Just days ago, the World Series of Poker Main Event had thousands of players chasing the far-off dreams of cashing, making a deep run, or perhaps in their wildest dreams, even finding a spot in the November Nine. Now, for a select group of players, those dreams are getting very close to becoming a reality.
Only 69 players survived Day 5 of the Main Event, with the chip lead belonging to Belgium’s Pierre Neuville.
Best known for his penchant for qualifying for European Poker Tour events through online satellites, Neuville has over 7.1 million chips, giving him a solid lead over the field heading into Day 6.
The next few spots on the leaderboard belong to players who aren’t exactly household names, though a couple of them do have a history of WSOP success. Second-placed David Stefanski has eight WSOP cashes, while David Peters (4th place) has ten cashes and a WSOP Circuit ring to his credit.
But there’s still an excellent chance that this year’s final table could feature some rather prominent poker names, as several top pros have large stacks heading into Monday’s Day 6.
Brian Hastings has been among the chip leaders throughout the last few days of the tournament, and currently sits in 10th place. Hastings has already won two bracelets this year and is now threatening to get back into the race for the Global Poker Index’s WSOP Player of the Year award. Even if he busts in one of the lower remaining positions, it will put him in striking distance before the WSOP Europe begins.
Two Canadian pros are still remaining in the field as well, though it is the less famous of the pair who finds himself in the better position. Matt Jarvis holds 5.25 million chips, good for seventh place in the overall standings. Jarvis has one WSOP bracelet in his career, having won the 2011 $5,000 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em event.
Then there is the Canadian legend who needs no introduction in Daniel Negreanu. Kid Poker has bagged more than 3.6 million in chips, good for 22nd overall, and will likely continue to headline the tournament for as long as he stays in the field.
There are other storylines to keep an eye on as well. Players like Max Steinberg and Justin Bonomo are likely to get their share of attention on Day 6, while former chip leaders Amar Anand and Joseph McKeehen both still have above-average stacks.
Then there is Kelly Minkin, the final woman remaining in the field. The 28-year-old lawyer from Tucson, Arizona has already cashed three times this year at the WSOP, and now holds 2,145,000 chips heading into a critical session on Monday.
Minkin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she’s not looking to jump into the spotlight through her poker career, but loves that she has been able to balance her work and poker without relying on backers to fund her play.
“I’m really fortunate to be working in a law firm who…not only support the fact that I play poker but encourage me to play,” Minkin said. “My work schedule revolves around when I want to come to tournaments.”
The Main Event will continue through Tuesday, when the final nine survivors will each be awarded more than $1 million for reaching the final table. The tournament will then break until November, when a winner will be crowned.