LAS VEGAS -- With only 20 minutes to go in Level 9, Paul Pierce made his exit from the WSOP main event. The NBA All-Star had been the attention of all at the secondary feature table, even players like Dennis Phillips who asked him for an autograph during play. Pierce played a patient game, but seemed to get active after dinner and would ultimately find himself in a rough spot with 2-2 all-in preflop against the J-J of Allan Vrooman. The board ran clean for Vroonman (K-8-5-4-K) and Pierce stood up from his chair, grabbed his backpack and walked out the door with spectators and players giving him a round of applause as they announced his departure.
Pierce spent a total of 17 hours and 40 minutes in action and outlasted more than half of the field of 2,031 that began on Day 2A.
The action began at 3 p.m. ET with both the Pavilion and Amazon Rooms filled with tournament action, but during Level 9, the final tables from Pavilion were broken and for the rest of the night, the entire field is in one room.
One of the biggest hands of the level came at the expense of 2010 November Niner Filippo Candio. As the field began to exit the room, Candio and Chris Lovett got all their chips in the middle with Candio holding A-K and behind to Lovett's J-J. The board provided the Italian no help and he headed to the final break of the night with just 900 chips.
Candio's chip and a chair effort didn't result in a miracle and he would be eliminated five hands into the next level. He became the third member of last year's final table to be eliminated on the day (Jonathan Duhamel and Soi Nguyen were the others).
The blinds may only have been 500/1,000 with a 100 ante, but those who held nearly 30 big blinds acted like they needed to move in quickly. With the WSOP announcing the average stack of more than 91,000, players who fell short of that number may have felt like they were behind in the race and, possibly, it could've resulted in increased aggressive activity. In any case, the result was a few stacks over 300,000 in chips and some of which I expect to reach the 400,000 mark by the end of the night.
Players eliminated during Level 9 included ESPN.com's Bernard Lee who lost his second critical race of the day, two-time WSOP main event champion Johnny Chan, Andy Bloch, Yevgeniy Timoshenko and Barry Shulman. David Einhorn's hopes of a second deep main event run were also dismissed early in the level.
Phil Hellmuth is still hanging on. Despite being short all day, he has not yet been all-in and called. Hellmuth moved tables towards the end of the last level and is now sitting with Lee Childs and Nam Le. Some of the larger stacks in the room belong to Shaun Deeb, Max Weinberg, Mike Sowers, David Diaz and Sorel Mizzi. Daniel Negreanu had a productive level and is back over the 70,000-chip mark to begin the final level of play for the night.
Small blinds: Back to the saga of Carter Gill. Gill made it do Day 2, but during the days in between his first and second day of play, he was banned from all Caesars properties. He didn't show up early this morning and his chips were blinded away, but he returned at dinner break and tried to take his seat. According to the tournament staff, Gill was asked for his pink slip and he said he forgot it. The dealer called for the floor and Gill left the room. ... Cool way to qualify for the main: Paul Pritchett hit a hole in one during a promotion at a golf course in Canada to get a seat. He's currently sitting with a below-average stack. ... Brad Garrett is making the rail of 30-40 people laugh at will. He's definitely enjoying his time in the main event and his table is enjoying their time with the comedian. ... On the other side of the room, Jason Alexander eclipsed the six-figure chip mark last level. ... The tan section is the next to break. ... Security swarmed and removed a player from the feature table area. He was flagged as someone who was not allowed to be on the property and he was escorted out. ... One of Daniel Negreanu's opponents at the feature table flips a coin to determine if he is going to call or fold. One flip seemed to work out well in Negreanu's favor as after his opponent flipped his coin and folded two kings face up, Negreanu was very relieved.