Being chip leader when the World Series of Poker Main Event reaches the money is something only one player a year gets to experience.
This year it's 29-year-old Patrick Lavecchia from Sellersville, Pennsylvania.
“It's a little surreal,” Lavecchia told PokerListings.com on a break as the Main Event played deeper into the money. “I've never been in this position before.”
Lavecchia graduated from Temple University with a degree in Finance but says he's been playing poker professionally online for the better part of a decade.
He played on PokerStars before Black Friday, switched to live after online poker was shutdown and then jumped back on the internet to play on PokerStars when it opened up again in New Jersey.
This isn't the first time he's played the Main Event. He's entered five times before and never cashed. In fact he's never had a result in any WSOP tournament.
But with the a top stack deep in the Main Event, he's poised to make his first WSOP cash count.
It won't be an easy road to the final table. On Day 4 Lavecchia is at a table with former WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb and Team PokerStars Online's Randy Lew.
Lavecchia said he doesn't mind the stiff competition.
"My table's pretty tough but honestly it's been so much fun that playing against good players just makes it more fun,” he said.
“Whatever happens, happens. The whole tournament's been a great experience, if I get a tough table draw it's just a new challenge.”
Guaranteed Cash, Hunting Big Money
Lavecchia and the other 1,083 players who made the money in this year's Main Event were guarnateed at least $15,000 just for making Day 4.
That number quickly went up as a big group of people who had squeaked into the money with small stacks went broke in the first levels of the day.
"Any tournament you go deep in and get a stack is so much fun.”
Lavecchia said that even though the money up top is a big opportunity, he's more interested in enjoying the experience and playing as well as he can.
“Other than the lights and everything, it's still just a tournament and honestly any tournament you go deep in and get a stack is so much fun,” he said.
“I've had quite a few texts already. I suppose when you're chip leader in the Main Event and you get on the front page of WSOP.com people notice.
“It's been pretty cool but honestly I'm here to play poker. The interviews and everything are fine but I just love playing deep-stacked tournament poker.
“To me I feel like I'm freerolling at this point. I don't mind if I bust. I've done it many times in the past.
"It's a fun tournament and I know that I'm a decent enough player that I have a chance if I run really good.
“I feel like I have nothing to lose.”
The 2017 Main Event will play down to the final nine players the night of July 17thand the final table will play out over three days, concluding on July 22.