Players still alive in the WSOP Main Event returned yesterday with the bubble looming over their heads. With 693 players set to receive money, the remaining 750 knew it would be a short but stressful ride to securing a payday after four days of play.
It took about 90 minutes to reach the hand-for-hand stage. During this period, the last Main Event champion still standing, Huck Seed, was eliminated. His ouster meant that the Main Event winner would not be a former champion. The hand-for-hand started when the field was whittled down to 695 players, leaving two eliminations to go before everyone else would be certain to walk away as winners.
Although all still involved were looking to land in the money, there was no prolonged bubble. In the very first hand, not one, not two, but three players were eliminated.
That ended the bubble stage in quick fashion, but created a small issue. All three players got to split the $18,400 min-cash, but they had to determine who would get the free seat for next year.
The decision was made to draw cards, with the highest card winning an entry for the 2015 WSOP ME. Luck smiled upon Zhen Cai when he drew a King, while John Dwyer and Kori Hunter both found Sixes. The matter was settled as each walked away with over $6,000 and Cai can begin preparing for a deeper finish next year.
Once the bubble issue had been resolved, play continued and many short stacks could now happily put their chips in the middle, knowing that it was safely time to go busto or robusto. This, naturally, led to numerous exits. By the time the last river card was dealt, only 291 players had some chips to bag for the night.
One of the most notable players falling in the heat of battle was ten-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey. The Tiger Woods of Poker was going strong in the Main Event as he started with the chip lead on Day 3. Ivey grabbed some momentum on Day 4, but was eventually eliminated yesterday just after the dinner break. Olivier Busquet, Ben Yu, Faraz Jaka and Abe Mosseri were also in the group of players whose run in the biggest tournament of the year ended.
While some were struggling, others were thriving. One of those thriving players was Dan Smith. Well-known in the poker world, Smith was able to capture the chip lead early in the day. Although he did not finish as the chip leader, he still accumulated a very respectable stack of nearly 2.3 million, good for sixth position overall. It is worth noting that this is Smith’s first Main Event cash, but it could turn into much more than that.
Other big names with decent stacks include Griffin Benger with around 2.3 million, Brian Hastings with nearly 2.1 million, Martin Jacobson on 1.6 million, and Jared Bleznick just under a million. The first position, however, belongs to Matthew Haugen with 2.8 million.
Action is underway tonight and we will see the already small remaining field shrink even more as players get closer to forming the final table of nine on Monday.