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Best of Vin Narayanan
27 players still vying for WSOP Main Event final table16 July 2012
The friends and family members become instant poker experts -- talking about hands in progress in golf voices with extreme confidence -- and vociferous when their player is in a showdown situation.
Cries of "king ball," "queen" and "ocho" ring through the room as they call for the card that's going to help their player. The rail invokes the player's "one time" without permission. Groans fill the room on bad beats. The celebrations of hands won are filled with shouts that echo through the now mostly empty Amazon Room.
And the Main Event turns from a tournament of curious poker fans watching a game they love to a raucous celebration of what these players have accomplished.
With friends and family watching, Sunday's Day 6 action began with 97 players remaining from the original field of 6,598. And when the noisy roller coaster of a day ended, only 27 players still had a chance to win the Main Event and $8.5 million.
Jeremy Ausmus and Daniel Strelitz vaulted into the chip lead midway through the day. Strelitz ended the night second in chips with 12.79 million. Ausmus saw some of his chips slip away towards the end of the night and is tenth in chips with 8.3 million. Marc Ladouceur is the chip leader with 15.875 million.
A few big hands helped Strelitz power his way to the top of the leaderboard.
First, Strelitz doubled up to 6 million when his pocket kings held against Wilfried Haerig's Ax-Kx. Then he busted Eric Legoff when his pocket eights held against pocket fives. Then he forced Robert Salaburu and Marty Zabib to fold while vying for another big pot and he was at 9 million in chips.
While Strelitz found early success, 2012 WSOP Player of the Year candidate Vanessa Selbst ran into trouble.
In one of the first hands of the day, David Balkin pushed all-in for 940,000 with pocket fours. Selbst called with Ac-Jd. A flop of 2h-3c-4s gave Balkin a set and Selbst a wheel draw. But Balkin's three fours held up and Selbst was in serious trouble.
Selbst tried to grind her way back into contention, but ended up exiting the tournament on a heartbreaking hand against Greg Merson.
Selbst moved all in for 750,000 with Qh-7s. Merson called with Ac-8c. A flop of 7c-2c-10s gave Selbst a pair of sevens and hope. But a six on the turn and a nine on the river gave Merson a straight, and Selbst her walking papers. Selbst won $88,070 for finishing 73rd.
Another woman hoping to reach the final table, Marcia Topp, busted out of the tournament in 71st place. Topp won $106,056 for her efforts.
Two women remain in the Main Event field. Elisabeth Hille fifth in chips with 9.77 million and Gaelle Baumann is 20th with 5.53 million. No woman has reached a Main Event final table in the modern poker era.
Baumann, who saw her starting chip stack of 3.98 million rise slightly and then drop sharply partway through the night, won a hand that left one of her opponents pretty embarrassed to get back on track.
On a board reading Ad-10s-9h-7h-4h, David Balkin pushed all in. Baumann called and Balkin showed he had pocket 10s, giving him three of a kind. Baumann turned over the Ah-Jh for the flush and flashed a wry grin as if she was sorry she sucked out on him. Balkin didn't notice the flush on the board or the grin and started celebrating. It wasn't until another player told him he lost the hand that he realized what had transpired, and shipped most of his chips to Baumann. Baumann had around 4.5 million after that hand and didn't look back.
The final table for the Main Event will be determined Monday, when the tournament plays down from 27 players to 9. The final nine players will then take a break until October to allow ESPN's taped television coverage of the tournament to catch up before the live finale.
Best of Vin Narayanan