Friday saw the start of the fifty-sixth event in this year's 41st World Series of Poker, and with it fewer opportunities to win gold bracelets and tempting prizes, as only the Main Event now remains on the starter grid.
Events 52 through 56 are all now in various stages of completion, which means 5 more bracelets are yet to be picked up, with top pros like Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey all hoping to win the coveted symbols of success for reasons ranging from side bets to prestige and record collection.
A final table of six had finally been reached Friday night after three days of unrelentingly tough poker in event 52, the $25,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed competition, which initially attracted a field of 191 top players.
Only 18 polayers were left at the start of Day 3 Friday afternoon, including aces such as Frank Kassela, Abe Mosseri, Daniel Negreanu, Jason Somerville, Isaac Haxton, Justin Bonomo, Eugene Katchalov and Carlos Mortensen.
A measure of how competitive a field this was can be gained by the fact that in the first level Daniel Negreanu, Abe Mosseri, and Isaac Haxton, along with Day 3 chip leader Bryn Kenney, were all out of contention.
Late night Friday the action had reached level 25 when the chips were bagged. The final six survivors were: Dan Kelly in the lead on 5,895,000; Frank Kassela (2,610,000); Shawn Buchanan (2,110,000); Jason Somerville (1,665,000); Mikael Thuritz (1,535,000) and Eugene Katchalov (475,000).
The meteoric progress of 21-year-old Internet player Dan Kelly was one of the highlights of this event in Day 3; he started the day with the shortest stack yet managed to double up and then battle his way into a substantial lead against some formidable players, and as InfoPowa went to press controlled over 41% of the chips on the table when the action paused for the night.
Brian Tate was the last winner to make up the final table of event 53 - the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold'em Shootout, joining Terrence Chan, Jonathan Little, Joseph McGowan, Michael Schneider, Ben Yu, Brendan Taylor and Sijbrand Maal who all won their second table in a row and advanced to the final round.
Friday afternoon saw these players start a whole new round of shootout play with the goal of delivering an event winner from an original field three days ago of 548
Level 7 had been reached by late night Friday, at which point the elimination in third spot of Jonathan Little had cleared the way for a heads up between roomies Brendan Taylor holding a comfortable lead on 2.46 million, and Ben Yu on 1.14 million.
The first prize for this event is $184,950.
Day 1b of event 54, a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competition played down Friday, setting the scene for a combined field for Day 2.
The Day 1b field was smaller than the first day in this event, but still attracted 1,504 entries, making total registrations for the event 3,844 entrants, and generating a mouth watering prize pool of $3,459,000.
On the 'who's here' list for the day was Pat Pezzin, Raymond Rahme, J.C. Tran, John Monnette, Barry Shulman, Men Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker, Wiliams, Phil Ivey and Valdemar Kwaysser, along with a slew of other famous faces.
Day 1b was bagged and completed at level 9 late Friday night with 602 players remaining and average chip stacks at 19,156. Andrew Talbot held the lead on 71,075, way short of the substantial lead built up in Day 1a by UK player James Dempsey on 140,000.
The survivors of both initial days will join together in Day 2 action Saturday afternoon to see who makes the final table, and more importantly who gets the bracelet and the $570,960 first prize. The cash bubble is at elimination 396.
Is event 55 - the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship - Tom Dwan's best hope for a first bracelet, big prize money and lucrative side bet payouts?
It certainly appeared so late Friday night as InfoPowa went to press, leaving Dwan holding a chip lead of 560,000, comfortably ahead of his nearest rival Jonathan Cantor on 420,000 and the average chip stack count of 199,615.
The duo were leading a field of 52 - all that remained of 346 original entrants in this hotly contested event as it battled through level 16 on Day 2. Another well known name - Phil Hellmuth - was also still active further back in the field and hunting a record-breaking twelfth bracelet.
Eliminations during the night included Annette Obrestad, Chris Ferguson, Dan Heimiller, Vitaly Lunkin, Ted Lawson, David Benyamine and Vanessa Selbst.
The last event before the Ante Up for Africa charity tournament and the Main Event this year is event 56 - the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competition, which saw cards in the air late Friday afternoon and a star-studded field of 1,942.
The registrations indicate that the prize pool will be $4,466,600 with the cash bubble around the 198th elimination at $5,047 and a main prize for the winner of $826,418.
The plan was to play through eight levels before bagging up for the day as the large field assembled. Seen taking their seats were David Williams, Barry Shulman, Chad Batista, Allen Kessler , Neil Channing, Andy Black, JC Tran, last year's main event champ Joe Cada, Humberto Brenes, Phil Ivey, Craig Bergeron, Dennis Phillips, Roland de Wolfe, Victoria Coren, Shannon Elizabeth and Daniel Negreanu.
As InfoPowa went to press late Friday night 1,250 players were still active, led by David Singer on 33,200, Shane Schleger on 32,000 and Court Harrington on 32,000.
Early departures included: Allan Baekke, Jeff Madsen, Amnon Filippi, Roland de Wolfe and Daniel Negreanu,
Source: InfoPowa News