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Dollar, dollar bill y'all - Main Event down to 27 players

15 Jul 2013

By Vin Narayanan
LAS VEGAS -- It's not often that the second to last day of a tournament (at least for the summer) can make one week's worth of poker a mere prologue. But that's exactly what happened Sunday at the World Series of Poker Main Event.

He take his time, he counts it out, I weighs it up, that's real money -- Kanye West's "Mercy"

West wasn't talking about poker. Not even close. But the sentiment applies. Late Saturday night, players made the pay jump to more than $100,000 at the Main Event. Simon Lam was the first to bust out of the tournament with a six-figure win. He won $102,102 for finishing 72nd. Three more players busted out quickly afterwards and play ended for the night.

On Sunday though, the rapidly shrinking tournament floor in the Amazon Room was different. People knew that each player eliminated had just lived the dream -- a deep run in the Main Event and a six-figure score.

After players were eliminated from Day 6 of the tournament, they were marched over to WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla so he could ascertain the correct pronunciation of their name and announce their departure with his sonorous voice.

"Finishing in 57th place from Cape May, New Jersey, collecting $123,597, Brendan O'Neal," went one announcement, with Dalla's voice deepening just a hair when mentioning the money.

Anton Morgenstern is the chip leader with 21.955 million.

Anton Morgenstern is the chip leader with 21.955 million. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Players applauded each announcement. They know what that player has done to navigate a field of 6,352 players in the Main Event is a tremendous accomplishment -- something most players will achieve only once in their career. They also know that each elimination brings them closer to another pay jump.

I ain't coming out for less than 100 thou Nicki Minaj in the "Hello Good Morning" remix

The rails were more boisterous Sunday. So was the nervous energy. This was real money on the line.

It's not that the players that fell short of winning $100,000 were playing for insignificant amounts of money. It's just that there's no emotional or visceral connection to $71,053 or $84,786.

People don't play the lottery dreaming to win $80,000. That's "middle-class money." There's nothing wrong with middle class. It's a nice consolation prize. But the goal is to be rich. They play it for six figures. They play it for millions. They play it for real money.

The Main Event champion will win $8,359,531.

Mind on my money, money on my mind
Tryin' to stack paper, countin' every little dime
-- Flo Rida's "Mind On My Money"

A big score at the Main Event means different things for amateur and professional poker players. When an amateur wins big, the winnings -- or a good chunk of them -- are pulled out of the gambling economy. For some amateurs, a big win means financial security. For others, it's just adding to riches. They might have the freedom to gamble a little more often, but for the most part, that money is leaving the gambling ecosystem.

When a professional poker players wins big at the Main Event, it means they can play at higher-stakes games without having to worry about their bankroll. The freedom to play for big money without "countin' every little dime" is huge for professionals.

Mark Newhouse went to Twitter to make that clear Sunday.

Newhouse is currently 15th in chips with 5.785 million.

You already know, you light I'm heavy roll, heavy dough
Mic macheted your flow, your paper falls slow like confetti, mines a steady grow
-- Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents II"

The action was fierce at the featured table Sunday.

The action was fierce at the featured table Sunday. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Carlos Mortensen, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2001, played Sunday like "Dead Presidents II" was his theme song.

He was the only Main Event champion remaining in the field. He had already made his money -- lots of money. He had chips. He had no fear. He was a heavyweight, and everyone knew it.

Raise Mortensen's small blind and he'd re-raise. Raise Mortensen's big blind and he'd re-raise all in. By the time six hours of play had passed, Mortensen had increased his stack from 2.665 million to 6.455 million. Mortensen finished the day with 10.79 million.

I got car money, fresh start money
I want Saudi money, I want art money
-- Drake's "Dreams Money Can Buy"

One of the remarkable things about this point in the Main Event is while the players are aware of the next jump in prize money, it doesn't dictate their actions.

Late Sunday afternoon, three players found themselves all in against each just three spots from the next money jump. Gaetano Preite, the short stack with about 300,000, pushed all in first. Rep Porter then went all in for around 1.8 million with Kh-Qh. And Sami Ruston called with pocket kings (Kc-Kd). A flop of Ah-8h-2c gave Preite three eights and Porter a flush draw. The turn was a 10 of diamonds, giving Porter a straight draw. A four of hearts on the river gave Porter the flush and eliminated Preite.

Preite won $151,063 for finishing 48th. Ruston ended up finishing 39th. He won $185,694. Porter ended the day with 2.675 million in chips.

There are 27 players remaining in the Main Event. Anton Morgenstern has the chip lead with 21.955 million. Sylvain Loosli is second in chips with 14.125 million. Chris Lindh is third with 12.035 million.

Jackie Glazier, the last woman remaining in the tournament, finished 31st and won $229,281.

Steve Gee, who is looking to become the first player to reach back-to-back final tables since Dan Harrington did it in 2003 and 2004, showed a good sense of humor when asked about the best moment of his day.

"I went out on break and came back and they said we were done (for the day)," Gee said with a laugh." Gee has 3.16 million in chips.

"The only thing this really means is I have the chance to play on Day 7," Gee added. "Anything can happen on Day 7. Back on Day 2, Day 3, the goal wasn't to make Day 7, it was really to make the final table. But I just wanted to get there (Day 7) to get the chance to play.

"I think it's the structure of the Main Event that helps out better players," Gee said as he explained why the Main Event suited his skill set. "We have two hour levels and we have bigger stacks so it kind of balances out the luck vs. skill factor.

While Gee, who is in his late 50s, has decades of poker experience under his belt, Ryan Riess is just starting his career in poker.

He graduated from Michigan State University in December and began his professional poker career in 2013.

"I very rarely (played online in college) and not for anything big," Riess told Casino City after play ended Sunday. "No cash games, just tournaments."

"I'm a fast learner," Riess said of his ability to pick up the game since January, though he did say he started playing when he was 14.

"I feel like I'm really good at reading people, reading body language and bet sizing," Riess added. "I pay attention a lot during big hands and I can pick up a lot of tells on people.

"Online it's just a name. And I'm really bad with names. Live, it's a face and I'm really good with faces so it makes it easer for me to pick up tendencies on people."

"It was actually kind of tough (today)," Riess added. "I started the day with 5.5 million and I played two hands way bad and lost some money on each of them and I didn't have to, I could have lost virtually nothing on those. And after that, I grinded the same stack all the way out."

"I'm alive. I'm still in it. I'm happy," Riess said.

I don't know what, they want from me
It's like the more money we come across
The more problems we see
-- Notorious B.I.G.'s Mo Money Mo Problems

Greg Merson's reign as defending champion should serve as a cautionary tale to the final 27 players remaining in the field. Merson handled his role as reigning Main Event champion and poker's top ambassador extremely well. But it exhausted him and sapped time and energy. Winning the Main Event will be a life-changing moment for the new champion. But remember, "Mo Money Mo Problems."

Notable chip stacks
Anton Morgenstern 21.955 million
Sylvain Loosli 14.125 million
Chris Lindh 12.03 million
JC Tran 11.97 million
Fabian Ortiz 10.81 million
Carlos Mortensen 10.79 million
James Alexander 9.445 million
Jay Farber 8.975 million
Matthew Reed 7.705 million
Jason Mann 7.5 million
Amir Lehavot 7.385 million
Clement Tripodi 7.135 million

Notable eliminations
Jackie Glazier $229,281
Vitaly Lunkin $151,063
Sami Rustom $185,694
Noah Schwartz $151,063
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