WSOP Main Event Day 8: Once more till November

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Well this is it, until November at least. Today we play down to the last nine players in the World Series of Poker Main Event, meaning that 18 of today's field, each of whom will have dreamt of this opportunity for a lifetime, will have had those same dreams snapped in two and stamped on. It's the nature of this game. The losers are ditched on the rail in favour of nine history makers.

Nearly two weeks have passed since we rolled into the Rio for day 1a of the Main Event. The majority of the 7,319 players who bought in to this event will be back home with their story by now, eager to see if they made the television coverage which starts in just a few weeks, and maybe bragging to a few friends that it was so nearly them.

It wasn't though.

It was the likes of Jason Senti, Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel, all of whom had stellar days yesterday and who return among the strongest contenders. It's the likes of Team PokerStars Pros William Thorson and Johnny Lodden, who progressed through a treacherous day seven, returning with less than they might have wanted, but with track records that suggest enough talent and raw desire to work with. And it's the likes of Brandon Stevens, Michiel Sijpkens and Mads Wissing; David Baker, Duy Le, Redmond Lee and Robert Pisano, all of whom could walk away here tonight with the now clichéd date with destiny.

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The main feature table in the Amazon Room

But that's enough sap and sentiment, time to get on with it. Everyone playing is guaranteed $317,161, but we're playing for the $8,944,138 first prize. One hour and 33 minutes remains on the clock in level 30, with blinds at 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante. Time to shuffle up and deal.