WSOP 2011: Final 22 step into poker's history books

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And so it comes to this. We started 12 days ago with 6,585 players and now just 22 remain. It's an oft-quoted way to describe a day like today, but the achievement of this half a per cent cannot ever be understated - these last handful of players, nervous and exhausted after nearly two weeks at the Rio, really are the heart of the poker universe.

Until yesterday it seemed that Day 8 would feature players bedecked in the PokerStars livery, right up until JP Kelly, the last Team PokerStars Pro left in the field, was first stunned and then sent on a collision course with a pair of aces in the last level of the day last night. As far as Kelly was concerned, it was a premature exit in 26th place, after a superlative performance.To everyone else it was a sign of things to come from a career only just beginning to take off.

So to now, a point in time that was hard to envisage all those days ago as Day 1A began with free slippers and a store selling oxygen. The atmosphere has changed from one of anticipation to one of expectancy as those that remain strive to become one of the November Nine, members of this year's poker aristocracy, with the eyes of a competitive poker world upon them.

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Ready for action

Leading them into the day is chip leader Anton Makilevskyi, taking his turn up top with 21,045,000, ahead of second place Eoghan O'Dea, from Ireland, with 19,500,000. What they'll get today is level after level of play as 22 becomes nine, and the World Series of Poker Main Event prepares to go into hibernation for four months.

We'll have updates of that progress throughout the day from the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Another chapter in the World Series story is about to be completed. Read about the names and faces of that chapter right here.

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