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Friday, August 22, 2014
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Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.


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Four women poised to make deep run at WSOP Main Event
 

LAS VEGAS -- As the World Series of Poker Main Event field narrowed from 282 players to 97, four women put themselves in position to make a run at the final table -- something that hasn't happened since the Moneymaker boom ushered in the modern poker era. Kevin Pollak eliminated Daniel Negreanu before busting out of the tournament himself. And two players cracked the 6-million chip mark. But none of that compared to the emotional scene in the middle of the Amazon Room, where Michael Gable broke down in tears while remembering his mother, who passed away a few months ago.

Gable's day began innocently enough. He had 700,000 in chips to start play, friends coming to watch him, and hopes for making a run at the final table.

But partway through Day 5 of the tournament, Gable saw something happen that he couldn't swallow.

Elisabeth Hille is one of four women poised to make a run at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Elisabeth Hille is one of four women poised to make a run at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

The parents of the player seated next to Gable arrived unexpectedly to watch their son play. Unfortunately, their son wasn't happy about their arrival -- and he let them know it.

"He said some things to his mother that were just out of line," Gable said. "I just lost my mother a few months ago. I had to say something."

After Gable made his point, the player did make up with his parents. But Gable couldn't stop his own emotional dam from bursting.

"I'm sorry," Gable told the table as he started to cry. "A grown man shouldn't cry like this, but I just lost my mom a few months ago, and this is just bringing it back. It hit me hard."

Gable pulled up his shirt over his face to hide his sobbing. Then he walked to the rail to be consoled by friends. While he was at the rail, the mom he had defended walked over to him and gave him a hug.

"She was a lot like you," Gable said.

"A mom always knows his son loves her," she responded.

Michael Gable rose to the defense of moms at the Main Event Saturday.

Michael Gable rose to the defense of moms at the Main Event Saturday. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Gable, who is married with six kids, says he's had a blast playing the Main Event.

"This tournament has been so much fun," Gable said. "I couldn't have asked to have a better time."

"I used to deal for Barry Greenstein in cash games [at a California casino]," Gable added. "And in this tournament, I got a chance to sit down and play with him."

Gable's wife did not join his friends on the rail, however.

"She said she didn't want to jinx it, and that she'll watch me play in the final table," Gable said with a smile.

Gable's wife isn't going to get a chance to see her husband play at the final table, however. Late in the day, Gable was all in for 1.8 million on a flush draw against Erik Hellman. Gable missed his draw and exited the tournament in 119th. He won $52,718 for his efforts.

Gaelle Bauman is currently eighth in chips with 3.98 million.

Gaelle Bauman is currently eighth in chips with 3.98 million. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

While the drama with Gable unfolded, four women were busy trying to put themselves in a position to reach the final table.

The best finish by a woman in the modern era belongs to Tiffany Michelle, who finished 17th in 2008 and won $334,534.

Barbara Enright finished fifth in 1995 in an era that featured significantly smaller field sizes. She won $114,180 for finishing fifth.

Elisabeth Hille briefly grabbed the lead with over 4 million in chips before slipping a bit later in the day. Hille finished Day 5 with 3.39 million.

Gaelle Bauman, who was the chip leader entering Day 3 action, entered play Saturday in 24th place with 1.438 million. She finished the day in eighth with 3.98 million.

Marcia Topp vaulted into contention when a big double against Jonathan Seelbach -- her queens held up against his pocket tens -- gave her 1.9 million in chips. She finished the day with 1.7 million.

Vanessa Selbst has already won two WSOP gold bracelets.

Vanessa Selbst has already won two WSOP gold bracelets. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Vanessa Selbst, who already owns two WSOP gold bracelets, started Saturday with 1.678 million. She ended the day with 1.165 million.

All four are in position to make a run at the final table over the next two days. Kyle Keranen was the chip leader after Day 5 action ended with 6,935,000 million in chips. Robert Salaburu is second in chips with 6.195 million.

While Hille, Bauman, Topp and Selbst were putting themselves in position to reach the final table, Negreanu and Pollak exited the tournament.

Kyle Bowker crippled Negreanu with a full house. Pollak finished the job when his Ah-Qc held up against Negreanu Qd-Qc.

Negreanu won $52,718 for finishing 160th.

Pollak exited the tournament shortly after Negreanu did. And in true Hollywood fashion, Pollak's elimination had heartbreak written all over it. Pollak and Kirill Rabstov both moved all in before the flop. Everyone else at the table folded, and both players turned over similar hands. Pollak had Qd-Qc and Rabstov had Qh-Qs. The king of clubs was the first card on the flop and it look like the pot was going to be chopped. But running hearts gave Rabstov the stunning flush and Pollak the boot.

"I had a blast," said Pollak of his Main Event experience. "If I had to go out, queens vs. queens is the hand to do it. Now I have a story to tell."

Pollak finished 134th, won $52,718 and beat Lou Diamond Phillips for best finish by an actor in the modern era. Lou Diamond Phillips finished in 186th place at the 2009 Main Event and won $36,626.

OTHER NOTABLE ELIMINATIONS
Joseph Cheong ($52,718)
Sorel Mizzi ($52,718)
Freddy Deeb ($44,655)
Dan Shak ($44,655)
Eric Cloutier ($38,453)
Eric Baldwin ($38,453)
John Juanda ($38,453)

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