WSOP November Nine: The final countdown

wsop2010_thn.jpg"I've thought about it every single day. It has changed my life in every way."

So said Jonathan Duhamel, chip leader of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, during his final round of media interviews yesterday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Like his eight adversaries returning to the Rio Hotel this weekend, Duhamel has spent four months in the weirdest limbo. In July, he bagged up 65,975,000 in tournament chips but has not seen them since. And while the chips have lain all but untouched in a closely guarded safe, Duhamel has been pursued across the globe as the hottest property in poker.

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Jonathan Duhamel

However he is acutely aware that the job is not finished yet, and this unique four-month period has been a battle to remain focused on the task in hand. "I'll only start planning what to do next with my life when I finally know what position I finish," Duhamel said. "I'm not going to be happy if I come second."

Duhamel's destiny is now less than three days away. The final table of the 2010 World Series begins in less than an hour, and the winner will be decided some time on Monday night. Duhamel claims not to have devised a specific plan of action for these closing stages, instead opting to see how his opponents go about reining him in. But one thing is clear: He is not going to give up anything without a huge scrap.

Players will walk onto the stage at the Penn and Teller Theater this afternoon accompanied by music of their choosing, and a "seat girl", poker's equivalent of boxing's "ring girls". That should suit Duhamel fine. In breaks during all eight days of the Main Event in the summer, he could be seen shadow boxing beneath his distinctive hoodie, clearing his mind and preparing for bouts to come.

The hoodie will return today--albeit with a new embroidered PokerStars logo--and so will the shadow boxing. He is the man in the spotlight, but doesn't plan to alter any of the strategies that placed him there.

The next time you hear from us, play will be under way in Vegas. It's due to begin a little after noon, Pacific Time. We'll have hourly updates from that moment until the end.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in World Series of Poker