Enormous chip stacks have the WSOP Main Event buzzing

17 July 2011

LAS VEGAS - The World Series of Poker Main Event found its mojo Saturday. After a week of quiet intensity, a sense of excitement emerged in the Amazon Room as players jockeyed for position to make a run at the final table, and a first prize of more than $8.7 million.

The biggest cause for the newfound excitement was the mountains of chips players were accumulating, and the massive pots those chips were creating.

The day began with 378 players remaining from opening field of 6,865 players. And only one of those players had more than 2 million in chips. The day ended with 142 players remaining. Ten players had more than 3 million in chips. And pots worth 1 million chips were becoming routine.

A relaxed David Bach made poker look easy Saturday as he roared into the chip lead with 4.706 million. He is one five players with more than 4 million in chips.

A relaxed David Bach made poker look easy Saturday as he roared into the chip lead with 4.706 million. He is one five players with more than 4 million in chips. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

The fact that it took massive chip stacks and huge pots to generate excitement speaks to the increased sophistication of poker fans. From a visual standpoint, the 30,000 in chips players started with doesn't look that different from chip stacks players start with in tournaments at local casinos or home games. Sure, the denominations are bigger. But it just doesn't look or feel impressive.

On Saturday, all of that changed when the volume of chips players were obtaining was noticeably different. Three million in chips takes up a lot of room on the table, and it's both awe inspiring and intimidating.

Chip stacking styles differed. David Bach, who finished the day with 4.706 million, used the suburban sprawl method of stacking chips. His chips were spread out far and deep on the table as he moved into the chip lead by the end of the day.

Ben Lamb went the skyscraper route in stacking his 4.032 million. Lamb ended the day fifth in chips.

Lars Bonding used the traditional chip pyramid to stack his 3.352 million. He was in eighth place at the end of the day.

Bryan Devonshire decided to get creative and build a chip castle with his 3.292 million. He finished the day ninth in chips.

Large stacks of chips can be fleeting though. Manoj Viswanathan learned that lesson the hard way today. Viswanathan entered Saturday's Day 5 action as the chip leader with 2.115 million. As he told Casino City yesterday, his plan was to stay aggressive. But he kept running into bigger hands and was eliminated midway through the day. He finished 191st and won $47,107.

Ben Lamb continued his stellar run by building his chip stack to 4.032 million.

Ben Lamb continued his stellar run by building his chip stack to 4.032 million. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Unlike Viswanathan, Tony Hachem was able to recover from some bad beats.

Just before being moved to the secondary television table, Hachem called Adolfo Monreal's all-in bet of about 140,000. Hachem flipped over Ah-Kd and pumped his fist when he saw Monreal's Ad-Qc.

"I got it in good," said Hachem.

Both players waited for a couple of minutes for the ESPN cameras to arrive, and then the dealer revealed a flop of 3s-Qc-As.

"You can't be serious, Adam," Hachem told the dealer. "You can't be serious."

The board and river were no help to Hachem, and he couldn't believe his bad luck.

Bryan Devonshire displayed his creative side while stacking chips Saturday. He ended the day with 3.292 million.

Bryan Devonshire displayed his creative side while stacking chips Saturday. He ended the day with 3.292 million. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

"That's the second time you coolered me, mate," Hachem told the dealer.

Moments later, Hachem took a quick walk to clear his head and grab some tissues. On his way back to the table, he nearly ran me over, muttering the whole way.

"Can you believe that freakin' cooler? Can you believe that freakin' cooler?"

Hachem, the younger brother of 2005 Main Event champion Joe Hachem, managed to recover from the cooler. Hachem ended up doubling up through Duane Alexander to reach 1.3 million in chips. And he ended the day with 2.067 million in chips.

Other notable players who survived Day 5 action include: Pius Heinz (4.699 million), Kyle Johnson (4.654 million), Phil Collins (4.109 million), Joseph Cheong (1.988 million), Jean-Robert Bellande (1.23 million), Eli Elezra (452,000) and Erick Lindgren (385,000).

Lars Bonding always seems to have chips, and Saturday was no exception. He ended the day with 3.352 million.

Lars Bonding always seems to have chips, and Saturday was no exception. He ended the day with 3.352 million. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Other notable players eliminated on Day 5 include: Daniel Negreanu ($47,107), Narendra Banwari ($40,654) and Tuan Vo ($35,492).

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