Welcome to Day 5 of the planet's most prestigious poker tournament, the Main Event of the 2014 World Series of Poker here at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
The starting field of 6,683 has been whittled down to 291 after 19 long levels of no-limit hold'em, and Florida's Matthew Haugen sits atop the chip counts with a massive stack of 2,808,000, which will be good for 230 big blinds at the start of play. Haugen is no stranger to deep runs in events sporting huge fields, as he navigated through a sea of nearly 8,000 runners to finish 18th in Event #51: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em for a score of $62,726. This time, the stakes are far higher for the Jacksonville native, as he has pole position in the race for a first prize of $10 million.
Despite Haugen holding a chip lead of nearly 500,000 over second-place Zach Jiganti, plenty of thoroughbreds will be breathing down his neck if they can continue to run hot as Day 5 dawns. Canada's Griffin "Flush_Entity" Benger bagged 2,329,000 to end Day 4, good for third place, and Dan Smith (2,229,000), Farid Jattin (2,122,000), and Brian Hastings (2,079,000) also posted stacks north of 2 million. Numerous other dangerous players lurk with stacks, including Martin Jacobson (1,594,000), Andrey Zaichenko (1,484,000), Matt Waxman (1,453,000), and Isaac Baron (1,275,000). Mark Newhouse, meanwhile, will return with 1,301,000 to try to notch an incredible back-to-back November Nine appearance.
The pressure intensifies and the stakes will continue to climb as play begins at Level 20 (6,000/12,000/2,000) and players bluff, value-bet, squeeze, and make tough folds to position themselves for the final two days of play in this year's WSOP. Play is set to begin at noon local time here in Las Vegas, so don't miss a single update as the PokerNews live reporting team catches the beats, bluffs, and big pots that will determine who has a shot at fame and fortune after five more grueling two-hour levels of play here on Day 5.