After the slow finish to the day last night, we expected this final table to move pretty quickly in the early stages. With the blinds kicking off at 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000-chip ante, we had six of our nine players starting off with around twenty big blinds or less.
Basically they had no room to move. One mistake and it was all over.
Tom Rafferty doubled up and then gave it back again, and Emanuel Seal did the same. But we have lost two players in the first thirty minutes of play with both Shaneel Chand and Chung Liew failing to build on their overnight chip stacks.
Liew would be first to go.
He was down to just 115,000 in chips, or less than three big blinds, when he committed his chips into the middle, and with three callers he was looking to try and quadruple up!
There was a little action in the side pot on the board of A♠4♣10♣9♦2♦ but when Liew’s opponents checked the turn and river, he was hopeful that his A♣6♦ top pair would be good. It was better than Denis Sekuloski’s 4♦5♦ but Liew found himself out-kicked by Li-ta Hsu’s A♥8♥.
Hsu raked in the pot and Liew was first to the cashier in ninth place for $17,000.
Before the end of the level we would also say goodbye to Shaneel Chand when he shoved 2♥2♣ and Zhi Hong Ma made the call in the big blind with A♠J♣. A couple of jacks on the flop and it was all over for Chand as he collected $23,000 for eighth place.
Before we could catch our breath, two more players would fall at the start of the new level.
Tom Rafferty committed his short stack with Q♥10♦ to be racing with Denis Sekuloski’s pocket fours. Rafferty flopped a straight draw but a few outs were taken away when Sekuloski turned a set. The river was a ten but a pair was not enough for Rafferty who added yet another final table to his resume with seventh place worth $29,750.
Finally our fourth player to be eliminated was local Zhi Hong Ma.
It would be a classic race with Ma four-bet jamming his A♠K♠ and Denis Sekuloski quickly snapping it off with pocket queens. The final board of 10♥3♥10♠J♣9♥ would be no help for Ma who was left to depart in sixth place for a $38,750 score.
And just like that, we’re down to five!
Jim Psaros has maintained his position on top but Denis Sekuloski is snapping at his heels after taking care of the two recent bustouts. Murray Roach and Li-ta Hsu haven’t been involved too much, while Emanuel Seal is the short stack with around 16 big blinds.