The biggest World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event ever held in California in its nine-season history is nearing the final act.
On Sunday, the second playing session of three was completed during what turned out to be a very long day and night. It took 15.5 hours to whittle down the final 13 survivors from the more than 220 players who began the day. The group that took seats at the tables on Sunday had returned from the starting field size of 721.
The pack of those auditioning for what will become the staring role as the new poker champion is currently led by someone who has shined in the spotlight before. Nathan Bjerno sits comfortably atop the remaining field as the chip leader. Just four days ago, Bjerno won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring here at The Bicycle Casino. He hopes this will be a memorable encore performance.
Moreover, with 50 points accumulated in the Casino Champion race already, Bjerno could pad those numbers and win the title, which guarantees a seat in the WSOP National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof. Indeed, Bjerno has a lot at stake come Monday.
But getting picked for the part of "Main Event Champion" will not be easy. The two tables that remain will be full of sharks. Alas, Hollywood can be a tough place -- be it for would be movie stars or aspiring poker champions.
Among those in contention are at least three notable names well-known in the poker world -- including Doug Lee (a previous Main Event gold ring winner from the Rio in 2005), Joe Tehan (30 WSOP career cashes), and Nam Le ($6 million in overall tourney winnings). It's still anyone's game.
We'll see who gets to be the star on Monday. The curtain on the final act of the $1,675 buy-in Main Event Championship goes up at noon on Monday and will close with what should be a rousing standing ovation for at least one new champion. Like all those recognized for a best performance, the new star gets some special perks. He will receive a gold ring plus $216,275 in prize money.
Here are the nominees for Main Event Champion (with chip counts) at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles:
Nathan Bjerno -- 1,852,000 Baptiste Chavaillaz -- 1,783,000 Zhong Chen -- 1,633,000 Erik Roussakis -- 1,500,000 Jesus Gastelum -- 1,440,000 Jared Ingles -- 1,400,000 Eric Varela -- 1,088,000 Doug Lee -- 905,000 David Malka -- 866,000 Huicun Quio -- 612,000 Joe Tehan -- 507,000 Greg Brask -- 477,000 Nam Le -- 318,000
Be sure and check back here at WSOP.com for Live Updates and coverage on Monday. The live stream with hole cards shown will begin once the final table of nine players has been determined. This is expected to be sometime Monday afternoon (PST).
Indeed, one poker player is destined to win for what will be an outstanding performance. But everyone who has made it this far deserves a best supporting performance award, as well.
Forget the envelopes....shuffle the cards and let the show begin!