Poker: WSOP main event

Riess The Beast? No. Riess the Champ

November, 6, 2013
Ryan RiessAP Photo/Julie Jacobson2013 WSOP main event champion Ryan Riess celebrates in front of his rail at the final table.

LAS VEGAS -- There's no better moment in poker than watching the crowning of a new world champion. On Tuesday night, tears and emotions flowed from the hundreds of friends and family of Ryan Riess as he won the 2013 World Series of Poker main event. As the final card hit the felt, the 23-year-old from Clarkston, Mich., standing on the rail with his supporters, fell to the ground. He had outlasted the field of 6,352 players and, in what was the greatest moment of his life, was simply overcome. Cheers, streamers and photos snapped in the seconds that followed, and out of everyone who had made the trek to the Rio, the first people on top of him to celebrate: his parents.

Others tried to pile on, but Riess stood up and hugged his mom and dad who were beaming. He was in tears. His mom, voiceless from cheering on her son, was also in tears. At 23, their son had fulfilled his dream.

"He's just a gentle soul," Cheryl Riess said after the win. "We're just so proud."

The pride on her face grew as he left his supporters and went over to his devastated opponent, Jay Farber. They embraced, both of them sub-30 millionaires with great promise ahead not only in poker, but life. The two had bonded throughout the November Nine process, and over the past two days it was clear they shared a great amount of respect for each other.

Riess left Farber and went back to his crew. They were his rocks through nine grueling days of main event play. He gave out high-fives and countless hugs before being presented with the bracelet and the $8.3 million stacked in bundled bricks.

"I was overwhelmed with joy," Riess said of his championship moment. "I was so happy. I started crying and I was just speechless. My parents told me they were proud of me and they loved me. It was awesome."

Riess made his way back to the friends that he missed the first time around. Everyone had their moment of celebration with him. A moment none of them will ever forget.

The 89-hand heads-up match featured highs and lows for both players, but it was clearly Riess' night. Farber entered heads-up with the lead and extended it early, but Riess found an aggressive gear that he didn't display during Monday's play, giving him the boost. He kept constant pressure on all streets and on a short stack without the cards, Farber couldn't compete. Riess ground his opponent down and, as his A-K defeated Farber's Q-5, he earned the victory. Ironically, those are the two cards that were engraved into the WSOP bracelet in May as placeholders for the champions actual cards.

Riess leaves the Rio with a spotlight that will follow him throughout the rest of his career. He began that career just 13 months ago on the WSOP Circuit and its motto of "First the ring, then the bracelet" came true once again. This time, that bracelet is the biggest one of all.

Many of his friends are Circuit grinders who aspire to accomplish what Riess has just done. He wasn't just playing for himself Tuesday night at that final table, but for a group of players who put their heart and soul into the game for their "one time." He represented the thousands of dreamers who play the professional game at a lower financial level and gave a face to a tour that needed a true icon. Riess' deep roots on the Circuit and this victory can benefit the tour and, while some may strive for his attention to promote different initiatives, hopefully the WSOP will realize that Reiss' most important asset to the game may be his ties on that front.

Riess, more than any of the recent WSOP champions, can make a difference in getting new players into the game.

After Greg Merson won a year ago, I pointed out that his effort as ambassador may have been completed prior to the final table. He wanted to escape the tournament scene and simply go back to the biggest cash games in the world. This year, it's entirely different. Riess doesn't have a game plan, and that may be the best thing for him. He turned down all sponsors prior to the final table because he didn't want anything standing in his way. He wanted to make his own decisions and have a clean slate no matter what happens. Well, kid, you've got plenty of time, and money, to figure it out.

Riess will continue to be a role model for his brother and sister and his degree in hospitality from Michigan State will, for now, go unutilized. What matters most to the champ at this moment is his family and friends. At 23, it shouldn't be any other way.

Enjoy your moment, Ryan. You've earned it.

WSOP Main Event Final Table Live Blog

November, 4, 2013
After four months of waiting, the final table has arrived. Who will win the $8.3 million and the most coveted bracelet in the game? Watch the action unfold on ESPN2 Monday night starting at 8 p.m. ET and follow along right here until the final few remain.

Meet the 2013 November Nine

July, 16, 2013
The dreams of 6,352 have been reduced to only nine. The World Series of Poker main event final table is set with superstar JC Tran in the lead with 38 million in chips. He battled through a tough Day 7 to emerge with the biggest stack, mostly because of his relentless aggression as the final table bubble approached.

Day 7 began with 27 players and Anton Morgenstern in complete control. He spoke after play on Day 6 about his patience and many of the game's best told me before the day that they expected him to coast into the final table. Unfortunately the cards wouldn't oblige. Morgenstern made an interesting call and was dealt a major cooler during the second level to Mark Newhouse, flopping trip aces to Newhouse's full house. Morgenstern lost more than half his stack on that hand and shortly after he'd run into aces with A-J to fall in 20th.

