Neither had a great night at the tables, but they're still alive.
And for now, that's all that matters.
Muskegon's Nic Manion and Shelby Township's Joe Cada survived Day 8 of the World Series of Poker Main Event — and the first day of final-table play — along with four other poker players.
Manion had the roughest night Thursday, losing roughly 40 million chips, but thanks to that straight-out-of-central-casting hand that vaulted him into the chip lead Wednesday night — aces vs. kings vs. kings — he's still in second place, albeit more than 84 million chips behind the chip leader.
Cada chipped up slightly Thursday, thanks to winning the final two hands of the night, one against Manion, but still only has a little under 30 million chips and will be the second-shortest stack when play resumes at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Friday.
Three players were eliminated from the final table, meaning Manion, 35, and Cada, 30, are guaranteed a payout of at least $1.8 million as they continue chasing the first prize of $8.8 million in poker's most prestigious tournament.
Neither Manion nor Cada had a great run of pre-flop holdings, so neither was overly active Thursday.
Manion, who grew up in Big Rapids, lost a big pot early when he hero-called with ace-high, no-pair against an opponent's winner. That hand cost him more than 17 million chips; even worse, they went to the chip leader, Michael Dyer.
"He's good," said Manion's pal, Jordan Young, a fellow poker pro from Muskegon who now lives in Vegas, when asked late Thursday about his pal's state of mind. "Happy to have gotten out of today."
Cada had a little surge early in the night, and probably expected a possible big winner when he looked down at pocket kings. But his opponent, Tony Miles, also had pocket kings, and the pot was chopped. He then ran card-dead for a while, even dipping under 20 million chips at one point, until he took a few modest-sized pots late, including the last two hands of the night.
Cada, rocking a white Michigan hat, and Manion, wearing the same powder-blue Aria clover hat he wore Wednesday, didn't square off each other much at all. In fact, they only played two hands heads-up, both late in the evening, with Cada winning both.
Cada is looking for his fourth World Series of Poker bracelet — including his second Main Event (2009), and his second this season. Manion, meanwhile, is in uncharted territory. This is his first WSOP tournament ever — he traveled to Vegas last-minute after his Dad agreed to babysit his three dogs — and he's never earned more than about $30,000 in an entire year. He'll be getting at least 60 times that, no matter how he fares Friday.
The schedule has the final table playing down to three players Friday night, with the champion expected to be crowned late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Here are the chip counts entering Friday's Day 9: Dyer is at 156.5 million, Manion is at 72.25 million, John Cynn is at 61.55 million, Miles is at 57.5 million, Cada is at 29.275 million and Aram Zobian is at 16.7 million.
Here are the payouts for the remaining places: $8.8 million for first, $5 million for second, $3.75 million for third, $2.825 million for fourth, $2.15 million for fifth and $1.8 million for sixth.