The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship is heading into the homestretch. Action continued on Monday at the Rio in Las Vegas with the start and completion of Day 6.
Poker’s world championship resumed play with just 69 players out of the original 6,420 starters. The Amazon Room was packed with players, a huge number of spectators, and media outlets covering the tournament from all over the world. ESPN television cameras were on hand to capture the action, dominated by five feature tables. Highlights will be shown weekly once coverage begins next month, continuing up to the grand finale which will be live two-day coverage of the world championship in November.
Monday’s participants played 4.5 more levels, of two-hours each in duration, which means all survivors to this point have now played nearly 30 levels -- or about 59 total hours.
By night’s end, there were just 27 survivors from this session who still remain alive in poker’s annual world championship.
Here were some of the highlights from Day 6:
Thomas Kearney currently leads all players with $14.6 million in chips. However, several players are close on his heels, with Matt Guan currently resting at 14 million. Meanwhile, Erasmus Morfe, and Joseph McKeehan are both hoovering around the 12 million mark. McKeehan, in particular, has been near the top of the leaderboard since the start of Day 3, so his name has become quite familiar to those following the tournament.
If there was a breakout star of Day 6, it was undoubtedly Mario Sequeira, from Hanford, CA. Incredibly, he began the day ranked 64th out of 69 players, with just 625,000 in his stack. Five levels and another day of play later, Sequeira closed the session ranked in 4th place, which 11.8 million, making him the comeback story of the Main Event, so far.
Elsewhere, Pierre Neuville, from Belgium began the day as chip leader with about 7.6 million in his stack. He endured a yo-yo day, losing about half his stack and closed the session ranked in 22nd place.
However, the day wasn’t so kind to several players who were considered to be major threats to make the final nine. Most notably, Brian Hastings, who was enjoying a massively successful WSOP, busted out mid-day, after hanging around the top ten much of the last few days.
Other disappointments included Mark Kroon, the talkative Wisconsin-based player and pal of Phil Hellmuth, who was among the chip leaders two years ago before exiting in dramatic fashion. Kroon’s bust out this time was far less remarkable, but did earn him his best WSOP payday ever, amounting to $164,086.
Justin Bonomo came into the day needing to make a move, which never materialized. The poker pro did manage his 33rd career cash, and deepest run ever in the Main Event by finishing 64th, which paid $96,445.
Also worth noting was Amar Anand, from Shrewbury, MA who was the chip leader during much of Day 2 and Day 3. He went out in 55th place, earning $113,764.
The complete list of survivors from this session with chip counts were as follows: CHIP COUNTS
SEVEN NATIONS REPRESENTED IN THE FIELD
The 2015 Main Event Championship attracted players from 80 different nations. With 27 players still alive, 7 nations still have at least one player with a chance to win poker’s ultimate prize. No surprise that the United States has the most player still in the field. Biggest surprise is that poker powerhouse Germany has four players still in the Main Event.
The seven nations represented in the field at this time include the following:
LAST WOMAN SITTING (NO MORE)
The hope of a female in this year’s November Nine has ended.
The day began with just one female remaining in the championship. Kelly Minkin, a law school graduate from Tucson, AZ came in ranked just below chip average. She managed to double up early, and avoided the minefield blocking every player’s journey to the final table until very late in the day when she went bust with three-of-a-kind, which lost to a full house. That put the final female of the tournament out on the rail.
It’s been 20 years since a female made the top nine in the Main Event. The only female finalist in history was Barbara Enright, who finished 5th in the 1995 championship.
WSOP GOLD BRACELET WINNERS ELIMINATED
All but two of the remaining gold bracelet winners saw their 2015 WSOP experience come to an end. The former winners to hit the rail on this day were – Upeshka De Silva (36th), Max Greenwood (40th), Steve Gross (47th), Brian Hastings (49th), and Matt Jarvis (51st), Justin Bonomo (65th). Barring a victory by Daniel Negreanu or Max Steinberg, this guarantees that the 2015 world champion will be a first-time gold bracelet winner (unless the player happens to win one of the events being held at WSOP-Europe in October).
As for Negreanu, the six-time WSOP winner is clearly the fan favorite and biggest name still remaining in the championship. He played at the ESPN feature table all day, mixing things up with players and fans. At one point early on, Negreanu was all in on a coin flip. However, he ended up winning the critical hand and then steadily built his stack up again over several hours to the point where he ended the day in 9th place with close to 9 million.
Meanwhile, Max Steinberg has been just as formidable over the duration of the last six days and would likely be the most high-profile name in the tourney at this point, were it not for Negreanu. Steinberg, who won a gold bracelet in 2012 and made his first series cash in two years, ended the day ranked 24th in chips and will need a big day on Tuesday to make the top nine.
As for big names who have made the November Nine in the past, that list is comparatively small. The most recognizable poker celebrities to have made the final nine since the format of a delayed final table was adapted, were Phil Ivey (2009) and Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi (2010).
THE 2015 GOLD BRACELET WINNERS CLUB
There were 67 gold bracelet tournaments leading up the Main Event. No matter that happened in the championship, these players will return home with the satisfaction of having achieved poker’s most coveted prize, which was winning a WSOP gold bracelet. Here’s the fate of the remaining players who won victories this year and how they fared on this day:
-- Brian Hastings, who won two gold bracelets this year ($1,500 buy-in Ten-Game Mix and the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Championship), which now gives him three WSOP wins for his career, went out in the middle of the day, finishing in 49th place, which paid $137,300. Nevertheless, he’s now one of the favorites to win 2015 WSOP “Player of the Year” honors.
-- Upeshka De Silva, who won his first career gold bracelet victory in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tourney, started the day ranked in the middle of the pack (45th place). He ended up going out 36th, which paid $211,821.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
The 2015 WSOP Main Event Championship continues with Day 7, which is the last session of the summer, to be played on Tuesday starting at noon. There will be 27 survivors who will return for the next playing session. All players who have survived up to this point are guaranteed to receive a payout of at least $211,821.
Day 7 will play down to the final 9 players. Excitement is expected to build as players fly in their family and friends, the rails swell with fans and cheers, and players are now within just one more playing session of a guaranteed million dollar prize as one of the nine finalists.
By late Tuesday night, play will determine the final nine players – which will be known as the 2015 edition of poker’s “November Nine.”