What a day as we worked through 18 players to get to the final nine. Along the way millionaires were made and some hearts were broken. The nine players who have made history:
1: Richard Lee ($11.82M)
2: Erik Friberg ($9.605M)
3 Paul Wasicka ($7.97M)
4: Dan Nassif ($2.6M)
5: Allen Cunningham ($17.77M)
6: Michael Binger ($3.14M)
7: Doug Kim ($6.77M)
8: Jamie Gold ($26.65M)
9: Rhett Butler: ($4.815M)
When play started on three tables at noon, the Jamie Gold table was the ESPN Feature Table and he sat on $13M in chips. Jane Gold, Jamie's mother, was in the stands and chatted energetically for the first few hours. The ESPN cameras loved her, but Gold had to finally ask his mother to calm down. Today was a day for screaming and cheering, and it all started quickly as the short stacks busted out. Richard Wyrick left in 27th, as he moved all-in with A-7 vs. Jamie Gold's A-K. A few hands later, Prahlad Friedman called Siddharth Jain's all-in move, Friedman's pocket kings good against Jain's pocket 8's (26th). On Table 2, Mark Garner pushed with pocket 5's and was knocked out by Dustin Holmes' pocket aces (25th).
Eric Lynch then was the victim of Gold, moving all-in with A-6 vs. pocket 10's of Gold (24th). Rob Rosman ran his A-J into the A-A of Leif Force, and he was knocked out in 23rd.
Jamie Gold is a bit of a strange poker player. He seems to be filled with insecurity, constantly showing his cards, explaining his play, and talking about the fact that he'd made the correct play. He uses his stack to show that he can play aggressively when needed, and then he'll often show his cards. He did this once against Prahlad Friedman, betting $750k on the river of a board of . Friedman mucked, then Gold flipped over , exclaiming "Don't try to outplay me." A couple of hands later, Lee Kort did just that. Kort called a raise from Gold then the flop came , and Kort moved all-in. Gold jerked his head to Kort, and begged him to take it back. He's been attached to his fellow Beverly Hills player these last few days. He didn't want to be the one to send him home, but he had to call with . Kort had outs with the , but no help came with , and Lee Kort finished 22nd.
Right before this hand on another table, Allen Cunningham flopped a set of 5's and doubled through Erik Friberg. There should have been a meeting before the day started where everyone would promise not to give any chips to Cunningham, but they didn't and he was on his way to a monster day. He got most of his increase from Kevin O'Donnell in a hand feared by all, pocket aces vs. pocket kings. Cunningham had the aces, and O'Donnell had the rail in 21st place.
The field was thankful when Prahlad Friedman left, but it was a sick hand that took him out. Jamie Gold raised to $400k, and Friedman moved all-in for $1.7M from the button. Gold felt he had to call, and turned over 8-7o to Friedman's A-3. The monster flop came , a flopped straight for Gold. It was that kind of magic giving Gold the nut straight. The turn was the J and the river the 4 eliminating Prahlad Friedman in 20th place. Erik Friberg and John Magill took big pots from Richard Lee, and with 19 players left Lee was down to $490k. Remember that number; we'll come back to it later.
Sirous Jamshidi crippled Dustin Holmes when his flush draw didn't hit, then Luke Chung finished him off for his last few chips. Holmes finished in 19th. He and the others who departed all took home $494,797.
Down to 18 players, they redrew the two tables, and Allen Cunningham and Jamie Gold shared the same table for the first time. It got interesting in a hurry for this table. David Einhorn raised to $250k, and Gold, Cunningham, and Luke Chung called. The flop came , and Einhorn bet $1M. Gold raised to $3M, then Einhorn moved all-in and was instantly called by Gold. Einhorn had , but Gold held for two pair. Blanks hit after that, Einhorn was out in 18th ($659,730), and Gold was over $22.5M. Einhorn was extremely gracious, as he's pledged every dollar to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Paul Wisicka reduced Jeffrey Lisandro's stack down to $100k after moving all-in with kings. Lisandro called with jacks and never improved, then Rhett Butler finished him off (17th, $659,730). Sirous Jamshidi (16th, $659,730) and Kevin Aaronson (15th, $907,128) left in quick succession, but the order they left the room mattered a lot at the cashier. Luke Chung had been playing patiently all day, and it looked like that patience would pay off. After a flop of , Chung moved all-in and was called by Gold with . He told Chung "Good hand," after seeing his for two pair. The on the turn gave Gold the higher two pair, and sent Chung packing (14th, $907,128). Gold then knocked William Thorsson out, his kings taking down the pot vs. Thorsson's jacks (13th, $907,128).
Down to a dozen, they each had reached at least $1.2M for a payout. They redrew for tables, and Doug Kim must have done something wrong as a child. To his left was Jamie Gold, Allen Cunningham, and Erik Friberg. Doug had some serious problems with Gold before the dinner break, hemorrhaging chips quickly to the chip leader. A good meal and a chat with Jason Strasser got him ready for the short-handed action to come. In fact, everyone came back from the dinner break with a grand plan as action ground to a halt. In the midst of this play, we saw that indeed Jamie Gold was human. First, Erik Friberg doubled through him with and a move all-in on the turn with a board of . Gold had for over cards and the nut flush draw, but the came on the river. The sicker play was a tangle between Gold and Cunningham. Gold called from the small blind only to have Cunningham raise to $300k from the big blind. Gold called, and the flop came . Gold bet $300k and was called. The hit, and both players checked. The came on the river and brought fireworks. Gold bet $1M only to see Cunningham raise it up to $2M more. Gold looked visibly upset, taking several minutes before calling with for the flush, but Cunningham had the winner with .
Michael Binger doubled through Dan Nasser the hard way, getting all-in with queens vs. kings only to flop a set of queens. Fred Goldberg knocked out John Magill, his pocket 9's besting Magill's 5's (12th, $1,154,527). In a limped pot, Gold and Leif Force ended up heads-up with Force all-in, his heart flush draw up against Gold's pair of queens. There was no help for Magill, and he was out in 11th ($1,154,527). They redrew to get to one table, and all of the short-handed play had to be undone. Everyone reverted back to very tight play, as no one really wanted to go out on the final table bubble.
Doug Kim took a couple hits from Jamie Gold but fought back gamely. Besides Doug, most of the pots never saw a flop, or if they did it was between a bunch of limpers. Johnny Chan coached Jamie Gold from time to time, and Fred Goldberg sought counsel from Humberto Brenes and Chris Bigler. It seemed to paralyze him a bit, as he reverted into a Sklansky shovebot, simply pushing rather than playing his game. He was able to live a bit until he called an all-in from Michael Binger's A-Q. Goldberg had pocket 10's but an A came on the turn and Binger doubled up. Binger then pushed twice all-in, once taking a pot and finally being called by Richard Lee's pocket kings. Goldberg had Q-3o, which never had a chance (10th, $1.154,527).
When play resumes Thursday, the first one to leave will walk away with $1.5M, and the last one gets $12M. An off day tomorrow allows ESPN to conduct interviews and everyone to get plenty of rest. What a day Thursday will be for these newly minted millionaires.