WSOP November Nine: Senti starts the long climb

wsop2010_thn.jpgOver the past four months, Jason Senti estimates he has done at least one media interview per day. And the question he has answered more often than any other has been: "What will you do with $9m if you win it?"

Senti was sensible enough not to promise anything too extravagant. On the one hand, he didn't really want anything that might cost those riches--"I like my life already," he explained--but on the other, he knew the odds were stacked heavily against him getting anywhere near the top prize.

As the tournament short-stack coming into the final table, he knew that he was the most likely to bust first. He is also an extremely experienced tournament professional and not the type to sit back and hope for others to be knocked out around him. He needed to get his chips in the middle and flirt with elimination. It would be the only tactic he could employ in the hunt for high honors, but it might also consign him to an early bath.

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Jason Senti: Started brightly at the final table

The news from the first hour of the Main Event final table is that Jason Senti is still alive and kicking. And he's kicking about as hard as he can. On the second hand of the night, Senti was on the button and it was folded all the way around. "I'm all in," he said for the first time, attacking the small blind of Joseph Cheong and the big blind of John Dolan.

Those two were accommodating and got themselves out the way.

Two hands later, and Senti was in the shoving mood once more. Dolan looked more interested this time around, but eventually folded, a move aped around the table, including by Michael Mizrachi in the big blind.

All of this was good news for Senti (unless he had aces; I don't know) but it was the hand in the middle of those two that was even better. Senti mucked his hand pre-flop, but Cheong and Matt Jarvis went to war. Their scrap ended with a 20 million-plus pot being slid in the direction of Cheong, which left Jarvis with fewer than 7 million chips. That meant Jarvis assumed short-stack duties from Senti.

Not long after, Jonathan Duhamel helped out his new buddy too. Duhamel sat out the early skirmishes, but on hand eight he raised to 1.3 million from mid-position. Soi Nguyen called in the big blind, taking the two of them to a flop of 7♦6♣K♦. Nguyen checked, Duhamel bet 1.6 million and Nguyen folded. Losing that pot relegated Nguyen to less than 9 million, and beneath Senti in the standings.

Within the first orbit, Senti had moved from ninth to seventh. And even then he wasn't content to rest on those laurels. On hand 12, he moved all in again from the cut off and won blinds and antes. And then two hands later, he was undeterred even after John Racener opened pre-flop to 1.3 million. Senti moved in over the top, and Racener let it go.

So, Senti has been all in four times in the first hour, but hasn't showed down yet. He now has close to 12 million chips and is moving in only the right direction. In a predictably cagey opening to this final table, Senti has been by far the most active and by far the most fearless.

Imagine what he'll be like if gets some chips; he might yet have to wonder what to do with $9m after all.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in World Series of Poker