Day 4 of the 2016 World Series of Poker main event featured a tight race for the overall chip lead, with a number of players taking their turn in the top spot throughout the day. Maria Ho made an early push, Melanie Weisner followed as the top two spots were both occupied by women in a landmark moment, and then the race descended into something of a free-for-all.
When the dust had settled, two WSOP bracelet winners held the slightest of edges and earned the top two slots overnight heading into Day 5. Bryan Piccioli, who won the opening event at World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific in 2013, and who is former No. 1 online player in the world, was the only one to bag over 4 million, coming in at 4,026,000 to pace the 251 who made it to the end of Day 4 Friday.
"Today was so much fun," Piccioli said. "I'm just taking it one level at a time, to be honest. I see a bunch of great players climbing the leaderboard, so I know that down the road, things could get sticky, and who knows what the table draw could bring."
Piccioli drew a fairly good table for his stack, with only one other player over 2 million, although he does have Max Altergott and David Pham sitting with him to start the day. When asked if there was one player in particular who concerned him in the field, Piccioli did have one individual to single out.
"James Obst," Piccioli said. "I don't want him anywhere near me. [If we get to that point] if he's near me at the final table, I'll be fully fine with it."
Just behind Piccioli is Dan Colman, the 2014 $1 million Big One for One Drop champion who hopes to add a November Nine appearance to a resume that already includes winning one of the largest prizes in tournament poker history. He started the day with 389,000, and after maintaining a relatively steady stack for most of the day, Colman rode a massive rush late to end with 3,711,000.
It’s quite the tight race from there, as the top 11 stacks all have at least 3 million. Weisner’s stack started to take some hits after she reached her peak, and it looked like she’d be closer to 50th than the top 10 until Weisner woke up with pocket aces and got involved in a five-bet, all-in showdown against ace-king of hearts and held.
This pot put her just over 3 million -- her peak for the tournament.
"It was really funny, actually," Weisner said. "I had aces earlier in the day and won a big pot with them, and then I spent the rest of the day chipping down. I didn't really have many spots throughout the day. I was thinking before the last hand, 'Man, I really haven't had aces since the beginning of the day, why can't I just have them again?' Then I got dealt them."
Despite the swings of being the chip leader, running cold through the middle of the day and then the monster win at the end, Weisner was calm and collected throughout Day 4.
"It's awesome that I can do this well in this kind of tournament," Weisner said. "It's so cool, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I'm trying to do the best I can, not leave anything behind and have no regrets. There are still plenty of non-pros left in this field, but things are going to depend on the table draw, which is going to be the most important thing going forward by an order of magnitude."
Just two previous main event champions have hopes of adding another title to the trophy case. Two-time winner Johnny Chan sits in the middle of the pack with 968,000 -- just two spots behind 2004 WSOP main event champion Greg Raymer (992,000) in the chip counts.
Scott Montgomery (1,175,000) and Antoine Saout (2,283,000) are the last two players with November Nine experience, making the main event final table in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Top 10 chip counts
1. Bryan Piccioli (Allegany, New York) -- 4,026,000
2. Dan Colman (Holden, Massachusetts) -- 3,711,000
3. Thomas Miller (East Hampton, New York) -- 3,684,000
4. Pierre Merlin (Chalon Sur Saone, France) -- 3,396,000
5. Farhad Jamasi (Ocoee, Florida) -- 3,380,000
6. Goran Mandic (Zagreb, Croatia) -- 3,216,000
7. Adi Abugazal (Los Angeles) -- 3,180,000
8. Daniel Zack (Princeton, New Jersey) -- 3,085,000
9. Melanie Weisner (Houston) -- 3,078,000
10. Tom Middleton (Silsden, England) -- 3,025,000
Recapping notable bust-outs
Leo Wolpert (797th)
Will Failla (791st)
Kenny Tran (766th)
The day’s earliest casualties included a pair of WSOP bracelet winners in Wolpert and Tran.
Anton Wigg (764th)
Richard Lee (749th)
Jason Senti (734th)
Paul Newey (726th)
Matt Matros (712th)
David Benefield (699th)
Perry Friedman (681st)
David Tuchman (668th)
The first pay jump of the day earned those who went out in this tier to earn an additional $1,000. Lee, Senti and Benefield all have main event final tables to their credit, while Tuchman made a successful transition from manning live stream commentary all summer for the WSOP to a run into Day 4 of the main event.
Tom McEvoy (644th)
Aditya Agarwal (621st)
McEvoy was one of four WSOP main event champions who made Day 4.
Dan Kelly (577th)
Bruce Peery (559th)
Kelly is a two-time bracelet winner, having most recently won at the WSOP in 2014.
Liv Boeree (528th)
Gavin Griffin (505th)
Andrew Lichtenberger (499th)
Griffin was the first player to win poker’s Triple Crown (WSOP, WPT and EPT titles)
Federico Butteroni (472nd)
Barry Shulman (469th)
Antonio Esfandiari (449th)
William Tonking (421st)
Butteroni and Tonking were the last two members of the 2015 WSOP November Nine left standing in this tournament.
Matthew Ashton (406th)
Cord Garcia (376th)
Garcia won the inaugural Colossus event in 2015.
Lee Markholt (350th)
Ray Dehkharghani (339th)
Jamie Kerstetter (325th)
Jason Somerville (320th)
Jean Gaspard (304th)
Dehkharghani and Gaspard each one bracelets earlier in the 2016 WSOP.
Eoghan O’Dea (276th)
Ryan Riess (271st)
Steve O’Dwyer (261st)
Riess, the 2013 WSOP main event champion and last winner from the November Nine era in the field, went out just before the end of the night on Day 4.
Small blinds: A long Day 3 is in store for the $1,111 Little One for One Drop, with 104 players still in the running for the final bracelet to be awarded this summer. Guillaume Diaz is the chip leader going into Saturday with 1,282,000, with Mike Sowers (987,000), Ryan D’Angelo (850,000), Chris Ferguson (561,000) and Jeff Madsen (530,000) among the most notable big stacks. Action resumes at 2 p.m. PT. … the Brasilia Room now joins the Pavilion Room in being cleared out, as the last hands of the 2016 WSOP in each location have been dealt. All remaining tournament action, including the main event, Little One for One Drop finale and whichever Daily Deepstacks run, all will take place in the Amazon Room.
What’s next: Day 5 of the 2016 WSOP main event begins at noon PT, with blinds of 12,000/24,000 and a 4,000 ante. Five two-hour levels are scheduled for Saturday’s action.