07/18/10 03:28:49 AM PDT
Day 8 of the Main Event (which our calendar tells us was actually Day 12) is all over but for the shouting and the celebrating. The action during the course of these two weeks has been fast and furious enough to raise a few eyebrows, but today was a much different, much longer, much more serious day. It took nearly 18 hours to whittle our field from the twenty-seven starters down to the final nine.
We've played so much poker today, it's hard to condense the action down to just a few paragraphs. But we'll try. Let's start at the beginning, where Joseph Cheong came into this penultimate day with the chip-leading stack of more than 24 million. He hovered around that mark for the duration of the day.
The same can't be said for the two prominent Scandinavian hopefuls. Johnny Lodden lost a coin flip to beat the parking lot rush, exiting in 27th place as the first casualty of the day. Sweden's William Thorson outlasted another four players, but he ran his into John Racener's pocket kings to put his name on the payout sheet in 22nd place.
Nineteen players returned from the second break. Michiel Sijpkens 19th-place elimination cued the two-table re-draw and left everyone nine spots away from a seat at November's final table.
Scott "BigRiskky" Clements might have been the betting favorite coming into the day as the player with the most WSOP final table experience left. After an active, up-and-down first few hours, Clements put his trust in ace-queen but ran it smack into Matthew Jarvis' ace-king. No help on board ended Clements' run in 18th place, and his table let out a big, relieved exhale as he left the Amazon Room for the last time this year.
David Baker had a whale of a WSOP in his own right. This Main Event marked his seventh cash of the 2010 Series, and five of those saw him running deep into the final two tables. That where this one ended too, though; Baker was knocked off in 17th place after putting his faith in a flush draw that never materialized. Benjamin Statz was next to depart, and the fifteen finalists were off to dinner a short while later.
When they returned, there was no sign of the dreaded after-dinner coma. The action came fast, and the next knockout provided possibly the most memorable moment of the Main Event, and maybe of the entire 2010 WSOP. It was a massive confrontation between Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel, and it was one of those pots that brought media and spectators scurrying from all corners of the room clamoring to catch a peek at the action. Duhamel started it with a raise to 550,000, and Affleck three-bet to 1.55 million. Duhamel re-raised right back to 3.925 total. Affleck called to put 8 million chips into the pot going to the flop.
Possibly sensing the danger he was in, Duhamel checked the flop. Affleck took the opportunity to fire out 5 million chips. Duhamel called, and Affleck shoved his last 11.6 million into the pot as the hit fourth street. Duhamel was faced with a decision for most of his own stack. The tension mounted as hushed murmurs of this monsterpotten coursed through the room. Duhamel finally called, putting an enormous pot of about 42 million chips in the middle of the table!
Affleck showed down for the overpair. He certainly had to be nervous when he watched Duhamel table for the pair and the open-ender. The entire rail inched forward in anticipation of the river card that would give one of the two players a commanding chip lead. Fate fell with Duhamel this time. The last card off was the , and a thundering reaction signaled the bad beat to the crowds who were too far away to see it with their own eyes. Affleck's aces had indeed been run down. He was visibly stricken by the result, choking back his emotions and burying his face in his cap for a good long while. He finally mustered the strength to leave the room after his 15th-place elimination, red-faced and awfully upset with the result.
That was the pot that pushed Duhamel into a commanding chip lead. It is a hand that will likely be talked about and analyzed over and over for the next year.
The next big name to fall was Adam "Roothlus" Levy in 12th place. Roothlus had a three-deep cheering section here with him for support today. He managed to chip his way up significantly over the course of the first couple levels. Levy had trouble winning a pot in the third level, though, and he was relieved of his last 4 million chips when he ran king-queen into the pocket aces of -- guess who, Jonathan Duhamel.
Pascal LeFrancois won his first gold bracelet this year at the WSOP, but his bid for number two was quashed with ten players left. This time it was Cheong looking for the knockout. His took care of LeFrancois and his in 11th place. That signaled the final redraw of the night. The last ten players were shuffled over to the main featured table to play it out under the bright lights.
We needed just one more elimination to end Day 8, but it would be a stubborn one. More than six hours passed with nary a bust-out. The short stacks were able to gather enough chips to stick around for a while and make this thing a real dogfight. Finally, the day-long short stack of Brandon Steven got into the pot, and this time he could not fade elimination. He was racing his against Matthew Jarvis' , but he would find no help from the dealer. The board ran out with five blanks. With that, the cheering sections of the other nine players rushed the stage to congratulate their men on making the final table of the Main Event.
