Last night, the last 27 players in the main event played until they were down to 9. I went to bed at 2AM and there were still 11 players. I don't know how long it took them to knock off the final 2, but it must have been a long day regardless. The concentration and stamina needed to excel at the main event this year is incredible!
The final table is now set and the seatings and chip counts for Thursday will be:
Seat 01: Richard Lee - $11,820,000
Seat 02: Erik Friberg - $9,605,000
Seat 03: Paul Wasicka - $7,970,000
Seat 04: Dan Nassif - $2,600,000
Seat 05: Allen Cunningham - $17,770,000
Seat 06: Michael Binger - $3,140,000
Seat 07: Doug Kim - $6,770,000
Seat 08: Jamie Gold - $26,650,000
Seat 09: Rhett Butler - $4,815,000
Jamie Gold has a commanding lead, but this is No Limit and fortunes can change at anytime. Robert Varkoyni, who won the Main Event in 2002, lost his very first hand at the final table with pocket 9's vs. his opponents pocket A's, and was down to next to nothing in chips. He ended up coming back and somehow winning it all. So while Mr. Gold has a distinct advantage, by no means is he a lock. Any of these players can take the brass ring and the $12,000,000 first prize! The difference between first place and second place is 6 million dollars(!). Which means losing the last hand of this tournament will be the most expensive single hand loss at cards ever seen in a public venue. Wow.
There was some drama around my ordering this event on Pay-Per-View. For the last few days, I tried to go to the channel it's on (ESPN3) and buy it through my TV the way I'm supposed to but it never gave me the option to purchase it. No alternate intstructions, just a blank screen. So I started getting nervous last night and thought it might not be available to Time Warner customers. I did some research and found out that Time Warner is a main sponsor of the event so I was pretty sure it should be available for purchase. Plus, it IS listed in the on screen guide. I called up customer service at 1:00 AM and told them the problem. He said he was about to order it for me, but he hadn't done anything yet, when I turned on the guide and surfed over to the event to check one last time. Amazingly, I now had the option of ordering it! I didn't do anything and he said he didn't either. Oh well, I saved myself a $1.99 charge he would have imposed for using him to order it. Kewl. So now we're good to go. Another positive is that I initially thought I wouldn't be able to TIVO the event, but it turns out I can. So we can watch the final table starting from the very beginning if we'd like.
Ok, now the bad news. I've been reading on the message boards that the hole cards will NOT be shown. With this much money at stake, no one wants to risk any information being given to the players. I understand this point of view. After all, even with a significant time delay, any information you can get on how your opponents play can help you later in the game. I hope this doesn't mess up our enjoyment of the final table!