What started as the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history is now down to the final nine players at the 2012 World Series of Poker. Nearly two weeks and more than half a million hands after the $10,000 buy-in Main Event Championship initially began, the famed “October Nine” finalists have been determined.
The day’s decisive moment came when Andras Koroknai (Hungary) eliminated Gaelle Baumann (France) who ended up as the tenth-place finisher. The final hand was dealt at 1:10 am, eliciting frustration for Baumann’s many supporters, while igniting an outburst of screams and cheers from hundreds of spectators swarming the ESPN broadcast stage, including the family and friends of those who about to step into the brightest spotlight of their lives.
In recent years, WSOP Main Event final tables have come to reflect and international collection of players with mixed backgrounds. However, this year’s Championship was dominated by Americans – who occupy eight of the nine seats in the finale. Andras Karoknai from Hungary stands as the lone international challenger.
However, perhaps the biggest story of the day was the stunning way the summer series ended with two female players taking 10th and 11th places, respectively. For most of the day it appeared that at least one female would match Poker Hall of Famer Barbara Enright’s 1995 feat, as the only female in history to make it to a Main Event final table. However, when Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle had their hopes crushed with bubblefinal table bustouts, the aspirations of a woman in the Championship came to a disappointing end.
That said, this year’s list of finalists includes several interesting personalities and compelling stories.
This year’s November Nine finalists are as follows:
Seat 1: Russell Thomas – Hartford, CT (24,800,000 in chips)
Seat 2: Jacob Balsiger – Tempe, AZ (13,115,000 in chips)
Seat 3: Jeremy Ausmus – Las Vegas, NV (9,805,000 in chips)
Seat 4: Steven Gee – Sacramento, CA (16,860,000 in chips)
Seat 5: Greg Merson – Laurel, MD (28,725,000 in chips)
Seat 6: Jesse Sylvia – West Tisbury, MA (43,875,000 in chips)
Seat 7: Robert Salaburu – San Antonio, TX (15,155,000 in chips)
Seat 8: Andras Koroknai – Debrecen, Hungary (29,375,000 in chips)
Seat 9: Michael Esposito – Seaford, NY (16,260,000 in chips)
Next, the tournament takes a 102-day recess. In the meantime, each of the nine finalists will return to their homes and families. Undoubtedly, each is likely to become a local celebrity. Players will have more than three months to enjoy and savor a rare experience which can best be described as every poker player's dream come true. The final table will be played October 29-30, 2012 at the Rio in Las Vegas. Note that this year’s championship finale was moved up one week ahead of the usual November Nine session, due to this year’s U.S. presidential election.
Each of the players who made it this far are now guaranteed $754,798 in prize money. In fact, seven of the top nine finishers will become millionaires. But none of the October Nine players will be content with a ninth-place finish at this point.
Indeed, this WSOP Main Event winner achieves instant fame, fortune and immortality. He will collect a whopping $8,527,982 in prize money. The winner will also be presented with the game's most coveted prize -- the custom-designed WSOP gold and diamond bracelet from Jason of Beverly Hills. He will also be universally acknowledged as the reigning world poker champion.
The Main Event, also known as poker’s world championship began back on July 9th. There were 92 different nations represented in the huge field. It took seven playing days – and some 68 hours – to carve the starters down to nine survivors.
Regardless of what happens in October and whoever is crowned the 2012 world poker champion, one thing is for certain. The last week of October promises to be a thrilling conclusion to what has been a memorable 2012 WSOP.