So then, we are down to just nine players left out of 7,319 starters. One of them will be your new World Champion come November. Here's how things stacked up at the end of the night, a snapshot of what we'll be seeing in four months:
Seat 1: Jason Senti (7,625,000)
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong (23,525,000)
Seat 3: John Dolan (46,250,000)
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel (65,975,000)
Seat 5: Michael Mizrachi (14,450,000)
Seat 6: Matthew Jarvis (16,700,000)
Seat 7: John Racener (19,050,000)
Seat 8: Filippo Candio (16,400,000)
Seat 9: Soi Nguyen (9,650,000)
We'll spend the next several weeks researching these players and dissecting them (figuratively, of course), getting a feel for who they are. For now, all you need to know is that Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi is the man to watch. His victory in this year's $50,000 Players' Championship earned him a spot in the "best poker player" conversation, and this Main Event run is a remarkable encore to that performance. Grinder can earn a share of Player of the Year honors if he can manage to win this thing, and current POTY leader Frank Kassela will have a nervous four months to sweat while he waits for the title to be decided.
We'd like to thank you for joining us in this journey through the 2010 World Series of Poker. It's been fun and tiring and thrilling and maddening and everything we could have hoped for -- and now it's all but over. We're on a four-month hiatus, but you'll see us again from the Rio soon. When you do, we'll be ready to crown a new World Champion of poker.
All that's left now is one final goodnight from the Amazon Room. Until November, all the best!
07/18/10 02:47:10 AM PDT
At 5:40am, five hours and forty-five minutes after the elimination of 11th-place finisher Pascal LeFrancois, Jonathan Duhamel opened a pot for 1.225 million pre-flop. The next player to act was short-stacked Brandon Steven. He moved all in for a total of 4.475 million. Matthew Jarvis then called the all in, bringing the crowd to its feet again. Once Duhamel folded, it was on in the most classic of ways.
Shouting. Lots of shouting. People calling for this card or that card. You wouldn't think the sleepy crowd had this much energy left. The noise got louder after the flop came no help to Steven, . Some in the crowd asked for a jack on the turn to keep things interesting. Instead it was a board-pairing . Nine players were one card away from the November Nine. The dealer burned and turned...
A collective roar went up from the crowd, with people jumping and cheering. Steven was eliminated! The bubble was finally burst. With Steven's departure in 10th-place, we have nine very happy players on the stage.
07/18/10 02:39:17 AM PDT
That's what a railbird shouted after a recent pot between Joseph Cheong and Matthew Jarvis. Cheong opened for 1.225 million from early position, then was faced with an all-in raise to 7.325 million from Jarvis. Cheong eventually folded.
07/18/10 02:35:26 AM PDT
Soi Nguyen opened under the gun with a standard raise and was called by John Racener out of the small blind. Racener checked a paired board, . That check drew a bet of 2.5 million from Nguyen. Racener then tanked for a solid four minutes before surrendering his cards.
07/18/10 02:24:58 AM PDT
Jonathan Duhamel is still sitting pretty near the top of the leaderboard, seemingly content to wait this out. He opened his button a few moments ago to 1.25 million. Brandon Steven called out of the small blind, then checked a flop of . Duhamel moved all in, effectively making a bet the size of the shorter Steven's stack. Steven folded.
07/18/10 02:23:24 AM PDT
Despite the lateness (earliness?) of the hour, the crowd here around the feature table is still thick. Most are even managing to stay awake, unlike many of the members of the media, who have resorted to taking short naps anywhere they can find some room. That's what a 17-hour day in the Amazon Room will do to you. We can't imagine how the players are still playing with any level of aggression.
07/18/10 02:14:01 AM PDT
Fifteen minutes into the level we found our first flop. Jonathan Duhamel opened for 1.25 million pre-flop and was called in position by Brandon Steven. Both players checked an all-small flop, . Duhamel led out for 2.0 million on the turn and took down the pot after a fold by Steven.
"Cheering may or may not induce action," said MOC Robbie Thompson after the hand. "But it can't hurt." Word.
07/18/10 01:38:01 AM PDT
Somehow we've made it to the end of Level 35. Players are on a 20-minute break.
07/18/10 01:37:09 AM PDT
A second hand in a row we had an all in and a call! This time, Michael Mizrachi opened pre-flop with a standard raise. John Racener then three-bet to what we believe was 2.5 million. The next player to act, Filippo Candio, shoved all in for about 8.8 million. We've seen Candio shove a few times, but not usually as the third player into the pot. Mizrachi folded when the action came back to him. Racener called, and once again the crowd rose to its feet.
A double-up seemed imminent. Racener caught the faintest whiff of hope on a king-high flop, , but the board bricked from there. Candio doubled up.
07/18/10 01:32:19 AM PDT
The spectators found those hidden reserves of energy as Brandon Steven opened for 1,175,000 and Matthew Jarvis moved all in behind him. When action came back to Steven he called all in for 8.5 million total. All in and call!
