Last year was filled with some interesting storylines related to the world of poker, including Phil Ivey’s baccarat lawsuit, the closing of Atlantic City casinos (thankfully, the iconic Taj Mahal was saved, at least for the moment) and continued buzz about the possibility of "Rounders 2." In the direct world of poker, 2014 had numerous memorable moments. Here is a look back at my top 14 stories/moments in 2014 in chronological order.
At the Borgata Winter Open, the opening $560 no-limit hold ’em tournament had 4,814 entries. With 27 players remaining, the tournament was halted due to the discovery of counterfeit chips that were put into play. After the neighboring Harrah’s Resort and Casino reported 2.7 million in counterfeit Borgata chips were found flushed down a toilet, Christian Lusardi of North Carolina, who was staying on the property, was arrested and charged with the crime. The remaining 27 players divided up the remaining prize pool (with many not pleased with the decision) and more than 2,000 players were refunded their buy-in amount. As a result of this criminal act, Borgata purchased technologically advanced poker chips that have more colors and can be validated under ultraviolet light.
Full Tilt Finally Pays Back Players
Ever since Black Friday (April 15, 2011), tens of thousands of American Full Tilt poker players collectively had millions of dollars held in cyber oblivion. During the past few years, the drain on these players’ bankrolls dramatically hurt the poker economy. In February 2014, the millions of dollars began to be returned to their rightful owners. Players were grateful to Full Tilt’s major competitor, PokerStars, which took control of the debt by purchasing the company in 2012, and fulfilled its promise to return all of the owned funds.
Blair Hinkle wins again … and again
One of the biggest winners in the Full Tilt poker reimbursement was Blair Hinkle. The Kansas City, Missouri, native had won the largest prize in Full Tilt Poker history (more than $1.1 million) just weeks before Black Friday. Although “blur5f6” suffered for almost three years, Hinkle was less concerned financially after he captured the inaugural Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) in August 2013 for almost $1.75 million.
Nevertheless, Hinkle was thrilled to finally receive his Full Tilt pay day of over seven figures.
“It was like winning the tournament all over again,” Hinkle said.
In addition to this “win,” Hinkle celebrated a couple of months later in his second hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. In April, he returned to defend his World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit main event title at the Horseshoe. Weaving through a field of 247 entrants, Hinkle was able to make history as he not only defended his title, but also became the first player to win three WSOP Circuit main event titles at the same location.
Winning a poker tournament is an incredible achievement. However, winning two tournaments back-to-back is what dreams are made of. This year, three such players needed to pinch themselves to see if their achievements were real.
Mike Leah wins two WSOP Circuit rings in one day: After winning the $580 no-limit hold ’em tournament at the Bicycle Casino on March 15, he registered late for the $365 no-limit hold ’em turbo and won that event as well. The Canadian continued his run later in the year as he finished runner-up to Dan Coleman in the 2014 SHRPO for $1.05 million. He followed up this seven-figure score with his first bracelet at WSOP Asia Pacific.
Darren Elias goes back-to-back on World Poker Tour (WPT): In 2012, Marvin Rettenmaier won back-to-back WPT main events, but these events were technically in two different seasons. Elias took down the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September and two months later, repeated the feat at WPT Caribbean on St. Maarten. These two wins were worth more than $970,000 and the lead in the WPT Player of the Year race.
Aaron Massey wins back-to-back Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) events: After winning the Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago in his hometown seven weeks earlier in August, Massey followed with another win at the HPT Club One main event in Fresno, California. With these two wins and a runner-up finish earlier in the season, Massey easily won HPT Player of the Year.
Coren Mitchell becomes first female two-time champ
While the WPT does not have a main event female champion, the European Poker Tour (EPT) certainly does. Having won EPT London in 2006 (the 16th EPT event), Victoria Coren Mitchell captured the EPT San Remo, the 98th event, for over $650,000. In December 2014, Coren Mitchell was once again in the news, as she parted ways with Pokerstars due to her desire not to promote online casino games.
Aces vs. Aces
Rarely does a single hand constitute a top-10 moment unless it is the final hand of a tournament. However, with the magnitude of the $1 million One Drop tournament and because the hand was seen by millions on ESPN, this hand was definitely one of the top moments of 2014. The aces beating aces hand was talked about around the water cooler for weeks. During the $1 million One Drop event, Americans Connor Drinan and Cary Katz revealed that they had pushed all-in, both holding the best hand in poker: pocket aces. Katz held As-Ah and with the board of Kh-5h-2d-4h-2h, eliminated Drinan in 18th place, well before the money in the cruelest of fashion.
WSOP honorary bracelet for Chad Brown
In 2014, poker lost several members of the community, including European poker pro Johannes Strassmann, WSOP dealer “Elvis Joe” LeVine and author/player Tony Korfman. The poker world was also dealt a terrible blow with the passing of Chad Brown. Originally an actor and athlete from New York, Brown became a household name in poker with his appearances on WSOP broadcasts and as the host of "Ultimate Poker Challenge." As a player, he earned more than $3.5 million with 38 WSOP cashes, including three runner-up finishes. Unfortunately, the ultimate poker prize eluded him during his illustrious career.
In 2011, Brown announced that he had been diagnosed with liposarcoma. After numerous surgeries and treatments, the rare form of cancer took his life on July 2. However, before he passed, the WSOP presented him with an honorary bracelet. Although he was too sick to attend the Las Vegas ceremony, the precious jewelry was rushed across the country and put on his wrist, just before he died.
Emergence of new reticent young superstar
Dan Colman’s reluctance to speak with the media after his One Drop victory was met with mixed reviews in the poker world. Later, he disparaged Phil Hellmuth on the 2+2 forums. Whether you agree or disagree with his rationale, no one can argue the incredible year that Colman had in 2014.
With more than $22 million in earnings in 2014 alone, Colman has made his mark in the world of poker. He captured four high roller titles, including the $1 million One Drop and $10 million guaranteed SHRPO. He had 11 cashes, all except three worth more than $110,000, and made nine final tables. Many poker players would love to have Colman’s 2014 statistics for a career.
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Overlay
In 2013, many players were skeptical that the inaugural $10 million guarantee would be met, or even honored, by the Seminole Hard Rock. However, with 2,384 entries in the event, the guarantee was blown away and ultimately won by Blair Hinkle. The poker world was optimistic and anticipation of a high number of entrants once again in 2014, but the SHRPO was unable to meet the guarantee via buy-ins, with only 1,499 entrants. The lack of turnout created one of the biggest overlays in the history of poker: $2.5 million.
WSOP Player of the Year: Danzer vs. Shack-Harris
George Danzer had come close to winning a WSOP bracelet before, but after an incredible 2014 WSOP campaign, the German poker pro captured the honor of being WSOP Player of the Year. Ultimately, he cashed 10 times, winning three bracelets. Only five other players (Hellmuth, Puggy Pearson, Ted Forrest, Phil Ivey and Jeff Lisandro) have won three bracelets in one year.
The POY race was not a runaway for Danzer; he fought a seesaw battle against Brandon Shack-Harris, who won Event 3 and finished second two more times during the Series. Entering the WSOP APAC, Shack-Harris held a slight lead, which changed multiple times in Melbourne, but in the end, Danzer’s third bracelet helped him clinch the POY title.
Hall of Fame inducts Negreanu and McClelland
On the Sunday before the 2014 WSOP main event, poker pro Daniel Negreanu and longtime tournament director Jack McClelland were inducted into the 2014 class of the Poker Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place in downtown Las Vegas, back at the old Benny’s Bullpen (now called the Longhorn Room) at Binion’s.
The reserved McClelland asked Helluth, another Hall of Famer, to address the crowd for him. Afterward, the charismatic Negreanu, who turned 40 in 2014 and was an obvious first-ballot inductee, had his agent, Brian Balsbaugh, introduce him.
They are the 47th and 48th members of the Poker Hall of Fame. Here are their thoughts on their induction from the Poker Edge podcast.
Sweden has a new father (of poker) and Newhouse's déjà vu
After seven grueling days and the eliminations of 6,674 players, the 2014 WSOP main event final table was set on July 15. Headlining the group was 2013 November Niner Mark Newhouse, world foosball champion Billy Pappas, amateur Brazilian Bruno Politano, and Belgian chip leader Jorryt Van Hoof.
When the nine players returned to the Penn Teller Theater, Sweden’s Martin Jacobson played masterful poker from start to finish. Utilizing all facets of his game from shortstack (he was under 10 big blinds at one point) to big stack play, Jacobson battled his way to the top, besting fellow poker pro Norwegian Felix Stephensen heads-up. The former chef captured the most coveted bracelet in poker, earning $10 million for first place.
Newhouse set an unprecedented mark of back-to-back November Nines, but the more shocking result was his second consecutive ninth-place finish. Newhouse was devastated finishing ninth in 2013 and entered play third in chips in 2014, vowing to not repeat last year’s finish. It was estimated by ESPN Stats and Info that the odds of this back-to-back finish was approximately 42 million to 1.
Familiar faces add to their WSOP jewelry collection
John Hennigan ($50,000 Poker Players Championship)
Vanessa Selbst ($25,000 Mix-Max no-limit hold ’em)
Brock Parker ($10,000 Omaha 8-or-better)
David Kitai ($3,000 six-max no-limit hold ’em)
Dutch Boyd ($1,000 no-limit hold ’em)
Dominik Nitsche (WSOP National Championship and $1,000 no-limit hold ’em)
Some significant milestones:
Ted Forrest defeated Hellmuth heads-up in the $1,500 razz event to capture his sixth bracelet. After capturing three in 1993 and two more in 2004, Forrest had a decade-long drought.
Jeffrey Lisandro captured his sixth WSOP bracelet in the AU$1,650 pot-limit Omaha event. Lisandro and Forrest are currently tied with Daniel Negreanu, Jay Heimowitz, TJ Cloutier and Layne Flack for ninth overall on the all-time bracelet list.
Ivey captured his 10th WSOP bracelet by winning the $1,500 eight-game mix event. He's now tied in second place overall with the legendary Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson, and is only three behind Hellmuth, the leader.
Ultimate Gaming closes
In April 2013, Ultimate Gaming was the first company to open its online poker doors to Nevada residents. Expectations ran high with the re-emergence of online poker in the United States. However, the company closed its virtual doors last year in both New Jersey (in September) and Nevada (in November). Although it had first mover advantage over other companies such as Caesars, Ultimate Gaming could not gain traction to emerge as a key player in the online industry.
If you want to be 30 minutes ahead of the action on TV and find out what's going on in Las Vegas at the very moment, the live blog below is for you.
One of these players will win $10 million on Tuesday night, or more likely, early Wednesday morning. The runner-up will take home $5.1 million and all three are guaranteed at least $3.8 million for their efforts that began four months ago with a $10,000 buy-in. The three are all incredible players with friends who have worked with them for months, preparing them for this very moment.
Here are the three the world will be watching Tuesday night and how they could get the job done.
Jorryt van Hoof: The first day of the final table was a dream for Van Hoof as he owned the chip lead for almost the entire session. The 31-year-old Dutch poker superstar known as "The Cleaner" had complete control over the table and was the first player to eclipse the 100 million chip mark late in the night. He gave a bit back, but still owns the top stack with 89.6 million in chips. Van Hoof is a cash game specialist with a strong focus in pot-limit Omaha. According to the Hendon Mob, in his previous five heads-up matches, Van Hoof has won three.
"I was quite happy with my play," Van Hoff said at the conclusion of Monday's action. "It was an extremely fun day. It's hard to describe in words, it's so unique. I just tried to play one hand at a time and optimize from there."
How he can win: "He got a tough draw," Christian Harder said. "In my opinion the best three players are left. I think Van Hoof has been playing so well, he just needs to come in and keep up the pressure, but not go overboard. His opponents have nothing to lose now, so they might be more willing to get it in lighter. He needs to just recognize that when he's applying pressure."
Martin Jacobson: Well, as predicted, the pressure definitely did not get to him. Jacobson, 27, played an incredibly patient game for the entire night and managed to take an eighth-place stack and turn it into second with incredible timing that those who watched will try to emulate every time they play.
Jacobson is the only tournament professional left, a major advantage at this juncture of the event. Even more than that, he cut his chops through sit-and-gos, understanding all the underlying calculations that go into play with each and every decision. As if that wasn't bad enough for his opponents, he also has a team in his corner that has drilled him incessantly on heads-up play. The one knock on Jacobson coming in was that he couldn't close the deal and earn that elusive major title. Now, he has another chance to quiet the critics and become Sweden's first world champ.
"They're very strong players. Both of them. It should be a fun battle," Jacobson said. "Patience is key in tournament poker. You need to know how to pick your spots and I think it's something I've got a lot better at over the years.
"Experience is a key part," he continued. "I'm very happy in how I stayed patient and positive even when I was short. It was fun."
How he can win: "The plan is to get heads-up," said 2013 WSOP champion Ryan Riess. "He is the most experienced player of the three and will certainly be the favorite. The pay jumps are massive and he will be able to use his aggressiveness and experience in big spots to put pressure on the others."
"He's stoic, nothing can phase him tonight," said Ankush Mandavia, one of Jacobson's friends who has helped him for the past few months. "He's due."
Felix Stephensen: Everyone knew that Stephensen was preparing as much as he could for the final table, but not many knew that one of the game's best players, Scott Seiver, would be right on his rail during final-table action. Stephensen entered play in second and held steady for the most part. He's a pot-limit Omaha expert playing in his only WSOP event of the year and is aiming to become the first Norwegian world champion. His previous best tournament finish was a ninth-place result last month at EPT London.
He's calm at the table, almost statuesque with his hoodie and sunglasses preventing the release of any tells. He didn't show much emotion until late in the night when he won a key pot against Jacobson, but once he had the chips, his rail kept him motivated and focused.
"I'm just happy to still be alive. I feel great," Stephensen said. "It's tough to pinpoint one thing [that I have to do], but I'll try to play pretty good, get pretty lucky and hopefully things will fall into place."
