World Series of Poker Nears November Nine

 

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Day 5 of the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) rolled on in Las Vegas today, with just under 250 players remaining at the time of writing. The face atop the leaderboard is a familiar one, Alexander Kostritsyn, who made the semifinals of the $10,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em Championship several weeks ago and banked $219,000. As the field becomes smaller and smaller, Kostritsyn’s odds of winning get larger and larger. Even if the game were to switch to Razz, Kostritsyn would still have an edge, as he finished 10th in the $50,000 Player’s Championship this year, tripling his investment.

Right behind Kostritsyn on the leaderboard is another non-American, Theo Jorgensen, who once faced off against Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen in a boxing match – you read that right. Jorgensen defeated Hansen in the epic bout and now looks to knock out a field of nearly 7,400 in the WSOP Main Event. Jorgensen is also a bracelet winner, having taken down a £5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event during the 2008 WSOP Europe festivities.

Then, there are the online guys, who all own top 10 stacks midway through Day 5. Matt “mcmatto” Affleck led the Main Event at one point last year and has picked up right where he left off. Joseph “subiime” Cheong is a Mini Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) event champion and also has wins in the site’s $100 Cubed and $75,000 Guaranteed. Bryn Kenney has an embattled past, but has done nothing but succeeded on the online and live felts; he has three cashes at this year’s WSOP for over $150,000 total.

Affleck was seated alongside fellow online poker stud Tony “Bond18” Dunst, who entered Day 5 as the chip leader. In an interview with CardPlayer on Wednesday, Affleck revealed how he’s managed to plug along in the $10,000 buy-in feature tournament: “Deep stack poker is fun. However, I’m getting to play a lot of small pots right now, which is nice. I don’t have any need to take a really big gamble right now. I am just raising and taking the blinds a lot.”

Then, there’s the ridiculous tale of the Mizrachi brothers, all four of whom made the money. Michael, Robert, Danny, and Eric made it past the 747-player money bubble. Michael sits at 99th on the leaderboard around 9:30pm PT on Wednesday, while Robert is in 126th. These two met at the final table of the Player’s Championship, with “The Grinder” ultimately sending Robert packing in fifth place.

When you watch ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event unfold, remember the words Johnny Chan. You’ll hear Norman Chad spout off several catch phrases about the 10-time bracelet winner and back-to-back Main Event champion, who is making a strong case to land a spot in this year’s November Nine. Chan, who has been at or near the top of the chip counts for just about the entire tournament, has the 26th largest stack at 1.68 million. Not too shabby.

To say Chan has struggled as of late on the WSOP stage would be an understatement. He hasn’t won a bracelet since 2005 and has had just 10 in the money finishes since. He’s made only three final tables since his last bracelet, but managed to take third in the 2010 Tournament of Champions, a tournament won by Huck Seed. Chan won the Main Event in 1987 and 1988 before UB.com pro Phil Hellmuth defeated him heads-up in 1989.

It’s hard to believe that we’ll know our November Nine on Saturday. The field will be whittled down to 27 on Friday and then down to nine one day later. The survivors will undergo dozens and dozens of media interviews in a four-month span before returning to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in November to determine a champ.

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