WSOP Main Day 4: Kornuth near the top as bubble waits to burst

Terrance Reid
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Posted on: July 10, 2023 11:30 am EDT

The bubble of the World Series of Poker Main Event is one of the most electric countdowns in poker.

The stakes are higher than ever, the pressure is immense, and each hand of poker is more meaningful than the last.

For those that don’t know, the “bubble” refers to crossing the point where an eliminated player begins making money. The player eliminated in 1508th place gets nothing while 1507th place receives $15,000. No one wants to be eliminated right now.

Yesterday, the field grew smaller and smaller faster than most of us thought would happen. As the money bubble grew nearer and the time left on the day grew shorter, we all wondered: Would it burst tonight?

The answer came back no. The play was halted as the scheduled time just ten eliminations from the money. Players would put their chips in bags one last time before discovering who would be the last ten eliminations prior to making the money.

Nicholas Rigby
Rigby’s aggressive and loose style of play has earned him a top-ten chip stack

Here are the biggest reported stacks in the room as that moment approaches.

WSOP Main Event Day 4 top ten chip stacks

PlacePlayerCountryChip Cout
1Antonio Mallol HerediaUnited States1,899,000
2Chance KornuthUnited States1,887,000
3Liran BetitoIsrael1,775,000
4Pei LiCanada1,742,000
5Nicholas RigbyUnited States1,719,000
6Pavel DyachenkoCanada1,706,000
7Michael DuekUnited States1,678,000
8Nicholas LeeCanada1,639,000
9Mason ViethUnited States1,602,000
10Michael MonroigUnited States1,552,000

The decision to stop and why it matters

The WSOP tournament directors are given full authority to change the schedule as they see fit. So, as the bubble grew nearer, everyone wondered if they would extend Day 3 to reach the bubble. It wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Just last year, they faced a similar decision. They decided to continue play to reach the money before bagging up for the night. As with so many decisions, there are pros and cons.

First, the bubble of the Main Event can be a long and grueling one. Going hand-for-hand across so many tables, extremely tight play, and no one wanting to bust can make for hours of play. Last year, play lasted well into the wee hours of the morning to the point that they pushed back Day 4’s starting time by an hour.

Not knowing the end time, forcing players to extend an already long day, and potentially changing the future schedule to accommodate the evening’s play all make continuing to play just to reach the money dicey.

Next, being a short stack on the bubble is incredibly precarious. You’re technically not allowed to traverse the room during play to scope out short stacks at other tables, although David Lappin recently had things to say about that policy.

David Lappin
David Lappin knows a thing or two about bubble play

By bagging and pushing the bubble into Day 4, all of those short stacks now have complete information. For example, a player five-big-blind stack will play very differently if they know there are 20 players with shorter stacks around the room. Bagging for the night allows short stacks to prepare, adjust, and play with more knowledge in their arsenal.

The final consideration is the logistics for players. By continuing on, players may have to extend their trips, hotel stays, and flights when they otherwise might not have had to. It may not be the prime consideration in such an important decision, but it usually is part of the conversation.

Schedule for Day 4

Players will be returning at noon local time as scheduled. The plan is to once more play ten more two-hour levels. Once there, the bubble will be long burst and everyone will have money locked up.

As we near the bubble, the field wonders just how long it will take. There is nothing quite like the energy in the room at that time, experiencing it first-hand is different from what a TV viewer can imagine.

Falling and rising tensions as the room waits to hear if it burst after every hand. So much time in between hands as players wait for play to complete at every table in the building. Jack Effel playing the role of a football tight end bulldozing his way through both rooms to announce every all in and call. It’s magic.

This time, instead of late-night magic, it will take place in the early hours of a Monday Level 4.

And we’ll be there for it.