You cannot understand the sheer magnitude of this competition until you are smack, bang right in the middle of it.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is huge, and as we pushed on into day five there were still 378 players remaining from our starting field of 6,865. 135 of those players qualified for the event through the online tournament gateway on PartyPoker. Of those 135 we had seven left going into day five: The Magnificent Seven!

Nicolas Fierro has finished the day as the top PartyPoker qualifier every time he has turned up for work.

On Day 1d it was PartyPoker Team Pro Giovanni Rizzo who finished at the top of the PartyPoker pile, and at the beginning of day five these two met head on, as they found themselves sharing seats three and four at the same table.

Per Strom had a difficult table to navigate his way through with Tony Hachem and EPT Snowfest winner Vladimir Geshkenbein to contend with. Jody Howe started the day on one of the ESPN feature tables and was to the left of the chip leader Manoj Viswanathan, who had an eye watering 2 million chips. David Lenz, Martin Ross and Robin Colbin had all come to play the short stack and were all desperate for a double up.

David Lenz was the first PartyPoker qualifier to have it all on the line and he couldn’t have wished for a better spot to be in; but as we all know you don’t always get what you deserve in this game! Lenz opened up with a raise to 30,000 and his opponent on the button raised to 105,000. The action folded around to Lenz who had 140,000 behind. Lenz moved it all-in and his opponent called.

Lenz: [ax][kx] Opponent: [ax][5x]

Lenz was a sure fire thing until a five hit the flop to give his opponent the lead. The king decided it was not the right time to come out of the pack and Lenz was eliminated in 366th place with a small consolation of $30,974. When players are eliminated from the main event they have to take a seat and wait for their payout.

The seating area resembles a Doctors waiting room and it was quite apt because when we caught up with the 32-year old German he was not feeling too well. Lenz was obviously disappointed at the way he was eliminated but was very proud of his 366th finish, and after sleeping off his illness will definitely be partying when he gets back home.

Martin Ross started the day with 191,000 chips and would have to play a short stack strategy. One wonders whether or not his brother Markus Ross had found the time to go through a short stack strategy with his older brother. Incredibly, before this event had started, Martin Ross had never paid any money to play poker in his life. His brother Markus gave the seat to his brother as a gift and spent a few days explaining the rules of the game and some basic strategy.

Either Markus is a great teacher or Martin is a fast learner, either way Ross should be very proud of his 351st place finish despite making a mistake in his exit hand. Ross had 18 big blinds when he shoved with . There was a caller and then a raiser and when Ross found himself heads up he was crushed against the [kx][kx]of his opponent.

We caught up with the father of two in the payout area and he was gutted about his exit because when he shoved he thought he was in the small blind and only had the big blind to get through. Ross said that his biggest moment came on day two after his brother told him to start getting more aggressive. After that day he started to play more pots and his confidence grew. Despite cashing for $35,492 in his first ever tournament he has not quite caught the poker bug and is not even sure if he will play again.

Nicolas Fierro and Giovanni Rizzo were moved during level 19 but incredibly ended up side-by-side once again. It was at the new table that Rizzo was eliminated. He raised under the gun with [tx][tx]and when the action folded around to the big blind he three-bet, Rizzo moved all-in and the three-bettor called.

Rizzo: [tx][tx] Opponent: [ax][kx] Board:

Rizzo finished in 327th place for a $35,492 payday. Congratulations to the PartyPoker Team Pro for cashing in two consecutive WSOP Main Events.

Players were dropping like opponents who once climbed into the ring with a young Iron Mike Tyson. The once crammed Amazon room now seemed incredibly spacious with plenty of room between tables. There were 279 players left and one of them was Robin Colbin, who survived his first all-in of the day when he moved 180,000 in the middle and managed to get the original raiser to fold.

Then as Norman Chad prowled around the tables looking for some stories Nicolas Fierro gave us one as he crippled himself in the following hand. There was a raise to 23,000 and a cold call before Fierro three-bet squeezed out of the cut-off making it 59,000 to play. The original raiser folded but the cold-caller decided to see a flop.

