We began the day with His Highness, Phil Hellmuth, atop the chip lead with a tidy $1.8 million, followed by Raymond Davis, Loi Phan, Kirk Morrison and Roland De Wolfe in the top five, and with plenty of pros still in contention. By the end of the day, many of those names would have hit the bricks, and the face of the chip leaderboard would be drastically altered.
First elimination of the day went to Patrik Antonius, who displayed admirable optimism by showing up for Day 4 with only $38,000 in front of him and every round costing $24,000. Antonius doubled-up once, but then ran into Jim "Krazy Kanuck" Worth at exactly the wrong moment. Antonius pushed with ace-jack and ran into the Kanadian's kings, busting the Finn and sending Worth on a heater that would see him climb from a starting stack of $230,000 to $1.2 million in the span of six hands.
Worth capped his hot streak by sending Marc Goodwin to the rail after the English pro pushed on the flop with the nut flush draw and ran into Worth's set of ducks. The board paired on the turn and Goodwin was drawing dead, sent to the rail early along with Daniel Alaei, Praz Bansi, and WPT Season 5 Los Angeles Poker Classic champion Eric Hershler.
Before the first break of the day, we'd also lose Jared Hamby, who seemed to rule the felt on Day 3 with his amazing triple-up and then quad-driven double up a few hands later. TheWacoKid found himself short-stacked nearly immediately after starting play on Day 4, and busted at the hands of Tim Phan, who flopped the nut flush and found himself miles ahead of Young Koresh's top pair. Hamby takes home $61,880 for his 44th place finish.
Halfway through the second level the field was narrowed to a final four tables of nine apiece. Each table would pose a challenge to its inhabitants, but one in particular commanded our attention as it boasted Lyle Berman, Sorel "Imper1ium" Mizzi, David Baker, Phil Hellmuth, David Levi and Roland De Wolfe.
The Poker Brat, seeing Mizzi's youthful exuberance, aggressive play and massive chip stack, practically rubbed his hands in glee when the Canadian was seated at his table, all but telling Mizzi he was going to rob him of his stack. Hellmuth's confidence, however, would be misplaced, as the two combatants would soon engage in a massive hand from which the Internet pro would emerge the decisive victor.
Heads-up on a flop of A♦ 9♣ 4♠, Mizzi bet out $80,000 and was flat-called by his bombastic rival. The turn was the A♠ and Mizzi fired again, this time making it $180,000 to go. Hellmuth gave the matter some thought, but eventually called, telling Mizzi, "I think I need a jack." Sure enough, the Brat's prayers were answered, with the dealer turning over the J♣ on the river.
Despite having position on Mizzi, Hellmuth stood. "Well, you know I'm going to push, so it's your move." The Torontonian paused for a second, but then pushed all-in for the remnants of his stack, a wager worth $323,000. Hellmuth called almost immediately, but mucked the A♣ face-up when Imper1ium showed down pocket nines for the boat, and thus young Mizzi took a huge bite out of the one-time chip leader, building his stack to a high-water mark of $2.26 million and knocking the Brat down to just over $700,000.
The field continued to shrink rapidly as these hijinks transpired, with "ZeeJustin" Bonomo, Bill Gazes, Mark Gregorich and David Oppenheim all finding their way to the cashier's table early in the third level. Each man would take home $77,350 for their finish in the Top 40.
With the level of bustification reaching supersonic proportions, tournament organizers petitioned the players to consider extending the day beyond the 27 player benchmark to a full roster of five levels. All were for it but two, and on the request of Grant Lang and Mike Wattel, tournament director of directors Jack McClelland stuck to the original plan, deciding to stop the day at 27 survivors and condemn all players to what promises to be a very long day tomorrow.
No sooner had McClelland decided upon his course of action than Lyle Berman, WPT big-wig and the second richest man in the room (behind Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, the richest Canadian in the world), found himself relegated to the rail after getting all in with KJo and running into Imper1ium's pocket aces.
Berman's departure left one more spot to fill at the elimination station, and it wasn't long before Tom Schreiber stepped up to fill the void, getting all-in with A♣ K♣ against Richard Anthony's pocket nines and seeing himself in good shape with the flop coming A-5-2 and a tablemate claiming to have folded a nine. The turn was a jack, but the river turned stomachs as it brought the case nine, one-outing Schreiber and sending the rest of the field racing to the buffet line, every survivor assured of another day of play and at least $92,820.
Day 5 will begin at noon Pacific Time from the Fontana Room at Bellagio, where chipleader Paul Lee will attempt to keep his $3.6 million from the grubby hands of his adversaries, and runners-up Kirk Morrison, Carlos Mortensen, Sorel Mizzi and Thomas Wahlroos will all try to usurp the leader's throne. Live updates start at noon and will last well into the night, as organizers play down to a final table of six before the cards are packed away again. See you tomorrow!