Not since Johnny Chan did it 25 years ago has anyone won back-to-back World Series of Poker main events.
In the past decade, nobody has even come close, except for Greg Raymer finishing 25th a year after his 2004 victory. But defending champion Greg Merson is making a bid.
Last year's champion advanced along with 800 other players into the “Day 3” action of the 44th annual WSOP Main Event, according to PokerNewsDaily.com.
With over 6,200 entrants putting up $10 grand apiece this year's main event prize pot sits at a shade under $60 million. This year's main event champion will receive just under $8.4 million, at least before Uncle Sam claims his share.
Oh, yeah, and that coveted WSOP main event gold bracelet.
Through Tuesday Nick Schwarmann of Florida sat atop the chip-stack board at 413,600, followed by Jason DeWitt at 382,900; Aage Ravn at 370,900; Sergio Castelluccio at 360,500; and Rupert Elder at 342,500. Employing a wide range of poker strategies, this group will aim to continue a run to the Final Table.
Poker legends Doyle Brunson and Dewey Tomko are still alive, as are former main event champion Dan Harrington and actors Kevin Pollack and Ray Romano. And along with Merson, two other members of last year's final table, Russell Thomas and Steven Gee, also made it to Thursday.
But among those getting bounced from the tournament Tuesday were former champions Chris Moneymaker and Joe Cada and notables Mike Matusow and Steve O'Dwyer.
Among those playing Wednesday during Day 2C action were heavy hitters Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Mike Mizrachi. The final seven players are each guaranteed at least a $1 million payout, while finishing 648th will get a player about double his money back.
The field will whittle itself down to the final nine players this Sunday; that final nine will reconvene in Vegas in November for the final-table showdown, to be televised on ESPN.