With 574 players left, ESPN continued its coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event with Day 5. The pre-show theme was the emergence of the online hotshots vs. the old guard live action players, with the main focus being on feature table resident Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond. Also seated at the featured table was soon-to-be November Niner Fillipo Candio, while Adam “Roothlus” Levy and Vanessa Selbst were among those at the secondary television table (although interestingly, Levy was never seen in a hand).
With the blinds and antes at 3,000-6,000-1,000, Clayton Bates raised under the gun to 18,000 with A-K. Galfond called in the cutoff with pocket fives, and the two saw a deadly flop of J-K-5. Bates checked, and Galfond bet 38,000 into the 54,000 chip pot. Bates min-raised to 76,000, but Galfond went all-in and Bates called. The turn and river of the and were no help to Bates, and Galfond leaped into the overall chip lead by winning the 618,000 chip pot.
At the secondary table, Selbst’s stack was decimated when she lost a half-million chip pot with pocket kings, when she couldn’t get away from it after her opponent flopped a set of tens. She exited the tournament soon after when her lost to Matthew Pearson’s , when Pearson flopped a jack and Selbst couldn’t catch up.
Back at the featured table, Galfond raised to 18,000 in the small blind and Jimmy Tran called with K-J. Galfond checked the flop of K-Q-8, and surprisingly, so did Tran. The turn brought the and the straight for Galfond, who bet 18,000 into the 45,000 chip pot. Tran called, and when the fell on the river, Galfond made a big bet of 67,000 and got another call to take down the 215,000 chips in the middle. Commentator Norman Chad cracked, “Galfond’s running better than Forrest Gump!”
Naturally, the first featured interview of the night was with Galfond, who played pot limit Omaha online throughout the conversation, although he was “only” playing two tables while giving the interview. He said that at his peak, he was playing 70 hours a week online, with his biggest one-day loss being $900,000 and his biggest win $1.6 million. He finished the interview by saying that he had lost $20,000 while he answered ESPN’s questions, so they must be bad luck. Soon after the interview, we got to see Galfond knock out a player with vs. J-10 when he turned an ace, and we learned that Galfond had won the first SEVEN hands in which he had voluntarily put money in the pot on Day 5.
Jason Mercier, one of the hottest players in the world the last few years, was crippled when he went all-in with pocket fives against Robert Mizrachi’s pair of kings, which held up. He was eliminated shortly afterward when pocket aces crushed his A-10, showing once more just how quickly fortunes can turn in no limit Holdem since Mercier had quickly gone from a big stack to the exit door.
In the first wild card hand of the night, Finn MacNamara raised to 15,000 with pocket aces. Galfond had the mystery cards and called on the button, and the two were joined in the pot by Tran in the small blind with Q-J and Candio in the big blind with 10-2. The flop brought 9-J-9, and three players checked to Galfond, who bet 26,000. Tran and MacNamara made the calls and the was the turn card. Once again, Tran and MacNamara checked, and Galfond now pushed all-in! Both of his opponents folded, and Galfond showed the cameras his ! He was now the first player in the tournament to top 2 million chips. But his good fortune was soon to take a turn for the worse.
It started innocently enough when Galfond raised to 20,000 with pocket fives under the gun. Jean-Luca Speranza went all-in for his last 147,000 with aces, and Galfond decided to make the call. The board of K-8-K-J-2 didn’t help him, and Speranza doubled up to 311,000.
While most of the focus was on the two main tables, we did get a very strong sense of things going on around the rest of the room. Two of the chip leaders going into the day, Matt Affleck and Tony Dunst, were seated right next to one another, and we were treated to a few jousts between the two of them, with Affleck, despite being out of position, continuing to build a huge stack. We were kept appraised of the exploits of the three remaining Mizrachi brothers, seeing Donny get eliminated while Michael and Robert continued to maintain healthy stacks. And we caught our first glimpse of November Niner Soi Nguyen, who for much of the day was one of the chip leaders.
Scotty Nguyen and James Carroll were moved to the secondary table for the second hour of the telecast, and, as one would expect, most of the attention was on the former world champion. After Nguyen gave up almost 40% of his stack by losing a race with pocket queens against A-K, he had a huge double up and then some when he held pocket sevens against an opponent’s A-4 on a flop of 7-A-4. Eventually, all the chips got in the middle, and Nguyen was back up over 600,000. Later on, he added to his stack when he flopped a set of eights. Edward Ochana had an open-ended straight draw which he hit on the turn, but Nguyen rivered a full house when the board paired, and Ochana read the hand well and made the lay down.
Two of the November Niners showed just how important good luck is in a long tournament like the Main Event. First Candio, who had already escaped certain elimination earlier in the tourney when his kings out flopped aces, went all-in with A-9 offsuit only to have MacNamara make the call with pocket kings. Although MacNamara was the one at risk, it would have left Candio all but out the door. However, he flopped the “ace from space” (in the immortal words of Tony G.), and it was MacNamara who was left walking out the door. Later, Jonathan Duhamel, left with a miniscule stack, pushed all-in with and was called by Brian Pellegrino’s A-10. Pellegrino had him covered, but Duhamel spiked a five on the flop and doubled up. While he was still severely short stacked, he was still alive.
Meanwhile, Galfond was hemorrhaging chips, losing a big pot with a busted flush draw, and another hand to Candio where Galfond bet 27,000 in the cutoff with 7-5, and was raised by Candio to 80,000 in the big blind with 10-2 (!!). The flop of 10-K-8 put Candio ahead, and after he checked and Galfond bet 77,000, Candio came over the top to 160,000 and Galfond folded, putting him under a million chips and heading in the wrong direction.
With the blinds now at 8,000-16,000-2,000, Nguyen, who by now was over a million chips, raised to 42,000 with pocket jacks, and Carroll called with a pair of tens in the cutoff. The flop of 10-3-9 was disastrous for Nguyen, who bet 80,000, which Carroll called. When another 3 fell on the turn, Nguyen went all-in and Carroll called. There was no miracle jack on the river, and Nguyen gave up half his stack to Carroll, who was up to about 1.2 million. Nguyen’s exit occurred as the show was coming to a close, as he raised to 60,000 with under the gun, which Mads Wissing three-bet all-in with pocket kings. Nguyen called, but the board of Q-7-3-10-J sealed his fate, and Nguyen was eliminated in 209th place.
The radical up and down movement for the remaining players as the blinds continued to accelerate was very much in evidence tonight, as the action was fast and furious throughout. The coverage was crisp during the entire two hours, as the producers did a great job of allowing the whirlwind of Day 5 to be clearly seen. Next time: Day 6.
See you next week!