In an ideal world, all 8,800 participants would play together on Day one on 880 tables with 960 dealers, and then play Day 2 on 320 tables with 3,200 players. Regardless, we're now down to around 1,200 players after Day 2B was in the books. Twelve hours of play was fixed in stone from yesterday unless there was an incredible departure of players who pushed the entire field into the money. Eight hundred-seventy three players get paid, so there will be some seriously unhappy players departing from here to there. The play Friday should be a bit strange, as folks who won satellites for $11 try to sneak into a $14k paycheck. The $12M first prize isn't in focus for most players.
There were four main characters in today's Act II Scene II: Joseph Hachem, Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, and Dmitri Nobles. Hachem started the day at $86,950 at Table 121, next to the railbird wire in the front right corner of the room. The reigning champion had a topsy-turvy day, down to $60k when Igor Holdaiy doubled through him with flopped trip deuces. He was the best player at his table, but chips moved in the direction of Jeremy Roberts. Hachem finished in a flurry, up to $142,200 and in comfortable shape.
Greg Raymer wasn't as lucky. He was in decent shape at $48,500 to begin Day 2B, but chips drained through the first levels. He didn't catch flops and knew he couldn't push anyone around as his chips dwindled. His final hand was fitting, pocket 8's vs. his opponent's aces. An ace hit the flop and the river was a miraculous, yet incidental . He grabbed the ace on the board and turned it over, pulling a card from the muck to replace. It was the case ace, which got a big laugh from the table. He shook everyone's hand at the table as he readied to leave. Raymer was returning from the dinner break, short stacked. He must have signed 20 autographs in the last four minutes before play was to start, smiling all the time. He is a true champion.
Daniel Negreanu held court on the ESPN Feature Table, and if the crew needed a rehearsal for the final table, they got many components. Negreanu hopes that he can make it there and come out on top, just like today. He started in great shape at $85,800, and it felt like he was playing at a Full Contact Poker convention, his website populated by loyal groupies. The crowd erupted when he doubled through Srinivsa Yarlagadda. On a flop of , he moved all-in for his last $86k. Yarlagadda called with to Negreanu's . The turn of the gave Negreanu the nuts, and the crowd was electrified, hooting and hollering for the first time at the Main Event.
Dmitri Nobles started with $79,450, only 40 players holding more chips. After a few hours, he was on a heater where any and everything worked out. By midnight, it didn't matter if things worked out or not as his stack dwarfed everyone around him. Two brutal hands epitomize the kind of day he had, as well as the way he was playing. On a flop of , he bet $7k, while his opponent raised to $20k, then Nobles moved all-in. The opponent called with , and Nobles showed . It was a stunning move, made even more remarkable when the came for the straight. A blank hit the river, and $90k moved to Nobles. On the last hand before the break, the flop came J-9-4, and he moved all-in with pocket 10's. His opponent from MartinsPoker called with A-J. The turn was a 7, and the river 8 gave him the straight and sent the player to the rail. It was the last hand before the break, and players at his table were sprinting to their loved ones, a couple disgusted with what they had witnessed. It brought a cold hard fact about poker: there is a result at the end, and sometimes there is no justice in the room.
Obviously, these weren't all of the fascinating stories. Josh Arieh was down to $8,100 but finished at $82,000 which should be a bit above average for the field. Kathy Liebert was all-in holding jacks vs. her opponent's aces for her last $10k. She now is below average but alive with $55,000. Other top names that are still going strong include John Gale, Ted Forrest, Tom McEvoy, Surindar Sunar, and Freddy Deeb. The tentative chip leaders look like this for the entire field:
Dmitri Nobles ($553k)
Yuriy Kozinskiy ($443k)
Jon Lane ($405k)
Ken Jacobs ($375k)
Daniel Pelletier ($335k)
Daniel Negreanu ($331k)
Jason Strasser ($319k)
Terris Preston ($310k)
Paul Wasicka ($308k)
Philippe Boucher ($305k)
Matt Woodward ($302k)
Dmitri Nobles has the chip lead. All he needs to do now is win $87,447,000 more chips, and he'll win his first WSOP bracelet. Friday will be a very interesting day as players try either to get into the money or to gamble. PokerWorks will be out in full force covering the action. Thursday is an off-day, a reprieve before the marathon continues.