Bob Slezak, probably the most well-known player still in contention, met his unfortunate demise in the very first hand of the day. The WSOP bracelet winner was short-stacked when he got all-in with his pocket nines on a seven-high board but ran head-on into pocket tens. That's the way it goes and that was it for the only remaining bracelet winner in the field.
Slezak couldn't feel too bad, however, as a large number of players would be following his lead to the exit door in the early stages.
Journalist/poker player Bernard Lee got into some trouble early on when he saw a board come A♣ J♦ 4♥ 7♣ against Keith Murrell. Lee bet $7,000 into an already-large pot but Murrell came back over the top by pushing all-in. Apparently Lee couldn't make the call because he folded A♠ Q♠ face up.
It wasn't the end of the line for Lee, however. After battling from a small stack for most of the day Lee made an important decision against Johnny Kincaid in the late going. On a flop of A♥ 10♦ 5♥ Lee bet $7,500. Kincaid responded by shoving all-in and Lee, not fazed at all, insta-called, flipping over 10♥ 8♠ for a pair of tens. His read was spot-on because Kincaid admitted, "I've got nothing," as he flipped over J♠ 7♠.
Lee not only made the final nine, he did so with $155,500, which was good enough for second place. Not bad for a guy who makes his living as a journalist - rather inspiring, actually!
Play had a very interesting flow throughout the day. In the first two levels there were 11 eliminations while it took three levels to eliminate the final five players. It seemed that after the first two levels players realized how close they actually were to making the final table. After that everybody went into lockdown mode until after the dinner break, at which point it seemed like the blinds finally caught up with the nits.
A great deal of Day 2 was dominated by Mark Eddleman. Eddleman was busting players left and right (just ask David Kerrigan) and seemed to have his eye on the final table. He was primed to get there too. He entered the last level of play with $150,000 chips.
Alas, Level 12 was not kind to Eddleman. After a few disastrous hands early on in the level he tried to get tricky with 7♥ 2♥ and paid the ultimate price.
In the hand Eddleman raised to $12,000 from the button. Michael Martin came back over the top for $27,000 and Eddleman responded by shoving all-in. Was Eddleman incredibly brave or incredibly stupid? Well that's for you to decide. As it was Martin happened to be holding Q♥ Q♦ and he happily made the call. The queens held up and the hand was one for the history books.
"I'll remember that hand for a long time," said Martin.
Although it was the end of the tournament for Eddleman it was definitely the beginning for Martin. For the first time in the tournament he had the chip lead and it was easy for him to hold onto the overall chip lead until the day was finished. Martin will be bringing $214,500 to the final table tomorrow and you've got to like his chances of winning the whole thing.
The last player eliminated was the talkative Johnny Kincaid who became so short-stacked he was basically forced all-in when he was dealt A♣ 5♠. Unfortunately Nicholas Manganaro called with A♦ Q♣ and nothing came on the board for either player so Manganaro took the hand. You had to feel bad for Kincaid who played longer than anybody else without getting paid and without getting a trip to the final table.
Still, Kincaid took his elimination like a man and didn't even do a Hellmuth-style rant about bubbling out. He just wished everybody luck and headed for the exit.
The aforementioned Lee is of course a journalist who is doing a story for ESPN. Lee always keeps a picture of his family close to him and there's no doubt they must be proud of him.
Michael Martin is a skilled player from Washington Crossing, Penn. He came in 232nd at this year's WSOP Main Event and cashed for $42,882. His biggest cash to date is coming in second to Trond Eidsvig at the Masters of Poker Classic in Amsterdam for $531,961.
Ben Hock has had experience at the WSOP as has Nicholas Manganaro, while Keith Murrell has a bunch of cashes at the Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge. Howard Wolper is an experienced rounder and is known for having a rather abrasive personality at the poker table. Samuel Shamburg, Dan Jensen and Ron Koenemann are all relatively unknown but seem like fairly adept poker players.
Join us tomorrow at 2 p.m. to find out who has the poker mettle to triumph on the biggest poker stage of them all - the final table!