Monday is considered a tough day for the majority of working-world, as the start of the work week can be down-right annoying, but for the players returning for Day Two of the Event #40, $1,500 Mixed Hold 'Em, Monday brought dreams of World Series of Poker gold and seemed to bring a heightened enthusiasm from the field.
With blinds increasing and the game shifting to No Limit at the start of the day's action, the 125 returning players settled in for the push to the final nine. As the players soldiered on to the money bubble (63), there was no shortage of action in the early levels.
Several players made moves during the early levels as Jeffrey Lisandro and "Miami" John Cernuto hit big hands. Cernuto turned a set of Nines to double up against Brian Eddy while Lisandro hit quad fives after hitting fives on the turn and the river. Unfortunately for both men, neither would make the final table.
Having lost more than half the field, the game switched to Limit Hold'em, but that didn't stop the players for pushing their chips in the middle as they closed in on the money bubble. Once play moved to hand-for-hand action, the game switched back to No Limit and it took only a matter of minutes before the day's bubble boy to hit the rail. In an interesting turn of events, both Derek Smith and Roxci Rhodes busted on the same hand. WSOP staff declared both players as the 63rd finisher so they got to spilt the $2,920 payout.
There were two big stories that dominated the day as two well-known players positioned themselves to win a bracelet, only to see their dreams crushed before the day's end. The first big story of the day came from the impressive play of Phil Gordon. Although having earlier lamented the slow play at his table, Gordon proceeded to run over his opponents and build a monstrous stack early in the action. Unfortunately for Gordon , he would run into the day's second big story, J.C. Tran, and bust right before Level 15.
The day's second star bustout story featured the unfortunate demise of Player-of-the-Year candidate J.C.Tran. On fire throughout most of the day's action after dropping to 10,000 in chips, Tran made a monster comeback after tangling several times with Gordon. Winning their first battle with pocket Queens, Tran jumped back on to the top ten chip list and showed no signs of slowing. Tran was so hot that he even caught quad Threes to eliminate two players in one hand. Despite rolling to the top of the chip counts, it wasn't meant to be for Tran as he soon joined Gordon on the rail when his flopped pair of Jacks lost to Rene Mouriten's pocket Aces. One hand later, Tran's day was over.
While the demise of the two big-name players may have been the main focus of the media on hand for the day's event, the tournament's most intriguing story came from the play of noted poker author, Michael Craig. Having recently worked with the crew at Full Tilt Poker to produce a strategy book, Craig repeatedly showed his poker skill on the way to making the final table.
Joining Craig, who sits in second-place with 317,000 chips, are chipleader Christopher Niesert with 396,000, Scott Bohlman (246,000), Fred Goldberg (193,000) Kevin Marcotte (184,000), Rene Moritsen (172,000), Reza Zand (147, 000), Joe Brandenburg (129,000), and short-stack Karlo Lopez (58,000).
Make sure to check back with Pokernews.com today for all of the final table action at 3:00PM (PST) as the returning nine players make their run at a coveted WSOP bracelet and the first-place cash of $205,271.