- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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Three starting flights and two Day 2s have left 1,864 players in contention for the 2014 World Series of Poker main event title and $10 million.
And everyone is chasing Phil Ivey.
Ivey had a main event day that every poker player in the world dreams of. The 10-time bracelet winner started the day among the leaders, but separated himself from the pack to become the biggest stack in the room just a few hours in. The hand that padded Ivey's stack featured a three-way all-in after a flop of 10-9-6. Ivey flopped bottom set and trailed the flopped straight of Lazaro Hernandez. As the table stared at the 300,000-chip pot, Hernandez, holding the best hand, said "good game" and Ivey asked him why. His reply: "You're Phil Ivey."
Hernandez was right. Ivey made a full house on the river to knock out his opponents and move into the chip lead. The Amazon Room began to buzz with talk of Ivey's chip count and while the comments weren't filled with desperation, the acknowledgement of Ivey in this position was comical to many.
— Andrew Feldman (@AFeldmanESPN) July 10, 2014
"I'm feeling pretty good. I had a pretty big day," said Ivey at the end of Day 2C. "This is the most chips I've ever had after Day 2."
Ivey was the first and only player to have more than 500,000 in chips. He peaked at approximately 520,000 and loosened up at the end of the night, which resulted in a small setback. Still, Ivey was in command of a table whose total chips of the other eight players may not have equaled Ivey's stack.
"$10 million means a lot. It's a lot of money. I'm trying to win it, but more importantly I want to win the main event," Ivey said in an interview for the Day 2C Poker Edge podcast. "It's been my dream since I first started watching poker. As you get older you and start playing more tournaments, and you start thinking about your place in poker history. To win the main event would be a big part [of my legacy]. Hopefully I get it done this year."
Despite the chip lead, it's Day 3 and we can't crown Ivey just yet. A number of other players had some big success on Day 2C, including Raul Mestre, who finished the day with 477,900, good for second overall.
"It’s obviously been an incredibly good day for me. I haven't won many huge pots, it's just when I've been bluffing, they’ve worked -- I've been lucky they didn't have a strong hand," Mestre said to BLUFF. "I just managed to win almost every medium pot, which is crazy. I understand I've been running like a demon here."
Mestre finished 427th in 2009, the same year Ivey made the final table.
Others advancing to Day 3 with above-average stacks include Poker Players Championship winner John Hennigan, Griffin Benger, Daniel Alaei, Tom Marchese and Greg Mueller.
"The main event is a roller coaster mentally and emotionally and you have to stay composed," Mueller said. "You can't get too rattled ... You just have to try and plug away. The main event is the sickest tournament ever."
Mueller finished 226th in 2013 and after that event he spent nine months trying to get himself back into mental and physical shape for the WSOP. Five cashes and numerous cash game successes later, he's happy with his progress.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was a rough day to be a world champion. Phil Hellmuth, Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, Joseph Hachem, Berry Johnston, Carlos Mortensen and Scotty Nguyen all busted, leaving Robert Varkonyi as the sole former champ survivor on the day. Hellmuth's elimination was the result of a few questionable plays and as he said on Twitter, he "Busted myself in #WSOPMainEvent."
Here are the unofficial top 10 chip counts from Day 2C:
1. Phil Ivey (505,000)
2. Raul Mestre (477,900)
3. Morgan Popham (407,600)
4. Peter Neff (389,200)
5. Isaac Baron (387,200)
6. Steve Tripp (380,400)
7. Brian Townsend (361,700)
8. Horacio Chaves Cortes (350,300)
9. Paul Bennett (343,700)
10. John Hennigan (342,700)
The entire field resumes as one beginning at noon PT Thursday. Another 10 hours will leave a field ready to make the money Friday and get one stop closer to winning the $10 million first-place prize.
Small blinds: Paul Pierce survived the day with 48,600 in chips. Touching story by BLUFF about Phil Hui and his dedication of the main event. Both Gerard Pique and Martin Kampmann busted during the last level of the night. The UFC fighter and soccer star sat next to each other for a few hours Wednesday. The outside feature tables aren't drawing too many fans. Players were complaining about the depth of the rail, which is understandable given the different table dimensions that are necessary for the television broadcast. This year, 693 players make the money. Beers were flowing at Ivey's table at the end of the night. Corona was the beer of choice. Congrats to Gaelle Baumann, the last woman standing from the 2012 WSOP, for winning the media tournament. Yup, a pro won the media event. Again. A few pros played with bounties on their heads, and they crushed us. My Q-Q lost to Q-J all-in preflop. Fun game. The grinder of the day award goes to David Baker, who fought for most of the day under 20,000 before finally getting chips later in the the night. Kareem Marshall leads Sean Yu, Christian Harder and Scott Clements in the final four of the WPT 500. The event, held at Aria, had a $1 million guarantee that was crushed to the tune of $1.8 million. Last year's final table is down to just defending champion Ryan Riess, Jay Farber and Mark Newhouse. Daniel Negreanu had a "horrendous last level of day 2 WSOP main event. Down to 39,800..." ESPN.com's Bernard Lee finished with 118,400.