Mona Shield Payne
Thursday, July 12, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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Approximately 30 percent of the World Series of Poker Main Event field remains after the last batch of players completed their second day of action Wednesday at the Rio.
By Friday, only six days since play began, the tournament is expected to enter the money with 666 players earning payouts. The final table of nine will likely emerge sometime Tuesday morning.
That’s three days sooner than normal, as the WSOP adjusted the Main Event schedule to cut down on the amount of time players were forced to plan staying in Vegas.
“I haven’t made it far enough to know if it’s better,” said Randy Haddox, one of the players remaining. “But I guess so people traveling in can save on accommodations and not spend those extra days, it’s good.”
In past years, the players still alive would receive a break before competing in Day 3, which is scheduled for today this year.
The WSOP also added two hours of play to every day and cut down the amount of starting flights from four to three to wrap the summer up sooner.
“I think if you talk to the players, they’re happy,” said WSOP Spokesman Seth Palansky after Day 1C.
Those around at the end of Wednesday were simply thrilled to keep competing in poker’s world championship — especially Haddox. The 32-year-old car salesman from Houston has played in the Main Event for the past six years without cashing.
But he entered Wednesday with the chip lead among players on the same schedule and kept it for the majority of play, reaching 450,000 chips before anyone else had 375,000.
Haddox was at perhaps the toughest table to start the afternoon. Two past champions, 1983’s Tom McEvoy and 2009’s Joe Cada, were at opposite sides of him as well as online pro Brian Hawkins.
But Haddox took out Cada and won a massive pot when he flopped three-of-a-kind with pocket Jacks in the second level of the day. Cada committed all of his chips with a flush draw, but whiffed on the final two community cards.
McEvoy and Hawkins also met their exits while Haddox chipped up.
“It was a really tough table, but it’s been fun to get some attention,” Haddox said. “I’ve played a lot of hands.”
Haddox is all too familiar with making that lonely walk down the Rio hallway. The last time Haddox had this many chips in the Main Event a few years ago, an opponent hit the only card that could eliminate him.
“Maybe we’ll get the tides turned the other way this year,” Haddox said.