Note:  Chip counts and details are unofficial at the time of this writing.  As this report is being posted, actual chip counts and rankings are being compiled and will be posted by approximately 3 am PST.

The 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship continued on Friday with the start and conclusion of Day 5, which took place on Saturday, July 16th.

The previous day carved the field by more than two-thirds as the 800 started played down to just 251.  Those 251 survivors were reduced by two-thirds once again as the playing session ended with exactly 80 competitors who are still alive in this year’s poker world championship.

Play on Day 5 began Saturday at noon and ended early on Sunday morning when the session concluded at 12:35 am.

Jerry Wong, from Brooklyn, NY made the biggest leap forward of the day, rising to the coveted position of chip leader in the Main Event Championship.  He bagged 11,555,000 in chips (unofficially) at night’s end and will return on Sunday with considerably more pressure and global attention as the poker player to watch as the field continues to be reduced in size.  Wong has been in this arena before.  He cashed in 309th place four years ago in this same event.

Jan Suchanek, from Nelson, New Zealand also made a late run and appeared close to the top of the leader board by night’s end with a furious rush in the final few hours of competition.  He bagged 10,305,000 in chips.  If Suchanek were to make the final table, he would be the first player from New Zealand to accomplish that feat.  Like Wong above him, Suchanek has also been in this environment before.  He cashed in last year’s Main Event, as well. 

The previous day’s chip leaders, Brian Picciolo and Dan Colman endured different circumstances and outcomes.  Picciolo wasn’t able to hold his chips and ultimately was one of the final bust outs of the night, exiting in 84th place.  Dan Colman, who was second in chips fared considerably better.  He increased his stack size, but also has a tough challenge ahead since he fell to 18th place in the chip counts.

As for former world champions, only two were alive when Saturday’s session began.  Johnny Chan, the 1987 and 1988 champion and a ten-time gold bracelet winner busted out in mid-afternoon.  He finished in 180th place.  Greg “Fossilman” Raymer made his deepest run in 11 years and was the last champion sitting, but then exited in 122nd place.

Among the other chip leaders along with Wong (1st) and Suchanek (2nd) are Kenny Hallaert (Hansbeke, Belgium), Griffin Benger (Toronto, Canada), and Joshua Weiss (Los Angeles, CA) -- which comprises the top five.  Also of note, eight countries are represented among the top 20 – including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Russia, Belarus, France, Belgium, and New Zealand.

Day 5 was a brutal disappointment to those hoping to see a female player make a deep run in the championship.  Several notable female players accumulated chips on Days 3 and 4.  However, none were able to break into the top 100.  At least for another year, Barbara Enright’s lone Main Event final table appearance in 1995 will remain intact.  That said, Gaelle Baumann, from Strasbourg, France, pulled off a remarkable feat in this tournament.  She was the last female survivor in 2012 (finishing 10th) and was also the longest lasting of 268 who registered in 2016.

Among the more well-known names in the top 25 are Valentin Vornicu (San Diego, CA), who has won eight WSOP Circuit gold rings.  Vornicu, who has a PhD is mathematics, has been in the upper section of the leader board for most of the tournament.  He’s currently in 11th place.

Paul Volpe, a two-time gold bracelet winner from Philadelphia, PA who picked up his second WSOP victory earlier this summer, has been steadily climbing in chips for most of the last few days.  He’s now become one of the most dangerous players left in the field, currently ranked in 13th place.

Antoine Saout, from Saint Martins des Champs, France knows all about what the experience of making the November Nine is like.  He finished third in the 2009 Main Event.  Saout is making another serious run at the final table again this year, currently ranked in 15th place.

Dan Colman, from Holden, MA stunned the poker world with a run for the ages back in 2014 when he not only won a whopping $15 million in the Big One for One Drop.  He also won about $23 million over the course of 18 months.  Colman is back in top form again, evidenced by his deep run in this tourney.  He’s in 18th place.

Cliff Josephy, from Muttontown, NY is another player worth keeping a close watch on.  He’s a two-time gold bracelet winner.  This is Josephy’s deepest run in the Main Event, so far.  He’s positioned in 21st place.

Better-known players who round out the remainder of the survivor’s list (ranked in 26th through 80th place) include – James Obst, Brian Yoon, Max Silver, Paul Hoefer, Caufman Talley, Michael Banducci, Chris Klodnicki, and Tony Gregg.

Despite making a deep run and finishing in the top 5 percent of all entrants, Saturday was still a disappointment to many.  Gold bracelet winners who were eliminated within the top 250 included – Mike Gorodinsky (2015 WSOP “Player of the Year”), Michael Gathy, Dan Heimiller, Scott Montgomery, David “Dragon” Pham, Todd Brunson, Sorel Mizzi, Shaun Deeb, and Denis Ethier.  

Other notable players who cashed in 81st through 250th place included – Brandon Adams, Melanie Weisner, Don Zewin, Jennifer Shahade, Andrew Barber, and Maria Ho.

Many hometown heroes went home with prize money and some great memories.  David Frields came to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP for the first time, sent by his friends from their home poker game played in Ashburn, Virginia.  Until this year, none of the players from the home game had ever cashed.  Frields ended up in 94th place, which was quite an impressive run for a first-time player, making it into the top 100.

All players still alive in the championship are now guaranteed to receive a payout of at least $80,721.  However, at this stage, it’s doubtful anymore of the remaining competitors are thinking about the money nor would they be satisfied with that amount of a payout.  Indeed, everyone now has their eyes on the prize, which is to survive at least one more day and possibly make it to the final three tables, which will be the final 27.

The next stage toward determining this year’s group of finalists known as the 2016 edition of the “November Nine” will be Sunday’s playing session, which is anticipated to be lengthy.  Cards go into the air on Day 6 promptly at noon and will play down even further to a point and/or player count to be determined.

Once the next stage of survivors become known, they will then assemble back at the Rio on Monday in what promises to be a dream come true for every poker player – which is to play for a chance to take one of the most coveted seats in the game, which is at the final table of the November Nine.

We are now less than 48 hours away from knowing who the 2016 WSOP Main Event Champion finalists will be.
Note:  For a more comprehensive look at the highlights from Day 5, please click here to see the LIVE REPORTING logs.