It’s one of the paradoxes of the World Series of Poker Main Event: as things get more serious and exciting, there are fewer people involved. To walk down the hallways of the Rio today, on the way to the Amazon Room, it’s clear there are already signs that all this is nearly finished. The Poker Kitchen closed its doors, the booths selling everything from energy pills to still photos of players are packing up, the old tournament rooms of Pavilion and Brasilia are all but dismantled, and the great throng of people that made bathroom breaks unbearable just a few days ago are nowhere to be seen.
That crowd was 282 players strong at the start of play. Tonight, five hours later, there were fewer than 100. We lost a mix of front line pros and amateurs who will be left to contemplate what went wrong and what could have been different, a torture only they themselves can understand. One of them was Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu.
Neagranu hurt just as everyone does who busts from the main event.
@RealKidPoker: When a poker player busts from the ME he spend the entire drive home reliving every hand looking for ways he could have changed the outcome.
Kid Poker performed like only he can, playing with his customary enthusiasm, as if at any minute someone would put an end to pleasure he has at the table and demand he get a real job. Negreanu’s sense of fun and will to win could only take him so far, to 160th place; another superlative performance.
Negreanu was one of four Team Pros back in action today, and at times all of them looked capable of reaching the showdown in October. Of the four, only Vanessa Selbst and Jan Heitmann remain.
To watch Selbst play this week is to see a player at the height of her game, at times out of reach of ordinary opponents. Selbst has complete confidence in herself and it shows, ceaselessly putting in the legwork that keeps a stack moving forward and never allowing set-backs to dampen her progress. Selbst controls the game, not the other way around, and it means she closes with roughly 1.5 million chips tonight, double the average.
Earlier this week Jan Heitmann said that any day in which you bag up chips is a good day. Today Heitmann had a great day.
Team Jan Heitmann, on the EPT
The German Team Pro turned a short stack into one with significant sway today, at one stage down to 400,000. But, using a degree of anonymity (Heitmann has rarely attracted the star-hungry cameras this week) he then nudged it hand by hand to more than 2 million before a big hand with ace-king took it to more than 3 million. At the end of play tonight, he held 3.4 million.
“I am actually having a good time,” he said midway through the day. “This is a lot of fun. I’m playing absolutely great, I like the way I play, like the way the table seems to respect me, maybe even be scared of me. There are only up sides to this.”
So far this week Marcel Luske has ditched his trademark suit in favour of a track top. His reasoning being that why should he change a winning formula? It worked perfectly until the end of the night. The Flying Dutchman busted out with half an hour left in the night winning more than $52,000.
When play resumes tomorrow, we expect they field will play down to just 27 players, three tables of hopefuls who will then play for a seat at the most celebrated final in poker.
For now, catch up on all the day’s stories below.
As each day goes by things get tense and dramatic. Join us again tomorrow when our coverage from Las Vegas starts at noon PT. The math said that only two Team Pros would reach the penultimate day. The math was right.
For now, goodnight from Las Vegas.