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WSOP live blog: Eight Americans out of final nine in Main Event

Two women come in 10th and 11th to narrowly miss final nine

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Steve Marcus

Members of the October Nine pose after making the final table in the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold’Em main event at the Rio Tuesday, July 17, 2012. From left are: RussellThomas, Jacob Balsiger, Jeremy Ausmus, Steven Gee, Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia, Robert Salaburu, Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito. All the players are from the United States except Koroknai who is from Hungary.

Updated Monday, July 16, 2012 | 12:37 a.m.

WSOP's October Nine

Members of the October Nine reach for the championship bracelet held by Jack Effel, World Series of Poker tournament director, after making the final table in the World Series of Poker's $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em main event at the Rio Monday, July 17, 2012. From left are: Russell Thomas, Jacob Balsiger, Jeremy Ausmus, Steven Gee, Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia, Robert Salaburu, Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito. All the players are from the United States except Koroknai who is from Hungary. Launch slideshow »

Players Compete on Day 7 of WSOP Main Event

Robert Salaburu, a poker player from San Antonio Texas, competes in the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em main event at the Rio Monday, July 16, 2012 Launch slideshow »

Chip Counts/Payouts

  • Jesse Sylvia — 43,875,000
  • Andras Koroknai — 29,375,000
  • Greg Merson — 28,725,000
  • Russell Thomas — 24,800,000
  • Steven Gee — 16,860,000
  • Michael Esposito — 16,200,000
  • Robert Salaburu — 15,155,000
  • Jacob Balsiger — 13,155,000
  • Jeremy Ausmus — 9,805,000
  • Gaelle Baumann — 10th for $590,442
  • Elisabeth Hille — 11th for $590,442
  • Scott Abrams — 12th for $590,442
  • Marc-Andre Ladouceur — 13th for $465,159
  • Danny Wong — 14th for $465,159
  • Wilfried Harig — 15th for $465,159
  • Percy Mahatan — 16th for $369,026
  • Robert Buckenmayer — 17th for $369,026
  • David Balkin — 18th for $369,026
  • Jamie Robbins — 19th for $294,601
  • Paul Volpe — 20th for $294,601
  • Robert Corcione — 21st for $294,601
  • Cylus Watson — 22nd for $294,601
  • Yuval Bronshtein — 23rd for $294,601
  • Daniel Strelitz — 24th for $294,601
  • Roland Israelshvilli — 25th for $294,601
  • Jan Heitmann — 26th for $294,601
  • Nico Maag — 27th for $294,601

2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st — $8,527,982
  • 2nd — $5,292,889
  • 3rd — $3,797,558
  • 4th — $2,850,494
  • 5th — $2,154,616
  • 6th — $1,640,461
  • 7th — $1,257,790
  • 8th — $971,252
  • 9th — $754,798

After playing nearly 70 hours worth of poker over the last week, nine players could finally exhale early Tuesday morning at the Rio.

The tension is over until October. A new group of nine is headed to the final table in poker's world championship, the 2012 WSOP Main Event, and getting a check for ninth-place money of $754,798 in the interim.

Gaelle Baumann was narrowly denied becoming the first woman to make the final table since 1995 when Hungary's Andras Koronaki eliminated her in 10th place. Koronaki's Ace-Jack held up against Baumann's Ace-9. Koronaki also eliminated the other female to come close to the final table, Norway's Elisabeth Hille, in 11th.

Koronaki will enter the final table second in chips with approximately 30 million. Headlining this year's group is Jesse Sylvia, who has the lead with more than 40 million chips. The West Tisbury, Mass., native started the day in 13th but won several large pots to work himself to the top of the leader board.

Every player except Koronaki is American, vastly different from last year when seven nations were represented. Greg Merson, third, and Steven Gee, fifth, are both previous bracelet winners. Merson dominated play for much of Monday before Sylvia made his surge in the middle and Koronaki caught fire late.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for full coverage of the Main Event coming shortly.

