Welcome to Day 5 of the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event, a day which promises to bring even more intensity and excitement as the marathon march toward this year's final table continues.
It was a drama-filled Day 4 yesterday that began with the cash bubble bursting during the first level and Farzad Bonyadi becoming the unfortunate 649th-place finisher, with hundreds of players then following him to the rail as the field whittled down to just 239 by night's end. The elimination of Doyle Brunson in 409th earned the most notice, with players applauding the two-time Main Event champion and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner as he cashed in the ME for the fifth straight decade.
Jon Lane returns as the start-of-day chip leader with 2,839,000, one of a small group bagging more than 2 million last night that included Sami Rustom, Grayson Ramage, Victor Cianelli, Seaver Kyaw, Yann Dion, and Kevin Williams. Meanwhile Brett Richey, David Benefield, Mark Newhouse, Jackie Glazier, Ashley Mason, Yevgiviy Timoshenko, and Rep Porter are among the many strong players who did well on Day 4 to end with healthy stacks around twice the current average of just under 800,000.
Two former WSOP Main Event winners remain in the hunt, with last year's champion Greg Merson returning to a stack of 635,000 and 2001 WSOP ME winner Carlos Mortensen coming back to about half that. 2007 WSOP Europe Main Event winner Annette Obrestad will be returning as well to a big stack of 1,186,000 as she furthers her effort to become the only player besides Phil Hellmuth to win both the WSOP and WSOPE Main Events.
In addition to Merson, other "Octo-Niners" from the 2012 WSOP ME final table made runs into the money this time around, with both Russell Thomas (306th) and Robert Salaburu (355th) cashing yesterday, and last year's ninth-place finisher Steve Gee coming back today to a stack of 466,000. Meanwhile two players found their way into the money for a record-tying fourth straight year, with Christian Harder going out in 608th and Ronnie Bardah returning today to above average chips.
Last year Day 5 saw the field shrink to less than 100 players as the end-of-day chip leader (Kyle Keranen) neared the 7 million-chip mark. Today should follow a similar path as the field gets smaller, the stacks get bigger, and players' dreams of making it to the final table edge closer to reality.
Play resumes at 12 p.m. Pacific time, and we'll be here once again at PokerNews to bring you start-to-finish coverage from the WSOP Main Event. While waiting for cards to go back in the air, take a look as Kristy Arnett brings a recap of yesterday's action and a preview of what's to come: