Who will be the 2013 poker world champion? The November Nine will get it on in Las Vegas tonight to play for the title and $8.3m
The wait is finally over. On July 15 2013 the WSOP Main Event lost former champion Carlos Mortenson in 10th place and this year’s iteration of the November Nine was born. Now, exactly 112 days later, those nine players have all returned to the Rio Casino in Las Vegas and are ready to duke it out tonight to see who will be crowned the 2013 world champion. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of an $8.3m first prize to play for too.
The action kicks off tonight at 8pm ET (1am GMT) and you can watch a full live stream – with hole cards on a slight time delay – at https://www.espnplayer.com/espnplayer/secure/registerform?product=WSOP. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay £1.99 for the privilege but for poker’s biggest night of the year it will be money well spent. Of course, for those of you more ‘resourceful’ a quick search on Twitter for ‘WSOP stream’ may also be effective.
In case you have forgotten, here is how the November Nine will be lining up tonight, in chip order;
1. JC Tran, 38m
2. Amir Lehavot, 29.7m
3. Marc McLaughlin, 26.52m
4. Jay Farber, 25.975m
5. Ryan Riess, 25.875m
6. Sylvain Loosli, 19.6m
7. Michiel Brummelhuis, 11.275m
8. Mark Newhouse, 7.35m
9. David Benefield, 6.375m
The chip leader, JC Tran, is not surprisingly the clear favourite to win. Currently on Betfair he is as low as 3.9 for the win. It’s a fair price because not only does Tran have the chips but he’s also the most experienced live player at the final table by a significant margin. Prior to this year Tran already has two WSOP bracelets and a WPT title on his resume. In recent years he has taken a step back from the live tournament circuit in order to spend more time with his family. In a recent revealing interview with the TwoPlusTwo Pokercast Tran explained that he was motivated far more by money than glory these days – and that a win here is imperative so that he is never forced to play a full-time schedule again. Tran would be a superb, deserving champion – he’s one of the most respected and most popular players in the world and would be a great representative for poker. Can he finish the job?
One man standing in his way is online cash game legend David ‘Raptor’ Benefield. Luckily for the rest of the table, Benefield is the short-stack with just 16 big blinds. Still, one double up and he will be back in the game. Benefield gained great fame in the online poker community for his unique playing style when he used to crush the $25/$50 and higher heads-up cash games online. The 27-year-old Texan was not afraid to limp buttons and invented the strategy of betting a tiny percentage of the pot on the flop or turn in order to get extra value on later streets. At the time it was revolutionary. Eventually, though Benefield was burnt out on the stressful swings of nosebleed poker and went into a self-imposed ‘retirement’. He rejoined college, studying East Asian Studies and coached baseball for a time. Despite his attentions being elsewhere Benefield was often lured back to poker, playing most summers at the WSOP before this phenomenal Main Event run has brought his focus back full-time to the game. Since July Benefield has hit the world circuit hard and is in tremendous form, with final tables in three separate EPT high rollers.
The remainder of the November Nine is less well-known but here are some interesting facts about them….
A nightclub host in Las Vegas (whatever that means) Farber has promised to bring along a whole host of strippers to rail him inside the Penn & Teller Theatre. We like his style.
Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ and seems to be confused as to whether he is playing poker or fighting inside of a cage. Certainly doesn’t look like a beast though, more like an un-groomed tabby cat.
Former WPT champion Newhouse has one of the most distinguished records on the final table – and one of the worst haircuts. Rumour has it that Newhouse is so deep into make-up that he needs an outright win at the final table in order to get back into profit. If true, that creates a fascinating dynamic between Newhouse and the rest of the table and will be one of the key subplots to watch throughout.
Let’s be honest – if McLaughlin, Lehavot et al win it won’t set the poker world on fire. But, given the extremely tough lineup of the 2013 November Nine, whoever wins the ultimate prize will certainly have earned it.