The chip lead changed continually early as Newhouse and James Alexander couldn't hold on to their edges. Alexander had an epic blow-up before dinner and that opened the door for Amir Lehavot to take control and for most of the night, there was little doubt that Lehavot would be a November Niner. Once only two tables remained, the short stacks tried to find the right spots with timely three- and four-bets all-in. For some, such as Ryan Riess, it worked. For others, such as Rep Porter (12th), it did not.

Tran eliminated Matt Reed in 11th to create the unofficial final table. Seated on the main stage in front of hundreds of cheering and screaming friends and family, Newhouse walked up to the table with six big blinds and an agenda. He said he was going to make the final table and after a double up with A-6 over Q-4, that was absolutely the case.

With Newhouse slightly out of danger, Tran began to pressure the other stacks and ran into some interference. Riess capitalized most, moving from one of the short stacks to the middle of the pack.

Nobody in the Amazon Room expected to see what happened next: 2001 World Series of Poker main event champion Carlos Mortensen bubbled the final table. Mortensen didn't sit back and blind away, but got involved in few hands, which had onlookers stunned. Tran eventually captured Mortensen's chips after the Spaniard called all-in with Ac-9h on the turn of a 10c-6c-3s-9c board. Tran showed 8c-7s for a straight and Mortensen needed to find another club on the river to keep his dreams of a second title alive. With the 2d placed on the felt, the entire room erupted. The players headed to their rails to celebrate as Mortensen stood in the center of the stage just wondering how it all went wrong. For his 10th-place finish, Mortensen earned $573,204, his fifth-highest career cash.

Here are the 2013 November Nine:

JC Tran (38.0 million in chips): The poker world wanted a star at the final table and in JC Tran, they definitely have one. He has won two WSOP bracelets, a WPT title and has $8.3 million career tournament earnings. This is his sixth cash of the 2013 WSOP and his sixth main event cash over the past 10 years. He had no fear of putting millions in the pot late and that's what boosted him into the final table as the chip leader. Tran said that the final table is just one of two great things to happen in November as his wife is due with their second child.

JC TranJay Newnum/BLUFFJC Tran leads the 2013 main event final table.

"It's all for them now, it's not about myself anymore," said Tran. "I go out there for them and play for my family. ... The one guy that I really respected the most was the guy I just busted, Carlos Mortensen. I've played with him for many years and him and I have had some really good battles. ... I like the guy a lot, it's sad to see him go, but at the same time, I'm happy he's gone because he was the one I respected the most at that final table."

Amir Lehavot (29.7 mllion): Talk about flying under the radar. The winner of the $10,000 pot-limit hold 'em event in 2011 was one of the shortest stacks to begin the day, but he capitalized most off of James Alexander's blow up during the third level on Day 7. This is the 38-year-old's 13th career WSOP cash and he will be the oldest player at the final table, where he'll try to become the first Israeli to win the main event. He's a professional poker player by trade, but also has a degree in engineering.

Marc-Etienne McLaughlin (26.5 million): It has been quite a year for Canada at the World Series of Poker and McLaughlin is looking to continue that trend. This is his seventh career WSOP cash and more impressive, his third top-86 main event cash over the past five years. He has made one WSOP final table, finishing third in a $1,500 event in 2011.

"It's a wonderful feeling, and I don't think I fully realize it right now," McLaughlin said. "Three months of party and joy. That's what I'm thinking about. And some sleep."

Jay Farber (25.9 million): The 28-year-old nightclub promoter played a lot of poker before Black Friday and just recently turned to having a, as he said, "real job." He plays the cash games in Vegas and decided to enter some satellites because he believed there was added value. Farber won his way in and as far as his November Nine preparation, two players on his rail were none other than former November Niners Ben Lamb and Michael Mizrachi. This is his first career WSOP cash and second main event.

"I'm amazed I made it," said Farber. "You just think you're going to show up and see what happens. I just stuck with my style of poker and played the way I thought would be the most effective with the least amount of variance and it worked out well."

Ryan Riess (25.8 million): You're going to hear a lot about "Riess The Beast." The Michigan State grad found poker and has been motivated since a second-place finish at a WSOP Circuit main event to find greatness. Well, now he's here. Riess had one of the most vocal rails on the day, but he battled from the short stack with perfect aggression to make it this far. Expect the same heartfelt effort to show in November.

"I'm so happy, time to win this tournament in November," said Riess. "When we were short-handed, five-handed and six-handed, I feel like everyone was playing a little soft and I had the chance to run over them. I think they were all just really excited to make the November Nine and so I decided to start mashing."

Sylvain Loosli (19.6 million in chips): The 26-year-old Frenchman is making his first career World Series of Poker cash and has only one tiny score on the EPT as part of his tournament resume. That said, he plays $25/$50 no-limit cash games online and if we look back at last year, some guy named Merson had those same credentials. Loosli likes being underestimated and hopes that he can exploit that image come November. More than anything, he wants to win this for France.

"I've very proud to represent my country," said Loosli. "I will do my best to prove that French players can be as good as American ones. ... [For the next four months] I'm planning on going on vacation and playing more live tournaments to keep improving my [live reads], plus work with some coaches."

November NineVin Narayanan/Casino CityThe final table, from left: Sylvain Loosli, Michiel Brummelhuis, Mark Newhouse, Ryan Riess, Amir Lehavot, Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, JC Tran, David Benefield and Jay Farber.

Michiel Brummelhuis (11.2 million): The Dutch pro has been successful around the world for the past six years and is one of the most respected players in that poker community. He has made WSOP final tables, earned six-figure scores and won side events. Now he has the biggest opportunity of his life and a chance to become the first world champion from the Netherlands. Brummelheis, 32, owes his tournament to a river 7 that gave him a straight with J-9 against Loosli's A-J, and now that he has the second chance, he isn't going to let it go easily. Just like Tran, he's expecting a child this year.

"He's one of the nicest, most well-respected tournament players and down-to-earth players I've ever had the chance to cover," said Remko Rinkema of PokerListings. "He's been winning online tournaments since 2007."

Mark Newhouse (7.3 million) After his win on the World Poker Tour in 2006, Mark Newhouse fell quickly out of the poker spotlight and fell onto tough times. After the performance he put on during Day 7, many will remember the 28-year-old's determination and even though he's short, you can't count him out at the final table. Newhouse finished 182nd in the 2011 main event. Including ninth-place prize money, he has $2.7 million in career earnings.

"I'm feeling great, it was a crazy day," said Newhouse. "Anyone who knows me and who plays poker with me on a regular basis knows I'm not a patient person, but there's so much on the line [for the final table], you just have to do it sometimes."

David Benefield (6.3 million): "Raptor" is one of the original online poker superstars in the post-boom era. The 27-year-old Texan was part of the support squad during Craig Marquis' run in 2008 and now he'll have his own shot. According to Brian Hastings, Benefield been active in the Macau cash games as of late while also studying political science and Chinese at Columbia. Prior to the main event, he had only one WSOP cash this Series, but made $115,000 in October with an eighth-place finish at the WSOP's 50,000 euro high roller event. If there was someone who played nearly perfect today, it was Benefield. While he tightened up on the bubble, he deserves this final table bid.

The November Nine leave the Rio with ninth-place prize money and will return to battle for the WSOP bracelet Nov. 4 and 5. The final table will be broadcast by ESPN.

1. $8,359,531
2. $5,173,170
3. $3,727,023
4. $2,791,982
5. $2,106,526
6. $1,600,792
7. $1,225,224
8. $944,593
9. $733,224

Day 7: Down to 13

July, 16, 2013
The dream has ended for Sergio Castelluccio, Bruno Kawauti, Chris Lindh, Fabian Ortiz and Jan Nakladal. The post-dinner action featured numerous changes in the chip lead and now only 13 remain the 2013 World Series of Poker main event.

The first three eliminations occurred at the secondary table with Nakladal's coming quick after players returned. The last Czech standing was coolered in 18th, running Q-Q into the A-A of Matt Reed. This was his first career WSOP cash. Reed used this momentum to jump into the top 10, but is seated in a tough spot with many big stacks surrounding him.

JC Tran headed to break second overall and his picking off Fabian Ortiz's river bluff is what propelled his run to the top. On a board of Ks-9c-7s-4h-6s, Ortiz moved all-in for 2.6 million and Tran tanked. He thought for a few minutes as his opponent sat back in his chair, avoiding eye contact. Finally, Tran put the chips in and Ortiz threw his A-Q dejectedly into the center of the table. Tran flipped over 9-8 and won the pot.

A few hands later, Chris Lindh three-bet all-in over an Marc McLaughlin open and was dominated as McLaughlin showed A-9. Lindh, with 10-9, flopped a gutshot straight draw (Kd-Qd-4d), but couldn't get there. The Goshen, N.Y., native turned Las Vegas resident was the final player at the $357,655 level.

When the final 15 returned from break, Rep Porter got lucky once again to score the elimination of Kawauti. The Brazilian rail got behind Kawauti's 10-10, but was silenced instantly as a seven-high flop gave Porter a set of sevens. Porter started the day 23rd out of 27 and now sits in ninth.

Castelluccio's exit came a few hands later as he ran A-5 into Amir Lehavot's K-K. Lehavot is now leading the field with 13 remaining.

Here are the chip counts:
1. Amir Lehavot (30.3 million in chips)
2. Sylvain Loosli (28.6 million)
3. Jay Farber (24.9 million)
4. JC Tran (22.9 million)
5. Marc McLaughlin (21.7 million)
6. David Benefield (12.3 million)
7. Matthew Reed (10.8 million)
8. Michiel Brummelhuis (8.5 million)
9. Rep Porter (7.8 million)
10. Carlos Mortensen (7.8 million)
11. Mark Newhouse (6.4 million)
12. Ryan Riess (6.1 million)
13. Alexander Livingston (3.9 million)
James Alexander began the last level in second place out of the final 22 in chips with 17 million. Alexander was eliminated in 19th place.

Seated at the outside feature table, Alexander unraveled in a hurry. He doubled up Maxx Coleman (J-9<8-8), David Benefield (A-2<A-A), Rep Porter (A-2<9-9) and finally Amir Lehavot (J-8<5-5). He got some back with a double of his own against Benefield (A-9>K-Q) but still could not keep his composure. With 12 minutes left in the level, Lehavot opened from under the gun and Alexander three-bet all-in with A-7. Alexander was dominated by Lehavot's A-10, and the drama ended quickly when a 10 came on the flop. Alexander was the final elimination before the redraw at the dinner break.

The player who entered the day with the chip lead, Anton Morgenstern, also didn't make it to dinner. The German cash-game pro gave most of his chips to Mark Newhouse during the second level of play, then ran into Fabian Ortiz on back-to-back hands and lost A-K to K-Q, then A-J to A-A to be eliminated in 20th place. Newhouse had the lead going into this past level but has dropped to 14th.

The only other elimination during the level was Maxx Coleman's, which happened during Alexander's blow-up. Benefield moved all-in from the small blind with A-3, and Coleman called off his stack with Q-J. As Benefield turned a wheel, Coleman shrugged and headed to the cage to collect his $285,408.

Jay Farber made the biggest strides during the third level today and is third in chips entering the dinner break. His key hand came against Ortiz as he moved all-in with Ac-10s on a 5c-3c-2c board. Ortiz showed 9c-9d and basically needed to fade the world to win the hand. Farber needed an ace, club, four or 10, and his hands reached for his head after an innocuous 2 on the turn. With bated breath and a rail of 10 standing directly behind Farber, the dealer placed a 10c on the river and Farber doubled up. The Las Vegas club promoter and cash gamer celebrated and continued to add to his stack for the rest of the level to finish with 18.9 million in chips.

Marc McLaughlin headed to the break second in chips after a near-perfect start to Day 7. He began play with 5.4 million in chips and has had his way with former big stack Chris Lindh to reach his 1 19 million-chip peak. Sylvain Loosli is the chip leader and the only player over 20 million. He took a few pots from Newhouse during the last level to chip up to this point.

Two of the players who held the shortest stacks to enter the day, Porter and Benefield, have moved up to the middle of the pack.

Here are the chip counts:
1. Sylvain Loosli (20.9 million in chips)
2. Jay Farber (18.7 million)
3. Marc McLaughlin (18.3 million)
4. Amir Lehavot (17.5 million)
5. JC Tran (17.4 million)
6. Sergio Castelluccio (12.5 million)
7. Michiel Brummelhuis (10.3 million)
8. Matthew Reed (10.0 million)
9. Carlos Mortensen (9.7 million)
10. David Benefield (8.6 million)
11. Fabian Ortiz (8.1 million)
12. Bruno Kawauti (7.6 million)
13. Rep Porter (7.4 million)
14. Mark Newhouse (5.9 million)
15. Alexander Livingston (5.2 million)
16. Ryan Riess (4.8 million)
17. Chris Lindh (3.9 million)
18. Jan Nakladal (3.1 million)
LAS VEGAS -- Mark Newhouse had been among the short stacks for the past two days, but things change quickly in two hours of the WSOP main event. Newhouse doubled up three times during the second level of play on Monday and is seemingly in control of the feature table. The 2006 World Poker Tour Borgata main event champion got lucky on his first confrontation, hitting the river against Jay Farber. Holding A-2, Newhouse was down to his final out on a board of K-J-10-6 against Farber's 9-9. Drawing thin, Newhouse hit a queen and doubled to six million in chips.

Later in the level Newhouse was willing to risk his tournament life on a coin flip, and topped the one-time chip leader Anton Morgenstern with A-Q over 8-8. Up to 11 million, the two tangled again in the biggest pot of the tournament just minutes before the break.

Morgenstern opened to 325,000 and Newhouse called. The flop of A-A-2 brought a bet by Morgenstern and a call by Newhouse, building the pot to nearly two million. Morgenstern bet again (750,000) after the turn 3 and the fireworks began. Newhouse raised to two million, Morgenstern reraised to 3.9 million and Newhouse moved all-in for a total of 10.9 million. Morgenstern thought, then called confidently, flipping over A-J. Newhouse threw his 2-2 on the felt with a fist pump and watched as the dealer placed a four on the river, putting the Day 6 chip leader on the verge of elimination. Newhouse has 22 million in chips on the break.

Play was relatively slow during Level 32 and there were only two eliminations during the past two hours. One of them was WPT champion and one of the top young players in the game, Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Since his run on early Day 6, Timoshenko was unable to build and has blinded down slowly for the past four or five levels. On his final hand, Timoshenko moved all-in for his last 2.1 million with A-8 and was dominated by the A-J of Jan Nakladal. The board brought two jacks and Timoshenko was felted in 22nd place.

Brazilian Bruno Kawauti was responsible for the other knockout of Clement Tripodi (K-K>A-Q) in 23rd. Only 21 players remain in the main event with action continuing until the final table of nine is reached.

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

1. Mark Newhouse (21.9 million in chips)

2. James Alexander (17.2 million)

3. Sylvain Loosli (16.9 million)

4. Marc McLaughlin (15.7 million)

5. Chris Lindh (14.5 million)

6. JC Tran (13.0 million)

7. Gabian Ortiz (12.4 million)

8. Matthew Reed (10.9 million)

9. Carlos Mortensen (9.2 million)

Blinds are now 100,000/200,000 with a 30,000 ante. There will be a re-draw of tables when 18 players remain.

Day 6: 37 left at dinner break

July, 14, 2013
The fun part about Day 6 is that we begin to really learn about the remaining players in the field. It's tough to gauge the caliber of player for most of the tournament, but on these final days with just a few tables left, every face becomes familiar and every player has a story.

We're beginning to know a little bit about Anton Morgenstern, the chip leader at the dinner break of Day 6. Morgenstern is one of three players with more than 10 million in chips, which he gathered mostly during this last level. He took the lead after a pot against Philip Long, then added a few more million without a showdown. He's picking his spots perfectly so far on Sunday and everyone in the Amazon Room has taken notice.

The award for most random Twitter avatar of the remaining players has to go to Chris Lindh, but his real story is his re-emergence here on Day 6. Lindh was the chip leader for part of Day 5, but fell out of the top spot in a hurry and ended the night in 10th. He fell further to start the day, but has been able to chip up with ease after that. Picking up aces versus kings also helps. He has knocked out a number of players over the past two levels and has 14 million in chips at the break.

JC Tran is third in chips heading to dinner after a constant clinic on aggression at the feature table. He's opening a ton of pots, three-betting more and putting his opponents to the test all the time. This is trademark Tran, though, and if there's one player whose hands I'm looking forward to seeing on television, it's definitely his.

Some notes:
  • Carlos Mortensen doubled up A-K over K-K by hitting a broadway on the river (10-J-Q-K-A). He has chipped up since that double to 6.4 million.
  • Jackie Glazier doubled up a few times during that level, but hasn't been able to top 4 million in chips
  • Blinds will be 50,000/100,000 with a 10,000 ante when players return
  • The average stack is 5.1 million in chips
  • Steven Gee, the ninth-place finisher in last year's main event, has 2.4 million in chips

The main event dream has ended for:

38. Somar Al-Darwich ($185,694)
39. Sami Rustom ($185,694)
40. Christopher Kinane ($185,694)
41. Josh Prager ($185,694)
42. Jonathan Jaffe ($185,694)
43. Phil Mader ($185,694)
44. Bryan Pellegrino ($185,694)
45. David Stephens ($185,694)
46. Vitaly Lunkin ($151,063)
47. Jamie Kaplan ($151,063)
48. Gaetano Preite ($151,063)
49. Oliver Price ($151,063)
50. Sebastian Gohr ($151,063)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Anton Morgenstern (19.0 million in chips)
2. Chris Lindh (14.0 million)
3. JC Tran (10.4 million)
4. Jay Farber (9.7 million)
5. Jason Mann (9.5 million)
The payout confirmation table attendants' heads are drooping in boredom in the far corner of the Amazon Room. With significant money on the line with every pay jump and players showing great patience at this stage in the tournament, eliminations have come sporadically. Only 11 players have been eliminated over the past two hours, including tournament regulars Noah Schwartz and Brett Richey.

Richey had been short stacked all day... actually, for the past three days. He fought incredibly well on Day 5 and just when he was able to chip up over two million, he lost a pot to Alex Bilokur and had trouble getting back on track for the rest of the night. He began Day 6 with a double up against Nicolas Le Floch, but ran K-Q into James Alexander's A-A and was eliminated in 54th place. This was Richey's 18th career WSOP cash and fourth main event cash since 2006.

At an outer feature table, it appeared that just when Schwartz had rebounded from the early cooler, he found yet another one. Bryan Pellegrino min-raised to 120,000 and by the time Schwartz's chips were in the center, so were Pellegrino's. Schwartz showed 7-7 and failed to top aces for the second time in three hours. He finished in 52nd. Pellegrino is known to the online world as "PrimordialAA," but he should be a familiar face to WSOP fans as he's finished in the top 160 in three of the past four years.

On the double-up front, JC Tran found his way into the top 10 by cracking Jorn Walthaus's A-A with 8-8 after the chips went in on a K-8-6 flop. Tran then doubled up the last woman standing, Jackie Glazier, calling her all-in with A-Q against A-K. Glazer now has stack comparable to that of Steven Gee, who also doubled up in the past hour.

The main event dream has ended for:

51. Jim Collopy ($151,063)
52. Noah Schwartz ($151,063)
53. Rachid Ben Cherif ($151,063)
54. Darryl Ronconi ($123,597)
55. Brett Richey ($123,597)
56. Robert Damelian ($123,597)
57. Brendan O'Neal ($123,597)
58. Keanu Tabali ($123,597)
59. Steven Watts ($123,597)
60. Andrea Dato ($123,597)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (9.6 million in chips)
2. Sylvain Loosli (9.3 million)
3. JC Tran (7.9 million)
4. Marc McLaughlin (7.8 million)
5. Sami Rustom (7.4 million)

Small blinds: The agents have arrived. Not sure what the players are signing for, but at least there are attempts going on. ... It's fun to see what other pros show up to sweat the remaining players. It's about now we start to hear what players have pieces out, swaps, etc. ... The average stack is 3.8 million. The blinds are 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante. ... The minimum payout at this point is $151,063.
There's a different feeling of tension in the Amazon Room today. The comfortable atmosphere of players casually playing in the main event has been replaced by heightened emotions and endless confrontations in which one wrong decision could thwart a deep run in the main event and possibly a final table appearance.

Eight players have been eliminated in the first hour of play, but the most intriguing hand that took place was a triple-up by WPT champion Noah Schwartz. On the second hand of the day, Schwartz ran kings into Jay Farber's aces and doubled up the Las Vegas club promoter and cash-game rounder. A few hands later, Jonathan Jaffe opened, and with only 500,000 left, Schwartz put his money in the center. Farber, next to act, called and the dealer announced "all-in and a call" which signals the TV cameras to come over and film. Farber was unaware of any action ahead of him and flipped over his cards: A-8. With Farber's hand exposed, the action was now on Jaffe, who moved all-in. Farber folded and Schwartz hit a king on the turn to triple up.

Farber was given a one-round penalty for exposing his hand out of turn and told me that if he knew there was action in front of him he probably wouldn't have called.

At the feature table, Yevgeniy Timoshenko has started off strong and added nearly 4 million to his stack to become the chip lead. The WPT, WCOOP and APT champion got richer as opponent Keanu Tabali (3-3) made a weaker full house on the river and paid him off. With K-Q, Timoshenko captured the 7 million chip pot after a board of K-K-8-Q-3.

The main event dream has ended for:

61. Erkut Yilmaz ($123,597)
62. Vladimir Geshkenbein ($123,597)
63. Cero Zuccarello ($123,597)
64. Marc Emond ($102,102)
65. Corrie Wunstel ($102,102)
66. Yann Dionn ($102,102)
67. Simon Ravnsbaek ($102,102)
68. Tyler Cornell ($102,102)

The current chip leaders are:
1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (8.1 million in chips)
2. Marc McLaughlin (7.3 million)
3. Sami Rustom (7 million)
4. Jason Mann (6.5 million)
5. Matthew Reed (5.9 million)

Small blinds: All remaining players will earn at least $123,597. The next money jump comes at 54th ($151,063). ... Play will continue today for five levels or until there are only 18 players remaining. ... Jackie Glazier is getting a lot of rail support at the feature table. ... If you're in Vegas, come down and watch. It's free. Today is one of the best days of the main event. I'll probably say the same thing tomorrow.
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 -- Greg Merson's bid for a back-to-back main event title has ended. The 2012 world champion was short all day and moved all-in with A-2 midway through Level 22. Brett Richey called, showed A-K and held as the board ran K-3-2-9-4. Merson received a warm ovation from the crowd as he exited in 167th place, earning him $42,990. While the result wasn't exactly how he envisioned this tournament playing out, he still was a bit satisfied and relieved.

"It's a relief that someone else is going to win," said Merson after his elimination "I mean, I was trying to win, but I don't like this whole media stuff. ... Honestly, during this main event, every break wasn't a break. My breaks were when I was playing poker. It was hard to get privacy to relax, but it is what it is."

Greg MersonJay Newnum/BLUFFGreg Merson confirms his elimination with the tournament staff on Day 5.

Merson, who has a close relationship with Phil Ivey, believed that the idea of getting a trailer outside of the Rio, like Ivey did, is the right thing to do to avoid the attention. That said, Merson did his best as an ambassador for the game, even if he didn't want the spotlight.

"I wanted to represent the game as well as I can," said Merson. "It's just that a lot has changed since online poker shut down, and the opportunities for myself are much different than the previous nine winners. It's a lot easier to do five interviews a day when you have a seven-figure contract, but I pretty much represent Ivey Poker and myself. I never went into poker to be this big famous person, and if I'm not getting paid for it, I could care less. I don't care about the glamour or anything."

Regardless of his feeling toward interviews and everything that comes with being the man with the most prestigious bracelet in the game, Merson played a phenomenal main event with a patient approach that, for the second consecutive year, was essentially flawless. He let others get involved in the major confrontations and avoided big variance spots, and that led him past more than 12,000 players in the main event over the past two years.

From here, Merson, who said he found a great life experience from all the traveling he's done over the past year, will go on vacation, then back to Macau for the biggest cash games in the world. He's also looking forward to relaxing at home a bit, which he said would make his parents very happy.

Small blinds: Lots of screams around the Amazon Room today as the friends and family of the players have started to arrive and are cheering loudly from the rail. ... Chris Lindh is the first player with more than 4 million in chips. He has taken over the lead from Jon Lane. ... One hundred forty-nine players remain in the main event. ... Annette Obrestad has 2.6 million in chips. She leads the final four women in the field. ... A guy who was recently eliminated has been staring at the tournament clock for two minutes. He doesn't want to leave. Wait, he just left. And walked over to another one. ... At one of the outer feature tables the players are talking about making the final table. Steve Gee chimes in saying that he made it, and one of the players asks him when. He says last year and it was shrugged off. Guess there's no respect for the final remaining member of last year's final table. ... Carlos Mortensen is the last remaining WSOP main event champion.
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.
LAS VEGAS -- The Amazon Room feels more spacious than ever after a fast-moving Day 4 of the World Series of Poker main event. Only 239 players remain in contention for the $8.3 million top prize, and Jonathan Lane will lead the field into Day 5 action Saturday. Day 4 featured some dramatic moments, especially the elimination of Doyle Brunson, but began with a quick money bubble and the eruption of the room in applause after the elimination of Farzad Bonyadi. All players who made the money earned at least $19,106.

Lane finished Day 4 with 2.8 million in chips, a third of which came in a big pot against Nicholas Immekus late in the night when he made a strong call on a seven-high board postflop with his A-K to eliminate Immekus and his A-4. He was able to chip up slowly throughout the rest of the day, avoiding the major confrontations.

"I pretty much played solid poker, had some good fortune and ran it up," said Lane who is playing in his sixth main event. "This is what it's all about. This is the dream. I've been working to this for a long time, and I just want to take it home."

The Wisconsin native played online a lot before Black Friday but hasn't been playing all that much recently. He's played 20 events this WSOP with one small cash, but he can't help but think about the fact that the main event is an altogether different beast and an event where he's already found success. Lane finished 88th in the 2005 WSOP and was chip leader.

"It would mean a lot," Lane said about making the final table. "I've always dreamed about it, and I'm just trying to focus and, through willpower and determination, get through the field. You only get so many chances to go through the main."

Lane, Grayson Ramage, Ami Alibay, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Victor Cianelli and Vincent Robert were the only players to bag more than 2 million in chips, but there's a long way to go until the final table. Only a handful of players in this room understand what it takes to make it there, especially defending champion Greg Merson, 2001 champion Carlos Mortensen and Steven Gee, ninth-place finisher in the 2012 main event. It was a roller-coaster ride for Merson's stack for the second straight day. He peaked near 1 million, was as low as 350,000 and left for the night with 635,000 after a two-level stint of playing very conservatively. He preached patience throughout his run last year, and that's what has led him here once again.

Although Merson, Mortensen, Gee, 2007 WSOP Europe main-event champion Annette Obrestad, Marvin Rettenmaier, JC Tran, Brett Richey, Max Steinberg, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Vivek Rajkumar, Brandon Steven and Greg Mueller all made it through and carry with them results that stand out from the rest of the field, the star power in the main event was greatly affected with the elimination of Brunson in Level 18. The 10-time WSOP main-event bracelet holder battled greatly for the past four days, but ultimately pushed at the wrong time and ran his K-10 into the 10-10 of Sergei Stazhkov. Brunson received an incredible ovation as he left the Amazon Room, but -- just like every other year -- he was disappointed with his result. Brunson finished 409th and earned $28,063. Michael Mizrachi, Marcel Luske, Matt Stout, Bertrand Grospellier, Allen Cunningham and two members of last year's final table, Russell Thomas and Rob Salaburu, were among the 427 eliminations.

Here are the chip leaders after Day 4:
1. Jon Lane (2.8 million in chips)
2. Sami Rustom (2.4 million)
3. Grayson Ramage (2.4 million)
4. Victor Cianelli (2.1 million)
5. Seaver Kyaw (2.0 million)
6. Yann Dion (2.0 million)
7. Vincent Robert (1.9 million)
8. Marc Emond (1.9 million)
9. Robert Sichelstiel (1.9 million)
10. Ami Alibay (1.8 million)

Day 5 begins at noon PT on Saturday, with the blinds at 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante.

Small blinds: Five players at Jon Lane's starting table on Day 5 have more than 1 million in chips. ... Tables are incredibly spaced out now in their setup for Day 5. Lots of room for camera crews to maneuver and a big rail for fans. ... JC Tran was down to just six big blinds on Day 3. Now he has 1.1 million in chips. ... The hallway that leads to the Amazon Room is turning back into a regular hallway and not a major poker-retail center. ... Farzad Bonyadi not only bubbled the main event but then finished 17th in the event at the Bellagio where 15 paid. ... Friends and family have started to arrive at the Rio. ... One player seated at an outside feature table didn't return from the final break until about 20 minutes into the last level of the night. He told his table he fell asleep and his friends had to wake him up. ... Day 5 used to play down to 72, but I'm not sure that's the plan for Saturday. They might play a full five levels again. ... The payout system was really organized this year. No crazy lines or angry players. It seemed as if the WSOP has perfected this process. ... Apparently, the player ninth in chips, Robert Sichelstiel, is a big fan of the Poker Edge. Cool. ... The TV production team put a mike on Umang Dattani, who told us he had never been on TV before. On his very first hand, he gets dealt a royal flush. ... The massage therapist staffers might need to start cutting back. There were way too many masseuses without work, although I did see a guy on the rail getting a massage. ... There are still two players in the main event representing the Republic of Nauru. According to Google, in 2010, the population was only 9,322.
LAS VEGAS -- The entire Amazon Room learned the name Jason Mann during Level 19. Mann topped Dick von Luijk in the biggest pot of the tournament thus far and eliminated the player who was the first person in the field who had more than 1 million in chips. Played out on an outside feature table, Mann was put to the test by Luijk, who moved all-in for nearly 800,000 after a 7-6-2 flop. Mann took his time to work through the decision, then ultimately called and confidently flipped over aces. Von Luijk shocked the table as he showed K-6, and Mann headed to his rail in celebration as his hand held through the turn and river.
Jason MannJay NewnumJason Mann leads the Day 4 field with 2.4 million in chips.

Mann finished 249th in the main event in 2011 and won the West Coast Poker Championship high roller in 2012. He's the first Canadian to hold the chip lead over the past four days and does so with 2.4 million in chips.

Moments later at the next feature table over Day 2A/B chip leader Nick Schwarmann lost most of his stack to Grayson Ramage. After a board of Q-8-7-Q-10, Schwarmann, who was the aggressor during most of the hand, moved all in for over 700,000. Ramage worked through the options relatively slowly, then called for his tournament life. Schwarmann showed 2-2 and Ramage sat relieved as his A-Q brought in a nearly 2 million-chip pot. Ramage finished 35th in the 2009 WSOP main event.

Only 283 players remain in the hunt for the $8.3 million top prize and the championship bracelet, which is valued at $500,000.

Small blinds: Only two members of last year's final table remain in contention. Defending champion Greg Merson and Steven Gee, still sitting side by side, were surprised to hear of the eliminations of Russell Thomas and Rob Salaburu. Thomas' downfall came in a hurry, and he was eliminated when he couldn't win a race with A-K over Q-Q. ... Greg Merson's table is now being moved to the feature table for the final level of the night. ... Recent eliminations include Ludovic Lacay, Adam Friedman, Melanie Weisner, Allen Cunningham, Matt Marafioti and Jon Turner. ... J.C. Tran recently doubled up to his high point in this tournament (880,000 in chips). ... Greg Mueller and Brandon Steven might as well have a massage last-longer bet. ... Carlos Mortensen is now seated at an outside feature table. I don't believe he's said a word in four days. ... There are seven women remaining in the main event. ... Marvin Rettenmaier cracked the 1 million chip mark during this past level. ... There's been a pretty big buzz in the room tonight. Nothing like a Friday in Vegas.
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.