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The November Nine

Since the millennia, there has been a huge influx of amateur players in the World Series of Poker Main Event; it's a part of the reason why there hasn't been a professional champion since 2001. Yes, almost all of the champions become professionals, but they were amateurs when they entered. In almost every instance, the champion was the one who went on a holy streak and took down the title. Specifically, Robert Varkoni, Chris Moneymaker, Jamie Gold, Jerry Yang, and even to one extent or another, Greg Raymer, were outmatched opponents that simply had the best cards. The only champions who were truly skilled enough players to endure the quality of their opponents are Joe Hachem and Peter Eastgate. The current champion, Eastgate, has done little since his main event win, though this should not diminish his quality of play at last year's final table. Joe Hatchem is the only player since Carlos Mortenson in 2001 to win an additional bracelet, not to mention a WPT title.

The question is now, who will be the next man (sorry ladies, not this year), to take down the title? While the world waits for the November showdown, the players are going to be training. As frustrating as it is for the fans, who desperately want to know who the next crowned king will be, there are benefits to having a delayed final table. First and foremost, ESPN and the WSOP want to spend 3 months hyping the event so they can reap more money in endorsements. Greed aside, there's a way that this benefits poker, too; A player that has been riding the rush of good cards will have cooled down; I'm not a believer in "lucky runs," per say, but I do believe that the player's perception of their own luck does affect the hands that they've played. For instance, if they feel that they're invincible, they'll play like it. It's a huge advantage to have that kind of mental domination over your opponents, so it takes away the run-them-over-with-a-truck aggression that so many of the running-good amateurs use. This change allows the best players to use their skill to better advancement.

The obvious ramification of this mental change is that it actually changes the winner of the entire tournament. Should the lesser players have their only advantage taken away? Sadly, the answer is yes. If you're going to be the king of poker, you should be a player that deserves the title. The final two of last year, Demidov and Eastgate, was the best heads-up match since Chris "Jesus" Ferguson faced off against T.J. Cloutier in 2000. It was an epic battle between two players that deserved to be there. They were, in my opinion, the two best players at the table and while the final hand was lucky for Eastgate, the 20 hours of final table play weren't.

Another aspect of the game that changes is how well each player utilizes the time in between July and November. You have to believe that every player that makes that table will do nothing but study and hone their skills in the time between. This will naturally change the way the table plays. For instance, if a former amateur, granted to make a seven-digit payout, practices twelve hours a day, they could easily take their moderate skills and turn them into something impressive. This, obviously, is a good thing. Still, it's a double edged sword because a pro that had a huge advantage going into the final table, no longer has that advantage! A pro that has seen these players over the previous days may know their style intimately and have specific reads on half of the table, but after 4 months of waiting, these tells are less reliable. The other players have calmed down, found their tells, and gotten rid of them. They'll have changed their predictable styles and they'll have moved past their amateur abilities.

All of these aspects are going to come together at this year's final table; there's the chip leader who's on a rush despite knowing almost nothing about the game, the CEO of Card Player magazine, and Phil Ivey, who many consider to be the greatest player alive. In the coming articles, I'll be giving a detailed account of each players advantages and disadvantages for the main event!

NameStarting ChipsBraceletsCashesEarnings
Moon, Darvin 58,930,000 0 0 $0
Buchman, Eric 34,800,000 0 9 $320,893
Begleiter, Steven 29,885,000 0 0 $0
Shulman, Jeff 19,580,000 0 15 $289,551
Cada, Joseph 13,215,000 0 2 $28,214
Schaffel, Kevin 12,390,000 0 2 $92,166
Ivey, Phil 9,765,000 7 38 $3,843,018
Saout, Antoine 9,500,000 0 0 $0
Akenhead, James 6,800,000 0 2 $525,867

Weekly Tournaments

Online poker tournaments can be life altering events. Each week, many of the biggest card rooms around the net offer up everything from 100K tourneys to million dollar prizes. Sure, many enter and the odds are thin, but SOMEBODY has to win and why can't that somebody be you? Check out Bovada Poker and take your shot at something huge, like winning enough loot to buy a Ferrari or pay your house off!

Tips and Advice

Introduction to Tournament Poker - Loki covers everything from the buy in to prize payouts!

Cash Games vs. Tournaments - Hank Cashman talks about the difference between the two and notes that just because you're good at one doesn't mean that you'll win at the other.