WSOP 2011: JP Kelly leads Team PokerStars Pro charge to Day 5

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngYou rarely get to this stage of the World Series Main Event and expect things to go according to plan. With so much variance at work, things can go significantly better, or sadly a lot worse than expected. Just ask Vanessa Rousso (though you may care to leave it for a few days), who had a rocket-propelled start, moving up from just shy of 300,000 to over a million shortly before dinner. Half an hour after the dinner break, she was out, a victim of David Bach's semi-bluff that turned out good. For him at least. "Why?" "Why?"she implored as three quarters of her well-earned stack moved across the table. A little while later Bach's aces finished off the Team PokerStars Pro, who will feel even worse, if that were possible, that all this misery happened on the feature table, on national television.

Later, she was philosophical. "After this kind of day happens, I try to zoom out and look at the big picture. I live a blessed life and there are more important things than poker." Well said.

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Vanessa Rousso

At least she made the money (but again, best not mention that to her quite yet), cashing for $23,876. Plenty didn't. With 853 players starting today, only 693 were going to get paid. When the bubble burst eventually, at around 4.15pm, it was Reza Kashani who had the walk of shame, the victim of quads. If you're going to go, I suppose it may as well be like that. Except it was no real crestfallen departure. While the remaining players cheered and clapped their own good fortune, he looked quite happy as well, his mood lightened by the WSOP's decision to offer him a free entry into next year's main event.

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Reza "Didn't" Kashani

And that begs the question, who was the bubble-bubble boy or girl, the person to fall in 695th place, the really last person to end up with nothing? That remains uncertain, but what we do know is that it was so nearly Daniel Negreanu. He had floundered throughout the afternoon and found himself short-stacked. With the clock showing 695 players remaining, he check-raised all-in on an ace-high flop, mightily relieved to see his A-Q stay head of A-10. He insisted, of course, that he was not here to min cash, but to win.

While there were cash finishes for Dennis Phillips and Martin Hruby, the latter having enjoyed his wedding in a helicopter over Las Vegas just a few days ago, Humberto Brenes failed to make the cut, despite a heroic last stand with his pocket kings that walked head-first into aces.

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Dennis Phillips

From the Team PokerStars stable, the success story was undoubtedly JP Kelly, a late double with A-K against Q-Q putting him up to 1.3 million. Until then, it looked like Sebastian Ruthenberg, would outpace his teammates for the third day running. Towards the end of the day, he was up to 900,000 and well-placed for a deep run towards the $8.7 million first prize. We know he has the pedigree, a win at EPT Barcelona, third place on home turf in EPT Dortmund and a ninth-place in EPT Prague confirms that.

One little bit of trivia, Jonathan Duhamel came tenth in Prague the same year as Ruthenberg placed ninth. He went on to win the WSOP; could Ruthenberg do the same?

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JP Kelly

As free beer was being dished out in the Amazon Room, our other remaining Team Pros were fighting on. Tony Hachem made it over 500,000, but Sandra Naujoks more or less picked up the grinder of the day award until she busted with 20 minutes left in the day. And Negreanu? He was down to just 15,000 at one point before going on a heater to 330,000 - and then topping that with a late double up to 605,000 when his pocket queens flopped a set against an opponent's pocket kings. Team PokerStars Online's Andrew Brokos looked comfortable at around 800,000.

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Tony Hachem

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Daniel Negreanu

While this year we did not send our usual army of PokerStars qualifiers to the main event, we did have those who won a Main Event Passport satellite and chose to spend that on a spin at the Las Vegas Wheel of Fortune. For some it is working out rather well: Per Linde and Julian Stuer (who got here in a $33 qualifier) were in as the day drew to a close. Linde was having a ball, up to 1 million.

Still, though, there is no runaway chip leader of the whole event.

Now the focus moves on to tomorrow's Day 5, a day when someone will undoubtedly find an extra gear and open up a lead. If it's anything like today, the rate of attrition will be high. Starting with 865 players, we were down below 400 by the end of play. But as the field shrinks, it gets tougher - and bust outs are harder to come by.

We'll be back again tomorrow with the official overnight chip counts of our PokerStars survivors. Join us at noon.

We leave you with a photo of the dealers, waiting patiently for other tables to finish during hand-for-hand play. These guys and girls are some of the hardest-working people in Las Vegas.

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Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in World Series of Poker