The November Nine returned to the final table yesterday and will continue playing until the champion of the 2013 World Series is decided. The action is being televised on ESPN. Caesars Entertainment, which controls the series, has listed chip leader J.C. Tran as an 11-5 favorite to win the event.
A club promoter and eight poker professionals, including one with a sideline as a tattoo artist, are back at the Rio to lay claim to the $8.4 million prize that goes to the winner.
Seven players will become millionaires at the no-limit Texas Hold’em final table. The first player out will take home the $733,000 paid to all nine who made the finals in July.
That’s when the tournament began with 6,352 players, before whittling down to the final nine through seven days of play at the Rio.
The roller-coaster chip swings weeded out the one-in-a-million dreamers, poker personalities such as Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey, and celebrities, including TV comedy stars Ray Romano and Jason Alexander, who took seats at the green felt.
Defending main event champion Greg Merson was eliminated during the fifth day of play. When the dealing was done, nine skilled, mostly professional players were headed to the final table with three months to plan their strategy and hone their skills.
Tran, 36, is a longtime grinder from Sacramento who slowed down to raise his family, and is hoping to retire after one last run at glory. He is the best known of the remaining players. It was Tran who eliminated the 10th player in July, and he might have reason to think he can beat the other finalists to take the diamond-encrusted bracelet. After all, many of them are tournament newbies who came up through the ranks of online poker.
The finalists include 29-year-old Las Vegas VIP Host Jay Farber, with just $2,155 in recorded tournament winnings at the time he made the final nine, and 26-year-old Englishman Sylvain Loosli, who says he’s won more than $1 million online, but had just $3,198 in recorded earnings.
Also among the challengers is Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, a Canadian who identifies himself as a tattoo artist and ping pong aficionado.
Play began Monday evening and will continue until all but two or three players are eliminated. ESPN will broadcast the tournament with a 15-minute delay.
Palansky expects a long session stretching into the early hours of Tuesday morning, with everyone playing conservatively. Tran, for instance, has said he will adopt a patient stance at the final table.
The survivors will return Tuesday night and play until one player has all the chips.
Several players left in July with precariously low chip counts. David Benefield will sit down on Monday with 6,375,000 in chips and Marc Newhouse will start with 7,350,000 in chips. Five of their competitors have more than 25,000,000 in chips, and Tran is playing with 38,000,000.
The nine men will play a game that has capped the World Series of Poker since 1970, when seven players gathered at Benny Binion’s casino to determine the best poker player in the world.
In no-limit Texas hold ‘em, each player is dealt two cards face down (these are sometimes called “hole cards”). Then, the dealer places three community cards face up on the table (these are called “the flop”), followed by one more card (“the turn”) and then a final card (“the river”), with rounds of betting each time cards are dealt. Players use a combination of their hole cards and the five community cards to form the highest five-card hand.
In no-limit Texas hold’em, there is no cap on the amount players can bet; they may push all their chips in at any time.
The World Series of Poker, the world’s richest poker tournament, benefited from the online poker boom of the early 2000s. The Main Event set an all-time record for entries at that time with 8,773.
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