Another day begins and another step for players towards a date here in November for the final table of the WSOP main event.
The effect of each passing day is dramatic. The halls of the Rio Convention Centre are no longer buzzing with the hopes and aspirations of mass crowds, but with just a few dozen, with 68 players remaining to make the long walk back to the Amazon Room once more.
In years past the plan at this stage would be to play down to 27 players. That plan has changed slightly this year. We play on for five levels, regardless of how many that leaves to return for the final day of play tomorrow.
Hoping to be among is PokerStars Passport winner Anton Morgenstern.
Morgenstern, from Berlin, Germany, played the poker of his life yesterday, turning 400,000 chips into 3.8 million. If the 22-year-old continues in the same way today, a place in November would be considered a certainty. He did nothing yesterday to suggest otherwise and the proof will come today.
The pace setter this afternoon, however, will be American Sami Rustom, who leads the field with a shade over 7 million chips, ahead of Marc McLaughlin of Canada who has nearly 6.7 million. Other familiar faces remain in contention, including former World Champion Carlos Mortensen remains in the field looking for a seemingly impossible double.
The halls may be emptied but each day the stakes increase. Today is no different.