With only 30 players making it through Day 1 at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Day 2 was destined to be a short affair. In only seven hours of play, the field was narrowed to a final table of nine as John McDonald came out of the middle of the pack at the beginning of the day to finish with a massive chip lead. McDonald ended Day 2 with more than a third of all the chips in play, leading his nearest competitor by nearly 150,000 in chips.
There were several notable players still in the field as Day 2 kicked off, including PokerBattle Warrior Eric Stiglets, Va Shon Watkins and Alan "BodogAri" Engel, but the field quickly thinned as play commenced. Stiglets was an early casualty, running afoul of Joaquin Sosa after an open-shove with pocket eights. Sosa was the only caller, and he tabled to dominate Stiglets. No help came on the board, and Stiglets was done.
Va Shon Watkins was an early victim of eventual chip leader John McDonald, getting his chips in good preflop with to McDonald's . McDonald went runner-runner on a board of to make a straight and send Watkins home empty-handed. McDonald then took out Scott Rosenquist when he called Rosenquist's all-in with an unimproved on a flop of . Rosenquist tabled , and when the turn and river ran out , he was eliminated.
Drazen Ilich's excellent run at Council Bluffs ended short of the money in the Main Event when he busted at the hands of Jeff Banghart with three tables remaining. Illich got his chips in preflop with , and Banghart called with . The board missed Ilich entirely, and his series, which included a win, a runner-up and a third cash, was over.
As the money bubble and final table approached, Harold Kruger got involved in a huge pot with Jeff Banghart and John McDonald on a flop of . Kruger led out, Banghart called, and McDonald min-raised. Kruger immediately moved all in over the top, and Banghart paced around the table like a caged lion before finally folding. With Banghart out of the way, McDonald snap-called, showing pocket nines for the full house. A disgusted Kruger tabled his cracked aces, and watched as the board ran out . That hand put McDonald into the chip lead just off the final table.
After a lengthy bubble period, David Hiers became the bubble boy after getting his last few chips in twice in short order. The first time, he came from behind to double through Dennis Meierotto by turning a bigger two pair than Meierotto flopped. Then he moved all in preflop with and got action from a dominated John McDonald, who made the call with . Hiers was looking good for the double up as the flop came down , and the turn kept him in the lead as the hit. Hiers only needed to fade three queens to stay alive, but the river was the and Hiers was the money and final-table bubble boy.
With that hand, play ended for the day. The final-table seating assignments and chip stacks for Wednesday's final:
Seat 1: John McDonald — 525,000
Seat 2: Dennis Meierotto — 387,500
Seat 3: Evan "MacDaddy34" Panesis — 203,000
Seat 4: Alan "BodogAri" Engel — 92,000
Seat 5: Joaquin Sosa — 60,000
Seat 6: Jeff Bryan — 27,500
Seat 7: Jeff Banghart — 52,000
Seat 8: Jesse Hale — 77,000
Seat 9: Jeff Daubs — 30,900
Join PokerNews at 2PM Central time on Wednesday for all the live updates as the nine survivors play for the gold Circuit Championship ring and the $113,020 top prize.