Elisabeth Hille's exit sets stage for final 10

For the first time this year, every player remaining in the World Series of Poker Main Event is at one table.

Elisabeth Hille went out in 11th moments ago when her Ace-Queen fell victim to Andras Koroknai's pocket 7s. The 10 players left were all brought to the ESPN set where they will re-draw for seats.

It's the final re-draw of the tournament, but it's not officially the final table until nine are left. The possibility of a female making the final table looks more in danger than ever before as Gaelle Baumann is the short-stack with 5 million chips.

She'll need to double up just to pull even with the event's second-to-last player, Las Vegas pro Jeremy Ausmus. Ten-handed play has lasted as long as five hours at the WSOP in the past, as everyone is determined not to miss out on the chance to be one of the nine most famous card players over the next few months.

32 million chip pot pushed to Jesse Sylvia

Chants of "Jesse" are the only audible thing in the Rio right now.

Jesse Sylvia just re-gained the chip lead by taking the biggest pot of the tournament so far against Henderson resident Scott Abrams, who finishes in 12th for $590,442. Only two more eliminations are needed before the final table of nine is set with plans to reconvene in October.

Abrams called all-in after a four-bet by Sylvia on a flop of 7-3-King with two diamonds. Abrams had King-Jack of diamonds with top pair with a flush draw. Sylvia showed pocket 7s for three-of-a-kind.

Sylvia managed to fade the 11 remaining diamonds to take his chip stack over the 40 million mark. He's the first player to reach that milestone.

Chip leader coming into the day is ousted

Marc-Andre Ladouceur never got over a bad beat suffered against Andras Koroknai earlier this level.

Koroknai's Ace-King bested Ladouceur's Ace-King when the community cards included four clubs for a flush. Ladouceur frowned for the rest of the time he was in the Main Event, which turned out not to be long.

Greg Merson just took over the chip lead by knocking out Ladouceur in 13th place. The Canadian who came into the day with the chip lead lost in rough fashion as his Ace-7 improved to three-of-a-kind on a 7-4-7 flop, but Merson made a full house with pocket 4s. The 2 and 6 on the turn and river, respectively, didn't help Ladouceur who walked to the payout station with his head down despite the $465,159 check awaiting him.

The next three players eliminated will all earn $590,442.

Wong gone

Fourteen players down, four to go.

Las Vegas pro Danny Wong finished in 14th place moments ago when his Ace-2 failed to catch up with Greg Merson's Ace-Jack. Wong played well all day, but was subjected to a couple bad beats — most notably when Andras Koroknai's Ace-9 defeated his Ace-10.

Wong won $465,159 for his seven-day run through the Main Event. After three more eliminations, the players will consolidate to a single table. Then one more will need to exit for the 2012 final table to become official.

Double-ups galore

An hour has passed since the last player met his demise here at the Rio.

It's not for a lack of trying, as several short-stacked hopefuls have gone all-in only to double up and stay alive. Most recently, French woman Gaelle Baumann shoved her 1.8 million worth of chips into the middle to get called by Michael Esposito.

It was her Ace-9 against Esposito's Ace-7. A 9 on both the flop and turn took all the suspense away, as Baumann doubled her stack to receive some slight breathing room.

Before that, Danny Wong doubled his 500,000 chip stack with Queen-10 against Esposito's Ace-5. Wong lost a 12 million chip pot on a bad beat when Andras Korknai's Ace-9 of spades caught a flush on the river to beat his Ace-10.

The biggest double-up belonged to Jesse Sylvia, who found a King on the flop to pair his King-Queen against Robert Salaburu's pocket Jacks. The 16 million chip pot was one of the largest of the tournament so far.

Wilfried Harig denied

Pocket Aces are not holding up at the Rio this evening.

At the ESPN featured table, hold'em's strongest starting hand is 0-2 with a player all-in and at risk of elimination. The final German in the field, Wilfried Harig, just had his Aces cracked by Greg Merson to finish in 15th place.

Harig, who had the shortest stack in the tournament with less than 3 million, committed all of his chips before the flop with his Aces. Merson called out of the blinds with King-Jack.

He shook his head after seeing what he was up against, but not for long. The flop brought a King and a Jack on the turn put Merson in the lead. Harig needed a 10 for a straight or an Ace on the river to win the hand, but it wasn't meant to be as the dealer peeled off a 7.

Harig's efforts in the Main Event netted him $465,159

Americans at the top as dinner break begins

The major story lines for the final day of the Main Event are all still intact as the 15 remaining players head to an hour-and-a-half dinner break.

Even though 12 eliminations have taken place, six nations are still represented and two females are continuing their push to become only the second woman to ever make a Main Event final table.

Gaelle Baumann, however, is one of the shortest stacks with less than 4 million chips. Elisabeth Hille finds herself in better position with 8.8 million.

Six Americans — Robert Salaburu, Jacob Basiger, Greg Merson, Scott Abrams, Russell Thomas and Michael Esposito — are at the top with Canadian Marc Ladouceur, who came into the day as chip leader, holding down seventh.

Along with Baumann, Germany's Wilfried Harig projects as a player desperate to double up when the action continues shortly after 8. Six eliminations are still needed to reach the final table of nine.

Two players go out in rapid succession

Players that busted 15 minutes ago earned $294,600.

The next one to go out will make $171,000 more than that. The action since trimming down to two tables has been as crazy as it sounds at the Rio.

Three players exited within the first few hands. After David Balkin went out in 18th, as described below, Robert Buckenmayer and Percy Mahatan followed course moments later. Buckenmayer announced all-in from the small blind with Ace-Queen of hearts, which was well behind and couldn't catch up with Wilfried Harig's Ace-King.

As Buckenmayer said his goodbyes, noise erupted on the secondary table. Robert Salaburu's two pair, 9s and 7s, had just beaten Percy Mahatan's pocket Queens for a 4 million chip pot. Both Mahatan and Buckenmayer won $369,026.

Pocket Aces are no good

David Balkin looked down at the hand every poker player wants to see. Little did he know it would lead to his demise.

Pocket Aces ended up working as the downfall for the Australian, as he committed all of his chips on a board of King-8-Queen-8. Michael Esposito was more than willing to call his all-in with Ace-8 for three-of-a-kind.

After a slow start to the day, the eliminations have really picked up with nine players dropping out of the event in the last two hours.

From three tables to two

The players are packing up their chips into racks and moving into a new home.

The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to two tables, necessitating a redraw where everyone gets a new seat and the third table is torn down until next year. Jamie Robbins became the unfortunate player to miss the last two tables by busting out in 18th place.

Robbins' stack had dwindled to below 4 million by losing a few key pots over the last hour. He found himself in another big encounter with King-Jack of diamonds on a board of 9-5-4-10 with two diamonds.

He moved all-in with his flush and straight draws on the turn, but was immediately called by Jacob Balsiger who had pocket 9s for a set. The 3 of spades on the river was a safe card for Balsiger, who gets a huge boost after an otherwise quiet day.

Worst hand wins

A three-way all-in provided one of the most exciting hands of the tournament so far.

Danny Wong had more chips than both Paul Volpe and Steven Gee as they all got their chips in the middle pre-flop. Wong also had the lead with pocket 10s, but Volpe was close behind with Ace-King. Gee was least likely to win the hand with pocket 8s.

But, as happens often in poker, that didn't matter. A flop of 5-7-6 gave Gee, a one-time bracelet winner, an open-ended straight draw. A Jack on the turn failed to improve his hand, but the 4 on the river completed an 8-high straight.

The result sent longtime chip leader Volpe to the payout line and knocked Wong down a couple million in chips.

Abrams making his move, takes Corcione's chips

Watch out for Scott Abrams.

Abrams claimed his first scalp of the day in the last hand before one of the Main Event's regular 15-minute breaks. The Henderson resident has moved into second on the chip leaderboard, behind only San Antonio's Robert Salaburu.

That's the kind of position winning a pot of more than 8 million chips can put a player in. Abrams called Robert Corcione's all-in with Ace-Queen. Corcione showed pocket 10s, making for a classic race albeit one that ended up belonging to Abrams.

Abrams flopped a Queen and the other community cards — two 8s, a Jack and a 3 — failed to improve Corcione's hand. The Boston native goes home with the same $294,601 prize the other six players eliminated so far have earned.

Two more players must get knocked out before a pay jump to $369,026 occurs.

21 players remain

Greg Merson was due to win a meaningful pot after taking a bad beat earlier this level.

He got his opportunity minutes ago during his big blind. A short-stacked Cylus Watson shoved his stack of less than a million chips into the middle. Merson contemplated his odds before making the call with Jack-10 off-suit.

He was only slightly behind Watson's Ace-5 — and not for long. Merson made top pair when the flop came 7-8-10. Watson couldn't complete a possible backdoor flush or straight and the New Hampshire native made his way around the table shaking hands before leaving the tournament area.

Daniel Strelitz, Yuval Bronshtein fall short

Even a $294,601 check can't totally erase the pain from this fall from grace.

Daniel Strelitz appeared well on his way to making the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table for the last few days. He was the first player to 10 million chips and captivated the ESPN cameras by soaring on the sixth day of play yesterday.

Despite entering Monday with the second-most chips, nothing went right for Strelitz. He lost several large pots, culminating in a bluff gone wrong that saw his pocket 4s fall to Scott Abram's pocket Kings.

Abrams was another player who had struggled in the early-going Monday, but he's back around where he started after a recent heater.

Within a minute, Yuval Bronshtein went all-in on one of the other tables in the Rio. Local Jeremy Ausmus called with pocket Jacks and turned a flush to beat Bronshtein's Ace-Queen.

Roland Israelshvili out of Main Event to cap memorable World Series

The most experienced player to make it to the final day of the summer in the Main Event is no longer in the building.

Roland Israelashvili, a New York jeweler who made his first WSOP cash in 2005, shipped the last of his chips in with Ace-5 off-suit. Russell Thomas called with pocket Jacks, and was able to take the pot when the board rolled out an uneventful 9-Queen-9-King-7.

Israelashvili wins $294,601 and will have to take solace in the fact that he had an extremely successful WSOP as a whole. He cashed five times this summer, including a $317,882 payday for his fifth-place finish in the Poker Player's Championship.

Thomas is now threatening Robert Salaburu for the chip lead.

Another hour passes with 26 standing strong

Spectators at the Rio have witnessed a parade of all-ins over the last 15 minutes with nothing to show for it.

Four players have been at risk in the last few hands when an opponent called their all-in, but they've all managed to double up to stay in the tournament. Germany's Wilfried Harig was the most fortunate.

His pocket 6s were up against Greg Merson's pocket Queens, but he managed to survive by spiking a 6 on the river. The other two players all-in, both at the ESPN secondary feature table, were ahead from the beginning.

Gaelle Baumann and Danny Wong had pocket 10s in back-to-back hands, respectively, against Jeremy Ausmus and Yuval Bronshtein, who both had pocket 9s. The 10s were able to maintain their leads in both instances.

Seven players are now below the 5 million chip mark, meaning it shouldn't take that long before the action picks up. Some of the final table hopefuls are going to be forced to gamble.

Two Germans down, only one left

Right when it began to feel like an elimination was nowhere in sight, Jan Heitmann made his exit.

Down to 3 million chips, the German professional shoved all-in with pocket 6s. He ran them into Daniel Strelitz's superior pocket 8s, which managed to hold up when the five community cards were spread.

Pius Heinz became the first German world champion last year in the Main Event. With Heitmann, Magg and Wilfried Harig making it to Day 7, a repeat looked possible for the country. But it's all on Harig's shoulders now, and he has one of the lowest chip stacks with around 2.8 million.

