LAS VEGAS -- The Amazon Room feels more spacious than ever after a fast-moving Day 4 of the World Series of Poker main event. Only 239 players remain in contention for the $8.3 million top prize, and Jonathan Lane will lead the field into Day 5 action Saturday. Day 4 featured some dramatic moments, especially the elimination of Doyle Brunson, but began with a quick money bubble and the eruption of the room in applause after the elimination of Farzad Bonyadi. All players who made the money earned at least $19,106.
Lane finished Day 4 with 2.8 million in chips, a third of which came in a big pot against Nicholas Immekus late in the night when he made a strong call on a seven-high board postflop with his A-K to eliminate Immekus and his A-4. He was able to chip up slowly throughout the rest of the day, avoiding the major confrontations.
"I pretty much played solid poker, had some good fortune and ran it up," said Lane who is playing in his sixth main event. "This is what it's all about. This is the dream. I've been working to this for a long time, and I just want to take it home."
The Wisconsin native played online a lot before Black Friday but hasn't been playing all that much recently. He's played 20 events this WSOP with one small cash, but he can't help but think about the fact that the main event is an altogether different beast and an event where he's already found success. Lane finished 88th in the 2005 WSOP and was chip leader.
"It would mean a lot," Lane said about making the final table. "I've always dreamed about it, and I'm just trying to focus and, through willpower and determination, get through the field. You only get so many chances to go through the main."
Lane, Grayson Ramage, Ami Alibay, Vladimir Geshkenbein, Victor Cianelli and Vincent Robert were the only players to bag more than 2 million in chips, but there's a long way to go until the final table. Only a handful of players in this room understand what it takes to make it there, especially defending champion Greg Merson, 2001 champion Carlos Mortensen and Steven Gee, ninth-place finisher in the 2012 main event. It was a roller-coaster ride for Merson's stack for the second straight day. He peaked near 1 million, was as low as 350,000 and left for the night with 635,000 after a two-level stint of playing very conservatively. He preached patience throughout his run last year, and that's what has led him here once again.
Although Merson, Mortensen, Gee, 2007 WSOP Europe main-event champion Annette Obrestad, Marvin Rettenmaier, JC Tran, Brett Richey, Max Steinberg, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Vivek Rajkumar, Brandon Steven and Greg Mueller all made it through and carry with them results that stand out from the rest of the field, the star power in the main event was greatly affected with the elimination of Brunson in Level 18. The 10-time WSOP main-event bracelet holder battled greatly for the past four days, but ultimately pushed at the wrong time and ran his K-10 into the 10-10 of Sergei Stazhkov. Brunson received an incredible ovation as he left the Amazon Room, but -- just like every other year -- he was disappointed with his result. Brunson finished 409th and earned $28,063. Michael Mizrachi, Marcel Luske, Matt Stout, Bertrand Grospellier, Allen Cunningham and two members of last year's final table, Russell Thomas and Rob Salaburu, were among the 427 eliminations.
Here are the chip leaders after Day 4:
1. Jon Lane (2.8 million in chips)
2. Sami Rustom (2.4 million)
3. Grayson Ramage (2.4 million)
4. Victor Cianelli (2.1 million)
5. Seaver Kyaw (2.0 million)
6. Yann Dion (2.0 million)
7. Vincent Robert (1.9 million)
8. Marc Emond (1.9 million)
9. Robert Sichelstiel (1.9 million)
10. Ami Alibay (1.8 million)
Day 5 begins at noon PT on Saturday, with the blinds at 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante.
Small blinds: Five players at Jon Lane's starting table on Day 5 have more than 1 million in chips. ... Tables are incredibly spaced out now in their setup for Day 5. Lots of room for camera crews to maneuver and a big rail for fans. ... JC Tran was down to just six big blinds on Day 3. Now he has 1.1 million in chips. ... The hallway that leads to the Amazon Room is turning back into a regular hallway and not a major poker-retail center. ... Farzad Bonyadi not only bubbled the main event but then finished 17th in the event at the Bellagio where 15 paid. ... Friends and family have started to arrive at the Rio. ... One player seated at an outside feature table didn't return from the final break until about 20 minutes into the last level of the night. He told his table he fell asleep and his friends had to wake him up. ... Day 5 used to play down to 72, but I'm not sure that's the plan for Saturday. They might play a full five levels again. ... The payout system was really organized this year. No crazy lines or angry players. It seemed as if the WSOP has perfected this process. ... Apparently, the player ninth in chips, Robert Sichelstiel, is a big fan of the Poker Edge. Cool. ... The TV production team put a mike on Umang Dattani, who told us he had never been on TV before. On his very first hand, he gets dealt a royal flush. ... The massage therapist staffers might need to start cutting back. There were way too many masseuses without work, although I did see a guy on the rail getting a massage. ... There are still two players in the main event representing the Republic of Nauru. According to Google, in 2010, the population was only 9,322.