How he can win: "He will need to take risks," Daniel Negreanu said. "Push the envelope a little and play bigger pots"
The three resume play at 8:30 p.m. ET, with coverage starting at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Poker will have a new world champion in a matter of hours and all three of these players are ready to etch their names into the history books and capture the most desired bracelet in the game.
Remember that the blog below is covering the action live from Las Vegas. TV coverage will be on a 30-minute delay.
Tonight at 8 ET, the World Series of Poker main event final table is live on ESPN2. It will conclude Tuesday night with the heads-up match at 9 ET live on ESPN and award $10 million to the winner.
One of the November Nine -- Mark Newhouse -- achieved an unbelievable feat by reaching back-to-back WSOP main event final tables. He finished ninth last year.
The odds of reaching consecutive final tables in 2013 and 2014 are 1 in 524,079.
The field in 2013 was 6,352. There were 6,683 entries this year. Based on those odds (assuming all players have an equal chance), Newhouse had a higher probability of winning the Powerball by investing $1,000 or being struck by lightning at some point over the past two years.
How incredible would it be for Newhouse to win the bracelet? The odds of finishing in the top nine last year and first place this year are 1 in 4,716,713.
Newhouse is the first player to reach back-to-back main event final tables since Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004. But those fields were much smaller -- 839 in 2003 and 2,576 in 2004.
Newhouse is the first player to do so in the WSOP "modern era" (since the main event field first exceeded 1,000 in 2004). Harrington and Newhouse are the only ones to reach consecutive main event final tables in the past 25 years.
Comparing the odds
How impressive is Newhouse's back-to-back final tables? Here's how his 1 in 524,079 odds compare to other rare feats:
• The odds of winning the Powerball by investing $1,000 on 500 number combinations are 1 in 350,447. The WSOP main event costs $10,000, so this would be much cheaper. (Each ticket is $2, and there are 175,223,510 combinations.)
• The odds of being struck by lightning in any two-year period are 1 in 480,000, according to the National Weather Service.
Other legendary WSOP feats
Newhouse's accomplishment could be considered the greatest feat in the WSOP main event, based on the size of the fields. Here are some other legendary accomplishments in the WSOP main event:
• Stu Ungar won back-to-back main events in 1980 and 1981 and added another victory in 1997. The field sizes then were 73 in 1980, 75 in 1981 and 312 in 1997. Based on those fields, the odds of winning back-to-back titles in 1980 and 1981 were 1 in 5,475. The odds of finishing in first place in all three of those years were 1 in 1,708,200.
• Johnny Chan had back-to-back first-place finishes in 1987 and 1988 and almost completed the three-peat when he finished in second in 1989. There were 152 entrants in 1987, 167 in 1988 and 178 in 1989. The odds of winning consecutive titles in 1987 and 1988 were 1 in 25,384. The odds of winning those two tournaments and then finishing in the top two in 1989 were 1 in 2,259,176.
• Dan Harrington won the WSOP main event in 1995 and added back-to-back final tables in 2003 and 2004. He went through larger fields than Ungar and Chan. There were 273 players in 1995, 839 in 2003 and 2,576 in 2004. The odds of reaching back-to-back final tables in 2003 and 2004 were 1 in 26,682, while the odds of that feat combined with winning the 1995 title were an astronomical 1 in 7,284,260.
LAS VEGAS -- Ten million dollars. You can probably hear Dr. Evil saying it right now.
One of the nine players remaining in the World Series of Poker main event is going to have the good kind of financial problems in just a few days. The November Nine have waited nearly four months to take their shot and on Monday night, the planning and practicing will conclude and the lights in the Penn and Teller Theater will shine down on the group of next poker superstars. One of them will walk away with $10 million.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Unless your name is Mark Newhouse.
For the second year in a row, Newhouse will take his seat on the stage, achieving a remarkable feat that many never believed would (A) ever happen and (B) ever happen in back-to-back years. The situation this time around is far different from the professional poker player who emerged onto the scene in 2006.
As the short stack in 2013, many expected Newhouse to fall first. He did. It was devastating to someone who needed to ladder up and earn some extra cash. It was devastating for someone who felt that he would finally leave the daily grind with a higher finish. Most of all, it was devastating for a player who waited all that time to simply finish ninth. He called it the worst place to finish emotionally. Again that’s ninth out of 6,352.
Newhouse has already outlasted 6,674 players this year and spent his hiatus thinking about anything but poker. This past week he was in Hawaii trying to stay away from it all. He brings in a third-place stack and the one thing nobody else has, or probably ever will have: experience at the WSOP main event final table.
“Newhouse's experience, I think, will help him come tomorrow,” said 2013 WSOP champion Ryan Riess, who played against Newhouse a year ago. “He has a stack, he has shown to be fearless, and he has been here before.”
Another world champion agreed.
“I think he will be the most comfortable and one of, if not, the most confident,” 2012 champ Greg Merson said. “I'd be more than happy to welcome him into the fraternity.”
On Sunday, Newhouse looked as relaxed as he could be. Even meetings and instructions from the production crew were a repeat for him. He sat and listened while the others learned.
Can the comfort level and experience be enough to overcome seven other players with lifelong passions for the game and one unpredictable foosball champion?
Here are the eight other players, in order of chip count, who are looking to become the next world champion:
Jorryt van Hoof: The Dutch poker superstar may not have any sponsors, but he will have the chip lead going into the night. He’s an expert in both no-limit and pot-limit Omaha and has been working with Jared Tendler on building a stronger mindset over the past few years. His passion for the game may be unrivaled by anyone else at this final table and it’s unlikely that anyone has put in more time to prepare for Monday’s events.
Felix Stephensen: The former soccer player is a pot-Omaha expert like van Hoof, but decided to only play one WSOP event this summer. You already know how that ended. He’s an online champion with tens of thousands of hands under his belt and can completely change the face of the game in Norway if he’s able to come through.
Andoni Larrabe: If staying out of the media spotlight was the game plan for Larrabe during the hiatus, he achieved it with flying colors. The youngest player at the final table has two cashes on the Estrellas Poker Tour since making the final table. He has live and online titles, and is looking to continue the trend of sub-25 poker champions. He’ll be wearing the Athletic Bilbao jersey on Monday night, trying to recreate the jersey magic that landed Riess in the winner’s circle. He said on Sunday that with his friends and family in town, he's finally feeling the excitement.
Dan Sindelar: The World Series of Poker is the place where players try to make their mark. For Sindelar, his journey since 2008 has left him with many cashes, but until this event, no final tables. The Vegas local left the University of Nebraska to pursue the game and is a few eliminations away from getting all he’s ever wanted.
William Pappaconstantinou: Meet the ultimate wild card of this final table. Instead of preparing, the foosball world champion played foosball. He’s an amateur who plays for the fun of the game and enjoys dealing at a local casino for the same reasons. He’s a main event first timer by sheer surprise. His outgoing personality will shine on TV and serve as a reminder that in poker, anyone can win.
