LAS VEGAS -- Boos are rarely heard at the World Series of Poker Main Event. But on Tuesday, a chorus of boos from players and fans alike echoed through the Amazon Room in the Rio when tournament officials decided to send players on their 90-minute dinner break instead of playing through the cash bubble with 751 players remaining.
The Main Event pays the top 747 finishers, and 15 minutes were remaining in the level when play was suspended.
When play resumed, hand-for-hand action began -- with every table having to complete a hand
before the field could begin the next one. This allowed tournament officials to determine exactly which player finished out of the money
in 748th place. Players who finished between 676th and 747th won $19,263 each.
Spectators -- most of whom were cheering for their loved ones to reach the money -- lined up three deep along the roped-off perimeter of the tournament floor for hand-to-hand play. Wives and girlfriends (WAGs) tried to position themselves in the sight lines of their significant others. Friends and family crowded onto the raised platform overlooking the TV tables in the corner of the Amazon Room. But all of their eyes were trained on the mass of tables in the middle of the room.
As hands finished, players would race over to the rail
and give their fans updates. "Can you believe it!" one player told his friends after folding his hand. "I bet, he raises, he re-raises and he goes all in. Unbelievable."
One WAG, who had snared a seat inside the tournament ropes, shot her player a smile when the 749th player had been eliminated.
Tournament Director Jack Effel had to threaten players with one-round penalties to keep them from racing to tables with all-in
Kido Pham was the first player to go in hand-for-hand play. He exited on the very first hand when play resumed.
On the third hand of hand-for-hand play, Kevin Boudreau was thinking about pushing all in and risking his tournament life. But he was waffling on his decision and tried to get some more information from a tournament official.
"What do I get if I bust out
here (on the bubble)?" Boudreau asked. "Is it a $1,500 buy-in
or a $10,000 buy-in?"
"I don't know," responded the WSOP official. "I know you get something, but I don't know what it is. They'll announce it later."
That wasn't enough of a guarantee for Boudreau, so he decided to play the pot rather than move all in. When an ace hit on the flop, he folded to what turned out to be pocket
aces, and dodged elimination.
Two hands later, Boudreau was at it again.
"I love the bubble," said the short-stacked Boudreau as he pushed all in for 41,000. Joe Parish, who had Boudreau covered, called and Boudreau was in danger of being eliminated.
Luckily for Boudreau, he was holding the best hand. His ace-king beat Parish's queen-eight and Boudreau doubled up.
On the sixth hand of hand-for-hand play -- exactly one hour after hand-for-hand play had started -- Tim McDonald became the bubble boy of the 2010 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 748th place and out of the money.
The remaining 747 players cheered the announcement of McDonald's elimination. They were in the money
at the 2010 WSOP Main Event.
As a reward for earning the dubious distinction of 2010 WSOP Main Event bubble boy, McDonald was given a free entry into the 2011 WSOP Main Event.
When regular play resumed after McDonald's elimination, the atmosphere -- and action -- in the Amazon Room mirrored the lyrics from "We're in the Money."
We're in the money
Come on, my honey
Let's spend it, lend it, send it-
Let's spend it, lend it, send it
And spend it and send it, they did.
In the 25 minutes following the burst of the money bubble, 54 players busted out of the tournament. Sixty minutes later, 119 more had hit the rail, leaving 574 survivors from the original Main Event field of 7,319 when play ended for the night.
Rolf Slotboom, Annie Duke, Dan Harrington, Robert Varkonyi, Barry Greenstein, Jonathan Aguiar and Erica Schoenberg were among the players who busted out of the money.
Gavin Smith, Allen Cunningham, Erich Mizrachi, Paul Magriel, Frank Kassela and Mel Judah were among the players who made the money on Day 4, but were eliminated in the post-bubble all-in frenzy.
While players short on chips were looking for a way to make the money Tuesday, Scotty Nguyen was busy having fun at their -- and ESPN's -- expense.
When two players at his table moved all in, Nguyen got up from his chair and walked around for a minute. Then he returned to the table and yelled out, "Hey, Scotty's all in, baby."
Reporters and ESPN cameras raced to Nguyen's table only to find out that Nguyen was yanking their chain.
"See, Scotty even bluffed the ESPN cameras," said Nguyen, continuing the third-person references to himself.
When Nguyen wasn't bluffing the cameras, he was moving his way into contention. Ngyuen started the day with 47,800, and built his chip
stack up to 630,000 by the time the day had ended.
Another player who made a big move up the leaderboard was Josh Brikis. A day after giving Johnny Chan problems, Brikis chipped up again and has close to 1.2 million in chips.
Chan wasn't far behind Brikis Tuesday, ending the night with 1.159 million. Tony Dunst is the current chip leader
, with 1.546 million in chips.