Level 19: 8,000-16,000, 2,000 ante
By BJ Nemeth
Barry Shulman started Day 4 with a roughly average chip stack, and actually lost chips to end Day 5 with 353,000 -- about half the average stack. But still alive in the tournament, Shulman has plenty of reasons to smile -- including a photo with the Royal Flush Girls (left to right) Tugba Ercan, Jeannie Duffy, Brittany Bell, and Ivy Teves.
The WPT Player of the Year race is really heating up. There were 12 contenders still in the field on Day 4, trying to catch POY points leader Will Failla. Four contenders survived to Day 5, though two of them need a victory here, and one needs at least fifth place.
The biggest thread to Failla's hold on Player of the Year is Joe Serock (pictured), who had the chip lead for a little while in the middle of the day. With 19 players remaining, Serock only needs to reach 15th place to pass Failla for POY. It's going to be a tense day for Failla, who can only wait for others to determine his fate.
Here are the four contenders for WPT Player of the Year, and how high they need to finish to catch Will Failla:
15th Place or better: Joe Serock
5th Place or better: Moon Kim
1st Place: Matt Juttelstad, Rinat Bogdanov
Curt Kohlberg (right) entered the day as chipleader, but lost some pots early to fall back into the pack. Kohlberg was eliminated late in the day in 24th place. Guillaume Darcourt (left) has been among the chipleaders for a couple of days, but had a rougher time on Day 4, finishing below average in chips but still alive as he seeks his second WPT title.
Antonio Esfandiari chats with Royal Flush Girl Jeannie Duffy between hands on Day 4. Esfandiari was one of the last players to register, but turned his late start around to start the day fourth in chips.
David Sands (right) was one of the contenders for WPT Player of the Year who was eliminated on Day 4. Sands was on a short stack when he moved all in with A6 -- and ran into the KK of two-time WPT winner Michael Mizrachi (left).
Matthew Waxman (left) was another contender for WPT Player of the Year, having won the WPT Grand Prix de Paris last September. But Waxman's day ended when he got it all in with AK against the QQ of Michael Mizrachi (right). Waxman lost the race, and Mizrachi cleared another POY contender from the field.
At this rate, Failla might have to award Mizrachi an assist if he holds on to win WPT Player of the Year.
WPT Bay 101 champion and POY contender Moon Kim (left) battles over a preflop pot against John Esposito (right). Esposito would win this reraising war to take the pot.
POY contender Joe Serock (right) was put to the test by Wil Wilkinson (left) after a flop of 982. Wilkinson check-raised all in with a larger stack, and Serock tanked for a while before folding.
There was a battle of the short stacks as Hoyt Corkins (standing, left) moved all in, and Josh Arieh (right) moved all in over the top with a slightly larger stack. Nicolas Fraioli (not pictured) folded J6 face up in the big blind to let the short stacks battle.
Corkins turned over 75, and he'd need to improve to survive against Arieh's KQ. If they hadn't been all in before the flop, there would have been fireworks after the flop of A98 -- both players flopped flushes., though Arieh's was higher.
Someone pointed out that Corkins still had one out to a gutshot straight-flush, but Arieh reminded him that Fraioli already folded the 6. Even if Corkins caught a runner-runner straight-flush with J10, Arieh would have a Royal Flush.
Corkins was eliminated as Josh Arieh built himself a small cushion with about 24 big blinds in his stack.
Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi already has two WPT titles under his belt, but is looking to become only the second player in history to win three WPT titles. (Gus Hansen is the only player with three titles.)
Nicolas Fraioli gives an interview to the WPT cameras after his elimination in 23rd place. Fraioli was eliminated by Hafiz Khan, who had recently taken the chip lead.
Noah Schwartz (left) has had some deep runs on the World Poker Tour lately, but is still searching for his first WPT title. With 22 players left, Schwartz moved his short stack all in with K9, but ran into the AA of WPT Bay 101 champion Moon Kim (foreground, right).
Schwartz was eliminated a few spots out of the money, while Kim was up among the chipleaders with more than 1.1 million in chips.
Marvin Rettenmaier (known as "Mad Marvin") signed a big endorsement deal shortly before the WPT World Championship, and it's working for him so far, as he finished the day second in chips with more than 1.8 million.
With 21 players remaining, there was a three-way all in between players who had all won multiple WPT titles -- Antonio Esfandiari, Jonathan Little, and Michael Mizrachi (seated, center).
