After two days of poker, Antonio Esfandiari is in pole position at the most monumental poker tournament ever played. “The Magician” will take 39,925,000 in chips with him to tomorrow’s Big One for One Drop final table of eight players who are all that remain from the 48 that ponied up the USD $1 million buy-in on Sunday. With nine spots paid in the tournament, all players are now guaranteed at least USD $1,237,333 in prize money but that amount is dwarfed by the USD $18,346,673 that awaits the event’s champion.
At the start of Day 2 there were 37 players and some early eliminations included Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu. Both departed in the same hand courtesy of Mikhail Smirnov, who famously folded quads on Sunday, but didn’t have that option when, on this occasion, he rivered quads with all the money in preflop. Smirnov’s 9♠ 9♣ were slightly in front of Negreanu’s A♥ 10♦ but well behind Dwan’s A♦ A♠ until the dealer tabled 9♥ 7♦ 4♥ 8♥ 9♦ giving Smirnov an unbeatable four nines.
Other big names followed to the rail including Phil Galfond, Tobias Reinkemeier and Gus Hansen. Phil Ivey was unlucky when he was ousted holding Pocket Queens all in preflop against Philipp Gruissem’s A♦ 8♦ that rivered a backdoor flush. Among the next to go were Ben Lamb and Dan Shak before Jason Mercier seven-bet shoved K♥ K♠ into Esfandiari’s A♦ A♣ and saw Esfandiari shoot to the top of the chip count.
The honour of being history’s biggest bubble boy went to Ilya Bulychev who departed in 10th place as poker commentator Mike Sexton became the first casher of the tournament courtesy of Esfandiari. Play was then suspended for the evening until tomorrow’s dramatic final table.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Antonio Esfandiari – 39,925,000
2. Sam Trickett – 37,000,000
3. Guy Laliberté – 21,700,000
4. Brian Rast – 11,350,000
5. Phil Hellmuth – 10,925,000
6. David Einhorn – 8,375,000
7. Richard Yong – 7,475,000
8. Bobby Baldwin – 7,150,000
UK pro Sam Trickett is only just behind Esfandiari and already has a lot of high-roller final table experience behind him. Trickett won the 2011 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge and came second in the same tournament’s $250,000 Super High Roller so will be looking to use that experience when play resumes.
Following behind Trickett in chips is Cirque du Soleil founder and Big One for One Drop organiser Guy Laliberté and previous overnight chip leader Brian Rast. The WSOP’s most prolific bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth is next in line before sentimental crowd favourite David Einhorn (who has pledged all of his winnings in the tournament to charity) and Macau nosebleed baller Richard Yong. Bringing up the rear is the 1978 WSOP Main Event champion Bobby Baldwin after whom the Bellagio’s high-stakes “Bobby’s Room” is named.
It will certainly be a nail-biting session of poker tomorrow when, in a single gigantic swoop, one of those eight players will make history and become poker’s highest earning tournament player of all-time.
Read more at WSOP.com.
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