What would normally be not much cause for excitement -- players showing down the same hand -- nevertheless still had spectators in the feature table area shouting for particular suits. After all, it was the most action anyone had seen in hours. With calls for suits peppering the air, the dealer put out a flop.
The gallery let out a collective "awwww," as the flop came three suits and ensured a chop. On they play...
07/18/10 01:24:09 AM PDT
That's the point we're getting to here. We're repeating oft-uttered things that MOC Robbie Thompson says in an effort to keep our energy up. We have no idea how the final table players are still playing. Right now it's raise-it-and-take-it poker. As often happens when play goes late into the night, the aggression levels have dropped way, way down. We're seeing a periodic three-bet but that's it. John Dolan remains one of the more active players but at this point we're eight minutes away from the next break -- a break nobody thought we'd ever get to.
07/18/10 01:11:54 AM PDT
We're still here and we're still awake... barely. The Mizrachis just had a few pizzas brought in to the feature table area, which provided a spot of amusement and an enticing aroma. Over at the feature table, the play is continuing much the way it has the last several hours. Nobody is getting many chips into the pot without a huge hand.
07/18/10 12:55:57 AM PDT
The feature table area shook off the sleep and came alive as Jonathan Duhamel opened to 1.1 million from early position. The next player to act, Brandon Steven, then moved all in for 5.3 million. Could this finally be the hand?
Nope. Everyone folded back to Duhamel and then Duhamel folded as well.
07/18/10 12:44:59 AM PDT
The hour is getting late here in the Amazon Room, making it seems less and less likely the players are going to find the aggression needed to get the chips in middle and eliminate one more player. Jonathana Duhamel opened a recent hand to 1,050,000 pre-flop. Brandon Steven called from the small blind, but the hand went no further. Steven checked and folded to a bet of 3.25 million on a nine-hgih flop, .
07/18/10 12:31:59 AM PDT
Joseph Cheong started things off with an under-the-gun-raise to 950,000. Only Michael Mizrachi, in position behind Cheong, called. On an all-trey flop, , Cheong led out for 1.425 million. Mizrachi raised to 4 million and ended the hand as Cheong folded. Mizrachi flashed pocket kings.
MOC Robbie Thompason announced Mizrachi's count as more than 18 million, drawing tons of applause from the rail.
07/18/10 12:22:23 AM PDT
Soi Nguyen and Jason Senti have both been relatively quiet since we collapsed to ten-handed play. The two played a recent pot in which Nguyen opened for 1 million pre-flop and Senti called in position. Nguyen continued for 1.7 million after the flop came . Again Senti called.
The turn was the . Nguyen eyed his stack and the pot, then moved all in for 7,450,000. A fan in the gallery implored Senti to call, but after a minute folded his hand.
07/18/10 12:09:15 AM PDT
It seems like John Dolan is content to keep up the aggression until someone makes a stand against him. Dolan and Joseph Cheong were in for a standard raise pre-flop. On a flop of , Cheong opened with a bet of 1.425 million that Dolan called. The turn paired the board . Cheong checked, then called a bet of 2.75 million from Dolan.
On the river Cheong checked one more time. Dolan took his time before counting out a bet of 5.5 million and putting it into the pot. Cheong snap-folded, allowing Dolan to claim another pot without showdown.
It's worth noting that in the last 30 minutes, Dolan has gone from 22 million to 45 million without a showdown.
07/18/10 12:02:34 AM PDT
For the second hand in a row John Dolan kept raising until his opponent cried, "Uncle." He opened for 1.0 million. Action passed to John Racener. He three-bet to 2.8 million, but Dolan didn't slow down. He put in a four-bet to 6.6 million and earned a quick fold from Racener.
Dolan now has close to 40 million in chips.
07/17/10 11:55:33 PM PDT
If play continues at the pace it's currently at, we should get all of about 15 hands in during this 2-hour level. Joseph Cheong opened the pot from early position to 950,000. John Dolan had the next action and three-bet to 2,575,000. That second raise cleared out everyone back to Cheong. He put in a four-bet to 5,950,000.
Dolan then went into the tank for more then six minutes. He finally moved all in, then took down the pot after a snap-fold from Cheong. Both players now have about 35 million.
07/17/10 11:46:45 PM PDT
Micahel Mizrachi is trying to grind his way up the counts on this extended bubble. He opened a pot to 925,000 pre-flop from the button and was called only by big blind John Racener. Both players checked an eight-high flop, . When the turn came Racener led out for 1.1 million. Mizrachi called to the river, a , then bet 1.5 million after Racener checked. Mizrachi took the pot down without further resistance.