Poker: World Series of Poker

Riess The Beast? No. Riess the Champ

November, 6, 2013
Ryan RiessAP Photo/Julie Jacobson2013 WSOP main event champion Ryan Riess celebrates in front of his rail at the final table.

LAS VEGAS -- There's no better moment in poker than watching the crowning of a new world champion. On Tuesday night, tears and emotions flowed from the hundreds of friends and family of Ryan Riess as he won the 2013 World Series of Poker main event. As the final card hit the felt, the 23-year-old from Clarkston, Mich., standing on the rail with his supporters, fell to the ground. He had outlasted the field of 6,352 players and, in what was the greatest moment of his life, was simply overcome. Cheers, streamers and photos snapped in the seconds that followed, and out of everyone who had made the trek to the Rio, the first people on top of him to celebrate: his parents.

Others tried to pile on, but Riess stood up and hugged his mom and dad who were beaming. He was in tears. His mom, voiceless from cheering on her son, was also in tears. At 23, their son had fulfilled his dream.

"He's just a gentle soul," Cheryl Riess said after the win. "We're just so proud."

The pride on her face grew as he left his supporters and went over to his devastated opponent, Jay Farber. They embraced, both of them sub-30 millionaires with great promise ahead not only in poker, but life. The two had bonded throughout the November Nine process, and over the past two days it was clear they shared a great amount of respect for each other.

Riess left Farber and went back to his crew. They were his rocks through nine grueling days of main event play. He gave out high-fives and countless hugs before being presented with the bracelet and the $8.3 million stacked in bundled bricks.

"I was overwhelmed with joy," Riess said of his championship moment. "I was so happy. I started crying and I was just speechless. My parents told me they were proud of me and they loved me. It was awesome."

Riess made his way back to the friends that he missed the first time around. Everyone had their moment of celebration with him. A moment none of them will ever forget.

The 89-hand heads-up match featured highs and lows for both players, but it was clearly Riess' night. Farber entered heads-up with the lead and extended it early, but Riess found an aggressive gear that he didn't display during Monday's play, giving him the boost. He kept constant pressure on all streets and on a short stack without the cards, Farber couldn't compete. Riess ground his opponent down and, as his A-K defeated Farber's Q-5, he earned the victory. Ironically, those are the two cards that were engraved into the WSOP bracelet in May as placeholders for the champions actual cards.

Riess leaves the Rio with a spotlight that will follow him throughout the rest of his career. He began that career just 13 months ago on the WSOP Circuit and its motto of "First the ring, then the bracelet" came true once again. This time, that bracelet is the biggest one of all.

Many of his friends are Circuit grinders who aspire to accomplish what Riess has just done. He wasn't just playing for himself Tuesday night at that final table, but for a group of players who put their heart and soul into the game for their "one time." He represented the thousands of dreamers who play the professional game at a lower financial level and gave a face to a tour that needed a true icon. Riess' deep roots on the Circuit and this victory can benefit the tour and, while some may strive for his attention to promote different initiatives, hopefully the WSOP will realize that Reiss' most important asset to the game may be his ties on that front.

Riess, more than any of the recent WSOP champions, can make a difference in getting new players into the game.

After Greg Merson won a year ago, I pointed out that his effort as ambassador may have been completed prior to the final table. He wanted to escape the tournament scene and simply go back to the biggest cash games in the world. This year, it's entirely different. Riess doesn't have a game plan, and that may be the best thing for him. He turned down all sponsors prior to the final table because he didn't want anything standing in his way. He wanted to make his own decisions and have a clean slate no matter what happens. Well, kid, you've got plenty of time, and money, to figure it out.

Riess will continue to be a role model for his brother and sister and his degree in hospitality from Michigan State will, for now, go unutilized. What matters most to the champ at this moment is his family and friends. At 23, it shouldn't be any other way.

Enjoy your moment, Ryan. You've earned it.

WSOP main event heads-up blog

November, 5, 2013
It's Ryan Riess versus Jay Farber for $8.3 million, the diamond-studded bracelet and the title of world champion. Follow along tonight and join the conversation as the action plays out in Las Vegas.

After eight hours of final table action, Jay Farber and Ryan Riess earned their way to heads-up and the final day of play in the 2013 World Series of Poker. Only 19 big blinds separate the two and when action resumes Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (on ESPN), fans will get to see two very unique styles and personalities who have the potential to shape the future of the game.

There were many highlights from the first day of the final table, but here are my biggest takeaways.

1. Play didn't exceed expectations

Many of us expected the final table to play out differently. Play in general was relatively tight, something that is rarely seen at this level of competition. The pay jumps are significant and the ability to hide your bluffs is essentially nonexistent and it seemed the players just reacted differently under these circumstances. The pressure was on and perhaps nobody was affected more than JC Tran, who went from being chip leader to completely card dead and simply struggled to get going.

"I definitely didn't expect this," Tran said. "Finishing fifth was possible, but not the way I imagined it. ... I'm not 100 percent happy with the way I played."

I guess that leads me to admit I was wrong. I tweeted last week about my perceived skill level of this final table, but after what we saw Monday night, I was clearly wrong on that. Looking at the final table as a whole before action began, we had nine players with established results, but seeing the big picture Monday night, there were spots of weakness and indecision that made many, both in attendance and on Twitter, confused. Other players may have taken and pushed their advantages in different spots, but again, under the lights with so much on the line, a typically standard decision may not be easy.

2. Coolers dominated the action

Over the past few years at the final table, the eliminations didn't come primarily from "setup" hands. The coolers during the final table (coolers are situations where big hands run into other big hands), really dominated the way everything played out. Even though Mark Newhouse doubled up with his Q-Q against Marc-Etienne McLaughlin's K-K, that hand set the tone for the evening.

The one hand that really changed the course of the event was McLaughlin's K-K against Farber's A-A for an 80-million chip pot. McLaughlin had done incredibly well getting back into contention after being the short stack for most of six-handed play, and just when everyone thought it would be a three-horse race, Farber picks up aces and happily knocks out McLaughlin. Farber also picked up aces against kings on Day 6 (versus Noah Schwartz) and that hand was pivotal to him reaching this point.

