Ryan Lenaghan Leads WSOP 2011 Main Event

Ryan LenaghanAmerican Ryan Lenaghan has emerged as the front-runner after Day 6 of the World Series of Poker (WSOP)’s $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship main event in Las Vegas.

Last night’s session in the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino began with 142 starters, but only 57 remain in contention for the gold bracelet and $8,711,956 from a prize pool of $64,531,000.

Incredibly, eight of those left from an original field of 6,865 will become American dollar millionaires when the November Nine face off, although even 57th place will pick up a rather handy $130,997.

But, following last night’s play, Alabama’s Lenaghan is the man to beat as he holds 12,865,000 in chips, while the top five after Day 6 is completed by Tulsa’s Ben Lamb (9,980,000), Vegas-based Matt Giannetti (7,940,000), Russian Andrey Pateychuk (7,255,000), and another Vegas pro in Phil Collins (7,240,000).

For much of the day, however, it appeared that Collins was going to be the man to catch after he dominated the featured table to send California’s Joseph Cheong – a former November Niner – to the rail in 114th place for $54,851.

Collins was also the first player to break through the 10-million chip mark, although he did drop back quite a bit before the chips were bagged up for the night.

Chip leader Lenaghan, meanwhile, gained the majority of his chips in a fascinating pot with California’s Bryan Follain.

Lenaghan, in middle position, opened for 110,000 pre-flop, to be three-bet by Follain to 355,000. Lenaghan then four-bet to 865,000, only for Follain to five-bet to 1,200,000.

Lenaghan had a quick look at his hole cards and then moved all-in and was eventually called by Follain after he had stood up, walked about a bit, sat down and said: “Dude! Come on!”

Follain then stood up again and added: “All right, I had fun. I call.” Follain’s tournament life was at risk as he showed A Q against Lenaghan’s J♣ J for the largest pot of the whole tournament.

More than a few railbirds were surprised to see such hands played so strongly, although it was pretty much a coinflip ahead of the flop.

Follain was undoubtedly the more nervous of the two as he bobbed up and down, asking for some help, while Lenaghan displayed great composure – appearing almost uninterested as he sat quietly in his seat.

The board ran 9 2 6♣ 4 10♣ to see Fremont’s Follain eliminated in 68th for $108,412, while Lenaghan took a massive chip lead to sit on more than 12 million.

Also making it through to tonight’s Day 7 is the last woman remaining in the field in Connecticut’s Erika Moutinho. Curiously, though, she had to face boyfriend David Sands at the featured table during the final level of last night.

However, both survived and return tonight, with Moutinho holding 2,075,000 in chips, while Vegas-based Sands bagged up 2,765,000.

Other big-name players returning this evening at the Rio include Team PokerStars Pros Sebastian Ruthenberg and Tony Hachem, as well as Sam Barnhart, Steve Brecher, Erick Lindgren, Lars Bonding, David Bach and Bryan Devonshire.

But other well-known faces crashed out, with Eli Elezra (107th for $54,851), Peter Feldman (124th for $54,851), Sorel Mizzi (95th for $64,531), Ray Henson (99th for $64,531), Amanda Musumeci (62nd for $130,997), Rupert Elder (132nd for $54,851), Allen Cunningham (69th for $108,412) and Jean-Robert Bellande (65th for $108,412) hitting the rail.

Play resumes tonight in the Amazon Room of the Rio, with the final 18 players decided at some point.