Sometimes, a day off is necessary, or at the very least welcomed. The day between 2B and 3 was Thursday and a day off, and it gave everyone the opportunity for a bit of downtime in Vegas. Whether it was playing in the turbo poker tournament for the media or simply enjoying the sun and entertainment Las Vegas had to offer to the WSOP players, the day off was used to its fullest.
That led the World Series of Poker to resume on Friday, July 10, as the first day to combine all of the players into one field. After four first days and two second days, it was helpful to bring all 2,044 players to the same tournament at the same time and show everyone who they’re really up against.
The primary goal of the day was simple survival. It was suspected that the money bubble would not burst, as it would take somewhat of a miracle to thin the field of 2,044 to 648. Thus, it was the job of every player in the room to make the most of their opportunities and get through the day. Short stacks looked to double up, bigger stacks looked to keep up the momentum, and everyone hoped that their skills would work and combine with the right amount of luck to make it through the five levels of action. A long day was certainly in store for those who could push forward.
Action began with one player hovering above the rest, as Amir Lehavot came into the day with a massive chip stack of 610,500. The second spot on the leaderboard was held by Peter DeBaene and his 465,000 chips, and the rest of the top five, in order of chip counts, were Troy Weber, Dan Bilzerian, and Franklin Grigsby. But even the players with hundreds of thousands of chips were susceptible to running bad, becoming too confident, and having a meltdown before the day was over. Time would tell.
After Tom Franklin, Chairman of the World Poker Association, gave the “shuffle up and deal” command, play actually began. Two featured tables set up for ESPN boasted of some big names, Joe Hachem and Jeff Lisandro at one, and Ville Wahlbeck and Kenny Tran at the other.
One of the first eliminations of the day was Erik Seidel, who put his chips in with pocket queens but found that his opponent had pocket aces. The board of J-6-8-K-9 did nothing to save him, and Seidel left the tournament early in the afternoon. Others to follow of note included Roland de Wolfe, Brian Micon, Jason Young, Bill Gazes, and WPA founder Jesse Jones.
Many eyes - and cameras - were on the celebrities in the room on Day 3, including Australian cricket legend Shane Warne, who took an early day beating when his pocket eights ran into aces. That took his stack from a respectable 250K to about 37K. Television star Jason Alexander had a rough day, initially losing a hand that put him down to 61K but then climbing and soon finding pocket aces with which to attack Marc Karam’s pocket queens. The board came out . Back up over 200K, Alexander proceeded to continue his roller coaster ride as the day continued.
Cameras were also focused on previous WSOP Main Event champions like Dan Harrington and Bobby Baldwin. Peter Eastgate was one who had a volatile day but survived, as did Joe Hachem. But Carlos Mortensen didn’t have the same luck, as he was eliminated midway through the day. Raymer met the same fate, taking a hit early in the day and finally pushing all-in with pocket tens for his last 80K. His opponent woke up with pocket aces, and the board came to eliminate Greg Raymer from the tournament.
In the early afternoon, the World Series of Poker suits were busy running numbers and tabulating the figures for the Player of the Year race, looking at players still in the tournament and those already at the top of the POY board. It was ultimately determined and announced that no player, no matter their performance in the Main Event, could surpass Jeff Lisandro and his three bracelets. That put Lisandro firmly in the position of 2009 Player of the Year, an announcement that drew a wide round of applause from the rest of the Amazon Room.
As the dinner break approached, the Brasilia Room was emptied of all players, as the field thinned to near 1,000 and all were able to be seated in the Amazon Room, to the delight of tournament staff and media alike. With players like Jennifer Harman, Sam Farha, Humberto Brenes, Darus Suharto, Allen Kessler, and Bill Edler eliminated, it was determined that only 1,071 players were seated after the dinner break.
During the two post-dinner levels, two players rose above the fray and soared over the one-million chip mark. Owen Crowe was the first, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier was the second. While the average chip stack was far less than that, those two players showed what can happen when skill and momentum combine to dominate a tournament.
Toward the end of the day, a few key eliminations caught the attention of the media. First, it was Jason Alexander who got involved with Christian Heich to see a flop of . Alexander bet out, but Heich moved all-in, which prompted a good deal of thought from Alexander before he called for the remainder of his chips with pocket jacks. Heich showed . The turn brought a but the river was a , and the trips eliminated Alexander from the tournament.
Second, it was POY Jeff Lisandro, who decided to battle John Myung on a flop. Lisandro put it all in with pocket kings, but Myung called with and the flush. The rest of the board brought and to eliminate Lisandro with no Main Event win but the distinguished honor of being the WSOP Player of the Year.
When play finally stopped just past midnight, there were 789 players remaining in the field, only 141 spots away from the money. And when the color-up was done and chips were bagged, the final numbers showed that Grospellier held a substantial lead over the rest of the pack with a count of 1,380,500. Fellow Frenchman Ludovic Lacay fell into second place with 896,000, and the rest of the top five included Jason Brice, Benjamin Jensen, and Kasper Cordes.
Day 4 would begin at noon on Saturday, July 11, with the money bubble looming in the Amazon Room.