The extraordinary World Series of Poker Main Event journey of Darvin Moon, a 45-year-old Maryland logging company owner who has only been playing poker for three years, continues. Not only has he dominated Day 7 and 8 play, but on almost 59 million at the end of Day 8 action he now holds a substantial chip lead of 24 million over his nearest rival as the final table survivors, known as the November Nine, now pause for a few months before this year's champ is decided.
Day 8 cards hit the air just after noon Vegas time on Wednesday with 27 players left from an original entry field of 6 494. With seven minutes of level 29 still to play and Moon holding the chip lead, it took only twenty minutes for player number 27 to be ousted. It was the only woman left in the tournament – 26-year-old 888 marketing manager Leonora Magrets who's company-sponsored WSOP ride was brought to a halt by South African amateur player Warren Zackey when her ace-seven didn't improve against his ace-10. Her 27th placing payday for the experience was $352 832.
Tournament officials said about three percent of the 6 494 WSOP main event entrants were women this year.
Zackey went on to quickly eliminate Jesse Haabak in 26th place, also for a $352,832 paycheck, but was later eliminated himself.
The two were among four eliminations in the first level of play of the day, which also saw Francois Balmigere taken out in 25th Place for $352 832 by pro Billy Kopp, and big name pro Antonio Esfandiari eliminated for a similar payday by former Bear Sterns broker Steven Beglieter. Esfandiari was one of only two prior World Series of Poker tournament winners left in the contest – the other is the still surviving Phil Ivey – among the 27 players who started the day.
Begleiter and Eric Buchman between them cut down several players as the day wore on with heavier than expected action that saw regular eliminations and millions in chips flying across the tables. This was especially true when the survivors neared the nine man cut-off point and the final table for the really big money to be played for in November.
By late afternoon, the first $500 557 paycheck player, Andrew Lichtenberger, had been taken out in the number 18 slot by Moon, at that stage riding high with 25 million in chips.
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By 6 pm, when Nick Maimone was busted out in 15th place by Buchman, the departing prizemoney had reached $633 022 in the $10 000 buy-in event, and just before 10pm, when Billy Kopp met his 12th placing nemesis in the unstoppable Moon (by then up to 45 million in chips), the take-home had reached $896 730.
The final November Nine player list was decided just before 11pm Vegas time – 11 hours after the start – when Jordan Smith, a 27-year-old player from College Station in Texas, was bundled out of the tournament in 10th place by Darvin Moon, leaving the logger with a chip stack of almost 59 million – way ahead of Buchman as his nearest rival.
Smith's reward for running so deep in the tournament was a check for $896 730.
The official chip count at the end of the day shows Phil Ivey in seventh place on 9.76 million, six times less chips than Moon's top chip count. Ivey continued to play a professional measured game throughout the day, calmly handling bad card setbacks and building his stack.
Official chipstacks at day's end were:
Darvin Moon 58,930,000
Eric Buchman 34,800,000
Steven Begleiter 29,885,000
Jeff Shulman 19,580,000
Joseph Cada 13,215,000
Kevin Schaffel 12,390,000
Phil Ivey 9,765,000
Antoine Saout 9,500,000
James Akenhead 6,800,000
The players now break for the next four months, reconvening November 7th to 10th to battle it out for the top prize of $8.55 million, in the certain knowledge that they will each earn well over a million dollars for making the final table.
Each of the nine players left will be paid $1.26 million this week as ninth-place money. Organisers Harrah's Entertainment will put the rest of the prize money into a conservative interest-bearing account until the day before the final table starts.