Eric Baudry opened with a raise to 55,000 from under the gun, and it folded back around to Philip Hammerling who called from the small blind. Jeremiah Siegmund folded the BB, and the two remaining players saw the flop come .
Hammerling checked, and Baudry didn't waste too much time betting 80,000. Hammerling sat and thought about a minute, then raised to 181,000. Baudry only took a few moments to give it up.
Hammerling is up around 1.2 million at present -- third behind leader Marais and Esfandiari -- while Baudry has just under half a million.
Action folded to Ken Griffin in the small blind who raised to 85,000. Jean Luc Marais tossed out the chips to call and they saw the flop come . Both players checked and when the turn brought the they both checked again. The river was the and Griffin led out with a bet of 100,000. Marais quickly called and the hands were revealed.
Marais' aces and queens were best and he took down the pot.
We just heard a rousing cheer of "Yaaayyyy!" and turned to catch Antonio Esfandiari's father congratulating his son.
The Magician turned and said "Hey Dad!" before coming over to give him a warm hug. With the strength of family support just a few feet away, Esfandiari will no doubt look to make his papa proud by capturing his second WSOP bracelet here today.
On the last hand of the level, the action folded around to Antonio Esfandiari on the button. The Magician sized up the dead money in the pot and made a raise of 48,000. Philip Hammerling defended his big blind by calling and the players watched the dealer flop the .
Hammerling was first to act and tapped the table for a check, which prompted Esfandiari to try and take the pot right there with a bet of 57,000. The native of Germany paused for a minute or so before deciding to call and the hit the table on the turn. Both players checked this innocuous card and we were off to the river.
Hammerling had enough of checking and led out for a bet of 82,000. Esfandiari stared him down for a but before releasing his hand and the bracelet winner took a slight hit to begin official final table action.
Here at the secondary feature table -- under the spotlights and amid the nonstop cheering over in the "mothership" -- a blind-vs.-blind confrontation just developed between David Haiman (SB) and Jean Luc Marais (BB).
It having folded to him, Haiman raised to 62,000 from the small blind. Marais checked his cards, deliberated about a half-minute, then slid out some green (25K) chips to make it 200,000 to go. Haiman thought a beat, then announced he was all in, and Marais called.
Haiman showed and Marais . The flop came , giving both pairs of aces but Marais a dominating second pair of treys. The turn was the and river the , and we are down to the official nine-handed final table.
The Frenchman Marais looks to be our chip leader to begin the final table proceedings with over 1.8 million.
After finally reaching his ultimate goal of sitting at a WSOP final table, Aaron Massey did not wast any time chipping up.
On the first hand dealt after moving to the final table area, Massey was in the small blind and open-shoved for his last 269,000. He was instantly called down by Andrew Teng in the big blind, who flipped over . Massey revealed the and would need a fortunate flop to overcome Teng's pocket pair.
Fortune had smiled on Massey in this instance and the queen on the flop gave him the lead. After the turn card came , he the aspiring young pro was one card away from earning the double.
Teng could not find a nine in the deck and Massey doubled through, giving him a stack that, while still below average, allows him some much needed breathing room.
Massey rushed over after the double and told us "This is my dream come true! It's actually happening." He didn't need to tell us anything though, as Massey's ear-to-ear grin and genuine sense of excitement said it all.