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Tired WSOP field starting to thin out

LAS VEGAS – A weary group of card sharks, exhausted by six days of play in the world’s biggest no-limit Texas Hold ’em competition, are vying for a place at the World Series of Poker’s final table.

About a dozen eliminations stood between the remaining players in the world series main event Monday afternoon and a ticket for a November finale worth $8.4 million to the winner.

The hunt is expected to last into the wee hours this morning.

Those remaining are already guaranteed a six-figure payout, but each is hoping for a chance to make the final nine.

The “November nine” will take a four-month break before returning to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to settle the title in front of ESPN cameras.

The bleary-eyed gamblers, who have logged nearly 70 hours of play over the past week, beat out more than 6,000 hopefuls from 83 nations.

The bad beats and roller-coaster chip swings have weeded out the one-in-a-million dreamers, leaving skilled, mostly professional players.

No women remain in the field, which started out 95 percent male.

Greg Merson, last year’s winner, was knocked out of the tournament Saturday, in 167th place, leaving 2001 champ Carlos Mortensen as the only former main event winner remaining in the field as of Monday afternoon.

Poker legend Doyle Brunson, who played the whole tournament in his trademark cowboy hat, bowed out at 409th place Friday.

Pros Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey tried their luck and went home having lost the $10,000 entrance fee with nothing to show for it.

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