There were a number of instances during yesterday’s Day 7 of the Main Event that I found myself thinking back to last year and making comparisons, with the memories probably being most vivid near the very end of the night once the field had been whittled down to 10 players and they’d reassembled around the not-quite-final final table to play down to nine.
Before that, I’d thought of how many of those who led with 27 players left last year weren’t able to survive to the end of the day. As I mentioned yesterday, just two of the top nine in the counts were still in the tournament at night’s end of Day 7 last year.
This time, just three of the top nine made it -- J.C. Tran (started fourth, ended first), Jay Farber (started eighth, ended fourth), Sylvain Loosli (started second, ended sixth). Meanwhile, David Benefield began yesterday 27th of 27 players, and he’s still in the tourney in ninth position.
The precipitous drop of Anton Morgenstern from the big start-of-day chip lead to a 20th-place finish reminded me of what happened with Daniel Strelitz last year who began second in chips and went out quickly in 24th. I was assigned to the secondary feature table yesterday and since Morgenstern was on the main feature table I didn’t really follow his day very closely, although looking back it appears two big hands versus Mark Newhouse led most directly to his fall.
One was a big preflop all-in versus Newhouse in which the latter had A-Q and Morgenstern pocket eights (Feature Table, Hand #81). Then just a little over an orbit later Newhouse doubled again through Morgenstern after flopping deuces full on an A-A-2 board while the German held an ace for trips, and they got it all in on the turn and Newhouse’s hand held (Feature Table, Hand #90).
Actually that latter hand was kind of like the one that saw Greg Merson knock out 2012’s start-of-day-7 leader Marc-Andre Ladouceur in 13th place, with Merson flopping an underfull while Ladouceur had trips, although in that hand all of the chips were in before the flop.
Once they’d gotten to 10 players thoughts went back to last year’s crazily dramatic finish that saw the two remaining women -- Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann -- go out in 11th and then 10th, respectively. This time it was Carlos Mortensen kind of surprisingly slipping during 10-handed play to become the short stack, then getting bounced by Tran.
Last year they played 15 hands once they’d gotten to the 10-handed table; this year they played 21. That picture above is one I snapped during that stretch (click it to enlarge).
Like in 2012, many were disappointed by the finish. The story of a former champion getting back to a final table would have obviously been a good one going forward (Mortensen won the Main Event in 2001). But I think that disappointment was mitigated somewhat by the fact that so many strong, well known players did make it -- with leader Tran the foremost among them -- and folks are already looking forward a little more to the finish this year than was the case last July.
Tran has won two bracelets before at the WSOP, and back in 2008 I happened to have covered his first win for PokerNews in a $1,500 NLHE event. Looking back at that coverage I’m recalling how we did hand-for-hand reporting from the final table, which is something PN brought back again this summer for the NLHE and PLO events.
Yesterday we actually did hand-for-hand throughout the day as the tourney played down from 27 to nine, and adding up the tally it looks like we reported on 633 hands of poker all told. Was very interesting to notice how the secondary table was moving so much slower than the other two from the start. In fact, we only saw 30 hands during the first two-hour level at the secondary table, while there were 48 played at the main feature table and 55 at the outer one.
Things picked up a little at the secondary table thereafter, but the rate of hands per level continued to lag behind. The slower pace at the features tables in part was due to ESPN’s shooting them more intensely than the outer one, but the players were really the main factor at the secondary table as several of them took a lot of time to make decisions at all stages of hands played there.
I liked how the coverage played out yesterday and hope it was interesting to follow for those with an interest in doing so. I have a few more thoughts to share about Day 7 and about these last four weeks, but I’ll save those for a postlude tomorrow as I need to start packing and ready to fly home today. I will say, though, that working with the PokerNews folks was again a rewarding experience, with the teamwork and mutual support from everyone involved making these 15-hour days or whatever they add up to be much less arduous and more fun than one might expect.
The Main Event isn’t over, but the story of the summer nonetheless ended with an exciting final chapter yesterday. Let me fly another 1,900 miles and think another 24 hours, and we’ll see what more I can say about that story tomorrow.