Michiel Brummelhuis and Amir Lehavot suffered similar fates in hands that just seemed to play themselves. After grinding for 8 days, a cooler is perhaps the least desirable way to be eliminated.

3. Poker can be a spectator event

Part of the intrigue about the WSOP final table is that family and friends are along for the ride. The support each of the nine players received was incredible and the emotions that these players shared during every quick break was priceless. The rails helped keep the players on even keel and the constant chants by the crowd kept the energy up. While those in attendance couldn't see the cards, the excitement in the room was palpable because of a dedicated group of friends hoping to see their player become the next world champion.

The best rail award of this year definitely goes to McLaughlin. The "Larry Walker" cheer, in reference to the former Montreal Expos star, really earned McLaughlin a few walks in the big blind. They made a difference.

There also were a number of costumes, including a few people in panda suits, who entertained everyone. Especially when a person in the aforementioned panda suit falls down in the stands, runs onto the stage and is escorted out of the Rio by security.

4. The underdogs

When you watch Tuesday night's coverage of the final table there's sure to be a lot of discussion of the backgrounds of Riess and Farber. Riess is less than two years into his poker career and already has ridden the roller coaster of emotions that comes with the pursuit. Farber really does have a day job (even though it's a night job), and that greatly limits his time playing poker. These are two players who aren't the most polished, but they play with heart and will earn the respect of all as a result.

After play and interviews concluded around 2 a.m. PT, both underdogs decided to do one more thing together Monday night -- go to the club. Farber was arranging tables before he even left the Penn and Teller Theater.

5. Sponsors are coming back

PokerStars, Full Tilt and other online sites were putting up six to seven figures for the sponsorship of players at the WSOP final table prior to Black Friday. Over the past two years, there wasn't a ton of additional sponsorship upside for the November Nine, but this year, we saw some new patches show up on the players.

From King Cobra (an Anheuser-Busch brand) to casinos to e-cigarettes to real-money daily fantasy sports sites, the majority of the nine had some interesting patchwork on their clothing. With the return of the online poker industry in the United States, more money will be invested in the future. This is a great sign for the industry and also helps to validate a reason to hold the delayed final table as it provides the players with an additional revenue stream not entirely dictated by their results on the felt.

WSOP Main Event Final Table Live Blog

November, 4, 2013
After four months of waiting, the final table has arrived. Who will win the $8.3 million and the most coveted bracelet in the game? Watch the action unfold on ESPN2 Monday night starting at 8 p.m. ET and follow along right here until the final few remain.

Meet the 2013 November Nine

July, 16, 2013
The dreams of 6,352 have been reduced to only nine. The World Series of Poker main event final table is set with superstar JC Tran in the lead with 38 million in chips. He battled through a tough Day 7 to emerge with the biggest stack, mostly because of his relentless aggression as the final table bubble approached.

Day 7 began with 27 players and Anton Morgenstern in complete control. He spoke after play on Day 6 about his patience and many of the game's best told me before the day that they expected him to coast into the final table. Unfortunately the cards wouldn't oblige. Morgenstern made an interesting call and was dealt a major cooler during the second level to Mark Newhouse, flopping trip aces to Newhouse's full house. Morgenstern lost more than half his stack on that hand and shortly after he'd run into aces with A-J to fall in 20th.

The chip lead changed continually early as Newhouse and James Alexander couldn't hold on to their edges. Alexander had an epic blow-up before dinner and that opened the door for Amir Lehavot to take control and for most of the night, there was little doubt that Lehavot would be a November Niner. Once only two tables remained, the short stacks tried to find the right spots with timely three- and four-bets all-in. For some, such as Ryan Riess, it worked. For others, such as Rep Porter (12th), it did not.

Tran eliminated Matt Reed in 11th to create the unofficial final table. Seated on the main stage in front of hundreds of cheering and screaming friends and family, Newhouse walked up to the table with six big blinds and an agenda. He said he was going to make the final table and after a double up with A-6 over Q-4, that was absolutely the case.

With Newhouse slightly out of danger, Tran began to pressure the other stacks and ran into some interference. Riess capitalized most, moving from one of the short stacks to the middle of the pack.

Nobody in the Amazon Room expected to see what happened next: 2001 World Series of Poker main event champion Carlos Mortensen bubbled the final table. Mortensen didn't sit back and blind away, but got involved in few hands, which had onlookers stunned. Tran eventually captured Mortensen's chips after the Spaniard called all-in with Ac-9h on the turn of a 10c-6c-3s-9c board. Tran showed 8c-7s for a straight and Mortensen needed to find another club on the river to keep his dreams of a second title alive. With the 2d placed on the felt, the entire room erupted. The players headed to their rails to celebrate as Mortensen stood in the center of the stage just wondering how it all went wrong. For his 10th-place finish, Mortensen earned $573,204, his fifth-highest career cash.

Here are the 2013 November Nine:

JC Tran (38.0 million in chips): The poker world wanted a star at the final table and in JC Tran, they definitely have one. He has won two WSOP bracelets, a WPT title and has $8.3 million career tournament earnings. This is his sixth cash of the 2013 WSOP and his sixth main event cash over the past 10 years. He had no fear of putting millions in the pot late and that's what boosted him into the final table as the chip leader. Tran said that the final table is just one of two great things to happen in November as his wife is due with their second child.

JC TranJay Newnum/BLUFFJC Tran leads the 2013 main event final table.

"It's all for them now, it's not about myself anymore," said Tran. "I go out there for them and play for my family. ... The one guy that I really respected the most was the guy I just busted, Carlos Mortensen. I've played with him for many years and him and I have had some really good battles. ... I like the guy a lot, it's sad to see him go, but at the same time, I'm happy he's gone because he was the one I respected the most at that final table."

Amir Lehavot (29.7 mllion): Talk about flying under the radar. The winner of the $10,000 pot-limit hold 'em event in 2011 was one of the shortest stacks to begin the day, but he capitalized most off of James Alexander's blow up during the third level on Day 7. This is the 38-year-old's 13th career WSOP cash and he will be the oldest player at the final table, where he'll try to become the first Israeli to win the main event. He's a professional poker player by trade, but also has a degree in engineering.

