San Diego-based semi-pro Hale has 7,325,000 in chips heading into the televised final table today, giving him double that of his nearest competitior.
That competitior, however, happens to be two-time WSOP bracelet winner Greg "FBT" Mueller.
After an up-and-down day that dropped him way down the chip counts early on, Mueller carved his way back up to bag up 3,490,000 for second overall.
A fourth-place finish in Reno in 2006 is Mueller's highest career WPT result but with over $2 million in career earnings he could be the favorite heading into the final despite the chip disadvantage.
Eslami Contending; Madsen Happy, Relieved
Austin, Texas native Raouf Malek is right behind Mueller with 3,130,000 while veteran pro Ali Eslami is fourth with 2,900,000.
Rounding out the final six are pros Jeff Madsen with 1,030,000 and Max Steinberg with 1,020,000, giving them well below the average stack.
Madsen, a former LA-based pro who has spent his fair share of time at the Bike Casino, is still excited to say the least:
So happy and relieved.. It's about time ive wanted this so bad .. Thanks for all your sweats! See you mañana— Jeff Madsen (@JeffMadsenobv) August 29, 2012
The 2006 WSOP Player of the Year, Madsen has over $3.4 million in career live tournament earnings but hasn't finished higher than eighth on the World Poker Tour.
Jim Willerson, at one point the chip leader on Day 4, was the unlucky bubble boy leaving in seventh for $60,400.
Jesse Martin (9th - $40,000), Sam Barnhart (15th - $23,800) and Joe Cheong (18th - $18,100) also cashed yesterday but fell short of the final.
Half a Million Waits For the Winner
With 622 entrants the prize pool built to an impressive $2.1 million and over half of it is still up for grabs for the final six.
All six players have ensured a $75,400 payday by making the final table with $97,100 the first pay jump for fifth.
Barring a deal, an even $500,000 will be paid out to the winner and $293,490 to the runner-up.
Action picks up at 4 pm local time from the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for the televised final.
The final six and their seat position for the final table:
- Seat 1: Max Steinberg - 1,020,000 (17 bb)
- Seat 2: Jeff Madsen - 1,030,000 (17 bb)
- Seat 3: Raouf Malek - 3,130,000 (52 bb)
- Seat 4: Greg Mueller - 3,490,000 (58 bb)
- Seat 5: Josh Hale - 7,325,000 (122 bb) - Button
- Seat 6: Ali Eslami - 2,900,000 (48 bb)