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WSOP: Three players eye return to Main Event final table

They say history has a funny way of repeating itself, but in the tumultuous world of tournament poker, that’s not always the case.

In fact, the last player to win consecutive World Series of Poker Main Events was Johnny Chan, who captured the crown in 1987 and 1988 before finishing as runner-up in 1989. Since then, the Main Event has been the realm of one-off winners, and only legends like Dan Harrington and Greg Raymer have even come close.

The game’s inherent variance, random fluctuations in luck at key moments, and the sheer difficulty of the massive field make going deep multiple times in the Main Event a momentous occasion.

All of which is to say Day 7 of the Main Event on Monday will be truly special indeed, as no less than three players have a chance to reach the final table for a second time with just 27 players left standing.

Ben Lamb burst onto the big-time tournament scene in 2011 with his third-place run ($4,021,138) – and he finds himself in fourth position on the leaderboard with 25,685,000 chips.

Antoine Saout finished in third place ($3,479,670) in the 2009 version of poker’s greatest spectacle – and he’ll sit in 15th position with 9,945,000.

One spot below him is Michael Ruane at 9,340,000, following up on his fourth-place run ($2,567,003) from just last year.

And while the November Nine concept is no more, all three players have a chance to reach the Main Event final table for a second time – no easy feat.

To get there, they’ll need to contend with chip leader Christian Pham (31,440,000), whom poker fans may recognize from a made-for-the-movies moment back in 2015. That year, Pham accidentally registered for the No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball event, mistakenly reading the structure sheet as saying “No-Limit Hold’em.”

Playing a complex poker variant for the first time, and literally learning the rules as he went, Pham managed to outlast 218 opponents to earn his first gold bracelet. And interestingly enough, during the winner’s photo, he had none other than Qui Nguyen – last year’s Main Event champion – happily posing alongside with the rest of his poker pals.

The stars seem to be aligning for a spectacular final table, which will be set by the end of today’s Day 7 action. The final 27 will return with 78 minutes left to play in Level 32, with blinds set at 120,000/240,000 with a 40,000 ante.

The top 10 is led by Pham (31,440,000), followed by Valentin Messina (28,590,000), Jack Sinclair (27,535,000), Lamb (25,685,000), Pedro Oliveira (22,540,000), John Hesp (20,880,000), Randy Pisane (18,370,000), Scott Blumstein  (18,125,000), Richard Dubini (14,975,000) and Bryan Piccioli (14,500,000).

Fans can follow along through the PokerGo app’s live stream beginning at 11:30 a.m. Las Vegas local time. Coverage will shift to ESPN-2 between 4 and 6 p.m., before PokerGo picks back up at 7:45 p.m. through the duration.

See poker reviews and WSOP qualifier specials here.