WSOP 2016 Day 45 Recap: Piccioli Leads in Main Event, Riess and Esfandiari Out

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Friday was Day Four of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. While 800 players returned to action, by the end of the night, the field was whittled down to the final 251.

New Yorker Bryan Piccioli, who has one prior World Series bracelet, leads the pack with 4.026 million. Others big stacks that will return today include poker pro Melanie Weisner (3.078 million), EPT Barcelona champ Tom Middleton (3.025 million), and WSOP Circuit grinder Valentin Vornicu (2.911 million).

Melanie Weisner Main Event WSOP 2016
Melanie Weisner returns to play the World Series of Poker 2016 Main Event on Saturday in the #9 spot, starting play with 3,078,000 chips. She is currently the top woman in the event. If she wins, she will be the first woman in the history of the WSOP to do so. (Image:

A little further down in the chip counts are notables including online stud Jared Bleznick (2.626 million), GPL commentator Griffin Benger (2.409 million), Aussie Millions champ Ami Barer (2.188 million), 2015 WSOP Player of the Year Mike Gorodinsky (1.612 million), and PokerStars Team Online’s Marc-Andre Ladouceur (1.245 million).

The only two former Main Event champs remaining now are Johnny Chan (968,000) and Greg Raymer (992,000).

Riess, Esfandiari, Lichtenberger Among Those to Fall

Speaking of former champs, 2013 winner Ryan Riess busted in the last level of the night. He was crippled after his Big Slick failed to win a race against pocket threes, and two hands later, he moved his last 69,000 in the middle holding king-ten, as Vornicu called from the big blind with pocket fives.

Another five appeared on the flop, and that was all she wrote for “Riess the Beast,” who took home $36,708 for his 271st-place finish.

Victor Saumont (257th/$36,708), who won a European Poker Award for directing the documentary Nosebleed, also hit the rail on Day Four. As did poker superstar Steve O’Dwyer (261st/$36,708), Run It Up! founder and host Jason Somerville (320th/$32,130), winner of the inaugural 2015 Colossus, Cord Garcia (376th/$28,356), and Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari (449th/$25,235).

 Andrew “Lucky Chewy” Lichtenberger, who earlier this summer captured his first gold bracelet, was also eliminated from the Main Event on Friday. It happened after he raised, and both Bleznick and Andrey Zaichenko, who were on the button and in the small blind respectively, called to see a Q ♥9 ♣2 ♣ flop. Two checks saw Bleznick bet 14,000, Ziachenko folded, and Lichtenberger check-raised to 112,000.

Bleznick called and then snap-called Lichtenberger’s shove on the K ♦ turn. Lichtenberger showed the A ♥A ♣, but it was no good, as Bleznick had pulled ahead with the K ♥Q ♥. A seven blanked on the river, and Lichtenberger was sent to the rail in 499th place for $22,648.

Little One for One Drop Down to 104

The only tournament still running besides the Main is now Event #69, the $1,000 Little One for One Drop. Friday’s play began with 4,360 entrants, but just 104 remained in contention for a $525,520 first-place prize by the end of Day Two. The man best positioned to make a run at it is Guillaume Diaz, who holds the chip lead with 1.282 million. The only other player over the seven-figure mark is Samer Al-Shurieki with 1.04 million.

Others returning for Day Three on Saturday will be Day 1A chip leader Yaron Zeev Malki (758,000), 2000 WSOP Main Event champ Chris Ferguson (561,000), 2006 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Madsen (530,000), and World Poker Tour champ Marvin Rettenmaier (355,000).

Among the players to finish in the money on Day Two were former November Niner Bob Bounahra (119th/$3,437), winner of this year’s Colossus Ben Keeline (133rd/$3,437), WSOP bracelet winner Andy Bloch (222nd/$2,998), and CardsChat’s very own Jon Sofen (337th/$2,346).

What’s on Tap for Saturday

The Main Event will continue with Day Five action at noon PT on Saturday, with the plan of playing five more two-hour levels. Then at 2 pm PT, Day Three of the Little One for One Drop will commence with the goal of whittling the remaining 104 down to a final table for a Sunday playoff.

Like many of this year’s events, the LOFOD has run longer than expected, which is generally a good thing, indicating larger-than-expected fields.

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