WSOP: On the brink on Day 6 of the main event

ESPN staff
July 17, 2016

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Tim Fiorvanti/ESPN Mitchell Watson started Day 6 of the 2016 World Series of Poker main event as the third-shortest stack of 80 returning players. The Australian pro has since surged back into contention.

Coming back to Day 6 of the World Series of Poker main event as one of the shortest stacks puts a poker player in a unique position. They’re still in with a chance to win the biggest poker tournament in the world, but their prospects of going much further are handcuffed by their limited options.

Depending on a particular player’s outlook, they can either stress about how things will play out, or be happy that they’re still in with any chance at all and hope to get some good cards when they need them early. It’s usually a mix of both.

“To be honest, reality hasn’t hit me,” said Mitchell Watson, one of the bottom 10. “I’ve been sleeping really well -- the second my head hits the pillow I go straight to sleep. When I wake up, my phone’s erupted. I’ve had about 140 messages today, and they’re all saying, ‘This is who’s at your table,’ and things like that.

“I can’t really believe I’m still in,” Watson continued. “I spent breakfast accepting the inevitable, and I’m running it up really nicely, so I’m getting there so far.”

Most of these players will, inevitably, go out before Day 7, but in the first hour of play on Day 6 a few players managed to pull themselves back into contention. tracked each of these 10 players throughout the first two hours of play to see how they’d fare, and where each stood at various points in the first level of play Sunday.

Start of Day 6 chip counts

71. Tony Gregg - 1.405 million
72. James Cappucci - 1.29 million
T-73. Pavlin Karakikov - 1.275 million
T-73. Roman Soybelman - 1.275 million
75. Aaron Johnson - 1.25 million
76. Jesse Cohen - 1.23 million
77. Jonathan Karamalikis - 1.12 million
78. Mitchell Watson - 1.050 million
79. Jeffrey Kostolni - 940,000
80. Dylan Thomassie - 395,000

Two names stick out among this group, at least among poker fans. Tony Gregg has a WSOP bracelet and a number of other prominent tournament wins, and Jonathan Karamalikis is an Australian pro with a prolific online record and some big results on home soil.

30 minutes in

65. Anthony Gregg - 1.625 million
66. Aaron Johnson - 1.6 million
70. Pavlin Karakikov - 1.275 million
T-71. Jesse Cohen - 1.1 million
T-71. James Cappucci - 1.1 million
73. Mitchell Watson - 1 million


Jonathan Karamalikis ( 76th)
Roman Soybelman (77th)
Dylan Thomassie (79th)
Jeffrey Kostolni (80th)

It was all but inevitable, but four of the first five players to be eliminated from the main event on Sunday were among this bottom-10 group to start the day. None of the other six players did much to separate themselves in the early going, but a few added to their stacks.

1 hour in

35. Tony Gregg - 3.63 million
45. Mitchell Watson - 3.1 million
65. Jesse Cohen - 1.1 million
66. Pavlin Karakikov - 1.05 million

James Cappucci (71st)
Aaron Johnson (72nd)
Jonathan Karamalikis (76th)
Roman Soybelman (77th)
Dylan Thomassie (79th)
Jeffrey Kostolni (80th)

Both Gregg and Mitchell Watson managed to more than double their stacks in this 30-minute stretch. For Watson, he picked up pocket kings and doubled through Per Linde’s pocket queens, while Gregg got a fortunate break and doubled when his Ac-Kc made a flush on the river to double through Chang Luo’s pocket kings.

Two more players from this group hit the rail during this stretch as well.

90 minutes in

43. Jesse Cohen - 3.3 million
46. Mitchell Watson - 3.1 million
51. Tony Gregg - 2.6 million
63. Pavlin Karakikov - 800,000

Things were pretty stagnant for Watson and Gregg during this stretch, but Jesse Cohen got a much-needed double through Antoine Saout with pocket queens against Qh-Jd, although he did have to fade a three-heart flop. Pavlin Karakikov got perilously short, falling to just 10 big blinds, but none of the four players in this group fell during the third quarter of this level.

End of first level of Day 6

36. Tony Gregg - 3.345 million
45. Jesse Cohen - 3.22 million
48. Mitchell Watson - 2.775 million
52. Pavlin Karakikov - 2.44 million

Gregg managed to chip up once again, and Karakikov joined in on the double-up trend, winning a coin flip with Ad-Kh against Joey Weiss’ pocket nines. While each of the four remaining players ended the level with less than an average stack of 5,346,825, with blinds going to 50,000/100,000, each of them still has more than a fighting chance with 63 players left.

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