On Sunday, a marathon of poker took place at the Lumiere Casino in St. Louis, Missouri as the final 131 players hit the felt for Day 2 of the Main Event. The field played down to the final four and by the time the bags were distributed it was none other than Robert "Uncle Krunk" Panitch who sat on the largest stack.
Panitch won a significant pot in the last hand of the night to propel him into the chip lead among the final four. Panitch finished with 3.025 million and leads his three competitors, Millard Hale (2.105 million), Robert Edelstein (1.675 million), and current Casino Championship points leader Peter Nigh (1.515 million). Panich famously finished in third place in the 2012/13 National Championship where he locked up over $156,000 in prize money. A win for Panitch on Monday could once again earn him entry into this prestigious event.
The day began with 127 returning players from the two starting flights as well as four new players who registered before the day began. The play kicked off at a breakneck pace, losing dozens of players before the money bubble was reached. Two-time Circuit ring winner Tim Vance played the role of bubble boy and his elimination guaranteed the remaining 45 players a payday of at least $2,820.
Some of the familiar faces who cashed in the tournament include James Mackey (44th), Daniel Lowery (42nd), DJ MacKinnon (37th), Jacob Bazeley (35th), Michael Hahn (28th), Allen Kessler (25th), Ben Grise (15th), and John Holley (13th).
Theodore McCollum was eliminated in tenth place and his elimination set in motion the official final table. Danny Steinberg held a commanding chip lead heading into the final table and looked primed to continue his domination all of the way to a title win. One by one players fell victim to their opponents and the likes of Timothy Bishop (9th), Jonathan Gray (8th), and Michael Holm (7th) were sent to the rail. Throughout all of this, Steinberg found himself losing small pot after small pot, most consistently to Hale. Eventually, Hale crippled Steinberg down to less than ten blinds and he was eliminated soon after in sixth place.
Nick Weber was eliminated in fifth and that left the final four to play into the early hours of the morning. The chip lead traded hands several times over the next couple of hours as the final four locked horns and were ultimately unable to eliminate another player.
The final four will return tomorrow to play for the title, the National Championship seat, and the $137,283 in first-place prize money. Play will resume at 12 p.m. with blinds at 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000-chip ante.
Here's a look another look at the chip counts heading into the final day:
Robert "Uncle Krunk" Panitch - 3,025,000 (75 BBs)
Millard Hale - 2,105,000 (52 BBs)
Robert Edelstein - 1,675,000 (41 BBs)
Peter Nigh - 1,515,000 (37 BBs)