The day began with the 18 survivors of the Day 4 massacre returning to take their seats at the final two tables and, as we've seen all week, more than a few spectators decided to come along for the ride. While there were plenty of big names still in the mix at the afternoon's onset, there was one on whom the crowd was especially focused.
Daniel Negreanu began the day in the driver's seat with the chip lead and his sights set on his eighth WPT final table. He sat down at the felt tied with Phil Ivey and Scotty Nguyen for most career final tables on the tour and, as we would soon discover, would be forced to leave without taking sole possession of that record.
Negreanu's day got off to a rocky start, with Kid Poker losing a huge chunk of his stack in a three-way all-in with Peter "Apathy" Jetten and Ryan Daut. Negreanu tabled pocket kings but was sick to see Daut throw two bullets down on the felt. Apathy was way behind with K♥ J♣ and after the board had run its course Jetten was on his way to the rail and Kid Poker's stack was more than $1 million lighter.
This was the second time we watched as the start-of-day leader crashed and burned. Two days ago it was Phil Ivey who started out stacked only to find himself on empty, short of even the first payout level. Daniel Negreanu suffered a similar fate and although he managed to cash almost $100,000 for his 14th-place finish, it was a far cry from what he and the crowd were hoping for.
As Negreanu's stack was experiencing the downward trend that would ultimately end in elimination, plenty of other players were pulling pots in the right direction, toward themselves. As much as we'd like to flatter these players by commending their good play, the vast majority were cases of extreme luck-boxery.
Without going into too much detail I'd like to conduct a quick inventory of the suck-outs we were privy to this afternoon. While some of these hands began as coin-flips or 60-40 situations, it was with uncanny consistency that the card needed by the underdog would wait for the river to appear.
Early in the day Eugene Katchalov, who would finish the evening as the chip leader, was short-stacked and shipped it with K-7, getting looked up by A-2. The ace-high was good until a seven hit the river. Not long after, Ray Davis played a big pot against Jordan Rich only to pair up on the river and earn the check mark. Ted Kearly, who would also make the final table, got all-in with second pair to David Ulliott's top pair only to turn trips and double-up.
Todd Brunson doubled through Jordan Rich with A♦ 4♦ against pocket sixes when an ace hit, you guessed it, the river. Brunson got his own taste of the suck-out when he was eliminated holding A-J to Ray Davis's K-J. Eugene Katchalov got all-in again with pocket jacks to Rodeen Talebi's pocket kings and managed to turn a jack to stay alive.
John Monnette got all-in on the flop with top set against Jordan Rich's inside straight draw only to see his opponent nail the gutterball on the turn and find himself eliminated in 12th. Erick Lindgren got all-in with K-J against A-J and managed to pair his kicker to avoid elimination.
Matt Casterella got all-in with pocket fives against Jimmy Tran's pocket queens and nailed his set on the turn to double-up. Casterella would get all-in again shortly later against Tran, this time with J-T off-suit to Tran's pocket kings, only to runner-runner a straight to stay alive. Erick Lindgren got all-in good on a flop of 7-4-4 holding pocket eights to Jordan Rich's T-7. A ten on the turn was all it took to send E-Dog back to the kennel.
Chip-leader-to-be Eugene Katchalov got all-in with A♣ 5♠ to Ryan Daut's pocket jacks and hit both an ace and a five on the flop, taking a huge bite out of Daut's stack. And finally, once we were down to seven players, Ray Davis got all-in racing A-K against Katchalov's pocket queens and survived all the way to fifth street when a bullet hit the felt and halted play for the evening.
Never in our experience have we seen the best hand lose so frequently, except perhaps at the $2-$4 limit game at the Gold Coast, proof of which could be seen by the long line of frustrated players headed to the exit.
Whether by luck or skill, six players did manage to find their way to the final table. Among them are David Ulliott, last year's PokerStars Caribbean Adventure winner Ryan Daut and Jordan Rich, who final-tabled the UltimateBet Classic in Aruba not long ago.
For a full breakdown of the day's action as well as the final six's chip counts going into tomorrow's finale, just click through to our Live Updates Page. If it's photos you're after they can be found on the Photo Page, hard to figure out I know, and for a full rundown of the 94 players who have cashed in this event so far head on over to our Results Page.
PL.com will be back in action tomorrow at 4 p.m. (PST) when we'll find out who will be walking away with the almost $2.5 million first prize! If you're at home we'd suggest getting cozy with a nice mug of hot chocolate and your most comfortable sweats for a nice afternoon of poker action. If you're at work just pretend to do those spreadsheets while keeping a window open on PL.com so you can switch back and forth when no one's paying attention. Alt-tabbing and tilting the screen away from the cubicle door seems to work for us.