Drew Amato has been covering the World Series of Poker since 2014. This year he’s covered the U.S. Poker Open and Super High Roller Bowl for Poker Central. Twice per week, Amato will share his favorite images from the World Series of Poker. Enjoy this recurring piece as, in his own words, Amato describes the biggest moments in the game.

The stakes? Higher. The pots? Bigger. The field? Significantly smaller. Emotions are at an all-time high for each player, increasing the significance of each hand as it might just hold the keys to their tournament life.

For most players, things start to get serious on Day 4 of the WSOP Main Event, as their dreams of $8.8 million slowly start feeling as though it’s within reach.

Today, 1,182 players returned, all guaranteed $15,000, which in any other tournament would be worthy of celebration, but things are different in the Main Event. As a photographer, this is when a regular tournament truly turns into an event, and that’s a lot of fun to shoot.

Anytime you get Phil Ivey deep in a WSOP event it tends to make headlines. Having Ivey coming into Day 4 of the Main Event near the top of the counts was easily one of the biggest storylines of the day, but in a dramatic turn of events, the Ivey show quickly became the Altman show on the feature table. In the last hand before break, Ivey bluffed off his entire stack to poker pro Brian Altman. Altman went on to bag take 4,861,000 to Day 5 and is currently third in chips.
Brian Altman
Anyone that watched the coverage the past few days has definitely seen their share of this larger than life personality, Frankie Flowers. Flowers built a massive stack through the first 3 days of this tournament and came into the day at the top of the counts. Unfortunately for Flowers he was unable to take his foot off the gas and was caught bluffing for the majority of his chips. Despite a few doubles while short, the end for Flowers inevitably came late here on Day 4.
After grinding a short stack for the majority of Day 3 and 4, the Main Event run of Scott Vener has come to an end. Vener was on the bad end of quite a few coolers throughout the day, and would eventually run his kings into aces in the second to last level of the night here on Day 4.
One of the biggest hands of the night came in a confrontation between Ivan Galinec and Kelly Minkin. Galinec opened the button and was called by Minkin in the small blind, as the two were heads up. On the river, Galinec had moved all in for his last 701,000 and Minkin went deep into the tank. She eventually slid in a call and Galinec sighed as he turned over third pair. Minkin tabled second pair, and shot up the leaderboard with her hero call. The pot boosted Minkin past the 3,000,000 chip mark for the first time all tournament. Minkin takes 3.4 million chips to Day 5.
Heading into Day 5 all eyes will be on Antonio Esfandiari, as he is far and away the biggest name still remaining in this year’s main event. Esfandiari battled it out on the ESPN feature table for most of the day, but after peaking at 2.3 million, he takes 1.3 million into Day 5 tomorrow. Esfandiari’s best finish in the Main Event to date was a 24th-place finish in 2009.
Brian Altman, Antonio Esfandiari, Scott Vener, Kelly Minkin, Drew Amato, Frank Flowers