Timeline

2012 Main Event: Tuesday We Crown a World Champ

Greg Merson
Greg Merson is the chip leader heading into three-handed play to

Poker can be boring. Sometimes it’s nothing more than hours and hours of silent contemplation, punctuated only by the riffling of chips and the snap of cards.

The final table of the WSOP Main Event is anything but.

The atmosphere in the Penn and Teller Theater today was electric, and after just eight hours of action we’re left with the three players who will return tomorrow to play down to a champion.

Greg Merson is the chip leader, thanks in large part to one of the biggest meltdowns we’ve ever seen. Andras Koroknai was second in chips and five-bet shoved with K-Q, getting snapped off by Merson with A-K.

Jesse Sylvia, the start-of-day chip leader, dealt with the final-table pressure handily and didn’t waver for a moment on his way to the final three.

And Jake Balsiger, the 21-year-old college student from Arizona, managed to amass enough chips to give himself a real shot as they head down the home stretch tomorrow.

Each of the three players are guaranteed $3,799,073 but they all have their sights set on the $8.5 million waiting for first, not to mention the title of world champion and all the extras that come with it.

Play resumes at 5:45pm local Las Vegas time tomorrow and you can get all the action live right here on PokerListings.com.

In the meantime, click through to our end-of-day news story for a more comprehensive recap. It’ll be posted momentarily.

Final Three Chip Counts

Greg Merson – 88,350,000
Jesse Sylvia – 62,750,000
Jake Balsiger – 46,875,000

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Russell Thomas Busts in 4th ($2,851,537)

Russell Thomas
Russell Thomas's exit paves the way for three-handed play.

Hot on the heels of Jeremy Ausmus's exit is Russell Thomas, busted in fourth place in a big preflop all-in confrontation with youngster Jake Balsiger.

Thomas's final hand started with Thomas opening to 1.5 million from the small blind and Balsiger moving all-in from the big. Balsiger had his opponent covered by a wide margin and after a bit of time in the tank Thomas called off for his remaining 15 million.

Balsiger turned his hand over with authority, tabling A K which had Thomas's A 9 in rough shape.

The board ran Q 8 5 5 7 and despite picking up a few extra chop outs on the turn, Thomas was unable to suck out and was summarily dismissed.

Russell Thomas takes home $2,851,537 while Balsiger carries a healthier stack into three-handed play tomorrow.

Average Stack
65,980,000
Players Left
3
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Jeremy Ausmus Finishes 5th ($2,155,313)

Jeremy Ausmus
Family man Jeremy Ausmus earns $2.1 million for fifth place.

We’re down to four players at the 2012 Main Event final table, thanks to the recent exit of Jeremy Ausmus in fifth place.

Ausmus came into this finale dead last in chips but managed to outlast four of his final-table opponents. That accomplishment translates into $2,155,313 in real money, almost $1.5 million more than if he had finished ninth.

Ausmus got his final hand started with a raise to 1.2 million from the button, getting a call from Jesse Sylvia in the big blind and seeing the flop roll out 9 8 3.

Both players checked and the 3 hit the turn.

Sylvia checked, Ausmus fired 1.5 million and Sylvia check-raised to 3.6 million. Ausmus announced all-in and Sylvia called instantly.

Ausmus: T 7

Sylvia: A 9

Ausmus needed a six, a ten or a jack but the river peeled off the 5 and that was all she wrote for Jeremy Ausmus.

With that elimination Jesse Sylvia’s stack jumps to 63 million.

Updated Chip Counts

Greg Merson – 88,050,000
Jesse Sylvia – 63,050,000
Jake Balsiger – 31,350,000
Russell Thomas – 15,525,000

Average Stack
49,485,000
Players Left
4
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Stuns Koroknai in Sixth ($1,640,902)

Andras Koroknai
What just happened?

We just saw one of the biggest blow-ups in the history of the WSOP Main Event final table.

In our last update we told you Andras Koroknai and Greg Merson had been trading blows back and forth but we never dreamt it would escalate to this degree.

