Day 3 of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event is upon us.
After Day 2c wrapped up on Thursday night, Friday will mark the first day all of the remaining players are in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino playing at the same time.
There are 1,796 players remaining from the starting field of 6,420, and that means there are still plenty of stories to be had. Day 3 will be a very important time on the felt for all of these players, as it is "moving day" with the money bubble fast approaching. Thanks to a new payout structure, the top 1,000 spots will pay and reaching the money will likely happen on Friday.
Riess the Beast
Ryan Riess stormed onto the poker scene in late 2012, but he truly became a household name a year later when he won the 2013 WSOP Main Event. That year, Riess topped a field of 6,352 entrants, defeating Jay Farber in heads-up play and earning the $8,361,570 first-place prize. While Riess failed to cash in last year's Main Event during his title-defense run, he's in strong contention this year with a stack of 291,700 in chips heading into Day 3.
Of the remaining 1,796 players, Riess' stack ranks him 37th overall. In 2013, Riess returned to Day 3 with 75,400 in chips and was ranked 1,088th out of the remaining 1,753 players.
While Riess has nearly four times as many chips and is in a much higher position on the leaderboard at this point in 2015 when compared to 2013, he's going to have to contend with some very tough competition on Day 3. Seated at Riess' Day 3 starting table are five other stacks above 150,000 in chips, including Georgios Sotiropoulos with 219,500, Buck Ramsay with 191,800, and Brian Hastings with 367,300.
Rookies Holz and Mateos Charging
Two players that are brand new to the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas are Spain's Adrian Mateos and Germany's Fedor Holz, and both of them bagged up big stacks heading into Day 3. Holz is on 303,900 in chips, and Mateos is on 285,000 — good for 30th and 42nd overall, respectively. Both players are at the ripe age of 21.
Mateos just turned of age to compete in Las Vegas on July 1, and he flew in on July 5 to play the 2015 WSOP Main Event. But, he's has World Series of Poker experience in the past.
In 2013, a then 19-year-old Mateos captured the top prize of €1,000,000 after he won the WSOP Europe Main Event. Mateos defeated a field of 375 entries to do so and ignited a flame that doesn't look like it's going to burn out anytime soon.
After recording many much smaller cashes over the next year and a half, Mateos exploded again at the 2015 European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monaco. There he captured the title of €1,082,000 first-place prize in the €10,600 Main Event after beating out a field of 564 runners. All told, that put Mateos' career live tournament earnings just under $3,500,000, and he's set himself up to add to that amount this year in Las Vegas.
When I started playing poker, I was waiting to play the Main Event, dreaming of playing the final table. I really want to make a big run here. — Mateos
Towards the end of Day 2c on Thursday, PokerNews' Mo Nuwwarah chatted with Mateos on the final break of the night. You can read about what Mateos had to say by clicking here.
Like Mateos, Holz has seen plenty of poker success in his young career. He is best known as "CrownUpGuy" from the online realm. There he won the 2014 World Championship of Online Poker $5,200 Main Event for $1,300,000 after topping a field of 2,142 entrants. Since then, he's increased his presence in live events around the world and has put up some impressive scores.
Earlier this year in March, Holz placed 11th in the World Poker Tour Vienna €3,300 Main Event for €10,650. He followed that performance up by taking ninth in the EPT Malta €5,300 Main Event for €60,290. At the EPT Grand Final in Monaco in April and May, Holz posted two big results for €337,500 and €329,800. Then at this year's WSOP, he took third in the $10,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em Championship for $268,463.
Will Kroon Avoid Another Blowup?
When Riess won the Main Event in 2013, Mark Kroon was the chip leader heading into Day 3. After failing to tone down his aggression that year, Kroon was only able to muster a 458th-place finish worth $24,480. Not exactly what he was hoping for.
This year, though, Kroon looks to draw on that experience and put his stack of 279,900 in chips to much better use.
"Hopefully I learned my lesson," Kroon told PokerNews after bagging up on Thursday. "The thing about what happened last time is I think I just got too overconfident. I'd never really been in that big of a spotlight in this big of a tournament. I got so many chips just running people over and it just got away from me. I felt so bad about having that opportunity and blowing it. I'm not going to do what I did last time. There was just no reason to do what I did. I think the spotlight got to me."
Kroon will enter Day 3 in 46th place overall.
Hellmuth and Negreanu Are Due
They may not boast the largest stacks in the room, but Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu are the two biggest names in poker still left. Negreanu will enter Day 3 with 123,600, and Hellmuth has 88,800. Between the two of them, 20 WSOP gold bracelets are represented.
Hellmuth has won this event before, taking the title in 1989 for $755,000 as his big breakout. It was there that Hellmuth famously defeated Johnny Chan in heads-up play to deny Chan his third consecutive WSOP Main Event victory. But despite all of his vast WSOP success, Hellmuth has blanked in the Main Event in Las Vegas since he recorded a 436th-place finish worth $25,027 in 2009.
Similarly, Negreanu hasn't been able to assemble a whole lot in the Main Event in recent years. Throughout his career, he's only cashed four times in the event, and his best result was in 2001 when he took 11th for $63,940 — granted, that year the event had a much smaller field of 613 entries. In the years following the poker boom, Negreanu has never cracked the top 150 in the event, placing 229th in 2006 for $42,882, 211th in 2011 for $47,107, and 160th in 2012 for $52,718.
If any of the big names are due for a deep run in the "Grand Daddy of Them All," it's Hellmuth and Negreanu.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Last, but certainly not least, are two big-time Australians still remaining in the field. First is Shane Warne, a former superstar of international cricket and legendary bowler, with a stack of 247,000 in chips. Second is Joe Hachem, winner of this very event a decade ago for $7,500,000, with 148,500 in chips.
Warne has never cashed in a WSOP event in Las Vegas, but he has cashed in one in his home country Down Under. That result came in 2014 when Warne took 22nd out of 329 players in the WSOP Asia-Pacific AU$10,000 Main Event for AU$23,441. With the 86th-best stack heading into Day 3 and an aggressive playing style, Warne is set up to bowl over his competition in Sin City.
Hachem is a bit lower on the totem pole, but what he lacks in chips when compared to Warne will be made up for in WSOP experience, especially in the big one. Hachem's been there before and he knows what it takes to maneuver his way through this massive event en route to the final table. It's the 10th anniversary of when he won it all and ignited a poker boom in his home country, making it a fitting time for him to deliver again.
After a few small cashes at the 2015 WSOP, Hachem took fifth in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship for $114,308 just days before the Main Event. That result should provide confidence and momentum as the 2005 WSOP Main Event champion looks to "pass the sugar" once again.