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WSOP Main Event: Six days down, two more to go

wsop2009_thn.gifOne percent.

By Brad Willis

When the bombs finally fall, the sun melts the buildings, and the undead roam the plains, the population of the planet will be reduced to one percent of its current bursting-at-the-fault-lines population. It will be up to that one percent to repopulate Earth. Don't worry. It's not as dark as it sounds. Rush hour traffic is going to be much lighter, anyway.

As Day 6 of the 2009 World Series of Poker comes to a close, approximately one percent of the starting field remains. These are the survivors, the people who were immune to the bad beats, resistant to the coolers, and strong enough to survive the hell of six days of playing world class poker.

The strategy here is not as it might be when the world blows up. Here, the one percent are going to do everything they can to make sure they are the last people standing. It's every man (and one woman) against the world. They won't rest until only nine are standing sometime Thursday morning.

Tonight, the Amazon Room looks like poker's version of the badlands. A majority of the tables and lights are gone. People wander with no particular aim. A man who looks like Randall Flagg stalks the carpet. Only 64 players remain and they are bent on destroying whatever is left. Among them are PokerStars players determined to be the last king of Vegas.

Tonight, among the top-chipped PokerStars players is a man who is no stranger to this game. In 2008, Team PokerStars Pro Dennis Phillips made it all the way to 3rd place in the Main Event. This year, he's threatening a nearly unheard of back-to-back final table run. He spent the day at the featured table and tonight is, unlike most, still alive and heading into Day 7 with 2,500,000.

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Every surviving population must take one moment's respite to honor its fallen and we have more than a few to whom we must pay homage. Dutch Team PokerStars Pros Noah Boeken and Theirry van den Berg started at the same 'double Dutch' table this morning, but neither could finish the day. Van den Berg's flush draw didn't get there and Boeken faced a series of indignities that reduced his stack from 2.4 million to none. The worst was kings cracked by ace-queen all-in pre-flop. Boeken finished in 96th to Van den Berg's 138th.

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A pair of World Series of Poker champions--the only two remaining in the field--started the day right next to each other. 2005 champ Joe Hachem and 2009 winner Peter Eastgate were tablemates for better part of the afternoon. Hachem, having defeated more than 20,000 people in his last three WSOP in-the-money finishes had already outdone his 2006 238th place finish. Today, he couldn't make a hand and ended up going out in 103rd place.

Eastgate had the poker world atwitter with the possibility of a back-to-back final tables of his own. It was not to be. Late into the evening, he got all his chips in with ace-jack and made two pair, but the board four-flushed and the 2009 champ was gone in 78th place.

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And then there was our own pre-apocalyptic Mad Max, Betrand "ElkY" Grospellier. The Day 3 chip leader and constant threat couldn't work his magic today. His final hand, big slick versus pocket kings, was symbolic of how his last three days had gone--good hands that weren't good enough. We, in sadness, bid goodbye in 122nd place to the man who would be king.

While the aforementioned Dennis Phillips is the most famous face left among the PokerStars players, there are still many others who could claim the new world for PokerStars. Still breathing tonight are James Akenhead, Grayson Ramage, Manuel Labandeira, Andrew Lichtenberger, George Saca, Jonathan Tamayo, Mark Ader, Adam York, Adam Bilzerian, and Tom Schneider. They are a crew that could take us to the new world.

A final thought before we bed down and lock our doors: while every one of the above people and remaining few dozen left in this event will work to eliminate each other, they can still fit into the traditional apocalypse scenario. See, for every one that dies, we are closer to a champion. Every body that champion composts on the field of battle gives seed to a new generation of players who come back here to do it all again next year.

See? It's all good. See you tomorrow.

All photos © Joe Giron/IMPDI Worldwide

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