After another five levels of play wrapped up on Sunday night at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event has just 69 players remaining. Those left are vying for a top prize of $7.68 million, and it was Pierre Neuville who positioned himself atop the pack moving into Day 6.
Neuville moved up over 7 million in chips when he scooped a big pot in the last level of the night against Anton Morgenstern. According to the live updates, Neuville was faced with a bet of 730,000 after checking on the turn of a board that read . He called, and the river was the . Neuville and Morgenstern both checked, and it was the Belgian's that took the pot with two pair.
At the end of play, Neuville bagged 7.105 million for the chip lead.
Top 10 Chip Counts
|1||Pierre Neuville||Knokke-Heist, BE||7,105,000|
|2||David Stefanski||East Lyme, CT||6,480,000|
|3||Thomas Paul||New York, NY||6,140,000|
|4||David Peters||Rancho Santa Fe, CA||6,130,000|
|5||Mozheng Guan||Holmdel, NJ||6,030,000|
|6||Andrew Moreno||Las Vegas, NV||5,320,000|
|7||Matt Jarvis||Vancouver, BC||5,250,000|
|8||Thomas Cannuli||Cape May, NJ||5,070,000|
|9||George McDonald||Glasgow, UK||4,940,000|
|10||Brian Hastings||Hanover Township, PA||4,740,000|
Also advancing to Day 6 was Daniel Negreanu, who bagged up 3.62 million in chips. Negreanu was up on the ESPN main stage all day, and his table draw had great symbolism, as it's not just the physical spotlights that he's under. He's the biggest name left in the field and the player everyone is watching going forward.
Although Negreanu has a deep place in the history of the game, he's only cashed four previous times in the WSOP Main Event. His best result was in 2001 when he took 11th for $63,940. His other cashes in the "grand daddy of them all" include 229th in 2006 for $42,882, 211th in 2011 for $47,107, and 160th in 2012 for $52,718.
"This deep run would mean a lot more to me [than in 2001]," Negreanu told PokerNews after bagging up. "Back then, I wasn't ready to win anyway. I was chip leader with 12 left, and I made a play with a hand that I would never play the same way today. I played it like a young kid. And it's different, because back then we weren't talking about 6,000-player fields. [The longevity] is something I'm proud of. The 2004 crew, a lot of them aren't playing any more. To still be around competing with the game's best is something I'm definitely proud of. It makes me believe that no matter how old I get, the game's going to evolve and change, but I'm the competitive spirit that's going to evolve and change with it."
As the hours pass and the blinds increase, the competition gets more challenging. Negreanu recognizes that, and cited the tough players he squared off against on Day 5.
"I didn't know who Upeshka [De Silva] was at all," the six-time gold bracelet winner admitted. "I noticed early on that he was an aggressive player — he's very, very good. And with Fedor [Holz] on my left, they weren't going to let me run over the table. So, I went to Plan B — wait for the right situations, chip away when I can. I'm going to bluff occasionally, but hopefully they don't see it coming when I do."
That plan seemed to work just fine for Negreanu. Entering Sunday's Day 5, he was 32nd out of the returning 237 players with 1.335 million in chips. Thanks to a few big hands, some key double ups, and otherwise good timing, "Kid Poker" is as alive as ever.
Elsewhere in the field, there are plenty of stories to be found. Brian Hastings finished the day with 4.74 million in chips and has extended the "Summer of Hastings" for at least one more day. Matt Jarvis is still alive with hopes of returning to the WSOP Main Event final table after placing eighth in 2010, and then there's Mark Kroon and Morgenstern, who have both redeemed themselves thus far after blowing up in 2013.
Another player still in the field is sports reporter Jeff Platt, and he has high hopes of taking home the title and carrying the torch as best he can for the game. Last, but not least, is WSOP rookie Holz. The 21-year-old German wunderkind played an aggressive style all day long, and he'll be back to fire at more pots come Day 6.
About coming into the sixth day of play in his first Main Event, Holz said, "I feel amazing. I think I played really great poker today. I took really good spots and in a couple of hands everything worked."
As always, there were also plenty of players who failed to make it through. Some of the notables to bust on Day 5 were Matt Waxman (75th - $79,668), Eric Blair (93rd - $55,649), Jake Cody (113th - $46,890), Felipe Ramos (136th - $46,890), Matt Glantz (146th - $46,890), John Racener (162nd - $46,890), Antonio Esfandiari (168th - $40,433), and Heinz Kamutzki (235th - $34,157).
Also eliminated was the standing WSOP Main Event winner, 1993 champion Jim Bechtel. He fell in 121st place for $46,890 after Tai Nguyen got him. As reported by the live updates team for the event, Bechtel's couldn't come from behind against the of Nguyen.
The surviving pack will be back in action on Monday, where the plan is to play another five levels. The cards will be in the air at 12 p.m. local time.