Courtesy World Series of Poker
Published Sunday, July 12, 2009 | 11:17 p.m.
Updated Monday, July 13, 2009 | 9:05 a.m.
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Every movie writer in Hollywood should start taking notes, because Warren Zackey is just a few days away from completing the feel good story of the year.
Zackey, a 42-year-old plumbing supplies salesman from Johannesburg, South Africa, currently owns the largest chip stack at the World Series of Poker Main Event after five days of play in his first WSOP event during his first trip to Las Vegas.
"It’s brilliant, excellent," Zackey said. "If I tell somebody in South Africa what it is like, they are not going to believe me. They have to come here. Las Vegas is unbelievable."
Zackey won his entry fee into the Main Event through a tournament at the Piggs Peak Casino in Swaziland in May.
Heading into Day 6 Monday, with only 185 of the original 6,494 players remaining, Zackey has amassed 4,872,000 chips. The average stack is 1,053,081 chips.
Every player still remaining in the Main Event is guaranteed at least $36,626, but if Zackey can hold on to his lead and reach the final table, he will head back to South Africa with at least $1 million.
Zackey said he hopes to stay away from the hectic pace that narrowed the field from 407 players to the remaining 185 Sunday in less than seven hours. When play resumes Monday, blinds will be 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante.
"I will think about it tonight, but I am going to take it easy unless I get some decent cards," Zackey said about his strategy heading into the final three days before the "November Nine" break.
Zackey's path to the final table, however, will not be so simple.
Former Main Event champions Peter Eastgate (927,000) and Joe Hachem (540,000) are still alive along with Dennis Phillips (1,009,000) from the 2008 "November Nine."
Other top players remaining include Phil Ivey (1,380,000), Fabrice Soulier (1,663,000), Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier (973,000), Joe Sebok (992,000), Blair Rodman (905,000), J.C. Tran (720,000), Kenny Tran (752,000) and Prahlad Friedman (715,000).
Two notable female players, Nichoel Peppe (1,630,000) and Leo Margets (544,000), still have a shot at the gold bracelet too.
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips was actually the final person eliminated on Sunday, finishing in 186th place with $36,626.
Gold bracelet winners Dan Harrington (252), Keith Lehr (266), Vitaly Lunkin (346), Bobby Baldwin (352), Thor Hansen (387) were all eliminated Sunday.
The chip leaders are as follows:
1. Warren Zackey (South Africa) - 4,872,000
2. Kasper Cordes (Denmark) - 4,352,000
3. Darvin Moon (USA) - 3,218,000
4. Tom Schneider (USA) - 3,168,000
5. Bernhard Perner (Austria) - 3,022,000
6. Miika Puumalainen (Finland) - 2,894,000
7. Matt Affleck (USA) - 2,882,000
8. Charlie Elias (Australia) - 2,780,000
9. James Akenhead (United Kingdom) - 2,692,000
10. Steven Begleiter (USA) - 2,621,000