Main Event Down to Seven by Dinner

If you read our Main Event guide for dummies and have been following the first day of the WSOP Main Event’s final action, then you know that our assessment of the players has held pretty true. More than 1500 dedicated poker fans showed up to support (and heckle) the final nine. As predicted, short-stacked Soi Nguyen had the unfortunate distinction of being the first November Niner to lose his seat.

Nguyen’s strategy was clearly just to hang on as long as he could. He played the game super tight, taking only two small pots before being eliminated by Jason Senti at Hand #28, only an hour into the action. Don’t feel bad for Nguyen, though; his fortuitous final table finish earned him a minimum payout of almost $812,000.

Nguyen’s exit from the game was followed by a 20 minute break, an increase in the blinds, and the introduction of the 500,000 value chips. The pots were fairly split over the next hour or so, but underdog Matthew Jarvis hit a wall at Hand #43. That wall just happened to be in the hands of fan favorite Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi.

Hand #43 will no doubt go down as one of the 2010 Main Event’s tensest moments. Jarvis called all in pre-flop with a pair of nines, and Mizrachi followed him in with A-Q diamonds. The flop of Q-8-Q favored Mizrachi, but his trips were quickly squashed by Jarvis’ full house when the turn revealed another 9. The notoriously noisy crowd was deathly silent going into the river. Wonder of wonders, it was an Ace, giving Mizrachi the nuts and Jarvis the door.

It was a dismal hand for Jarvis, who exited the table in 8th with a $1.05 million prize, and it was a game-changer in a whole other way for Mizrachi who was slowly closing the gap between his stack and early leader Jonathan Duhamel’s. As we predicted, Mizrachi used his superior skills to claw his way to the top. It was strictly business for all the players during the next two hours, but at Hand #71 the theater erupted again when Mizrachi took the chip lead. Mike “The Mouth” Matusow celebrated his colleague’s important pot by announcing that Mizrachi’s winning streak was like “men versus boys.”

The final nine went on a two-hour dinner break at Hand #90 with action resuming at 8:15pm. That’s where we end tonight’s coverage, but stay tuned for tomorrow’s take on Day 2 of the final table.

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