Since mid-summer, we have all been waiting patiently, anticipating the reconvening of the notorious November Nine, when the nine final tablists of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event return to the felt to close out the most prestigious poker tournament in the world.
The date is fast approaching as we have finally entered the month of November. Having waited so long between the unveiling of the 2009 WSOP’s November Nine, and the actual convergence of the final table, let’s enjoy a brief recap of the current situation.
Player Chip Count Darvin Moon 58,930,000 Eric Buchman 34,800,000 Steven Begleiter 29,885,000 Jeff Shulman 19,580,000 Joseph Cada 13,215,000 Kevin Schaffel 12,390,000 Phil Ivey 9,765,000 Antoine Saout 9,500,000 James Akenhead 6,800,000
In the first corner, we have Darvin Moon. Though by no means a professional poker player, this 45 year old owner of a logging company from Oakland, Maryland enjoys the substantial chip lead of 58,930,000. Moon got admittedly lucky throughout the entire World Series of Poker Main Event, hitting one great starting hand after another, flopping the nuts on multiple occasions and basically having the best poker game of his life. Will Lady Luck remain on Darvin Moon’s shoulder come November 17th?
Next we’ll take a look at Eric Buchman and Jeff Shulman, the 2nd and 4th place chip leaders respectively. Both are very experienced poker pros in their own right. Buchman has cashed for nearly $1 million over his career. At 29 years of age, he knows he’ll be walking away with the biggest tournament cash of his life, but will it come with a WSOP bracelet attached? The same can be said of Jeff Shulman, editor of Card Player Magazine, who, at 34 years of age, has pocketed about $1.4 million over his extensive poker career.
Then we have Stephen Begleiter and Kevin Schaffel, who also have a great deal in common. Neither are poker pros per say, but both have had their fair share of experience on the felt. Begleiter is a financial businessman by trade, Schaffel a hard working father of two. Begleiter’s experience comes primarily from home games and league competitions, whereas Schaffel as cashed in various live poker events, including a 60k payday for a 42nd place finish in the 1994 WSOP Main Event.
Two exceptional members of the November Nine, noted for their young age and interesting roads to the WSOP final table, are Joseph Cada and Antoine Saout. Cada, just 21 years old, dropped out of college to pursue his professional poker career, and has the potential to become the youngest WSOP Main Event winner in history. Saout, a bit older at 25, is a Frenchman with no recorded poker prowess in live play. Even so, Saout has turned a 50 satellites at Everest Poker into a seat at the 2009 WSOP, and stands to take home at least $1.2 million for doing so.
In the lowest chip stack position sits James Akenhead, a member of the Hit Squad and rather famous poker pro in the UK. Akenhead’s exploits have earned him over $700k over 20 live tournament cashes, including three 1st place victories. James will certainly be looking to make an early move as the November Nine reconvenes, precariously maneuvering a miniature stack of just 6.8 million chips.
And finally, we’ve saved the best for last poker pro extraordinaire Phil Ivey. He is the most prolific poker player in the November Nine, if not the entire world at the moment. There’s very little that Phil Ivey hasn’t done in the poker world, claiming 7 WSOP bracelets 2 of them this year and just about every other title worth claiming. The one thing that has eluded the November Nine’s most decorated competitor is a WSOP Main Event bracelet. We all know just how bad Ivey wants this, and he certainly has the strategic knowledge and live tournament experience to pull it off, having pocketed over $10 million in tournament cashes, and no telling how many millions more in cash games, over his monumentally successful poker career. He will, however, have to come up from the third lowest chip stack of 9,765,000; a far cry from Darvin Moon’s 58,930,000.
Before closing, we’d like to talk a bit more about Phil Ivey. He is among an elite group of professional poker players known as Team Full Tilt Pros. These are all immensely successful career poker players who play online poker exclusively at the world’s second largest online poker room, Full Tilt Poker. You’ll notice Ivey donning a series of Full Tilt gear as the final table reconvenes later this month, thanks to a sponsorship from the online poker room.
Should Full Tilt Pro Phil Ivey go on to realize his most genuine ambition, taking down the WSOP Main Event, there are many who have speculated how this particular outcome could have a significant impact on the online poker industry. An American poker player, endorsed by an American-facing online poker room, winning the most prestigious, and notably American, poker event in the entire world; it could just be the final straw poker fans have been waiting for to raise the awareness of US politicians to finally make that long awaited move to license and regulate online poker in the United States.
For now, we sit back and continue our patient nail biting and thumb twiddling until that most special date arrives, November 17, 2009, the continuation of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event. Who among the November Nine has the skill and wit to earn this year’s coveted WSOP Main Event Bracelet?