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July 18, 2019

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10 dangerous players still alive deep in World Series of Poker Main Event

Recent champion outlasts all the former winners

WSOP Main Event Day 4

Steve Marcus

Mike ‘The Mouth” Matusow competes during Day 4 of the World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

WSOP Main Event: Day 4

Preben Stokkan of Norway competes during Day 4 of the World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Launch slideshow »

With more than 8,000 entrants in the World Series of Poker Main Event, some would assume that the final table would be composed of all unknown players.

It rarely works out that way. Almost every year, a player or two familiar to even the most casual of poker fans reaches the final nine of the game’s $10,000 buy-in world championship event.

There’s no reason to think this year will be any different when the final table commences at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Rio — especially not considering where the tournament currently stands.

After Tuesday's Day 4 action, 354 players remained, many of them already decorated professionals, in pursuit of the $10 million first-place prize.

Here are 10 players in particular turning heads at the Rio at the Main Event, which will continue to have daily coverage on ESPN or ESPN2 and through the PokerGo streaming app.

Antonio Esfandiari, 2.58 milion chips

“The Magician” was the star of ESPN’s four-hour block of Main Event coverage on Tuesday.

Seated on the network’s primary feature table, Esfandiari controlled the table and spent most of the day around the top 20 in chips. The top earner in World Series of Poker history, Esfandiari has also posted great recent success in the Main Event — now cashing in four of the past five years.

Matt Glantz, 690,000 chips

A fixture in the world of high-stakes cash games, Glantz has never broken through for a World Series of Poker bracelet.

What a way the Main Event would be to get his first. That’s not to say he hasn’t racked up plenty of WSOP success.

Despite having never won a tournament at Rio, he’s advanced to nine final tables with lifetime earnings of $3.3 million in the WSOP.

Jay Farber, 436,000 chips

Three former winners played at least halfway into Day 4 — Chris Moneymaker, Johnny Chan and Qui Nguyen — but they all busted before the night was over.

At least one runner-up was still around, however, in Farber, the local club scene veteran who won $5.1 million after finishing second to Ryan Riess in the 2013 Main Event. He has one of the smallest stacks remaining in the tournament, but Farber has shown an ability to chip back up in the past.

He came back from adversity multiple times during his memorable run to the final table six years ago.

Eric Froehlich, 1.18 million chips

The local, two-time bracelet winner enabled Nguyen to become the last champion standing Tuesday night.

Froehlich eliminated the former winner, Johnny Chan, shortly before the dinner break. Chan’s ouster gave Froehlich an above-average chip stack as he looks to beat his 23rd place finish from last year.

It’s been a big past month for “Efro,” as he also competed in the Magic: The Gathering esports championship at the HyperEX Esports Arena.

Daniel Hachem, 2.45 million chips

Could a son join his father in poker’s world-championship fraternity for the first time? Two players with large chip stacks are vying to achieve as much.

Daniel Hachem, the son of 2006 champion Joe Hachem, is the more under-the-radar hopeful. Hachem has only two career WSOP cashes, for a total of $3,474, but catapulted into the Main Event’s top 10 early during Tuesday’s session.

The Australian was a child when his father reigned atop the poker world.

Todd Brunson, 1.15 million chips

It would be much less of a surprise if Doyle Brunson’s son matched his father’s titles from 1976 and 1977.

Todd Brunson has been considered an elite poker pro for decades. The 49-year-old local already has one WSOP bracelet and is known as a regular in some of Las Vegas’ biggest cash games.

This year will bring Brunson’s third Main Event cash in the last four years.

Danielle Andersen, 1.47 million chips

If there’s a favorite for the annual “last woman standing,” it might be Andersen, the feared local online grinder.

“Dmoongirl,” her online name that she’s most known for, is well-known in the poker community. She was able to hover above the chip average for the vast majority of Tuesday’s Day 4.

Andersen’s looking for her second career Main Event cash and first WSOP final table, though she just missed by finishing 10th in last year’s ladies event.

Mike Matusow, 726,000 chips

Continuing with the local contingent, “The Mouth” is synonymous with Las Vegas poker professionals.

He was a staple of poker television in the early 2000s during the game’s boom period and had the tournament results to match. Matusow has won four lifetime bracelets, with the most recent coming in 2013.

He’s made the Main Event final table twice, finishing sixth in 2001 before supplementing it with a ninth in 2005.

Preben Stokkan, 2.90 million chips

A relatively unknown player — he only had six previous WSOP cashes for a total of $38,038 — Stokkan became the talk of the Rio with a wild Day 3 story.

The Norwegian found himself down to a single 5,000 chip early during Monday’s action. He somehow ran it up to more than 2 million to capture the chip lead at the end of the night.

He made minimal gains during Tuesday’s action, but still enough to keep him near the top of the leaderboard.

Richard Seymour, 2.75 million chips

The other player who hogged the televised spotlight on Tuesday couldn't have a background much different than Esfandiari's.

Then again, Seymour has a background unlike anyone else left in the tournament. The three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots has somehow translated his athletic prowess into poker ability.

Seymour, a retired defensive tackle, has played more shrewdly than the scores of celebrities and athletes that annually enter the event, as he impressed commentators and well-known pros with aggressive play on one of ESPN's secondary tables on Tuesday.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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