The field played down from 50 players to just six on Day 2 of the 2016 Western New York Poker Challenge Main Event on Sunday, and Rick Block will start on top in the battle for the title on Monday.
The 28-player money bubble burst part way through the day when Block cracked Timothy Andruschat's kings with a weak ace and the playdown to an unofficial final table of 10 went rather fast.
By the time they got there, Mike "The Mayor" Rellinger got short and fell in 10th. Soon after, Jeremy Halaska bowed out in ninth and Jeff Wells gifted Block the lead, shoving second pair into Block's set of aces to exit in eighth.
The final six was reached soon after when Frank Dellaria lost a classic race with big slick to Dan Wagner's queens. Wagner built a big stack by making a flush against Joseph Elia's flopped top two pair in a huge pot at the final two tables, and after busting Dellaria, he will come into the final six just a handful of chips behind Block.
Ray LaRouech, Charles Johnson, Joseph Reichenbacher, and Newton Graziano round out the final six, and are all within striking distance of the two leaders, but it'll be Block and Wagner's names on the marquee when things get rolling inside the Niagara Falls Poker Room at 12 p.m. local time on Monday.
Block's record at Seneca Niagara speaks for itself. He won the 2014 Seneca Fall Poker Classic Main Event and binked a prelim at the 2015 Summer Slam. With $159,594 in career tournament earnings, Block also owns a World Series of Poker Circuit ring.
In the meantime, the affable Wagner is a respected cash-game player in the Niagara Falls area with $171,962 in career tournament earnings, including a career best $109,114 score booked when he finished second in the $1,100 event at the 2015 Fallsview Poker Classic, across the bridge in Canada.
Everyone in the final six is guaranteed at least a $9,907 payday, and there are five-figure scores awaiting each of the final five. However, all eyes will surely be on the top prize of $52,768 when they return to the felt to play down to a champion.
PokerNews will be there from start to finish, and you can follow the fight for the 2016 Western New York Poker Challenge Main Event title right here when it all kicks of at noon local time on Monday.