WSOP Main Event Day 4: Eric Buchman, the toughest November Niner of them all

wsop2010_thn.jpgAround about November Nine time, commentators start discussing the relative merits of winning the damn thing against the "lesser" achievement of coming second, third or fourth. For every glory hunter who considers second to be the first loser, there are at least two voices supporting the alternative point of view.

Their argument goes like this: If you finish in the top four at the World Series of Poker, you still get a comfortable seven-figure payday, you still get your face on TV and you still have the respect of all your peers. The bonus is that you don't have to enter the media maelstrom of being World Champion. Your life is changed in all the best ways, but it's not so different that you can't grab a bite to eat in a restaurant without having to sign your name on at least six napkins.

With the pressure off, you're free to focus on your poker. And in Eric Buchman's case, you're free to return to the World Series the year after your November Nine appearance, win the first bracelet of your career, and then become the last remaining Niner in the Main Event field.

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Eric Buchman, who is the only remaining November Niner in the 2010 WSOP field

Buchman, who finished fourth last year and won $2,502,890, is still going strong deep into day four of the 2010 renewal. None of Messrs Cada, Moon, Saout, Shulman, Begleigter, Ivey, Schaffel or Akenhead can make the same boast. Neither can any of the previous November Nine. Eastgate, Demidov, Phillips, Schwartz, Montgomery, Suharto, Rheem, Kim or Marquis are all long departed, if they played at all.

"I was disappointed about not winning," Buchman said of the Main Event last year. "You never really get over it, but after a few weeks, I was okay with everything. I made a lot of money and had a great experience. So, it was bittersweet."

Buchman, 30, has been thriving at the top of the game for a good few years, picking up 11 World Series cashes before last year's Main Event, and adding a 13th in spectacular style last month. Wearing the familiar PokerStars logo all Series - a sponsorship deal earned as a mark of PokerStars' gratitide for his fine service and performances last year - Buchman took down the $2,000 limit hold 'em event to win $203,607 and the bracelet.

"This is total satisfaction," Buchman said in the wake of that victory. "This is really special because I finally won one of these bracelets. I really accomplished something. I came really close in 2006, when I came in second in a no-limit tournament. At the time, I did not realize how important it is. But now that I am a little older, it's very important."

At last count, Buchman had more than 250,000, which is more than the average at this stage. No one has made back-to-back Main Event final tables since Dan Harrington. And no one has ever been a member of two November Nines.

Only Buchman has the chance.

*****

"LET ME WRITE IT DOWN FOR YOU" MOMENT OF THE HOUR

Rafal Michalowski, PokerStars qualifier, heading off a potentially tedious process of name recording for the PokerStars Blog team, by grabbing reporter's pad and pen to write down his name and excitingly big chip count of 670,000.

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SELECTED CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR

James Carroll 700,000
Nicolas Babel 676,000
Rafal Michalowski 670,000
Vanessa Selbst 335,000
Angel Guillen 250,000
Jason Mercier 198,000
Gulater Salles 110,000
Barry Greenstein 100,000
William Thorson 95,000

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ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR

Team Online's Jorge Arias is out. He had either one of the best (if you're a spectator) or worst (if you're a player) seats today, nestled with JP Kelly and Gavin Smith to his immediate right and Dan Harrington to his left. His short stack couldn't find its way through that and he has departed short of the money.

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Tough corner: JP Kelly, Gavin Smith, Jorge Arias, Dan Harrington

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Jorge Arias

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OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR

"That's some old school gangster right there."

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MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OF THE HOUR

"Sir, you are officially the sickest member of this table."

Those words from the one seat of the table while ESPN camera crowded around PokerStars qualifier Jeremy Cate.

"I have a major illness," Cate replied.

At issue was what was later described in a variety of ways, but most commonly, a sick bluff into Marlon Shirley's pocket aces. The river had brought a four-card straight on board and Cate had bluffed huge with nothing more than king-queen. Shirley, tortured, made the fold. Cate was more than a little proud.

"I think I painted the picture," he said of his bluff. "I painted it and he had to lay it down. It was a horrible play on my part, but you have to make that lay down."

*****

HIGH PRAISE OF THE HOUR

Dealer passing ESPN announcer Lon McEachern in the hall: "I love your voice. You should do documentaries."
Lon McEachern: "Thanks. I'll get my agent onto that. When I get an agent."
Dealer: "I mean that. You're that good."
McEachern: "You're sweet. I appreciate that."

*****

PHOTO OP OF THE HOUR

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Bruce Buffer and the German PokerStars SuperNova Pieter Michael Skender. Skender noticed that he would be sitting next to Buffer for the early stages of day four and so brought along his pendant showing entry to the Bruce Buffer Poker Party at the Luxor, much to Buffer's evident appreciation.

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ATOMIC FIREBALL FACT OF THE HOUR

Atomic Fireballs (the official candy of the PokerStars Blog) are created from single grains of sugar. They are tossed into revolving pans while adding flavor, color and other candy ingredients. This process continues until the pieces become the desired size.

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BIRTHDAY OF THE HOUR

PokerStars qualifier Imari "Doctor" Love, 36 today.

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FIRST OVER THE TOP CELEBRATION OF THE HOUR

Seat one, table 341, with the first "Yes! Yes!"

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COUNCIL OF WAR OF THE HOUR

Salvatore Bonavena in conference at his table with countryman Alfonso Amendola showing flagrant disregard for the "no spectators across the barrier" rule.

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GOODBYE TO THE PAVILION ROOM OF THE HOUR

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Tournament officials descend on the "final table" in the Pavilion Room, sending everyone through to the Amazon Room and assembling the entire field together in the same four walls for the first time.