Marc-Etienne McLaughlin (26.5 million): It has been quite a year for Canada at the World Series of Poker and McLaughlin is looking to continue that trend. This is his seventh career WSOP cash and more impressive, his third top-86 main event cash over the past five years. He has made one WSOP final table, finishing third in a $1,500 event in 2011.

"It's a wonderful feeling, and I don't think I fully realize it right now," McLaughlin said. "Three months of party and joy. That's what I'm thinking about. And some sleep."

Jay Farber (25.9 million): The 28-year-old nightclub promoter played a lot of poker before Black Friday and just recently turned to having a, as he said, "real job." He plays the cash games in Vegas and decided to enter some satellites because he believed there was added value. Farber won his way in and as far as his November Nine preparation, two players on his rail were none other than former November Niners Ben Lamb and Michael Mizrachi. This is his first career WSOP cash and second main event.

"I'm amazed I made it," said Farber. "You just think you're going to show up and see what happens. I just stuck with my style of poker and played the way I thought would be the most effective with the least amount of variance and it worked out well."

Ryan Riess (25.8 million): You're going to hear a lot about "Riess The Beast." The Michigan State grad found poker and has been motivated since a second-place finish at a WSOP Circuit main event to find greatness. Well, now he's here. Riess had one of the most vocal rails on the day, but he battled from the short stack with perfect aggression to make it this far. Expect the same heartfelt effort to show in November.

"I'm so happy, time to win this tournament in November," said Riess. "When we were short-handed, five-handed and six-handed, I feel like everyone was playing a little soft and I had the chance to run over them. I think they were all just really excited to make the November Nine and so I decided to start mashing."

Sylvain Loosli (19.6 million in chips): The 26-year-old Frenchman is making his first career World Series of Poker cash and has only one tiny score on the EPT as part of his tournament resume. That said, he plays $25/$50 no-limit cash games online and if we look back at last year, some guy named Merson had those same credentials. Loosli likes being underestimated and hopes that he can exploit that image come November. More than anything, he wants to win this for France.

"I've very proud to represent my country," said Loosli. "I will do my best to prove that French players can be as good as American ones. ... [For the next four months] I'm planning on going on vacation and playing more live tournaments to keep improving my [live reads], plus work with some coaches."

November NineVin Narayanan/Casino CityThe final table, from left: Sylvain Loosli, Michiel Brummelhuis, Mark Newhouse, Ryan Riess, Amir Lehavot, Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, JC Tran, David Benefield and Jay Farber.

Michiel Brummelhuis (11.2 million): The Dutch pro has been successful around the world for the past six years and is one of the most respected players in that poker community. He has made WSOP final tables, earned six-figure scores and won side events. Now he has the biggest opportunity of his life and a chance to become the first world champion from the Netherlands. Brummelheis, 32, owes his tournament to a river 7 that gave him a straight with J-9 against Loosli's A-J, and now that he has the second chance, he isn't going to let it go easily. Just like Tran, he's expecting a child this year.

"He's one of the nicest, most well-respected tournament players and down-to-earth players I've ever had the chance to cover," said Remko Rinkema of PokerListings. "He's been winning online tournaments since 2007."

Mark Newhouse (7.3 million) After his win on the World Poker Tour in 2006, Mark Newhouse fell quickly out of the poker spotlight and fell onto tough times. After the performance he put on during Day 7, many will remember the 28-year-old's determination and even though he's short, you can't count him out at the final table. Newhouse finished 182nd in the 2011 main event. Including ninth-place prize money, he has $2.7 million in career earnings.

"I'm feeling great, it was a crazy day," said Newhouse. "Anyone who knows me and who plays poker with me on a regular basis knows I'm not a patient person, but there's so much on the line [for the final table], you just have to do it sometimes."

David Benefield (6.3 million): "Raptor" is one of the original online poker superstars in the post-boom era. The 27-year-old Texan was part of the support squad during Craig Marquis' run in 2008 and now he'll have his own shot. According to Brian Hastings, Benefield been active in the Macau cash games as of late while also studying political science and Chinese at Columbia. Prior to the main event, he had only one WSOP cash this Series, but made $115,000 in October with an eighth-place finish at the WSOP's 50,000 euro high roller event. If there was someone who played nearly perfect today, it was Benefield. While he tightened up on the bubble, he deserves this final table bid.

The November Nine leave the Rio with ninth-place prize money and will return to battle for the WSOP bracelet Nov. 4 and 5. The final table will be broadcast by ESPN.

1. $8,359,531
2. $5,173,170
3. $3,727,023
4. $2,791,982
5. $2,106,526
6. $1,600,792
7. $1,225,224
8. $944,593
9. $733,224
James Alexander began the last level in second place out of the final 22 in chips with 17 million. Alexander was eliminated in 19th place.

Seated at the outside feature table, Alexander unraveled in a hurry. He doubled up Maxx Coleman (J-9<8-8), David Benefield (A-2<A-A), Rep Porter (A-2<9-9) and finally Amir Lehavot (J-8<5-5). He got some back with a double of his own against Benefield (A-9>K-Q) but still could not keep his composure. With 12 minutes left in the level, Lehavot opened from under the gun and Alexander three-bet all-in with A-7. Alexander was dominated by Lehavot's A-10, and the drama ended quickly when a 10 came on the flop. Alexander was the final elimination before the redraw at the dinner break.

The player who entered the day with the chip lead, Anton Morgenstern, also didn't make it to dinner. The German cash-game pro gave most of his chips to Mark Newhouse during the second level of play, then ran into Fabian Ortiz on back-to-back hands and lost A-K to K-Q, then A-J to A-A to be eliminated in 20th place. Newhouse had the lead going into this past level but has dropped to 14th.

The only other elimination during the level was Maxx Coleman's, which happened during Alexander's blow-up. Benefield moved all-in from the small blind with A-3, and Coleman called off his stack with Q-J. As Benefield turned a wheel, Coleman shrugged and headed to the cage to collect his $285,408.

