The first player to hit the rail today was Rob Weiss, finding himself all-in bad with 6♣ 7♣ on a seven-high board against the K-7 of Rajendra Patel. The turn and river were no help to Weiss and he was forced to get up and go only a few minutes into the afternoon. Weiss took $29,247 and the experience of making it deep in a World Poker Tour main event with him.
Not long after, Casey Griswold joined the list of fallen soldiers making their way to the exit of the Sunset Ballroom. Griswold enjoyed chip leader status at a few points earlier in this event but got caught making an all-in check-raise with middle pair against Bob Kairnes. Kairnes looked him up with top pair and sent Griswold on his way in 17th with $33,138 to console him.
Yariv Levi, the big chip leader coming into Day 2, was unable to weather the storm and was eliminated in 16th for $37,037. Levi started the afternoon short-stacked with a little over $100k and quickly found that number cut in half by the rising blinds and antes. He shipped his last $45,000 with A♦ T♦ and ran into A♥ Q♥ from Fred Goldberg. The board provided no remedy for his kicker affliction and he was gone.
Stephen Sangermano, the hockey jersey sporting ruffian you may remember from yesterday's fisticuffs, flopped a big hand with K♥ Q♥ on a king-high board containing two hearts but ran into the A♥ K♠ of big bad Bob Kairnes. Sangermano missed his flush and was forced to pack it in early. A $40,936 cash and a 15th place finish went with him.
Justin Pechie, a big online player, was running well throughout this event but saw his luck run out on just the second level of the day. Short-stacked, with only about four big blinds to his name, Pechie shoved after a raise from Patel and got called down.
He got his money in great with K♠ J♣ against Patel's T♦ J♦ but the dealer changed all that with the flop. K♣ Q♦ 9♦ hit the board, flopping Patel the straight and giving him an inside straight flush draw to go along with it. The board bricked out for Pechie and he was out in 14th with $44,834 for his finish.
Another draw-out came a few hands later sending Kairnes home in 13th. Kairnes got all-in before the flop with the ever talkative Frankie Flowers with A♠ K♣ to the A♦ 8♥ of Flowers. The flop came A♣ Q♥ 5♥, keeping Kairnes in the lead, but after the dealer threw down the 7♥ and the 9♥, Flowers had runner-runnered the flush and sent a dejected Kairnes away from the table. He took $48,733 with him.
Steve Sung, one of the few remaining well known players in this thing, lasted until 12th before getting his card pulled, so to speak. He pushed with Q-T and got a call from Paul Matteo who had him dominated with K-Q. No miracles came for Sung and he was gone, $52,631 richer.
Hot on the heels of Sung was Nam Le, another member of the young-gun contingent who was unable to survive the day. Le began Day 4 short on chips and after seeing his stack go up and down a few times, had a solid double-up to $400k when he picked up pocket kings. Only a few hands after picking up those chips though, Le got deep in a hand and executed a river-bluff that proved to be his downfall.
Le opened the pot to $40,000 from the cut-off and got a call from Seth Berger in the big blind. The flop came Q♣ 4♦ 2♦ and both players checked. The turn was the 9♣ and Berger led out for $100k. Le made the call and the river was the 5♣. Berger checked and Le shipped his remaining $200k.
Berger made an aggressive call with Q-J for top pair which was good against Le's A♦ 8♣. Le had picked up a flush draw and an inside straight draw to go along with his overcard on the turn but had failed to get there on the river. Opting for a last-ditch bluff to try to pick up the pot, he was sent to the rail instead. He got $56,531 for his 11th place finish.
After Le's elimination the players redrew for seats and merged to the final table. This was when the action really slowed down. It's unusual to see as many walks, limps and generally weak play as we were subjected to once the players saw the TV table bubble looming over them. The action grinded to a halt and we didn't get another bustage for quite some time.
To give you an idea of the kind of plays we were privy to, consider these examples: Just after the blinds had been raised to $12,000/$24,000, the action got to Matteo in the cut-off and he tried to make it $40k to go. Of course he was informed that the minimum raise was $48,000.
He deposited $8k more in the middle and got a call from Carl Restifo in the big blind. The flop came two kings and a rag and after Restifo led out with $60k, Matteo shoved all-in. Restifo released his hand and as Matteo raked the pot he showed pocket kings for quads! I guess he got a little excited when he saw the flop and forgot that he basically had the immortal nuts.
Another curious play came from the overwhelming chip leader at the time, Patel. Patel was in the big blind and the young upstart Flowers was under the gun. Flowers was short with about $170,000 and moved all-in to start the hand. It was folded all the way around to Patel, and he took a few moments before mucking A-Q face-up!
Bear in mind there was already $54,000 in the pot with $24k of that coming from Patel's big blind. Sitting on just under $3 million at the time, this was the kind of timid play that contributed to a slow play-down from 10 to six.
The action got so slow at times that side-betting broke out across the room. Chau Giang, Gavin Smith and Vince Van Patten were high-carding for $200 a cut, and I managed to serve a rival media outlet at card-throwing twice in a row to win a nice double-or-nothing bet.
Flowers didn't last much longer and ended up being the first one eliminated after merging to one table. He shipped it again from under the gun but this time someone picked up a hand of sufficient strength to look Flowers up. Pocket kings for Fred Goldberg put an end to Flowers, knocking him out in 10th for $60,429.
Luis Vazquez was our eighth place finisher, taking home $77,972 for his trouble. Short on chips, Vazquez shoved with Q♠ J♠ and got snapped off by Seth Berger with big slick. Vazquez and Flowers were actually both staked in this tournament by the same backer, making him a tidy profit on his $20k investment.
The last elimination of the night came shortly after when Ted Lawson found himself in a bad spot with A-3 up against the pocket kings of Allen Kessler. Lawson picked up a wheel draw on the flop to add to his overcard but the turn and river failed to get him there and he became the TV table bubble boy, taking $97,466 to the rail.
With Lawson's bustification we were left with the final six players, all of whom will be returning for tomorrow's final table. The action will get underway at 5 p.m. local time, and I expect you all to do what you have to do to join us then. We'll be there, serving up a cold glass of poker action, so drink it in, it always goes down smooth!