After Carlos Mortensen was eliminated in 10th place, nine players remain in the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event. The November Nine is set and the final table will return in four months to play for over $8 million. JC Tran, Ryan Riess, and the rest of the final table field interviews and take photos, but Day 7 chip leader Anton Morgenstern is an afterthought.
When Day 7 began, it was impossible not to picture Morgenstern ending the night as part of the November Nine. The super aggressive German entered Day 7 with a massive chip lead and his 22 million chips was over than 7 million more than his nearest competitor. He also had three times as many chips as 60% of his opponents. Morgenstern wasn’t just leading, he was lapping the field.
While his opponents jogged though the first two hours of the day, Morgenstern continued his sprint towards the final table. He increased his stack over 26 million and had extended his lead on the field. He had more than 9 million more chips than JC Tran, who was second in chips with 23 players remaining. Two hours later, Morgenstern tripped and an hour after that, he was eliminated in 20th place.
Morgenstern’s monumental blowup filled the three hours after Day 7’s first break, but was focused over a few hands. It began with a five-bet-fold and continued when Morgenstern doubled Mark Newhouse. Even after those two stumbles, Morgenstern was still on his feet with an average stack. A few hands after that double, Morgenstern doubled Newhouse again, in one of the tournament’s biggest pots, and the former chip leader was left with just over 5 million chips.
In a span of 23 hands, Morgenstern went from the top of the charts to the bottom of the leaderboard. Newhouse took the chip lead, which he rode to the first of back-to-back final table appearances. Morgenstern bled out for the next 40 hands and was eliminated before the two table redraw.
Since 2009, only four Day 7 chip leaders have advanced to the WSOP Main Event final table. A less than 50% success rate shows that the Day 7 chip leader is guaranteed nothing. What a player has done to get to that point counts for nothing. That is the beauty of the game, that is the beauty of the Main Event.
If nothing is guaranteed or even expected from Day 7 chip leaders, why do we remember Anton Morgenstern? Because Morgenstern’s Day 7 advantage was the biggest since 2009 and his count at the start of Day 7 matched the final table’s chip average. Those are simple facts. The more complicated answer is because as painful as Day 7 was for Anton Morgenstern, it was likely just as painful for viewers around the world.
When Billy Kopp blew up in 2009, he sent his chips to Darvin Moon and immediately exited stage left. He was there and then suddenly not. Morgenstern did not have that luxury, he had another hour of ESPN camera time to fill before the Main Event executioner called his name.