They played down from 27 to six players yesterday, starting at noon and winding up right around 10 p.m. to make it an much earlier finish than we had the first three days here.
Ryan Van Sanford of Fort Lauderdale ended the night with the chip lead. I knew Van Sanford was young, and likely the youngest of the final 27 when play began. Heard someone say he was just 21 at one point, confirming that suspicion. Then at the end of the night when the final tablists filled out their bio sheets I learned he only turned 21 last Saturday. Couldn’t help but reflect a little after that on where I was back in late 1993 (i.e., in grad school already).
Jamie Gold ended up making it to the final two tables before going out in 16th place. Again, as I was noting yesterday, there was lots of table talk from Gold and other evidence to support what Christian Harder tweeted earlier in the event when referring to Gold: “He played and talked exactly like he did when he won the WSOP.”
Again, it was a kind of uncanny watching Gold perform, given how strongly it was echoing the behavior most of us saw back during the 2006 WSOP coverage. There were pretty much all of the same antics that both make watching the game more interesting but also drive some of the players kind of nuts with the way he pushes the boundaries of angle-shooting and rule-testing.
Early yesterday I noticed him frequently saying “nice hand” whenever an opponent showed any resistance on an early street. That is, he wasn’t saying it after a hand completed, but during it, such as when he would bet the flop and an opponent would call. No idea what effect it was having on other players, but as a reporter it was jarring to keep hearing the phrase at the wrong moment like that when following the action.
There was one fun hand that saw Gold fold on the turn in the face of an all-in shove from Harvey Vandeven. His fold was preceded by a lot of anguished talk as he revolved his hole cards in his hand, exposing them for those who were curious (which would warrant a penalty), though not exactly showing them. He also was saying what he held, though again, not exactly.
Finally he folded, showing he indeed had what he was indicating he had. Then Vandeven showed one of his cards to reveal Gold was ahead when he folded, and that produced a lot of merriment at the table and some good-natured congratulations from Gold. Here’s the hand report, if you’re curious.
He’s a character, all right. Definitely possesses what on the surface appears to be a lot of humility about himself and his game, yet his words and actions are often so ambiguous its hard to know what’s sincere and what isn’t. In any case, he added some extra entertainment to what has already been a pretty fun tournament thus far. (Photo of Gold above by Joe Giron.)
Harder ended up getting all of the way to the final 10 before running pocket queens into not one but two players holding pocket aces. Before the community cards were dealt, Jason Helder cracked that it would be funny if Harder’s opponents made a set, and Harder quick-wittedly replied that he was pulling for that to happen (as it would mean a fouled deck).
Others making deep runs included another blast-from-the-past of sorts, Mike Gracz (who finished 11th), Jacob Bazeley (15th), David Diaz (18th), Darryll Fish (21st), Shannon Shorr (26th), and Anthony Zinno (27th).
They don’t start back until 4 p.m. today, so you can check over at the WPT site beginning then for updates to see if Van Sanford wins. I’m going to assume he’d be a youngest-ever WPT champion -- I believe Nick Schulman won one at 21, too -- but I don’t know for sure.
We’ll probably be edging toward a conclusion by the time the WSOP Main Event picks back up tonight three-handed. I did end up watching some of that last night -- getting back in the room just in time to see Newhouse’s incredible bustout in ninth again. I’ll probably write more about that later in the week after I return, but for now my attention points back to the bestbet Jacksonville for one more day.