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WSOP Main Event table dwindles to seven players

Updated July 15, 2022 - 9:26 pm

Asher Conniff spent the week celebrating his 34th birthday and was hoping to give himself a $10 million present.

Instead, the professional poker player from Brooklyn, New York, endured a crushing exit from the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Conniff was the first player eliminated from the final table Friday at Bally’s, finishing in 10th place after his opponent made four of a kind.

“It was like a sledgehammer,” Conniff said.

Adrian Attenborough of Australia owned the chip lead late Friday with seven players left, and the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em World Championship was scheduled to continue until four players remained.

The Main Event resumes at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bally’s and will award the $10 million first prize. All the remaining players are guaranteed at least $1.35 million.

Conniff entered play ninth out of the 10 players, but was nearly even in chips with short stack Philippe Souki after six hands.

On the seventh hand, Conniff was dealt pocket 10s and pushed all-in for his final 17.7 million chips. Michael Duek called from the small blind holding ace-king.

“When I went all-in and he called, I was pretty overwhelmed,” Conniff said. “I was just incredibly anxious and stressed out.”

Conniff briefly closed his eyes and took a deep breath before the dealer laid out the flop, which contained three kings and left him drawing dead.

Conniff turned and calmly put on his backpack, while Duek was mobbed by his friends and family in attendance. On his way out, Conniff was congratulated by the other remaining players as he earned $675,000.

“When the flop came and he flopped quads, in a sense it was quick and painless, but also excruciatingly painful,” Conniff said. “I think there’s a level of validation going this far in the Main (Event). For me it’s more about wanting to do awesome stuff in life and in poker.

“This is awesome as it gets. Nine more people would have been a little more awesome.”

The Main Event, which was the second-largest in history with 8,663 entrants, was contested on the Strip for the first time in its 53 years.

Legendary poker pro Doyle Brunson performed the ceremonial “Shuffle up and deal!” announcement, and spectators lined the rail around the main table inside Bally’s Event Center to view the action.

“It’s electrifying,” WSOP vice president Jack Effel said. “There’s been a lot of big hands. There’s been big laydowns. There’s been big bluffs. There’s been really exciting moments.

“It was the World Series of Poker like we remember it before the pandemic. That’s the experience. And people were excited to come and play.”

The action at the final table started before Conniff’s bust-out, as Jeffrey Farnes of Dallas, Oregon, won a big pot on the third hand against Norway’s Espen Jorstad. From there the chips continued to fly, with players moving up and down the leaderboard thanks to 12 separate double-ups.

Croatia’s Matija Dobric was the most aggressive player early and the first to cross the 100-million chip mark, but lost the lead shortly before the 9 p.m. break.

Attenborough also endured a swingy ride, dipping down to six big blinds at one point before running up his stack.

Matthew Su of Washington, D.C., who entered as the co-leader with Jorstad, was eliminated in ninth place for $850,675 nearly six hours after Conniff’s knockout. Souki finished eighth and took home $1.075 million.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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