After about seven and a half hours of play, Day 8 of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event and the first night of the final table came to an end. The final 3 players who still have the chance of taking home the $8.5 million first prize and the world champion title are Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jacob Balsinger - all from the U.S. (the only non-U.S. player, Andras Koroknai, was eliminated in 6th place for $1.6 million).
Greg Merson, who was ranked third when the final table kicked off, had an amazing winning streak during Day 8. When Day 9 begins tonight, he will bring a massive 88.35 million stack to the table - about 26 million more than Jesse Sylvia, who had the lead when the final table kicked off yesterday. Balsiger, who eliminated Russel Thomas in 4th place and put an end to Day 8, will bring 46.8 million chips to the final table when play resumes. Day 9 is scheduled to kick off tonight at 5:45 PM local time. Until then, check out the interviews below (taken from WSOP's website).
On his reaction to making the final three:
"It's amazing. On Twitter this morning, all I said was I didn't want to get ninth (note that Balsiger came into play as one of the lowest stacks). I ran good. Everything fell into place."
On what he expects to happen on Tuesday night when play resumes with the final three:
"All I can say is - this has been an incredible experience. I have nothing to lose. I am coming back tomorrow and playing to win."
On his feeling at making the final three, but also losing the chip lead to rival Greg Merson:
"Yeah, this was the plan. But there's still a long way to go. I can't wait to get back up here and play. I wish we could play it out right now. As for being second to Greg, I'm not worried about it. We're still really deep. We have a long battle tomorrow."
On what he expects to happen, particularly coming back in second place:
"We're not that far apart. It's going to be a long day tomorrow. That's my prediction.
On his confidence level and the prospect of victory:
"Winning was my plan all along. Nothing has changed. That's still the plan."
On how things went at the final table on Monday:
"I was always feeling good. I mean, I never fell under 20 million (in chips), which is a very nice comfort zone. As soon as Steven Gee blew up and a few other players got coolered, I was up to over 30 million and never looked back, after that. When short-handed play starts, I think that's my game because a lot of players either play too tight, or they over-adjust. I even told Jesse (Sylvia) on one of the breaks that just before Andras Koroknai bluffed off his chips, that it was exactly what he was going to do, and that's what he did. A lot of tournament players don't know what to do after the flop comes down."
On whether making the final three is a surprise or just another day at the poker office:
"It's exciting, that's for sure. I was like, look at these pots. This is awesome."
On his expectations for Tuesday's finale:
"As long as I play well, I think I can win. Tonight, I think I played 95 out of 100, if that's the scale. So, if I play my A-game, I'm going to be tough to beat. But if I play well tomorrow - whatever happens, happens. I can accept that, as long as I play well."