It's Day 6 at the World Series of Poker Main Event and the schedule calls to play from 79 players down to 27.
As players head off for a 90-minute dinner break there are just 36 remaining and the chip leader at 10.7 million is Brandon Cantu, WSOP bracelet holder and World Poker Tour champion.
Unlike the last time WorldSeriesofPoker.com
spoke with Cantu, the 27-year-old seemed confident with his performance today. "I'm really on top of my game right now," Cantu said, adding that he was just moved to a new table before dinner and will need to reevaluate when play resumes.
When Day 6 began the field included two women, a few online pros, a car salesman from California as the chip leader and Phil Hellmuth serving a one orbit penalty that would have seen him lose more than 10% of his stack.
The first surprise of the day was provided by Hellmuth, who arrived at his table, took his seat and won the first pot. Hellmuth was supposed to be sitting out the round for verbally abusing Cristian Dragomir at the end of Day 5, but Hellmuth met this morning with WSOP executives and convinced them to overturn the penalty. The official statement from the World Series of Poker is as follows:
"This morning Phil Hellmuth met with Jack Effel, WSOP Tournament Director, Howard Greenbaum, Harrah's Regional Vice President for Specialty Gaming, and Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the WSOP. Based on that meeting and an official review of the situation, it was decided that the penalty imposed on Mr. Hellmuth at the conclusion of play last night was excessive.
"Warnings and penalties are intended to correct inappropriate behavior and our rulings should be as fair as possible, given the circumstances," said Pollack. "In this instance, the punishment did not fit the crime."
"Phil has now been warned and put on notice in a way that he never has been," Pollack added."
Hellmuth was in the middle of the pack at the day's beginning and held on until the end of level 26 before being eliminated in 45th place when his A-Q was unable to overtake Andrew Rosskamm's pocket jacks. Hellmuth earned $154,400 for his finish and exited the Main Event in his usual humble manner. "I'm going to throw up on the table when I watch and see just how bad 20 of the 40 remaining players are," Hellmuth said after busting.
Chip leader Mark Ketteringham, the aforementioned car salesman from California, also surprised the crowd here at the Rio when he was eliminated in 52nd place after a disastrous slide. Other notables eliminated early on Day 6 include Matt Matros (78th), one-time chip leader James McManus (71st), Victor Ramdin (64th), Thomas Keller (61st), Alex Outhred (54th), Kido Pham (41st) and online pros Dave "Raptor" Benefield (73rd), Adam "Roothlus" Levy (48th) and Peter "number1PEN" Neff (36th).
The other notable elimination was that of Lisa Parsons. Parsons was one of just two women remaining in the Main Event and her departure from the tournament leaves Tiffany Michelle as the lone female in the field. You can read about Michelle's accomplishment here.
There are 35 players left in the 2008 Main Event, including Mike Matusow, Chino Rheem, Owen Crowe, Scott Montgomery, Garrett Beckman and Nick Sliwinski.
Action resumes at 8:45 PT and you can catch up-to-the-minute live updates and chip counts right here at WorldSeriesofPoker.com.