Will Tonking: The New Jersey native left college with a degree in economics and a passion for counting chips. Tonking won’t be rattled under the lights after going through one of the most stressful moments imaginable, but he will take all his cash game experience and try to turn his seventh-place stack into a WSOP bracelet.
Martin Jacobson: The problem with calling Jacobson or Bruno Politano the short stacks is that they aren’t really that short at all. Jacobson has experience in high-pressure situations and may surprise many with early aggressive play that could bring his stack back to the middle of the pack. He had two live cashes during the hiatus and is the leader in tournament earnings ($5.5 million) out of this group.
Bruno Politano: Who’s ready for a party? Politano’s rail will be the craziest we’ve ever seen as the entire country is behind their newest celebrity. Politano has a film crew covering his every move here in Vegas, a mere symbol of how infatuated his country has come with this opportunity. Poker is booming in Brazil and a win for Politano would somehow make the game even bigger. Always with a smile on his face, Politano is guaranteed to have a blast regardless of the outcome over the next few days.
The nine players were all together on Sunday night in the Palazzo Suites at the Rio. As they watched the final two hours of the WSOP main event coverage, they shared a few laughs, a few jabs at each other and some shocked faces as hands were revealed. As the bubble burst every single one of them had a smile on his face.
The hiatus is officially over. Now it’s time to go back to work.Coverage of Monday’s action will begin “live” on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET (“live” due to the 30-minute delay necessarily put in place to preserve the integrity of the game). Play will continue until only two remain and coverage of heads-up play will begin at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday on ESPN.
"I'm looking forward to not finishing ninth," Newhouse joked on the Poker Edge after making the final table. "Ninth is brutal, man. Coming back four months later and getting no money. I told myself I wouldn't be disappointed, and whatever happens happens, but it was very, very disappointing. ... Anything but ninth."
Newhouse's road back was extremely different from his journey a year ago. For most of Day 7 in 2013, Newhouse was the short stack and did everything possible to squeeze in. He entered the final 10 last year with just six big blinds and doubled up at the last possible second to keep his dreams alive. This year, he was active late and made a big call against Craig McCorkell with 13 players to go to keep him comfortable when the final 10 approached. On that bubble he remained active and ultimately knocked out two-time bracelet winner Luis Velador in 10th.
"Even though this year getting in is a bigger deal than it was last year, I was really just having fun the entire time," Newhouse said. "Playing poker with not too much pressure, not thinking about it, and I made it."
The day began with the eliminations of many of the familiar faces left in the field: 2014 WSOP bracelet winner Sean Dempsey went out in 27th followed by Brian Roberts (26th), Bryan Devonshire (25th), Kyle Keranen (24th), Leif Force (21st), Dan Smith (20th) and Scott Palmer (19th). Scott Mahin's exit in 18th place resulted in tears from the 47-year-old first-time WSOP participant, who said he was proud to represent his friends and family, both supporting him in Las Vegas and in Elk Point, South Dakota. He earned $347,521 for his first career cash.
Only 16 players were left for the 90-minute dinner break, and Jorryt van Hoof seized control at that point, knocking out his fellow countryman Oscar Kemps (14th) and Eddy Sabat (16th) after a very dramatic river. Felix Stephensen also emerged as a contender at this time after a surprising 24-million chip pot against Tom Serra (15th).
McCorkell, Chris Greaves, Max Senft and Velador went after that, and 27 minutes into Level 35, the November Nine was set.
Here are the players who will compete for the $10 million top prize in November:
"It's been amazing," van Hoof said. "I ran hot and there were a few bubbles that I could make [use out of]. When we were down to 18, I wasn't happy with my table draw, but I won some good hands, got some chips and things went really well from there."
That's an understatement. Van Hoof had the lead for the final two levels and used his stack on the bubble to chip up even more. The best part about van Hoof's placement is that he wasn't planning on playing this summer at all.
"This year Vegas really pulled me," he said after making the final table. "I booked a last-minute flight. I came here a few days before [the main event]. I decided in the moment that I wanted to go to Vegas."
Felix Stephensen (32.775 million in chips) -- The 23-year-old Norwegian pro entered his second WSOP event with a mere $22,118 in live tournament earnings. He left the Rio with much, much more. Stephensen plays pot-limit Omaha cash games online and doesn't travel around the European poker scene because he doesn't like tournaments. That said, he couldn't miss the main.
"I'm feeling pretty good. This is pretty exciting. I don't think I've ever been part of something this major," he said. "When it's so much up top and it's life-changing money, you kind of get tempted to [play in a tournament]. If it works out, it's worth it."
Stephensen made Day 3 of the event in 2013 and said he ran incredibly well to get to this point.
"This is what every poker player dreams about," he said. "This is it."
Mark Newhouse (26.000 million in chips) -- If there's one player you don't need an introduction to, it's Newhouse. The 2013 ninth-place finisher has done the unthinkable and made back-to-back final tables in a post-boom poker world. Newhouse is a WPT champion with experience that no other player at this final table can rival.
"It's a great accomplishment, but I can't comment on greatest anything or stuff like that," he said to Bluff magazine. "I know it's amazing, but I'm never going to say anything like 'greatest' with my name in it. That's all I have to say about that."
Andoni Larrabe (22.550 million in chips) -- Larrabe, 22, now plays the live circuit after spending years grinding the online multitable tournament scene since he was 18 under the alias "pollopopeye." He is the owner of two Spring Championship of Online Poker titles and the winner of the $5,000 event from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2013. He has three WSOP cashes, and this will be his first final table.
"I feel pretty excited," he said. "It's a sensation between confusion, because I think I don't realize what I have just done, and excitement and happiness. It's a lot of sensation all at the same time."
The Spanish pro was extremely aggressive on the final table bubble, which was part of his game plan. He didn't want to go into the November Nine as the short stack and put himself back into it with one key double-up against Velador (A-A against Velador's A-K).
"I'm going to approach it as calm as I can," he said of the final table. "There's a lot of time. I'll think about it, but the most important thing will be to go relax."
Dan Sindelar (21.200 million in chips) -- Sindelar is the only Vegas regular at the final table and will be flanked by a number of pros throughout his journey to November. This is his 18th career WSOP cash and his fourth of the summer.
"It's nothing that I've ever felt before," he said. "I'm going to cherish this moment for a very long time. ... This is just going to be a lot of fun."
The Nebraska native moved to Vegas six years ago to pursue the game full time. After Black Friday, he pivoted to play more live cash games and a few tournaments here and there. This was his seventh WSOP main event and first cash.
William Pappaconstantinou (17.500 million in chips) -- "Billy Pappas" is already a world champion ... in foosball. The 29-year-old has loved the game since 2003 and had the opportunity to play in the WSOP for the first time this year. Things couldn't have turned out better, and he's looking to add a poker championship to his collection of numerous foosball titles.
"I'm in shock," he said after making the final table. "I never thought I'd play in this event. It's been my dream, and I've been saying 'this year' or 'next year' for like 10 years, just to play in an event, period. Now I get to play this, and I've never expected this at all."
Pappaconstantinou is the only amateur at the final table. He plans on spending the next few months traveling and relaxing with his friends.
