Late Saturday night in Las Vegas, 1,182 poker players reached their first goal in the World series of Poker's Main Event: The money bubble.
The remaining players in the initial 7,874-player field are guaranteed at least a minimum cash in the $10,000-buy-in tournament, which resumes play Sunday at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino and continues until the champion is crowned later this week.
The Michigan contingent is led by Saginaw's Nicholas Cushman, who bagged 883,000 chips and starts Sunday's action in 60th place. This is the third Main Event cash for Cushman, who finished 65th in 2012 for $106,056 and 144th last year for $53,247.
Muskegon's Nic Manion, who is playing the Main Event for the first time, will start Day 4 with 700,000 chips — rallying big-time for a low point of 11,000, barely one-fifth of the starting stack, to start Day 2.
Adam Lamphere, of East Lansing, who finshed 41st in the Main Event in 2014 for a $186,388 payday, is sitting pretty with 405,000 chips. It's quite the redemption story for Lamphere, whose tournament schedule has been limited for the past several months as he's recovered from a serious automobile accident in February that left him with significant facial and back injuries which have required strenuous physical therapy and have made playing long sessions a struggle. He's maneuvered his way through the grueling 10-hour days at the Main Event.
"My back does get stiff after awhile, but I just get up and stretch or get a massage on breaks," Lamphere said. "It's holding up better than I thought.
"I'm happy I decided to still come out here last minute to see how my back would hold up. I'm blessed to be in the situation I'm in today."
Joe Cada, the 2009 Main Event champion and Shelby Township resident, has cashed in the Main Event for the third time, and the second year in a row, but it didn't look great early. ESPN analyst Lon McEachern's pick to win it all, Cada was down to 9,000 chips on Day 2.
Cada had an early double-up with pocket aces against pocket nines, then his big one came when he had ace-king non-suited against a shove bet. After thinking over all the opponent's possibilities, Cada called and doubled up against a busted straight draw.
"That brought me up to 55K, where I could play poker again," said Cada, who's made two final tables this year, including one that netted him his third career WSOP bracelet.
Muskegon's Jordan Young, who now lives in Las Vegas year-round, is playing in his ninth Main Event and finally has made the money for the first time.
He starts Day 4 with 212,000 chips, a little more than half the average stack. So he'll have work to do, but still, this is an accomplishment.
"This tournament had been my Kryptonite," said Young, who's been updated his followers of his progress on Twitter with a variety of adorable pictures of his dog, Doogan.
Other notable Michigan stacks include: Davisburg's Nikolai Sears (572,000), St. Louis' Thomas Kubin (450,000), Rochester's Brian Hou (330,000), Canton's Daniel VanDyke (323,000), Dexter's Patrick Steele (323,000) and Bloomfield Hills' Dan Wirgau (313,000).
Each player remaining is guaranteed at least a $15,000 payday, and the prize money improves in increments all the way up to $8.8 million for first place.
Cada won $8.5 million for winning in 2009, and Ryan Riess, of Clarkston, won $8.4 million for winning in 2013. Riess busted out on Day 2, but wasn't sweating it much.
As he told The Detroit News last week, "Life is amazing. It's never been better."