For 10 months of the year, servers in the various restaurants of the Rio Hotel and Casino overhear the same kind of conversations as any other in Las Vegas. “Damn, she was smokin'”, “I was up, like, four hundred and then the dealer hit, like, 12 blackjacks” and “I’ve changed my flight, man. I’m going home.”
But in June and July, as well as one weekend in November, the language changes. “He folded a flush, man!” “They play heads up on Monday? I fly out on Monday!” or “I flat, I figure he’s gonna barrel a nine or value the ace. But he checks, I fire, and then… man.” Yep, poker speak takes over, and all those snippets are authentic examples from the Sao Paolo cafe yesterday morning. The reason? It’s World Series time again, folks. The World Series of Poker Main Event.
That weekend in November is this weekend in November. This is it: the final table. What began in July, will be finished over the coming three days, when the PokerStars trio of Eric Buchman, Joe Cada and Kevin Schaffel join six others in the quest for the biggest bucks and most prestigious title in the game.
As if you didn’t know their names already, here’s the full list of contenders:
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
And they’ll be fighting for the following prizes.
As I type, from a press box approximately 100 feet above the final table, the tournament officials are going through their final preparations. Dealers are learning how to deal, photographers are learning what they can and cannot photograph (rule of thumb: you can’t) the TV presenters are practicing their spontaneous repartee. Momentarily, the nine players will enter the arena, and eventually we’ll have some poker.
We will be here for the duration on PokerStars Blog, following all the action on the table, as well as providing all the colour you’ll ever need. By that, I mean photographs, video blogs and, if it really comes to it, some florid prose. Stand by for that.
There’ll be a new post here once per hour. And regularly updated chip counts on the chip count page.
Here’s just a flavour:
Watch WSOP 2009 Final Table: Ready to rumble on PokerStars.tv
Play begins again at 12.30pm. There are seven minutes, 16 seconds remaining in level 33, where the blinds are 120,000-240,000 (30,000 ante).
Levels are two hours long. Our next despatch will be with you at 1.30pm, and hourly after that.