WSOP Main Event: Asian hopes evaporate as Christian Pham takes the lead

As the WSOP Main Event draws ever closer to the final table finale, we bring you a recap of the astonishing numbers involved, the stories of surviving stacks and the action as it unfolded on the sixth day.

The numbers

7,221 players began this year’s Main Event, which is the third largest Main Event field in history. This in turn, generated a prize pool that hit $67,877,400, of which $8,150,000 is set aside for the eventual winner, with 1,084 players cashing. Five days of play has seen the field shrink to just 85 runners, and with the sixth day now complete, only 27 remain. Tomorrow will see these last survivors play down to a final table, which will play out through the rest of the week, rather than being paused until November.

Chip leader: Christian Pham

Christian Pham - Photo WSOP
Christian Pham – Photo WSOP

The man who bagged the chip lead last night was former bracelet winner Christian Pham. According to Pham, his bracelet came about by accident when he tried to register for a $1,500 Limit Holdem event, and found himself sat at a $1,500 Limit 2-7 Single Draw event instead. Pham took the mishap in his stride though, carving his way through a field of 219 runners to win he bracelet. He also need a little luck to get his seat in the Main Event this year, having won his place in a $575 satellite. Pham will bring 31,440,000 into day 7, which is an enormous increase on the 2.8 million stack he started the day with. Pham may hold the chip lead for now, but he will know this does not guarantee a final table place, having seen the top three stacks at the end of day 5 all experience a torrid day 6. Day 5 leader Robin Hegele fell back into the middle of the pack on day 6, while Max Silver and Joshua Horton, who were following close behind, both busted on the sixth day.


Antoine Saout - Photo
Antoine Saout – Photo

There are several interesting players still at large in this event, with former Main Event 3rd place finishers Ben Lamb and Antoine Saout well placed to claim the crown that narrowly eluded them last time they reached the final table. Lamb brings the fourth largest stack to the tables tomorrow with 25,685,000.

Antoine Saout had a difficult day by his own admission, but still bagged up a very playable 9,945,000 to carry into the fray tomorrow. Just below him on the chip counts is a man who made the final table of this event last year, and is looking to go back to back. Michael Ruane and Kenny Hallaert finished 4th and 6th last year respectively, and while Hallaert fell during the sixth day, Ruane still has a chance to complete this seemingly impossible feat, as he brings 9,340,000 into play tomorrow. Dutch pro Marcel Luske has the most WSOP experience of those still in contention, but will need to make progress fast if he is to spin his 2,990,000 stack up into something more dangerous.

Aside from Ben Lamb and Christian Pham, two other players already have a WSOP bracelet to their name. Bryan Piccioli and Richard Gryko are the names of those players, and they will bring stacks of 14,500,000 and 13,760,000 into the seventh day.

Asian hopes vanish

There had been great cause for optimism going into the fifth day of this event, with several Asian players playing good sized stacks. By the time the sixth day arrived, only three Asian players remained however, and as the chips were bagged up with 27 players remaining, all Asian players had been eliminated.

Jingwei Zhang was the last Asian player standing, eventually finishing 62nd place for $121,188. Compatriot Yin Liu had fallen just a short while earlier, taking home $85,482 for his 75th place finish. 76th place belonged to Korean Hyon Kim, who picked up the same prize, with fellow countryman Gyeongbyeong Lee taking 91st place for $61,929. Rahul Byrraju was the last Indian to fall, claiming 102nd place shortly after female Singapore player and 108th place finisher Jessica Ngu was sent to the rail.

The final Australian to fall was Matthew Wakeman in 114th, who received the same $53,247 prize as Ngu and Byrraju.

Main Event final table will play out this week

The players will be taking a break once the final nine are known, but it will be nothing like the break we have seen before in recent years where the player return in November. That idea has been shelved, and this year’s finalists will return to the felt on July 20th to play down to six. July 21st will see them play down to three, before a champion is crowned on July 22nd.

Article by Craig Bradshaw