It was a wild and long night at the World Series of Poker Main Event.
And when the dust settled, Michigan's Nic Manion and Joe Cada saw their hopes of a world championship dashed — Manion crushed before his final flop, and Cada beaten by an unlucky runout of cards.
Manion, 35, of Muskegon, finished in fourth place, for a payout of $2.85 million. Hours earlier, Cada was eliminated in fifth, taking home $2.15 million.
It was easily Manion's best cash ever, in more than 10 years of playing tournament poker. For Cada, 30, of Shelby Township, it was his second-best, after the $8.5 million he received for winning this tournament back in 2009.
Michigan will have to wait at least another year for its latest Main Event champion, to join Clarkston's Ryan Riess (2013), Cada and Grand Rapids' Tom McEvoy (1983).
Still alive in the Main Event, which is scheduled to crown a champion either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, are Tony Miles of Jacksonville, Fla., at 238.9 million chips, Indianapolis' John Cynn at 128.7 million and Houston's Michael Dyer, the overwhelming chip leader entering Friday, now the short stack at 26.2 million.
First place will pay $8.8 million for outlasting a field of 7,874.
Cada, a three-time WSOP bracelet winner who's building a Poker Hall-of-Fame resume, entered Day 8 on Friday among the shorter stacks of chips, and played aggressive most of the night, shoving all-in several times while holding small or mid-range pocket pairs.
His plays got through early, but he finally ran into a good hand when he picked up pocket 10s and went all-in — only to get called by the ace-king of Miles.
Miles actually thought over the decision for quite some time before finally calling. Cada had the edge going to the flop, but the first three cards included an ace to pair Miles.
Cada got no help on the turn or the river, and his visions of becoming the first repeat Main Event winner in the modern, poker-boom era were dashed. It's probably safe to say Cada won't be changing his Twitter handle from @cada99 -- a nod to the pocket nines that he held on the last hand in 2009 -- to @cada1010.
Still, it was a remarkable end to a great WSOP season for Cada, who cashed six times and made three final tables, including the first two open events on the schedule. He won the second event of the year, earning $226,218. Fewer than 100 players have won three tournaments in the WSOP, founded in 1970.
For Manion, this run came completely out of the blue, considering he's not a high-stakes player, he'd never before played in a WSOP tournament, and he only played in this one after booking a last-minute flight to Vegas and winning not one but two Main Event satellite tournaments.
He had the chip lead entering Day 7, following the hand heard 'round the poker world — aces vs. kings vs. kings — but slumped on Day 8, entering Day 9 second in chips, but well behind Dyer.
Manion gradually worked his way into better position Friday night before hitting a dead period that left him short-stacked most of the late portion of Friday night/early Saturday morning.
Then, around 4 a.m. Eastern time, and playing four-handed, he made his move with ace-10 off-suit and got an instant call from Cynn, who held pocket kings.
The five community cards did Manion no favors, and that was that.
Manion still collected a seven-figure payday for his efforts -- $2.85 million technically, though he'll get $1.325 million of that and the rest will be split among three of his backers. He plans to return to Michigan, where he lives in Muskegon with his three dogs, and continue playing poker at about the same rate as before, while investing much of his winnings in real estate.
Final-table play continues Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
In more notable WSOP news, Macomb Township's Andrew Holland finished sixth in an Omaha bount tournament for a $22,816 payout, Midland's Richard Douglas took fifth in a No-Limit Hold'em tournament for a $141,565 cash, and Pontiac's Jason Johnson was ninth in Hold'em turbo tournament for $14,871.