The Amazon Room is quiet once more, only broken by the constant hum of the janitor’s vacuum cleaner and the distant clanking of chips as they are taken out by the dealers and floor staff to the cage. It’s certainly been another stellar day here at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, and naturally, it means that it’s that time of the night where the PokerNews Live Reporting Team wrap things up.
For the 1,864 players that took to the felt here in either the Amazon or Pavilion Rooms today, they can consider themselves part of poker history. For the very first time, ESPN beamed the major action live to poker fans all over the world. It only seems fitting that the “big dance” become a “big show” – and what a star-studded spectacular it was, full of color, drama and the occasional bit of slapstick.
2011 World Series of Poker Event #35 champion Jason Mercier was amongst the first wave to hit the rail, with Dan Shak, Matt Matros and Greg Mueller also taking their leave within the first level of play. Due to the ESPN production schedule, play was quickly back underway after a break and the intensity certainly didn’t let up. In fact, Anton Ionel turned that dial up to 11 when he flopped a set of kings against an opponent’s aces to move up to almost 600,000 in chips – and that wasn’t even the dinner break yet!
However, two WSOP Main Event champions were lost during that second stanza – Tom McEvoy and Joe Cada -- but the shocking pink hair of Guillaume Darcourt didn’t go unnoticed, and neither did his stack, as he took the chip lead into the break with over 880,000 in chips.
21-year-old Max Heinzelmann then stole the show (and Shaun Deeb’s chips) in one of the first hands after the break inside The Mothership, but then Daryl Jace took down an even bigger pot to move up to almost one million before dinner. Darcourt, Chris Bonita and Patrick Poirier weren’t far behind, but Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, Mike Caro and Noah Boeken were nowhere to be found at the dinner break.
2007 WSOP Europe Main Event champion Annette Obrestad was then ousted early in the post-dinner session, as was 1996 WSOP Main Event champion Huck Seed. Peter Jetten also began to chip up, but Poirier was the first past that coveted one-million chip mark.
The final two hours of play marked the resurgence of German pro Sebastian Ruthenberg, but it also marked the end of Billy Kopp, Ryan D’Angelo, Patrik Antonius and renowned poker tournament director Matt Savage. However, Daniel Retallick came out hard in one of the final hands of the night to bag up 850,000 after a massive double-up.
As it stands though, our chip leader is indeed Patrick Poirier with 1,328,000 in chips. He’s not the only one in the millionaire’s club – Daryl Jace is also up there with 1,282,500. Chris Kwon (944,500), David Barter (917,000), Scott Smith (896,500), Sebastian Ruthenberg (889,000), Christopher Bonita (859,000) and Aleksandr Mozhnyakov (813,000) will also be the ones to watch tomorrow. It should be noted that at the same time last year, James Carroll was the only one to take more than 800,000 in chips into Day 4.
Other notable players to have survived the day include Guillaume Darcourt (681,500), Peter Jetten (657,000), Bryan Devonshire (596,500), Ben Tollerene (595,500), Amanda Musumeci (528,500), JP Kelly (492,000) and Kevin Saul (392,500). Joseph Cheong, the sole 2010 November Niner in the field, will also be returning tomorrow with 410,500 in chips.
As for Phil Hellmuth? It was certainly a day he rather wouldn’t have had to begin with, but he’s ridden that rollercoaster through to bag up 77,000. All the world will be watching when he returns tomorrow – and perhaps, by the power of Greyskull, score that elusive 12th WSOP bracelet on the grandest stage of all.
All we can say is that there’s no way to script a saga like this, so you’re just going to have to lock your browsers back onto PokerNews tomorrow from 12 PM PST (GMT -7) as we bring you up-to-the-minute coverage of all the big names, big hands and big stories from the 2011 WSOP Main Event.
That’s all we have time for – until then, good night, drive safe and may the flop be with you!
Daryl JacePatrick Poirier