Will Tonking (15.050 million in chips) -- It didn't look good for Tonking when he arrived at the final table bubble, but an early double-up against Martin Jacobson brought the New Jersey native back into contention. Tonking, 27, plays professionally in New Jersey both live and online. He recently hit a $50,000 score on WSOP.com, then came out to Vegas and made the money in the mixed-max event. This is his first main event cash.
"The whole time during it, I was trying to think about not being in this moment and playing poker," he said. "I kept on making myself refer back to the scene in 'Hoosiers' when Gene Hackman took them into the big stadium, the small-town team, put the tape measure up to the rim and down to the floor and said, 'Still 10 feet, gentlemen.'
"It's just poker. I was just playing the hand in front of me, not trying to think about anything else. The game is hard enough. The field is tough enough without letting that stuff bother me."
"It hasn't sunk in yet. It feels surreal right now," Jacobson said. "It's a dream come true to make to the final nine. Once in your lifetime, it's a huge achievement. To still have the dream of becoming the world champion ... yeah."
Jacobson played 27 events during the 2014 WSOP and cashed three times. He's no stranger to high-pressure situations and can often be found in the super-high-roller tournaments around the world. Being involved in that scene will most definitely provide him with a little benefit when it comes to the final table.
"It means so much to everyone to actually make it," he said.
Bruno Politano (12.125 million in chips) -- The man who will have the most vocal crowd in November is a true character on the felt. Before this cash, Politano, 31, had $110,054 in career tournament earnings, including one WSOP cash. He's the first Brazilian to make the WSOP main event final table and, at 31, is going to be a major superstar in his country, which is experiencing a tremendous poker boom at this time.
"I'm very excited," he said. "My dream has come true."
For the entire night, his supporters were singing and dancing in the stands. He encouraged them after big hands and jumped into their arms after making the November Nine.
"My rail is very, very important to me," he said. "Without this, I wouldn't be there. For me, it's everything. It gives me support in that moment. I promise more than 200 people [in November]."
The final nine players return to action Nov. 10. The broadcast of the main event will begin on ESPN on Sept. 28.
Here are the rest of the final table payouts:
Stephensen moved into contention for the chip lead after knocking out Tom Sarra, Jr., in a huge pot at the feature table. Mark Newhouse opened to 500,000 and Sarra and Bruno Politano both called. Stephensen raised to 2.25 million and after Newhouse folded, Sarra made it 6.7 million. Once back to Stephensen, he moved all-in, and it took only a matter of seconds before Sarra called with K-Q offsuit. Stephensen held A-K, and won the 24 million-chip pot after a board of A-9-8-7-2. Many in the Amazon Room are contemplating Sarra's decision, but regardless, Sarra earned $441,940 for his incredible 15th-place run, the biggest live tournament score of his career.
Oscar Kemps (13th), Andrey Zaichenko (17th) and Eddy Sabat (16th) also fell short of their November Nine goal. Fellow Dutchman Jorryt van Hoof took care both Kemps and Sabat. Against Kemps the hand was relatively straight forward -- A-A versus K-J -- but against Sabat, he was on the right side of a cooler, something that's said time and time again from those that make the final table. Van Hoof opened the pot and Sabat called. Both checked the flop - Jc-9h-5s, and Sabat bet the 7h on the turn. Van Hoof called and bet 1.1 million in chips after the 4h hit the river. Sabat moved all-in and was called instantly. Van Hoof had Ah-8h for the nuts and eliminated a dejected Sabat who had Jh-10h for a weaker flush.
The rail in the Amazon Room for Politano and Luis Velador is pretty incredible and the feature table has the feeling of a true sporting event, something that we typically only see in November. Supporters of both players are singing and cheering, plus, every time 2013 November Niner Mark Newhouse wins a pot, which is happening often, there's a man with a guitar playing some songs and a man with a cowbell joining along. Both fans met Newhouse mid-way through the level and while his brother sits quietly on side of the feature table with a smile on his face, these two individuals are bringing some noise.
The pay jump between 12th and 13th is substantial ($441,940 to $565,193), so there is potential for a delay at this point. That said, Craig McCorkell and Max Senft have less than five million in chips and have been getting more active lately looking for a pivotal double.
Here are the chip stacks of the final 13 players in the 2014 WSOP main event:
1. Jorryt van Hoof (34.0 million)
2. Felix Stephensen (29.2 million)
3. Luis Velador (20.7 million)
4. Bruno Politano (19.8 million)
5. Martin Jacobson (18.7 million)
6. Dan Sindelar (17.6 million)
7. William Tonking (14.3 million)
8. William Pappaconstantinou (12.2 million)
9. Mark Newhouse (9.2 million)
10. Andoni Larrabe (7.9 million)
11. Chris Greaves (5.4 million)
12. Craig McCorkell (4.9 million)
13. Max Senft (4.0 million)
Small blinds: Before I could hit publish, Politano just looked up Newhouse after a 2.25 million bet, was right, and showed 7-2. This place went nuts and Politano sat at the feature table encouraging the cheers from his rail. The Penn and Teller theater will be noisier than ever if Politano makes the final table. Brazil is still booming in terms of poker and Politano making the final table would make it even bigger.
Leif Force: Gone.
Kyle Keranen: Gone.
Dan Smith: Gone.
Scott Palmer: Gone
The familiar faces are quickly leaving the Amazon Room, and only 18 players remain in the 2014 World Series of Poker main event. Smith's shocking elimination on the final hand of the level in 20th placed the field on a significant money bubble, but even that couldn't slow down the fast pace of eliminations on Day 7.
The deck didn't treat Devonshire well over the past two days, and despite getting it in good once again, ahead in a race with 10-10 versus A-J, he headed home in 25th, just three years after his 12th-place run.
Moments later, Keranen picked a bad time to five-bet shove on Bruno Politano as his K-Q was crushed by the Brazilian's K-K. Similar to Devonshire, Keranen has had two strong runs over the past three years, 38th and now 24th.
Yorane Kerignard's contingent left everywhere, including media row, after his elimination in 23rd. He dropped a good portion of his stack in a lost race against Chris Greaves (K-Q < J-J) then lost the rest to the jacks of Andoni Larrabe holding J-7. This was Kerignard's fifth six-figure score of his career.
Dan Sindelar expanded his chip lead as he knocked out Iaron Lightbourne (A-Q over Q-Q), but it was a great run for the British player, who earned a career-best cash with his 22nd-place finish.
In 2006, Jamie Gold won the biggest prize in WSOP history. Force finished 11th in that event for $1.1 million and hoped to make the final table that eluded him eight years ago. He was one of the shorter stacks left and put his chips in a 40-60 situation with K-Q against Greaves' A-10. The entire Amazon Room knew what happened next. Force yelled out something that is sure to be beeped on television later this year as Greaves hit trips, leaving Force drawing to a gutshot miracle. It didn't come, and the North Carolina resident finished 21st.
