekemeier, 770,000
Bryn Kenney, 480,000
Micah Raskin, 365,000

Deeb leads after yet another top draw performance and will take the advantage into tomorrow. It was seized in an almighty hand worth 2.4 million chips against Micah Raskin, one that gives you pause to think that no other game could match it for moments of sheer drama.

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Chip leader Shaun Deeb

Deeb opened for 45,000 and Ole Schemion called. Raskin three-bet to 95,000. Deeb would four-bet to 295,000 which Raskin called for a flop of seven-deuce-nine. Deeb made it 255,000, Raskin quickly called and an eight hit the turn. "You've only got one move," said Raskin and Deeb tank-shoved. Raskin snap called and watched Deeb turn over pocket aces. Raskin showed pocket fives and found nothing to help him on the river. That would catapult Deeb out front and leave Raskin with around 100,000.

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Micah Raskin

To his credit Raskin didn't flinch, although one sensed he was grinding his teeth together. He'd just watched Deeb not only play aces, but play them well. All he could do was get back to work.

Chris Klodnicki would be the final table bubble boy, departing in ninth place when he himself ran into aces. Looking at the field it was hard not to imagine the final eight would be anything but stacked, and this was no exception. The good news is that tomorrow the high roller event transfers from the outer tables onto the main stage, with the full PCA Live treatment, with hole cards and commentary, making this a a final to remember, at a PCA to remember.

Play starts at 1pm, but the "live" feed (on a one hour delay) will kick off at 2pm. Live PCA Live, we'll be here from start to finish. It'll be worth watching, regardless of how long it takes. To find all the live coverage from today click here, while everything else can be found below:

Hellmuth arrives for flying visit
It's no party for the high rollers
Raskin feeling it on way to high roller chip lead
From 100k to 25k, and annoying people on the way
Will Shaun Deeb finally take the big money live final

Who needs a PCA party? Goodnight from Atlantis.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter