The Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas, where the Main Event of the 2009 World Series of Poker is being decided this week, was looking remarkably spacious by the end of Day 5 on Sunday evening, as 185 players - all that remains of an original entry field for the event of 6,494 - bagged their chips in preparation for Day 6.
407 survivors from Day 4 started playing at noon Sunday with an average chip stack of 475,000, and a structure that called for five levels or no further than the elimination of 232 players. The action was immediately fast and furious, and five hours into the tournament well over fifty percent of the field had been eliminated. An hour later, after six hours of what had been anticipated would be a 10 hour day, Tournament Director Jack Effel decided that at 185 players and three levels, it was time to call it an early day.
Incidents of note were Phil Ivey's precipitous decline down to only 220,000, and his equally remarkable come-back to end the day around 46th position with 1,380,000. He had to contend with some tough encounters with Elad Magidov, who finished in 26th place on 1,762,000.
Dutch player Noel Boeken had a good day, finishing 12th on 2,338,000, but the convincing chip leader at the start of Day 4, Bertrand Grospellier suffered a decline and ended the day in the 83rd spot on 973,000. British pro James Akenhead waved the flag for the UK, ending up in the top ten with 2,692,000.
Matt Affleck, the the University of Washington undergrad from Seattle who looked almost unassailable as he headed the field into Day 5, ended it in the 7th position on 2,882,000.
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips saw the end of his Main Event hopes, hanging on until the last hand of the day, when he went all in before the flop with pocket kings against two players, both with pocket aces. The board didn't save him and he headed for the rail as the two players split the pot.
Seemingly appearing from nowhere after a disciplined and selectively aggressive performance, Warren Zackey ended Day 5 in the chip lead with 4,872,000, over 500,000 ahead of second placed surprise Kasper Cordes on 4,352,000.
Departing the Main Event on Day 5 were David Levi, Thor Hansen, Dan Harrington and Bobby Baldwin. Early knockouts included Jeff Kimber, Peter DeBaene, Sorel Mizzi, Sander Lylloff and Burt Boutin. Later eliminations included Nick Binger, Kara Scott - the only woman to cash in both the 2008 and 2009 WSOP Main Events, Dan Shak, Day 1 chipleader Amir Lehavot, Nick Schulman and Adam Sanders.
Among those who remain in the running are Phil Ivey, Ludovic Lacay, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Tom Schneider and James Akenhead. The field still has two remaining World Champions - Joe Hachem and Peter Eastgate, and those reporting for duty on Day 6 will include Joe Sebok and Antonio Esfandiari.
The Top Twelve chip counts going into Day 6 are:
Warren Zackey 4,872,000; Kasper Cordes 4,352,000; Darvin Moon 3,218,000; Tom Schneider 3,168,000; Bernhard Perner 3,022,000; Miika Puumalainen 2,894,000; Matt Affleck 2,882,000; Charlie Elias 2,780,000; James Akenhead 2,692,000; Steven Begleiter 2,621,000; Eugene Katchalov 2,544,000; Noah Boeken 2,338,000.
Average Stack for Day 5 action was 1,053,081.
Source: InfoPowa News