Jay Farber made the biggest strides during the third level today and is third in chips entering the dinner break. His key hand came against Ortiz as he moved all-in with Ac-10s on a 5c-3c-2c board. Ortiz showed 9c-9d and basically needed to fade the world to win the hand. Farber needed an ace, club, four or 10, and his hands reached for his head after an innocuous 2 on the turn. With bated breath and a rail of 10 standing directly behind Farber, the dealer placed a 10c on the river and Farber doubled up. The Las Vegas club promoter and cash gamer celebrated and continued to add to his stack for the rest of the level to finish with 18.9 million in chips.

Marc McLaughlin headed to the break second in chips after a near-perfect start to Day 7. He began play with 5.4 million in chips and has had his way with former big stack Chris Lindh to reach his 1 19 million-chip peak. Sylvain Loosli is the chip leader and the only player over 20 million. He took a few pots from Newhouse during the last level to chip up to this point.

Two of the players who held the shortest stacks to enter the day, Porter and Benefield, have moved up to the middle of the pack.

Here are the chip counts:
1. Sylvain Loosli (20.9 million in chips)
2. Jay Farber (18.7 million)
3. Marc McLaughlin (18.3 million)
4. Amir Lehavot (17.5 million)
5. JC Tran (17.4 million)
6. Sergio Castelluccio (12.5 million)
7. Michiel Brummelhuis (10.3 million)
8. Matthew Reed (10.0 million)
9. Carlos Mortensen (9.7 million)
10. David Benefield (8.6 million)
11. Fabian Ortiz (8.1 million)
12. Bruno Kawauti (7.6 million)
13. Rep Porter (7.4 million)
14. Mark Newhouse (5.9 million)
15. Alexander Livingston (5.2 million)
16. Ryan Riess (4.8 million)
17. Chris Lindh (3.9 million)
18. Jan Nakladal (3.1 million)
LAS VEGAS -- Mark Newhouse had been among the short stacks for the past two days, but things change quickly in two hours of the WSOP main event. Newhouse doubled up three times during the second level of play on Monday and is seemingly in control of the feature table. The 2006 World Poker Tour Borgata main event champion got lucky on his first confrontation, hitting the river against Jay Farber. Holding A-2, Newhouse was down to his final out on a board of K-J-10-6 against Farber's 9-9. Drawing thin, Newhouse hit a queen and doubled to six million in chips.

Later in the level Newhouse was willing to risk his tournament life on a coin flip, and topped the one-time chip leader Anton Morgenstern with A-Q over 8-8. Up to 11 million, the two tangled again in the biggest pot of the tournament just minutes before the break.

Morgenstern opened to 325,000 and Newhouse called. The flop of A-A-2 brought a bet by Morgenstern and a call by Newhouse, building the pot to nearly two million. Morgenstern bet again (750,000) after the turn 3 and the fireworks began. Newhouse raised to two million, Morgenstern reraised to 3.9 million and Newhouse moved all-in for a total of 10.9 million. Morgenstern thought, then called confidently, flipping over A-J. Newhouse threw his 2-2 on the felt with a fist pump and watched as the dealer placed a four on the river, putting the Day 6 chip leader on the verge of elimination. Newhouse has 22 million in chips on the break.

Play was relatively slow during Level 32 and there were only two eliminations during the past two hours. One of them was WPT champion and one of the top young players in the game, Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Since his run on early Day 6, Timoshenko was unable to build and has blinded down slowly for the past four or five levels. On his final hand, Timoshenko moved all-in for his last 2.1 million with A-8 and was dominated by the A-J of Jan Nakladal. The board brought two jacks and Timoshenko was felted in 22nd place.

Brazilian Bruno Kawauti was responsible for the other knockout of Clement Tripodi (K-K>A-Q) in 23rd. Only 21 players remain in the main event with action continuing until the final table of nine is reached.

If the final table were set right now, the players who would make up the November Nine are:

1. Mark Newhouse (21.9 million in chips)

2. James Alexander (17.2 million)

3. Sylvain Loosli (16.9 million)

4. Marc McLaughlin (15.7 million)

5. Chris Lindh (14.5 million)

6. JC Tran (13.0 million)

7. Gabian Ortiz (12.4 million)

8. Matthew Reed (10.9 million)

9. Carlos Mortensen (9.2 million)

Blinds are now 100,000/200,000 with a 30,000 ante. There will be a re-draw of tables when 18 players remain.
LAS VEGAS -- The World Series of Poker main event is only 18 eliminations away from reaching the biggest final table of the year. Play was halted after four levels of play on Day 6 and only 27 players remain in the hunt for $8.3 million. Steven Gee's quest for a back-to-back main event final table appearance remains alive, but similar to the past few days, Gee will bring one of the shortest stacks into action Monday. Gee said that the way he went out in 2012 has kept him up nights, and all he wanted to do this year was to just get back to Day 7 and have a chance at redemption.

"I just hoped for one more day," said Gee after play on Day 6. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. ... Anything can happen on Day 7, and I just wanted to get there and give myself a chance to play. I just needed one more day to [prove myself]."

Gee has outlasted 13,095 players over the past two main events, playing for an astounding 14 days total. He bagged 3.1 million in chips and with the blinds 60,000/120,000 with a 15,000 ante, he'll need to be active early. He entered Day 7 last year 22nd in chips. This year he's 23rd.

The man who everyone is chasing after Day 6 is Anton Morgenstern. The cash game player was born in the United States, but moved to Germany and looks to follow in Pius Heinz's footsteps with a November Nine bid. He built a substantial lead Sunday, playing a style that was envied throughout the Amazon Room. He was involved in only a few major hands, but for the most part, he simply chipped away at his opponents to win plenty of small pots. He ended the night with 21.9 million in chips.
Anton MorgensternJay Newnum/BLUFFAnton Morgenstern leads the final 27 in the 2013 WSOP main event.

"I had huge setups in my favor and that gave me the momentum, and with that momentum it's easy to pick up little pots," said Morgenstern to Bluff. "People don't want to mess with you if you always have the nuts at showdown."

