Day 2 of Event #56, $5,000 Six-handed No-Limit Hold’em, kicked off Wednesday with 160 players looking to survive the money bubble and work their way to the final table. Rory Matthews finished as the Day 1 chip leader but a strong field stood between him and the final table, as among the notables still alive at the start of Day 2 were Shannon Shorr, David Chiu, Barny Boatman, Van Marcus, Eli Elezra, and Phil Hellmuth.
Elezra and Marcus were among those eliminated in early action. Elezra exited after moving all in pre-flop with A-K and receiving a call from Faraz Jaka, who held pocket jacks. The board failed to produce a king or an ace and Elezra hit the rail. Van Marcus was all in pre-flop with and received calls from two players, both holding pocket queens. Marcus picked up a gutshot straight draw and a flush draw on the turn but failed to complete either draw.
Mike Caro and Phil Hellmuth squared off in a huge and controversial pot that ended Caro’s day. On a flop of , Caro verbally declared a bet of 26,000, but only threw out 16,000. Hellmuth only saw the 16,000 and put out 35,000 in an attempt to raise Caro. The dealer informed Caro that he was 9,000 short on his initial raise. Controversy arose as to whether Hellmuth was required to raise as he only put the chips out but did not verbally declare raise. Three floormen were consulted and ultimately the decision was made that Hellmuth’s bet was just a call since it was less than 1.5 times the bet. The turn then fell the and Caro moved all in for 40,000. Hellmuth called and turned over pocket kings. Caro revealed pocket sevens and was left with two outs. The river fell the , Caro hit the rail, and Hellmuth moved up to 215,000 in chips.
As the money bubble approached, several notable players took stands for their tournament lives. Kenna James and Barny Boatman both were unable to double up and fell short of the money. David “Raptor” Benefield went all in pre-flop with against another player’s pocket queens. Benefield picked up a pair of jacks on the turn, but the river failed to produce his needed double-up. Raymond Davis decided to gamble at the bubble with . He moved all in pre-flop for 95,800 and received a call from a player holding pocket queens. The flop gave Davis a flush draw and the turn completed his flush. Davis doubled-up to 190,000. Then, three players busted simultaneously on the bubble and split 90th-place money. Daniel Zink, Ken Aldridge, and Ted Thiptinnakon each received $3,053 and the remaining players were safely into the money.
Juha Helppi took a big hit to his stack to end Day 1, but hung on long enough to make a payday. After the bubble burst, he moved all-in from the button for 35,500 and was called from the big blind. Helppi held and his opponent pocket fives. Helppi picked up an open-ended straight draw, but failed to hit. Helppi received $9,159 for 82nd place. Shaun Deeb, meanwhile, started to chip up after the bubble On a flop of , another player bet 15,000 into Deeb, who raised to 43,100. His opponent moved all in for 156,000 and Deeb called. Deeb held pocket queens against his opponent’s , and after the turn and river bricked out, Deeb moved up to 480,000.
Rory Matthews slipped out of the chip lead during the session but put himself back into contention after doubling up through Shannon Shorr. Matthews bet 15,000 on a flop of and Shorr raised to 45,000. Matthews called and the turn fell the . Matthews checked to Shorr, who moved all in for 255,000. Matthews called with his last 191,000. Matthews held for top pair and Shorr for the gutshot draw. The river fell the and Matthews moved up to 610,000 in chips. At that point, everyone was chasing Rui Cao, as he had built his stack up to 715,000. Robert Kay claimed the chip lead from Cao after doubling through him. Kay check-called a bet of 80,000 from Cao on a flop of . The turn fell the and Kay checked to Cao. Cao moved all in, having Kay covered, and Kay snap-called. Kay held pocket queens for a turned set and Cao held for a flopped two pair. Cao was drawing dead and Robert Kay became the new chip leader with 950,000. Cao was left with 182,000.
Phil Hellmuth’s chase for a record 12th bracelet took a severe blow in the toughest of manners, on cracked aces. Hellmuth raised pre-flop to 25,000 and Andrey Zaichenko then moved all in for around 200,000. Hellmuth took a moment to check his cards as he said that he raised after looking at one card, with that card being an ace. He checked his second card, made the call, and flipped over pocket aces. Zaichenko turned over . The flop was a disaster for Helmuth as it fell , giving Zaichenko two pair. Hellmuth was left needing help despite the huge pre-flop edge. The turn left him behind and the river completed Hellmuth’s bad beat. He was left with just 150,000 after the hand. Hellmuth was eliminated a few hands afterwards in 24th place, after racing with pocket sevens against the A-K of Peter Feldman. A king on the flop ended his run, which was still good for his record 74th career WSOP cash.
Jonas Wexler was involved in back-to-back million-chip pots late in the day. First, David Chiu went all in pre-flop for 510,000 with pocket tens and ran into the pocket jacks of Wexler. Both players flopped a Broadway draw, but the turn and river blanked to move Wexler up to 1,300,000. In the very next hand, James St. Hilaire raised to 50,000 from the button and Wexler bumped it up to 113,000. St. Hilaire moved all in for 599,000 total and Wexler called. Wexler tabled and St. Hilaire held . The flop missed both players, but the turn put St. Hilaire in the lead. Wexler picked up a gutshot straight draw but failed to hit when the river brought the . St. Hilaire’s turn three-outer moved him up to 1,200,000 and dropped Wexler back to 680,000.
The hard cutoff time of 3 a.m. arrived with 16 players still in the hunt for the bracelet and $1 million in prize money. Rory Matthews finished Day 2 as chip leader with 1,358,000, just ahead of Peter Feldman and Matt Hawrilenko, with 1,328,000 and 1,327,000 million, respectively. Play will resume at 1 p.m. Vegas time on Thursday and continue until the bracelet has been awarded. Stay tuned to PokerNews.com as we bring you the conclusion to the last preliminary event of the 2009 World Series of Poker.
The seating assignments for today’s concluding Day 3:
Seat 1: Peter Feldman – 1,328,000
Seat 2: Aurelien Guiglini – 549,000
Seat 3: Josh Brikis – 294,000
Seat 4: Thorsten Schaefer – 1,094,000
Seat 5: Matthew Waxman – 1,132,000
Seat 6: Alex Venovski – 684,000
Seat 1: James St. Hilaire – 876,000
Seat 2: John Conkright – 749,000
Seat 4: Rory Mathews — 1,358,000
Seat 5: Jonas Wexler – 848,000
Seat 6: Eugene Katchalov – 356,000
Seat 1: Robert Kay – 1,213,000
Seat 3: Frank Calo – 569,000
Seat 4: Sean Keeton – 641,000
Seat 5: Matt Hawrilenko – 1,327,000
Seat 6: Faraz Jaka – 778,000