Back during the early days of the World Series, my colleagues here at the PokerStars Blog began singing about Ylon (Ee-lahn) Schwartz, "Ylon and winding road!" Their British accents made for the perfect re-make of the Beatles classic. Little did any of us know we would be watching Schwartz four-handed at the World Series final table.
Even more surprising, at least to us, was that the man we knew as Ivan (EYE-van) actually pronounced his name Ee-vahn. And so, here we sit tonight with the same tune in our head, except now Ivan's long and winding road has taken him to the chip lead of this world championship event.
In the video blog below, he tells us how to get to this fantastical place in history.
Watch WSOP Final Tables: Ivan's Tips For Final-Tabling on PokerStars.tv
Now three spots off the bracelet and two spots off the break for the night, we have two Americans, a Dane, and a Russian vying for their spot in history. Any of the four players would be a fun addition to the fraternity of Main Event winners. All of them would bring something different to the game. Whether inspiring a country with its first Main Event win, realizing a freedom dream that nine million bucks provides, or trumpeting the power of the everyman worldwide, the four remaining runners all carry with them something special.
At this moment, though, they aren't thinking about that. They are thinking about how to eviscerate each other and do it in as short order as possible.
With four players left, the predictions was for a bit of a grind until the final two. But with blinds now at 300,000-600,000 (75,000 ante) there really can't actually be all that much sitting and folding. Dennis Phillips has certainly noticed that and he's been the most active in the first 30 minutes of the new level, reraising a Peter Eastgate button raise, making it 3.5 million to play and on the next hand getting his own button raise through the blinds. Phillips and Ylon Schwartz are now the players most under pressure, with the two Europeans, Eastgate and the chip-leading Ivan Demidov, relatively comfortable. But "relatively" is a big word in poker, and having already seen some horrific outdraws and some massive hands, everyone is aware that this can change rapidly. Very rapidly.
Schwartz took his own stab at getting something going in the final 10 minutes of the past hour, raising pre-flop to 1.5 million. But betting into the big stacks of Demidov and Eastgate is always going to be hazardous and Demidov repopped another 3.425 million. Schwartz called, but after a rag flop and a bet of 7 million from the Russian, Schwartz let it go.