Morgenstern may have the lead, but his starting table is anything but easy on Day 7 as it features four of the five top stacks. One of those stacks belongs to JC Tran, who absolutely dominated the feature table on Day 6. Tran, making his sixth cash in the past 10 main events, put on a clinic during the later levels with aggressive play and had no problem chipping up at a table that featured 2001 main event champion Carlos Mortensen and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Mortensen remained stoic all day and looks to become the first repeat champion since Johnny Chan in 1989. Mortensen seemed confident after play Sunday and told the Spanish press, "If you want to make money, you'd bet on me."

Timoshenko was the chip leader for the first two levels, but dropped a bit during the last level to end with 5.3 million in chips.

There were plenty of brutal knockouts throughout the day, but the most dramatic elimination came just moments before play concluded as Jackie Glazier was eliminated in 31st. Glazier had battled on the short stack all day at the feature table. She managed to double up a few times by winning races, but she was unable to chip up naturally without her tournament life on the line. Down to around 2.4 million in chips once again, Glazier moved all-in with A-Q and was called by Sergio Castelluccio's 10-10. The flop of 9-9-9 gave Glazier an additional out, but she couldn't connect on the turn or river. She immediately felt the emotion and headed over to her rail and into the arms of her husband, clearly distraught. She wiped her tears away just long enough to do an interview, but the Australian's elimination was difficult to watch. In a game where keeping emotions in check is everything, her reaction is a simple reminder about what it takes for these players to come so close to their dreams, but miss it ever so slightly. This will be the 18th consecutive year the final nine will consist of all men.

Other Day 6 eliminations included Noah Schwartz, Jonathan Jaffe, Brett Richey, Vitaly Lunkin, Jim Collopy and Vladmir Geshkenbein.

Here are the chip leaders heading into the final day:
1. Anton Morgenstern (21.9 million in chips)
2. Sylvain Loosli (14.1 million)
3. Chris Lindh (12.0 million)
4. JC Tran (11.9 million)
5. Fabian Ortiz (10.8 million)
6. Carlos Mortensen (10.7 million)
7. James Alexander (9.4 million)
8. Jay Farber (8.9 million)
9. Matthew Reed (7.7 million)
10. Jason Mann (7.5 million)

The tournament will resume Monday at noon PT and will continue until the final table is set. The final nine players will then leave the Rio with ninth-place prize money and return for the final table in November.

Small blinds: The chip leader on Day 6 last year, Marc-Andre Ladoucer, did not make the final table. In fact, only two of the top nine players after Day 6 last year made the final table. Two of the players in the bottom six after Day 6, Gee and Andras Koroknai, did make it. ... There are four WPT Champions remaining: Mortensen, Tran, Timoshenko and Mark Newhouse. ... There are five bracelet winners remaining (Mortensen, Tran, Amir Lehavot, Rep Porter, Gee). ... Similar to last year, the cash game pros are the ones excelling in this year's event. Morgenstern, Jay Farber and Chris Lindh all said they were big cash game players. ... The last chip leader to advance the following day was Mark Kroon on Day 2C. ... The minimum payout is $285,508.

Day 6: 37 left at dinner break

July, 14, 2013
The fun part about Day 6 is that we begin to really learn about the remaining players in the field. It's tough to gauge the caliber of player for most of the tournament, but on these final days with just a few tables left, every face becomes familiar and every player has a story.

We're beginning to know a little bit about Anton Morgenstern, the chip leader at the dinner break of Day 6. Morgenstern is one of three players with more than 10 million in chips, which he gathered mostly during this last level. He took the lead after a pot against Philip Long, then added a few more million without a showdown. He's picking his spots perfectly so far on Sunday and everyone in the Amazon Room has taken notice.

The award for most random Twitter avatar of the remaining players has to go to Chris Lindh, but his real story is his re-emergence here on Day 6. Lindh was the chip leader for part of Day 5, but fell out of the top spot in a hurry and ended the night in 10th. He fell further to start the day, but has been able to chip up with ease after that. Picking up aces versus kings also helps. He has knocked out a number of players over the past two levels and has 14 million in chips at the break.

JC Tran is third in chips heading to dinner after a constant clinic on aggression at the feature table. He's opening a ton of pots, three-betting more and putting his opponents to the test all the time. This is trademark Tran, though, and if there's one player whose hands I'm looking forward to seeing on television, it's definitely his.

Some notes:
  • Carlos Mortensen doubled up A-K over K-K by hitting a broadway on the river (10-J-Q-K-A). He has chipped up since that double to 6.4 million.
  • Jackie Glazier doubled up a few times during that level, but hasn't been able to top 4 million in chips
  • Blinds will be 50,000/100,000 with a 10,000 ante when players return
  • The average stack is 5.1 million in chips
  • Steven Gee, the ninth-place finisher in last year's main event, has 2.4 million in chips

The main event dream has ended for:

38. Somar Al-Darwich ($185,694)
39. Sami Rustom ($185,694)
40. Christopher Kinane ($185,694)
41. Josh Prager ($185,694)
42. Jonathan Jaffe ($185,694)
43. Phil Mader ($185,694)
44. Bryan Pellegrino ($185,694)
45. David Stephens ($185,694)
46. Vitaly Lunkin ($151,063)
47. Jamie Kaplan ($151,063)
48. Gaetano Preite ($151,063)
49. Oliver Price ($151,063)
50. Sebastian Gohr ($151,063)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Anton Morgenstern (19.0 million in chips)
2. Chris Lindh (14.0 million)
3. JC Tran (10.4 million)
4. Jay Farber (9.7 million)
5. Jason Mann (9.5 million)
The payout confirmation table attendants' heads are drooping in boredom in the far corner of the Amazon Room. With significant money on the line with every pay jump and players showing great patience at this stage in the tournament, eliminations have come sporadically. Only 11 players have been eliminated over the past two hours, including tournament regulars Noah Schwartz and Brett Richey.

