The 64 players returning to the Rio for Day 7 of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event had already accomplished some impressive feats. They’d outlasted 99 percent of the field in one of the largest poker tournaments in history. They’d made it through six grueling days of tournament poker. They’d outlasted every previous world champion. And none of it mattered anymore. As experienced tournament pros like Joe Sebok, Tom Schneider, and Phil Ivey took their seats amidst relative newcomers like Leo Margets, Grayson Ramage, and Warren Zackey, the only thing anyone was thinking about was surviving the day and getting one step closer to a seat at the final table. When action was called to a halt, only 27 players remained but the names at the top of the leaderboard had barely changed, with Darvin Moon still eclipsing the rest of the field, followed by Billy Kopp in second chip position and Phil Ivey in fourth.
Prahlad Friedman wasted no time kicking off the action. Friedman came into the day as one of the shortest stacks, and he shipped it in on one of the very first hands. Bradley Craig snap-called with , and Friedman’s was in deep trouble. No help came on the board, and Friedman was the day’s first casualty in 64th place ($90,344). With his elimination, every remaining player was guaranteed at least a six-figure payday. Other early eliminations included George Saca (63rd, $108,047), Michael Jansen (62nd, $108,047) and Mark Ader (61st, $108,047).
PokerRoad.com founder Joe Sebok worked short-stack magic all through Day 6, but his impressive run at the Main Event came to an end in 56th place ($108,047). Sebok moved the last of his chips into the middle with and got one caller in Ben Lamb. Lamb tabled the dominating , and Sebok couldn’t find the miracle nine to stay alive. Steve Sanders’ elimination from the Main Event came after brutal back-to-back hands. In the first hand Sanders three-bet Dennis Phillips from the button and went heads up to the flop of . Sanders led out at the flop, and Phillips check-raised all in. Sanders happily called with for top set, and Phillips needed help with his . That help didn’t come on the turn, but the river was exactly what Phillips needed to double through Sanders and leave him crippled. Sanders moved all in on the next hand with , and Ben Lamb woke up with pocket aces to send him home in 54th place ($138,568).
2007 Player of the Year Tom Schneider’s run at the Main Event came to an end in 52nd place ($138,568). Schneider never really got on track on Day 7, and he moved all in preflop with . Marc McLaughlin made the call from the small blind holding , and Schneider needed an ace to stay alive. The flop helped neither player, and the paired Schneider to give him two more outs. The river was the , and Schneider’s day was done.
Fabrice Soulier lost a coin flip to see his Main Event come to an end in 49th place ($138,568). Soulier moved all in over the top of Tommy Vedes’ under-the-gun raise, and Vedes called with . Soulier showed , and they were off to the races. The flop brought a few draws as it came down , but the turn was a useless . Vedes made his flush on the river, though, and Soulier was done.
Dennis Phillips made an incredible run in his attempt to get back to the Main Event final table, but in the end the last man standing from the 2008 final table couldn’t quite seal the deal. Phillips busted in 45th place ($178,857) at the hands of Francois Balmigere. In some intriguing preflop action, Phillips reraised after Antoine Saout opened the action and Balmigere flat-called. Saout folded to Phillips’ reraise, but Balmigere four-bet all in. Phillips called for less than Balmigere’s stack, and showed . The players looked primed for a chop when Balmigere tabled Big Slick as well, , but Phillips was in trouble after the flop. The on the turn helped no one, but the on the river made the nut flush for Balmigere and sent Phillips to the rail.
Adam York busted n 41st place ($178,857) with a big hand that went down in flames. The short-stacked York moved all in over the top of Ian Tavelli’s preflop raise, and Tavelli and Warren Zackey both called. The live players checked down the board of until Tavelli bet out on the river. Zackey snap-mucked, and Tavelli tabled for the Broadway straight. York’s set was no good as he tabled and he headed for the payout line.
The field went from 38 to 36 in one big hand between Gabriel Vezina, Martin Lapostolle, and Joe Ward. Vezina raised preflop with , and Ward called with . Lapostolle moved all in over the top with , and both opponents naturally called. Ward ended most of the suspense when he flopped top set on the board, and Vezina and Lapostolle were both drawing dead on the turn. Each man collected $178,857 for his finish.
Poker author Blair Rodman busted in 34th place ($253,941) when he lost a race to Luis Nargentino. Rodman open-shoved his last few chips with , and Nargentino defended his small blind with pocket fours. Rodman picked up a gutshot on the flop, but the turn and river ran out and to send him to the cashier’s cage.
Play slowed dramatically after Luis Nargentino’s elimination in 29th place ($253,941), as the money jump between 28th place and 27th place was nearly $100,000. Not to mention one step closer to the final table. Short stacks took turns doubling through the big stacks until finally Joe Ward lost a heartbreaker of a hand to exit in 28th place ($253,941). All the chips went in preflop, and Jamie Robbins had Ward slightly covered. Ward was the dominating favorite preflop, with to Robbins’ , and the flop did nothing to change that. The turn brought the , but the on the river gave Robbins two pair and halted play for the night with three tables remaining.
Darvin Moon finished Day 7 the same way he began: with the chip lead. Moon ended the day with 20,160,000 – the lone player over 20 million in chips, with Billy Kopp (15,970,000) as his nearest competitor. Steven Begleiter, Jeff Shulman, and Antoine Saout all lurked near the top of the leaderboard, but all eyes were on the man in fourth place, Phil Ivey. Ivey slipped a little in the last level of play, but still bagged up an impressive 11,350,000 to end Day 7. Antonio Esfandiari and Ludovic Lacay were both very active on Day 7, but finished in the middle of the pack, while Leo Margets, the last woman in the field, ended the day near the bottom of the chip counts.
Join PokerNews at noon local time as the remaining 27 players play down to the final table as the summer edition of the 2009 World Series of Poker draws to a close.