Finally, the time has come. After 111 long days of anticipation, sleepless nights, and visions of glory, the 2013 November Nine has returned to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event.
The remaining nine players, led by American professional JC Tran (38 million) are all guaranteed a minimum of $733,224, while the winner will walk away with $8,361,570, the gold bracelet, and a place in poker history. Joining Tran at the table, in order of chip counts, are Israeli Amir Lehavot (29.7 million), Canadian Marc-Etienne McLaughlin (26.525 million), American Jay Farber (25.975 million), American Ryan Riess (25.875 million), Frenchman Sylvain Loosli (19.6 million), Dutchman Michiel Brummelhuis (11.275 million), American Mark Newhouse (7.35 million), and American David Benefield (6.375 million).
Despite entering the final table with the shortest stack, Benefield, known by many as “Raptor” because of his online handles, certainly has momentum. Since 2001 Main Event champion Carlos Mortensen was eliminated in 10th place and the November Nine was set, Benefield has cashed in five events and reached three final tables. He finished fifth in the EPT Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller for $278,439, eighth in the EPT Barcelona €10,000 High Roller for $64,008, and seventh in the EPT London £50,000 Super High Roller for $226,348. Benefield also has a bit of history on his side – since the inception of the November Nine, only one short stack entering the final table of the Main Event has finished in ninth place. In 2009, James Akenhead was the first to bust, earning $1,263,602.
The past two years, Jeremy Ausmus (2012) and Phil Collins (2011) both laddered from last in chips to fifth place, earning $2,155,313 and $2,269,599 respectively.
There are three fathers at the final table, Tran, Lehavot, and Brummelhuis. Brummelhuis, who is the first Dutch player to ever reach a Main Event final table (Marcel Luske finished 10th in 2004), welcomed his newborn son Thijmen to the world on Sept. 13. He told ESPN during the break that the birth of his son made him “definitely feel different,” and that it gives him “extra motivation to provide for the future and make as much money as possible.”
Tran and Lehavot are the only two previous bracelet winners at the final table, and Lehavot also referenced his own fatherhood when he announced on the popular poker forum TwoPlusTwo that he was selling shares of himself at ICM value. He told PokerNews that he always thought he would sell pieces if he made the final table, and that his investors were getting a good value.
“I think my accomplishments speak for themselves,” said Lehavot, who won his bracelet in 2011. "I'm an experienced, accomplished MTT player and believe I have an edge over the table."
If Tran is able to win the event, he would only be the second chip leader to do so during the November Nine era – Jonathan Duhamel entered the 2010 WSOP Main Event final table as the chip leader, and exited with the glory, bracelet, and over $8.9 million.
Like Duhamel, McLaughlin will look to bring poker’s most prized trophy back up north to Canada. McLaughlin, who runs several small businesses and draws tattoos for fun, nearly captured gold in 2011 when he finished third in a $1,500 bracelet event.
Loosli is the first French player to reach the WSOP Main Event final table since Antoine Saout finished third for $3,479,670 in 2009. Loosli is a high-stakes online cash grinder that lives with bracelet winner Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier in London.
As for the three other Americans at the final table, Farber, Riess, and Newhouse, they are looking to make a big splash on their home turf. Farber admitted on the PokerNews Podcast that he isn’t a consummate pro, Newhouse said during the ESPN broadcast that this is all about money and not fame, while Riess, the youngest player at the table, may be the most confident one of the bunch.
“I’m gonna win it,” he told PokerNews in August. “That’s about it.”
Here's a look at the final table in seat order:
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Odds are courtesy of the Rio Sports Book, and are accurate as of 11:00 a.m. PST
The final table will begin at 4:45 p.m. PST in the Penn & Teller Theatre. The action will be broadcast on ESPN 2 on a 15-minute delay with hole cards beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST.