5.35pm: Level over
That's the end of level 27, and here are the latest counts:
Joe Tehan - 11,105,000
Van Nguyen - 955,000
Al Grimes - 1,270,000
Ray Henson - 1,565,000
Chris DeMaci - 6,600,000
As you can see, Joe Tehan is the big boss.
5.30pm: Grimes grinding it out
Al Grimes is the short stack, but he's also still around. He just picked up a small pot from Joe Tehan, when he defended his big blind from a Tehan button raise and saw a flop of 3♦Q♥T♠. They both checked. They also checked the 9♦ turn and the T♦ river. Grimes' 6♣6♦ was good.
5.28pm: Binger busts in pictures
Our photographer Joe Giron likes three things: drinking Crown Royal whiskey, min-cashing in poker tournaments, and also capturing bust outs from poker tournaments. Turns out, he's pretty good at all three. Here's Giron's job on Michael Binger elimination:
5:27pm: Michael Binger eliminated in sixth place ($114,000)
Joe Tehan, who now controls more than half the chips in play, made a standard opening raise to 145,000. Michael Binger three-bet to 330,000, and Tehan came back over the top for 2 million, setting Binger all-in. He made the call for his last 1,505,000, tabling T♠T♦ to Tehan's A♣J♥. It was another coinflip for a tournament life.
The flop was low, dry and to Binger's liking, coming down 7♦5♠2♣, but his expression turned resigned when the A♥ hit the turn. The river was the 2♥ and the former theoretical physicist shipped his stack Tehan's way, exiting the final table in sixth place.
5.15pm: Jason Mercier out in seventh, winning $84,857
Well, well, well. Here's something we don't write very often: Jason Mercier is OUT. Joe Tehan got him, and he is now the overwhelming chip leader.
Mercier raised to 120,000 from the hijack and after Ray Henson called on the button, Chris DeMaci also called from the small blind. Tehan changed it up a bit, raising to 515,000, but it couldn't shift Mercier.
He four-bet to 1,100,000 and that got rid of Henson and DeMaci. But Tehan went nowhere. He moved all in, covering Mercier's 3,650,000. Mercier called to put it all at risk.
Mercier flips very, very well as a rule, and Tehan muttered ruefully: "I'm against the wrong guy." But this was the exception to the rule as the board ran 6♦5♥9♣3♣8♥ to send Mercier back to Florida.
"Nice playing with you," Mercier said, shaking hands around the table.
"It's going to be in the news tomorrow: 'Jason Mercier lost a race'," said Ray Henson as they resumed without the Team PokerStars Pro.
5:04pm: Slow going
Here's the thing about tournaments that move really quickly...they simply have to slow down at some point. This main event flew by, hemorrhaging players at a rate that didn't seem healthy. Tournament officials shook their heads in amazement as the final table of eight was set before dinnertime on Day 4.
Now comes the slow down. The average stack has 50 big blinds in it. Fifty. Big. Blinds. If you're following along with us tonight, you might want to make a pot of coffee.
4:50pm: Pezzin on the rail
Pat Pezzin doesn't have much to do today as he waits to play the final table of the Bounty Shootout tomorrow. But, being the good buddy of Van Nguyen, Pezzin is in the audience today railing his fellow Team Pro.
4:38pm: Demaci cracks kings
Chris Demaci opened for 135,000, Ray Henson three-bet to 340,000 and Demaci made the call. They went heads-up to a A♠8♠2♦ flop, Henson leading out for 425,000. Demaci called, and they saw the 9♥ hit the turn. Henson slowed down and check-called Demaci's 480,000 bet. Both players checked the 7♦ on the river, Henson turning over pocket kings. Demaci showed A♣J♣ for top pair and took it down.
4.30pm: Slow again
Coming back from the break, the players again went into slow-down, with very few flops being seen. When we finally did get there - Chris DeMaci raised to 135,000 and Jason Mercier and Al Grimes called from the blinds - it was checked all the way with T♦Q♥Q♣K♦K♠ showing. DeMaci's A♣T♣ won it.
4:18pm: Play resumes
After a short break, the seven remaining players are back in their seats.
Here are the official counts for the seven remaining players (in seat order):
Joe Tehan - 5,715,000
Michael Binger - 1,530,000
Anh Van Nguyen - 1,485,000
Jason Mercier - 3,600,000
Al Grimes - 945,000
Ray Henson - 3,500,000
Chris DeMaci - 4,170,000
4:00pm: Break time
Players are on break for 15 minutes.
3:53pm: Math is hard
We have now reached the point at which 1/99.857347th of the starting field remains.
3.45pm: Jake Toole out in eighth, winning $60,000
We have lost our first player, with Jake Toole being sent to the rail by Joe Tehan. Toole takes $60,000 for eighth.
Here's how it played out: Toole opened to 115,000 from early position, which Tehan greeted with a three-bet to 300,000. Everyone else got out the way and it came back to Toole. He shoved for a total of 1,455,000 and after a brief period of deliberation, Tehan called. It was a straight race:
The flop went "Bink!" for Tehan. It came 8♠T♣A♦ and although the 9♥ turned, giving Toole a few more outs, the 2♦ proved to be a meaningless river.
Toole heads home.
3:28pm: Live by the kings, die by the kings
Joe Tehan, obviously feeling a little froggy after his massive double, came in for a raise and was face by an immediate 740,000 all-in from Van Nguyen. Tehan looked as if he was considering folding, but eventually made the call with 7♣7♠. Nguyen showed two red kings. The board ran out T♣J♦Q♥A♥T♠ and Nguyen is now up to around 1.5 million.
3:15pm: And all of a sudden, a huge pot
Things had been incredibly slow in the opening couple of orbits, but then all of a sudden, we had ourselves a cooler, with Joe Tehan doubling through Chris DeMaci.
It was folded to DeMaci on the button and he raised to 130,000. Tehan defended his big blind with a three-bet to 375,000, but then DeMaci four bet, asking for 450,000 more. Tehan shoved, for slightly more than two million, and DeMaci called.
"It's difficult for ace king to beat kings," said poker analysis's Brad Willis - and he was right. The board ran 8♠2♦6♥6♦3♥ and the kings held.
DeMaci is out of the chip lead for the first time since day three, and Tehan has more than four million now.
3:11pm: Henson hammers Toole
Ray Henson made it 115,000 to play and got a call from Jake Toole in the big blind. On a J♣T♣3♣ flop, Toole check-called a 160,000 bet from Henson. The 9♣ on the turn brought some delicious straight flush possibilities, a check from Toole, a 290,000 bet from Henson, and another call from Toole. So, then, came the river 4♣. Toole once again checked and drew a cheeky 420,000 bet from Henson. That was too much for Toole and Henson took the pot.
3:10pm: A brief introduction to the day
2.55pm: First flop, fizzle out
Jason Mercier raised to 100,000 under-the-gun and Chris DeMaci three bet to 275,000. Mercier called, taking us to a flop - our first flop of the final table. Woo-hoo. It came K♣J♥6♦, which both players checked, and they also both checked the 8♥ turn. The 6♥ rivered and Mercier checked for a third time. DeMaci bet 375,000 and that was enough. So, we've seen a flop at last, but no showdown.
2.50pm: No flop poker
We have now gone a complete orbit without any flops. Joe Tehan and Al Grimes have picked up a couple of pots with pre-flop raises, but that's it.
2.40pm: Blinds up
The first 10 minutes of today were played in level 25, finishing off from yesterday. We're now in level 26, where blinds are 25,000-50,000, with a 5,000 ante.
2.35pm: Tussling with Mercier
Jason Mercier opens to 80,000 from under-the-gun and after it's folded to Joe Tehan on the button, he re-raises to 222,000. That's the second time Mercier has been three-bet already, and the second time he's forced to fold.
Mercier has the big blind the next time, and Chris DeMaci pinches it with an early-position raise.
2:32pm: Your final table players
Front row (l-r): Michael Binger, Anh Van Nguyen, Jason Mercier
2:35pm: Three bet
Jason Mercier puts in the first raise of the final table, making it 80,000 from mid-position. Chris DeMaci three bets to 235,000 from the button and that's good enough to take it down.
On the next hand, Al Grimes raises to 85,000 from mid-position and he wins. We are yet to see a flop.
2.30pm: Slow start
The first hand of the day is folded to Ray Henson's small blind and he raises to 90,000. Chris DeMaci doesn't want to get involved and Henson takes it. DeMaci also lets his small blind go on the next hand when action is folded to him, giving Jake Toole a walk in the big blind. It will get more exciting that this. That's a promise.
2.24pm: We're off
On the very stroke of 2.24pm, play begins.
2:11pm: Jason Mercier looks different
The observant in the room will notice Jason Mercier has shaved off the weeks of overgrowth on his face. Well, most of it...he now has a goatee.
Here's chip leader Chris DeMaci.
Live updates of NAPT Los Angeles brought to you by Change100, Howard Swains, Brad Willis, and photographer Joe Giron