Poker: 2014 WSOP main event Day 4

The smiles turned back to stares throughout the course of Day 4 of the World Series of Poker main event. After a raucous celebration rocked the Amazon Room when the remaining players made the money, the field returned to seriousness as positioning for the final stretch became the utmost priority. Matthew Haugen emerged with the lead after Day 4, a familiar situation for the professional poker player from Chicago.

"I'm feeling great," said Haugen. "Being chip leader going into Day 5 of the main event, I can't complain about that."

Haugen began to take the game seriously after he graduated from college. Like many other of the game's rising stars, he started online.

"After I graduated from college, I had a little bit of money and put it online," he said. "I started playing, kept winning and never looked back."
[+] EnlargeDan Smith
Drew Amato/BLUFFDan Smith is sixth in chips after Day 4

In a post-Black Friday world Haugen travels often to play and has found some great success on both the WPT and EPT. He also has twin 18th-place finishes so far this WSOP.

"I'm just going to keep playing my game and see what opportunities present themselves," said Haugen. "$10 million would mean a lot. It would be pretty amazing."

Behind Haugen is a stacked crew of professionals who have been waiting for this opportunity. Griffin Benger, Dan Smith and Kyle Keranen are all part of a strong top 10 at this stage of the event. Keranen has been here before and was the chip leader after Day 5 in 2012. After fizzling out then, he's not ready to let this second opportunity go.

"I just feel so much more in control than I did two years ago," said Keranen. "I was still pretty new to high-stakes tournaments back then and I got a bit nervous on Day 6. ... This year I feel totally composed and ready for it."

Keranen enters Day 5 eighth in chips.

The remaining field includes many players who should feel at home during Day 5 action. Among that group Keranen (38, 2012), Leif Force (11th, 2006), Pat Madden (64, 2005), Maria Ho (38th, 2007), Alex Outhred (54, 2008), Roland Israelashvili (25, 2012), Isaac Baron (85th, 2012), Farzad Bonyadi (27th and 41st, 1998 and 2005), David Einhorn (18th, 2006), Ali Eslami (49th, 2004), Ryan Fair (31st, 2009), Mike Wattel (95th, 2005), Kyle Bowker (37th and 84th, 2007 and 2012), Bryan Devonshire (12th, 2011) and most recently Rep Porter (12, 2013) and Mark Newhouse (ninth, 2013) have all made it to the final stages before.

With 291 players remaining, here are the top 10 chip counts after Day 4:
1. Matthew Haugen (2.80 million in chips)
2. Zach Jiganti (2.36 million)
3. Griffin Benger (2.32 million)
4. Michael Finstein (2.31 million)
5. Bruno Politano (2.28 million)
6. Dan Smith (2.22 million)
7. Andoni Larrabe (2.19 million)
8. Kyle Keranen (2.15 million)
9. Farid Fattin (2.12 million)
10. Pakinai Lisawad (2.08 million)

The eliminations came at a rapid pace throughout the action on Friday, but the only one that was truly acknowledged by all players was the 430th-place finisher: Phil Ivey. The 10-time bracelet winner began the day in a strong position at the feature table, but started to run cold after he lost a quarter of his stack to Kyle Keranen. The bleeding continued until the dinner break, but still, with 340,000 in chips, Ivey was not in dire straights. Almost immediately after the dinner break, Ivey found himself in a hand against two-time WSOP champion John Kabbaj and made an ill-timed all-in on the turn of a 9-9-2-2 board. The shock and frustration came over Ivey's face immediately as his A-K trailed Kabbaj's J-J. Down to his final card, the cameras came over and Ivey's tournament ended with a blank on the river and a sprint to the back doors of the Amazon Room.

Hours before Ivey's departure, Ronnie Bardah's exit marked the end of a historic run. Bardah has cashed in each of the past five WSOP main events, a new record.



Other notable Day 4 eliminations include John Juanda (293rd), NASCAR's Jason White (348th), Michael Binger (353rd) and Jonathan Little (490th).

Action resumes at noon PT and will most likely continue for five levels or until the field is down to 72 players. The minimum cash for all those who remain is $33,734.

Small blinds: The pre-money elimination of Huck Seed marked the first year since 2002 that a former champion did not make the money. It has happened nine times in the total history of the event. … I've followed "Rainbow Hat Guy" around the WSOP for the past few years and today he had his chance at the feature table. Zach Hall sat directly across from Ivey, who looked at him and said "Are you serious?" Hall was eliminated on the final hand of the night. … Alex Outhred started Day 2 of the main event with 12,000. He bagged 714,000 on Day 4. … Blake Cahail played the last level in one of the $230 Zooop suits that is being sold at the Rio. He didn't buy it, but said if his friend bought it, he'd wear it. … In 2012, Keranen was the chip leader after Day 5. … Take a look at the bracelet. … Plenty of drinks were ordered toward the end of the day. Relatively surprising at this point. That usually ends on Day 2. … David Einhorn is donating his winnings to Robin Hood NYC. … Sam Jaddi and John Kabaaj are the two remaining 2014 bracelet winners in the field. … The highest chipped woman in the field is Mikiyo Aoki, who has 1.5 million in 21st place. She was the runner-up in the 2014 WSOP Ladies championship. … There are five multiple-bracelet winners remaining in the field: Jeff Madsen, Farzad Bonyadi, John Monnette, John Kabbaj and Rep Porter. … Including the main event, Roland Israelashvili now has 10 cashes this WSOP.
It's been a rough two days for the world's best player. After his incredible Day 2 effort, Phil Ivey faltered over the past two days and was eliminated during the past level in 430th place. Event 25 bracelet winner John Kabbaj led out for 80,000 and Ivey moved all-in for 225,000 more on the turn of a 9-9-2-2 board. Kabaaj called instantly and Ivey reacted stunned, looking on in disbelief. Before the cards were flipped, Ivey said to Kabbaj, "Jacks?" Sure enough, that's what his A-K was up against. The cameras set up as Ivey waited for the river card, then bolted down the back hallways of the Rio upon seeing the 5c. Ivey earned $25,756.
[+] EnlargePhil Ivey
Andrew Feldman/ESPNPhil Ivey (left) stares at the board in disbelief on his final hand.

Nearly 100 players fell during the past two-hour level. NASCAR's Jason White fought for the entire day as a short stack, but couldn't avoid some bad luck.

"I'll be back," said White after his elimination in 350th. He earned $33,374 for the finish that was cut short in a key hand against David Einhorn where his J-J lost to 6-6. David Paredes, Maria Mayrinck, Owen Crowe, Chris DeMaci, Michael Binger and Thayer Rasmussen were also among the casualties.

At 2.3 million, Dan Smith remains the biggest stack, but there are a number of players who are under 800,000 in chips that shouldn't be missed:

  • John Juanda - It's been a slow day for Juanda who has demonstrated great patience. He has 430,000 in chips and is looking to best his 31st-place finish in 2005. Juanda's last main event cash came in 2012 (234th).
  • Brian Hastings - The bracelet winner and high-stakes cash gamer has $1.1 million in live tournament earnings. The only thing that might hurt Hastings is his obsession with Open Face Chinese poker which is he playing on his iPad in between hands.
  • Mark Newhouse - The last member of last year's final table is still fighting. He chipped up early today and had a well above average stack, but has been short for the past few hours. He has 280,000 in chips. If there's anyone who knows how to grind in order to make it to the next level, it's Newhouse.
  • Maria Ho - Ho is seated at the feature table, but she's still under the radar in the reporting. She has 700,000 in chips and is seated with ...
  • Brian Townsend - During poker's zenith, Townsend was one of most prolific onliners in the game. Now he has a shot at a main event title with 800,000 in chips
  • Jon Turner - "PearlJammer" finished 299th in 2013 and 344th in 2011. His resume is strong and all he needs is to win that one flip that has evaded him numerous times over the past few years.
  • Ali Eslami - A high-stakes mixed-game player, Eslami doesn't often player tournaments, but won't miss the main. Oh, and he snuck into the Amazon Room last night.
  • Mukul Pahuja - Reigning World Poker Tour Player of the Year.
  • Taylor Von Kriegenbergh - WPT Champion has $1.4 million in lifetime tournament earnings
  • Matt Waxman - WSOP bracelet winner, WPT champ. Been short for two days now.
  • Mike Sowers - 14 WSOP cashes and five final tables (two runner-ups).
  • Bryan Devonshire - Devo isn't involved in the poker world much at all anymore, but the nature guide loves the main event. He finished 12th in 2011.

There a number of other players that with over 300 to go deserve some attention. From here on out I'll try to highlight the accomplishments of those remaining in contention to paint a better portrait about the field that remains.

Day 4: Finstein leads final 443

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
9:37
PM ET
The flood of players out the door continued during Level 17 and all remaining players have locked up a pay day of at least $25,756. After a period of constant all-ins, the pace has slowed of late as players are now taking this time to position themselves for a deeper run.

Michael Finstein is looking to make his first WSOP main event cash count. The Bright, Mass. native was the first player over two million in chips and has played the role of eliminator throughout the day. He seized the lead when he won a big pot against Rocky McNatt with his 10-10 connecting on a 10-9-3-9-9 board against McNatt's K-K. He added a bit more shortly after knocking out Lisa Tehan, Joe's wife, who just missed her largest career tournament cash by a few hundred dollars.

Dan Smith, now seated at a secondary feature table, has 1.9 million in chips which is good enough for a second-place stack. At the main feature table, Phil Ivey has struggled to gain any momentum since his latest table joined the feature set. His three-bets haven't been getting through and he's now playing with a sub-370,000 stack. Ivey's table broke for the second time today right before the dinner break and a new table, featuring Maria Ho and Jared Bleznick, will take their seats when action resumes

Kenny Tran's elimination represents many of the bustouts right now. With players so deep, it takes real coolers to get all the chips in the center and Tran was unlucky enough to run kings into the aces of Pete Kaemmerlen for all of his stack. Other notable eliminations include Jonathan Little, Abe Mosseri, JJ Liu, Bryan Yoon, Phil Galfond, Daniel Alaei and the five-time consecutive casher, Ronnie Bardah.



Here are the top 10 stacks at the break:

1. Michael Finstein (2.0 million)
2. Dan Smith (1.9 million)
3. Andoni Larrabe (1.7 million)
4. Danny Yousefzadeh (1.7 million)
5. Zach Jiganti (1.6 million)
6. Matthew Leecy (1.4 million)
7. John Gorsuch (1.3 million)
8. Jing Wang (1.3 million)
9. Griffin Benger (1.2 million)
10. Mark Herm (1.2 million)

When players return, blinds will be 4,000/8,000 with a 1,000 ante.

Small blinds: NASCAR driver Jason White doubled towards the end of the level. He has 250,000 and was the recipient of a Phil Hellmuth pep talk in the Orange section. They met last night at Haze. … Leif Force is looking to make a second deep run in the main event to add to his 11th-place finish in 2006. … Two more levels (four more hours) are planned for Friday. … Players received bags of chips at their table this morning courtesy of Ruffles. Players utilized those far more than the stress relief pucks from another WSOP sponsor, Dough. … The WSOP staff did a great job today with the bubble and payouts. I've seen years where it hasn't been so smooth, but this operation was run perfectly.

Money bubble bursts on Day 4

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
6:49
PM ET
A champagne bottle popped inside a packed Amazon Room early on Level 16. Everyone cheered as the remaining players took off their glasses, hoodies and headphones to share a quick handshake or hug. The champagne was distributed to anyone who wanted it, glasses were provided, as others asked waiters for beers or shots of Patron or Jager. A player pulled out his iPad and got on FaceTime, bringing his relatives into the room with him. Cell phones were out, texts were sent and the moment these players had searched for since their starting flight last weekend had finally arrived.

Except for the three people standing with the tournament staff in the center of the room, this was the best moment of the main event for the entire place. Players had made the money in the biggest tournament of the year. They had every right to celebrate and show their excitement and now, it's back to business.
[+] EnlargeRonnie Bardah
Andrew Feldman/ESPNRonnie Bardah has cashed in the main event for five consecutive years.

Day 4 play began with 746 players looking to survive the bubble and earn a minimum of $18,406. As short stacks hoped to make it, the stalling became brutal. The floor staff -- which issues warnings and threatens to start 10-second countdowns for all those trying to make each hand last as long as possible -- was called repeatedly to tables. Players were, rightfully, getting frustrated.

With 695 players left, tournament director Jack Effel declared that hand-for-hand action would begin. Dealers would deal one hand, then stand up at its completion. If there was an all-in and a call, the hands would remain covered until ESPN cameras were in place to cover the action. On the first hand of this effort, there were five players at risk and with two players needing to go home, it seemed likely that we'd be one and done.

The first hand had reached the river by the time its action was picked up by Effel who walked from table to table calling the progress. A roar came over the Amazon Room as Mark Newhouse rolled over 5-5 for quads to eliminate John Dwyer who held queens full. One down.

At the next table Zhen Cai waited for the cameras, but he already knew he was trailing with Q-Q to the A-A of Darren Keyes. The aces held and players were in the money.

There were now three more hopes for Cai and Dwyer to not go away empty-handed. All they needed was one more elimination and they'd share the purse for 693rd, or multiple spots if more players were knocked out. They got their wish on the next hand as Harry Kaczka cracked Kori Hunter's aces with 8d-9d with a rivered two pair. The other two players, Stuart Rutter and Paul Tedeschi, doubled through and kept their dreams alive.

Cai, Dywer and Hunter each received $6,135 for their tie in 693rd place. Cai also won a seat into the 2015 WSOP main event by picking out a high card in a stunt presented by WSOP.com.

Ronnie Bardah was all smiles as the bubble broke, and it's that smile we've seen at this very moment in the tournament for each of the past five years. This was a record-setting finish for Bardah who has finished 24th, 453rd, 540th and 124th in this event since 2010. He's one of the shortest stacks in the field now, but nobody left can compete with his experience.

Well, maybe a few players. Specifically Phil Ivey and Mark Newhouse. Ivey lost a big pot to Kyle Keranen recently and dropped to 646,000 after a strong start. Dan Smith leads with 1.8 million with the blinds at 2,500/5,000 with a 500 ante. Smith earned $2 million from his victory in the $100,000 event at the Bellagio just before the main and has 16 career WSOP cashes that include three WSOP final tables.

Small blinds: The line for payouts has expectedly been busy with 90 players already heading home in the first hour since the bubble burst. … Want to re-live the bubble? Go here. … tournament director Effel was wearing a GoPro camera today. Not sure how it will play into coverage, but definitely a new angle. … Brothers Mukul and Vinny Pahuja cashed in the main event. … Lots of foot traffic in Amazon today. Definitely one of the best days to come and watch. … Purple (500) chips are getting colored up during the break. … NASCAR's Jason White survived the bubble. … Players out, but in the money: Olivier Busquet, Randy Ohel and Ben Yu. … Rainbow Hat guy (Zach Hall) made it through. … Faraz Jaka seated on an outside feature. At the table next to him is Phil Galfond. … These new outside feature tables are RFID equipped.

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