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4am in the morning Vegas time, and after 16 hours of poker against highly skilled opponents, the surviving ten members of World Series of Poker Day 6 are feeling the strain, sipping energy drinks or coffee and trying to hang in to become one of the final 9 who will gather on Tuesday after a rest day to decide once and for all who the 2007 WSOP champ will be.
At risk is a main prize of $8,25 million - substantially less that last year's $12 million but nevertheless impressive and worth fighting for. But every one of the nine survivors from that main event starting field of 6 358 hopefuls will be well rewarded for their skills and good fortune, as the following list of runner up prizes illustrates:
Finally one man, Steven Garfinkle is eliminated by a South African player called Raymond Rahme. For Garfinkle it is acutely disappointing - to last through so many clashes over the past 6 days only to be the last man to exit before the final table. His consolation prize is a hard earned $476 926 and respect for making it so deep into the biggest poker event in the world.
As the tired and plainly relieved nine survivors who will make up the final table on Tuesday pack up, the organisers announce the seating plans and chip stacks for Tuesday's decider:
Seat 1 - Jon Kalmar - 20.32 million
Seat 2 - Lee Childs - 13.24 million
Seat 3 - Philip Hilm - 22.07 million
Seat 4 - Jerry Yang - 8.45 million
Seat 5 - Raymond Rahme - 16.32 million
Seat 6 - Tuan Lam - 21.315 million
Seat 7 - Alex Kravchenko - 6.57 million
Seat 8 - Lee Watkinson - 9.925 million
Seat 9 - Hevad 'Rain' Khan - 9.205 million
Top man Jon Kalmar's presence is a good luck story in itself. The English ex-IT expert from Chorley, England had prepared to leave the WSOP 2-3 days before the Main Event started. At the last minute, he decided to spend $500 on a super satellite and ended up finishing in the top 17, winning a $10 000 main event seat. So he unpacked and postponed his return to the UK and here he is - the biggest chip stack going into the final table.
Kalmar, who has been playing as a professional for the last 2 years, is just one of the 36 survivors who took their seats on Day 6 at noon on Sunday, starting out on a journey that was at times slow and cautious but at others action filled and deeply exciting as multi-million dollar pots often topping 5 million were challenged and won, and respected names in poker were eliminated in the race to the last nine seats.
Names like Scotty Nguyen, the last remaining former WSOP champion who played magnificently and with humour but was bundled out in 11th place by by Philip Hilm, a Dane living in London. Widely respected as the "Prince of Poker" and the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, Nguyen took his elimination - and a reward of $476 926 with equanimity and sportsmanship.
Day 6 started with 36 players at noon Sunday with six WSOP bracelet winners remaining in the field including Scotty Nguyen (4 wins), Bob Slezak (1), Daniel Alaei (1), Lee Watkinson (1), Alex Kravchenko (1), and Bill Edler ( 1).
By late afternoon the field had been halved with only the following still in the hunt: William Spadea (10.950 million), Lee Childs (10.795 million), John Armbrust (10.2 million), Ray Henson (10 million), Philip Hilm (9.985 million), Jerry Yang (9.2 million), Raymond Rahme (8.75 million), Kenny Tran (7.285 million), Jon Kalmar (6. million), David Tran (6.69 million), Tuan Lam (6.105 million), Hevad "Rain" Khan (5.3 million), Lee Watkinson (4.36 million), Bob Slezak (4.28 million), Scotty Nguyen (4.15 million), Kevin Farry (2.97 million), Steven Garfinkle (2.855 million) and Alex Kravchenko (1.54 million).
The exuberant Internet player Hevad Kahn, who can reportedly play over 28 tables at once on Poker Stars.com, was far less flamboyant through Day 6 and seemed to be concentrating more on the stiff opposition he faced than grandstanding for the omnipresent cameras.
Eight different nations were represented, including Canada, Denmark, England, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States. Most remaining players (7) come from California. And 12 of the remaining players are non-U.S. residents.
Ten minutes from the start of Day 6 the first player, Robin Bergren headed for the rail in 36th place cashing $285 678; Allan W. King went out almost simultaneously - both victims of plastic surgeon Roy Winston, and five minutes after that Hoa Nguyen headed for the cashier's office and the same payout for his 34th place finish after being eliminated by Lee Childs.
The attrition rate was steady and certainly hard fought by those who were bested, and pots grew ever larger as multi-millions were staked and won.
If Raymond Rahme from South Africa is the oldest player at 62 years, then Scott Freeman (21) was the youngest in Day 6. Freeman is in his fourth year at USC majoring in business and did well before John Armbrust took him out in 19th place for a $333 490 payday. Little did Armbrust know that he was the next to go - eliminated by Lee Childs in 18th place and earning $381 302.
Rahme is from Johannesburg and is a retired entrepreneur who was successful in the auto body business and owned several bed & breakfast hotels.
The players who have survived this far were all in the serious money, with positions 18 to 16 paying $381 302; 15 to 13 paying $ 429 114 and 12 to 10 paying $476 926.
17th place went to civil engineer Kevin Farry, taken down after the dinner break by Kenny Tran and earning $381 302, with Tran himself becoming exit number 16 after a clash with Jon Kalmar that boosted the latter's chip count and put him in the lead at that stage with 17 million in chips.
Rahme eliminated Bob Slezak in 15th place with the exiting player picking up a $429 114 check for his time and trouble. David Tran went in position 14 at $429 114, falling to Tuan Lam. The 13th player out was William Spadea - another casualty of the ruthless Jon Kalmar. It was Ray Henson's turn next, shown the exit in 12th place by Scotty Nguyen for $476 926.
Things started to go wrong for Nguyen when Tuan Lam won a massive 11.46 million pot gainst him - perhaps revenge for an earlier 8.1 million pot that the Prince of Poker had taken from Lam. After that it was only a matter of time before Nguyen went out in 11th place after tangling with an aggressive Philip Hilm. Nguyen's reward was $476 926, and his departure cleared the way for the elimination of Garfinkle in 10th place, leaving the final table set and ready for Tuesday at noon Vegas time.
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