Marquette resident Dan Nygard just misses cashing in at Main Event of the World Series of Poker

Dan Nygard

MARQUETTE — The dream of becoming a multimillionaire is apparently over for Marquette resident Dan Nygard at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

A list of more than a thousand survivors after Monday’s Day 3 at the event’s biggest tournament, the Main Event, didn’t list his name.

“It’s great, just great, I’m having a blast,” Nygard said by telephone at about 11 a.m. PDT Monday, around an hour before he had to start his day in the tourney.

“I’m not out here to just show up in the money. It’s not like I don’t want to cash, but if I have a chance to make a move, I’m not going to give it up even if it means I might not up end up in the money.

“I want to go deep (in the tournament).”

The tourney is as much about stamina as it is about skill.

“We start at noon each day and we’ve been playing five two-hour levels,” Nygard said about the increments in betting that continually go higher and higher. “With a 20-minute break between each level and an hour and a half dinner break, we’ve been going till like 1 or 1:30 in the morning.”

He had already survived marathon sessions of No-Limit Texas Hold’Em lasting more than 12 hours each on Wednesday and Saturday. But he had to also get through Monday’s third day to become one of 1,286 cashers among an original field of 8,569 poker players.

It’s only the second time in the tourney’s 50-year history that the Main Event — the most prestigious of about 90 separate tourneys that make up the WSOP — drew more than 8,000 participants. Each paid $10,000 for a chance at a first-place prize of $10 million this year.

About one in 6.7 players cashes in the event, with the lowest payout $15,000.

“Even though there’s a lot of tables, you sit with the same nine guys all day and learn their play,” Nygard said. “Sometimes they might switch somebody out, but you still have a chance to learn about the other guys.”

Just making it through two days of the tournament is an achievement at the event being held at the sprawling Rio Hotel & Casino on the Vegas strip.

Barely a third — 2,880 — of those 8,000-plus players were left to begin Day 3 on Monday.

Nygard had 148,400 in chips entering Day 3, quite an improvement over the 60,000 that he and all others began with.

But this Upper Peninsula representative was only near the middle of the pack with his total, since the original 514 million-plus chips became concentrated in only a third of the original field.

Of those 2,880 that began Monday, the WSOP website, wsop.com, listed Nygard in 1,489th place, about 50 spots below the exact middle of the pack.

The leader, Julian Milliard of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, had 947,900 chips entering Monday, and it took 643,400 just to crack the top 20.

By the end of the Monday’s play, the top chip stack had jumped to 2,184,000 held by Preben Stokkan of Corvallis, Oregon, while Andrew Brokos of Baltimore had 1,906,000. Some 76 players have at least 1 million chips entering Day 4 today.

Second place will pay $6 million, third $4 million and each of the nine players who qualify for the final table starting Sunday will become millionaires. Organizers expect the Main Event to end Tuesday night.

Between ESPN and ESPN2, live coverage — actually tape-delayed by 30 minutes — is offered during the evening today, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Monday and next Tuesday.

Texas No-Limit Hold’Em is a game where each player is dealt their own two cards from a 52-card deck and uses them along with five “community” cards placed face up on the table. As the word implies, community cards are used by every player in the hand to form poker hands such as pairs, straights, full houses all the way up to the ultimate hand — a royal flush.

No-Limit has reached dizzying heights of popularity on TV, due to two major factors.

The first is the possibility of any player pushing all of his or her chips into the pot at any time.

And secondly is the “hole cam” — a tiny camera usually embedded in the ridge of the poker table that literally spies to show what cards each player is holding to everyone in their living rooms and bedrooms.

The hole cam is important for TV viewers since only a small minority of hands end with the cards being turned face up for everyone to see. Much more often, bets are upped enough that someone backs down and gives up on a hand instead of comparing cards.

With the aid of the hole cam, Nygard was noted on the www.pokernews.com website for a couple feats of derring-do.

In one instance on Saturday, playing against accomplished pro Phil Galfond, Nygard was reported to have followed the former’s 9,500 raise of a bet with his own re-raise of 29,500. It did the trick as Galfond, a three-time winner in the past in various WSOP events, backed down and folded.

In another hand on opening day Wednesday, Nygard had the possibility of a straight until the final community card didn’t come through, leaving him with just about the worst possible hand.

This time, Nygard bet 75,000 when the total pot was at around 25,000, prompting another fold by his opponent.

Nygard’s pockets aren’t nearly as deep as the $10,000 entry fee would suggest. Instead, Nygard won a “satellite” tournament held at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris in mid-April with an entry fee of around $600. He finished in one of the top two positions that awarded the $10,000 entry fee, air fare, lodging and a per diem for meals and other expenses for the Main Event.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.