Day 8 of the Main Event (which our calendar tells us was actually Day 12) is all over but for the shouting and the celebrating. The action during the course of these two weeks has been fast and furious enough to raise a few eyebrows, but today was a much different, much longer, much more serious day. It took nearly 18 hours to whittle our field from the twenty-seven starters down to the final nine.
We've played so much poker today, it's hard to condense the action down to just a few paragraphs. But we'll try. Let's start at the beginning, where Joseph Cheong came into this penultimate day with the chip-leading stack of more than 24 million. He hovered around that mark for the duration of the day.
The same can't be said for the two prominent Scandinavian hopefuls. Johnny Lodden lost a coin flip to beat the parking lot rush, exiting in 27th place as the first casualty of the day. Sweden's William Thorson outlasted another four players, but he ran his into John Racener's pocket kings to put his name on the payout sheet in 22nd place.
Nineteen players returned from the second break. Michiel Sijpkens 19th-place elimination cued the two-table re-draw and left everyone nine spots away from a seat at November's final table.
Scott "BigRiskky" Clements might have been the betting favorite coming into the day as the player with the most WSOP final table experience left. After an active, up-and-down first few hours, Clements put his trust in ace-queen but ran it smack into Matthew Jarvis' ace-king. No help on board ended Clements' run in 18th place, and his table let out a big, relieved exhale as he left the Amazon Room for the last time this year.
David Baker had a whale of a WSOP in his own right. This Main Event marked his seventh cash of the 2010 Series, and five of those saw him running deep into the final two tables. That where this one ended too, though; Baker was knocked off in 17th place after putting his faith in a flush draw that never materialized. Benjamin Statz was next to depart, and the fifteen finalists were off to dinner a short while later.
When they returned, there was no sign of the dreaded after-dinner coma. The action came fast, and the next knockout provided possibly the most memorable moment of the Main Event, and maybe of the entire 2010 WSOP. It was a massive confrontation between Matt Affleck and Jonathan Duhamel, and it was one of those pots that brought media and spectators scurrying from all corners of the room clamoring to catch a peek at the action. Duhamel started it with a raise to 550,000, and Affleck three-bet to 1.55 million. Duhamel re-raised right back to 3.925 total. Affleck called to put 8 million chips into the pot going to the flop.
Possibly sensing the danger he was in, Duhamel checked the flop. Affleck took the opportunity to fire out 5 million chips. Duhamel called, and Affleck shoved his last 11.6 million into the pot as the hit fourth street. Duhamel was faced with a decision for most of his own stack. The tension mounted as hushed murmurs of this monsterpotten coursed through the room. Duhamel finally called, putting an enormous pot of about 42 million chips in the middle of the table!
Affleck showed down for the overpair. He certainly had to be nervous when he watched Duhamel table for the pair and the open-ender. The entire rail inched forward in anticipation of the river card that would give one of the two players a commanding chip lead. Fate fell with Duhamel this time. The last card off was the , and a thundering reaction signaled the bad beat to the crowds who were too far away to see it with their own eyes. Affleck's aces had indeed been run down. He was visibly stricken by the result, choking back his emotions and burying his face in his cap for a good long while. He finally mustered the strength to leave the room after his 15th-place elimination, red-faced and awfully upset with the result.
That was the pot that pushed Duhamel into a commanding chip lead and a hand that will likely be talked about and analyzed over and over for the next year.
The next big name to fall was Adam "Roothlus" Levy in 12th place. Roothlus had a three-deep cheering section here with him for support today. He managed to chip his way up significantly over the course of the first couple levels. Levy had trouble winning a pot in the third level, though, and he was relieved of his last 4 million chips when he ran king-queen into the pocket aces of -- guess who, Jonathan Duhamel.
Pascal LeFrancois won his first gold bracelet this year at the WSOP, but his bid for number two was quashed with ten players left. This time it was Cheong looking for the knockout. His took care of LeFrancois and his in 11th place. That signaled the final redraw of the night. The last ten players were shuffled over to the main featured table to play it out under the bright lights.
We needed just one more elimination to end Day 8, but it would be a stubborn one. More than six hours passed with nary a bust-out. The short stacks were able to gather enough chips to stick around for a while and make this thing a real dogfight. Finally, the day-long short stack of Brandon Steven got into the pot, and this time he could not fade elimination. He was racing his against Matthew Jarvis' , but he would find no help from the dealer. The board ran out with five blanks. With that, the cheering sections of the other nine players rushed the stage to congratulate their men on making the final table of the Main Event.
So then, we are down to just nine players left out of 7,319 starters. One of them will be your new World Champion come November. Here's how things stacked up at the end of the night, a snapshot of what we'll be seeing in four months:
Seat 1: Jason Senti (7,625,000)
Seat 2: Joseph Cheong (23,525,000)
Seat 3: John Dolan (46,250,000)
Seat 4: Jonathan Duhamel (65,975,000)
Seat 5: Michael Mizrachi (14,450,000)
Seat 6: Matthew Jarvis (16,700,000)
Seat 7: John Racener (19,050,000)
Seat 8: Filippo Candio (16,400,000)
Seat 9: Soi Nguyen (9,650,000)
We'll spend the next several weeks researching these players and dissecting them (figuratively, of course), getting a feel for who they are. For now, all you need to know is that Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi is the man to watch. His victory in this year's $50,000 Players' Championship earned him a spot in the "best poker player" conversation, and this Main Event run is a remarkable encore to that performance. Grinder can earn a share of Player of the Year honors if he can manage to win this thing, and current POTY leader Frank Kassela will have a nervous four months to sweat while he waits for the title to be decided.
We'd like to thank you for joining us in this journey through the 2010 World Series of Poker. It's been fun and tiring and thrilling and maddening and everything we could have hoped for -- and now it's all but over. We're on a four-month hiatus, but you'll see us again from the Rio soon. When you do, we'll be ready to crown a new World Champion of poker.
All that's left now is one final goodnight from the Amazon Room. Until November, all the best!