1:30 a.m. ET: The WSOP main event is down to the final three tables and 27 players who hope to reach the final table and become part of the November Nine. Phil Ivey did his part throughout the day and was able to chip up to remain in the top five heading into the final day of play on Wednesday. Ivey continually picked apart his table ... it didn't matter which one. He put himself in great position for a run on Wednesday, and among the players in the remaining field, nobody can match Ivey's experience when it comes to late-stage tournament play. His biggest concern of the day was the potential of having an "eight-level" Wednesday. While that may seem a little extreme, it can't be counted out yet since the average stack is over 67 big blinds.
Sixty-four players started the day, and three of the five very notable names were eliminated before dinner. Joe Sebok, Tom Schneider and Blair Rodman were sent home, leaving the focus on Ivey and Antonio Esfandiari.
Esfandiari looked to be sailing along until one key hand against Darvin Moon with 10 minutes to go before dinner. Half of Esfandiari's stack was gone, and he would need to battle through during the final two eliminations if he wanted to earn an additional $100,000 in his main-event paycheck. After dinner, Esfandiari moved all-in on one hand, but wasn't called. Then he won another medium-sized pot and looked to be back ... then lost most of his stack again to Moon, then doubled up with aces versus jacks, and finally ended up with just over $4 million. What a roller coaster for Esfandiari, who had all the fans cheering for him in the Amazon Room.
Outside of the feature table, Luis Nargentino was eliminated in 29th, and Joe Ward went out in 28th, resulting in our remaining Day 8 field of 27 players. Everyone believed that the day should've been over a little quicker after a player open-shoved with Ah-10h and was called by his opponent's pocket jacks. Of course, the A-10 flops a flush and doubles up.
Players will return to the Amazon Room at noon on Wednesday for a very long day, and they'll play until only nine remain. The 2009 November Nine will have four months to prepare and let the public learn their stories. While the media might not know a ton about them now, we'll interview them and share their stories and hopefully allow everyone a little insight into the nine players who had an amazing run during the 2009 WSOP.
Here are the current chip leaders:
Darvin Moon ($20.1 million)
Billy Kopp ($15.9 million)
Steven Begleiter ($11.9 million)
Phil Ivey ($11.4 million)
Kevin Schaffel ($11.2 million)
Antoine Saout ($11.1 million)
Jeff Shulman ($10.2 million)
Eric Buchman ($10.0 million)
Jamie Robbins ($9.8 million)
Ben Lamb ($9.4 million)
Small blinds: One player at the feature table today never removed any of his player bracelets from the previous day, so his wrist is full of blue bracelets. ... Luis Nargentino was all alone out here and ate by himself while he watched the All-Star Game. He lost a hand when he moved all-in postflop with the nut flush draw and ran into the top pair, top kicker of Ben Lamb. ... Robert Williamson has been here watching the entire day. ... Leo Margets has a very vocal following. ... There is a guard here at all times during play, watching the WSOP championship bracelet. ... I still don't get the guy opening the pot with a 30 big blind shove. And of course, he was rewarded. ... Darvin Moon showed that he had pocket aces -- again! Twice! "Life is good," he says. ... The new chant is, "Ivey, Ivey, Ivey, Ivey!" Say it quickly. That's what his fans are doing. ... Some lady did the Antonio Esfandiari wave, the one he did after winning his WPT event. Quite funny. ... Joe Ward was eliminated when his A-K was rivered by his opponent's A-Q.