The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship continued on Sunday at the Rio in Las Vegas with the start and completion of Day 5.
Poker’s world championship resumed play with a total of 237 players who survived the Day-4 session. The Amazon Room was packed with players, a growing number of spectators, and media outlets from all over the world.
Sunday’s participants played five more levels, of two-hours each in duration – which means all survivors to this point have now played 25 levels, or 50 total hours. ESPN television cameras were on hand to capture the action, which will be shown once weekly coverage begins next month, running up to the crescendo, which will be live coverage of the championship finale in November.
By night’s end, there were just 69 survivors from this session who still remain alive in this year’s world championship.
Here were some of the highlights from Day 5:
If there was a star of Day 5, it was undoubtedly Pierre Neuville, from Belgium.
He began play ranked in 77th place, which was in the top third of the field. By day’s end, he’d rocketed into first place with more than seven times his starting stack. Neuville hasn’t cashed this year, until this event. However, he did post an impressive eight cashes last year at the series. The Belgian also finished in-the-money in the 2010 Main Event.
Other players who made major chip moves on this day included David Peters, a recreational poker player from Rancho Santa Fe, CA. He's now in 4th place. Also worth noting was Matt Jarvis’ nice run and chance to become only the second player in history to make the November Nine twice (after Mark Newhouse accomplished the feat last year). Jarvis, from Vancouver, BC (Canada) currently ranks in 7th place. He finished 8th in the 2010 Main Event.
However, the session wasn’t so kind to several players who enjoyed success in recent days and then saw their championship dreams come to a crashing halt. Most notably was Antonio Esfandiari, the two-time gold bracelet winner who was low on chips the entire day and exited without ever seriously shaking up the leaderboard.
Other falls from grace included Luther Tran, from Bayou La Batre, AL who had flirted with the chip lead during the previous two days, then went bust. He ended up in 106th place.
Calvin Lee, from Brooklyn, NY, another player who had been in the top ten much of the previous few days, busted out in 214th place.
Also worth noting is Amar Anand, from Shrewbury, MA who was the chip leader during most of Day 2 and 3. He managed to survive and is now in the top half of the pack.
The complete list of survivors from this session with chip counts were as follows: CHIP COUNTS
NATIONS STILL IN
The Main Event Championship attracted players from 80 different nations this year. Remarkably, with 69 players alive, 13 nations still have at least one player with a chance to win poker’s ultimate prize.
The 13 nations represented in the field at this time include the following:
THE FATE OF FORMER WORLD CHAMPIONS
Of all the former WSOP Main Event winners, none remain alive in this year’s championship.
Five champions started Day 4. All but one were eliminated. Then, Jim Bechtel, the 1993 Main Event winner, was the lone champ who joined the field at the start of Day 5. However, he was eliminated during the 22nd level of play, ultimately finishing in 121st place.
CELEBRITIES IN THE WSOP SPOTLIGHT
When Day 5 began, French singer and actor Patrick Bruel, a former gold bracelet winner, was the lone celebrity still alive in the Main Event. He ended up as the first player to exit very early, finishing in 237th place.
WOMEN STILL REMAINING IN THE MAIN EVENT
The day began with 6 females remaining in the championship. By day’s end, only one remained. Kelly Minkin, a law school graduate from Tucson, AZ sits just below chip average at the moment.
SEVERAL MORE WSOP GOLD BRACELET WINNERS ELIMINATED
A large number of gold bracelet winners saw their 2015 WSOP experience come to an end. Among the most notable former winners to hit the rail were – Jake Cody (113th place), Farzad Bonyadi (114th place), Norbert Szecsi (115th place), Vitaly Lunkin (119th place), Jim Bechtel (121st place), Jared Jaffee (137th place), Elio Fox (163rd), Antonio Esfandiari (168th), Men “the Master” Ngiuyen (211th place), and Patrick Bruel (237th place).
OTHER NOTABLES NOW OUT
Quite a few other notable poker pros went out on Day 5, including – Brandon Adams (95th place), Matt Glantz (146th place), John Racener (162nd place), Dan O’Brien (186th place), and Christian Harder (196th place).
THE 2015 GOLD BRACELET WINNERS CLUB
There were 67 gold bracelet tournaments leading up the Main Event. Accordingly, many players will return home with the satisfaction of having achieved poker’s most coveted prize, winning the WSOP gold bracelet. Here’s the fate of a few players who won gold bracelets this year and how they fared in the Main Event on this day:
-- Brian Hastings, who won two gold bracelets this year ($1,500 buy-in Ten-Game Mix and the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Championship), which gives him three WSOP wins for his career, remains in the top ten. He’s now one of the favorites to win 2015 WSOP “Player of the Year” honors.
-- Upeshka De Silva, who won his first career gold bracelet victory in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tourney, started the day ranked in second place. He ended up slightly below chip average.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PREVIOUS “BUBBLE” FINISHERS?
It’s become customary to award the “bubble” finisher of the Main Event (the player who barely misses out on making the money) a paid-entry into next year’s championship. Remarkably, the previous two bubble players fared quite well, since. Three-time gold bracelet winner Farzad Bonyadi, who bubbled the Main Event in 2013, came back last year and cashed in the championship. Moreover, he cashed again this year – finishing in 114th place.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
The 2015 WSOP Main Event Championship continues with Day 6, which will be played on Monday, starting at noon. There will be 69 survivors who will return for the next playing session. All players who have survived up to this point are guaranteed to receive a payout of at least $96,445.
Day 6 will play down to the final 27. Excitement is expected to build as players fly in family and friends, the rails swell with cheers, and players can now see a reasonable path leading to a coveted spot on poker's biggest stage and a guaranteed million dollar prize as one of the nine finalists.
Then, Day 7 takes place on Tuesday, which will play down to 9 players as the 2015 edition of poker’s “November Nine” is ultimately determined.