WSOP Day 5 Wrap Up

I saw it in my mind's eye before I saw it through a lens. I saw it as a vision after the 2004 WSOP. I thought--no, hoped with every ounce of my being--that a reunion of Greg Raymer and Mike Matusow would happen someday. Some fine day, I thought, there would again be a meeting, where talk of cojones and their size would not rule the day. It should happen on a big stage, I thought. Today, I caught the first glimpse through a lens.

There they stood in the middle of the room in what appeared to be a civil conversation. The room looked on as the men chatted genially. A person without knowledge of recent poker history might have overlooked the tete-a-tete as a couple of old chums talking about the weather. For me, and hundred of other people in the room, it was a preview of a potential match-up that no screenwriter could honestly pitch to a movie producer.

Anyone who remembers 2004 remembers the much ballyhooed confrontation between Matusow that ultimately resulted Matusow weeping on the rail and Raymer going on to win the world championship. This year, at least as midnight draw near at the end of Day 5, the tables are turned a bit. Matusow enters Day 6 with the chip lead. Raymer, after a monster day of chip collection, is fifth in chips. The difference in chip position right now is less relevant than that for which what we're all really hoping. We want to see these two men staring across the felt at each other when the WSOP seats its final nine players.

Fossilman in chip collecting mode

Raymer began the day slightly below average in chips. At first it seemed as though his engine might have stalled. Then, as the crowd began to again grow weary of the checking and folding, Raymer lit up the room. Facing a raise and two people in the pot ahead of him, Raymer pushed in the rest of his stack, a full $1.3 million, into the midddle. One foe folded, but the lone woman in the pack, Tiffany Williamson, fell deeply into the tank before making a decision. She stood and twice acted as if she would call. The media on the rail, myself included, said aloud, "She is going to fold. If she called and lost, it would cost her more than half her stack. Just as I was getting ready to call the clock on her myself, Williamson grabbed a million dollars in chips and called. Raymer quickly flipped over KK to Williamson's AJ. The dealer laid out the flop, turn, and river so slowly, the tension in the room dripped from the ceiling (so did a leaky air duct near the featured table). At the river, Williamson was still drawing dead to an ace and the bullet did not come. By the end of the day Raymer had $3.8 million in chips, a full $3.1 million more than he had just nine hours before.

Brad Kondracki

If it weren't for friends, where would we all be, right? Well, ask Brad Kondracki's chums and they'll let you know. After finding last-minute flights, the Kondracki crew, now a mother, father, brother, and two buddies full, has assembled here to watch Kondracki climb through the pack.

Buddies in arms

Mike Leggieri and Yale Klat are both fellow law students at Penn and both taking credit for getting Brad where he is right now. "It was my computer he learned to play poker on," said Mike. "Yeah, but it was my room that had the internet access," said Yale.

As much credit as they might take, the hand that vaulted Kondracki to sixth in chips was all his own. With AQ, Kondracki got all his chips in the middle on an ace-high flop. His opponent came in, too, but only with AJ. Kondracki's hand held up and he found himself with more than $3 million with which to play. The young man who likes to use his adventurous spirit to give his mother heart attacks is now giving his family and friends nothing but smiles.

Brad Kondracki eyes Tex Barch's chips

Rounding out PokerStars Final Four are Daniel Bergsdorf and Bernard Lee. Bergsdorf hit big earlier in the day when his AK held up against AQ. He has more than two million in chips. Lee, who has began each of the last few days with 40% of the average chip stack, is still alive. His big hand of the day was KK vs. 44. He made a set to double up early on and stayed afloat all day long. With just $770,000, he will again enter with les than half the average. But the family man who is ecstatic to have made Day 6 says, "Bring it on." He has survived this long, so there's little reason he can't survive another day.

Bernard Lee

Daniel Bergsdorf

Seven other players started this day as well. A mixture of bad luck, bad timing, and a misplaced horsehoe sent them all home, but sent them home much, much richer.

30th place--Radu Butan $274,090
35th place--Steve "The Miracle Kid" Marx $274,090
42nd place--Raymi Thorn $235,390
47th place--Kevin Kaikko $173,880
51st place--Derek Dix $173,880 51
56th place--Larry Prugh $145,875
58th place--Jarl Lindholt $145,875

PokerStars wants to wish a big congratulations to these players and the dozens of others who have cashed so far.

Thursday, we're moving this whole show down to Binion's Horseshoe for one last time. The final 27 players will play down to the final table beginning at 3pm Vegas time.

Given that we can work the technology out (Binion's is old school in every way), you can expect another all day play-by-play right here on the Official PokerStars Blog.

See you then.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker