As the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event goes deeper and deeper, the excitement and pressure build. Today is Sunday, and it's Day 5. With 237 competitors remaining from the 6,420 that began, there is no more important a day than this one.
All of the survivors have locked up at least $34,157, and after a few more eliminations they'll be earning $40,433. Some have been there before, some haven't. Some have their eyes on much bigger things like the November Nine, while others just want to ladder up the pay scale. Either way, you can feel the electricity in the air.
Before the start of Day 3 and Day 4, PokerNews listed several things to watch for. Many of those stories are still alive, plus there are some interesting new ones to latch onto. Let's see what's cooking heading into Day 5.
Spotlight On Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu has six WSOP gold bracelets, over $30 million in live tournament earnings, and a résumé filled with cashes spanning the better part of two decades. Despite all of that success, his performances in the WSOP Main Event haven't quite been up to par for "Kid Poker" standards.
Over his career, Negreanu's only cashed four times in the event, not including this run. His best result came in 2001 when he took 11th for $63,940. You might be wondering why an 11th-place finish was worth only six buy-ins, but the field was much, much smaller at 613 entries. This year if Negreanu takes 11th, he'd earn $526,778.
His other cashes in the Main Event include a 229th in 2006 for $42,882, a 211th in 2011 for $47,107, and a 160th in 2012 for $52,718.
On yesterday's Day 4, Negreanu busted another WSOP juggernaut in Phil Hellmuth. The two got the money in preflop for a pot worth over 600,000 in chips with the blinds at 4,000/8,000/1,000. Negreanu had the to Hellmuth's pocket queens and flopped a king to win the hand.
It is without question that Negreanu is the biggest name in the game remaining. What a run to the final table of this event would do for poker could be immense, as there is no more of a mainstream poker player out there. Remember that time Phil Ivey made it? This would be bigger, and it's time again that one of the game's superstars reached the November Nine. We're looking right at Negreanu to make that happen, and he's only 228 places away.
The Summer of Hastings
In the eyes of many, Brian Hastings has had quite the polarizing summer.
On the live felt, he's had plenty of success after winning two WSOP gold bracelets this year and mustering up six cashes. All told, he's earned over $740,000 in prize money this summer, and that doesn't include whatever he'll pocket from his run in the 2015 WSOP Main Event.
It's his activities on the virtual felt that really have people talking, though, as several players have accused Hastings for using a virtual private network (VPN) to play on PokerStars from the United States and multi-accounting under the screen name "NoelHayes."
Whether or not you're rooting for him or against him, it'd be hard to argue that Hastings isn't one of the biggest stories of the summer, if not the biggest. There's certainly something to be said about him being able to forget about the indictments in order to focus in and play poker in the biggest event in the world, and Hastings is doing just that.
He's also still very much in the mix to become the 2015 Global Poker Index WSOP Player of the Year. As things currently stand, Hastings is 592.59 points behind the leader Mike Gorodinsky. With a finish of sixth or better in the WSOP Main Event, Hastings would move into the top spot, pending no movement from the WSOP Europe events to be held in October.
Entering Day 5, Hastings sits fourth in chips with 2.464 million in his stack.
Morgenstern Looking for Redemption
In 2013, Anton Morgenstern came into Day 7 of the WSOP Main Event with the chip lead and just 27 players remaining. At the time Day 6 came to a close, Morgenstern bagged up just shy of 22 million in chips and had more than the future average stack of the final table. They say in poker that no lead is safe and anything can happen, and no one knows that better than Morgenstern.
It all took a turn for the worse when back-to-back ninth-place finisher Mark Newhouse doubled through Morgenstern twice. The first one happened with Newhouse won a flip with the against Morgenstern's pocket eights, and the second one was after the two saw the flop. After the hit the turn, Morgenstern with the and Newhouse with the got all the money in. Newhouse's full house held up thanks to the on the river, and all of a sudden Morgenstern had less than 25 percent of the chips he started the day with.
The German went on to finish in 20th place and collect $285,408 in prize money. To some, that's a huge chunk of change they would be smiling about from ear to ear. For Morgenstern, it was all about what could have been.
It's two years later, though, and Morgenstern is back in the mix fighting for a spot at the final table. He's a bit further away than he was in 2013, but he's got the 42nd-best stack of the remaining 237 players — 1.254 million. aving come so close before but having it all fall apart, the fire in the eyes of Morgenstern looks more real than ever.
McKeehan and Hallaert Showing Big-Field Prowess
Entering Day 5 with the chip lead is Joseph McKeehan. Sitting in 25th place is Kenny Hallaert. Not only do the two of them have big stacks entering Sunday's action, but they've both got some big-field experience under their belts that could prove mighty useful as this event grinds on.
Looking at McKeehan's list of tournament results, he has plenty of deep runs in no-limit hold'em tournaments with large fields, but nothing sticks out like the second-place result he posted last year in the WSOP's $1,500 Monster Stack event. There, McKeehan earned $820,863 after fighting through a field that topped off at 7,862 players. Now in this 6,420-player battle, McKeehan holds the chip lead entering Day 5.
His Belgian counterpart, Hallaert, knows a thing or two about big-field no-limit hold'em tournaments as well. In this year's record-breaking 22,374-player Colossus event at the WSOP, Hallaert took fifth, turning a $565 investment into $182,348. A little bit further down the leaderboard, Hallaert still yields a hefty stacks of chips entering Day 5 and will be looking to ride it all the way to the final table.
Collectively, these two players surpassed 30,230 players in the two aforementioned events, and now they're making plenty of noise in the final 237 of a field of 6,420 in the most prestigious event in the world.
An International Affair
Every year, the WSOP Main Event draws competitors from all over the globe. The United States always makes up the large majority of the field, but as things come down to the nitty gritty there are still plenty of nations still represented. We already discussed players from Canada, Germany, and Belgium above, but just how diverse this event remains extends much further.
As well as though already mentioned, players still remain that hail from Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Israel, Brazil, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, Ukraine, India, Austria, Spain, China, Hungary, Portugal, Mexico, Finland, Norway, Ireland, France, Russia, and Australia. For many of these players, a chance to represent his or her country on poker's biggest stage is an opportunity of a lifetime.