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The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event is currently playing its way down to the November Nine. This year’s event will pay 1,000 players for the first time in history with the champion earning life-changing money.

A monster field was capped by the single largest starting day in Main Event history. Overall, numbers were down but that didn’t damper spirits as first will award $7.68 million. The money was reached and we have found out those with a chance for a deep run in this event.

Heading into Sunday’s action, Joseph McKeehen leads with Brian Hastings looking for his third bracelet of the 2015 WSOP. Also, 1993 Main Event champion Jim Bechtel has a solid stack heading into Sunday and looks to make a run at his first November Nine.

Total Field = 6,420

As has been customary the last few year, the Main Event had three starting days with the last one concluding on Tuesday. After the smoke cleared, a field of 6.420 players took to the felt. Those numbers broke down as follow:

Day 1a – 741
Day 1b – 1716
Day 1c – 3,963

Day 1c’s field of 3,963 proved to be the largest Day 1 field in the history of the WSOP Main Event, but it was not enough to help the event achieve growth. This year’s field of 6,420 was down 3.94 percent from the 6,683 in 2014.

When registration closed on Day 1c, a prize pool of $60.34 million was announced. This year’s Main Event will pay 1,000 players with a min-cash earning players $15,000. The entire final table will go home poker millionaires with 9th taking home just a hair over $1 million. The eventual winner in November will earn $7.68 million and the Main Event champion’s bracelet.

Martin Jacobson, the 2014 champion, returned on Day 1c to defend his title. Unfortunately, he was unable to build a stack and was eliminated just before the dinner break. At the conclusion of play on Day 1c, 4,389 players advanced to Day 2.

Six World Champions Advance to Day 3

As is the norm, the Main Event was split into two separate Day 2’s with Day 1b and 1b returning on Wednesday and Day 1c on Thursday. With three-quarters of the remaining field needing to be eliminated before the money bubble, Day 2 was all about making moves and building a stack to make a bubble run.

After the completion of both days, 1,796 players moved on the money day at the series. Amar Anad was the overall chip leader but several big names lurked near the top of the leaderboard. David Jackson, Brian Hastings, Jake Cody, Matt Glantz, Matt Jarvis, Jonathan Duhamel and Ryan Riess were all in the top 50 in chips.

Multiple former champions were still alive in the event heading into Day 3. Phil Hellmuth, Scotty Nguyen, Ryan Riess, Joe Hachem and Jim Bechtel were all alive with decent stacks. Other notable players heading to Day 3 were Daniel Negreanu, JC Tran, Daniel Alaei and Mike Matusow.

Day 3 is Payday as Lauck and Daoud Bubble

Day 3 was payday at the World Series of Poker for the first time in many years thanks to the expanded payout structure. It took the majority of the day to finally reach the money bubble, and when hand-for-hand play was reached, we saw two players eliminated to take this event into the money.

Jonas Lauck was all-in at the river with the board showing Ks-5h-4c-10s-As. His opponent had moved all-in and Lauck made the call with Ah-Qs for a rivered pair of aces. However, his opponent turned over Qc-Js and had rivered a straight.

At the same time, Roy Daoud was all-in pre-flop for 60,000 against Josh Ladlines. Daoud had pocket fives and was in fantastic shape against 7h-5d for Ladlines. The flop fell Kc-9s-4c and the turn the Ks, missing both players. However, the river fell the 9c to put two pair on board. Daoud’s pocket fives were counterfeited and Ladlines’ seven played to send Daoud out on one of the sickest beats in WSOP history.

With the two eliminations, the remaining 1,000 players were all in the money and the eliminations accelerated for the remainder of the evening. In the final couple of hours of play, the field was thinned to just 661 with those returning on Saturday to begin their march to the final table. Amar Anand remained the chip leader after Day 3, bagging 1.13 million.

McKeehen Leads Final 237 – Hastings and Bechtel Lurk

Day 4 of the Main Event is when you start to separate the contenders from the rest of the field. With the money now reached, players start their trek toward the November Nine. This journey is not easy and even the best players have trouble getting to even this point. The ones that go on to contend become household names in the game while the others take home some extra cash for their bankrolls.

One important record was set on Saturday as we discovered where the oldest players to ever cash in a Main Event finished. William Wachter surprised the poker world when he bagged 155,000 chips at the end of Day 2b at the young age of 94.

The World War II veteran made the money in this year’s Main Event and became the oldest ever to do so. He also finished Day 3 with 160,000 in chips. Wachter’s run in the Main Event ended on Saturday as he fell in 524th place. Even without the expanded payouts, Wachter’s finish would have earned him a money finish, making this run even more impressive. We look forward to seeing his return in 2016.

During Day 4, we lost all remaining former Main Event champions but one. Phil Hellmuth fell to Daniel Negreanu when Negreanu’s A-K outflopped Hellmuth’s pocket queens. Ryan Riess, the 2013 Champion, was knocked out in 426th after running pocket sevens into pocket queens.

Joe Hachem was the last former champion to fall on Day 4. He ran pocket jacks into pocket aces and hit the rail in 298th. Jim Bechtel is the only former champion remaining in the field. He will return with 1.12 million on Sunday and has plenty of chips to start a run for the November Nine.

At the end of play on Saturday, just 237 players remain. Joseph McKeehan is the chip leader with 3.12 million. The only other player above 3 million is Upeshka De Silva with 3.06 million. Brian Hastings is currently fourth in chips heading into Day 5 with 2.46 million.

Other notable players healthy in chips and looking to make a run for the final table are Toby Lewis (1.43 million), Matt Jarvis (1.40 million), Justin Bonomo (1.35 million), Daniel Negreanu (1.33 million), Jonathan Tamayo (1.25 million), Jared Jaffee (1.24 million), Farzad Bonyadi (1.04 million) and Matt Glantz (802,000). Out of the women remaining in the event, Kelly Minkin looks to be the top stack with 1.28 million. She is vying for the title of Last Woman Standing in the Main Event.

Three days remain before we know who will make the November Nine. Right now, there is a strong possibility that we will have one or more big name pros at the final table. Between now and Tuesday, we will discover the players who will contend for poker’s greatest prize and those that will become another footnote in Main Event history.

This is what a million chips looks like on the WSOP main event feature table. And yes… They are mine.

A photo posted by Daniel Negreanu (@dnegspoker) on

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.