The highlight of the entire WSOP 2020 Online Bracelet Events is one step closer to crowning a champion as Event #77: $5,000 Main Event has whittled down a record field of 5,802 entries to the last 38 hopefuls. Among them are seven Natural8 players who all have a shot at huge top prize and may capture the stunning $100,000 Team Bling sponsorship. After the final turbo heat earlier in the day, a total of 1,171 players returned to their seats and attempted to secure a slice of the record breaking prize pool of $27,559,500. However, only 728 made the cut and among the big names to fall before the bubble were Phil Hellmuth, Fedor Holz, Felipe Ramos, Ole Schemion, Thomas Muehloecker, Mike Watson, Ronny Kaiser and Jens Kyllonen.
The bubble itself burst in brutal fashion when the aces of Vitaliy “Durdy” Pankov were cracked by the kings of Diogo “EsteSenhor” Veiga when another king appeared on the flop. Once the min cash was secured, the players hit the rail by the dozens per minute and the stream of eliminations remained high for the rest of the day.
It still took more than 12 hours to reduce the field to the final five tables and three eliminations at the same time on separate tables ended the penultimate tournament day with 38 contenders still in the mix. American poker pro Bryan “smbdySUCKme” Piccioli topped the leaderboard with a stack of 18,417,494, followed by Michael “All Love” Kane (15,907,969) and Stoyan “Nirvana76” Madanzhiev (15,299,783) as the only players above 15 million in chips. Craig Timmis, who has finished 2nd and 3rd in Pot-Limit Omaha events during the festival, and Dinesh “NastyMinder” Alt also secured top stacks. Another well-known name in the top ten heading into the final day will be Benjamin Rolle, who secured the most chips among the seven Natural8 players and advanced with 10,789,181.
Rolle is the co-founder of the online coaching platform Raise Your Edge which has a very active community and he is also well-known by his online moniker “bencb789”. The German calls the UK and Austria his home and regularly runs online streams and podcasts featuring his online poker progress and more.
Flying the Mexican flag, Samuel “WhyEsEl” Taylor is an American poker pro that made the trip over the boarder to participate in the record-breaking event. Taylor had 40 WSOP cashes and one WSOP Circut ring to his name for nearly half a million dollars in cashes. Hailing from New York, Taylor has already claimed more than $1.4 million on the live poker circuit with a top score of $390,103 in the 2017 $2,500 Borgata Spring Championship. The American has claimed 8,635,342 chips to his name upon completion of Day 2, which puts him in 14th place and the middle of the pack.
Stefan “Schilli33” Schillhabel (8,412,841 chips) is a well-known German poker pro who curently resides in Brighton, UK, and has more than $9.3 million in cashes on the live circuit. Part of the No Limit Gaming Crew, Schillhabel’s biggest payday so far was a third place in the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas for $2.4 million, followed by a victory in the 2016 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event for $1,298,000.
Right behind Schillhabel on the leaderboard is Satoshi “Tamito” Isomae with 8,359,674 from Chuo Ku in Japan. Back in 2011, Isomae participated in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas and finished in 256th place for $40,654, which appears to be his biggest cash to date. Isomae cashed in one other event of the festival so far and the next pay jump would lock up a new top score.
Joshua “thefreshest” Mccully (7,906,110 in chips) can usually be found on the Asia-Pacific live poker circuit and also participates in events on home soil such as the Aussie Millions in Melbourne as well as the various festivals at The Star Sydney. His best score to date was a 4th place finish in the 2018 WSOP International Circuit A$5k Challenge in Sydney for A$ 85,332. Hailing from Brisbane, Mccully has been quite active during the ongoing festival and has now cashed in the tenth event.
One of many aspiring poker players from South America is Martin “colinchow” Arce and the Argentinian was one of many hopefuls that made the trip to Las Vegas last year to participate in the $10,000 Main Event. Arce cashed for $15,000 and first appeared on the radar in 2016 with some small cashes in his home city of Buenos Aires to the name.
After a break of three years with no recorded cashes, Arce then had two results in 2019 and kicked off the current year with a deep run in the partypoker MILLIONS South America $10,300 Main Event, which came with a payday of $60,000 for his 11th place finish.
During the ongoing festival on Natural8, Arce narrowly missed out on the WSOP Online bracelet when he made it all the way to heads-up in Event #33: $1,111 Every 1 for Covid Relief (Caesars Cares). It would be Alek Astazz that earned his first of two bracelets of the series as Arce had to settle for the runner-up spot and $246,765.50. The Argentinian cashed in another six events and now has the shot earn a new milestone. He will enter the final day with 6,131,772 in chips.
Last but not least, Natural8 Team Hot ambassador Phachara Wongwichit is still in the mix with a stack of 5,153,525. With more than $1.4 million in live cashes, he sits atop the Thailand All Time Money List for live poker tournaments and has been ranked as the top player of his home country for the last three consecutive years.
As one of the last live events before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Wongwichit earned a trophy in the WPT Cambodia Single Day High Roller and his best score so far is a 2nd place finish in the 2018 The Wynn Summer Classic for $204,728. The Thai was one of many players to qualify for Day 2 of the $5,000 Main Event in the last turbo heat, in which he earned a top 10 stack and finished off a long session at the poker tables the same day.
Who will make it the furthest among the seven Natural8 players when the event draws to a conclusion on Saturday, September 5th as of 6.30 p.m. UTC? If one of them goes all the way to engrave their name into the history books of online poker, they will also become the captain of Team Bling and receive a sponsorship worth $100,000 courtesy of Natural8.
The blinds will resume at 125,000/250,000 and an ante of 30,000, all finalists have $39,214,41 locked up and the winner takes home the huge top prize of $3,904,685.63.
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