Then came the most shocking elimination of the level. Smith is one of the game's best with a history of big win after big win. With more than $8 million in earnings, he said there was no pressure on that front. On his final hand, he opened and Jorryt van Hoof three-bet to 900,000. Smith made it 1.8 million, and van Hoof moved all in, forcing Smith to make a decision about the rest of his 6.4 million-chip stack. The decision didn't take that long, and the two would be flipping for 13 million with Smith holding As-Ks against van Hoof's 4-4. No help came for Smith, resulting in his elimination in 20th.
Players went on a quick 20-minute break, and it would have seemed that with a substantial pay jump approaching, the final 19 would have slowed down a bit. Maybe not. Palmer went out in 19th, shoving 2-2 into Greaves' A-A, and the final 18 players are only nine eliminations away from the biggest final table of the year.
If play stopped now, the November Nine would be:
1. Dan Sindelar (22.8 million)
2. Bruno Politano (19.6 million)
3. Martin Jacobson (17.9 million)
4. Luis Velador (14.4 million)
5. Tom Sarra (13.9 million)
6. Jorryt van Hoof (13.6 million)
7. Mark Newhouse (12.3 million)
8. Felix Stephensen (10.5 million)
9. William Pappaconstantinou (10.0 million)
2014 bracelet winner Sean Dempsey was the first player to fall Monday, calling all-in for his tournament life on the river against Mark Newhouse. Perhaps trying to use his tight image, Newhouse min-raised under the gun with 8h-9h, and Dempsey, in the big blind, just called. After a flop of Qh-6d-4h, Dempsey check-called a bet of 250,000. Both checked the turn 5, and Dempsey fired about half a million after the Jh hit the river. Newhouse pushed enough in the center to force Dempsey to make a tough decision, and when he ultimately called, the disappointment set in. After that hand, Newhouse had more than 10 million in chips. Dempsey earned $286,900 for his 27th-place finish.
Brian Roberts played the short stack well for days and doubled on the final hand of Day 6. Starting Day 7 with only 11 big blinds, he would need to try to double before the next level. Roberts moved all-in from under-the-gun with K-J and couldn't catch against Eddy Sabat's A-Q. This 26th-place finish was the second-largest live cash of Roberts' career.
Players took a 10-minute break before the beginning of Level 31 (80,000/160,000 with a 20,000 ante). Upon returning, Thomas Sarra doubled through Andoni Larrabe to move into the top half of the chip counts.
If play ended now, the November Nine would be:
1. Martin Jacobson (20.2 million)
2. Dan Sindelar (17.3 million)
3. Luis Velador (16.6 million)
4. William Pappaconstantinou (15.8 million)
5. Bruno Politano (12.6 million)
6. Andrey Zaichenko (11.6 million)
7. Mark Newhouse (9.2 million)
8. Felix Stephensen (8.5 million)
9. Dan Smith (7.7 million)
"It's amazing to have made it this far in the main event," said Jacobson. "It's such a big tournament and a lot of prestige. I'm very proud of myself right now. "
Players began Day 6 action Sunday at noon PT and wrapped up at nearly 2 a.m. Monday. Fatigue was setting in for a number of players during the final level, including Jacobson, who finished the night with 22.3 million in chips.
"I'm not that jacked up, but mostly tired to be honest," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to get a few hours of good sleep and be ready to go again tomorrow."
His ascension to first was impressive, a constant climb throughout nearly every level. He's played that style for a few days, never finding himself outside of the top 20 percent of chip stacks, and has demonstrated strong reading ability all along. Jacobson has $4.8 million in live tournament earnings, but is still missing that elusive major tournament victory.
In order to get that opportunity, he needs to get through the final day first. His starting table features a number of major obstacles, but it's the player in the No. 7 seat that will be the focus of attention: Mark Newhouse. For the second year in a row, a member of the previous year's final table is looking to make a repeat appearance (Steve Gee, who made the final table in 2012, finished 24th in 2013). Newhouse demonstrated a year ago that he could play a short stack to perfection on Day 7 and he's prepared to do so once again. He discussed those plans on the Day 5 Poker Edge podcast.
End of day 6. 6.8 27 left pic.twitter.com/JZXWO27doq— mark newhouse (@mark_hizzle) July 14, 2014
Newhouse enters Day 7 with more chips than he did a year ago, but will have a challenging seat to start the day with big stack Bruno Politano next to him. Additionally, Politano will have to figure out how to approach his button as Jacobson will be waiting, and should be very aggressive given his lead. Considering the November Nine bubble is one of the most important moments of the year, Jacobson should use this beneficial table draw to chip up early by keeping the pressure on.
Other big stacks belong to two-time bracelet winner Luis Velador, tournament regular Dan Sindelar, Spanish online poker phenom Andoni Larrabe and William Pappaconstantinou, who goes by the name "Billy Pappas" in the world of foosball, and now poker. Pappaconstantinou simply considers himself a poker dealer on a heater.
"I still don't think I'm on these guys' level," he said. "I'm going to try to stick with the same game plan [on Day 7]. Hopefully nobody picks up cards and I keep raising."
Pappaconstantinou surged into the top 10 after a big hand with 30 players to go in which he picked up aces against the kings of Dong Guo and eights of Robert Campbell. The 6.2 million he added to his stack after that hand gave him 14 million and a free pass to coast for the rest of the night.
The day concluded with the elimination of the Day 4 chip leader Matthew Haugen, who ran 10s into the queens of Bryan Devonshire. Haugen began the day as one of the short stacks and turned it into eight figures. His plan unraveled after the first level after dinner, and he ultimately pushed his pocket 10s at the wrong time. Devonshire finished Day 6 with 5.7 million and looks to improve on his 12th-place finish in 2012.
"I'm thrilled to be here, but I'm exhausted," he said. "These 14-hour days are brutal. It's so mentally exhausting. I haven't thought that hard about poker for a long time, and I'm already tired. I think [fatigue] plays in a lot and I think it's playing in extra in this tournament."
Sound familiar? It's been a grueling battle for everyone, and unfortunately for Devonshire and the rest of the field, Monday's schedule won't be any easier as the event must play down to the final nine-handed table. Tournament director Jack Effel estimated that will happen during Level 36, which would mean another 11-13 hours at the felt.
All remaining players have earned at least $286,900. When play resumes the blinds will be 60,000/120,000 with a 15,000 ante. Here are the top 10 chip counts heading into Day 7:
1. Martin Jacobson (22.3 million)
2. Luis Velador (16.6 million)
3. Dan Sindelar (16.3 million)
4. Andoni Larrabe (15.2 million)
5. Billy Pappaconstantinou (14.6 million)
6. Bruno Politano (11.6 million)
7. Dan Smith (10.3 million)
8. Craig McCorkell (8.7 million)
9. Felix Stephensen (7.7 million)
10. Andrey Zaichenko (7.3 million)
Small blinds: There are two bracelet winners in the top 10: Velador and Craig McCorkell. Sean Dempsey and Leif Force are the other two bracelet winners left in the field. Scott Palmer began the day in third and finished in 27th. Anton Morgenstern led after Day 6 last year and did not make the November Nine. &133; Kyle Keranen was chip leader for a good portion of the day but lost a big pot to Velador, who briefly took the lead during the final few levels of the night. Andoni Larribe, now in fourth, has two SCOOP titles. Ten countries are represented in the final 27. Andrey Zaichenko, now in 10th, has made a WSOP final table in three of the past four years. He has $1.3 million in live tournament earnings. The fourth feature table in the outside section has already been broken down. Dan Smith and Aaron Kaiser got into it after dinner in what should make for some very interesting television. Read about that here. Monday will be the final day of play until the field returns to action on November 10. Ryan Riess, Phil Hellmuth, Brett Richey, Dani Stern and Mike Matusow all stopped by on Sunday to check out the remaining field.
