Just one day of poker separates the final 26 players in the 2018 World Series of Poker main event from the most coveted final table of the year.
Tuesday's main event action took on a much more conventional feel than Monday's, after storms in Las Vegas knocked out power and cut Day 5 play short as players finished out hands by cell phone and camera light. The play was no less chaotic and frenetic, though, as the field was drastically reduced from the 109 who started play on Tuesday with dreams of the $8.8 million grand prize.
After a few consecutive days in which the chip counts were bunched together at the top, a significant hierarchy developed in the final moments of play on Day 6. Aram Zobian bagged 41.5 million in chips to hold a lead of nearly an average stack over his closest competitors, Artem Metalidi (30.8 million) and Antoine Labat (28.4 million).
"I can't even comprehend how good I'm running right now," Zobian said shortly after the close of action. "Definitely blessed. Never ran this good in a tournament -- not even close. Hopefully that'll be true for tomorrow as well."
Though Kelly Minkin's 50th-place finish once again precluded the possibility of a woman winning poker's world championship, there are some very interesting stories brewing as we head into play-down day. The foremost among them is Joe Cada's pursuit of some dizzying accomplishments. The 2009 WSOP main event champion is hoping to become the first repeat winner of this tournament since the late Stu Ungar won his third title in 1997, as well as the first main event champ to return to the final table since Dan Harrington did it in 2004.
"I think just my experience alone, playing so much poker, helps me out here," said Cada. "I'm just happy to get through the day, to be honest. It's been a long six days -- I'm remembering what this process feels like now."
Additionally, France's Sylvain Loosli, who finished fourth in 2013, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Ben Lamb, Antoine Saout, Mark Newhouse and Jeff Shulman by making a second WSOP main event final table appearance in the modern era.
There are two multiple WSOP bracelet winners among the final 26 -- Cada and Eric Froehlich -- as well as one-time winners Barry Hutter, Ivan Luca and Rich Zhu. Ten of the 26 have at least $1 million in career tournament earnings, with at least two others -- Jeff Trudeau and 2016 main event 11th-place finisher John Cynn -- already guaranteed to push past that mark with their results in this tournament.
Though he'll start Day 7 among the shorter stacks, Trudeau stole a number of headlines on Tuesday with one of the most stunning calls in recent WSOP main event history. On a board of 6c-5s-2d-Ks-Qh, Trudeau faced an all-in bet of 3.3 million from Laurynas Levinskas and ultimately called with just Ac-Jc, for an ace-high hand. Levinskas had 8d-7d, a busted straight draw, and was eliminated while Trudeau shot up to second place early in the day.
Because they played deeper into the night than expected on Day 6, thanks in large part to the power outage on Monday, Day 7 play will begin at noon PT Wednesday (play was originally scheduled to start at 11 a.m.). The action will be broadcast on a 30-minute delay throughout the day on PokerGo, with a two-hour block of coverage on ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. PT.
Notable Day 6 eliminations
28th: Clayton Fletcher ($230,475)
39th: Shannon Shorr ($189,165)
41st: Brian Yoon ($189,165)
42nd: Benjamin Pollak ($189,165)
46th: James Obst ($156,265)
50th: Kelly Minkin ($156,265)
55th: Rifat Palevic ($129,930)
63rd: Mike Cordell ($129,930)
69th: Jordan Cristos ($108,745)
86th: Jack Duong ($77,695)
105th: Shaun Deeb ($57,010)
The $3,000 six-handed pot-limit Omaha event played well into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, but Ronald Keijzer ultimately persevered and won his first career gold bracelet, defeating Romain Lewis heads up to capture his first WSOP gold bracelet and $475,033.
With his 105th-place finish in the main event, Shaun Deeb sits approximately 19 points behind John Hennigan in the 2018 WSOP Player of the Year race with a handful of events to go.
The $1,111 Little One for One Drop is down to 125 players, with Justin Liberto in the lead. There are two more days of play before a winner is crowned on Thursday. Liberto also bagged a solid stack in the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha/no-limit hold 'em event, which drew 707 players.
The $5,000 semi-turbo no-limit hold 'em event drew 452 entries, with 39 players making it through the day. The two-day tournament saw the likes of Chance Kornuth, Liv Boeree, Matt Glantz, Griffin Benger, Jeremy Ausmus, Darryll Fish and Davidi Kitai, among others, make a push at a late-summer bracelet. Also well in the mix is Phil Hellmuth, with designs on his record-extending 15th career WSOP gold bracelet. The winner's prize is $485,082.
Eight players remain in the $3,000 six-handed limit hold 'em event, with Juha Helppi and Yaser Al-Keliddar tied for the lead, and Barry Greenstein and Mike Schneider still in contention.