WSOP Event #2: $40,000 final table under way

wsop2009_thn.gifUnder the lights of a sparkling television set, our nine final table players chat nervously together as they are introduced to a packed crowd filling every available space to catch the first major final of this year's WSOP. The finalists have carved through a 201-player field to get here, and each already have $230,317 locked up as a result. Nice, but the big prize comes for outlasting everyone - $1,891,012, tantalisingly laid out in bricks of bills just yards from the action.

The table is awash with talent. We have Team PokerStars Pros Greg Raymer, the 2004 Main Event champion now on his sixth WSOP final table, Lex Veldhuis, the Dutch player who wanted everyone to know "the Europeans are here", and PokerStars player Isaac Haxton, who came second at the PCA two year ago for $861,789. Haxton is a philosophy graduate from New York - who said poker was not a thinking man's game?

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Raymer is clearly the crowd favourite - as the players were introduced by tournament director Jack Effel, it was the Fossilman who got by the far the biggest cheer. He's being backed by the general poker community, too, which sees a victory for him as being a another big step in cementing the reputation of the game.

That's not to take anything away from the other players, who all seem to have pockets of support in the stands. Veldhuis has some colorful and attractive backing in the shape of his girlfriend Evelyn Ng, and fellow Team PokerStars Pro Maridu Mayrinck from Brazil. The online star, who goes under the name of 'RaSZi' has banked more than $100,000 in live tournaments to date, but he'll be a far richer man by the end of today.

After shuffle up and deal the early stages have been tight - we did not see a flop for several orbits, although Daniel Stern moved all in to pick up the blinds and antes, starting today at 30,000-60,000 (5,000).

Here are the chip counts at the start of play, level 24:

Isaac Haxton, Pokerstars player, 5,820,000
Vitaly Lunkin, 4,565
Lex Veldhuis, Team PokerStars Holland Pro, 3,525,000
Greg Raymer, Team PokerStars Pro, 3,345,000

Alec Torelli, 2,755,000
Daniel Stern, 1,590,000
Justin Bonomo, 1,530,000
Noah Schwartz, 666,000
Ted Forrest, 425,000

*******

During all the excitement of the $40,000 final table, and the general madness of the $1,000 event, we'll be keeping a close watch on Team PokerStars Germany Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg, currently in the final 13 of the $1,500 Omaha Hi/Low 8 or Better and looking good for a final table place.