LAS VEGAS -- Well, that was quick.
At approximately 3:05 p.m. ET the remaining 719 players began the most pivotal day of their main event: money day. All the players had their sights set on the number 666, as being among the final 666 would mean they would turn a profit and make the money in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event. Similar to most years, there was a quick lead-up to the bubble. There were fewer than 700 players only 15 minutes into Level 16, and 680 after a half hour. The cries of "all-in and a call" from dealers around the Amazon Room continued as only 669 players remained at 4:24 p.m.
WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel then grabbed the microphone and announced it was time for hand-for-hand play. The plan was as follows: At the same time, all the dealers in the room would start the next hand at their table. If the table completed the hand, the dealers would then stand up. If there was an all-in and a call, the dealer would hold the action and wait for all hands to be completed. At the end of the hand, all all-ins and calls would then be played out.
There was one. Then two, three, four and five! The buzz in the room was incredible as the remaining players hoped and cheered for the short stack to fall short. Five tables had all-ins and calls and with all hands completed, the cameras rolled as Effel called out the action for the entire room to hear. The first hand was aces versus kings and with the aces holding, Steve Rosen was eliminated. At the next table, Christina Lindley's aces held over David Kelley's queens. There were 667 players remaining. The third all-in was a double up with aces versus kings, and that brought boos from around the room. Then, directly in front of me, the A-A of Dane Lomas was cracked by the A-K of Devin Looney. That was it, players were in the money but there was one more table to go. As Effel headed to the final all-in, it was the K-K of Desmond Portano ahead of Roberto Riva's 5-5. A five flopped and Portano was also out. In past years there have been bubbles that have taken hours to play out. Not this year. One hand was all that was needed.
The room erupted as the four eliminations left only 665 players in contention. The first three eliminated players loved the fourth knockout as all four would then split 666th-place money of $19,227. But that wasn't to be. Typically the WSOP awards the player who finishes on the bubble a seat into next year's main event, but considering the four-way split, the WSOP staff stood around with a big promotional check with nobody to award it to. The WSOP decided that the four players will play a quick tournament for the seat and the winner will be the first entrant into the 2013 WSOP main event.
As expected, there has been a steady stream of players heading to the payout table. Jason Mercier, Liv Boeree and NHL goaltender Roberto Luongo are just a few of the recent bustouts and as players head to their first break of the day, only 616 dreams remain alive here in Las Vegas. Now the real tournament begins.
The top 10:
1. Ben Greenberg (1.24 million in chips)
2. Sean Rice (1.17 million)
3. Dave D'Alesandro (1.13 million)
4. Erik Hellman (1.10 million)
5. Nghi Van Tran (1.10 million)
6. Paul Volpe (1.03 million)
7. Leo Wolpert (1.01 million)
8. Bryan Vanrijsbergen (1.00 million)
9. A.J. Jejelowo (970,000)
10. Niels van Alphen (930,000)
A few other counts from around the room:
• Daniel Negreanu - 400,000
• Vanessa Selbst - 912,000
• Vivek Rajkumar - 715,000
• Chris Moorman - 310,000
• Jason Somerville - 846,000
• Marcel Luske - 602,000
• Lee Childs - 440,000
Small blinds: Actor Kevin Pollak said he wasn't looking at any of his hands at the bubble. Well, he didn't and made the money. Erick Lindgren was one of the final eliminations before the bubble. He was seated with Johnny Chan and Vivek Rajkumar at the feature table. The WSOP staff has taken the average chip stack off the tournament screens around the room. I think that's a pretty good idea. Joseph Cheong has made the money for the third consecutive year. There were 18 players who finished in the top 100 in 2011 in contention on Day 4. Some guy set off a pepper spray pen here in the Amazon Room. Seriously. Everyone's fine, just lots of coughing. Five levels of play are expected for each of the remaining days in the WSOP main event. Tournament Director Jack Effel believes there will be between 200 and 300 players at the end of tonight. The tournament staff has just completed a color-up of the 500 denomination chips. Tables are being broken down and taken away by the Rio staff as players are moved. I'm happy to see them doing this during the breaks and not during play as in years past. Here's a video of the bubble burst. Sorry it's sideways.