WSOP Main Event: The main feature


It's the most visible part of the Amazon Room but the least observed. The main event feature table, complete with secondary feature table, bleachers and a standing area, takes up a full quarter of the room, but you have to be in close to see anything that goes on.

Taking up a position overlooking the action the first thing you notice, aside from the huge set, the cameras and the lights, are the piles of beef jerky, stacked up on side tables between bottles of water. Tons of the stuff.

After that it's the stage itself, a central construction rigged to be bathed in a red and blue light, a four sided TV hub with some bull horns attached hangs above the baize, and rows of seats line three of the four sides. Oh and the players. They're here too, nine of them playing in the same seats that the November nine, the eventual finalists we'll get to know from next Wednesday, will return to later this year, albeit transferred down the hall to the Penn and Teller Theatre.

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The feature table

Central among the featured cast is Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem. He's been the draw today with railbirds wandering in, whispering to each other that it's the guy in seat three, before moving on. The 2005 World Champion is no stranger to the intimacy of the TV table, the cameras following his every move and from every angle - the spotlight is part of the job. But his success did not come here, but a few miles downtown, at Binions, where the final was played for the last time after an intensive few days in the Rio.

It's a similar feeling now, into the last level, with a long day nearly done and the Friday night crowds gradually working their way back up the corridors to the casino where the civilian action is getting under way. Hands drift by, few getting any further than the flop, the host on the microphone encouraging the audience to clap each hand, even the walks, like the captain of a sunken ship keeping the spirits of his crew as high as possible as they drift off in the lifeboat.

As each hand ends a few people leave, others arrive to take their place. The ones who stay shuffle in their seats, crossing the other leg, leaning forward, leaning back, another main event day coming to a close.

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Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem

Those who've stayed rooted to their seats will have seen a lot today. Hachem began the day on close to 140K but day three has been a struggle. Other players came an went while Hachem dug in for the hard slog the day became. It wasn't until the penultimate level that he doubled up, and now plays a stack worth 160K. He plays on, tilting his head to one side then the next, ignoring the paraphernalia of TV and playing his game.

Another day almost in the bag. A former champion fighting on

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We caught up with the action on a flop of 3-4-6. Friend of PokerStars Jason Alexander bet out 25,000 and ended up facing an all-in from Christian Heich. Alexander called with pocket jacks. Heich showed 6-5. The turn was a nine, but the river fell as a six and the Summer of George ended early.

"It's a cruel game. but i'm happy with my play here," he said. "It's my third consecutive year and this is the deepest I've gone.I got half way through Day 2 last year so it's getting better."

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On the button, Alex Kostritsyn peeled off 8,000 from his massive stack, the player to his left re-raises to 27,000 and Ronit Chamani moved all in from the big blind. Chamani only had 26,500 and Kostitsyn called. The flop came K♠8♠4♠ and Kostritsyn and his neighbour checked. In fact, they checked it down all the way, when 4♣A♠ came on turn and river and Chamani announced "I have the ace," although she didn't expect it to be good, with the four flush on the board. She showed A♥[10h], Kostritsyn showed A♦6♦ and the other player pocket jacks. Chamani and Kostritsyn chopped it, and Chamani high-fived the table, announcing "Small victories, small victories".

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Number of players who answer when a just eliminated player wishes everyone good luck: 0