People may say they play poker for the money and the bracelet, but when you break down the day to day of a poker tournament, really only one thing matters: chips. So, each day of this year's Main Event, we’re going to take a look at what’s going on strictly by the counts to see what history has taught us, what the future may hold, and how this year's event stacks up. Here are some of the big takeaways as we begin the long march from 27 to the final table:
Martin Jacobson Never Sweats It, But He Might Start Now
In this column, we’ve mentioned more than once that being a Day 1 chip leader typically doesn’t work out well for the players involved, unless your name is Ben Lamb or Joe Cada. We’re probably going to have to add Martin Jacobson of Sweden to that list. The Day 1A chip leader is also the Day 6 big stack with 22,335,000. He is the only player over 20 million chips and, were he to make the final table with that sum of chips, he would actually have a slightly above average chip stack. It is the second largest Day 6 chip lead since 2008, trailing only Joseph Cheong, who came into this day with over 24 million chips in 2010.While he hasn’t been in the top spot since Day 1, take a look at Jacobson’s end of day counts to see just how much his tournament has never really been in danger despite almost a week of poker play:Day 1A: 200,1000 (1 of 505)Day 2AB: 342,700 (12 of 817)Day 3: 721,500 (29 of 746)Day 4: 1,594,000 (18 of 291)Day 5: 3,925,000 (14 of 79)Day 6: 22,335,000 (1 of 27)Nothing is for certain yet for Jacobson though. The past three years, the start of Day 7 chip leader has failed to make the final table.Yesterday’s NewsTypically the Day 5 chip leaders have very little security when it comes to making it through to Day 6, but yesterday, most of our big stacks did manage to survive the day. Tony Ruberto (68th place) was the only one of the group who busted, though Scott Palmer began the day third in chips and is returning as the shortest stack with just 760,000. He is the only player in six-figure territory with a stack that amounts to less than seven big blinds.
It Isn’t Always Bad to Be a Short StackScott Palmer shouldn’t fear though, as we have often seen someone ascend from the bottom of the counts on this day in order to make the final nine. Just last year, David Benefield came in 27th of 27 in the counts with 1.84 million and went on to make the final table. In fact, three of the final tablists from last year, including the reigning champ Ryan Riess, began this day in the bottom third of the chip counts.
It Isn’t Always Great to Be a Big Stack
Even though there are just 18 eliminations to go, the top ten counts tend to change a lot over the course of this day of play. Here is a look since 2008 at how many of the top ten players from the start of today have gone on to make the November Nine:2008: 4 (Dennis Phillips, Peter Eastgate, Chino Rheem, and Kelly Kim)2009: 7 (Darvin Moon, Antoine Saout, Steven Begleiter, Jeff Shulman, Phil Ivey, Eric Buchman, James Akenhead)2010: 7 (Joseph Cheong, Soi Nguyen, Jason Senti, Matt Jarvis, Jonathan Duhamel, John Racener, Filippo Candio)2011: 3 (Ben Lamb, Matt Giannetti, Phil Collins)2012: 3 (Rob Salaburu, Russell Thomas, Jeremy Ausmus)2013: 3 (Slyvain Loosli, JC Tran, Jay Farber)Worth noting that in only two of those years, 2008 and 2010, did our eventual winner begin Day 7 with a top ten chip stack.Betting On a BraceletThe last time we had a Main Event final table without a bracelet winner was 2008, the first year of the November Nine. This year, we have four players with a bracelet on their wrist already. The biggest-stacked of those is two-time winner Luis Velador, who is second in the counts with 16.6 million. Velador is also the oldest player left in the field at 51 years of age. Craig McCorkell of England is also in the top ten in chips to start the day, while the other two bracelet winners, Leif Force and Sean Dempsey, are each sitting on less than 4 million chips.
Your Daily Newhouse UpdateThis time last year, Mark Newhouse came into this day 15th in the chip counts with just shy of 5.9 million. He then ascended to the top of the counts early in the day thanks to a massive double up through Anton Morgenstern. He would make the November Nine eighth of nine in the counts. Today, he is in similar position once again, coming in 11th in the counts with 6.82 million.
The Spanish success in the Main Event continues as Andoni Larrabe, who is the youngest player left in the field at 22 years old, once again keeps the country in the top ten counts with his fifth place chip stack worth 15.28 million. The top ten is evenly divided between five American and five non-American players. In addition to Larrabe and chip leader Jacobson of Sweden, the group also includes Bruno Politano of Brazil, Craig McCorkell of the United Kingdom, and Felix Stephensen of Norway. All told, there are ten countries represented among the final 27. The field has 17 Americans left. The next best-represented countries are Great Britain and the Netherlands with two players each.
The Haves and Have NotsAverage stack at this stage of the tournament is a little north of 7.6 million, but only the top ten counts are above average in chips to begin the day. In fact, the top five counts all have double the average stack, leaving nine players at the bottom of the counts with less than 4 million chips. Even if players are only sitting on 4 million though, it isn’t exactly a short stack, as it amounts to 33 big blinds.