Esfandiari was the short stack with about 170,000, Little had about 400,000, and Mizrachi had about 600,000. Here were their cards:
Michael Mizrachi: Q-J
Jonathan Little: A-K
Antonio Esfandiari: K-J
Little was the favorite to win a big pot, but a queen on the turn changed everything as the worst hand won for Mizrachi, eliminating Esfandiari in 21st place and Little in 20th place. With 19 players remaining, the field began hand-for-hand play on the money bubble.
Hafiz Khan finished Day 4 with a chipleading stack of 1,966,000. Khan is a regular on the poker circuit, with more than $2.3 million in earnings. He's still looking for his first WPT Final Table, but that may change here.
There are 19 players remaining, but only the top 18 will finish in the money, guaranteed at least $40,266. First prize is worth $1,196,858.
Here are the official seating and chip counts for Day 5:
2. Ron Coury - 135,000 (8 BBs)
4. Tom McCormick - 186,000 (11 BBs)
5. Barry Shulman - 353,000 (22 BBs)
6. Nick Schulman - 1,315,000 (82 BBs)
7. Rinat Bogdanov - 278,000 (17 BBs)
8. Guillaume Darcourt - 571,000 (35 BBs)
9. Hafiz Khan - 1,966,000 (122 BBs)
1. Farzad Bonyadi - 182,000 (11 BBs)
2. Moon Kim - 1,194,000 (74 BBs)
4. Marvin Rettenmaier - 1,870,000 (116 BBs)
5. Josh Arieh - 127,000 (7 BBs)
6. Philippe Ktorza - 86,000 (5 BBs)
7. Joe Serock - 244,000 (15 BBs)
2. John Esposito - 1,080,000 (67 BBs)
3. Matt Juttelstad - 935,000 (58 BBs)
4. Wil Wilkinson - 1,197,000 (74 BBs)
5. Michael Mizrachi - 1,168,000 (73 BBs)
7. Steve O'Dwyer - 1,079,000 (67 BBs)
8. Trevor Pope - 1,300,000 (81 BBs)
Day 5 begins Wednesday at 12:00 noon PT, and action will continue for another five 90-minute levels, or until the field is down to six players, whichever comes first. Stay tuned to WPT.com for continuing live coverage.
Level 17: 5,000-10,000, 1,000 ante
Photo: Nicolas Fraioli gives an interview to the WPT cameras after his elimination.
Hafiz Khan raises to 22,000 from under the gun and Nicolas Fraioli moves all-in for 66,000 total. Action folds back around to Khan and he starts to think.
Khan tells Fraioli, "I don't want to put a bad on you, send you home."
"Thats life," Fraioli responds with a chuckle. Khan thinks about it a little while longer, then calls.
Fraioli turns over K10 and Khan shows the superior A4.
"Now I give you a bad beat," Fraioli jokes with Khan.
Fraioli isn't able to deliver that bad beat though, as the Q8859x board is no help to Fraioli and he is eliminated.
Hafiz Khan - 1,700,000 (170 BBs)
Nicolas Fraioli - eliminated
Photo (Below): Hafiz Khan counts his chips after the hand.
Level 16: 4,000-8,000, 1,000 ante
Marvin Rettenmaier (pictured) is now sitting on 1.34 million chips after he bet big on the river of a 975Q8 board and Nicolas Fraioli called with a rivered set of eights. Rettenmaier held a flopped set of nines though, so now Fraioli is down under 300,000 and Rettenmaier is the big stack in the field.
Marvin Rettenmaier - 1,340,000 (168 BBs)
Nicolas Fraioli - 270,000 (34 BBs)
Level 15: 3,000-6,000, 500 ante
Nicolas Fraioli raises under the gun to 13,500, Trevor Pope calls from late position, and Rinat Bogdanov calls from the button.
The flop comes 887, Fraioli checks, Pope bets 22,000, and Bogdanov folds. Fraioli calls. The turn card is the 6, Fraioli checks, Pope bets 50,000, and Fraioli calls.
The river card is the K, Fraioli checks, Pope bets 100,000, and Fraioli quickly calls.
Pope shows QQ, but Fraioli turns over AJ to win the pot with a diamond flush.
Nicolas Fraioli - 715,000 (119 BBs)
Trevor Pope - 375,000 (62 BBs)