Las Vegas, NV
So much for the hard-stop rule.
Around 6am, with nine players remaining, action was finally stopped in the $50,000 Players' Championship -- one player short of the final table of eight. If they weren't going to play down to the final table, then why not stop it earlier?
Alas, I'm at the point at the WSOP and in my poker career when I don't ask questions -- stupid or rhetorical. Sometimes rules are made not to be enforced. Sometimes rules are made to be broken. Sometimes rules are just fodder for anal nits who have nothing else better to do with their lives than argue a point for the sake of arguing. I don't know any of those folks personally, because I would never be friends with anyone who wants to be an asshole and argue semantics out of sheer enjoyment.
Anyway, nine players remain in the 50K Player's Championship.
Minh Ly is the overall chip leader, with mixed-game cash game guru Matt Glantz, Ben Lamb, Scott Seiver, Brian Rast, George Lind, Owais Ahmed, Jason Lester, and Phil Hellmuth. Yes, that Phil Hellmuth, who is chasing bracelet #12.
The Poker Brat and the pro everyone loves to hate, went deep twice already this year with a pair of runner-up finishes. Both second place finished had thrust him to the top of the leaderboard before he was knocked out of the top spot by Ben Lamb last week. At this point, Hellmuth has a shot at re-taking the player of the year spot with a decent showing in the 50K, especially if he wins the event outright.
Hellmuth-heads will be flocking to the Mothership on Day 37 to see if he can finally pull off #12, otherwise, he'll come up short for a third time this summer. I'd hate to call Hellmuth a choker, because it's not an easy task to make one final table, let alone three at the WSOP. But if he can't win the bracelet, you bet your ass he wants to finish high enough (at least second) to re-take the overall lead in Player of the Year.
Both of Hellmuth's final table appearances happened in events other than hold'em. He's the self-proclaimed best hold'em player in the world, so it was a bit surprising to see him go deep in a pair of non-hold'em events along with 8-game mix 50K. But the final table has been tweaked and switched to NL, which might give Hellmuth a slight edge because hold'em is his wheelhouse.
With a pair of Donkaments running alongside the Mothership, the Amazon Ballroom will be complete pandemonium. On one side of the room, donks are being slaughtered and on the other, the Mothership will be where Hellmuth rises to the occasion, or gets dragged out on a stretcher.
The Main Event is just around the corner, but this last story has to unfold itself before we can get to the Big Show. Hellmuth is once again the big draw at the Rio. Love him, or hate him... he's the one guy that everyone will be focused on.
By the way, check out something I wrote about last year's WSOP called The Odium of Hellmuthstein.