Paul Volpe, a professional poker player from West Chester, Penn., leads the World Series of Poker’s Main Event going into Saturday’s competition at the Rio.
Volpe, who has eight World Series of Poker cashes and roughly $114,000 in earnings, tops the 282 players remaining in the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em World Championship with 2.75 million in chips. His closest rival is Erik Hellman of Sweden with 2.216 million in chips.
David D'Alesandro of Wenonah N.J., who began Friday’s play as the tournament’s chip leader, is third on the leader board with 2.093 million in chips.
The field — which began with 6,598 players — will be cut to about 50 players by the end of play tonight.
Six of the current chip leaders have more than 2 million in tournament tokens. There are 58 players with 1 million in chips or more.
Friday’s competition reduced the field from 720 players and also reached the money stage. The top 666 players from the tournament’s starting field earned at least $19,227. The winner of the Main Event will earn more than $8.5 million.
Two women are among the top 15 chip leaders going into play Saturday. Elisabeth Hille of Bergen, Norway is sixth on the board with 2.014 million in chips while two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst ranks 15th with 1.678 million.
A woman hasn’t reach the final table of the Main Event since Barbara Enright finished 5th in 1995. Annie Duke placed 10th in 2000 and Susie Isaacs placed 10th in 1999. The best finish by a woman in recent years was 17th by Tiffany Michelle in 2008.
Three former members of the “November Nine” — the final table format used by the World Series of Poker since 2008 — are still in the competition.
Eric Buchman of New York, who placed fourth in 2009, is fifth on the leader board and Joseph Cheong of California, who finished third in 2010, is 21st. Meanwhile, last year’s ninth place finisher Sam Holden of Great Britain is currently in 207th place.
A November Nine player has never twice reached the final table of the Main Event since the format began.
The most notable non-professional poker player still in the competition is actor Kevin Pollak, who starred in the movies, “Casino,” “A Few Good Men,” and “The Usual Suspects.”
Pollak, who never played at the World Series of Poker until this year, is currently in 157th place with 530,000 in chips. Pollak was sponsored in the tournament by HollywoodPoker.com, a social gaming website.
Other notables still in the field include World Series of Poker bracelet winners David “ODB” Baker, J.P. Kelly and John Phan.
Among the notables eliminated Friday were Shaun Deeb in 319th place, Maria Ho in 322nd place, and two-time Main Event winner Johnny Chan in 353rd place. Chan was the last former Main Event winner still playing in the 2012 field on Saturday.
Survivors from today’s action will return to the Rio Sunday when the field will be cut to 27 players or less.
Sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning, the final table of nine players will be set. The group will return to the Rio on Oct. 28 to play for the crown.
Seven of the nine final table participants will earn more than $1 million. While the poker's world champion collects more than $8.5 million and the most expensive gold bracelet ever awarded, the runner-up still wins almost $5.3 million.
The prize pool for the Main Event was more than $62 million.