Players were anxious to get back to the felt on Day 5, but as soon as the cards were in the air the chips went flying as a flurry of eliminations left 17 players in the hunt as they headed to their first break of the day.
Chris Moneymaker started off the action on a major upswing in a key hand against Sam Stein. Moneymaker was in the big blind and called Stein's preflop raise to see a flop of Ad-Qc-10h. Moneymaker checked, Stein bet and Moneymaker called to see a turn 8h. Again, Moneymaker checked, Stein bet and Moneymaker called. The river completed the potential flush with a 6h and for the third time, Moneymaker checked. Stein looked a little uncomfortable as he reached for two big stacks and pushed out a near pot-sized bet. Moneymaker said, "Really?" and then instantly called to see Stein muck on the spot. Moneymaker showed J-10 for third pair and everyone was beyond impressed with his call on the hand.
Chris Oliver regained the chip lead after a hand with Grayson Ramage where his 8-8 would flop a set against Ramage's K-K. Oliver continued to run incredibly well in that hand and ended the level at 5.7 million in chips, but would eliminate Martin Mathis early in the next level to bring him to 6.9 million.
At this point, Moneymaker and Oliver are the only two players above 4 million in chips with 16 to go and there are now only two tables remaining in the tournament area. LAPT Grand Finale runner-up Bolivar Palacios is in third with 3.8 million and Ana Marquez, who began the day with the chip lead, is in fourth with 3.6 million in chips.
Eliminations so far on Day 5 included Joel Patchell ($75,000 in prize money), Greyson Ramage ($75,000), Brian Colin ($87,500), James St. Hilaire ($87,500), Shayne Khanna ($87,500) and Mathis ($87,500). All players remaining have locked up a pay day of at least $100,000.
Small blinds: Brian Colin was not happy to be seated at the feature table as he was not allowed to have a massage. He'd been attended to by a masseuse for the first four days of the tournament and expressed his displeasure to the tournament staff. He quickly busted after lodging that complaint. ... The $5,000 Bounty Shootout will play one round today and two rounds on Friday. It will be broadcast on ESPN2 later this year. ... The Poker Edge interview with Chris Moneymaker after Day 4 can be found here. ... James Hartigan and I discussed the coverage on ESPN2 this weekend and spoke about how you can interact with us. ... Will Failla won the $2,000 no-limit hold 'em side event for nearly a quarter million dollars. ... The AmFAR charity event takes place tonight with many celebrities including Kevin Dillon, John Sallie and Verne Troyer will be in attendance.