When ESPN and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) take a look at the starting field for Day Four of the Main Event they must be rubbing their hands with glee. There are so many heroes to focus on, so many stories to be told and quite a few dreams to be made.
It was anticipated that the 1,753 field would be reduced to approx. 800 players after the five levels that flew by on Day Three. Instead we very nearly breached the money bubble as the day finished on the devils mark of 666; just 18-players shy of the money.
From a dreamers perspective the main story is that of the only player to breach the million-chip barrier. Max Coleman leads with 1,071,500 chips and it is almost guaranteed that by the days end he would have locked up more live tournament profit than he has achieved in his entire career.
Then you have the great stories, and the one you will see penned in most media transcripts is the one of Doyle Brunson. The 80-year old Hall of Famer, and twice winner of this very competition, is still hanging tough with 626,000. His stack size, and experience, should see Brunson cashing for the first time in a main event since 2004. Not bad for someone who decided to quit WSOP tournament poker earlier this year.
Brunson achieved his back-to-back victories back in 1976 & 1977 and only Stu Ungar (1980 & 1981) and Johnny Chan (1987 & 1988) have been able to repeat that feat since. Modern field sizes make the repeat journey almost impossible, but Greg Merson is determined to defy all of the odds. The reigning champion has 390,500 chips and a few of his 2013 final table opponents are also in the field with Russell Thomas on 562,000, Steve Gee on 292,000 and Robert Salaburu on 218,000. Flick back just one year and Merson wasn’t even shown on the PokerNews ‘notables’ end of day chip counts for Day Three.
Phil Ivey is a man who always writes his own stories and yesterday was no exception. He took his well-deserved place on the feature table before he was eliminated in front of the TV cameras. If you are going to dispose of Ivey either you win a flip or take a cooler, and it was the latter that Max Steinberg settled on when he flopped middle set on a ace high-flush draw board to outgun the bottom set of the Tiger Woods of poker. WSOP bracelet holder, Steinberg, who already has two runner up finishes in bracelet events, this year, finished the day with just under a million in chips.
And then you have the heroes; the professionals who trawl the world’s tables looking to earn their corn. Kyle Julius, Annette Obrestad, Bertrand Grospellier, Jake Cody, Michael Mizrachi, Greg Mueller, Marvin Rettenmaier and former champion Carlos Mortensen are all still deeply engaged in this wondrous event.