In what may end up being the decisive hand of the final table Greg Merson opened for one million from the button.

Jesse Sylvia raised to 2.6 million from the small blind but Koroknai re-raised to 5.3 million from the big blind.

Merson wasn’t going anywhere, however, and he made a dramatic five-bet to 9.2 million.

Amazingly Koroknai announced he was all-in and it didn’t take long for Merson to call to create a truly massive pot worth more than 80 million.

Things got really interesting when the players revealed their hands:

Merson: A K

Koroknai: K Q

King-Queen is not what you want to have in that situation.

The board ran out 2 3 T 7 7 and that was enough to send Koroknai packing in an absolute stunner of a hand. Koroknai receives $1.6 million for coming in sixth place.

Meanwhile Merson now has 86.6 million and is the runaway chip leader. This may be the hand that decides the tournament and eventually makes Merson $8.5 million richer.

Here’s how the chip stacks look after that barn-burner of a hand:

1. Greg Merson – 86,600,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 51,025,000
3. Russell Thomas – 22,900,000
4. Jeremy Ausmus – 19,325,000
5. Jake Balsiger – 18,125,000
6. Andras Koroknai – 0
7. Michael Esposito – 0
8. Robert Salaburu – 0
9. Steven Gee – 0

Players Left
5
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Action Slows, Koroknai Clashes with Merson

Andras Koroknai
The Hungarian He-Man.

It’s pretty obvious the remaining six players really want to make it into the final three tomorrow. As such action has slowed to a crawl with very few flops seen over the last 30 minutes of play.

One of the biggest hands saw Greg Merson open for one million and Koroknai raise to 2.7 million.

Merson thought for a minute but eventually decided to call to see a flop of J J 8.

Koroknai bet 3.5 million and Merson made the call. The turn came 2 and this time Koroknai fired 5.6 million into the pot.

That was enough to finally prompt a fold from Merson.

Merson and Koroknai are starting to develop a bit of history with each other. About 20 minutes before that hand Koroknai opened a pot for 1.1 million, Merson 3-Bet to 3.4 million and Koroknai made a huge 4-Bet, which was enough to take it down.

Here’s a look at the most recent chip counts:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 54,375,000
2. Andras Koroknai – 41,400,000
3. Greg Merson – 40,450,000
4. Russell Thomas – 27,850,000
5. Jake Balsiger – 18,825,000
6. Jeremy Ausmus – 15,075,000
7. Michael Esposito – 0
8. Robert Salaburu – 0
9. Steven Gee – 0

Players Left
6
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Strikes Back

Greg Merson
Gerg Merson and Jesse Sylvia

Greg Merson finally dethroned Jesse Sylvia for the chip lead in our last update but Sylvia has come storming back and after winning several consecutive pots is up to 53 million.

The most recent hand saw Merson open for one million but Sylvia 3-bet to 2.6 million. Andras Koroknai was in the big blind, however, and he decided to re-pop it up to 4.8 million.

Merson got out of the way but Sylvia re-raised and that was enough to chase Koroknai from the hand.

Here’s a look at the chip counts after Sylvia’s most recent hot run:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 53,325,000
2. Greg Merson – 43,950,000
3. Russell Thomas – 35,350,000
4. Andras Koroknai – 32,750,000
5. Jeremy Ausmus – 16,175,000
6. Jake Balsiger – 15,925,000
7. Michael Esposito – 0
8. Robert Salaburu – 0
9. Steven Gee – 0

Players Left
6
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Finishes Esposito in 7th ($1,258,040)

Michael Esposito
Espo is No-Mo.

Amateur poker player Michael Esposito has been ousted from the final table by experienced poker pro Greg Merson.

The short-stacked Esposito shoved three hands in a row before finally being called down by Merson.

Merson opened for one million and Esposito opted to move all-in for 10 million. Merson called almost immediately and both players tabled their hands:

Merson: A K

Esposito: A J

The board offered no escape for Esposito as it ran out 9 7 4 6 8, which gave Merson’s big slick the checkmark. Esposito earns $1,258,040 for coming in seventh place.

Meanwhile Merson moved into the chip lead for the first time of the evening with 44.2 million.

Chip Counts

Here are the latest chip counts:

1. Greg Merson – 44,200,000
2. Jesse Sylvia – 42,775,000
3. Russell Thomas – 41,775,000
4. Andras Koroknai – 33,800
5. Jake Balsiger – 20,150,00
6. Jeremy Ausmus – 14,775,000
7. Michael Esposito – 0
8. Robert Salaburu – 0
9. Steven Gee – 0

Players Left
6
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Koroknai Wins 20 Million Pot Before Break

Andras Koroknai
Andras Koroknai takes a bite of Jesse Sylvia's big stack.

Hungarian Andras Koroknai just took a big step towards his goal of snatching this year’s world championship from the six Americans left at this final table, and it came at the expense of chip leader Jesse Sylvia.

What turned into a massive 20m+ pot started with a raise from Sylvia on the button to 900k, and a three-bet from Koroknai in the big blind to 2.3 million.

The flop came A 6 4 and Koroknai, first to act, fired 2.5 million.

Sylvia made the call and they both checked the 4 on the turn. The 9 landed on the river and Koroknai slowly checked.

Sylvia took his time before betting 5.2 million and Korkonai made a relatively quick call.

Koroknai: A 7

Sylvia: 7 8

Sylvia had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and it cost him. He’s now down to 45 million and change while Koroknai’s count jumps to 32,350,000.

Blinds are now 250,000/500,000 with a 50,000 ante.

Average Stack
28,277,143
Players Left
7
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia Slashes Salaburu in 8th ($971,360)

Robert Salaburu
Robert Salaburu

The rail has claimed another player as Robert Salaburu couldn’t get by a rampaging Jesse Sylvia.

Sylvia moved all-in from the small blind against a short-stack Salaburu in the big blind. Salaburu decided to call with 7 7. Sylvia showed a modest Q 5.

With 16 million in the pot the leader threw down a A A 4 flop.

That didn’t offer a lot of help for Sylvia but he did pick up a backdoor straight draw. The turn came 5 and that put him one card closer to the straight.

Sylvia didn’t hit a straight on the river… instead it was the Q gave him the winning hand. A downcast Salaburu headed for the exit. He will receive a $971,360 for coming in eighth place.

'Awesome' Ausmus Getting Busy

Jeremy Ausmus came into this final table dead last in chips but thanks to a bit of well-timed aggression, or perhaps a run of good hands, he now finds himself in sixth position.

Ausmus got things started with a three-bet all-in that got through and followed it up with a medium-sized pot won from chip leader Jesse Sylvia.

The hand began with Ausmus making it 800k from under the gun plus one, and Jesse Sylvia calling from the hijack.

The flop came down T 5 3 and Ausmus, first to act, bet one million flat. Sylvia made the call and the K hit the turn.

Ausmus took a bit longer this time but ultimately bet again, this time 2.4 million. It was enough to force Sylvia out of the pot, increasing Ausmus’s stack to 15,175,000.

Chip Counts

Here are the latest chip counts:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 55,150,000

2. Russell Thomas – 41,825,000

3. Greg Merson – 33,425,000

4. Jake Balsiger – 24,275,000

5. Andras Koroknai – 22,300,000

6. Jeremy Ausmus – 15,375,000

7. Michael Esposito – 5,625,000

8. Robert Salaburu – 0

9. Steven Gee – 0

Players Left
7
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Balsiger Doubles through Salaburu

Jacob Balsiger
Jake Balsiger has a chance to become the youngest world champion

The pace is picking up at this final table as Jake Balsiger just pulled off a big double-up, getting it in good against Robert Salaburu and making it hold up.

Balsiger opened the action to 800k and Salaburu 3-bet to 2.8 million straight.

Balsiger paused for a moment before announcing all-in for roughly 10 million total. Salaburu thought for a few moments before calling and tabling pocket queens.

Balsiger had pocket kings and they stayed good through the A 9 7 T 2 board.

Salaburu gets knocked down to just under 10 million while Balsiger is bumped to over 22 million.

Average Stack
24,742,500
Players Left
8
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Sylvia and Thomas Out in Front

Jesse Sylvia
Jesse Sylvia is still the chip leader.

52 hands have played out at this final table and in addition to the elimination of Steven Gee, we’re beginning to see some separation in the chip counts.

While Jesse Sylvia and Russell Thomas are still way out in front, Jeremy Ausmus, Jake Balsiger and Michael Esposito are approaching the danger zone.

Greg Merson, meanwhile, seems to be hitting his stride and has chipped up in a big way this past level.

Read on for the details and updated chip counts.

Merson Opening Up

It’s starting to look like Phil Ivey was right on the money with his prediction that Greg Merson would win this Main Event.

Merson is opening up his game and steadily chipping up. Right now he’s on almost 32 million.

One orbit ago Merson three-bet twice, taking down the pot on both occasions.

Shortly after, Merson played a hand against Robert Salaburu, calling preflop and taking control with a 1.3 million bet on the turn with the board reading T 9 6 9.

Merson bet again when the 7 hit the river and Salaburu folded.

Ausmus and Esposito Approaching Push/Fold Mode

Blinds are now 200k/400k with a 50k ante, meaning Jeremy Ausmus is flirting with shortstack territory with just under 10 million.

Michael Esposito, however, has just 7.9 million meaning if he’s playing a pot, there’s a good chance he’ll be playing for all his chips.

Ausmus three-bet shoved a few hands ago, taking down the pot, but Esposito has been extremely quiet for the last few rounds.

New Counts

1. Jesse Sylvia – 48,725,000
2. Russell Thomas – 20,795,000
3. Greg Merson – 35,375,000
4. Andras Koroknai – 23,375,000
5. Robert Salaburu – 20,375,000
6. Jake Balsiger – 10,450,000
7. Jeremy Ausmus- 9,950,000
8. Michael Esposito – 7,700,000

Average Stack
24,742,500
Players Left
8
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Steven Gee Busted in 9th ($754,798)

Steven Gee
Steven Gee is the first elimination at this final table.

It took 32 hands but we have our first elimination. Steven Gee is the unlucky individual headed out the door after a massive clash with Russell Thomas.

The hand started with Gee opening to 900k from under the gun, with blinds of 200k/400k.

Greg Merson called from the next seat over and Russell Thomas came along from the big blind. The flop came down 7 5 4 and it was checked to Gee who fired 1.6 million.

Only Thomas called and the turn brought the J.

Thomas check-called again, this time to the tune of 3.25 million, and the 3 hit the river.

Thomas checked one final time and Gee took a few moments before announcing all-in. The bet was 11.35 million, which would leave Thomas with just 3 million and change if he called and lost.

Thomas took a long time in the tank before making the call. The small part of the crowd that wasn’t already on their feet immediately leapt up to see over the people in front of them.

Thomas: Q-Q

Gee: 8-8

Gee had flopped an overpair and a gutshot but in the end Thomas was able to make the right decision. Thomas is now up to just under 40 million.

Steven Gee is our ninth-place finisher, taking home $754,798.

Average Stack
24,742,500
Players Left
8
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Merson Flushes Esposito

Greg Merson
Stacks on stacks on stacks.

Action has been fairly tentative over the first 30 hands of the final table but we just saw our first big showdown between Greg Merson and Michael Esposito.

Merson opened for 700,000 and Esposito called from the button.

The flop came K J 7 and both players checked. The turn peeled off 2 and Esposito threw 800,000 into the pot.

Merson eventually called and that brought the Q on the river. Esposito kept the pressure on with a 1.250 million bet.

After a minute, Merson 3.7 million. Esposito snap-called only to have Merson immediately lay down T 8 for the rivered diamond flush.

Merson scooped the 11-million chip pot.

