Cannes France (October 4, 2012) -- It's been a wild day along the French Riviera.In one of the most surreal experiences ever for a World Series of Poker finale, the grand ballroom at the Hotel Majestic Barriere is exploding with excitement. In fact, the crowd scene is so ecstatic, spectators who can't fit into the packed final table area are instead camping around televisions outside showing the live feed.Indicative of how crazy the scene is at Cannes, one recent hand had Frenchman Stephane Albertini all-in against Englishman Christopher Brammer. The buzz of English fans supporting Brammer had the rival French fans rooting for Albertini in such an uproar, they crashed through the front door in a mob scene and flooded around the final table area, startling their British rivals and television cameramen positioned along the rail to broadcast the action around the world.Then, there was Phil Hellmuth, who was nearly overshadowed by all the madness. The 12-time WSOP gold bracelet winner is currently on the cusp of winning what would be a landmark victory -- his 13th career title, which only serves to add greater distance between himself and everyone else in the poker world struggling to get on the victory leader board.
Moreover, a win here in Cannes by Hellmuth would put major pressure on October Niner Greg Merson when it comes to the Player of the Year race. Hellmuth has already passed Antonio Esfandiari in the ranks to take the lead. With a win in this event, Hellmuth would make it so Merson would have to win the Main Event in a couple of weeks in order to nab WSOP POY honors. Cheong is still drawing live in this contest as well. If Hellmuth exits in fourth place and Cheong goes on to win, he would take the lead and Merson would need a top three finish to overtake him. (Update, Cheong has just busted in 4th place)
There is also a lot of money on the line in addition to the bracelet. The winner of this event will take home a whopping €1,022,376. The final four players are all guaranteed a payday of at least €292,320.
At the break, the four players and their chip counts are as follows:
Phil Hellmuth (USA) -- 5,700,000 in chips
Sergii Baranov (Ukraine) -- 3,755,000 in chips
Joseph Cheong (USA) -- 2,105,000 in chips
Stephane Albertini (France) --1,260,000 in chips
The 10,000-euro buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament began five days ago with 420 entrants. By late Wednesday night, the field size had been reduced to just eight players, who made up the televised final table.
The first to be eliminated was two-time gold bracelet winner Jason Mercier, from Miami, Florida who collected €84,672.
Next, Stephane Girault, from Paris, France went out as the seventh-place finisher and collected €108,864.
Then, another native player -- Paul Tedeschi, from Bastia, France -- exited in sixth place and collected €149,184.
Finally, Christopher Brammer, from Southampton, UK was eliminated in fifth place and collected €207,648.After a few hours break, cards will go back in the air at 9:45 pm local time in Cannes. The finale will be shown on live TV in 79 countries in 20 languages on Eurosport and ESPN3. The broadcast begins at 10 pm local time.