LAS VEGAS -- The World Series of Poker main event will have a new title winner this year.
Just three gold bracelet winners remained in a field of 51 players after two hours of play on Tuesday, each having won tournaments at the series other than its $10,000 buy in no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event.
Last year's champion Peter Eastgate was eliminated late Monday in 78th place, winning $68,979. He and 2005 champion Joe Hachem were the last remaining former champions in the tournament. Hachem busted in 103rd place.
Still competing were seven-time gold bracelet winner Phil Ivey and gold bracelet winners Antonio Esfandiari and Blair Rodman.
Esfandiari, who started the day sixth in chips with 5.6 million, said he didn't think his pot-limit Hold 'em win from 2004 would necessarily set him apart from his competitors, but said it could give him a small leg up as they battle on poker's biggest stage.
"It's just having experience in a late stage tournament where first place is so valuable -- a lot of people crack under that pressure," Esfandiari told The Associated Press. "I've been there before and I know what it's like, so that might have some sort of effect."
Esfandiari was down to 3.53 million chips after two hours.
He said play began to slow from a breakneck pace seen the last few days that have resulted in many eliminations on dicey gambles.
"People are being a little more careful, I think," Esfandiari. "I tried to do a few things that didn't work out and so I've kind of put the brakes on. It's not that people are [raising] me a lot I just ran into some hands."
Prahlad Friedman, another past winner at the series, was eliminated Tuesday in 64th place, while 2007 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Tom Schneider busted in 52nd, winning $138,568.
Schneider's and Ivey's supporters were among the most vocal on Tuesday as 64 players took to the felt expecting to play down to the last two or three tables. Those remaining -- having lasted through seven sessions to be the last among a starting field of 6,494 players -- were guaranteed at least $100,000 each after Friedman took home $90,344 for his finish.
The final table will be determined on Wednesday or early Thursday, with each of the last nine players remaining guaranteed $1.26 million. Top prize in the tournament is $8.55 million.
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