The pot boosted Strelitz out of danger and back towards the middle. The Torrance, Calif., native now has more than 6 million chips.

Chips changing hands, but players not exiting

This may take longer anyone imagined to get to the final table.

After more than an hour-and-a-half of play at the Rio, Nicco Maag remains the only elimination. Twenty-six players are still alive minutes before the first break of the day.

That doesn't mean the chip leader board hasn't seen a significant shake-up. Robert Salaburu and Russell Thomas have both vaulted into the same range as Daniel Ladouceur, the Canadian who was the chip leader to start the day.

Daniel Strelitz, who was second in chips an hour ago and first for much of Sunday's action, has dropped all the way to 23rd after a failed bluff and attempt to knock out Michael Esposito. Strelitz lost a 50/50 proposition when his Ace-King couldn't catch up to Esposito's pocket 10s. Another new face joining Strelitz at the bottom is Scott Abrams, a Henderson resident who has spent most of the last two days in the middle of the pack.

Abrams has endured a rough start to the afternoon and finds himself in desperate position with 1 million chips.

Maag out in 27th

Nicco Maag's chip stack was so small that he had no other choice but to go all-in with the first decent hand he could find.

It took less than 20 minutes for the dealer to toss Maag Ace-Jack, a hand that was more than suitable for the situation. Unfortunately for the German, Russell Thomas was dealt one better.

Thomas slid 1.1 million chips in the middle to call Maag's all-in with Ace-Queen. The American had more than a 70 percent chance to win the pot, and his hand held up when no Jacks or spades made the board.

Maag earns $294,601 for his finish — the same payout the next eight players will receive.

Pre-game

One-third of those returning for the seventh day of the World Series of Poker Main Event will join one of the game’s most exclusive fraternities.

The other 18 will have to settle for a significant six-figure payday. The final day of the summer is annually among one of the most exciting, and longest, moments at the Rio.

It’s a place where 27 poker players have a chance to turn a $10,000 investment made more than a week ago into their wildest dream — or fall devastatingly short. New poker stars are born every year by advancing to the Main Event final table, and a new group will emerge early Tuesday morning.

The table is popularly referred to as the “November Nine” for the four-month layoff that’s taken place since 2008. This year, however, it won’t take place in November. Because of the election, the WSOP moved the final table back to the last week of October.

The shift does nothing to change what’s at stake. The eventual winner will earn $8.5 million, and the top seven all bag at least $1 million.

The finalists will receive ninth-place money of $754,798 before leaving Las Vegas. The checks for those not as fortunate to make the final table will read somewhere in between $294,601 and $590,442.

Unlike recent years, there are not a couple recognizable professionals lurking among the final three tables. Players who started the summer as unknowns are all that’s left in the Main Event.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t players drawing more attention than others. ESPN cameras will focus on the runs of Norway’s Elisabeth Hille and France’s Gaelle Baumann significantly Monday.

Hille and Baumann are looking to become the first females to make the Main Event final table since Barbara Enright finished fifth in 1995. A pair of women has never finished as high in the same year as Hille and Baumann will in 2012.

Baumann has held the chip lead multiple times during the tournament, but enters Day 7 below average with 5.5 million chips. Hille stayed mostly in the middle of the pack until late Monday when she surged to the top five by winning a couple major pots to build her stack to 9.7 million chips.

Everyone is chasing Marc Ladouceur, a Canadian who has the chip lead with 15 million. An international-born player has won poker’s world championship in four of the last five years.

Nineteen of the remaining players this year, however, call America home. Six other nations are represented with three Germans vying to repeat for their country after Pius Heinz prevailed last year.

Out of the 27 players remaining, only two have won golden bracelets previously. Greg Merson won a $10,000 buy-in six-handed no-limit hold’em tournament less than two weeks ago for more than $1.1 million.

Steven Gee has only three career WSOP cashes, but one of them was a victory in a $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em for $472,479 in 2010.

We’ll follow all the action here on lasvegassun.com until they’re down to nine players.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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