ESPN has set up what are essentially five feature tables this time. There’s the main one in the “mothership” plus the secondary one positioned over on the side like last year. Additionally, three tables are set up over in the area where the first two days of the “Big One for One Drop” played out before. In terms of watching the action live in the Amazon, none are particularly great for spectators, but the arrangement will make it a lot easier for ESPN later to show lots of different players and hands during these days leading up to the final table.
I spent yesterday roaming around all of the other tables in the room (the “Purple” and “Orange” sections). The day began with 282 players seated at 32 tables and ended with 97 players seated at 11. Thus with the five feature tables constantly in use, that meant the area I was helping cover began with 27 tables’ full of players and ended with just a half-dozen.
As the field gets reduced and tables get broken, tables are then literally broken down and carted off to the side or out of the room altogether. There’s more media here now, too, filling the extra space between tables.
That picture to the left was during an interesting all-in hand from late in the day. Between the camera crew and all of the reporters, there were probably 30 or so people surrounding the table as the players were waiting for the turn and river cards to be dealt.
As players were busting during the first part of the day and the remaining ones moved to and fro to keep tables balanced, the empty seat belonging to Jarrett Nash began to become more and more conspicuous. I finally posted something near the end of the first two-hour level about his having not showed up and the fact that blinds and antes had by then claimed about a third of his starting stack.
Eventually it became apparent he wasn’t coming to play Day 5, and later in the day the story finally came out regarding how his faith prevented him from continuing his Main Event run on Saturday. CardPlayer ended up talking to him to get the entire story, if you’re curious. Eventually Nash ran out of chips to finish in 171st place.
Watching Nash’s stack dwindle down and finally disappear altogether reminded me a little of being at LAPT Lima last year when Andre Akkari had to leave the tourney early because his father had died, and in his absence his stack lasted long enough for him to cash.
My attention at day’s end would become occupied by another player’s stack becoming super short, putting him on the verge of elimination. Only in this case the player was there sitting behind his stack.
Fred Vogt is one of several older players still in the Main Event. Late in the day he’d become short-stacked, then essentially began auto-folding until making it to the top 99. Those finishing 100th through 162nd all earned $52,718, while getting to 99th meant taking away at least $62,021, so his strategy ended up earning him enough extra cabbage almost to equal the buy-in.
When the elimination of a player in 100th was announced, the scene at Vogt’s table was one of the coolest I’ve witnessed in a long while in poker, with all of his opponents giddy with excitement over his having lasted long enough to make that pay jump. Amid the craziness of Day 5 concluding, I wrote a quick post about Vogt titled “A Small Stack and Big Smile” and Joe Giron snapped the perfect photo to go with it.
The other story that started to emerge in earnest yesterday was the fact that at night’s end there are still five women among the final 97, a couple of whom spent time right around the chip lead during part of Day 5.
Those five are Gaelle Baumann (pictured, currently in 8th position), Elisabeth Hille (18th), Marcia Topp (49th), Vanessa Selbst (70th), and Susie Zhao (88th).
Last year Erika Moutinho made it the farthest of any woman in the Main Event by finishing 29th. The year before no woman made the top 100 at all. A woman has only made the ME final table once in its 43-year history (Barbara Enright, who finished fifth in 1995).
We all know Selbst is more than capable of getting there, even with a below average stack to start Day 6. I watched Baumann dominate the Ladies event this summer for much of the first two days before finishing 15th, and she’s continued to impress in the Main Event.
By the way, Baumann was involved in a somewhat controversial hand near the end of play yesterday that got some buzzing, one in which she’d raised, another player went all in from the small blind, then when the big blind folded the all-in player mistakenly mucked not realizing she was still in the hand. Read more about that one here.
Hille seems like another candidate possibly to make it further, especially since she has chips. In any event, the story of how those five women fare will no doubt be one of several getting a lot of attention today.
Just two more days of poker, then I fly home on Tuesday. Tired and eager to get to the end, although am very much enjoying these last days, both because of the excitement of the tournament and because I’m getting to share the experience with a lot of terrific, supportive people once again. Such as these two guys to the left who may or may not be brothers.
I think we’re all kind of feeling like those guys at Fred Vogt’s table yesterday, excited and happy to see we’ve all made it this far. And glad to keep it going just a little longer, too.