Richey had been short stacked all day... actually, for the past three days. He fought incredibly well on Day 5 and just when he was able to chip up over two million, he lost a pot to Alex Bilokur and had trouble getting back on track for the rest of the night. He began Day 6 with a double up against Nicolas Le Floch, but ran K-Q into James Alexander's A-A and was eliminated in 54th place. This was Richey's 18th career WSOP cash and fourth main event cash since 2006.

At an outer feature table, it appeared that just when Schwartz had rebounded from the early cooler, he found yet another one. Bryan Pellegrino min-raised to 120,000 and by the time Schwartz's chips were in the center, so were Pellegrino's. Schwartz showed 7-7 and failed to top aces for the second time in three hours. He finished in 52nd. Pellegrino is known to the online world as "PrimordialAA," but he should be a familiar face to WSOP fans as he's finished in the top 160 in three of the past four years.

On the double-up front, JC Tran found his way into the top 10 by cracking Jorn Walthaus's A-A with 8-8 after the chips went in on a K-8-6 flop. Tran then doubled up the last woman standing, Jackie Glazier, calling her all-in with A-Q against A-K. Glazer now has stack comparable to that of Steven Gee, who also doubled up in the past hour.

The main event dream has ended for:

51. Jim Collopy ($151,063)
52. Noah Schwartz ($151,063)
53. Rachid Ben Cherif ($151,063)
54. Darryl Ronconi ($123,597)
55. Brett Richey ($123,597)
56. Robert Damelian ($123,597)
57. Brendan O'Neal ($123,597)
58. Keanu Tabali ($123,597)
59. Steven Watts ($123,597)
60. Andrea Dato ($123,597)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (9.6 million in chips)
2. Sylvain Loosli (9.3 million)
3. JC Tran (7.9 million)
4. Marc McLaughlin (7.8 million)
5. Sami Rustom (7.4 million)

Small blinds: The agents have arrived. Not sure what the players are signing for, but at least there are attempts going on. ... It's fun to see what other pros show up to sweat the remaining players. It's about now we start to hear what players have pieces out, swaps, etc. ... The average stack is 3.8 million. The blinds are 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante. ... The minimum payout at this point is $151,063.
There's a different feeling of tension in the Amazon Room today. The comfortable atmosphere of players casually playing in the main event has been replaced by heightened emotions and endless confrontations in which one wrong decision could thwart a deep run in the main event and possibly a final table appearance.

Eight players have been eliminated in the first hour of play, but the most intriguing hand that took place was a triple-up by WPT champion Noah Schwartz. On the second hand of the day, Schwartz ran kings into Jay Farber's aces and doubled up the Las Vegas club promoter and cash-game rounder. A few hands later, Jonathan Jaffe opened, and with only 500,000 left, Schwartz put his money in the center. Farber, next to act, called and the dealer announced "all-in and a call" which signals the TV cameras to come over and film. Farber was unaware of any action ahead of him and flipped over his cards: A-8. With Farber's hand exposed, the action was now on Jaffe, who moved all-in. Farber folded and Schwartz hit a king on the turn to triple up.

Farber was given a one-round penalty for exposing his hand out of turn and told me that if he knew there was action in front of him he probably wouldn't have called.

At the feature table, Yevgeniy Timoshenko has started off strong and added nearly 4 million to his stack to become the chip lead. The WPT, WCOOP and APT champion got richer as opponent Keanu Tabali (3-3) made a weaker full house on the river and paid him off. With K-Q, Timoshenko captured the 7 million chip pot after a board of K-K-8-Q-3.

The main event dream has ended for:

61. Erkut Yilmaz ($123,597)
62. Vladimir Geshkenbein ($123,597)
63. Cero Zuccarello ($123,597)
64. Marc Emond ($102,102)
65. Corrie Wunstel ($102,102)
66. Yann Dionn ($102,102)
67. Simon Ravnsbaek ($102,102)
68. Tyler Cornell ($102,102)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (8.1 million in chips)
2. Marc McLaughlin (7.3 million)
3. Sami Rustom (7 million)
4. Jason Mann (6.5 million)
5. Matthew Reed (5.9 million)

Small blinds: All remaining players will earn at least $123,597. The next money jump comes at 54th ($151,063). ... Play will continue today for five levels or until there are only 18 players remaining. ... Jackie Glazier is getting a lot of rail support at the feature table. ... If you're in Vegas, come down and watch. It's free. Today is one of the best days of the main event. I'll probably say the same thing tomorrow.
LAS VEGAS -- Day 5 was moving day at the 2013 World Series of Poker main event as players tried to build their stacks and gain an edge heading into the final few days. Greg Merson's title defense ended early on Day 5, as did the hopes of Greg Mueller, Annette Obrestad, Marvin Rettenmaier, Vivek Rajkumar, Max Steinberg, Ronnie Bardah and Day 4 chip leader Jon Lane.

While 2012 ninth-place finisher Steven Gee continues his quest for back-to-back final-table appearances, it was Sami Rustom's time to shine and he'll lead the final 68 players who will continue their quest Sunday for the bracelet and the $8.3 million grand prize.
Sami RustomJay Newnum/BLUFFChip leader Sami Rustom is all smiles as he competes on Day 5 of the WSOP main event.

Rustom began the day second in chips and maintained a spot in the top 10 nearly all day, finishing with 7 million. He edged out Canadian Marc McLaughlin for the lead by just a few big blinds, and it was McLaughlin who received a vote of confidence at the end of the night in the form of a tweet from the reigning champ.

"For those who want a great player to root for in the main its @Go_Irish_Go, very talented online cash game player. Gl man," said Merson.

McLaughlin had six career WSOP cashes prior to this main event, including one final table and two in the main event.

Ryan Riess, runner-up in the 2012 WSOP Circuit Hammond main event, made the biggest move at the end of the night and finished in seventh with an eye on the final table. The Michigan State alum was pleased with his play and felt that his timing was great on such a critical day.

"I ran really good today," said Riess. "It's amazing [to be among the leaders]. I'm honestly speechless. All I wanted to do since I was 14 is play poker, and after the Circuit main event in Hammond last year, it gave me enough money to travel and play, and we're still in it."

