A week from this very morning, the poker world will be celebrating its newest champion. 2008 WSOP champ Peter Eastgate will have given up his year-long reign in favor of the 2009 victor and it very well could be that Eastgate will be awarding the bracelet to a fellow PokerStars player.
Among the WSOP November Nine are three PokerStars players with their eye on poker’s most coveted bracelet. When they sit down Saturday afternoon to resume the WSOP Main Event, Eric Buchman, Joe Cada, and Kevin Schaffel will be fighting to sit atop the poker globe for the next year.
Buchman’s adult life has been focused solely around poker. He learned to play when he was a kid. Eventually, he ended up going to a casino with this brother and, in his words, “stumbled upon the poker room.” He went to college at SUNY Albany and got a bachelor’s degree in business, but to date, he’s made all his money by playing poker. Before he even sat down to play in the WSOP Main Event, he’d won nearly $900,000 in live tournaments alone. Now he sits second in chips at the Main Event final table with 34,800,000 and is guaranteed no less than $1.2 million just for showing up in Vegas this weekend.
Joe Cada started playing poker at his high school lunch table. Competitive by nature, Cada soon realized he was pretty good at the game and started playing for real money as soon as he could. After a stint working at a restaurant and a couple of years in community college, Cada followed his true calling.
“Poker was the avenue I decided to stay on,” he said.
To date, Cada has less than $30,000 in live winnings (understandable since he just turned 21 this year), but untold amounts of cashes online. He sits in the middle of the pack at the final table with a stack of more than 13 million. If he wins, he will become the youngest-ever WSOP Main Event winner (a record currently held by Team PokerStars Pro Peter Eastgate).
Kevin Schaffel is the old man of the PokerStars players at the table. When he graduated from Florida State in 1979, his fellow PokerStars players weren’t even born. He spent the next 30 years heading up his family’s direct mail and printing business.
He started playing poker at a friend’s house when he was eleven years old. From there, he played in home games and casinos until he finally made it big enough to play in the 2004 WSOP (he finished 42nd for $60,000). His big successes, however, have come in the last year. After making the final table of the WSOP Main Event, Schaffel went out and played the WPT Legends of Poker, made the final table, and placed second for $471,000. He just recently went deep at the EPT event in London where he finished 19th for a nice payday.
Schaffel goes into the WSOP final table with 12,390,000 in chips.
Here’s how the three PokerStars platers stack up against the other six players at the final table (you can always keep up with the stacks on our WSOP Chip Counts page).
Darvin Moon (USA) 58,930,000
Eric Buchman (USA) PokerStars player 34,800,000
Steven Begleiter (USA) 29,88,5000
Jeff Shulman (USA) 19,580,000
Joe Cada (USA) PokerStars player 13,215,000
Kevin Schaffel (USA) PokerStars qualifier 12,390,000
Phil Ivey (USA) 9,765,000
Antoine Saout (France) 9,500,000
James Akenhead (UK) 6,800,000
They’ll be fighting for the following prizes.
Schaffel and Buchman recently met on the felt again in London on the European Poker Tour. They had a chance to sit down and talk away from the action. Here’s what they had to say.
Watch EPT 6 London Day 2: WSOP stars Kevin Shaffel and Eric Buchman on PokerStars.tv
The PokerStars Blog will once again be in Las Vegas to cover the final table from beginning to end. Join us for live coverage beginning Saturday just after noon Vegas time.