A marathon unfolding over thousands of hands was wrapping up Monday night in Las Vegas as card players determine the World Series of Poker main event final table.
The no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament was expected to go into early Tuesday morning to settle the last nine players who will compete for a $10 million top prize in November.
Three tables with 27 total players began play at noon Monday, with 11 bounced by dinnertime. Eddy Sabat was eliminated just after the break in 16th place, winning nearly $348,000, while Thomas Sarra Jr. and Oscar Kemps were out soon after, winning nearly $442,000 each.
Sabat and Kemps lost the last of their chips to 31-year-old Jorryt van Hoof of the Netherlands, who propelled to a chip lead after 66 hours of play over seven sessions. The tournament started July 5, attracting 6,683 players over three starting days.
Each final table player will be paid more than $730,000 later Tuesday, with a chance for much more during the final table that starts Nov. 10.
The top 13 contenders include Luis Velador, who previously won two smaller tournaments at the series in 2008 and 2010, cashing in 15 events since 2006 for more than $942,000.
Mark Newhouse, 29, was pushing for his second final table at the main event in as many years — a slim prospect before the tournament began given fields of more than 6,000 players each year. He finished ninth last year for more than $773,000.
Series organizers changed the payout structure to guarantee $10 million for first place, the largest main event prize since Jamie Gold won $12 million for topping a field of 8,773 players.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia