WSOP 2017: Hegele, Craft, Lee and Saout setting pace with 200 left

There are 200 players left in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event. Current cashers are being awarded $46,096. Not a bad consolation prize, but around 1/176th of the $8.15 million sitting up top for the winner.

Right now the lone remaining Team PokerStars Pro Randy Lew is on about 1.2 million, which puts him a bit below the 1.8 million-chip average and far down from the leaders at the top of the counts.

Last year the players with the biggest stacks on Day 5 with 200 players left were Michael Niwinski, Dmitry Chop, Valentin Vornicu, William Kassouf, and Antoine Saout.

The Ukrainian Chop would slide quickly thereafter, going out on Day 5 in 125th ($49,108). The other four all made it to Day 7 and the last three tables, though in fact none of them were around for the final table and the November Nine.

Niwinski lasted until 15th ($427,930), a little longer than Kassouf's memorable kings-versus-aces knockout in 17th ($338,288). Vornicu made it to 23rd for $269,430, the same prize won by Saout who fell in 25th.

Saout many recall from his third-place finish in the 2009 WSOP Main Event, his end coming most painfully after two big hands versus eventual winner Joe Cada.

The first of those hands was the big one, a preflop all-in between Cada's pair of deuces and Saout's queens saw Cada flop a set and decimate Saout's stack. Shortly after Cada won with ace-king against Saout's eights, and the Frenchman was out in third.

Saout has a big stack again today, sitting inside the top 10 at present with 200 left.

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Antoine Saout

Of course, as demonstrated last year, being among the chip leaders right now is no guarantee for making the final table, let alone winning.

Things are changing constantly, but at the moment of writing German player Robin Hegele is sitting quietly behind a 5 million-plus chip stack, according him chip leader status for the moment, anyway.

Hegele has a relatively modest résumé of tournament scores, although among them one stands out. He made it all of the way to 124th in this same tournament a year ago, cashing for just under $50K and gathering the experience of having made it all of the way to Day 5.

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Robin Hegele

We were watching American player Mickey Craft playing lots of hands yesterday, one in particular convincing us he belonged on the feature table. He's had his moments today, although has also been willing to fold when necessary while tending to a stack of about 4.7 million.

Like Hegele, Craft's record of cashes is relatively modest. However he collected a career-best near-$70K win for taking third in this year's $3,000 limit hold'em event.

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Mickey Craft

Finally we were over at Gyeong Byeong Lee's table just before it broke, and as the South Korean player was designated to go to one of the secondary feature tables, his chips had to be counted exactly before he made the move -- 4,468,000.

Lee has a few Asian Poker Tour cashes to his credit including a win in Manila last year worth close to $34K USD. He, too, will be collecting a career-high prize from this tournament.

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Gyeong Byeong Lee

We'll keep watch to see how these three fare going forward, and if Saout can use his experience in these latter stages of the Main Event to propel him forward as the field shrinks even further.

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