As the day began, the ESPN Feature Table had Juan Carlos Mortensen and Gavin Smith joining Gus Hansen, the chipleader as the day began. Hansen could not be cast better by ESPN to win the Main Event. He and Daniel Negreanu dominated the World Poker Tour in its early stages, with Hansen winning events at the Bellagio and Commerce in the 2002-2003 season. He added a WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2004, and this year he took the Aussie Millions to start the year off with a bang. He's never had success at the WSOP, but a win here would be a monster play for poker in Europe.
Veteran Ted Forrest would be a throwback victory for the semi-old guard of poker. His three WSOP bracelets in 1993 jolted the poker world at the time, setting him immediately apart as one of the top players in the world. He added two more bracelets in 2004, has a win and a runner-up finish on the World Poker tour, and was the winner of the 2006 NBC Heads-up Championship. He is a regular in the biggest games in Las Vegas, he'd have a raucous crew of friends at the Final Table if he can get there.
Mimi Tran has final tabled three times in the WSOP and once on the WPT, and the protégé of Barry Greenstein is known as one of the strongest female tournament players in the world. She is also one of the most prolific, regularly playing small buy-in tournaments at Commerce, the Bike, and the Hustler Casinos around Los Angeles. She's the remaining top female pro in the field and is heading northward after doubling up with queens then knocking out another player with nines.
Huck Seed was once the young hot thing in poker, leaving Caltech to play poker in 1989. He won his first of four bracelets in 1994 and the Main Event in 1996. At 6'7", Huck still resembles the basketball player he once was, although some extra padding keeps his vertical leap down a bit. He hasn't reached a WSOP Final Table since 2004, but the FullTilt pro would be a welcome player to carry the FullTilt torch on the 17th.
Juan Carlos Mortensen is another Main Event champion and FullTilt pro looking to return to the Final Table. Mortensen added a WPT $25k NLH Championship victory for $3.9m to his 2001 WSOP Main Event win, becoming the only player to take both titles. He played a light tournament schedule, but he is not an opponent anyone wants at the table. Once he starts architecting chip towers, it is a fearsome sight to behold. There are few players who play with the level of fire and passion of Mortensen, and he is definitely a threat to represent FullTilt at the Final Table.
The pro term is less accurate than it used to be, with the top online players playing more tournaments in a month than Phil Hellmuth plays in a year. Top players have made the necessary adjustments to both the neophyte as well as the top online players. These pros are primed to represent the longtime professional ranks at the Final Table, hoping to add their images to those surrounding the Amazon Room of Main Event Champions.