The flop as and the cold caller check-called a 73,000 Fierro bet. The turn was the and once again the cold caller check-called a 115,000 Fierro bet. The river was the and the cold caller checked for the third time. Fierro had a little think about going for the third barrel but stopped and tapped the felt. The cold-caller turned over a set of sixes and Fierro mucked what we believe to be a stone cold bluff. Fierro was down to the lowest chip point since day one with 300,000 chips.

Just as we encroached the last few minutes of level 19 Fierro got right back into this competition with two incredible hands. Fierro raised to 22,000 from early position and the cut off three-bet to 40,000. By the time the action fell back to Fierro you knew it was an all-in or fold moment.

Fierro composed himself and took his time before announcing all-in. His opponent called instantly and then turned over and Fierro was ahead with . The board ran out well for the Chilean qualifier . He gave his girlfriend a wink and started to build his new stack of over 560,000. Fierro was still stacking his chips when he threw in a 23,000 raise from early position.

The player to his direct left three-bet to 62,000 and the small blind shoved for 130,000. Action back on the bearded Fierro and he just cold-called the 130,000. The original three-bettor then made it three to the flop when he also called and we had a huge pot. Both active players checked the flop when it came down . The turn was the and Fierro verbally announced 200,000 (the first time we had seen him do this) and his opponent called faster than Usain Bolt runs to catch a missed bus. The river was the and both players checked and Fierro dragged in a monstrous pot to put him right back in the game.

Fierro:
Three-Bettor:
All-in guy:

Fierro was back up to 1.15 million.

Then as we enjoyed our first break of the day we ran into the unfortunate Per Strom. While we were all getting carried away with the action at Nicolas Fierro’s table Strom was having some action of his own. He managed to get it in with [ax][ax]versus the [qx][qx]of his opponent and a queen on the flop left Strom with air in front of him, a 284th finish and $40,654 in winnings.

We couldn’t get near Jody Howe all morning because he was on one of the ESPN feature tables but he always seemed to maintain the same stack size of around 600,000. Robin Colbin managed to wake up with [kx][kx]in the big blind after an inviting raise and cold call ahead of him. Colbin shipped for 23 big blinds and was called by the initial raiser who was holding [6x] [6x].

Colbin doubled up and played the next level really well. Watching Nicola Fierro playing poker is interesting to say the least. He is a very active player and is involved in most pots. During the last level we even saw him become the victim of a bluff. On a flop of two players checked and Fierro bet 80,000. The action folded around to the player seated to his direct right and he check-raised to 200,000. Fierro called, we saw a turn of and his opponent fired out 215,000 bullets at him. Fierro smiled, drank a can of red-bull and folded his hand and his opponent jumped up and threw down for the bluff. Fierro back down to around 800,000.

With 175 players left we headed for the dinner break. The average chip stack was now 1.176 million and PartyPoker had three qualifiers left in the tournament: Nicolas Fierro (920,000), Robin Colbin (640,000) and Jody Howe (210,000). Upon our return the WSOP officials unleashed Jody Howe into the field as the ESPN secondary feature table was disbanded. It was the best thing that could happen for Howe because he catapulted himself forward turning 210,000 into 780,000 after these two double ups. In the first hand there was a raise under the gun to 32,000 and Howe was next to act and he moved all-in for 240,000 and the initial raiser called.

Howe:
Opponent:
Board:

In the next hand Howe was on the button when he made a raise of 40,000 and the player in the small blind moved all-in. The big blind folded and Howe called instantly.

Howe:
Small Blind:
Board:

Going into the final hour of Day five and Howe had 780,000, Colbin had 350,000 but still leading the PartyPoker qualifiers was Nicolas Fierro with 800,000 – but that would soon change. Guillaume Darcourt needed a carthorse to carry his chips to Robin Colbin’s table and while they were being offloaded Colbin moved all-in from the small blind after a raise on the button and the button folded.

Colbin got through the day playing the short-stack very impressively, ending on 380,000. Nicolas Fierro’s table was wild, with some pretty hefty stacks sat on there and in the end the Chilean bagged and tagged 672,000 chips and will return for day six. But the man of the day was Canadian Jody Howe. After moving all-in twice with just over 200,000 on the feature table he managed to finish the day with 1,062,000 chips and will return for day six as the leading PartyPoker qualifier of a ménage a trois.

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