The bloodletting began in just the first few minutes when 2007 WSOP bracelet winner Robert Cheung went broke with a draw. Cheung's draw was up against Brandon Cantu's made hand and failed to suck out, setting an up-tempo tone for the early levels.
We came into the final 36 with five bountied players still in the hunt, but it wasn't much longer before that number got a whole lot smaller. Layne "Back to Way, Way Back" Flack decided a draw was good enough for him as well and was the first star shot down. He shipped it with K-Q on a J-10-7 board and got looked up by a player with A-Q. A king on the turn caught Flack and he was done.
Paul Wasicka was not a Shooting Star, but was the first alternate on the list in case some other star could not shoot. Therefore it wasn't worth $5k to one lucky soul who managed to wake up with aces when Wasicka shoved with big slick, ending his Bay 101 hopes.
The 2007 Bay 101 Shooting Star winner Ted Forrest was the next big name with Shooting Star status to go broke. He shipped it with a pair and an inside straight draw, running smack into two pair and not sucking out.
Unfortunately, LAPC 11th-place finisher Blair Hinkle did not go any deeper here at Bay 101. He busted 24th when his flopped set of jacks could not beat a flopped nut flush.
Joe Hachem then got in the action next and after doubling up early, he got it in good again with top pair against Brandon Cantu's second pair. But Cantu caught an ace on the river for two pair, making it an all-too-early exit for the 2005 WSOP Main Event Champ. It was just the third hour of play in the day and only J.C. Tran and Jen Harman were left wearing the $5k bull's-eye.
Day 1 chip leader Brandon Cantu spent most of Day 2 bleeding chips all over the Bay 101 felt, but turned things around today. First he got lucky to bust Hachem and then the luck continued when he sent Paul Niemela to the rail, turning a flush against Niemela's pocket rockets.
He grabbed the chip lead in Level 14 as his incredible run of luck endured, catching runner-runner for a straight against Ed Fernandez's slow-played flopped trips to rail him. It was a lead he would not relinquish as he pushed raises into pot after pot, dominating play and reserving his seat at the final table with the biggest stack standing at more than $3 million in chips - $1 million more than his nearest competitor.
You have to give Clonie Gowen props as she finally had a good showing in a tournament that wasn't invite-only here at Bay 101. She failed to make the final table, bowing out next in 14th, but the deep run may help hush her many critics who claim she's more style than substance. The Team Full Tilt member ran sevens into a flopped flush to end it all, but did play solid poker for two days.
Right before dinner, J.C. Tran, who dines regularly at the Vietnamese joint across the street from PL.com's San Jose apple orchard and outpost, made a brilliant play. Tran called a $50k Watkinson bet on a jack-high flop with two clubs, then bet out $70k when he made a flush on the turn, figuring Watkinson wouldn't figure it out. He didn't, and made the huge mistake of pushing all-in with just top pair. J.C. snap-called, doubling up to around $600k, and Watkinson slipped to around $500,000. But as we would soon find out, it was not to be Tran's day.
Once J.C. and crew had eaten their pho and the dinner break was over, play ground to a screeching halt. With 11 players remaining we experienced long periods of relative inactivity, replaced only by the odd TD pronouncement that some player or another was all-in. There were a couple of eliminations before Jennifer Harman finally made her big move.
Thanh Phung pushed with two overs and a king-high flush draw but could not overcome Harman's ace-high with the same flush draw. He hit the rail hard and Harman looked like a lock to make the final six with just over a half million in chips.
Lee Watkinson may have been in a few too many pots after dinner. Although he'd spent the early part of the day close to the chip leaders, he eventually handed Mike Baker all his chips before heading out the door. Top two on the turn against a set sealed his fate and ensured relative unknown Mike Baker a seat in the last six.
With the 2007 WSOP Main Event final tablist out of the way, we were left with just two more eliminations before the final table would be set. David Tran became one of them when he open shoved drawing dead to Brandon Cantu's flopped straight.
Then J.C. Tran was sent home in unbelievable fashion. He got short, got kings and ended up all-in during a multi-way pot, finding a set on the river with pocket kings. Unfortunately for J.C., Cantu's luck continued as he'd been holding aces and had turned the bigger set, leaving J.C. drawing dead.
Joining Cantu and Harman ($541,000), the final table will include the relatively unknown Mike Baker, who is second in chips with almost $2 million. You can read all about Baker in a PL.com exclusive interview right here.
Solid pro Noah Jefferson continued his respectable tournament record, getting lucky a bunch of times today, and will head into the final six with $842,000. WPT Spanish Championship fourth-place finisher Steve Sung will go back under the lights again with $474,000 and the irreplaceable, irreverent, intoxicated John Phan rolls into the final with $374,000 and a bottle of Grey Goose.
PL.com will be back for more Live Updates throughout the final six starting tomorrow at 4 p.m. (PDT). Don't sweat the technique!