LAS VEGAS -- It's cold in here. The Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is home to the world's biggest poker tournament, but after the removal of most of the tables and 97 percent of the field, the vast open space is simply being filled by emptiness and one strong air conditioner. Only 239 players returned on Day 5, and that field was reduced in a hurry with more than 50 eliminations coming in the first level of play.
Greg Mueller made three final tables at the 2013 WSOP and two in 2012 and is a two-time bracelet winner from an incredible run in 2009. He has found success in all variations of the game but said after Day 4 that things just haven't gone right for him in the main event. Mueller did make the money in the main for the first time in his career this year, but Day 5 resulted in a walk out the doors and frustration all over his face.
Mueller opened the pot with J-J and, after a call from the big blind, flopped a set on a K-J-5 board. Mueller's opponent decided to put his chips in with a flush draw and hit, sending the former professional hockey player out in 226th.
"Soooooo crushed!!!," said Mueller on Twitter. "Played my heart out flopped middle set and lose to a flush... Thx for all the support!!! This one stings baaaad!! :("
Deep runs: The effort of defending champion Greg Merson is one of the most significant storylines remaining, but he's joined in good company by a number of players who have found their way deep in the game's biggest event before. In fact, this year is becoming eerily similar to Peter Eastgate's 2009 main event (78th) when the third-place finisher in 2008, Dennis Phillips, finished 45th. Merson and Steven Gee are playing those roles this year, and both continue to grind with below-average stacks.
More stats about a few of the 180 remaining players:
Although they didn't make the final table, Amit Makhija and Roland Israelashvilli both made Day 7 last year. Both were eliminated during this past level.
Chip leader Jon Lane finished 88th in 2005 and added another 500,000 to his stack during the first two hours today. His poise is really something that stands out, and above all, he's clearly having fun. That's great to see.
Brandon Steven bubbled the main event final table in 2009. With his lucky masseuse by his side, he's already chipped up to 1.6 million today.
JC Tran is deep once again. Look at this: 2004 (117th), 2005 (117th), 2007 (493rd), 2008 (108th), 2012 (561st), 2013 (??). Simply impressive.
Grayson Ramage finished 35th in 2009.
2001 WSOP main event champion Carlos Mortensen is making his third cash in this year's event. He finished 217th in 2007.
Small blinds: Only four women remain in the field after the eliminations of Estelle Denis and Kristy Gazes. ... Merson is seated at the feature table with Brett Richey. Chip leader Jon Lane is sitting at an outside feature table. ... The plan is for five levels today, but we might be down to the final 27 by then at the rate this is going. ... Regarding my note about Nauru: Apparently the registration desk confused the Netherlands with Nauru. Nobody in the main event field is from Nauru. Unfortunately. That would have been a crazy story. ... The shuffle machines will now be used. That should speed up play a bit, which I'm not sure is needed. ... Eliminations during this past level include Scott Freeman, Vivek Rajkumar and Josh Field. For many online poker fans, the elimination of "JJ Prodigy" is probably of significant interest due to his troublesome past.