LAS VEGAS — The November Nine finally are set for Nov. 9!
After more than 15 hours of play Monday, tons of drama, a brush with history, and more all-in moves than you can count, the final table of the 39th annual World Series of Poker main event is ready for four months of hype before a champion is crowned and awarded $9.1 million.
It’s a final table full of players that most fans won’t recognize. Poker’s big guns went out blazing, or firing blanks, in earlier action. They left behind a motley crew of self-proclaimed pros, not-so-much pros, and a 53-year-old trucking company worker from St. Louis wearing a Cardinals baseball cap who holds the biggest chip stack.
The “Year of the Pro” moniker given this year’s WSOP didn’t carry through to the main event, if that description applies only to professionals whose names people would recognize. Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow were the biggest names left on Sunday, but they were nowhere to be found when the spotlight went up for the final nine.
All of these men are guaranteed $900,670 (9th-place money) and one of them will claim the world champion’s title in November after a four-month gap in play that’s expected to build interest, turn the finalists into hometown heroes, and boost TV ratings when the final table airs in prime time on Nov. 11:
* Dennis Phillips of St. Louis (he lives in nearby Cottage Hills, Ill,), 53, a commercial account manager for a trucking company who gained entry in the main event by winning a WSOP satellite at Harrah’s Casino in St. Louis.
* Ivan Demidov of Moscow, Russia, 27, a “semi-professional” poker player who has been playing less than three years. He paid $10K cash for his seat.
* Peter Nicolas Eastgate of Odense, Denmark, 22, a professional poker player with four cashes in European tournaments on his resume.
* Kelly Kim of Whittier, Calif., 31, a Korean-born professional poker player who used to work as a business analyst and holds a degree from UC-San Diego. He learned the game from friends about 13 years ago.
* Scott Montgomery of Perth, Ontario, Canada, 26, a professional poker player.
* Craig Marquis of Arlington, Texas, 23, a college student with just 18 months of poker under his belt. Bought in for the full $10,000.
* David “Chino” Rheem of Los Angeles, 28, a professional poker player.
* Ylon Schwartz of Brooklyn, 38, a former professional chess player who switched to poker several years ago. Has now cashed 12 at the WSOP, more than any other finalist.
* Darus Suharto of Toronto, Canada, 39, an accountant who has been playing poker seriously for about three years and cashed in 448th place in the 2006 main event for $26,389.
Busting out on poker’s biggest tournament bubble about 3:25 a.m. local time was Dean Hamrick of East Lansing, Mich., 25, a professional poker player.
This WSOP main event flirted with history for a while Monday. No woman has ever won this event, but Tiffany Michelle, a 24-year-old actress, singer, and poker media reporter made the deepest run in a main event since Annie Duke finished 10th in 2000. Only one woman, Barbara Enright, has ever made a main event final table (1995).
Here’s a WSOP-site recap of the final main event hand until Nov. 9:
Dean Hamrick Eliminated in 10th Place ($591,869)
Dean Hamrick moved all in for 3,420,000, Craig Marquis moved all in over the top and the action folded around the table. The cards were turned up. Hamrick A-J, Marquis Q-Q. The flop was K-10-3. Marquis still led, but Hamrick picked up a straight draw. The turn was a 10, no help for Hamrick, who needed an ace or a queen to survive. The crowd shouted for various cards in the deck as a king fell on the river, eliminating Hamrick in 10th place. He’ll take home $591,869 for his finish. And with that, we have our “November Nine.”