WSOP 2017: Halfway through, it's all uphill from here
The Day 4 dinner break is nearing and they are closing in on the end of Level 22. That means the 440 or so players left in the 2017 World Series have all played around 43 hours' worth of poker.
That's more than likely just a little over half of the poker the two players who make it all of the way to heads-up next Sunday, July 23 will be playing before a champion is decided.
Something tells us the next 40-plus hours or so of poker will be even more challenging for those making it to the end than the last 40-plus hours have been, if that can be believed.
It's a difficult part of the tournament right now for the short stacks, and many of them are no more.
Among the fallen over the last few hours are 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Kevin Schulz (660th, $20,411), five-time bracelet winner Allen Cunningham (643rd, $20,411), EPT8 Grand Final Main Event champion Mohsin Charania (597th, $22,449), and 1998 Main Event champion Scotty Nguyen (549th, #22,449).
Nguyen was the last former Main Event champion to fall in this year's event, with 2009 champ Joe Cada (948th, $16,024) and 2001 champ Carlos Mortensen (984th, $15,000) the only other ones to make the money.
Also gone are David Peters (541st, $22,449), EPT9 Deauville Main Event champion Remi Castaignon (540th, $24,867), current Global Poker Index No. 1 ranked tournament player in the world Nick Petrangelo (527th, $24,867), Tony Gregg (475th, $27,743), and this year's $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl winner Christoph Vogelsang (444th, $27,743).
At the most recent break we saw Team PokerStars Pro Online member Randy Lew with a big stack of 1.44 million, having thrived throughout the day as others struggled.
Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree's 690,000 wasn't as good as Lew's stack, relatively speaking. But relative to her short-stacked status to begin yesterday, it's a satisfying place to be.
Her teammate Felipe Ramos returns to his seat over in the corner of the Amazon room to just 220,000 post-break. He just enjoyed a double-up, though, and now nears 400,000.
Ramos's fellow Brazilian and only other remaining Red Spade Andre Akkari came back from the break even worse off with 104,000.
We watched Akkari when play started again, and as he folded hands he watched not one, not two, but three of the players sitting in seats to his right eliminated in separate hands. Finally Akkari himself got his chips in behind ace-trey versus an opponent's king-ten, and when the board brought Akkari two pair he doubled back to about 160,000 -- still in the danger zone, though.
We were visiting chip leader Mickey Craft's table earlier, and it was entertaining enough to cause us to think then that he should be moved over to one of the televised tables. He's still the leader with more than 3 million, and in fact they did choose to move his table onto the main stage.
There's still close to half of Day 4 left to go, and close to half of the entire tournament left to go for those who make it to the end.
The difficult half, if that can be believed.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.