The final table of nine at the World Series of Poker Main Event was set in spectacular fashion late Wednesday night at the Rio Convention Center.
With the field of 7,874 down to the final 10 players, Nicolas Manion went all-in with pocket aces, Rich Zhu went all-in with pocket kings and Antoine Labat called with pocket kings.
Manion of Muskegon, Michigan, tripled up on the hand to soar past Michael Dyer of Houston, Texas, into the lead with 112.775 million in chips.
“I’ve never seen a hand like that before,” Manion said. “Never.”
Dyer, in second with 109.175 million in chips, led the way for most of Day 7 with more than twice as many chips as his nearest competitor before Manion won 76.8 million in chips on the final pot.
“I was kind of disappointed it got all-in, because I was doing pretty well,” Dyer said. “I was just waiting for it to go to nine-handed because it seemed like nobody wanted to do anything.”
Zhu was eliminated in 10th place for $850,025 while Labat dropped from second to ninth place with 8.05 million in chips.
Tony Miles, who doubled up earlier to avoid elimination in 10th place, is in third place with 42.750 million in chips entering Thursday’s play, which will start at 5:30 p.m.
John Cynn is in fourth with 37.075 million, Alex Lynskey is in fifth with 25.925 million and 2009 Main Event champion Joe Cada is in sixth with 23.675 million.
Aram Zobian is in seventh place with 18.875 million and Artem Metalidi, who was in 10th place before the three-way all-in, is in eighth with 15.475.
Play will continue on Day 8 until six players remain. The field will be pared down to three Friday, with the winner to be crowned Saturday.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Dyer said. “It’s the Main Event final table. That’s like everyone’s dream so we’ll see what happens.”
Manion, 35, actually correctly folded pocket kings against pocket aces late on Day 6 to take a stack of 17.63 million in chips into Day 7.
He qualified for the Main Event in two $2,175 satellites that were staked by his friend who will get 50 percent of his winnings.
A low-stakes player whose previous biggest poker score was $13,000, Manion is now leading the way in the quest for the $8.8 million first prize in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ‘em World Championship.
“This is my first time playing here. I’ve never played a WSOP event before,” Manion said. “I just grind $1-2 cash games around home. Casinos and home games. This past year, I started playing tournaments.”
Manion, who only decided to make the trip to Las Vegas when his parents agreed to watch his three dogs, said he won’t change his approach to the game regardless of how much money he wins. Each player on the final table is guaranteed at least $1 million.
“I’m not going to play big tournaments and blow my bankroll,” he said. “I’m going to play with all my friends just like before and enjoy life now.
“I feel I’ve been playing well. I chipped up the last three days very nicely. Everybody has a chance. Obviously, I’m showing that right now.”