Temple University grad Russell Thomas is fourth in chips as the World Series of Poker Main Event plays down to the final table Monday in Las Vegas. Nine players will return to the Rio casino in late October to determine this year’s Main Event champion.
At the start of play Monday, Thomas, who is from Wallingford and now lives in Hartford, Conn., had 9.985 million chips. Marc Ladouceur, from Montreal, was leading with 15.875 million. Eliminated from the tournament on Monday was West Chester’s Paul Volpe, who was 20th and earned $294,601.
The Main Event started on July 7 with nearly 6,600 entrants playing over three opening days.
After Thomas graduated with a degree in actuarial science a few years ago, he cashed for more than $84,000 in a six-handed no-limit hold’em event in the WSOP in 2010. In an interview then, the Strath Haven graduate said that he had been mostly an online player and was debating whether to play poker fulltime or pursue more typical employment.
Since his big payout in 2010, Thomas has just two other live tournament cashes, according to poker databases. He collected more than $1,800 in another WSOP tournament in 2010, and in last year’s Main Event, he finished 248th for $40,654.
On Sunday, as the field was narrowed to 27 players from 97, Thomas steadily climbed the leaderboard. In one large hand, Thomas added more than 1.7 million chips when he eliminated Paul Siem.
Thomas held Q-Q when Siem went all-in before the flop with As-10s. The flop was A-4-Q keeping Thomas ahead with a set of Queens against Siem’s pair of Aces. The board ran out 4-4.
Volpe, an outstanding online player who grew up in West Philadelphia and graduated from Washington Township High School in South Jersey, entered Sunday among the chip leaders but failed to make serious headway. With his 2.65 million, Volpe had 22 big blinds remaining as play began on Monday but the player to his left has 10 million, posing a threat.
Three local players failed to get through Sunday’s action. Richard Pyne, of Blackwood, N.J., finished 52nd for $156,293, Dave D’Alesandro, of Wenonah, N.J., was 62nd for $128,384, and Roman Valerstein, of Newtown, Pa., took 82nd for $73,805.
Photo: Russell Thomas (Courtesy World Series of Poker).