Kaiser has been on the short stack for a while and with a $44,099 pay jump, waiting out one more spot was clearly on Kaiser's mind. On the hand that may have secured him a spot into a higher pay scale, Dan Smith called the clock on Kaiser immediately as the cards were dealt. The floor allowed Kaiser two minutes to think about it before the countdown and once the countdown started, Kaiser put nearly his entire stack in the center. Smith called and the two saw a flop of Ac-Qc-6s. Kaiser, with only a few hundred thousand in chips behind, tanked for his maximum time before checking. Smith placed a big enough bet that would force Kaiser all-in and Kaiser took about 20 seconds before committing his chips with ... top set.
The room roared as Smith, who held Jc-Jd, was in bad shape. The 10c on the turn gave him a royal flush draw, but no help came on the river, allowing Kaiser to double up.
Doubled in an absurd spot w AA vs JJ. 2.2 mil w 36 left— Aaron Kaiser (@ManchildDC) July 14, 2014
Moments later at the feature table, nearly two hours after Shahen Matirosian's exit in 38th place, Gal Erlichmann committed all his chips postflop on a board of 9-8-3. He showed kings, Dan Sindelar showed aces and he was knocked out after turn and river blanks in 37th. All players are guaranteed at least $230,487. The next pay jump occurs at 18th place. Post-dinner eliminations included Clayton Maguire, David Tuthill, Michael Finstein, Adam Lamphere, Michael Kamran, Paul Senter, Martirosian and Erlichmann.
Small Blinds: Luis Velador took over the chip lead from Kyle Keranen early in Level 29. Velador is a two-time bracelet winner. Bryan Devonshire got a little unlucky, losing K-K to A-J early in the new level, but rebounded quickly to get back to 5.8 million. The Brazilian crowds are getting loud cheering on Bruno Politano. If he makes the final table, there is going to be a very large and excited contingent. Humberto Brenes is here. Chewing gum as always. Ryan Riess showed up earlier to catch some of the action. Phil Hellmuth too. Someone in the stands is cheering every time Bryan Devonshire folds and telling the pro "Good fold! Good fold!" Blinds are 50,000/100,000 with a 10,000 ante. Listen to all the main event Poker Edge daily podcasts here. The Daily DeepStack event is still being played in the Amazon Room. Brett Richey wasn't a fan of that. Mike Matusow was on the rail for a bit and said he thinks Keranen is a great player. Martin Jacobson is third in chips and has been consistently at the top of the chip counts for this entire tournament. Pretty impressive.
The Bellagio cash game regular is still firing without hesitation. His ability to casually put out million-chip bets is keeping the pressure on at such a pivotal time in the tournament to position himself for a run at the final table. Still, his 38th-place finish from two years ago must sit in the back of his head as he gets through the day.
Dan Sindelar has chipped up constantly today and holds a slight chip lead over Martin Jacobson to leave the Amazon Room for dinner as the top stack.
At the feature table, Mark Newhouse has played a few big pots and recently eliminated Clayton Hamm with 10-10 over A-10. With 6.9 million in chips, Newhouse is ahead of his Day 6 pace from 2013 when he bagged 5.7 million. The other player to make Day 6 last year was Vitaly Lunkin who, after surviving numerous all-ins, was finally knocked out in 57th. Lunkin finished 46th in 2013.
Other eliminations include:
- Matthew Waxman: The WPT and WSOP champion had played the short stack well for the past two days but couldn't run it up on Day 6. On his final hand, he was involved in a three-way all-in with Keranen and Eddy Sabat. Sabat's aces topped both Keranen's 10-10 and Waxman's 9-9 to knock down the chip leader and knock out the Florida Pro in 45th.
- Bill Cole: The 70-year-old was probably having more fun at the table than anyone else. He ran nines into the aces of Robert Park to finish 58th.
- Issac Baron: An unlucky spot for "WestmenloAA" resulted in his queens losing to Chris Greaves in 52nd.
- Ryan Fair: Fair has cashed in each of the past three years and nearly eclipsed his 31st-place finish in 2009. Fair ran eights ran into the kings of Andoni Larrabe to exit in 48th.
- Jason Johnson: Ryan Riess' pick to win the main event had his kings cracked and paid off Martin Jacobson's flopped set in a big pot mid-way through the level. Johnson finished 51st for his third six-figure cash of the 2014 WSOP.
- Brian Hastings: Right after he finished watching the World Cup on his WatchESPN app, Hastings failed to hit his A-J against Andrey Zaichenko's K-K. He finished 64th.
Busto main 64th for $103k. Wouldn't change a hand I played today, sometimes it's just not meant to be. Thanks for the support!
— Brian Hastings (@brianchastings) July 13, 2014
Bryan Devonshire doesn't have a top-10 stack, but played a few big pots to crack the five-million-chip mark. In 2011, he finished Day 6 with 5.9 million in chips. Matthew Haugen isn't in the top-10 either, but he must be pleased with his comeback. The Day 4 chip leader doubled up on the final hand of Day 5 and needed to get his chips in early on Sunday in order to make a run. He's done just that. Hauten doubled through Newhouse to start (Q-Q > 10-10), then gave a bit back, then doubled through Lunkin and Cole before leaving the feature table. He's again a threat in this tournament with 5 million in chips.
Players are now on a 90-minute dinner break.
Day 6 began with everyone following a few key storylines. The first was Maria Ho, who became the last woman standing for the second time in six years. Ho began the day as the short stack and needed to find a spot to double with the blinds rising after the first hour. Seated at the feature table, she moved all-in from under the gun for eight big blinds and was in trouble when Zach Hirst called and showed Q-Q. The flop brought her an eight, but also gave Hirst a set. She picked up a turn flush draw sweat, but didn't get there and was eliminated in 77th.
(1/?) Twitter silence over. Was busy trying to win the @WSOP Main Event but was not meant to be. Eliminated in 77th out of 6,683 players.— Maria Ho (@MariaHo) July 13, 2014
Mark Newhouse is the also a primary focus of those in attendance as he looks to become the first player to make back-to-back final tables since Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004. His day has not been productive thus far with him dropping more than two million in chips from his starting stack. While not the case anymore, when his table was moved to the feature table shortly after the break, he was seated with six other players who had less than half his stack.
