The final day of the summer is upon us. It's Day 7 of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event, there are just 27 players remaining, and only nine of them will stand tall later tonight.
It's been a long grind for all, and you can see how each player finished each day of play by clicking here. Heading into Tuesday's action, Thomas "butters" Kearney leads the pack, but he's only got a slight edge over Mozheng "Matt" Guan in second place. Behind those two are five others over 10 million in chips, but no player is guaranteed a seat at the final table — they'll have to work for it.
It's All About Negreanu
Sitting ninth in chips with 8.495 million is the most recognizable player in the game, Daniel Negreanu. Despite not being the biggest stack remaining, Negreanu is above average in chips and the leading man heading into Day 7. He's made a remarkable run thus far, but everyone is rooting for him to make the final table.
If Negreanu made the final table of the WSOP Main Event, it would be nothing short of huge for poker. As previously mentioned in the Day 5 What To Watch For, "There is no more of a mainstream poker player out there. Remember that time Phil Ivey made [the final table]? This would be bigger."
And it's true. Negreanu reaching the 2015 November Nine would be the biggest thing in recent WSOP memory since Chris Moneymaker famously won it all in 2003. His affability, his persona, the fact that he's sponsored by the biggest poker site in the world, and his firm place in the game's history have made him a modern poker icon. To have someone with such stature reach poker's biggest stage would be spectacular.
Over his career, Negreanu's only cashed five times in the WSOP Main Event, including this run. His best result came in 2001 when he took 11th for $63,940. 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.
Twitch Streamer "butters" Leading
Thomas "butters" Kearney is a great story. He's a Las vegas resident and regularly plays online at WSOP.com while streaming his play on the popular platform Twitch. Although Kearny doesn't get quite the numbers Jason Somerville receives, he's developed an underground cult following of sorts, and there are a lot of people in his corner rooting for "butters" to slide his way into the November Nine.
Kearney's image is commonly known as tight-aggressive, and there's a running joke amongst the Nevada online regulars that he's "no-set, no-bet butters" because of his tight play. If you ask him, though, Kearney will tell you it's all overplayed a bit.
"That [tight reputation] will get ripped apart really, really fast," he told PokerNews. "A lot of people think I'm much nittier than I actually am. It allows me to get away with certain lines."
Being in front of hundreds of Twitch viewers on a regular basis could help Kearney as well, as he's no stranger to having a camera fixated on filming his every move. With such a big stage set for Day 7, let's see how "butters" transitions from the computer screen to the big screen.
Morfe Doing It for the Home-Game Heroes and the Everyman
As a doctor from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Erasmus Morfe is living the dream in the 2015 WSOP Main Event. His run might not be a "rags to riches" fairytale, but Morfe has forever dreamed of being in this moment and now he's out there living it.
"I feel like I'm representing all the home-game guys that dream about this," Morfe told PokerNews on Day 6, after telling the story of how he made his way into the Main Event.
Morfe had agreed with his wife that he could come out to Vegas with $1,500 to play poker with. After a few chances in smaller events and satellites to the big one failed, he ran up a stack in a $1/$3 no-limit hold'em game and used that money to take one last shot in the turbo mega satellite on the morning of Day 1c. The bubble was intense, and Morfe even told us he needed to hit a miracle double up with seven-deuce, but he won the $10,000 seat. Now, several days later, Morfe is third in chips with 27 players remaining.
"I can't say it enough, it is just a dream scenario," he reiterated. "Every time we have a pay jump, I text my wife and tell her what the number is. I've been doing this since I made the money, and I would've been satisfied going home with $15,000. I would've been like, 'Babe, here's 10, and I'll take a couple of thousand to play with,' and now I'm like, 'Let's pay off the medical school loans, let's pay off this, let's pay off that,' and I'm actually surprised that I'm not paralyzed by it."
You can read more about Morfe's dream run by clicking here.
Will the Morgenstern Blowup Be Relived?
In 2013, Anton Morgenstern maneuvered his way through the WSOP Main Event to reach Day 7 with the chip lead over the final 27 players. But, things went south for the German from that point on, and he went on to bust out in 20th place. Now, Morgenstern's back in the final 27 and his run at redemption remains.
"To be honest, I do feel a bit more prepared than last time, because you grow from experience, right?" Morgenstern told PokerNews recently.
Not only did Morgenstern have the chip lead entering Day 7, but he had 29.3 million in his stack with 23 players remaining. To put in perspective how big his chip lead was, eventual champion Ryan Riess had 2.8 million in chips at the time of Morgenstern's biggest lead, and if Morgenstern had kept the exact same stack he would've been third going into that year's November Nine.
"Maybe I was a bit too cocky," Morgenstern added.
As an excellent poker player, this second-chance run by Morgenstern is no fluke, but so many players would kill to be back in the position he is in again — and it's only two years later. Now, it's all about putting the past behind him and reaching the final table.