WSOP 2017: Covering the field from A to Z
They're all in one room (finally) to start today's Day 5. Typically we're used to the summer ending down the hall in the Amazon Room, but this year the fun is happening in the smaller Brasilia.
The room is filled to capacity today, making it seem somehow more intimate (if that's possible) when compared to the spacious Amazon where in past years the end of play in July has only taken up a small portion of the ballroom.
A lot those who started this tournament were playing in the Amazon before, but ending in the Brasilia has always been the goal for everyone -- a desired journey from "A" to "B" for all.
Having all 297 players to start the day in one room makes it easy enough to get a look at everyone in a short period of time. Let's take a walk around and survey the scene.
Here's what we're seeing early on today, moving from "A" to "Z."
Timothy Adams returned to a short stack today. In the early going he's remaining snug with baseball cap on and green hoodie up, giving up his big blind to an early position raise.
Jake Balsiger is here as well, continuing his attempted return to the Main Event final table where he finished third in 2012. He still looks impossibly young, smiling as usual and clearly enjoying himself as he makes another deep run.
2017 SCOOP Main Event ("High") champion Charlie "Epiphany77" Carrel is up on the main televised table, uncharacteristically wearing a subdued gray shirt rather than his typical technicolor threads.
You can't miss Jonathan Dwek in the five-seat at his table. Again dressed as Superman, he's relating to his table a recent adventure involving a player trying to hide his identity at the table so others wouldn't Google him, but a Starbucks cup with his name printed on the side helped give him away.
Unlike Clark Kent, though, the gregarious Dwek isn't being secretive about his true identity.
Brian England is here, a.k.a. "brianm15" on PokerStars where he's recorded numerous deep runs and big cashes. Donning a black t-shirt, his earbuds are in as he scrolls through text on his phone, biding his time before trying to spin his stack up.
Martin Finger, meanwhile, looks like a rock star with his round mirrored spectacles and mountain of chips. Just now he watched Alexandre Arsenault push a short stack all in and Finger looked him up with K♠T♠. Arsenault had 8♥8♠ and was safe through the turn, but the river finished a Broadway straight for the EPT8 Prague Main Event winner, and Arsenault headed to the payout desk to collect $40,181 for finishing 288th.
Matt Giannetti was one of several players in the field who like Balsiger have previously made Main Event final tables, finishing fourth in 2011 for just over $3 million. We saw him at the start sitting behind a short stack, but within the last half-hour he lost his chips to Sam Phillips and so this year finishes in 294th (also for $40,181).
Speaking of return trips to the Main Event final table, everyone's focused on Kenny Hallaert's efforts in that regard. Last year's sixth-place finisher returns today third in chips, and while he looks comfortable with his arms resting on either side of his massive stack, if he collects more today he might not be able to see over his chips.
Ihar Soika is also in, the player from Belarus who won the EPT11 Barcelona High Roller. His black scarf protects him both from the chill in the room and perhaps from revealing tells. He's nodding his head to the tunes he's selected, hoping as well to get in a rhythm poker-wise, too.
The young Cosmin Joldis sports a lime-green tee. In the one-seat to start, the dealer in between can't protect him from Isaac Haxton sitting over there with position on him in the nine.
J.P. Kelly is wearing a smart-looking blue button-up, his big stack to start making him look even smarter.
Ben Lamb finished 14th in the WSOP Main Event in 2009, then came back to finish third in 2011. He stopped our alphabetic ambulation just now after calling a big turn bet from Guy Taylor on a queen-high board, then after Taylor checked the nine on the river Lamb bombed with a bet and Taylor called. Lamb tabled pocket nines, having rivered a set, but Taylor had two queens for a higher set to claim the pot. Lamb still had more than 2 million, though, making it easier for him still to grin after losing that one.
Nick Maimone's seat was already empty within the first 15 minutes, as the 2016 PCA High Roller champion was among the first half-dozen to fall today in 292nd for $35,267.
Dominik Nitsche is here, beard full and stack plentiful.
Eoghan O'Dea is at Martin Finger's table, sitting quietly while looking to get back to a Main Event final table. In 2011 he finished sixth in the Main Event, replicating his father Donnacha's sixth-place finish in the ME back in 1983. Donnacha played this year's tournament, too, but missed the money.
David "The Dragon" Pham won his fifth career bracelet earlier this summer. Not looking too dragon-like while sipping a drink from a straw and checking his phone.
Arsenault (mentioned above) is one of a handful of players from Quebec left in the field, with Sam Chartier being another. Chartier returns to a below-average stack and hopes of exceeding a $322K career-high score for winning a WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City in 2009.
Michael Ruane finished fourth in the Main Event last year and has above average chips today while engaging table neighbor Fadi Hamad in conversation.
The Argentinian Damian Salas started today with the chip lead. He arrived a little late and several minutes later was still stacking up his massive starting stack of 4.678 million.
Roger Teska, sans beverage at the moment, continues his Main Event run.
Incidentally, of the 297 returners for today's Day 5, it looks like not quite two-thirds of them are from the United States. That's right about the same ratio as American entrants -- 5,218 out of the 7,721-player field. (Enjoy more WSOP Main Event demographics here.)
Paul Vas Nunes sports a red t-shirt today and a big stack of nearly 2.5 million.
Joseph Wertz returned to a big stack of just over 2.6 million. The player from Pennsylvania has a single six-figure score to his credit, earned in a runner-up finish at a WSOP Circuit Atlantic City event. He'll need to crack the top 72 in this one to collect another, a plateau that probably won't come until tomorrow.
Zinan Xu has a World Series of Poker hoodie on, and after opening the button won himself some blinds and antes.
Yuan Li has her red hoodie on again today, which has worked for her through four days of the event.
And finally, Georgios Zisimopoulos is in black, leaning back with phone out as play continues.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.