A 50-year-old competitive fisherman was eliminated from the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday as the last player to fall short of the prizemoney, guaranteeing the remaining 747 players left some piece of a $68.8 million pool.
American Tim McDonald lost the last of his chips after his pocket queens ran into an opponent's full house.
McDonald raised nearly half his 67,500-chip stack before the flop and Russian Ismail Erkenov called with an ace-deuce.
The flop came ace, ace, deuce, giving Erkenov a full house -- a nearly unbeatable hand. McDonald got a third queen on the river but that wasn't enough and he became the last of the 7,319 entrants to go home empty handed.
His only consolation was free entry to next year's main event, while fellow competitors were guaranteed at least $19,263 each _ almost double the entry fee of $10,000.
"I felt like I could sit there and go ahead and grind out a check, but I was trying to play good poker no matter short-stacked or otherwise," McDonald said. "I felt like it was the right play at the right time."
McDonald's elimination came on the sixth hand of hand-for-hand play, during which each of 84 remaining tables at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino played a hand, then waited for all other tables to finish before dealing the next. That ensured the 'bubble boy' _ the term used for the last no-prizemoney elimination _ would not be determined by the varying speed of play from table to table.
"It's a stressful time, especially for the short stacks," said Hoyt Corkins, who made it through the money bubble for his third main event cash in five years.
"Nobody wants to play four days and go home with no money," the two-time gold bracelet winner said.
Once the bubble burst, many of the short stacks threw caution to the wind and a flurry of eliminations left 705 players in the tournament by their next break a few minutes later. At the break, American Duy Le was the chip leader, with two-time winner Johnny Chan still prominent.
Top prize in the tournament is $8.94 million, with the final table to be determined this weekend and played in November.