Day Seven of the World Series of Poker Main Event was the equivalent of plunging a handful of ruby-red, vine-ripe tomatoes into a high-speed blender. What went in ultimately was not what came out. In fact, the end result was utterly unrecognizable. The carnage resembled a crime scene -- the perfect description if you were to ask 51 poker players now bandaging their broken dreams of winning the 2010 world championship, who failed to survive the day.
Just about everything on this day flip-flopped. Down became up. Up became down. Day turned to night. Chip leaders busted out. Players with virtually no chips when play started catapulted into the top ten. Indeed, this was the most unpredictable of all days.
Day Seven was the seventh full session of competition for players who remain alive in this year's Main Event. The day started out with 78 players. After nearly five levels of play lasting nearly 12 hours, only 27 players survived. The surviving 27 players return on Saturday to continue play on Day Eight, which will be the last playing session until the final table commences in November.
The end of Day Seven chip leader is Joseph Cheong, from La Mirada, CA. He is a 24-year-old Korean-born poker pro. Last year, Cheong graduated with a degree psychology from the University of California at San Diego.
Cheong won a WSOP Circuit gold ring at Harrah's Rincon, held earlier this year. His victory paid $17,541 in prize money, plus his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. At the time, Cheong stated he intended to play in the WSOP and would hopefully win his first gold bracelet. Right now, he appears on schedule to accomplish his lofty goal. Cheong is one of only two players at this stage of the tournament who have more than 20 million in chips.
Ranked in second place is Cuong Nguyen, from Santa Ana, CA. He is a 27-year-old Vietnamese-born part-time poker player. He is on Cheong's heels in chips. Nguyen is also at least 5 million ahead of the nearest third-place challenger. RIght now, the Main Event is a two-player race. But 25 more hopefuls remain very much in contention.
Among those who did not fare as well on Day Seven were former gold bracelet winner Theo Jorgensen (Copenhagen, Denmark), who was the chip leader at the start of the day. Jorgensen endured a brutal final hour during which he slid from 12 million in chips to oblivion.
Another player who suffered an unwelcome fate was Evan Lamprea (Woodstock, Ontario) who was the chip leader at the end of Day Five. He ran out of momentum and ended up as the 46th-place finisher.
Jacobo Fernandez (Bronx, NY) has 14 cashes within the last three years at the WSOP and ended up in 49th place.
Former gold bracelet winner David Benyamine (Henderson, NV) was eliminated in 58th place.
Eric Baldwin (Las Vegas, NV) was eliminated in 59th place. Baldwin won a No-Limit Hold’em gold bracelet last year.
Jean-Robert Bellande, one of poker’s most demonstrative personalities and watchable characters, enjoyed his best Main Event performance ever -- with a 78th-place finish. Bellande, known for his appearance on the reality television show “Survivor” a few years ago, collected $94,942 in prize money.
All players are now guaranteed $317,161 in prize money. Top prize is the 2010 world championship, a gold bracelet, and $8,944,138.
The next stage of play is expected to trim the 27 remaining competitors down to just nine survivors, which will constitute the official final table of this year’s Main Event, otherwise known as the “November Nine.”
The end of day results also prolong the drama surrounding this year's Player of the Year race. The winner will be either Frank Kassela (Las Vegas, NV) as the sole champion, or Kassela sharing the title with Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi (Miramar, FL). Since Mizrachi remains alive in the Main Event, he stays in contention for the win. Kassela busted out on Day Four and is now guaranteed no worse than a tie for first-place in the point race. The only way Mizrachi can catch Kassela (for a tie) is if he wins the Main Event.