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WSOP Main Event: Drama start to finish on day five

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The day was drawing to a close, we'd lost another 200 players, and the sun was setting on another fine day in the desert. Walking the room was hardly an evening stroll but once Jack Effel came on the mike to announce that this would again be the last level of the day, with another early night bestowed upon the players, the tension lifted, for some anyway. Time to see out the last half an hour, pack your things, count your chips and head some place else for Sunday evening.

By then Noah Boeken was well into his stride, winning pots uncontested with a stack in attack formation, 1,370,000 strong, nearly three times as strong as the one he'd started with. His only disappointment came from a long since finished hand he'd lost which pitted his pocket queens against ace-king with predictable results.

"I would have had 2.7 million" he'd said, ruing the hand, despite having performed an equally impressive recovery from what had been a set-back.

But it would get better for the Dutchman who with just minutes to go on the day moved up to 2.3 million when he found aces and an opponent keen on raising. With the chips in he called his opponent's pocket queens. Boeken's good for a day six campaign.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7812_IMPDI.jpgNoah Boeken

On the same table a new face emerged from under a hoodie adorned with the PokerStars badge. Tian Shou from Australia started the day a little over one million and finished it with 2.2 million, putting him among the leaders. And it's a good time to be one of those.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7915_IMPDI.jpgPokerStars player Tian Shou

Elsewhere Nasr El Nasr from Germany, whose tournament record details impressive results in Las Vegas, Europe and Australia, shot up in the chip charts to 1.4 million.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7712_IMPDI.jpgNasr El Nasr

At the start of the day the name at the top of the chip lists was that of Matt Affleck. The Seattle native and PokerStars player astounded everyone on day four to finish with a wedding cake sized stack of 1,819,000. His day five nearly matched that, increasing his stack late in the day to close on 2.8 million, keeping his position among the leaders.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7730_IMPDI.jpgMatt Affleck

Even before the end of play announcement, the conversation on Peter Eastgate's table was of finishing times. Thierry van den Berg (700,000) remained convinced we'd play on but others were unsure. The others were right but that was just detail to men who don't operate on the standard 24 hour clock. Eastgate on course for the impossible? It's too soon to say. His day had been as varied as his facial expression; up and then down, up and then up some more, finishing on 950,000.

A group of folks who no doubt wanted play to continue were the distinguished red cap brigade that had descended to the rail alongside Dennis Phillips' table. The Team PokerStars Pro, who's attempting to make a second main event final table in consecutive years, suffered since his first level double up. A table change later and he has a little more than 500,000. That's still cause for those clones to cheer.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7903_IMPDI.jpgElkY and Joe Hachem at the feature table

The feature table completed the walk around. ElkY and Joe Hachem continue to play side by side to the close. The two Team PokerStars Pros provided the draw for what were packed bleachers with a standing room only are at the back which was, well, standing room only. ElkY recovered from earlier bad luck when kings cracked his aces, scuppering his momentum. But he bagged up 973,000 while Hachem, another champ on for an historic double, did the same with 540,000.

Let's not forget those we lost on what could have been the shortest of World Series days in some time. Benjamin Kang turned up with his war face on and despite a crippling early hand he recovered, peaking at nearly 400,000 (paying for some exuberance with a one hand penalty) before crashing out with around 250 players left in the field. Carl Olsen, Kara Scott, Peter Kremenliev, also departed today. As did Lou Diamond Phillips on the last hand of the night. He'd become a mainstay, always there, a fighter and a grinder to the end, he'll be missed for a great main event debut.

Main Event_Day 5_IJG_7715_IMPDI.jpgLou Diamond Phillips

All day the all-in call battle cry rang out across the Amazon Room, gaps appeared and the only proof that a player ever existed was a payout receipt stapled to something somewhere. It started fast and ended fast. We'll wait and see how it shaped tomorrow as we play to a final nine, but those returning will be guaranteed $36,626; good for a room tonight and maybe a few drinks. We'll try to get in on that and be back here tomorrow with day six coverage. If three levels weren't enough though you certainly have options, all thanks to our foreign friends and their insistence on writing blogs we can't understand.

All photos © Joe Giron/IMPDI Worldwide

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