WSOP Main Event Day 7: Three go for the lead with 27 to go
When we arrived at the Rio this morning we had no idea how long the day would last. Days like today, when playing down to a number rather than a level, have traditionally been unpredictable, some running into the early hours while others have left players, media and staff with an unexpected early night.
Well, in the event it took about as long as expected - a little more than four levels that reduced the field from 78 to the 27 who will return tomorrow. Of them Jason Senti, Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel all have eight figure stacks, with Senti the leader of the three on 13,550,000. Scroll down the page for the day 8 draw and full chip counts.
Jason Senti among the PokerStars leaders tonight...
... along with Matt Affleck
Each of them are some way off the lead, held by Joseph Cheong with around 24 million, but close to the top of a steep curve if you plotted the counts on a graph.
Jonathan Duhamel is also keeping pace
What was obvious to everyone at the start was the relative success of the European players who seemed to be eclipsing their American rivals. Most notable among those was Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson, who moved tables a few times before reaching the secondary feature table where he continued to add chips to his stack.
It was almost a similar story for Theo Jorgensen who arrived at the Amazon Room with a new patch on his chest. Things looked rosy for Jorgensen early on, starting the day alongside David Benyamine, and he continued to add might to his stack right up to the dinner break. Then catastrophe.
Theo Jorgensen in happier times
Suddenly it all went bad against Cuong Nguyen, who leads tonight - a busted club draw that left the Dane with 3 million. Jorgensen continued the fight, but fell almost exactly a level later when John Racener's ace-queen and a flush draw beat Jorgensen's ace-king. Jorgensen departed from the main stage in 30th. Meanwhile Nguyen's win signalled the United States' resurgence as the home grown talent began to strike back.
There were ups and downs for all but a few players on day seven
Johnny Lodden fought his way through a day that would take him from a little more than two million to, well, a little less than two million. He bagged up 1.5 million at the close, the short stack after a rearguard action that meant chopping two all-ins. He'll take it though.
Johnny Lodden survives day seven
Meanwhile his friend Thorson arrived at the feature table at the midway point and stayed there to the finish. While a natural in the limelight, and playing superlative poker, his earlier momentum was cramped by a series of hands that pecked at his stack, taking him down from close to 14 million to 6.5 million by the end of the day.
Thorson playing through trouble
Also still going strong from the ranks of PokerStars is Michiel Sijpkens, the 21-year-old who remains capable of beating Joe Cada's record as the youngest World Champion.
On the flip side of success was elimination. The day was long for some but not long enough for others.
They included Jean-Robert Bellande who was one of the first to go this afternoon in 78th place. Then, names that had previously been familiar as leaders at some stage began to appear on the prize winners list.
One of many former chip leaders now on the rail - Evan Lamprea
James Manning went in 51st, James Fennell in 48th and Evan Lamprea in 46th. David Assouline pondered a call with kings only to run into a set of aces to exit in 44th, Jonathan Driscoll went in 39th and Nicolas Babel in 38th. Two-time EPT final tablist Dag Palovic busted in 37th.
As the thought of another day of poker looked a reality both Eduardo Parra and Michael Skender fell at the last, and the night ended with the departure of the last Italian Gianni Direnzo in 29th and then Bryn Kenney, who lost out on his World Series dream in 28th.
Falling at the last - Michael Skender
Last of the fall guys: Bryn Kenney
For now, content yourself with the day 8 table draw, complete with chip counts:
Seat 1: Michael Mizrachi (6,300,000)
Seat 2: Scott Clements (7,250,000)
Seat 3: Michiel Sijpkens, PokerStars qualfier (7,765,000)
Seat 4: John Dolan (2,175,000)
Seat 5: John Racener (10,470,000)
Seat 6: Brandon Steven, PokerStars player (6,045,000)
Seat 7: Redmond Lee, PokerStars sponsored player (3,315,000)
Seat 8: William Thorson, Team PokerStars Pro (3,680,000)
Seat 9: Mads Wissing, PokerStars sponsored player (3,070,000)
Seat 1: Johnny Lodden, Team PokerStars Pro, (1,560,000)
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong (24,490,000)
Seat 3: Jason Senti, PokerStars sponsored player (13,550,000)
Seat 4: Matt Affleck, PokerStars sponsored player (12,515,000)
Seat 5: Matthew Jarvis (13,300,000)
Seat 6: Matthew Bucaric (2,270,000)
Seat 7: David Baker, PokerStars sponsored player (6,825,000)
Seat 8: Filippo Candio (10,020,000)
Seat 9: Ronnie Bardah (2,525,000)
Seat 1: Adam Levy (4,745,000)
Seat 2: Benjamin Statz (9,885,000)
Seat 3: Soi Nguyen (23,100,000)
Seat 4: Duy Le, PokerStars sponsored player (7,225,000)
Seat 5: Jonathan Duhamel, PokerStars player (10,520,000)
Seat 6: Robert Pisano, PokerStars sponsored player (8,060,000)
Seat 7: Pascal LeFrancois (15,780,000)
Seat 8: Hasan Habib (1,510,000)
Seat 9: Patrick Eskandar (1,655,000)
Join us tomorrow then when the nine names you'll hear repeatedly for the next four months will be shouted for the first time, and congratulations if you guessed how many times we'd mention Atomic Fireballs for the twitter contest.
Until then, thanks for reading, and good fireball from Las Vegas. (Wait, does that count as a mention?)
All photography from Las Vegas on PokerStars Blog is (c) Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography.