Twenty-seven players moved one day closer to taking the most coveted seats in poker, which is a place at the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event final table, to be played in November.
Day 6 of poker’s world championship took place on Sunday, which began promptly at noon and wrapped up much earlier than was expected at precisely 11 pm at night. During this critical session, 53 players were eliminated as the playing field was reduced from 80 hopefuls at the start of the day to just 27 survivors by night’s end.
Coming next, on Monday, three tables will play down to one, which will comprise the 2016 edition of the famed November Nine. Then, those finalists will ultimately play for the title of “world champion” which is represented by a gold and diamond bracelet, along with $8 million for first place.
However, reaching such a lofty goal is never easy. Just ask any of those who were eliminated on Day 6, or those who maneuvered their way into position to possibly win. The chip lead changed several times throughout the day. Moreover, many of the top players with the most experience suffered elimination. Nonetheless, a very talented group of 27 players remains, each bringing forth a different level of experience, playing style, and personal background.
Vojtech Ruzica, from Liberec, Czech Republic made the biggest leap forward of the day. He finished the session as chip leader, surpassing several other players who had spent hours battling for supremacy. Ruzicka, a poker pro who is no stranger to cashing at the WSOP (this marks his 18th in-the-money finish) hopes to do one spot better than Martin Staszko, also from the Czech Republic, who finished as the runner up in the 2011 Main Event. He certainly has a chance to do that, given his 26,415,000 in chips going into the final day of the summer.
Close behind is Michael Ruane, from Maywood, NJ. He ended Day 6 with 24,565,000 in chips. Then, there’s two-time gold bracelet winner Cliff Josephy, very much in the hunt in third place with 23,860,000.
Ten different nations are represented among the final 27 players who are still alive in the tournament, including a few countries which are enjoying their first time to shine in the glow of the poker spotlight. In addition to the usual countries which typically provide the majority of finalists -- including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, France, Belgium, Spain and the Czech Republic – Hong Kong and Lebanon are also represented. Kakwan Lau and Jeff Hakim are first-timers in this spot.
Other notables still alive in the Main Event include James Obst, who has been at or near the top of the leader board for several days, currently in 4th place. Valentin Vornicu, who says he wants to win for all the WSOP Circuit grinders has also been a constant presence among the chip leaders for multiple days. The eight-time gold ring winner is in 6th place. Tom Marchese, a well-respected poker pro although not quite a household name yet, is another top talent still alive in the field, in 10th place. As for experience, only one former November Niner is still playing, and that’s Antoine Saout, from France. He’s in 24th place and has some work to do if he plans on becoming only the second November Niner to make multiple appearances since the delayed final-table concept was adopted in 2008 (Mark Newhouse was the first to do so).
That said, even with those more notable players highlighted, it would be foolish to discount anyone at this stage of the tournament. Each player has played remarkably well to reach this point, and given the right situation at the optimal time, any of them might become the 2016 world champion.
As for players who hit the rail on Day 6, the bust out list gives more credence to the talents of those who are still alive. Consider just some of the names who didn’t make it this far: Paul Volpe (2-time gold bracelet winner), Dan Colman (gold bracelet winner and One Drop champion in 2014), Max Silver (top British pro), Chris Klodnicki (36 WSOP cashes and $5.4 million in earnings at WSOP), Tony Gregg (gold bracelet winner, $5 million in WSOP earnings), Brian Yoon (two WSOP wins) and others.
Just one more playing session stands between nine players and the ultimate destiny of everyone who deeply loves this game. The next step toward determining this year’s “November Nine” will be Monday’s playing session. On Day 7, cards will go into the air promptly at noon and will play down to just nine survivors, no matter how long it takes.
Indeed, we’re now less than 24 hours from knowing who the 2016 WSOP Main Event Champion finalists will be for the November Nine.
Note: For a more comprehensive look at the highlights from Day 6, please click here to see the LIVE REPORTING logs.