Time to Determine a Champion: Preview of the 2013 WSOP Championship Event “November Nine”
After a four month hiatus to build the anticipation, the poker world has once again descended on Las Vegas and, in particular, the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, for the final act of the 2013 World Series of Poker.
Throughout the past week, poker professionals, industry insiders and fans have been drifting back to Sin City for the Championship Event festivities, which begin tomorrow afternoon in the Penn & Teller Theater inside the Rio. The schedule has been adjusted a bit to accommodate an “almost live” broadcast that will run on the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN, on both Monday and Tuesday. Originally, the plan was to begin play today and stretch the action through to Tuesday.
According to Seth Palansky, the Vice President of Corporate Communications for Caesars Entertainment and the WSOP, the cards will hit the air at approximately 5PM in the Penn & Teller Theater (8PM East Coast time) and, on a fifteen minute delay, ESPN2 will pick up final table coverage until two players are left standing. On Tuesday, those final two men will come back for action at 6PM Vegas time on the Worldwide Leader’s main stage, ESPN, to determine the next World Champion of poker.
The “usual suspects” will be in attendance to announce the action at the Championship Event final table. Commentators Lon McEachern and Norm Chad will be in the broadcast chairs along with analyst and 2013 “Big One for One Drop” champion Antonio Esfandiari. Kara Scott will handle the sideline discussion and exit interviews, while 13-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and Marianela Pereyra will take over the chairs as break analyst and host, respectively.
Now, about those men that the cameras will be focused on…
After wrapping up the Day 7 play back on July 16, the “November Nine” have been patiently waiting to return to the felt to determine the champion. When they settle into their seats on Monday afternoon, here’s how they will line up:
Seat 1: Sylvain Loosli, 19.6 million
Seat 2: Michiel Brummelhuis, 11.275 million
Seat 3: Mark Newhouse, 7.35 million
Seat 4: Ryan Riess, 25.875 million
Seat 5: Amir Lehavot, 29.7 million
Seat 6: Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, 26.525 million
Seat 7: J. C. Tran, 38 million
Seat 8: David Benefield, 6.375 million
Seat 9: Jay Farber, 25.975 million
And, with another $5000 added into the prize pool (interest accrued from the remainder of the prize money being put into a money market account), here’s what they are playing for.
1st – $8,361,570
2nd – $5,174,357
3rd – $3,727,823
4th – $2,792,533
5th – $2,106,893
6th – $1,601,024
7th – $1,225,356
8th – $944,650
9th – $733,224*
* – All nine men have received this payment
The action will kick off immediately when the cards hit the air on Monday. The button will be on McLaughlin to start the day’s play, with Tran in the small blind and Benefield in the big blind. With the short stack at the final table, Benefield could choose two courses of action: if he is able to pick up a great starting hand on the first deal, Benefield could make his stand right there (especially if Riess, Lehavot, McLaughlin or Tran try to bully him); or, if he isn’t able to muster a good enough hand for his liking, he can step out of the fray and, after going through the small blind (blinds are at 200K/400K with a 50K ante), have the next round of antes to wait for a good hand. Either way, Benefield is going to have to make a move quick if he is going to extend his stay at the final table.
There are four categories that we can put the “November Nine” into, reflective of their chances of winning the WSOP Championship Event Final Table.
Prime Time Players
There are only two men who will go into this category and, as such, they have the best chance to win the WSOP Championship Event. Chip leader Tran (currently the 11/5 favorite) and second place Lehavot (3/1) are veterans of the tournament poker world and have been through these battles in the past. They won’t be overwhelmed by the moment and will have the opportunity to be patient, letting the game come to them and letting the smaller stacks decimate themselves.
Ready For His Close-Up
There is only one player who makes this list and that is third place McLaughlin (4/1). A known commodity in the international poker world, all McLaughlin lacks on his tournament poker resume is that one signature win that would establish him as a new force on the scene. If he were able to take down the WSOP Championship Event, he would serve as another exciting young star for the game, much like his countryman Jonathan Duhamel did in winning the 2010 WSOP Championship Event.
The Wild Cards
Three men are coming to this table and they are the “wild cards,” not just from their playing styles but also from what is expected of them. Riess (7/2), Farber (5/1) and Loosli (11/2) have all shown radical styles in making their way to the final table, especially Loosli’s approach to the game. Riess is fully aware of his potential to become the next World Champion and isn’t about to let it slip through his fingers. Farber is happy to be at the table, but he also is keenly mindful about his chance at the WSOP title. These three men will fire at any time and against any player on this baize and should be expected to be the most active players on Monday afternoon.
A Chip and a Chair
The final three men – Brummelhuis (8/1), Newhouse (15/1) and Benefield (12/1) – all have their work cut out for them. As pointed out above, Benefield will probably be forced into action early as, after only one round of play, he will have sacrificed almost 16% of his stack if he does nothing. Newhouse has a bit more time to play, but not by much, while Brummelhuis could afford to be patient (at least in the beginning). All three men are in position to take chips from the leaders so an early double up by any or all three of these men will change the dynamic of the table.
Who Will Win?
I can see Benefield getting his double up early in the action on Monday, but Brummelhuis I can see clashing against Tran, Farber or Loosli and being the first elimination. Newhouse is going to grind his stack until his hands bleed and it will work to his advantage as he uses the all-in attack to pick up some chips and stay alive. I believe that Loosli will be the next to go as his “any two” style catches up to him.
Benefield and Newhouse will fall out at this point, simply because of the constant pressure of the top five stacks. I see McLaughlin (sitting between Lehavot and Tran) eventually being dismissed in fifth place and he will be followed by Farber, who will enjoy the ride all the way. In a slight surprise, I can see Riess outdueling Lehavot for the chance at heads up play against Tran.
When Riess and Tran return on Tuesday evening to determine the champion, you can expect Riess to work his way into the lead at some point with a varying, aggressive arsenal of attack. Tran, who is one of the best player readers in the game, will fight his way back into the lead and, after a four hour heads up fight, will eventually vanquish the talented Riess and become the 2013 WSOP Championship Event bracelet winner and new World Champion.
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