Over the past couple of days, as the 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) slowly enters its closing stages, there have been bargains to be had at the merchandise stand in the rotunda outside the Pavilion Room. First there was a sign that advertised 50 percent off and now it’s up to 75 percent.
These increasing reductions (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) have coincidentally run almost precisely parallel to the shrinking field of the Main Event. What began with 7,874 has been hacked away in huge chunks to the point that now, late on Day 5, we have fewer than 140. That’s a massive 98 percent off.
It also means that we can examine the remaining field a bit more meaningfully, and to try to make some educated observations about who might be heading to the final table. There will, of course, always be room for huge surprises, but it’s possible at this stage to put some of the remaining players into some groups.
We have, for instance, one group that we could probably call The Regulars. These are the guys who somehow seem to manage to turn up in the deep stages of the WSOP Main Event time and time again. People like Cliff Josephy, for example, who made the 2016 November Nine, and finished third, (and also came second in the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event.) Josephy has two bracelets.
Cliff Josephy: Yet again in the deep stages at the WSOP
Sylvain Loosli (4th 2013), Benjamin Pollak (3rd 2017) and Ivan Demidov (2nd 2008) have also made a Main Event final table, while Joe Cada is a former Main Event champion. He is the last man in the field with the chance to match Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss and Doyle Brunson as a two-time WSOP Main Event winner.
Antonio Esfandiari has never made the final table of the Main Event, but as the inaugural winner of the $1 million buy-in One Drop, he is unlikely to lose much sleep about that. Esfandiari’s $18.3 million score from that one is, obviously, the largest of his career. But he has two other WSOP bracelets and is the perfect example of what I’m calling “The Decorated”.
Antonio Esfandiari: One Drop champion in the Main Event hunt
Shaun Deeb and Brian Yoon, also in the last 2 percent of this tournament, also have three WSOP bracelets apiece. (Paul Volpe, another three-time winner just went broke.) Eric Froehlich has two bracelets and is still in the hunt for another. Meanwhile Barry Hutter, Rifat Palevic, Ivan Luca, Jack Duong and Yueqi Zhu have one each as well.
If you knock on the door often enough, eventually you’ll get in. And there’s a large category of remaining players here who are regulars at the final tables of major tournaments, even if they have never yet picked up WSOP gold.
For instance Bart Lybaert, the man from Belgium for whom the bigger the field, the better he fares. Lybaert finished second at the PokerStars National Championship in Barcelona last August (4,557 runners) and made the final table of the Marathon at this year’s WSOP (1,637 runners). He has also on the French Poker Series (FPS) and Eureka Poker Tour. Lybaert is in great form and has seven cashes at this year’s WSOP, including two final tables.
Lybaert is currently jostling for the chip lead with Frederik Jensen, who is very well known to European poker followers. Jensen has close to $4 million in live tournament cashes to his name, and it’s notable that his EPT Madrid Main Event title is only the third biggest score of his career.
Shannon Shorr has career earnings to dwarf even those of Jensen and Lybaert. Schorr has finished 2nd, 3rd (four times), 5th (three times), and eighth from his nine WSOP final table appearances, and if that’s not the very definition of a knocker, then I’d like to see what is.
Shannon Shorr: Multiple WSOP finals
Ukraine’s Artem Metalidi has made two WSOP final table appearances, and has also made the final table at ACOP and EPT High Rollers. He $2.1 million live earnings. Meanwhile Danny Tang won the EPT Prague High Roller last December, and has numerous major cashes from biggest tournaments in Macau.
Previous 2018 WSOP coverage:
From the archive: The Fukuburger flood of 2015
Then and now: Jake Cody
From the archive: K.L. Cleeton’s inspiring run
Is Andreas Kniep this year’s Ylon Schwartz?
Inside the ideas factory: Jason Somerville’s Run It Up Studios
Stop, start, break, start, bubble for Matt Hopkins
Then and now: Barry Greenstein
A comprehensive guide to the WSOP bubble
The field converges for bubble day…perhaps
The rough and tumble of Day 2
From the archive: Blood, sweat and other bodily fluids
Untangling the cake riddle to discover the key to Liv Boeree’s heart
Meet Muskan Sethi: India’s presidential poker ambassador
A return of the masses for the long, slow dance
Then and Now: Daniel Negreanu
Records broken and Red Spades flying
“Thanks Daniel” — A letter to Negreanu from Phil Galfond
A flippin’ fantastic way to enter a poker tournament
Jeff Gross: A momentary pause in the perpetual motion
From the archive: Stages
Moneymaker surveys the world he created
Negreanu continues preparations for PokerStars Players Championship
Then and Now: Andre Akkari
An exceptional Day 1A
From the archive: Rio here, Rio there
Then and Now: Maria Konnikova
All systems go on ‘cattywumpus’ World Series
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.