Day 2ab of the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event is in the books! After five levels of play, 1,023 players remain from the 2,219 that began on Tuesday. The fields from Days 1a and 1b remained separate, and bagging the biggest stack from each flight were Mickey Craft (608,100 from the 1a flight) and Lawrence Bayley (618,000 from the 1b flight).
Bayley had the third largest stack to begin Day 2ab and chipped up early to remain near the top of the chip counts throughout. Toward the end of the night, Bayley flopped two pair with ace-eight and was paid off to jump into the chip lead.
“I got paid when I had nice hands basically,” said the Main Event first timer. “The structure is so amazing and I just look forward to idealizing my stack. I play deep a lot these days, and I just have to keep finding the right spots and make the most out of it.”
Craft got his initial boost when his pocket aces held up against both pocket kings and pocket fours.
“You don’t run across those hands very often in a tournament,” Craft said. “That was awesome. This is my first Main Event and I got hit in the face by the deck."
Others who bagged top stacks were Sergio Castelluccio (548,500), Michael Sklenicka (540,600), Joseph Conor (511,000), Jessica Ngu (481,500), Koen Breed (480,500), and Grayson Ramage (471,000).
Ramage made a quick jump during the first level of play on Tuesday to hold the chip lead for a little while.
"It went pretty well honestly," Ramage told us after he bagged. "I was just running really well, making hands, and didn't have too many tough decisions. So, yeah, it was a pretty uneventful day honestly. I just was running really well."
With two top-100 Main Event finishes to his name, Ramage knows very well what to expect the rest of the way.
"You just gotta be patient in this tournament. The levels are so long, it's such a great structure. You really just gotta be patient, and not force anything, and that's pretty much the key."
Among the many notables who will be returning on Day 3 include Marvin Rettenmaier (359,100), Charlie Carrel (343,000), 2016 November Niner Kenny Hallaert (331,800), Cherish Andrews (330,700), Melanie Weisner (319,400), Mike Matusow (228,200), Chris Vitch (221,200), Scott Seiver (195,600), 2005 Main Event champion Joe Hachem (134,700), and 2004 Main Event champion Greg Raymer (106,400).
Not everyone was as fortunate today. Among those who were eliminated was reigning WSOP Main Event champion Qui Nguyen. Playing at the feature table, Nguyen was all in after the turn holding top pair, while opponent James Akenhead held bottom pair and a flush draw. A spade landed on the river, and Nguyen's repeat bid was over.
"Poker is cruel, but only sometimes," Nguyen said. "Even if you play well, if you don't get any luck, there's nothing you can do. Everyone needs the luck to win. Even me."
Nguyen's return to the Rio this summer proved enjoyable, as he embraced the recognition that came with being the defending champion.
"It was great when I came back here. I'm very professional; everyone wants to shake my hand and take their picture with me. It's cool. After winning here at the Rio, I didn't go out much. I enjoyed the moment with my friends and family, but I couldn't wait to get back to playing poker."
Others who failed to survive the day include 2002 Main Event champion Robert Varkonyi, 2010 Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel, Phil Laak, Gaelle Baumann, Ronnie Bardah, Ole Schemion, Brian Yoon, and Christian Harder.
The 1,023 survivors from Day 2ab will return Thursday at 11 a.m. when Day 3 begins.
However, Day 2c is still to come on Wednesday. About 3,300 players will resume their quest for Main Event glory, and cards will be in the air for those players at noon. Follow all of the action right here at PokerNews.com.