We began the day with a star-studded troika of tables whose ranks included Carlos Mortensen, Phil Hellmuth, Jim "Krazy Kanuck" Worth, Thomas Wahlroos, Scott Fischman, David Levi, Roland De Wolfe, Paul Wasicka, and Can Kim Hua, as well as chip leader Paul Lee and Internet sensation Sorel "Imper1ium" Mizzi. Right off the bat, however, the war of attrition that is freezeout poker began to take its toll on the field.
Among the first to do was Roland De Wolfe, fresh from a runner-up finish at the Irish Poker Open in Dublin a few weekends earlier. De Wolfe got his money in with A-J against Jimmy Tran's A-K and could not improve, heading to the rail in 26th for $92,820.
Continuing the trend of quick and painful eliminations, players ignored their large stacks and the relatively small blind levels and continued to get their money in quickly and without prejudice. Falling early were the likes of Robert Wazelle, Adeeb Harb and Raymond Davis, as well as Paul Wasicka, who was crippled by Phil Hellmuth before Kirk Morrison delivered the coup de grace, and David Baker, who shipped it with top pair and a straight draw and fell to Carlos Mortensen's two pair. All of the above also received $92,920 for their efforts.
Tom Pniak was next, the victim of a terrifying flop that came A♣ A♠ A♦ and a rivered full house that gave him just the confidence he needed to call all-in on Jimmy Tran's Fifth Street wager. Tran turned over the nuts with a Nixon-esque victory gesture, showing down quad aces with A♥ 3♦ to send Pniak to the rail, the last ever beneficiary of the $92,820 payout level.
The next level saw Ben Johnson and Loi Phan quickly dispensed with, with Johnson hitting the bricks during break time while all-in with K-K to Kirk Morrison's A-K. A rivered ace sent Benjo to drug testing, but he and Phan would both take home a $123,760 severance package as they exited.
That narrowed the field to 18, and shortly after the redraw for seats at the final two tables, the game lost its most famous participant. Phil Hellmuth had been acting up for most of the day, subjecting his tablemates to the usual Poker Brat shenanigans - berating and threatening them, making ridiculous and megalomaniacal claims, and even sending Informercial Hall of Famer Tommy Vu into shell shock - before getting all-in with jacks against Thomas Wahlroos' aces and hitting the rail with a surprising amount of class.
Richard Anthony would be eliminated before the end of the level, and upon the return from break the surviving members of the Canadian contingent would find themselves under attack, as Jim Worth and Sorel Mizzi found themselves consigned to the rail in almost back to back hands. Worth received $123,760 and Mizzi $154,705 for their efforts.
Jake Minter, David Levi, Can Kim Hua, and Grant Lang would round out the $154,705 club, filling spots 15-11 with their eliminations and reducing the field to one final table of 10.
Play seemed to slow down at the final table - or, at least, the pace of eliminations seemed to slow, as short-stacks doubled up with a frequency made alarming by the number of suck-outs that seemed to be occurring. Or maybe it was just our restless imaginations; Jimmy Tran was eliminated fairly quickly, at least, all-in against the unflappable chip leader, Paul Lee, and eliminated when Lee flopped a set of fives to crack his pocket queens.
Tommy Vu was next to go, following another level break and another series of double-, and in the case of Mike Wattel, triple-ups. Vu got all-in with K-3 off-suit and was called by Carlos Mortensen with A-J. Mortensen turned another ace and the real-estate mogul with the rumored bevy of bikini-clad beauties was sent back to the yacht with $216,585 to show for his ninth place finish.
It would take pretty much another level of suck-outs and double-ups before another short-stack would fall, and this time the victim was Scott Fischman, who re-raised all-in from the big blind on Kirk Morrison and showed down 7♣ 5♠ when called. Morrison had pocket fives, and the Fisch could not hit any miracle cards to stay alive, busting out in eighth for $247,525, with which the collective media hopes fervently the man, who seemed unusually and incredibly irritable this week, invests in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
After Fischman's elimination, the field took yet another break, but it wasn't more than a few minutes after play resumed that a shocking hand transpired to end the day. After Mike Wattel raised to $420,000 from middle position and was called by Lee, Thomas Wahlroos pushed all-in for $4 million from the big blind and earned a call from the strong, silent, perma-chipleader, who showed A♦ Q♠ to the Walrus' A♠ T♠.
The board failed to save the young Finnish pro, and he hit the road in seventh place for $278, 465 while the collective media buzzed about the gall of Paul Lee, who called an all-in for two-thirds of his stack with naught but A-Q?!?!
In any case, Wahlroos' elimination spelled the end of the day, with Lee ($11,828,000), Carlos Mortensen ($6,501,000), Guy Laliberte ($4,690,000), Kirk Morrison ($4,194,000), Mike Wattel ($2,887,000) and Tim Phan ($2,162,000) all denied their rest on the seventh day of play.
Action will resume tomorrow at 5 p.m. from the Grand Ballroom at Bellagio, and PokerListings.com will be on the scene from the first timid folds to the final all-in call. Three millionaires will be crowned, and rumor has it Linda has some new material, so you know you won't want to miss out. See you tomorrow!