Poker: Carlos Mortensen

LAS VEGAS -- I've had chills since I walked into the Amazon Room this morning. The final day of the WSOP main event -- in July -- is here, and by the end of the night, we'll have our 2013 November Nine and a better idea of who will become the next world champion.

Steven Gee will not be returning to the final table in 2013 after another incredible main event run. The 2012 ninth-place finisher was cruising early with a knockout of Jorn Walthaus (26th place), but he moved all-in at the wrong time against chip leader Anton Morgenstern to finally find the exit. Gee opened from the small blind, Morgenstern three-bet from the big blind and Gee four-bet all-in. Morgenstern called instantly with 8-8 and had Gee in bad shape with 10-7. An eight flopped, and Gee received a warm ovation from the room as his quest for back-to-back final tables ended just short. He earned $285,408 for 24th.

Morgenstern had a first hour of relative inactivity, then became more aggressive as he felt out the dynamics at the feature table. He peaked near 30 million in chips, but gave away nearly four to JC Tran on the final hand of the level to finish with 26 million in chips. Tran was extremely active during the first two hours and is currently second in chips with 17 million.

At the secondary feature table, Chris Lindh benefited from a few key hands against Carlos Mortensen and has a five-million chip edge over his closest competitor at the table, Marc McLaughlin. Jason Mann was the only player eliminated from that table during the first level, moving all-in with 10-10 after a Q-5-5 flop. Lindh showed Q-9 and held to eliminate the one-time chip leader in 25th.

Benjamin Pollak was the other player eliminated during the first level, getting unlucky at the outside feature table as Maxx Coleman hit a straight with A-4 to top Pollak's 9-9.

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

1. Anton Morgenstern (26.4 million in chips)

2. JC Tran (17.0 million)

3. Chris Lindh (15.8 million)

4. Sylvain Loosli (13.6 million)

5. James Alexander (13.1 million)

6. Fabian Ortiz (12.1 million)

7. Marc McLaughlin (10.5 million)

8. Carlos Mortsenen (9.5 million)

9. Sergio Castelluccio (8.6 million)

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.
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 -- 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.

Day 5: Here comes 'The Matador'

July, 13, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- Only 13 tables remain in the Amazon Room after six hours of play on Day 5. The table conversations have turned from general chatter to almost nothing but the rattle of chips, and with the blinds at 15,000/30,000 with a 5,000 ante, we saw plenty of million-chip pots that have shaped the leaderboard.

Marc McLaughlin, Jonathan Jaffe and Sami Rustom lead the remaining field of 109. McLaughlin surged to a 5.8 million chip stack late in the last level with an A-A>Q-Q hand against Patrick Renkers. Jaffe's day at the feature table has been extremely active. He eliminated Vivek Rajkumar during the first level of Day 5 (A-Q>Q-Q) then chipped up to 3 million after a hand with Yi Fang. He knocked out Nikolai Sears, won a 1.1 million chip pot against Michiel Brummelhuis and recently won a couple hundred thousand off Goran Mandic to end the level with 5.1 million.

Rustom's latest addition of nearly 1 million chips came after a big fade on the river with 6-6 against Vincent Robert's flush draw with Ad-4d. As a heart hit the river, Robert hit the rail and Rustom moved over the 4 million chip mark for the first time. He headed to dinner with 4.3 million in chips.

2001 WSOP main event champion Carlos "The Matador" Mortensen has had an active level, which was initially more focused on survival than anything else. Mortensen suffered a tough beat with 9-9 against 5-5 to drop to nearly 400,000, but he got those chips back after his A-8 overcame J-J with his tournament on the line. A few hands later, Mortensen doubled again with aces over queens, and he's at his tournament peak with 1.5 million in chips.

Steven Gee kept his quest for a repeat final table alive with a double up of A-A>K-Q and is over 3 million heading into the dinner break. The past few days haven't been easy for Gee, but he's survived and is back with a strong stack deep in the main event. This is already an incredible accomplishment, and at this point, I can't help but wonder what if ...

Small blinds: Former chip leader Max Steinberg, Ronnie Bardah and Ashton Griffin were among the eliminations during the last level. ... Robert Sichelstiel tried to sell action on 2+2 but received just a few percent of interest. Guess who's laughing now. ... Pedro Fernandez was down to one big blind. At dinner he has over 1 million in chips. ... The next pay jump comes at 99th. ... Definitely fewer all-ins and calls over the past two hours. ... There will be four more hours of play tonight.
LAS VEGAS -- It's cold in here. The Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is home to the world's biggest poker tournament, but after the removal of most of the tables and 97 percent of the field, the vast open space is simply being filled by emptiness and one strong air conditioner. Only 239 players returned on Day 5, and that field was reduced in a hurry with more than 50 eliminations coming in the first level of play.

Greg Mueller made three final tables at the 2013 WSOP and two in 2012 and is a two-time bracelet winner from an incredible run in 2009. He has found success in all variations of the game but said after Day 4 that things just haven't gone right for him in the main event. Mueller did make the money in the main for the first time in his career this year, but Day 5 resulted in a walk out the doors and frustration all over his face.

Mueller opened the pot with J-J and, after a call from the big blind, flopped a set on a K-J-5 board. Mueller's opponent decided to put his chips in with a flush draw and hit, sending the former professional hockey player out in 226th.

"Soooooo crushed!!!," said Mueller on Twitter. "Played my heart out flopped middle set and lose to a flush... Thx for all the support!!! This one stings baaaad!! :("

Deep runs: The effort of defending champion Greg Merson is one of the most significant storylines remaining, but he's joined in good company by a number of players who have found their way deep in the game's biggest event before. In fact, this year is becoming eerily similar to Peter Eastgate's 2009 main event (78th) when the third-place finisher in 2008, Dennis Phillips, finished 45th. Merson and Steven Gee are playing those roles this year, and both continue to grind with below-average stacks.

More stats about a few of the 180 remaining players:
  • Although they didn't make the final table, Amit Makhija and Roland Israelashvilli both made Day 7 last year. Both were eliminated during this past level.
  • Chip leader Jon Lane finished 88th in 2005 and added another 500,000 to his stack during the first two hours today. His poise is really something that stands out, and above all, he's clearly having fun. That's great to see.
  • Brandon Steven bubbled the main event final table in 2009. With his lucky masseuse by his side, he's already chipped up to 1.6 million today.
  • JC Tran is deep once again. Look at this: 2004 (117th), 2005 (117th), 2007 (493rd), 2008 (108th), 2012 (561st), 2013 (??). Simply impressive.
  • Grayson Ramage finished 35th in 2009.
  • 2001 WSOP main event champion Carlos Mortensen is making his third cash in this year's event. He finished 217th in 2007.
Small blinds: Only four women remain in the field after the eliminations of Estelle Denis and Kristy Gazes. ... Merson is seated at the feature table with Brett Richey. Chip leader Jon Lane is sitting at an outside feature table. ... The plan is for five levels today, but we might be down to the final 27 by then at the rate this is going. ... Regarding my note about Nauru: Apparently the registration desk confused the Netherlands with Nauru. Nobody in the main event field is from Nauru. Unfortunately. That would have been a crazy story. ... The shuffle machines will now be used. That should speed up play a bit, which I'm not sure is needed. ... Eliminations during this past level include Scott Freeman, Vivek Rajkumar and Josh Field. For many online poker fans, the elimination of "JJ Prodigy" is probably of significant interest due to his troublesome past.
Michael Mizrachi is the most decorated player in the Day 1C field. No, I'm not talking about his three WSOP bracelets, two WPT titles or $14.4 million in tournament earnings; I'm talking about his patches. Over the past few years, perhaps since his November Nine appearance in 2010, "Grinder" has become one of the game's most prolific endorsers, and, today, sitting behind a massive 200,000-chip stack, these companies are going to be getting a heck of a lot of face time.

Observing Mizrachi's table tonight is simply entertaining. In true "Grinder" style, he's playing the majority of hands with limited discretion about what cards he's actually holding. From 3-7 to Queen-4 to Queen-9 to Jack-6, Mizrachi is calling or raising just about everything preflop and then winning the pots by either running good to get there or outplaying his opponents. Players often strategize with a thought process of putting a player on a hand, but against Mizrachi, it's pretty much impossible. That's just the way Mizrachi likes it.

Of course, there's a major concern with this strategy, and that's why Mizrachi most likely won't end the night with 200,000. His hyper-active approach, which he probably won't stop anytime soon, will either result in a significant padding of his stack or a substantial loss. The rest of the players at his table, including tournament veteran Scott Freeman, are probably just waiting for the moment to pounce and take advantage.

Michael MizrachiJay NewnumThrough four levels, Michael Mizrachi is the Day 1C chip leader.

All that said, I'm talking about one of the true stars of the game. He puts in more volume through his travels around the world than 95 percent of his competition here at the WSOP. He's already made the Main Event final table during the post-boom era, and if there's anyone who can figure out a way to exploit his competition and do it again, it's Mizrachi.

As Mizrachi soars, he's joined at the top of the chip counts with a number of familiar faces: Vanessa Selbst, Freddy Deeb, Vivek Rajkumar, Jason Koon and Marvin Rettenmaier have all eclipsed the 100,000-chip mark. Shaun Deeb, Jeff Gross and Jennifer Tilly were eliminated during the last level.

Small blinds: In the last 20 minutes of the level, Phil Hellmuth's stack went from 14,000 to 59,000. … Joe Hachem has agreed with his table that they'll show one card during each contested pot. That is definitely working out in his favor. He also said they'll celebrate the end of the night together with a round of shots. … At the table next to Hachem, Carlos Mortensen is preparing for a Day 2 chip castle construction. He's easily the leader at his table. … Rob Salaburu is back to his quick-acting ways. It's almost like he just throws a couple chips off the top in pure randomness just to beat his opponent into the pot. … David Sands might be the youngest player at his table by 15 years. … Jean-Robert Bellande and Eric Baldwin are seated together. … Will Failla has taken Jonathan Duhamel's seat in the Blue section. … Tournament director Jack Effel announced the prize pool to the field before the start of Level 5. The $8.3 million first-place prize received just a small round of applause.