After the fun and frolics of the opening three days, Day 4 was all business as the final table that was once little more than a distant hope suddenly became a genuine possibility. Twenty-two players kicked off proceedings, but only nine saw it through with their dreams in tact.
Although Ronald Lee entered the day with the chip lead (all eyes were on Phil Ivey and Viktor Blom), poker fans united in their wish for a high-rolling final involving two of the most celebrated players in the game. But, like an empty box on Christmas, hopes were quickly dashed as neither player could build on the promise showcased earlier in the week.
With Greg Mueller, Jani Sointula and Thomas Bichon biting early dust, Ivey became the first of the pair to perish. After Fabrizio Baldassari limped preflop, Ivey raised it up to 35,000 with before four-bet shoving all-in for 440,000 to Ronald Lee's three-bet to 101,000. Lee made the call with and duly survived a board to send Ivey home in 19th place.
After Anthony Newman and prior pacesetter Bojan Gledovic hit the deck in 18th and 17th, Viktor Blom exited in 16th to leave degenerates worldwide staring at their monitors with tears in their eyes. Having knocked down a few early hurdles, Blom lost his final 210,000 in a coin flip, the Swede's unable to hold against Brian Powell's on an ensuing board.
An enigma of the modern game, Blom's connection to the "Isildur1" account has created more mystery than an Agatha Christie novel. He remained aloof throughout the week and constantly declined interviews, including the standard ESPN post-exit chinwag. On this showing, at least, it seems as though the mystery surrounding Blom is set to continue.
Back at the felt, the action began to heat up as players dropped like lemmings on a clif. After Hoyt Corkins departed in 15th, Roland De Wolfe nearly trebled his stack to eliminate Clint Coffee and Barny Boatman in what was a monster pot. With Coffee and then Boatman moving all-in before him with and respectively, the triple-crown winner woke up with and, despite the threat of both a gutshot and set draw, just about survived a board to join that elite one-million club.
Arnaud Mattern, who was unable to fully recover from his queens-versus-aces encounter against James Bord, dropped in 12th while Andrew Pantling snapped up 11th. Pantling had enjoyed a good run in the opening six-handed event when he finished second to Phil Laak for £105,506, but his luck turned sour on Day 4 of the Main Event as his stack hurtled relentlessly south, Daniel Steinberg hammering in the final nail when his outdrew Pantling's on a cruel board.
The flurry of exits was not a prelude of things to come, however, because it was some time before the final-table bubble burst the plucky never-say-die attitude of the short-stacks. Fans had to wait until after the 90-minute dinner break before the tenth man fell. With shorter stacks Brian Powell and Marc Inizan enjoying more comebacks than Frank Sinatra, that role was ultimately taken by David Peters who missed out on his second final of the Series when his was outgunned by Roland De Wolfe's on a board.
On that gut-wrenching note, the final table was set, led by 28-year-old entrepreneur Dan Fleyshman. Perhaps best known as the CEO of Victory Poker, Fleyshman must have had a lucky horseshoe in one pocket and a rabbit's foot in the other as his stack continued to flourish. After doubling up early doors off Pantling with versus , Fleyshman went from strength to strength, eventually ending the day with a sumptuous 1,946,000 in chips.
But, with blinds at 10,000/20,000 (3,000) and an average stacks of circa 57 big blinds, Fleyshman's journey to gold will be a long, arduous one, and snapping at his heels like a starved alligator will be Roland Lee, just a gnat's nose hair behind with 1,899,000, closely followed by Daniel Steinberg on 1,520,000. The short-stack coming back will be Marc Inizan with 17.5 big blinds.
Final Table Seat Draw
|1||Roland de Wolfe||1,377,000|
Tomorrow promises to be an epic day and rumblings of a repeat performance of 2008's 11 a.m. finish are already simmering through the Empire. However long it takes, PokerNews.com will be right there at ringside, so join us at 12 p.m. local time as we look to crown poker's latest superstar.
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