The 2012 WSOP October Nine

In 2012, the final table for the main event will be held in October rather than November, but the excitement of this final table action is once again expected to be very exciting. It used to be that the final table action would blow by pretty quick, and most people only heard about it after it took place.

Now, with the several month delay in hosting the final table, as we have seen over the past few years, not only do the entrants have lots of opportunity to prepare for it, but we as viewers can now see it on TV fairly close to when the action takes place, which definitely adds a lot more excitement to watching since it’s now not too difficult to not know the outcome.

Of course the results do get posted on the internet, so the plan is to look to avoid spoilers like this, although it’s also exciting to read the play by play that you see in some of the blogs out there. It’s not quite the same as watching live video broadcasts though, although you do need to live in a country which offers this coverage, but if you do, this is definitely the most fun way to view the final table action.

First prize this year will total almost $9 million, so there certainly is a lot to play for in addition to the bracelet and title of World Champion. This is the pinnacle of poker fame and many past winners have used both their title and especially the huge prize money to catapult themselves into a successful career as a top poker pro.

So here’s the October Nine, in order of the chip count that they will be bringing to the final table with them:

Jesse Silva

Age 26, USA, 48,715,638 chips:Jesse has a pretty substantial lead in chips over everyone else, and if he has his way, his name will be one that is much more known than it is now, which is exactly what winning the WSOP main event brings you.

Jesse plays poker for a living already and while he is looking for doing well at this year’s event to further cement his status as a poker pro, he’s also interested in making movies and may use some of his winnings to move to Hollywood and take a shot at that.

Jesse had to fight back from having one of the lowest stacks among those left in the tournament at 4 million chips, and his ascent to over 48 million in a relatively brief period of time shows his mettle and while he lacks big game experience, he won’t be taken lightly by any of the players at the table.

Andras Koroknai

Age 30, Hungary, 29,375,638 chips:Andras is an accomplished pro from Hungary and is the only non American at the final table, so there will certainly be plenty of people from not only Hungary but perhaps all of Europe rooting for him.

Andras is a former winner on the WPT tour and knows how to handle the pressure of big money action. He made several mistakes on day 7 but managed to survive them and at the very least has put himself in very good shape for a huge cash in this tournament.

Andras discovered poker as a result of an accident he had which laid him up for a while. Looking for something to do with his time, he took up the game of poker and found that he both liked it and was good at it. This turned out to be a pretty fortunate accident indeed.

Greg Merson

Age 24, USA, 28,725,000 chips:Greg is having a fantastic year at the WSOP already, having already won a bracelet and finishing in the money in three other events, in addition to his final table appearance at the main event.

He is hoping that his result from the main event will end up also winning him the 2012 WSOP Player Of The Year, given to the player who does the best overall at the WSOP during a given year, and depending on how well he does, that award is also a possibility.

Merson has struggled with being a compulsive gambler, and is particularly prone to gambling away all of his money on horse racing, although the form of gambling that he’s now moved to has been much kinder to him. The big payoff that he will take home in this year’s WSOP, regardless of where he finishes, will no doubt help him realize that this is the kind of gambling he needs to stick to.

Russell Thomas

Age 24, USA, 24,800,000 chips:Thomas is a good friend of chip leader Jesse Silva, and the two were roommates at one time. The two have helped each other with their games and also know each other’s style pretty well, so this should present an interesting extra dynamic as the two will no doubt face off many times at the final table.

Thomas, who crunches numbers for a living for a major insurance company, has not played poker at all since Black Friday, meaning over a year of inactivity prior to this year’s WSOP, but it’s pretty clear that any rust that he may have had didn’t get in the way of his success.

Russell is yet another example of an internet cash player being able to make the transition pretty well to big time live tournament poker, and he outlasted every tournament pro of any great renown in this year’s main event. He has not made the leap to being a poker pro yet, but depending on how well he does, he may quit his job and play poker full time.

Stephen Gee

Age 57, USA, 16,860,000 chips:Gee is the veteran of the table, both in years and in experience. He started playing poker for money back in the 70’s at the Oaks poker club in California, where the game of the day was lowball.

Gee has tried making the transition to becoming a full time pro since then, but always ended up going back to a regular job and just playing on the side. The pressures of playing full time can be enormous, but winning large prizes such as what he won when he finally won a bracelet at the WSOP in 2010 certainly help, and he was able to make the transition to poker pro successfully after that, and hasn’t looked back since.

Gee is old enough to be the father of most of the players at the table, and Dad is relishing the opportunity to teach them some lessons that only experience can provide. We will have to wait and see if he is able to pull this off, but folks in their 50’s or older will be hoping that he can pull this off and do well.

Michael Esposito

Age 43, USA, 16,260,000 chips:While Esposito works as a commodity broker and only plays poker a couple times a year, he has a considerable amount of experience at live poker over the years and at the WSOP in particular.

This is the third time he has finished in the money at the WSOP main event, in addition to several other cashes at other WSOP tournaments. He’s never come this far though and will be looking to make a big splash this year at the final table.

Esposito is definitely a lot less involved in the game of poker than all of the other entrants, but has already proved from his showing in the main event this year that he is not to be taken lightly. He considers the best part of his game to be his discipline, and that is a very valuable trait that could carry him quite far indeed.

Robert Salaburu

Age 27, USA, 15,155,000 chips:Some people are counting out Salaburu due to his very limited experience at live poker and no career cashes at the WSOP. He has played a few WSOP events but didn’t do that well at them.

People tend to forget that there have been several WSOP champions with only online experience behind them. It’s definitely a transition from online to live poker but it’s one that can be made extremely well by the right player.

To his credit, Salaburu has been playing poker for a living for several years and does appear to know what he’s doing, and does not appear to be too outclassed by anyone at this year’s final table. Although he has a lot less chips than the big stacks, one double up can put him right in contention.

Jacob Balsiger

Age 21, USA, 13,115,000 chips:The true kid at the table, Balsiger would be the youngest player in history to win the WSOP main event should he manage to pull this off. With the size of his stack though he’s definitely an underdog.

Balsiger has very limited live poker experience as well, and although this isn’t reason enough to count him out, he doesn’t have a lot of poker experience period, which may be a cause for concern with him.

Still though, he did make it to the final table of the WSOP, which definitely says something about his ability. Players in the bottom two generally go out pretty early on in WSOP final tables, so we will have to see if Balsiger can make an exception to this general trend. It will be a challenge to chip up to where he needs to be, but if he can pull off a couple of big pots, who knows what may happen from there?

Jeremy Ausmus

Age 33, USA, 9,805,000 chips:What Ausmus lacks in chips, he definitely makes up for in WSOP experience. He might be the shortest stack at the final table but perhaps no player knows what he needs to do better than Ausmus.

Ausmus already has 8 cashes in this year’s WSOP alone, with this being his ninth and biggest, even if he goes out in ninth. Although he’s been known as a player who doesn’t do as well deep in tournaments, his experience alone makes him a real presence at the table.

While it will be tough for Ausmus to go from last place at the final table to first or even in the top three, you can bet that he’ll be doing everything he can to give himself a fighting chance to move up. I wouldn’t expect him to finish above the bottom three, but who really knows right now, and that’s why they actually play the final table out.

So there you have it, your October Nine for 2012. Once the tournament is finished, I will provide you all with a recap of how it all went down.