Carlos Mortensen's quest for a second main event title continued with a strong upswing late in the night. Mortensen entered the day with 302,000 in chips and put them to use quickly and efficiently all day. His best level came after dinner and at the expense of a cooler to Rettenmaier (K-K against Q-Q), and he was able to turn on the aggression to finish the night with 2.6 million in chips. With this cash, Mortensen will have at least $11 million in lifetime career earnings.

The last woman standing is Australian Jackie Glazier, who was all smiles as she left for the night with 4 million in chips thanks to one key river card. Glazier moved all-in on a board of 8d-6c-2d-8s for just over a pot-sized bet of 1.5 million. Chris Johnson thought for minutes as Glazier anxiously awaited his decision with a stare at the felt. Johnson called with 7-7, which was ahead at the moment. Glazier showed Ad-10d and needed an ace, 10 or diamond, and as the dealer placed the 10h on the river, Glazier's rail erupted in an "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" chant that made the entire room turn and wonder if Joe Hachem had returned. Glazier, a member of Team Ivey, now has six career WSOP cashes, including one final table.

"I actually didn't think he was going to call there, " she said. "It was a very ballsy call, but the hero call doesn't always pay off. ... [If I make the final table], there will be one big party in Melbourne."

Some notes on the strength of the remaining field:
  • There are five World Poker Tour champions left (Mortensen, Noah Schwartz, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, JC Tran, Mark Newhouse)
  • Marc McLaughlin has made the top 100 in the WSOP main event in three of the past five years
  • Yevgeniy Timoshenko has won the WCOOP main event and the WPT Championship
  • There are seven bracelet winners remaining (Mortensen, Tran, Amir Lehavot, Rep Porter, Steven Gee, Vitaly Lunkin, Jim Collopy)
  • There is one EPT champion, Vladimir Geshkenbein.

Here are the chip leaders after Day 5:
1. Sami Rustom (7 million in chips)
2. Marc McLaughlin (6.6 million)
3. Jason Mann (6.5 million)
4. Maxx Coleman (6.2 million)
5. George Wong (5.7 million)
6. Sylvain Loosli (5.6 million)
7. Ryan Riess (5.6 million)
8. Keanu Tabali (5.4 million)
9. Matthew Reed (5.2 million)
10. Chris Lindh (4 million)

Small blinds: Steven Gee peaked at 3.3 million and ended the night at 1.4 million. He was not happy with his play at the end of the night, but was happy he still has a chance. ... 2013 bracelet winner Jesse Martin was live tweeting at the feature table with an eye on Rep Porter and JC Tran. ... While some players planned on leaving for the night and going to bed, others planned on heading to the craps tables. Or at least that was the plan. ... When action resumes Sunday, the blinds will be 25,000/50,000 with a 5,000 ante. ... The average stack is 2.8 million. ... There are nine players who are returning Sunday with fewer than 20 big blinds. ... Amazon table No. 440 tomorrow features Mortensen, Tran and Timoshenko. Translation: You'll see this table on TV. ... The Day 5 Poker Edge includes interviews with Merson, Glazier, Riess, Schwartz and Gee.
LAS VEGAS -- Greg Merson's bid for a back-to-back main event title has ended. The 2012 world champion was short all day and moved all-in with A-2 midway through Level 22. Brett Richey called, showed A-K and held as the board ran K-3-2-9-4. Merson received a warm ovation from the crowd as he exited in 167th place, earning him $42,990. While the result wasn't exactly how he envisioned this tournament playing out, he still was a bit satisfied and relieved.

"It's a relief that someone else is going to win," said Merson after his elimination "I mean, I was trying to win, but I don't like this whole media stuff. ... Honestly, during this main event, every break wasn't a break. My breaks were when I was playing poker. It was hard to get privacy to relax, but it is what it is."

Greg MersonJay Newnum/BLUFFGreg Merson confirms his elimination with the tournament staff on Day 5.

Merson, who has a close relationship with Phil Ivey, believed that the idea of getting a trailer outside of the Rio, like Ivey did, is the right thing to do to avoid the attention. That said, Merson did his best as an ambassador for the game, even if he didn't want the spotlight.

"I wanted to represent the game as well as I can," said Merson. "It's just that a lot has changed since online poker shut down, and the opportunities for myself are much different than the previous nine winners. It's a lot easier to do five interviews a day when you have a seven-figure contract, but I pretty much represent Ivey Poker and myself. I never went into poker to be this big famous person, and if I'm not getting paid for it, I could care less. I don't care about the glamour or anything."

Regardless of his feeling toward interviews and everything that comes with being the man with the most prestigious bracelet in the game, Merson played a phenomenal main event with a patient approach that, for the second consecutive year, was essentially flawless. He let others get involved in the major confrontations and avoided big variance spots, and that led him past more than 12,000 players in the main event over the past two years.

From here, Merson, who said he found a great life experience from all the traveling he's done over the past year, will go on vacation, then back to Macau for the biggest cash games in the world. He's also looking forward to relaxing at home a bit, which he said would make his parents very happy.

Small blinds: Lots of screams around the Amazon Room today as the friends and family of the players have started to arrive and are cheering loudly from the rail. ... Chris Lindh is the first player with more than 4 million in chips. He has taken over the lead from Jon Lane. ... One hundred forty-nine players remain in the main event. ... Annette Obrestad has 2.6 million in chips. She leads the final four women in the field. ... A guy who was recently eliminated has been staring at the tournament clock for two minutes. He doesn't want to leave. Wait, he just left. And walked over to another one. ... At one of the outer feature tables the players are talking about making the final table. Steve Gee chimes in saying that he made it, and one of the players asks him when. He says last year and it was shrugged off. Guess there's no respect for the final remaining member of last year's final table. ... Carlos Mortensen is the last remaining WSOP main event champion.
LAS VEGAS -- The Amazon Room feels more spacious than ever after a fast-moving Day 4 of the World Series of Poker main event. Only 239 players remain in contention for the $8.3 million top prize, and Jonathan Lane will lead the field into Day 5 action Saturday. Day 4 featured some dramatic moments, especially the elimination of Doyle Brunson, but began with a quick money bubble and the eruption of the room in applause after the elimination of Farzad Bonyadi. All players who made the money earned at least $19,106.

