This week the final table of nine players for the World Series of Poker Main Event was decided with the announcement, to loud applause, of the nine survivors by Tournament Director Jack Effel and his closing comment: "Players, you may now go on your 117-day break! Good night from the World Series of Poker!"
When they meet again, it will be to compete for a total of $32 633 446, with the first place they all aspire to earning over $9 million and all save the ninth-place finisher walking away with at least a million dollars.
All have earned the opportunity now awaiting them, having battled their way through 7 gruelling days and an entry field of 6 844 hopefuls that included most of the top players on the planet.
This year there is not one former WSOP bracelet holder among the players who will sit around that final Main Event table.
Chip leader Dennis Phillips (54) is an amateur player from St. Louis, Missouri who when not playing poker is an account manager with a haulage company. He finished ninth in the 2007 WSOP Circuit Grand Tunica $500 No-Limit Hold'em event, and won his 2008 Main Event seat through a satellite at Harrah's Casino in his home town.
From Moscow, Russia, Ivan Demidov (27) is closest to Phillips in chip count and is a professional poker player. He cashed deep in another WSOP event this year, finishing at 11th place in the $1 000 No-Limit Hold'em event. Starting to play in 2006, his track record includes a final-table finish in the Russian Poker Championship event that year, together with a third placing in the $1 000 No-Limit Hold'em evening event during the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic in 2007.
Scott Montgomery (26) hails from Perth in Ontario and is a professional poker player who has enjoyed some tournament successes playing on the Internet at UltimateBet. In February he made the final table of the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic, and he has already made the money bubble in three other WSOP events. During this year's WSOP action in Las Vegas, he also made the final table of the $3 000 No-Limit Hold'em event of the Bellagio Cup IV. Montgomery is financing himself, and has already made a handsome return on his $10 000 Main Event buy-in; even if he is the next player to depart the final nine, he'll earn $900 670…and he's in with a chance to win millions.
The Team Ladbrokes player Peter Eastgate (22) is the youngest player in this year's Main Event final, and he comes from Odense in Denmark, where he is a professional poker player. Ladbrokes online players will know him better as "Pete4002." Eastgate paid the $10 000 Main Event entry fee from his own pocket, betting on his prior experience that includes playing the Party Poker Poker Million V and Poker Million VI, a ninth-place finish in the 2007 Paddy Power Irish Open, and cashing in the European Poker Tour Scandinavian Open.
Ylon Schwartz (38) is a Brooklyn, New York resident and one of five Americans at the final table this year. Before discovering his potential as a professional poker player several years ago he hustled chess games in the Big Apple's public parks. Schwartz has 12 prior WSOP cashes under his belt, including a lucrative 15th placing in the WSOP 2008 $2 000 No-Limit Hold'em event.
Darus Suharto (39), is another amateur player and travelled from Toronto in Canada, where he is an accountant, for the Main Event. He won his seat in a satellite tournament and has previously played in the 2006 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 448th place. In addition to his accounting qualifications, he holds an MBA from the University of Indiana.
David "Chino" Rheem (28) is a professional player from Los Angeles who also staked himself for this year's Main Event. He has 5 previous WSOP cashes to his credit, including a fifth placing in the 2008 $5 000 Limit/No-Limit Hold'em event.
Craig Marquis (23) comes from Arlington, Texas where he is a college student who started playing poker in 2006 and has achieved two cashes in last year's WSOP and one in the 2008 $1 500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.
The short stack at the final table, with $2 620 000 is Kelly Kim (31) from Whittier, California. Kim is a former business analyst who switched to professional poker and has an impressive track record of 37 cashes worth $351 774 in tournaments in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but no major championship wins yet.
The nine finalists next meet on November 9th, again in Las Vegas, where they will play down to the final two, with the heads up decided the following day.
Confirmed chip counts are:
Dennis Phillips – $26,295,000
Ivan Demidov – $24,400,000
Scott Montgomery – $19,690,000
Peter Eastgate – $18,375,000
Ylon Schwartz – $12,525,000
Darus Suharto – $12,520,000
David Rheem – $10,230,000
Craig Marquis – $10,210,000
Kelly Kim – $2,620,000