Just over eight hours of high-pressure poker whittled the remaining World Series of Poker Main Event field of 64 players down to 27 on Day 7, with the chipleaders at the 10.45pm Vegas time close almost the same as the previous day despite fluctuations in fortunes during the day's action.
Again heading the chip counts going into Day 8, when the final nine player table will be decided, is the remarkable Darvin Moon, an amateur player and owner of a Maryland logging company who has only been playing for three years. If he wins the Main Event, he may have to put other plans on hold, including his graduation from the University of Kentucky where he is about to complete a management course.
Moon won his main event seat in a satellite at a land casino in West Virginia, and despite falling behind somewhat during Day 7, he made a convincing comeback to be the first to reach the 20 million mark, and ended the day on 20,160,000.
Holding down the second position again is professional player Billy Kopp on 15,970,000, with third position now occupied by Steven Begleiter on 11,885,000, whilst at fourth is the man they are all watching carefully - international ace Phil Ivey who has been building his stack of 11,350,000 in a measured and aggressive strategy that takes him into the final 27 on Day 8.
Starting the Day 7 play just after noon Vegas time, the remaining 64 players from Day 6 took their seats, among them the UK's strongest contender, James Akenhead; one of the earlier chipleaders, South African Warren Zackey, who had by that stage dropped to 1.4 million; Darvin Moon holding the chip lead at that stage on 9.75 million; Jordan Smith, Jeff Shulman, Leo Margets, a Spanish player and the only women left in the field on 3.65 million; Frenchmen Ludovic Lacay and Fabrice Soulier; Phil Ivey - then on 6.35 million; former champ Tom Schneider; Hieu Luu, Blair Rodman, Miika Puumalainen; the only survivor of last year's final table, Dennis Phillips, Joe Sebok, Antoine Saout, Prahlad Friedman, Eugene Katchalov, Antonio Esfandiari and Ben Lamb.
Almost immediately the action was rapid and exciting, with Prahlad Friedman busted out in 64th position for $90,344 about 5 minutes after the cards hit the air, a particularly noteworthy departure because it signalled the start of the six figure payouts - the next player to go would receive $108,407. The procession to the rail was a busy one, with 9 other players eliminated within the first two hour level. Among the early exits was Joe Sebok who's small stack could not last the course, exiting him in 56th place.
Other notable departures throughout Day 7 included Miika Puumalainen in 59th Place, John Martin in 57th Place, Tom Schneider in 52nd Place for $138,568, Fabrice Soulier in 49th Place for $138,568, Dennis Phillips out in 45th Place for $178,857, Eugene Katchalov exiting in 39th Place for $178,857, Blair Rodman headed to the rail in 34th Place $253,941, and the unfortunate Joe Ward who was the last elimination in Day 7 at 28th Place for $253,941 - $99,000 less than the next elimination to go.
The day also saw a general apology from former WSOP main event champ Joe Hachem, who had said some pretty harsh things about the less experienced players in a newspaper interview the previous day. Hachem, who was eliminated from this year's main event in 103rd place, said his comments had perhaps been misunderstood.
"Everyone has the right to play poker however they want," he said. "I was just hearing stories from all over the floor about how crazy people were playing. I am passionate about poker and the World Series and I think what I said just came out the wrong way."
"I really love poker," the former champ added. "I want the game to grow even bigger and if I offended anybody with my comments I am truly sorry. My intention was to highlight the level of play and I think it just came out differently than I had intended."
Taking the applause and the trophy for the last woman standing in the WSOP Main Event, petite Leonor 'Leo' Magret from Barcelona in Spain is still in the game, albeit with a relatively low stack of 1.53 million. Other names on the trophy are Wendeen Eolis, who placed 25th in 1986, Tiffany Michelle (2008), Maria Ho (2007), Tiffany Williamson (2005) and Annie Duke (2000).
The young Spaniard has only been playing poker for three years and is excited at going as far as she has and playing with some of the world's best. If eliminated in Day 8 her six-figure cash will be the largest of her career so far - she has a 39th place, event 16 cash in this year's 2009 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III to her credit, which will be completely overshadowed by her rewards for her showing at WSOP.
Warren Zackey, who has been up and down on chip count, ended Day 7 on 5.485 million in 16th position, beaten into the 15th spot by Ludovic Lacay on 5.61 million. Pro Antonio 'The Magician' Esfandiari, sitting in 20th position on 4.47 million could also still pull something out of the hat.
Day 8 will see the elimination of 18 more players, leaving a final table of 9 survivors, each of whom is guaranteed a payday of at least a million dollars. Those nine players will then have a break of several months before reconvening in November 2009 for the final competition to decide this year's WSOP champion.
Official chip counts for Day 7's Top 12 are:
Darvin Moon 20,160,000; Billy Kopp 15,970,000; Steven Begleiter; 11,885,000; Phil Ivey 11,350,000; Kevin Schaffel 11,245,000; Antoine Saout 11,135,000; Jeff Shulman 10,170,000; Eric Buchman 10,005,000; Jamie Robbins 9,795,000; Ben Lamb; 9,410,000; James Akenhead 8,615,000; Joseph Cada 6,565,000.
Average stack is around 6,957,857.
Source: InfoPowa News