The big chips remain at an outside feature table where Kyle Keranen is holding court. Keranen entered Day 6 with the chip lead in 2012, but couldn't hold it and went out in 38th place. He's determined not to that that happen again this year and has a two-million chip edge over Scott Palmer in second. Palmer's story is also intriguing as he was one of the world's top online cash game players prior to Black Friday. During the break, he explained that a lot of his money was locked up as a result of the indictments, and he has simply been "relaxing" in Maryland since. He estimates he has played maybe a few months worth of poker over the past few years as a result.
"I should've traveled overseas more," Palmer said. "But now the games are much tougher and less profitable. Everyone knows the math perfectly."
The Michigan poker dominance may also continue again this year.
"Ryan Riess used to deal to me at one of the charity rooms I played at," Jason Johnson said. "I saw him win last year and said if he can do it, why can't I?"
Johnson came out to the WSOP to play just a few events with a very limited bankroll. He quickly found success with a daily DeepStacks chop, a seventh in the millionaire-maker and third at another final table, and is now on his way to earning life changing money. He said he relies on really strict bankroll management and wants to bring the title back to his state for the third time in six years. The main event will be Johnson's third six-figure score over the past five weeks.
Another friend of Riess is Adam Lamphere, who doubled up early on the day to 1.2 million in chips.
Two players who have made deep runs in this event before, Anh Van Nguyen and Kyle Bowker, couldn't make magic happen once again. Van Nguyen secured his third top-106 finish over the past 10 years with his 73rd-place exit. Bowker finished 71st and cashed in the main event five times since 2006.
Small blinds: Bill Cole has the loudest rail at the moment. Tournament director Jack Effel announced that play will continue for five and a half levels today or until only 24 players remain. My money is on hitting 24 before the time limit. The Day 4 and Day 5 Poker Edge podcasts will be posted today. Sorry about the delay. Players from 12 countries remain in the main event field. Seven bracelet winners remain in the main event. Only one player from the top 10 in each of the three starting days remains in the main event: Martin Jacobson. Kyle Keranen was 13th on his starting day. All remaining players will earn at least $103,025.
"I'm trying not to think about it," said Newhouse of his chance to go back-to-back. "Last year I was very excited. This year I feel super relaxed and I'm just playing poker and having fun. I'm trying not to think about anything that will make me feel pressured or anything. Just doing the best I can."
His play was relatively straightforward on the day: find the right spots and get enough chips to punish everyone else.
"I was lucky enough to win some big pots early on and I just got a monster chip lead to the point where I could just raise every hand and nobody could do anything about it," said Newhouse.
The day began with Matthew Hauten in the lead, but the Chicago native couldn't hold the top spot through the first level, and needed a double-up on the last hand of the day to make it through. Bruno Positano then emerged after a shocking pair of hands that eliminated one-time big stack Zach Jiganti, but couldn't keep the chips, either. Griffin Benger led too, but he struggled at the feature table and busted with jacks versus queens early in Level 25. Kyle Keranen also had a shot of becoming the chip leader after Day 5 for the second time in three years, but he fell just short and finished second. Keranen received some redemption when he eliminated Curtis Rystadt, a player who had badgered him all day. The two shared verbal blows and it should make for some interesting television this fall.
Scott "urnotindanger2" Palmer finished the day third in chips and was a big beneficiary of a few ill-timed bluffs by Mikiyo Aoki. The start of the day looked promising for Aoki, the runner-up in the 2014 WSOP Ladies Championship, but a 3 million chip stack dwindled after a few called or raised river bluffs, and she ultimately busted out in 83rd place. Shortly before her elimination, Marcia Kunitz was knocked out in 91st and that left Maria Ho to become the last woman standing for the second time in her career. Ho finished 38th in 2008 and will began Day 6 as the short stack.
"It's pretty cool," Ho said about being the final woman in the field. "I think that anything to help bring women into the game is awesome, so having that distinction gives women something to strive for, so that can watch and relate to the fact that women can really do well in the main event, but I've always said I have my eyes on a much, much bigger prize and that's not last woman standing."
A number of players remaining in the field have been past Day 5 before. Two players from the 2013 WSOP main event, Vitaly Lunkin and Newhouse, made it to Day 6 for the second consecutive year. Bryan Devonshire reached this point in 2011 and entered the day with a prime seat at the feature table. With a smile on his face, Devonshire played a relaxed game that made a few people smile along the way. It's his incredible attitude that makes him a player to watch every time he's at the felt, and the poker world is a place where he's spent much less time over the past few years. These days he's typically found guiding whitewater boats, living an outdoor life he really enjoys.
"I'm just very relaxed," Devonshire said about this experience. "[In 2011] it was my first time. Money meant a lot more and it was all new and fun and exciting with lights and cameras and all of that sort of stuff. Now, it's like, 'Eh, I've been here.' [Now] I'm having a great time, That's part of why it's extra fun. I get to focus on having fun and loosening the table up and creating smiles instead of creating spots."
Still, Devonshire understands that the game itself has changed.
"The game isn't what it used to be," said Devonshire. "It's not as profitable as it used to be, so my incentive to spend all seven weeks out here is greatly diminished."
Devonshire finished the night 16th with 3.83 million in chips.
Some late-night eliminations took away from the star power of this field. Mukul Pahuja was on the wrong end of a cooler and put his final chips in with A-6 on an A-Q-6 flop. Up against A-Q, the reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year couldn't hit a miracle and was eliminated in 101st. Bracelet winners Simon Charette, Jon Aguiar and Vladimir Shchemelev also barely missed advancing.
Busto 105th, I left my heart in Vegas. Back to Boston and real life again.— Jonathan Aguiar (@JonAguiar) July 13, 2014
During the Day 4 recap, I offered some names of those who have run this deep before. Many of those players survived the day and that success is becoming a theme of this tournament. Those who have been there before understand what it takes to go through this grind. Just ask Newhouse, Lunkin Devonshire, Ho, Leif Force, Keranen, Ryan Fair and Anh Van Nguyen.
When play resumes Sunday at noon PT, the blinds will be 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000 ante. Here are the Day 5 chip leaders:
1. Mark Newhouse (7.40 million)
2. Kyle Keranen (6.67 million)
3. Scott Palmer (6.59 million)
4. Bruno Politano (5.47 million)
5. Andoni Larrabe (5.47 million)
6. Dan Smith (5.3 million)
7. Dan Sindelar (5.24 million)
8. Tony Ruberto (5.23 million)
9. Iaron Lightbourne (4.97 million)
10. Leif Force (4.75 million)
Small blinds: David Tuthill had one incredible day, filled with six successful all-ins. He's still short, but at this point, must feel like he's freerolling. Force lives in the mountains of North Carolina during the rest of the year. He doesn't like Vegas and can't wait to get home. Obviously he wants to best his 11th-place finish first. The minimum payout for all remaining players is $85,812. The final few hands of the night featured a frenzy of all-ins. Eddy Sabat doubled up and eliminated Aoki during a three-way all-in. Play is expected to continue until 27 remain on Sunday, but to get further within the tournament structure, it wouldn't be that surprising if they played past that point. Friends and family have started to arrive in town, and at this point, big hands are worth celebrating. Expect lots of excitement on the rail from here on out.