Lane finished Day 4 with 2.8 million in chips, a third of which came in a big pot against Nicholas Immekus late in the night when he made a strong call on a seven-high board postflop with his A-K to eliminate Immekus and his A-4. He was able to chip up slowly throughout the rest of the day, avoiding the major confrontations.

"I pretty much played solid poker, had some good fortune and ran it up," said Lane who is playing in his sixth main event. "This is what it's all about. This is the dream. I've been working to this for a long time, and I just want to take it home."

The Wisconsin native played online a lot before Black Friday but hasn't been playing all that much recently. He's played 20 events this WSOP with one small cash, but he can't help but think about the fact that the main event is an altogether different beast and an event where he's already found success. Lane finished 88th in the 2005 WSOP and was chip leader.

"It would mean a lot," Lane said about making the final table. "I've always dreamed about it, and I'm just trying to focus and, through willpower and determination, get through the field. You only get so many chances to go through the main."

Lane, Grayson Ramage, Ami Alibay, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Victor Cianelli and Vincent Robert were the only players to bag more than 2 million in chips, but there's a long way to go until the final table. Only a handful of players in this room understand what it takes to make it there, especially defending champion Greg Merson, 2001 champion Carlos Mortensen and Steven Gee, ninth-place finisher in the 2012 main event. It was a roller-coaster ride for Merson's stack for the second straight day. He peaked near 1 million, was as low as 350,000 and left for the night with 635,000 after a two-level stint of playing very conservatively. He preached patience throughout his run last year, and that's what has led him here once again.

Although Merson, Mortensen, Gee, 2007 WSOP Europe main-event champion Annette Obrestad, Marvin Rettenmaier, JC Tran, Brett Richey, Max Steinberg, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Vivek Rajkumar, Brandon Steven and Greg Mueller all made it through and carry with them results that stand out from the rest of the field, the star power in the main event was greatly affected with the elimination of Brunson in Level 18. The 10-time WSOP main-event bracelet holder battled greatly for the past four days, but ultimately pushed at the wrong time and ran his K-10 into the 10-10 of Sergei Stazhkov. Brunson received an incredible ovation as he left the Amazon Room, but -- just like every other year -- he was disappointed with his result. Brunson finished 409th and earned $28,063. Michael Mizrachi, Marcel Luske, Matt Stout, Bertrand Grospellier, Allen Cunningham and two members of last year's final table, Russell Thomas and Rob Salaburu, were among the 427 eliminations.

Here are the chip leaders after Day 4:
1. Jon Lane (2.8 million in chips)
2. Sami Rustom (2.4 million)
3. Grayson Ramage (2.4 million)
4. Victor Cianelli (2.1 million)
5. Seaver Kyaw (2.0 million)
6. Yann Dion (2.0 million)
7. Vincent Robert (1.9 million)
8. Marc Emond (1.9 million)
9. Robert Sichelstiel (1.9 million)
10. Ami Alibay (1.8 million)

Day 5 begins at noon PT on Saturday, with the blinds at 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante.

Small blinds: Five players at Jon Lane's starting table on Day 5 have more than 1 million in chips. ... Tables are incredibly spaced out now in their setup for Day 5. Lots of room for camera crews to maneuver and a big rail for fans. ... JC Tran was down to just six big blinds on Day 3. Now he has 1.1 million in chips. ... The hallway that leads to the Amazon Room is turning back into a regular hallway and not a major poker-retail center. ... Farzad Bonyadi not only bubbled the main event but then finished 17th in the event at the Bellagio where 15 paid. ... Friends and family have started to arrive at the Rio. ... One player seated at an outside feature table didn't return from the final break until about 20 minutes into the last level of the night. He told his table he fell asleep and his friends had to wake him up. ... Day 5 used to play down to 72, but I'm not sure that's the plan for Saturday. They might play a full five levels again. ... The payout system was really organized this year. No crazy lines or angry players. It seemed as if the WSOP has perfected this process. ... Apparently, the player ninth in chips, Robert Sichelstiel, is a big fan of the Poker Edge. Cool. ... The TV production team put a mike on Umang Dattani, who told us he had never been on TV before. On his very first hand, he gets dealt a royal flush. ... The massage therapist staffers might need to start cutting back. There were way too many masseuses without work, although I did see a guy on the rail getting a massage. ... There are still two players in the main event representing the Republic of Nauru. According to Google, in 2010, the population was only 9,322.
LAS VEGAS -- It was a moment nobody wanted to experience on Day 4, and yet it seemed inevitable. Fans and players alike rose to their feet during Level 18 of the 2013 World Series of Poker main event as the living legend of the game, Doyle Brunson, had been eliminated. A round of applause unlike any other filled the massive Amazon Room in the Rio Convention Center as the icon walked away from the felt. And for those who were able to watch him in action over the past week, it truly has been something special.

The 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner found himself on the wrong end of a K-10 versus 10-10 confrontation midway through the latest level. Tim Ulrich opened the action and Sergei Stazhkov called. Brunson three-bet from the button, and after a fold by Ulrich, Stazhkov moved all-in. With only 200,000 left, Brunson reluctantly called and watched as his main event run ended with the board reading 7-3-2-9-A. Brunson finished in 409th out of 6,352, earning $28,063.

Instantly, the fans at the feature table stood and cheered. News quickly spread throughout the massive convention room, and the whispers of "Doyle's eliminated" was spread from player to player. The applause continued, and Doyle's former competitors joined in. Now next to a vacant seat at the feature table, Rob Salaburu stood and clapped. The production team did the same and players strained to get a glimpse of the man who probably wanted nothing more than to get out of there as quickly as possible. More and more players joined in, and tournament director Jack Effel made an announcement which prompted yet another extended celebration of Brunson's effort. Brunson waved, smiled and looked like he truly appreciated such a touching moment in a game that he built.

Brunson spent a moment with ESPN reporter Kara Scott after the ovation, saying that now was when the tournament was just starting to become fun.

For all of us watching him compete, it was already fun. Thanks again, Doyle. See you next year.