The World Series of Poker Circuit Harrah’s St. Louis continued on Monday with the remaining 92 players out of a 449-player field. Each was competing for a share of a $646,762 prize pool including a first-place prize worth $142,290. It didn’t take long for players to get down to business as the eliminations quickly mounted. After 12 hours of play, the final table of nine was reached. Leading the way was Kyle Cartwright who emerged as the runaway chip leader with 2,875,000.
Cartwright, who won two WSOP-Circuit rings at Harrah’s Tunica in February in his first live tournament, began the day on a short stack but managed to catch fire. He caught some cards and hit even more as he sent numerous players to the rail. In one of his more notable hands, Cartwright called Brandon Steven's five-bet all-in shove and the cards were turned up.
In all fairness, it didn't cost Cartwright much more to call, and he did catch some help on the flop. The kept Steven in the lead, but the on the river gave Cartwright the win. He shot from his chair in excitement while Steven, who was the final-table bubble boy in last year’s WSOP Main Event, hung his head in disbelief. That pot gave Cartwright nearly 800,000.
The chips just seemed to gravitate to Cartwright, and often it seemed like they were just given to him. For instance, Cartwright once raised to 28,000 in late position only to have Terry Stuhldreher shove all-in from the small blind for 460,000! Cartwright made the quick call and found himself in a dominating position.
The board ran out and suddenly Cartwright vaulted into the chip lead with 1.6 million.
While Day 2 certainly belonged to Cartwright, there were still plenty of other players in action. Harris Paroya began the day as chip leader with 314,100 and was poised to make a deep run. Unfortunately, he had to settle with a small cash. Others looking to ensure a payday were recognizable names such as Mark “Pegasus” Smith (tied for the most WSOP-C rings with four), “Cowboy” John Land, Aaron Massey, and Nadya Magnus. The former two were eliminated shy of the money while the latter two went on to cash. By far, the most notable players left in the field were St. Louis native Dennis Phillips and 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Greg Raymer. Both began the day with decent chip stacks, but both found themselves out of favor with lady luck.
Phillips’ demise came on a flop of when he checked only to Paroya, who threw in a bet. Phillips opted for a check-raise, Paroya shoved, and Phillips called off his remaining stack.
It was a brutal set-over-set situation, and Phillips found himself on the raw end of the deal. He needed the last four in the deck to keep his hopes alive, but neither the turn nor river were it. Just like that, the well-liked St. Louis native was sent to the exit.
Not long after the elimination of Phillips, Raymer hit the rail. It happened when he was left crippled after running a Broadway straight into a flush, and he committed his remaining chips preflop with only to be face the pocket kings of Mark Koeln. The board blanked and Raymer was eliminated from the Main Event.
When the money bubble was reached at 45 players, a flurry of eliminations ensued. Todd Bartlett (45th - $2,923), Gary Schaan (40th - $2,923), Steven (31st - $3,590), Brett Schwertley (29th- $4,049), Paroya (21st - $6,267), Matthew Thornton (13th - $8,938), and Yury Parad (11th - $10,891) were just a few to hit the rail. Around midnight, the final table of nine was reached. It happened when Phil Stelzer raised to 79,000 from middle position and was called by Cartwright in late position. When action reached Scott Carlson in the cutoff, he moved all-in for 152,000. Stelzer got out of the way and Cartwright made the call.
It was a race, but not after the flop came down , giving Carlson a pair of queens and the lead. To make matters worse for Cartwright, Nick Jivkov chimed in that he had folded , leaving just one three left in the deck. However, they were all overlooking one small fact — Day 2 had belonged to Cartwright. That proved true when the spiked on the turn. Just like that, Carlson went from the lead to drawing dead. The meaningless was put out on the river and Carlson exited the tournament area in tenth place. The final table was set.
WSOP-Circuit Harrah’s St. Louis Final Table
The final table is set to play out at noon CDT (1700 GMT) on Tuesday when a winner will be determined. As always, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there to bring you all the action, eliminations, and stories straight from the tournament floor.