LAS VEGAS (AP/KXNT) — Two poker professionals and a college student have topped nearly 6,600 competitors at the World Series of Poker and are one card session away from poker’s richest prize — an $8.53 million crown.

Arizona State senior Jake Balsiger eliminated Russell Thomas in fourth place early Tuesday with an ace-king, treading past five meaningless community cards to bump his guaranteed payday up nearly $1 million and setting up the Tuesday night showdown.

His opponents are poker pros 24-year-old Greg Merson of Laurel, Md., and 24-year-old Jesse Sylvia of Las Vegas.

Thomas won $2.85 million for fourth place.

The final round begins tonight at 5:30 at the Rio.


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