WSOP Main Event Day 4: Bubble, bursting, misery, money
As soon as organisers published the schedule for this year's World Series Main Event, it seemed likely that day four would be when we reached our first major turning point. So it proved. This was bubble day, when 747 players stood up, hugged one another, cheered their appreciation and breathed deep sighs of relief - all as one lonesome soul felt his heart splinter, be ripped from his chest, be held aloft by a whooping shaman (like the one in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), and then be cast into the furnace of hell.
It doesn't even matter especially that Tim McDonald was the 6,572nd player knocked out of this tournament. His elimination - when his queens lost to Ismail Erkenov's A♥2♥ - meant that he was the last player (officially) to leave with nothing.
McDonald played three full days, another three levels, and then was sent on a controversial 90-minute dinner break just as they were closing in on the money. It turned out to be his last supper. He came back, played another five hands, and then hit the rail, taking the World Series Main Event into its business end.
From now on, every player eliminated from this tournament is in the black - and there are some mighty big sharks still afloat. From Team PokerStars Pro, Johnny Lodden (620,000), JP Kelly (610,000) and Vanessa Selbst (430,000) have built themselves the foundation to trouble the history writers. Jason Mercier (335,000), Greg DeBora (270,000) and Gualter Salles (160,000) are also still in the hunt, even if they have a little more climbing to do.
Team Online's Andre Coimbra has also emerged shivering and blinking into the bricks and mortar environment and immediately prospered. The Portuguese player, known online as "acoimbra", where he plays the highest limit sit and gos, is a former World Champion of Magic: The Gathering. However he has zero recorded live poker results - until now. He bagged up half a million chips at the end of day four, and could go much much farther indeed.
Speaking of prospering, the PokerStars players were out in force - and bothering chip counters from start to finish. At this stage, it looks as though the ones with the best chance of emulating Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer are Paulo Cesar Ribiero (860,000), Nicholas Decktor-Korn (790,000), Jonathan Driscoll (780,000), Charles Sylvestre (760,000), Bryn Kenney (1 million) and, top of all the pops, Bryan Pellegrino, with 1,400,000. But they are not alone.
The full, official counts of the approximate 570 players remaining will be made available overnight and posted on the PokerStars Blog. And we will also begin updating the payouts page with the identities of the moneyed fallen. Humberto Brenes was one of the first, picking up yet another World Series cash (his eighth) but going no deeper than day four.
The Serial PokerStars Qualifier Pierre Neuville also earned his umpteenth cash of the year, whooping his way into the money but then perishing before day was done.
Of course, some others fought a brave fight but departed today, short of all the hijinks. Marcin Horecki was food-poisoned at precisely the wrong time and lost his monster stack before the money. Barry Greenstein's dose of World Series bubble-itis flared up again, and he missed out. Pieter de Korver had hoped to add a 2010 world title to his 2009 European crown and 2008 national championship. But that was too convenient outside of fiction and he busted.
That's nothing compared with what happened to Angel Guillen, however. He had his wings clipped in brutal fashion when his aces were cracked by pocket jacks two from the bubble, and he departed with nought. It was particularly harsh as the real bubble got a buy in into next year's World Series, an irony not lost on the twittering Guillen.
"I actually bubbled the bubble because the last guy out of the money gets the 10k seat for the 2011 Main Event," Guillen wrote. "After this, I know good things are coming for me."
Today we also waved farewell to the Pavilion Room, which was ruthlessly dismantled and told to find alternative employment. Our photographer Joe Giron swung by to watch its death throes. (It was a sad sight, but a neat picture.)
Day five begins at noon tomorrow - and it'll be a fascinating, unpredictable one. All we know for sure is what we've already seen, so take a look back, if you will, on the day's coverage on PokerStars Blog.
We introduced the day of the bubble and then examined its history in some depth, focusing on the remarkable story of Kia Hamadani, who was the most unfortunate fellow in Nevada this time last year, but bounced back to cash this time around. His brethren this year were watched and expertly photographed in the post of the day, which tracked the final 100 until the money.
Eric Buchman earned special mention, as the only member of either graduating November Nine class to cash in the Main Event this year (he also won a bracelet). And we also examined the wonderfully cosmopolitan nature of the World Series and the PokerStars tables. It's an oldie but a goodie.
Are you or somebody you love still in the WSOP? Shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us all about it. We might use it for a story here on the PokerStars Blog.
Until tomorrow, goodnight.
All photography from Las Vegas on PokerStars Blog is (c) Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography.