Early in the day yesterday we started hearing that the plan will be to have the players play five more again today, regardless of how many are eliminated. Every year I’ve been at the WSOP (since 2008), they’ve played down to 27 on the penultimate day, then down to nine on the last. Looking back at 2007 -- the last year before the November Nine -- it appears they began the next-to-day with 36 players and thus had a super long one to get down to the final table.
It’s a better plan, really, to go the full five levels today and increase the chances tomorrow won’t be a marathon. Last year at the start of Level 31 there were still 25 players left, but I would not be surprised if they get below that total tonight. In 2012 they’d end up reaching the final nine midway through Level 34 (with nearly 250 more players having entered).
The chip leader going into today is a fellow named Sami Rustom, one of a number of players left that most poker fans (and reporters, too) will not have known about prior to the Main Event. I first started to notice Rustom on Day 3 when I saw him knock out both David Benyamine and Jeff Shulman early in the day. Then later on Day 3 I saw him play a hand in which he raised from early position, got a reraise and another reraise behind, then come back over the top with a five-bet that got the others to fold. As the chips were pushed his way, he then cheekily turned over .
I also remember hearing some table talk from Rustom in which he noted he was more of a cash game player than a tourney guy, and his Hendon Mob page certainly suggests he’s not one to play big buy-in events that often. But he continued to be aggressive throughout the last couple of days and I’m not too surprised to see him at the top of the counts this morning. (He is on the left wearing shades in the pic above, courtesy PokerNews.)
Jackie Glazier made it to Day 6, thanks largely to one big hand yesterday that saw her all in on the turn and needing either to fill a flush or hit one of her two overcards, which she did. She’s the only woman left, with three others having made the top 100 before being eliminated yesterday -- Kima Kimura (who finished 100th), Annette Obrestad (89th), and Beverly Lange (86th).
Fortune was on Glazier’s side in that hand, but earlier in the tourney at the very end of Day 2 she played a memorable hand that I watched and reported in which she folded pocket kings preflop. I wrote about that one here, too, which is a hand I continue to think about the further Glazier gets in the tournament.
Looking up and down the list of the remaining 68, I can say of about a quarter of the remaining players that I definitely knew of them prior to this week -- Ryan Riess (currently in 7th position), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (11th), David Benefield (18th), Noah Schwartz (20th), Jonathan Jaffe (21st), J.C. Tran (28th), Carlos Mortensen (35th), Yann Dion (37th), Mark Newhouse (41st), Jim Collopy (42nd), Bryan Pellegrino (46th), Steve Gee (55th), Vitaly Lunkin (59th), Jaime Kaplan (60th), Rep Porter (61st), and Brett Richey (65th).
There are a few others in there whom I know I’ve covered in tourneys before, and some of the remaining players have become familiar to me over the last couple of days. Mortensen is, of course, the lone remaining WSOP Main Event champion left (he won in 2001) as last year’s winner Greg Merson was eliminated in 167th. Steve Gee finished ninth last year, and so he is gunning for a second straight ME final table, which would obviously be noteworthy.
Not too many other obvious storylines in play yet, though, although like every year, some will certainly emerge as they get closer to then actually reach the final nine. There are a lot of interesting characters left in the field, and the table talk at many of the outer tables was engaging as players appeared to be having a lot of fun.
At one point yesterday I chatted briefly with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla who noted how players tend to get quiet up on the two feature tables, especially in the “mothership,” as many likely find it hard to relax in such a setting. But he also agreed that a lot of the players seemed to enjoying themselves and indeed were acting much more relaxed than you’d expect at this stage of the Main Event, something he attributed as perhaps being a consequence of having a higher percentage of players with live poker backgrounds (as opposed to online only), which seemed a good theory to me.
Play picks back up at noon Vegas time today, so again, head over to PokerNews to see who makes it through to tomorrow’s final day of the summer.