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Robin Hegele leads WSOP Main Event with 85 players remaining

Updated July 16, 2017 - 6:21 pm

Robin Hegele made Day 5 of last year’s World Series of Poker Main Event.

He’s doing considerably better in his second attempt.

The poker pro from Munich has the chip lead with 85 players left in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship.

Hegele opens with 9.99 million chips when Day 6 starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Rio Convention Center. Joshua Horton, a recreational player from Fort Payne, Alabama, is second with 9.36 million.

All the remaining players are guaranteed a minimum payout of $72,514.

“It’s kind of weird because it’s a tournament, and I know how long it takes,” Hegele said. “We are halfway through to the end of the tournament. Obviously, I’m fighting to win the tournament in the end.”

Hegele raked in a massive pot during the opening 30 minutes of play Saturday when he eliminated Ian Searing to jump into the top 10.

Hegele then saw his stack dip down around 2 million chips in the afternoon before he climbed the leaderboard again, sparring often with Day 4 chip leader Damian Salas of Argentina.

Hegele finished in 124th place in the 2016 Main Event and also cashed in the $888 buy-in Crazy Eights No-limit Hold ’em tournament this summer.

“I’ll just skip the whole summer from now on,” Hegele joked. “Both summers were awful, and then I just ran deep in the Main Event. … It doesn’t feel real, but I don’t want to let it get to me too much. There are a couple more days to play.”

Horton won the largest pot of the tournament Saturday night when he made quad nines to double-up through Jeffrey Rothstein, who had a full house.

In April, Horton finished third at the WSOP Circuit Main Event in Cherokee, North Carolina, for $146,245.

Several notables remain, including England’s Max Silver, who won his first bracelet this summer, and is lurking in third place with 8.665 million. Antoine Saout of France, the third-place finisher in the 2009 Main Event, is in eighth place.

Four-time Circuit ring winner Scott Stewart of Lakewood, California, is in 12th place. Top pros Benjamin Pollak (23rd place), Bryan Piccioli (25th), Ben Lamb (32nd), Brandon Meyers (41st), Alex Greenblatt (42nd), Connor Drinan (49th), Jake Bazeley (55th) and Dario Sammartino (60th) are some of the other young wizards left, while Dutch pro Marcel Luske (66th) holds it down for the old guard.

Chasing history

The hype is starting to build for Kenny Hallaert and Michael Ruane.

Hallaert and Ruane advanced to Day 6 and are in the middle of the pack, as they each try to make the final table for the second consecutive year.

Hallaet is in 35th place with 4.37 million chips following a swingy Saturday. The Belgian was sixth a year ago.

Ruane, who hails from Hoboken, New Jersey, currently is in 50th place with 3.045 million after a fourth-place finish in 2016.

Mark Newhouse is the last person to reach back-to-back Main Event final tables in 2013 and 2014.

Cheers, Mickey!

Mickey Craft’s run at the Main Event ended Saturday afternoon in a blaze of glory and tequila.

The fun-loving amateur from Elizabeth, West Virginia, who was among the chip leaders for the past three days, went out in 146th place ($53,247), but not before making his mark as one of the most entertaining characters in recent Main Event history.

Fittingly, Craft was sent to the rail while holding 7-2 offsuit — the worst starting hand in Hold ’em — as his all-in shove on a 7-6-4 flop was called by Michael Ruane (pocket 9s) shortly before the dinner break.

Craft then returned to his former table when play resumed 90 minutes later with a round of shots for all the players.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for everything,” Craft said. “I just wanted to make a little fun of poker. Whether you go out with king-queen or seven-deuce, it’s all for fun. I just wanted to make a little light of these guys’ day and to say thank you.”

No more ladies

Yuan Li had the distinction of being the last woman standing in this year’s Main Event.

Li, from Ottawa, Ontario, was eliminated by Wesley Pantling in 105th place shortly after Singapore’s Jessica Ngu went out in 108th.

Li’s exit is the earliest for the final female since Breeze Zuckerman was eliminated with 121st place in 2010. Gaelle Baumann finished 102nd last year as the last woman standing.

Barbara Enright (fifth in 1995) is the only female to make the final table.

CHIP COUNT

1. Robin Hegele (Munich) 9,990,000

2. Joshua Horton (Fort Payne, Alabama) 9,360,000

3. Max Silver (London) 8,665,000

4. Frank Crivello (San Diego) 8,500,000

5. Damian Salas (Buenos Aires) 8,400,000

6. Daniel Ott (Altoona, Pennsylvania) 8,320,000

7. Karen Sarkisyan (Moscow) 8,270,000

8. Antoine Saout (Paris) 8,260,000

9. Randolph Pisane (Hoboken, New Jersey) 8,105,000

10. Joseph Dipascale (Naples, Florida) 7,450,000

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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