WSOP 2011: PokerStars players go deep with big money in sight

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If you came to see the World Series of Poker today you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd just missed it. The Rio began the process of shedding the WSOP today, taking down banners and advertisements, even closing the Poker Kitchen, in readiness for the next massive exhibition to fill the Rio's vast halls. The measures were severe, a complete revamp, prompting one woman to look at a last remaining banner on the casino floor and read it out: "The World Series of Poker?" The question mark said it all.

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Banners coming down at the Rio

The great irony that in poker the most exciting stage is often the part watched by the fewest people, with most of the 6,865 participants most likely already home, no longer in need of Vegas as summer turns to the Latin American or European Poker Tours, both of which have events scheduled for the start of August.

But while on the outside the WSOP appears to be done, on the inside it's just beginning to fire-up the reserve boosters as today 378 players returned, eventually reduced to around 140. For some the line to get paid was a happy one, while for others, cut short in their prime, it was a premature departure marking the end of their World Series.

While leaving empty handed yesterday meant you'd busted before the bubble, leaving empty handed today means you're presence is required here again tomorrow. Each player doing so will be guaranteed $54,851, more than enough for another day's food and lodgings.

Day six will take on a whole new ambience. While today there was a free range Amazon Room, where members of the press could get close to the action, provided they gave way to the TV cameras; tomorrow we expect that to change, the room converted into a TV camera friendly battery farm of poker, one designed to produce bust out after bust out, covered from all possible angles.

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The feature table between levels

The players they'll be zooming in most are tonight's leader Ben Lamb, David Bach and Phil Collins, each of whom broke all sorts of barriers tonight, finishing with more than the rest. They look in relentless form. But tomorrow the competition will be tough.

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Ben Lamb, among the leaders

One such player will be Team PokerStars Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg, who we profiled earlier today as he underwent an almost holy massage. He bags up around 3,300,000 for a top ten finish. Others will include PokerStars Passport winners Per Linde up to around 3,000,000, and Philip Gruissem with 2,000,000. Andrew Brokos, JP Kelly and Tony Hachem also continued to prosper.

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Per Linde

The four former EPT winners - Ruthenberg, Jens Kyllonen, Rupert Elder, Vladimir Geshkenbein, and EPT Players' Choice Award winner Max Heinzelmann almost all steered a safe passage through the day; Heinzelmann falling within 20 minutes of the bell.

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Best of the PokerStars bunch -- Sebastian Ruthenberg

But while some prosper others falter. In keeping with the nature of the game several big names were exit bound before the close, including the man everyone had been watching at the feature table, Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, who busted before dinner.

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Daniel Negreanu in happier times

Here's how the PokerStars "Magnificent Seven" will look tomorrow (roughly):

  • Sebastian Ruthenberg -- 3,350,000
  • JP Kelly -- 3,000,000
  • Per Linde -- 3,000,000
  • Tony Hachem -- 2,000,000
  • Andrew Brokos -- 2,000,000
  • Philip Gruissem -- 2,000,000
  • Julian Stuer -- 2,000,000

    That's all a little more than 12 hours away, with play set to resume at 12noon tomorrow. That's when we'll be back with coffee, ready for a maximum effort for what will be another career day for someone.

    See you then.