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Best of Ryan McLane
Just 27 players tables remain at the United States Poker Championship with a good mix of veterans and newcomers still vying for the $878,500 first-place prize.
Jordan Morgan, enjoying his best year of tournament poker in 2006, sits atop the leader board with 567,000. Morgan essentially created his stack with one monster hand. With a board reading 4-4-2, two of Morgan's opponents moved all-in with over pairs, one holding Nines, the other holding Aces. Morgan, with 3-4 suited, had to call.
His trips improved to quads when a four came on the river, handing him more than 500,000 total chips and a good chance at earning his first major title.
While a significant first-place finish has eluded Morgan, he cashed in four World Series of Poker events this year, including a final table that netted him more than $87,000. The Muldrow, Okla. resident has a career tournament earnings total of $287,111.
Alex Jacob, one of poker's rising young stars, has also had a successful 2006 with two WSOP final table appearances and a second-place finish at the World Poker Tour World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Resort Casino in April.
But like Jordan, major wins have been hard to come by. With $547,000 chips, more than 100,000 more than third-place Michael Demichele, the aggressive Jacob is in a strong position to use his massive stack to put pressure on his opponents.
Looming near the back of the pack is the dangerous Scott Fischman. Fischman is a feared tournament player that seems to always turn up on the money list in contests around the world. His resume includes nine WSOP cashes, three WSOP final tables, and two bracelets, the highlights of a career tournament earnings total that tops $1.4 million. On Friday he will begin the day in 19th place with $103,000 chips.
Other notables still contending for one of the most prestigious non-tour titles are Chris Reslock and Chris Tsoprailidas.
Reslock won his first major title earlier this year when he captured the No –Limit Hold'em WSOP Circuit Main Event at the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Since then, Reslock has added a fourth place finish at the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions and four 2006 WSOP cashes. He currently rests in 20th place and will need to make a move to catch up with Morgan and Jacob.
Tsoprailidas is the only other player in the field besides Fischman to have won a WSOP gold bracelet. He captured his bracelet in 2000, winning $213,000 in a Limit Hold'em event. He has several strong tournament showings since then, but no major titles. Tsoprailidas is in 13th place in this tournament with a healthy $164,000 stack.
The U.S. Poker Championships will continue on Friday at 1 p.m. EST. Every player left in the field is in the money, guaranteed at least $25,000 for their efforts at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Tournament officials will attempt to reach a final table by the end of the night.