Day 2C Recap: Kroon owns top stack again

LAS VEGAS -- The biggest stars of poker returned to action on Day 2C, but only a few would bag up their chips at the end of a 10-hour session. Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Joseph Hachem, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst and Gus Hansen were among the players to walk dejectedly out of the Rio on Wednesday with their 2013 World Series of Poker now put behind them. On a day that began with a long list of notables in the field, the red pen was kept handy in the tournament area as many familiar faces were among the thousand eliminations on 2C.

Mark Kroon's main event is already one for the record books. The Wisconsin native entered and finished the day with the chip lead and owns the overall chip lead as the fields merge on Day 3. For the poker veteran, this run so far is one he'll remember forever.

"It's been unbelievable," said Kroon, who finished the day with 507,300 in chips. "To go back-to-back days as the chip leader after all the years of doing this, and to have the success in a $10,000 main event like this, it's just overwhelming."

The accomplishment so far is nice, but the field is still a full day and a few levels away from the money. Kroon, who believes he has played more hands of poker than the majority of players in this event, said he just needs to continue to stay focused, especially as chip leader.

"We've got so long to go," he said. "[A deep run] would mean the world to me. It's validation after all the years of playing."

Kroon finished the day in Brasilia adjacent to a table that had an unbelievable amount of chips. The two owners of those stacks: Michael Mizrachi and Jean-Robert Bellande. Mizrachi's stack ranged from 100,000 to 600,000 on the day, and he had a tough final level to head home for the night with 394,600 in chips. At one point during the day, he was the clear chip leader.

Bellande, clearly in his comfort zone, finished with 320,900. Not many players have the main event record that Bellande owns. He has cashed in three main events since 2008 and had plans for "survivor mode" on Day 2 given that he was about to face another big stack at his table. However, once that player lost his edge during the first hour, Bellande -- with masseuse in action -- went to work.

"I'm real happy with today, I would've been content with maintaining," he said. "I've had a couple of very deep runs and I don't think I've had this many chips on Day 2."

Bellande managed to build in just about every level on Day 2C and that added confidence is key as the main event grind begins.

"This is comfortable for me, this is home territory," he said. "Sometimes maybe my opponents may be a little intimidated ... and I'm looking forward to another good day tomorrow."

There's a similar thread between Mizrachi and Bellande and that's keeping their heads on straight during challenging times. Phil Hellmuth, sitting just tables away from the duo, wasn't able to do that during the final level of play.

"Played great poker for 8 [hours], then lost it for a while," Hellmuth said on Twitter.

That "while" was a two-hour downswing that brought his stack from over 150,000 to 49,000 at the end of the night. Hellmuth struggled to win any confrontation against his newly formed nemesis and that repetition started a typical Hellmuth rant, a little bit of steam and a general sense of trouble for the 13-time WSOP champion. The end of the night came at the perfect time for him and he'll need to get in the right mindset quickly if he wants to rebound on Day 3.

Phil Ivey's day played out rather steadily with a positive end result. His stare was felt at three tables throughout the day and when he finally landed in Amazon, he was able to find some good spots late in the night to chip up without confrontation. He'll bring 198,200 into Day 3 and is looking for his first cash in the main event since his final table run in 2009. Players with similar stacks to Ivey include Allen Cunningham, Vivek Rajkumar, Bryn Kenney, Matt Affleck, Chris Tryba and last year's WSOP eighth-place finisher, Rob Salaburu.

"It feels awesome still being in here and have a shot at another run," said Salaburu.

Salaburu will be joined by his fellow final tablemates Greg Merson, Russell Thomas, Steven Gee and Jeremy Ausmus on Day 3.

Here are the unofficial chip leaders from Day 2C:

1. Mark Kroon (507,300)

2. Vladimir Geshkenbein (467,500)

3. Victor Figueroa (460,600)

4. Dirk Van Luijk (455,000)

5. William Reymond (405,000)

6. Michael Mizrachi (394,600)

7. Ryan Olson (364,700)

8. Peter Kamaras (354,400)

9. Yann Dion (348,200)

10. Jean-Robert Bellande (320,900)

Play will resume at noon Thursday with the entire field playing as one. There are approximately 2,000 players remaining in the event at this time.

Small blinds: The feature tables will be used for the first time Thursday. I'm assuming Doyle Brunson will be the headliner to start the day. ... The husband and wife who were playing at the same table today advanced. ... There's an unfortunate story reported over Twitter and by PokerListings that Raj Ajmari was seated at his table on Day 1 when he was made aware of the passing of his father. Ajmari did not show up on Day 2C and was blinded out. ... The top four players in the WSOP Player of the Year race have been eliminated. ... Joseph Cheong was eliminated on Day 2. Since his run in 2010, Cheong has played 22 days of the main event. That is most definitely a record. ... I haven't been outside in five days. Send vitamin D. ... Political predictor Nate Silver and NHL goaltender Roberto Luongo were eliminated on Day 2. ... The only former main event champions remaining are Doyle Brunson, Greg Merson, Carlos Mortensen, Phil Hellmuth, Tom McEvoy and Johnny Chan. ... The busts of Chris Moneymaker and Doyle Brunson are now flanking the entrance way to the feature table area. While I think the premise is great, I'm not sure either one of them actually looks like the person it's trying to represent.