In other news we’ve finally completed Level 34 and players will now have to contend with blinds of 200,000/400,000 with a 50,000 ante in Level 35.

We're still awaiting the first elimination at the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table.

Here’s a look at the updated chip stacks:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 43,650,000
2. Greg Merson – 26,345,000
3. Andras Koroknai – 25,880,000
4. Robert Salaburu – 24,575,000
5. Russell Thomas – 20,795,000
6. Jake Balsiger – 19,700,000
7. Steven Gee – 17,350,000
8. Michael Esposito – 10,880,000
9. Jeremy Ausmus – 8,705,000

Players Left
9
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Ivey Arrives, Ausmus Battles Back

Jeremy Ausmus
Jeremy Ausmus is still the shortstack, only a little less short.

We’re 18 hands into this Main Event finale and with the exception of poker superstar Phil Ivey’s quiet entrance, not much has changed since we checked in last.

Ivey is now sitting directly behind the final table, rooting on the player he picked as the favorite to become the next world champion: Greg Merson.

Ivey recently signed Merson to an endorsement deal for his new website IveyPoker.com, so it’s no big surprise that he’s here to drum up a little extra hype for his latest business venture.

On the felt, meanwhile, our start-of-day shortstack Jeremy Ausmus has managed to chip up thanks to a small clash with Hungarian Andras Koroknai.

Blinds are 150k/300k with a 40k ante.

Ausmus Over Andras

After a prolonged period of opening raises taking down pots uncontested Jeremy Ausmus popped it to 675k from middle position and got a call from Andras Koroknai in the big blind.

The flop came down A 5 3 and after a check from Korokanai, Ausmus fired 700k. Koroknai called and the 7 hit the turn.

Both players checked, making way for the J on the river and another check from the Hungarian.

Ausmus paused a few beats before tossing 1.6 million into the middle. Koroknai looked displeased with that latest turn of events but eventually conceded the pot.

Ausmus bumps his stack up to almost 11 million.

Latest Chip Counts

1. Jesse Sylvia – 44,525,000
2. Andras Koroknai – 28,405,000
3. Greg Merson – 24,555,000
4. Steven Gee – 21,170,000
5. Russell Thomas – 20,325,000
6. Michael Esposito – 17,450,000
7. Robert Salaburu – 16,480,000
8. Jake Balsiger – 15,855,000
9. Jeremy Ausmus – 10,100,000

Players Left
9
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: Gee, Balsiger Strike Early

Steven Gee
Gee-man!

We’re 30 minutes into the 2012 WSOP and we’ve yet to see an all-in but Steven Gee and Jake Balsiger are the big winners early.

Steven Gee won a significant pot in the very first hand of the tournament.

Gee opened to 700k and Russell Thomas called from the big blind.

The flop came T 7 4 and after a Thomas check, Gee bet out 850,000. Thomas called and the turn came A.

Once again Thomas checked and Gee didn’t let up, betting two million into the pot.

Thomas called and the river fell 7. For the third time Thomas checked and Gee fired yet again, this time for 4.5 million.

That was enough to finally chase Thomas from the pot. After the hand Gee moved up to 20 million while Thomas fell to 21 million.

Balsiger Takes it to Merson

Meanwhile Jake Balsiger won a significant pot off fan-favorite Greg Merson.

Balsiger opened for 725,000, Merson three-bet to 1.6 million from the cutoff and Balsiger four-bet to 3.4 million.

Merson thought for a minute but then called.

The flop came a polarizing 4 3 2 and Balsiger immediately bet out 1.75 million. That was enough to get Merson out of the pot and Balsiger scooped a tidy pot.

Here are the updated chip counts:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 44,525,000
2. Andras Koroknais – 28,405,000
3. Greg Merson – 24,565,000
4. Steven Gee – 21,170,000
5. Russell Thomas – 20,325,000
6. Michael Esposito – 17,450,000
7. Robert Salaburu – 16,480,000
8. Jake Balsiger – 15,855,000
9. Jeremy Ausmus – 9,195,000

    Players Left
    9
    Tables Left
    1

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2012 Main Event: Final Table Starts with a Bang

2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table
Let's go!

The 2012 WSOP Main Event is finally underway and the energy is electric in the Penn & Teller amphitheater.

This year players walked out UFC style with ring girl escorts and walkout music that included Eminem’s Lose Yourself, House of Pain’s I Came to Get Down and the obligatory Oppa Gangnam Style.

Despite a final table that has fewer big names then we’re used to, the fans are as riled up as we’ve ever seen them in the Penn & Teller amphitheater.

In other words, it’s loud.

Jesse Sylvia, Greg Merson, Jeremy Ausmus and Robert Salaburu seem to be getting the lion’s share of cheering but there are literally fans here for every player.

Considering it’s been three months, here is a refresher on blinds and table position as play begins.

The table begins in the midst of Level 34 with blinds of 150,000/300,000 and an ante of 40,000.

Here are the players’ positions and chip counts:

Seat 1            Russell Thomas                        24,800,000

Seat 2            Jacob Balsiger                          13,115,000

Seat 3            Jeremy Ausmus                         9,805,000

Seat 4            Steven Gee                               16,860,000

Seat 5            Greg Merson                             28,725,000

Seat 6            Jesse Sylvia                              43,875,000

Seat 7            Robert Salaburu                        15,155,000

Seat 8            Andras Koronai                          29,375,000

Seat 9            Michael Esposito                        16,260,000

Players Left
9
Tables Left
1

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2012 Main Event: At Long Last It’s the Final Showdown

Jesse Sylvia
Can Jesse Sylvia finish what he started?

It’s been 104 days since Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille were eliminated in heart-breaking fashion to set the 2012 WSOP Main Event and today the final table will officially begin.

Jesse Sylvia leads a rag-tag group of lesser-known but skilled players looking to cash in on that life-changing $8.5 million first-place prize and world champion status. Action begins at 4:30 p.m. PST today.

Sylvia is the obvious choice to take the tournament down as he amassed 43.8 million chips on his way to the final table. We’ll see if he’s able to maintain momentum after the pro-longed break.

Hungarian Andras Koroknai, the only international player at the final table, has flown under the radar leading up to the October Nine but has already proven he has the ability to close out a tournament when he won the LAPC in 2010. He’s also stacked with 29 million chips.

Greg Merson
Greg Merson
 

Poker Pros Like Merson’s Odds

Greg Merson is widely considered to be the pro’s pick as he’s a feared online poker player and already won a bracelet earlier this summer. He could also win 2012 WSOP POY with a victory in the Main Event. He’ll bring 28 million chips to the final table.

Don’t ever let it be said that Russell Thomas isn’t prepared. The 24 year old trained with coach Jason Somerville in the weeks leading up to the final table and ran several mock final tables. He’ll enter today’s festivities with 24.8 million chips.

Steven Gee and Michael Esposito are the elder statesmen at the final table and will each enter with 16 million chips.

Texan Robert Salaburu, whose brash style rubbed some viewers the wrong way in the WSOP broadcast, is the ultimate wildcard at the final table and will bring 15.1 million chips into battle.

Finally Jake Balsiger (13 million chips) and Jeremy Ausmus (9.8 million chips) bring up the rear but stacks are still deep so they should not be underestimate.

Today the plan is to have the players get down to the final three and then play will be postponed until tomorrow. The final three will reconvene tomorrow and play to a winner.

Check back to this page at 4:30 PST for live updates of all the action.

Here are chip counts entering the final table:

1. Jesse Sylvia – 43,875,000
2. Andras Koroknai – 29,375,000
3. Greg Merson – 28,725,000
4. Russell Thomas – 24,800,000
5. Steven Gee – 16,860,000
6. Michael Esposito – 16,260,000
7. Robert Salaburu – 15,155,000
8. Jacob Balsiger – 13,115,000
9. Jeremy Ausmus – 9,805,000

    Players Left
    9
    Tables Left
    1

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