World Series of Poker's finale (finally!) set for Sunday

Nov 4, 2008 5:10 PM

by Joe Awada |

The World Series of Poker will stage its finale on Sunday, Nov. 9, as the nine finalists sit down for the main event’s final table at the Rio in Las Vegas.

It’s been four months since the "November Nine" emerged from a field of 6,844 poker players, each of whom anted up $10,000 in hopes of claiming poker’s top championship and the $9.1 million first-place payout.

The nine finalists will sit down on Sunday in the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater and, following a call to "shuffle up and deal," play down to just two players.

The remaining two players will return to the Rio on Monday and play "heads-up" until a champion is determined, most likely late Monday or early Tuesday morning.

In addition to a first-place award of $9.1 million, payouts include $5.8 million for second place, $4.5 million for third, $3.7 million for fourth, $3.1 million for fifth, $2.4 million for sixth, $1.7 million for seventh, $1.3 million for eighth and $900,000 for ninth.

The main event finalists include Yion Schwartz, Darus Suharto, Kelly Kim, Craig Marquis, Scott Montgomery, Peter Eastgate, Ivan Demidov, David "Chino" Rheem and Dennis Phillips.

WSOP officials said that one of the reasons for delaying the final table was to accommodate TV coverage from ESPN.

While coverage won’t be live, ESPN will broadcast highlights of the final table on Tuesday at 9 p.m., Eastern, with the heads-up match to follow at 10 p.m.

From the standpoint of bringing in a fresh group of poker players and fans to the Rio, staging the final table four months after the fact is probably a stellar marketing move.

But as far as generating interest in the players themselves, the response has been mixed.

Many poker players in Las Vegas have said that the delay has actually created a disconnect, since most of the finalists are "unknowns" with no tournament history to draw upon.

Moreover, poker fans have expressed interest in seeing recognizable professionals, such as Doyle Brunson, Sammy Farha and Chris Moneymaker, to name a few, compete in high-stakes games such as the World Series.

"Poker players are like professional golfers," said one poker player at the Palms casino. "You have your favorites and you want to follow them, cheer for them and learn from them."

Another player suggested that a big time tournament like the World Series is like the college football title game.

"You expect to see the best like Florida and Texas vie for the championship," said the player. "Why would you want to watch Davidson play Columbia?"

Rather than delaying the final table for four months, I have suggested a mini-round of 27 finalists, playing after just a week or two.