WSOP November Nine; From Unknown To Celeb Status In 117 Days?

In recent days, you may have learned that the 2008 WSOP Main Event’s final 9 competitors, affectionately termed the “November Nine”, will not return to battle it out until November. You’ve probably also heard that all 9 finalists are virtually unknown in the professional poker community.

If WSOP Commissioner Jeff Pollack’s reasoning behind the extensive delay in the final table holds true, each of these nine skilled competitors will not only become known, they will likely be household names with “Pro” player status at some of the top online poker rooms – Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars or UltimateBet, to name a few.

According to Jeff Pollack, the delay was integrated to increase the hype around the final WSOP Main Event table. He wanted so many people to anticipate the completion of the tournament, and subsequent awarding of the coveted bracelet and $9.2 million to the winner, that record breaking numbers would tune in to watch the final table go down in November.

Thus far, Pollack’s plan is working like a charm.

Everyone with any interest in the World Series of Poker, or playing poker in general, has learned the story of Dennis Phillips, the current chip leader of the November Nine. Phillips started playing poker as a hobby 4 years ago, works for a trucking company, and certainly never expected to get this far after winning a satellite tournament at his local casino that sent him to Vegas for the big event. Phillips has only cashed in two live tournaments over his non-career poker history, awarding a combined total of less than $5,000.

Next up is Ivan Demidov, the second highest chip leader in the 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table. Demidov is a self-proclaimed “semi-professional” poker player hailing from Russia who has earned most of his cashes in online poker rooms. Demidov has seen only three live tournament cashes, though his earnings total a much more impressive $65,081.

Canadian Scott Montgomery, the third place chip leader, has a little more experience as a professional poker player. All of his live tournament cashes came in 2008 – 3 of those in the 2008 WSOP, no less – though it was his first live tournament cash, a 5th place finish, that awarded the highest prize just shy of $300,000. Montgomery’s total live tournament earning equal $406,585.

Peter Eastgate is another semi-pro from Denmark, claiming two live tournament cashes over the last two years worth $76,084.

Ylon Schwartz is perhaps the most seasoned competitor in the 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table, earning 30 live tournament cashes in the last ten years, worth $255,851. As impressive as that sounds, I must point out that the first cash was in 1998, and the other 29 didn’t come until 2004+. Of those profitable endeavors, Schwartz has yet to place better than 3rd in any live poker tournament.

Darus Suharto, another Canadian poker player you’ve probably never heard of, has only produced one live tournament cash for $26,389. This was awarded for a 448th place finish in the 2006 WSOP Main Event, so at least he has some experience at the biggest game in Vegas.

Next we have David “Chino” Rheem, a name you might actually be familiar with. This California native has been playing professional poker for a few years now, topping the profits list with $634,657 over 15 cashes in the last three years. Five of those came from WSOP events, but this will be Rheem’s first WSOP Main Event cash. Unlike most of his fellow November Nine, Rheem has actually taken down at least one live tournament in his professional poker career.

Here’s an interesting story – Craig Marquis of Arlington, Texas. At only 23 years of age, Marquis began playing poker so recently that he remembers the exact date! January 1, 2007. Craig Marquis exhibits most of his skills online, but has pocket 3 live tournament cashes, all of which came from WSOP events; the first two in 2007 and another this year in Event #17. Young Marquis current earnings of $35,759 will certainly increase dramatically this November.

Rounding out the November Nine is poker pro and unlikely hopeful Kelly Kim, with a very small chip stack of only 2,620,000. That may seem like a lot of chips, but compared to the next lowest (Craig Marquis) stack of 10.2 million, and the highest (Dennis Phillips) of 26.2 million, it will be interesting to see if Kim can increase his stack size soon enough to stay in the final table. Kelly Kim’s first live tournament cash came in 2001, earning a measly $798, but those numbers have increased significantly to total 37 cashes and $351,744 in winnings.

Now that you are familiar with all of the 2008 WSOP Main Event hopefuls, let’s see just how famous the November Nine become before the 117 day delay comes to an end, and we all learn the answer to what will be the most overdue question in the gaming world – Who will win the 2008 WSOP Main Event?

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