The World Series of Poker's most successful player has been eliminated from the 2009 main event. But defending champion Peter Eastgate and several other notable names were still alive during play Sunday.
Phil Hellmuth, who owns a record 11 World Series of Poker individual event champion's bracelets, was knocked out of the $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold 'em world championship main event on Saturday.
Hellmuth, who won the main event in 1989, earned $25,007 for cashing in 436th place. Last year, Hellmuth placed 45th in the main event and won $154,400.
The field of 6,494 players began the main event on July 3. A little more than 400 players began play Sunday at the Rio. At the end of the day, the field had been whittled to 185 players. The chip leader going into today was Warren Zackey of South Africa, who had nearly 5 million in tournament chips.
The final table of nine is expected to be reached sometime Wednesday. The nine players will return to the Rio in November to play for the title.
The 2009 champion will take home almost $8.55 million.
Eastgate, a 22-year-old native of Denmark, won $9.15 million last year when he topped a field of 6,844. He began the action Sunday in 202nd place and finished the day in 83rd place.
The field had been narrowed to 225 players by 5 p.m. and Eastgate was in the middle of the pack. One of his other final table competitors from a year ago, St. Louis truck salesman Dennis Phillips, was also still alive Sunday.
Several well-known professional players were still playing Sunday, including Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier, Phil Ivey, Blair Rodman, Tom Schneider, and 2005 main event champion Joe Hachem.
CityCenter Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin, who won the World Series of Poker in 1978, had his best showing in the event since 1994. Baldwin, who is overseeing development of the $8.5 billion Strip project for MGM Mirage, has played in the tournament annually.
He finished in 352nd place Sunday, winning $29,911.
Also eliminated Sunday were 1995 main event champion Dan Harrington and Amir Lehavot, a Florida gambler who entered the tournament's third day as the chip leader.
One of the more surprising names still in the competition Sunday was actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who entered play Sunday in 114th place. By late afternoon, his chip stack had dwindled, and he was eliminated on the final hand of the day. He finished in 186th place, winning $36,626.
Phillips, best known for his portrayal of rocker Ritchie Valens in the movie "La Bamba," recently won the NBC reality television show, "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!"
Acting, he said, helps with poker. Phillips has cashed in poker tournaments in Southern California casinos.
"I don't play with the sunglasses," he said. "It allows me to act if I have to. I can either give them the poker face and try not to show anything, or, maybe I will give them something to nudge them one way or the other. The acting skills do take a part in it and what I do at the poker table."
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz @reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Visit lvrj.com/blogs/wsop for the latest updates on the World Series of Poker.