It’s about to get real in the 2016 World Series of Poker main event. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been significant action and movement for the 2,186 players who made it through to Day 3 (and it has certainly been significant to those no longer in the tournament, whose main event title hopes must wait another year). But the next several days hold periodic milestones that each represent a significant step toward setting the November Nine.
The first happens as soon as cards are in the air Thursday, as all of the remaining competitors are all under one roof for the first time. Then there’s the money bubble, which should happen on Day 4, and then the whole field condensed to single room, which also should happen on Friday.
Before all that can take place, however, the initially massive Day 2C field had to be cut down significantly; 3,226 hopefuls arrived at 11 a.m. with hopes of surviving 11 hours of poker on Wednesday, but only 1,416 were successful in that particular endeavor.
A pair of Brazilians occupied two of the top three spots in the end of Day 2C chip counts, led by Gustavo Lopes. His 630,700 puts him in second overall, behind overwhelming Day 2A/B chip leader Valentin Vornicu. Lopes’ countryman Rafael Moraes (571,900) ended play Wednesday third on Day 2C and sixth overall, with Italian Raffaele Castro sandwiched between them at 587,000 even. Castro has two WSOP-related cashes, and both of them were final table appearances; he finished eighth to eventual champion Tony Dunst in Event 63 at the 2016 WSOP, and took fourth in the WSOP Circuit main event on home soil in Campione, Italy, in September.
Among the top five, one notable player stands out: Michael Mizrachi. The Grinder, a three-time WSOP bracelet winner and two-time $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship winner, has a history of building up big stacks in this tournament, and while he broke through in 2010 with a November Nine appearance and a fifth-place finish in the main event, it was one of only two career cashes in this tournament.
He has 12 cashes already at the 2016 WSOP, with a third career $50,000 PPC final table among those results.
“I’m having a good series, and it’s all coming at the end of the series, so it’s been a very hot streak for me,” Mizrachi said. “I’ve been the chip leader in almost all of those events [at some point].”
As for why he has often been able to build a big stack early in this tournament, Mizrachi offered a simple answer.
“I play really well against bad players, and that always helps,” Mizrachi said.
Andrew Chen (447,200), Steve O’Dwyer (441,600), Ole Schemion (438,400), JC Alvarado (430,700) and Marc-Andre Ladouceur (410,500) also put together stellar Day 2C’s and finished in the top-50 overall chip counts heading into Thursday.
Only six previous WSOP main event champions are still in the mix going into Day 3, but several of them have healthy stacks.
2015: Joe McKeehen -- 182,900
2013: Ryan Riess -- 349,900
2004: Greg Raymer -- 179,800
1989: Phil Hellmuth -- 82,300
1987 & 1988: Johnny Chan -- 154,300
1983: Tom McEvoy -- 119,400
Hellmuth, the shortest of the bunch, is no stranger to grinding the very most out of a stack that he can get.
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) July 14, 2016
Top 10 overall chip counts
Valentin Vornicu (San Diego) -- 838,600
Gustavo Lopes (Brasilia, Brazil) -- 630,700
Raffaele Castro (Lugano, Italy) -- 587,000
Jamie Shaevel (Santa Monica, Calif.) -- 586,000
Alvaro Lopez (Tucson, Ariz.) -- 573,200
Rafael Moraes (Sao Paolo) -- 571,900
Albert Daher (Lebanon) -- 570,200
Ramin Hajiyev (Baku, Azerbaijan) -- 558,400
Michael Mizrachi (Hollywood, Fla.) -- 549,400
Chad Power (Pittsburgh) -- 546,800
Negreanu, Ivey and Holz among 2C casualties
More than half of the Day 2C field was eliminated over the course of five and half levels Wednesday, but there was a particularly tough stretch for casual poker fans and those who appreciate a good narrative as two legends of the game and a white-hot 22-year-old all went out in rapid succession. Daniel Negreanu couldn’t put together the same kind of magic he had for most of the main event in 2015 …
Busted the main event with 99 vs AQ. Stretched my chips as long as I could. Two days without cooperation from the deck and had to flip. — Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 14, 2016
Fedor Holz fell out too, ending a summer for the ages …
I'm done here. Gl everyone still in! #homesweethomesoon
— Fedor Holz (@CrownUpGuy) July 14, 2016
And finally Phil Ivey, who was playing his first and only event of the 2016 WSOP, joined them on the rail.
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry was in the field for Day 2C Wednesday, but his run came to a close a couple of levels into the day. … Players still in the field who have a certain level of fame outside of poker include Ray Romano (72,600), John Arne Riise (40,200), former "Survivor" contestants Garrett Adelstein (425,100) and Anna Khait (159,800), former "Amazing Race" contestant Maria Ho (435,000) and current "Master Chef" contestant (and 2004 WSOP main event runner-up) David Williams (4,400). … With two out of their three starting sessions in the books, the $1,111 Little One for One Drop has attracted 2,934 total entries, with 344 already through to Day 2 Friday. The turnout for Day 1C is expected to beat both previous days' turnout. … The schedule was changed several times over the past few days, but a final plan that includes a noon PT start time for the remainder of the main event was pushed out Wednesday afternoon.
What’s next: Day 3 of the 2016 WSOP main event kicks off at noon PT at the Rio, with action spread across three rooms. In all, there will be 10.5 hours of play on Day 3, with an 80-minute dinner break scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PT.