2012 Main Event Champion Greg Merson sits in third place as the final 20 players return for Day 3 of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event.
This is Event #2 on the young 2015 WSOP calendar, and it attracted 422 entries when it began on Thursday. Darryl Ronconi led the 171 survivors at the end of Day 1, but he would bow out short of the money during a ruthless Day 2.
Merson had quite a productive day yesterday, entering with 100,000 chips and exiting with 800,000. It wasn't without a scare or two though, including the need to hit a five-outer on the river in a big knockout pot against Tommaso Briotti. But, for the most part, it was relatively steady sailing, and the two-time bracelet winner is showing good form to start the summer.
David Sands will begin the new day right behind Merson with 704,000 chips, though he too needed a lifeline in a big pot yesterday. It was just a flip against Byron Kaverman, but Sands' king-queen was able to overcome a flopped set of nines, running down a straight to give himself another toehold on the leaderboard. Sands is arguably among the most dangerous players without a bracelet, and he'll be a real threat to change that over the next 48 hours.
The chipleader is a less familiar face to the poker community, but someone perhaps better known in grander circles. Born in 1939, Carl Westcott is the most senior member of the final twenty players, and the only one who has won an award from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. That puts him in the company of people like Bob Hope and Maya Angelou, though he's likely more concerned with joining the bracelet club at this moment. This is, in fact, his very first bracelet event, his only other appearance at the Rio coming in 2007 when he took third place in the Ante Up For Africa charity event. He begins Day 3 with 1,066,000, just 4,000 chips in front of Artur Koren.
Bryn Kenney, Amir Lehavot, Ebanks, or Alex Bolotin could potentially win their second bracelet this weekend, while Jason Wheeler, Nam Le, and Kevin MacPhee are all looking for their first. Though they're close enough to smell it now, those last two will begin with the two shortest stacks and the longest uphill climbs in front of them.
Action resumes at 2:00 PM PDT and will continue until they reach the final table of nine. Over $466,000 goes to the eventual winner, along with one of the first bracelets of 2015. Blinds will be 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante.