Poker: Annette Obrestad

LAS VEGAS -- Level 24 ended with a loud scream over in the purple section of the Amazon Room. Brandon Steven had struggled since dinner but was rejuvenated with confidence after moving all-in five times and staying alive in the main event. Steven's six shove turned out to be his last one, as his A-K lost a race to Keanu Tabali. Steven stormed away from his table, clearly frustrated, and as he walked out the door, he looked at the camera and said he'd be back next year. This was Steven's third cash of the summer, his best being a seventh-place finish in the $111,111 high roller.

Carlos Mortensen's rise continued after a win in a star-versus-star confrontation against two-time WPT champion Marvin Rettenmaier. Mortensen chipped up to 2.8 million after the K-K>Q-Q hand and his elimination of Senovio Ramirez just a few hands later. Rettenmaier had three cashes this WSOP.

Sami Rustom leads with 6.7 million and the blinds at 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000 ante. He jumped into the lead after the dinner break in a hand in which he turned a straight with 6-7 on a K-5-4-8-7 board and got paid off on the river by Simon Ravnsbaek. Rustom, George Wong and Marc McLaughlin hold the top three stacks and for McLaughlin, this is his third top-100 finish in the main event over the past five years.

On the first hand back from the break, Annette Obrestad three-bet 5-5 into K-K and was eliminated in 89th. The 2007 WSOP Europe main event champion earned $71,053 and will get plenty of face time when the WSOP on ESPN airs, beginning on July 23.

Small blinds: There are multiple fisherman left in the main event, according to profile descriptions on Twitter. ... As I wrote this post, Beverly Lange was eliminated, which leaves Jackie Glazier as the only woman left in the field. ... JC Tran has chipped up nicely since moving to the feature table earlier today. This is his sixth main event cash in the past 10 years. ... Jon Lane entered the day as the chip leader and was eliminated during this last level.
LAS VEGAS -- The bustouts continued at a rapid rate on Day 4, and only 430 players are returning from the Level 17 break. Jay Farber has moved into the lead after a stellar start and, most recently, gathered more chips as an opponent moved all-in against him after he flopped a full house. He began the day with 604,000 in chips and now has 1.6 million. He's currently seated with Marcel Luske and has been moved to one of the featured tables.

Farber might hold the edge, but Max Steinberg continues to maintain his strong position. Steinberg owns a top-five stack (1.4 million in chips) at the moment and has remained rather stoic at the outside feature table on a day when the Amazon Room is simply hectic. Players and tables are being shuffled in and out, but Steinberg's towers just simply continue to grow as he focuses on getting the job done. Coincidentally, Steinberg has worked with mindset coach Jared Tendler in the past.

The fact that four members of last year's final table remain in contention has created some fun table dynamics on Day 4. Doyle Brunson, with 260,000 in chips at the break, spent the first level next to Steven Gee, and when that table broke, the seat next to him was filled by Rob Salaburu. Defending champion Greg Merson (644,000) is now seated next to Gee, and at the table next to them is Russell Thomas, who had a railbird named Jake Balsiger looking on for a while.

While he didn't make the final table last year, Roland Israelashvilli did last to Day 7 in 2012 and is in great position for another run with one million in chips. 2006 Main Event final table member and five-time bracelet winner Allen Cunningham has also made a good move in the chip counts, having started the day with 268,000 and now approaching 550,000. All four guests on the Day 3 Poker Edge podcast, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Amit Makhija, Melanie Weisner and Steinberg remain in contention. Timoshenko has chipped up most out of that group at a tough secondary feature table that features 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event champion Annette Obrestad.

Day 1C and 2C chip leader Mark Kroon, Michael Mizrachi, Erik Seidel, James Bord, Isaac Haxton, Paul Wasicka, Stephen Chidwick, Bryn Kenney, Rupert Elder and Blair Rodman were among the eliminations during the past level. Mizrachi's run ended with a gradual downswing throughout the day, and, ultimately, King-Jack failed to overcome Ace-King all-in preflop. This was Mizrachi's third WSOP cash this summer, with one final table appearance.

Blinds are now 4,000/8,000 chips with a 1,000-chip ante. There will be one more level before the dinner break.

Small blinds: Thomas is the first former November Niner to approach one million in chips. Guess that Jason Somerville coaching thing worked. … Tables are starting to be removed from the Amazon Room as soon as the tournament staff breaks them. There's more open space on the floor, which helps camera teams get in better positions to cover the action. … Former "Nuts" panelist Court Harrington has been at one of the outside feature tables all day and has 500,000 in chips. Harrington owns a few businesses in North Carolina in addition to playing poker. … According to the WSOP's Jess Welman, 14 women made the money in this year's event, and 12 remain in contention.

Day 2 A/B: New School

July, 10, 2013
Remember everything I wrote in the last blog? It's time to turn the tables. The younger generation of poker players has played in thousands more tournaments than the old guard. They've studied the game and taken strategy to a new level to the point at which they believe they have every situation analyzed in their mind before it happens on the felt.

Doyle Brunson and Erik Seidel are still coasting through Day 2, but they aren't leading the way anymore. Midway thorough the fourth level of the day, the top 10 chip leaders look like what you'd see if someone were to craft a list of the game's young rising stars.

Raj Vohra leads the field and has for most of the afternoon. The former tennis pro turned to poker after seeing Joseph Hachem's victory in 2005 and hasn't looked back since. He's won major online tournaments, finished fifth in a WSOP event in 2008 and cashed in the Main Event two years ago. So far on Day 2A/B, he's positioned himself for a deep run and appears to like his table as he sits in the Brasilia Room.

Also in the top 10 is some guy named Greg Merson. Yes, the defending champion. Merson has gained chips in each level on Day 2A/B, most recently due to his river-found elimination of Wilfried Harig. That might sound familiar to most as -- if you caught any of the Day 8 action during last year's Main Event -- Merson put a similar beat on the German then to eliminate him from contention. With 250,000 in chips, Merson is the talk of the Amazon Room and will be if he's able to bag a leading stack later tonight.

If you're at all familiar with the online poker scene, "OMGClayAiken" is perhaps one of the most famous handles in the world. The owner of that handle, Phil Galfond, revolutionized the online game and has become a vocal leader for the younger generation of professional poker players. He's founded online training sites and competed in the game's nosebleed cash games in which he found tremendous success. Unlike some other online stars, Galfond's online success has always translated to the live game. In 2008, he won his first bracelet and, just weeks ago, he was the runner-up in the $25,000 six-handed event. He made a deep run in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, finishing 141st, and is on his way to another one, thanks to a big hand before dinner in which he flopped a set and enticed his opponent to put his 40,000-chip stack into the center.

Daniel CatesJay NewnumDaniel "Jungleman" Cates is among the leaders on Day 2 A/B.

Then there's Daniel "Jungleman" Cates. His handle is synonymous to a swingy, aggressive player who had major bankroll issues prior to Black Friday. He never truly found his comfort zone in live tournaments, and that's why his presence in the top 10 is that significant after nearly two days. While the confidence level is high for the other three on this list, Cates' past doesn't allow for me to make that claim just yet.

Blinds are now 500/1,000 chips with a 100-chip ante.

Small blinds: Legends Doyle Brunson and Dewey Tomko are seated together. … Former Main Event champion Joe Cada was eliminated shortly before the dinner break. … Dan Harrington is wearing his customary green hat in Brasilia today. You just can't miss him. … Third-place finisher in the 2012 WSOP Main Event, Jake Balsiger, was eliminated after dinner. Merson and Russell Thomas are the only two remaining players from last year's final table in action today. … Dinner? Not for everyone. It's always funny when you walk to dinner break with the players and instead of going into the restaurants, they go right to the craps table. … The WSOP hosted a screening tonight of the poker documentary "Bet. Raise. Fold." … Has anyone seen the list of Team Ivey pros these days? Who are these people? … The world's former No. 1 online poker player, Chris Moorman, was eliminated during Level 9. … Ray Romano was spared Erik Seidel's aggression as their table recently broke. … There are five tables left in the Orange section of Amazon, which means there are a total of 36 tables left from the Day 1A field. … Matt Glantz defeated Greg Mueller in the World Series of Board Games during dinner. Mueller was tilted over his loss in "Guess Who," with the board featuring only poker players. I am 1-0 in it. Take that, Lance Bradley. … Rob Salaburu was looking for sponsorship from Ultimate Poker on Twitter. Do we think they bite? … There is a huge rail around Merson's table, which also features Olivier Busquet and Dan Fleyschman. … Annette Obrestad, the youngest "main event" champion in history (she won WSOP Europe in 2007), is also one of online poker's biggest stars and recently moved into the top 10 as well. She's definitely part of the conversation discussed above.