Day 5 of the World Series of Poker Main Event is in the books with Jerry Wong, Jan Suchanek, and Kenny Hallaert leading the final 80 players. Dan Colman, Griffin Benger, and Max Silver also had an enjoyable day.
Bryan Piccioli went to bed knowing he had more chips than anyone at the end of Day 4 of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. Five tough levels have passed since then. The action folds to him in the hijack seat. Piccioli looks down at his cards and opens to 140,000. A few folds later and Jerry Wong three-bets to 405,000 from the small blind. Back to Piccioli and he moves all-in for his last 2.6m. Wong makes the call. The dealer motions for the players to allow their cards to see the roof.
To crash and burn on Day 1 hurts, but it’s a paper cut compared to the shotgun wound to the head you feel when you tumble out on Day 5. By this time you have begun to believe. The dream has dared come alive. And then in a blink of an eye, it’s gone, and you know you may never find it again.
6,737 players ponied up the $10,000 required to enter this magical kingdom. That meant 107,833 entrants had competed in the 47th Annual WSOP, and it was the most they have ever witnessed. Those players had raised $221,211,336 in prize money. $8m was waiting for the winner of the final tournament of what has been another fantastic series.
251 players prepared for their Mount Doom like charge on that first prize. 80 players survived the five level trek. Here’s how they did it.
Maria Ho and Valentin Vornicu had each led this event at one time or another in the past five days. They clashed in the first level with fatal consequences for one of them.
Maria Ho opened under the gun, Michael Funk called from midfield, Vornicu called on the button, and Chris Klodnicki called in the big blind. The flop was [Jd] [8s] [5d] and the action checked to Ho who bet 76k; Vornicu raised to 207k, and everyone folded except Ho, who moved all in for 550k and Vornicu made the call. Ho was delighted with what she saw when Vornicu turned over [Qd] [4d] because Ho was holding [Ad] [9d] for the higher flush draw, and ace high to take control of the hand. The [Js] on the turn changed nothing. Ho was still ahead with ace high. Then the [4h] on the river gave Vornicu two pairs sending Ho to the rail in 242nd place.
Phil Postma eliminated Andrew Barber QJ-QQ; Carlton Tarter eliminated Ramin Hajiyev TT-KK; and Jeff Hakim took out the dangerous Shaun Deeb 77-AA.
Talking about ‘dangerous players,’ Dan Colman eliminated Joseph Potts after flopping a set of jacks. Potts had the misfortune to turn two pairs, and that was the end of that. That pot temporarily handed Colman the chip lead, but it was Michael Niwinski who finished the level at the top with 5.745m.
Warriors deserve a warrior type death.
The scriptwriters didn’t give a shit.
Two-time Main Event champion Johnny Chan crashing out in 180th place after losing most his chips 85o-TT of Shankar Pillai and then running the mighty 96o into the QJ of Chris Hanks.
Chris Klodnicki eliminated Michael Funk AQ-AA; Dylan Thomassie eliminated the high rolling German Max Altergott A5-AT; Gordon Vayo eliminated Justin Techie QJ-AA; and November Nine TV viewers can rest easy after Cliff Josephy ended Jordan Cristos’s competition A3-AA.
Max Silver moved into contention after winning a huge set over set confrontation against Qui Nguyen. Silver’s jacks beat Nguyen’s tens to take him above the 6m mark. Silver can still win the Player of the Year award if he wins the Main Event. Paul Volpe, who also made it through the day, can win if he finishes third.
But the chip lead at the end of Level 23 belonged to Griffin Benger after he eliminated Timothy Burt. Benger flopped Broadway on [Ad] [Qh] [Jh], and the pair danced when the [9d] hit the turn with Burt holding [Th] [8h] for chop outs and flush outs. The [9c] hit the river, and Benger was our new chip leader. I guess all of those Global Poker League (GPL) stars has had a positive effect on the commentator.
End of level saw Griffin Benger leading with 6.5m; Dan Colman was second with 6.3m
There was a time when Gustavo Lopes was a force in this contest. How quickly things can change. Michael Carter barged him over the rail in 159th place KQ-J9 after Carter flopped and turned trip nines.
Christopher Kusha eliminated Sorel Mizzi 77-AQ; Mike Niwinski eliminated Todd Brunson AQ-AA; Daniel Retallick eliminated David Pham 66-99, and Michael Gathy eliminated Scott Montgomery QT-AK.
Mukul Pahuja and Marc-Andre Ladouceur also fell by the wayside at that level. Dan Colman would finish as the chip leader after ending the tournament hopes of Dan Heimiller. The former WSOP bracelet winner flopped a set of sevens, but Colman turned the second nut flush. Heimiller shoved the fourth street, and Colman called. He ended the level with just under 8m in chips.
The last woman standing argument settled in Level 25. One time chip leader, Melanie Weisner, bowed out in 127th place after her AK was unable to beat the 53 of Farhad Jamas in a race to the death, meaning Gaelle Baumann earned praise for the second time in her short career after coming 10th in 2012. No such luck this year, though. Baumann fell in 102nd place after running AJ into the AK of Alex Keating.
Farzad Tafti eliminated Brandon Adams TT-AJ; Dietrich Fast eliminated Andrew Chen TT-QQ; and Ami Barer eliminated Alexander Debus AT-55 before exiting stage left himself losing out in a set over set mess against Chang Luo.
And we now know there will be a brand new champion in 2016 after Greg Raymer fell at the hands of Kenny Hallaert 99-TT. The Belgian finished the level with 8.7m, and that was good for the chip lead.
The final level of the day saw Adam Krach eliminate Jon Turner in 100th place. Turner flopped two pairs holding AJ, but Krach turned Broadway holding KQ – the money went in pre-flop.
Former European Poker Tour (EPT) champion Vladimir Geshkenbein fell at the hands of Alex Keating 66-JJ, and then we lost the 2015 WSOP Player of the Year, Mike Gorodinsky when he ran AQs into the pocket aces of Jan Suchanek.
And that brings us to the Piccioli v Wong confrontation.
The dealer motioned to the two players.
Wong had the WSOP bracelet winner covered and would end the day with the chip lead. The starting day chip leader would be out. What a contrast.
Wong: [Ad] [Kh]
Piccioli: [Ah] [Qh]
Wong was way ahead.
The dealer fanned the [7s] [6d] [5h] on the flop. One heart. Hope for Piccioli. The [8c] burned that hope to a crisp. Piccioli needed a queen to win, and a four or a nine to chop, and survive. The river was the [8s]. It was all over. The man who had so much to be excited about at the beginning of the day was out in 84th place for $67,855. Wong, who we had not mentioned for the previous five days, was steaming towards $8m with the likes of Dan Colman, Griffin Benger, and Max Silver chasing his tail.