Profiling the World Series of Poker November Nine

Having whittled the field down from 6,420 players to just nine, the 2015 World Series of Poker is all set for an incredible final contest when November rolls around

Since May 27th, the contest has seen players who all paid $10,000 to enter the 46th annual World Series do battle, with all but the final nine being eliminated.

Having already guaranteed themselves World Series winnings of at least $1 million each, the nine finalists now await the main event on November 8th to go head-to-head for the grand prize of $7.7 million at the final table.

The competition has already claimed some surprising scalps. Few would have expected six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu to fall at the final hurdle, but the man nicknamed ‘Kid Poker’ found himself eliminated as he could only achieve 11th place in the 2015 competition.

The World Series of Poker has been running each year since 1970. The first competition was an invite-only event, in which players took a vote on the ultimate winner.

Poker legends have been made at the World Series, and this year’s crop of hopefuls will be aiming to join the likes of Johnny Moss, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth Jr. in the competition’s hall of fame.

The landscape of poker has shifted dramatically during the 45 years that the World Series has been running. The rapid growth of online poker has introduced the game to a much broader audience, and there are now millions of people around the world who would one day love to have a shot at a $7.7 million prize.

From the very earliest sites like Planet Poker, to the modern day supersites like 32Red, online poker has sparked a revolution, making the game more accessible than ever before, and offering players a vast wealth of learning tools and resources to hone their skills.

So just who are the nine talented players that have made it all the way to the last chance saloon in poker’s biggest event?

1. Zvi Stern, Israel

Leading the field in Seat 1 with 29.8 million in chips is Israeli poker ace Zvi Stern. His inclusion in the ‘November Nine’ comes as something of a surprise, given that he only has two previous live cashes to his name. A software engineer by trade, Stern defied his status as a little-known player with a cool-headed performance throughout the opening stages of the 2015 World Series. Sporting a pair of dark shades, a raised hood, and some gnarly facial hair throughout, he went head-to-head with the likes of Chad Power and Thomas Paul and played with aggressive style to battle through to Seat 1 of the final contest.

2. Pierre Neuville, Belgium

Another World Series big hitter from a nation not known for its poker prowess is Belgium’s Pierre Neuville. But Neuville’s reputation preceeds him, having picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Poker Awards, where he claimed that “the best is still to come”. The 72-year-old will be pitting his experience against plenty of youth in November, but could well be one to watch.

3. Josh Beckley, United States

Josh Beckley is 48 years Neuville’s junior, but he by no means not short on poker experience.

The New Jersey native has claimed $219,526 in lifetime cashes, including a career best $98,348 at the 2014 Parx Casino Big Stax VII event.

4. Max Steinberg, United States

From a position of 24th at the end of day six, Oakland’s Max Steinberg navigated his way into the November Nine in spectacular fashion on the final day to claim Seat 4.

But then, this is a man with pedigree. Steinberg won the gold bracelet in 2012’s WSOP Event #33 $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em, and few would bet against him picking up another one to add to his collection in November.

5. Thomas Cannuli, United States

New Jersey-born Cannuli is one of the World Series poker players who gives hope to us all. At the age of just 23, Cannuli is a digital native poker player, honing his skills at sites we all love to play at, like the aforementioned Poker Planet and 32Red.

But don’t let Cannuli’s age deceive you; he finished eighth in the 2014 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Philadelphia and may well surprise a few people in November.

6. Joe McKeehen, United States

On his Twitter account, Joe McKeehen describes himself as “just your average Joe trying to live the dream”.

With nearly $2 million in earnings since he first made an impact on the tournament circuit in 2012, along with 76 career cashes, and now a chance at the WSOP Main Event November Nine, you could say he is living that dream.

After studying at Arcadia University, McKeehen learned how to play at Caesars in Atlantic City. Expect big things from him in November.

7. Patrick Chan, United States

Brooklyn’s Patrick Chan is a poker pro with $524,399 in live tournament earnings to his name.

Having made it to the November Nine, he has already trounced his own record and picked up $1 million, and he’ll be looking to add to his 35 career cashes when he takes on the big one later this year.

8. Federico Butteroni, Italy

The last time Italy had a representative amongst the November Nine was when Filippo Candio achieved a fourth-placed finish in 2010.

Butteroni carries his nation’s hopes this year, despite ranking 450th on the all-time money list with just $103,006 in lifetime earnings.

However, at just 25, he has a long and potentially illustrious poker career ahead of him.

9. Neil Blumenfield, United States

61-year-old Neil Blumenfield, of San Francisco, quit his tech software job the day before this year’s WSOP event began.

He will be glad that he did, having banked $1 million for making the November Nine with 22 million chips.

He, along with Neuville, will be hoping that age defeats youth in November, and that the poker world will be crowning a champion who defies the modern stereotype of hip youngsters getting all the poker glory.

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