Major chip leaders at World Series of Poker try to stay there

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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LAS VEGAS - The chip leaders at the World Series of Poker main event looked to stay there on Friday as each elimination brought them closer to the tournament's US$61 million prize pool.
Some bullied, others folded, and some players agonized over decisions for most of their chips as the 2,044 players remaining in the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament played together for the first time after a day off.
"You definitely can be more aggressive, you can bully your opponents," said Jeff Lisandro, who has won three gold bracelets at the world series this year.
Lisandro started Friday as the leader at his table with 229,300 in chips, 80th in the tournament. His next closest opponent at the table had 172,000 chips while 2005 main event champion Joe Hachem had 138,900.
"You can let them know that you may take all their chips off them if they play a hand from the beginning with you," Lisandro said.
The field lost 910 players after six hours on Friday, with short-stacked players making desperate moves to win chips and players with healthy stacks taking different approaches to win even more.
Phil Hellmuth apologized to his tablemates twice and spent 13 minutes deciding whether to call an all-in bet from an opponent who raised his river bet of 15,000 chips for 104,900 more. The community cards showed a pair of threes, a nine, 10 and king.
Hellmuth, an 11-time bracelet winner who notoriously hates to risk all his chips, winced at the second three to pair the board and quizzed his opponent about his possible holdings - from pocket aces to a full house - and restacked and counted his chips as he mulled his decision.
"My instincts say I have you beat - now I have to see if I trust them enough to put the money in," Hellmuth said after his opponent revealed that he believed Hellmuth held two pair. "This is for my whole world series."
Hellmuth finally called and flipped a queen and jack for a straight, and his opponent mucked his hand to concede the pot.
While a straight was good, Hellmuth worried that if the opponent held a full house, his tournament would have been all but over.
"The problem is that I still have 120,000 left, which is still plenty to win this thing," he said.
After building a large stack, it's tough for players to risk it all when they believe they have an edge over the rest of the field and can get more chips without overplaying marginal hands, French professional Bertrand (ElkY) Grospellier said.
Grospellier started the day with 207,900 in chips, and said his only bad hand to start the day was doubling up an opponent when his pocket kings lost to pocket aces.
He later chipped up to 470,000 by picking off an opponent's bluff attempt, and later successfully bluffed a pot himself with a nine high.
"I definitely want to get a big stack, but I don't want to waste too much for it," Grospellier said. "I try to avoid confrontations with other big stacks unless I really have a good read or like, a monster hand or something."

Organizations: World Series of Poker

Geographic location: LAS VEGAS

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