WSOP Main Event: The Return to Deep Stack Poker

by Wil Wheaton

All the players who made it to the end of day four yesterday were guaranteed at least 49,000. They also managed to do what many people would consider the impossible: finish day five, as well.

The official WSOP schedule called for play to finish up when there were 700 players remaining; we played down to 135 players, which is even closer to the end than we planned to be today, and as I write this, there are 104 players left.

So that means we'll all be going home soon right?

Wrong.

There are 89 million chips in play, and the average chipstack is about 855,000. That means that the average player has an M over 20, and that means that we're about to see the skilled players slowly but surely rise to the top, as we start playing deep stack poker again. The players who can use their chip advantage make big moves are going to beat the crap out of the players who have been playing Kill Phil for the last day or so, and everyone knows it.

The mood in the room today is entirely different than it was yesterday. The chip leaders may not be able to see the finish line, but they know it's there, the same way we know we're getting close to Vegas when we can pick out the beacon from the top of the Luxor after hours on the freeway. The tension is heightened by the presence of multiple camera crews, and every suckout or brilliant bluff is magnified by the power of television.

Then there's the mobney: between now and 82nd place, players will get 51,000, but 72nd place pays over 90,000. For the online qualifiers who have a mighty $16 invested in this event, there is a real incentive to climb up the money ladder. The few remaining pros, like Humberto Brenes, just want to win it all, and they'll pick on those players, while avoiding confrontations with the deeper stacks with anything less than a premium hand.

I saw Phil "The Unibomber" Laak when I was in the tournament area a few minutes ago, and we talked about Joe Hachem's incredible showing at this year's WSOP. "Man, Hachem has been playing like a monster this year," Phil said.

"When he was busted yesterday, he outlasted more people than when he won it last year." I said.

Then Phil looked around the remaining twelve tables and added, "Jeeze. All these people have crushed that, too."

It's hard to believe that just five tournament days ago, there were nearly 9000 players hoping to make it this far. They've had to fight it out to get here, and the levels around the money bubble were a real minefield, but now that the stacks are deep again, they're playing poker in the Amazon room, and it is awesome.

On a personal note, I only have one horse left in this field. After my friend Ryan was busted early yesterday, Mr. Wrong made a move with ace queen right into pocket kings, then pushed his crippled stack into kings with a pair of fours. That leaves Rob "Boilingfish" Berryman, who had 550K, and apparently got some coaching and advice from notable professional player Jeffrey Lisandro. Rob's dad told me that rob has been playing very tough, and had been all-in twice without a showdown already today.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker