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LAS VEGAS -- The first two hours after dinner offered a few big pots and four significant knockouts. Poker power couple David Sands and Erika Moutinho both hit the rail during the past two hours, along with Steve Brecher and John Esposito.
Moutinho started off the level with a double-up with jacks against the pocket sevens of Martin Staszko. Up near the 4 million mark, she couldn't keep the rally going and lost some chips back to Staszko, who seemed to be targeting the short stacks at the table.
Esposito was the first casualty of the level. With an unlit cigar in his mouth, he moved all-in with pocket jacks and was called by Ryan Lenaghan's pocket aces. Esposito's run this year just adds to his already impressive résumé in the main event. He cashed in the main seven times and has five cashes with finishes of at least 31st place. He walked off the set with a big wave and earned a rousing ovation from the dozen or two friends and family who were in attendance.
Brecher and Esposito were the two most senior players left in the event, and both offered the field live experience than nearly nobody else could boast. Despite getting off to a good start on Day 7, Brecher ran pocket fours into the pocket queens of Khoa Nguyen, who has a third-place stack after the level. Brecher's elimination ensured that no previous World Poker Tour champions would be making the WSOP main event final table.
Then, the storyline that had kept the Rio buzzing was put to rest. Sands three-bet all-in with J-10 against a cutoff raise from John Hewitt. Hewitt deliberated for a moment, as it would be for more than half his stack, but eventually made the call with A-J. The flop came A-Q-Q, giving Sands some additional straight outs, but the turn and river couldn't save him and he was eliminated in 30th place. He stood up, gave a nice handshake and congratulatory pat on the back to all the remaining players, then found himself in Moutinho's arms, gave her a kiss and left the stage.
Sands headed into the audience to watch Moutinho play, but it didn't take very long for her to three-bet all-in and be in almost the exact situation as her boyfriend just moments ago. Moutinho's shove was called by Andrew Hinrichsen, and her Q-10 was dominated by Hinrichsen's A-Q. With the crowd rooting for a 10 to appear on the board, it wouldn't appear and Moutinho ended her run in the main event in 29th place. This was her first $10,000 event, and her payday was an impressive one at $242,636.
Action always picks up during the final hands of every level, and this time around, it was Philipp Gruissem losing a coin flip to Christopher Moore to be eliminated in 28th place.
Here are the current chip leaders:
1. Ryan Lenaghan (16.8 million in chips)
2. Matt Giannetti (16.0 million)
3. Khoa Nguyen (15.9 million)
4. Eoghan O'Dea (13.2 million)
5. Aleksandr Mozhnyakov (13.0 million)
6. Andrey Pateychuk (10.4 million)
7. Ahtoh Makiievsky (9.3 million)
8. Ben Lamb (8.8 million)
9. Phil Collins (8.5 million)
10. Christopher Moore (8.5 million)