They are down to 36 at the WSOP Main Event, and today is the day when we’re going to start seeing the blinds increasing much more rapidly than was the case last year. When play resumes, they pick things back up at Level 25, with 30,000/60,000 blinds and a 10,000 ante. After three hours or so, they reach Level 27. That’s where the craziness really begins.
Talked about this before, but let me show you again how the structure for blinds/antes this year differs from 2006 (click to enlarge):
As you can see, for Levels 25 and 26 the increases are identical to 2006, relatively speaking. (Remember, players began with twice the starting chips this year.) However, starting at Level 27 -- about 3:30 p.m. or so, Vegas time -- the blinds start skyrocketing. I have to believe that factor will be part of the story as they play down to nine tonight.
At the start of Level 25 last year, there were still 49 players remaining. Jamie Gold won the bracelet toward the end of Level 36. With fewer players still alive and the blinds increasing so rapidly, I cannot imagine they’ll get that far this year.
Think about this: If you discount the top three chip leaders -- David Tran (10,280,000), Philip Hilm (9,950,000), and Ray Henson (8,250,000) -- the other 33 players have an average of just under 3 million chips each. That means the average “M” for those 33 players is about 16.6 right now -- right in the middle of Harrington’s yellow zone, where he suggests your ability to maneuver begins to become limited. Once they reach Level 27, that number will plummet rapidly, quickly moving the majority of players down into Harrington’s orange and red zones where it’s gonna have to be all-in or fold (for the most part).
I’m not saying everyone believes in Harrington’s zones or plays accordingly, but I think we’re definitely going to see a lot of players being forced to put it all on the line with less than premium hands as the day plays out.
A few other interesting items regarding the final 36 . . .
Of course, all eyes will be on Scotty Nguyen as long as he lasts tonight. Somehow I doubt he’ll have a Milwaukee’s Best Light in his hand (I think he’s a Michelob man).
Speaking of the three chip leaders, all three will be sitting at Table 2 today. Not only that, they will be sitting next to each other. Helm will be to the left of Henson, and Henson to the left of Tran. There will be a little over 42 million chips at this one table -- about a third of the total chips in play. Compare that to the next table over, Table 3, where the nine players together have about 19 million chips. A quick scan through the Hendon Mob player database (and a couple of others) reveals that most of the final 36 are in fact American. (I should mention Hendon Mob has at least a couple of players listed as American who may not be.) I couldn’t track down a couple of players’ nationalities, but of the ones I found I’m counting a total 10 non-Americans sitting at the final four tables: Robin Bergren (Canada), Peter Darvill (Canada), Philip Hilm (Denmark), Jon Kalmar (England), Ron Kluber (South Korea), Alex Kravchenko (Russia), Stefan Mattsson (Sweden), Scotty Nguyen (South Vietnam), Raymond Rahme (South Africa), and Christian Togsverd (Denmark). I was surprised at this, actually -- I had thought we’d see a majority of non-Americans here at the end. (Of course, we still might at the final table.) Of the final 36, two won bracelets in this year’s WSOP: Alex Kravchenko won the $1,500 Omaha Eight-or-Better event (Event No. 9), and Bill Edler won the $5,000 No Limit Hold ’em event (Event No. 45).
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