For WSOP November Nine, it’s the night before Christmas

november-nine-night-christmasThey say the realization that one is to be hanged in the morning concentrates the mind wonderfully. So how does the mind react when you know that, come the dawn, you’re heading into one spec-fucking-tacular payday? Even if that thought kept you awake all night and left you so exhausted that you couldn’t read your own cards and were immediately eliminated from the competition, you’d still be guaranteed $811k? Yeah, that must suck. Anyway, let’s meet the condemned, shall we?

For Jonathan Duhamel, chip leader (65,975,000 – Seat #4) and youngest player at the table, the goal is to “stop playing the sheriff” i.e. respect players, even bad players with good hands. There’s also the motivation to become the first Canadian to take the title, which may even get him invited into the dressing room before a Montreal Canadiens game. Now that would earn him some respect back home in Quebec.

In the number two chip spot is John Dolan (46,250,000 – Seat #3), who used his college scholarship money to enter his first online poker games. Realizing he was good at poker, Dolan put his education on hold, quit his part-time job pulling pork at a Tallahassee restaurant and has been pulling in pots ever since.

Number three seed Joseph Cheong (23,525,000 – Seat #2) holds degrees in both psychology and math, but college is also where he first learned to play poker. Even then, he didn’t take it seriously until he broke up with a long-time girlfriend, which suddenly freed up a lot of spare time. Guess it was either play poker or masturbate, and he couldn’t find anyone willing to pay him to masturbate, so…

Fourth seed John Racener (19,050,000 – Seat #7) placed third at a WSOP Circuit Main Event in Atlantic City on his 21st birthday. Racener woke up with a six-figure check in his pocket, unlike most of us, who woke up the morning after our 21st birthday with nothing but a crushing hangover and a vomit-stained T-shirt.

Fifth seed Matthew Jarvis (16,700,000 – Seat #6), who almost didn’t enter this year’s tournament when his father was diagnosed with cancer (he’s doing better now, thanks), prepared for the tourney by writing ‘Why not me?’ on his hand, presumably because there wasn’t enough space to write ‘Why not me, I’m a 25-year-old Canadian who could collect Sidney Crosby’s annual salary over the course of a weekend.’

Sixth seed Filippo Candio (16,400,000 – Seat #8) is the only European who’ll take part in this year’s Final Table, and would be the first ever Italian to take the title. In choosing a career in poker, Candio gave up the opportunity to become a lawyer like his father. If depriving the world of one extra ambulance chaser isn’t enough reason to root for Candio, we don’t know what is.

For seventh seed Michael Mizrachi (14,450,000 – Seat #5), there’s the opportunity to become the first high profile pro player to win the title since Chris Ferguson took top honors in 2000. Adding the $8.9m first prize would also propel him past Phil Ivey on the all-time money list. Just hope the folks at Deliverance Poker aren’t watching…

Eighth seed Soi Nguyen (9,650,000 – Seat #9) is 37 years old, 11 years above the average age at this year’s Final Table. Ironically, he’s also one of the least experienced players doing battle on Saturday, probably because he’s a full-time operations manager at a medical supply company. Hope he brought his special orthopedic chair to keep those weary old bones comfy.

Finally, there’s Jason Senti (7,625,000 – Seat #1), the little ant trying to move the rubber tree plant. Minneapolis musician Senti does indeed have high hopes for Saturday’s action. Size matters, as girls are wont to say, but short-stacked Senti thinks of himself as a grower, not a shower. ”I think my chances are a lot better than my stack-size makes them appear.” That’s the spirit, Jason.

Sleep well, guys.