We now know the identities of the nine players that will return in October to battle it out for the right to call themselves the best in the business. How well do we really know them though? None of those in the nine are big name pros and with only two past-WSOP bracelet winners amongst the finalists we’ll forgive you for acting clueless. In order to help out we’ve put together profiles of the remaining players and what you need to know about them ahead of the final reckoning.
Seat 1: Russell Thomas
Chip Count: 24.8m (4th place)
Hailing from: Hartford, Conn, USA
Trademark: Checked Shirt
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 5th in $1.5k 2010 WSOP ($84,256)
A successful Internet cash-game player that graduated with a degree in finance from Temple University. He is a best friend with chip leader Jesse Sylvia and they even rented a place together during the 2010 WSOP. Will be interesting if it’s them two heads-up come October 30 as Sylvia already admitted he’d poison Thomas.
Seat 2: Jacob Balsiger
Chip Count: 13.115m (8th)
Hailing from: Tempe, AZ, USA
Trademark: He’s the youngster
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 2012 WSOP $1.5k NLHE: $3,531
The youngest player in the nine is looking to continue a trend that has seen a new generation grab the winning bling for the past four years. He’s a junior at Arizona State University and studies Political Science with online poker taking up the majority of his free time. Just no tantrums if you don’t win, ok Jacob?
Seat 3: Jeremy Ausmus
Chip Count: 9.805m (9th)
Hailing from: Las Vegas, NV, USA.
Did you know…his surname translates to awesome in American (we were struggling).
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 2011 WSOP $1,5k 7 Card Stud ($8,800)
Became interested in poker after watching “Rounders” and started playing small-handed games around Colorado State University, whilst he studied. Didn’t start playing live until 2008, spending the time until then honing his online game. Has made eight cashes at this year’s tournament and in the process earned $66,144.
Seat 4: Steven Gee
Chip Count: 16.86m (5th)
Hailing from: Sacramento, CA, USA.
Don’t mistake him for… Doyle Brunson…ok he’s not that old.
Twitter: Is that a type of bird?
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 1 – 2010 WSOP $1k NLHE ($472,479)
One of those rare beasts – a WSOP bracelet holder that reaches the Main Event final table. If he wins through it will make him the first Main Event winner to hold two bracelets since Carlos Mortensen. Used to play underage lowball in California’s casinos and then took up the game professionally in the 70s – when many of the field were still dreaming of nappies.
Seat 5: Greg Merson
Chip Count: 28.725m (3rd)
Hailing from: Laurel, MD, USA
Don’t mistake him for… McLovin
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 1 – 2012 WSOP Event #57 NLHE Six-Handed ($1,136,197)
The high volume cash game grinder won a bracelet in the event that he had set his heart on earlier this summer. Considers himself lucky to be here after being down to a couple of blinds on Day 5 and will be one to watch come October. Will also become the WSOP Player of the Year, even if he finishes ninth, as long as no one at the top wins the WSOPE in the meantime.
Seat 6: Jesse Sylvia
Chip Count: 43.875m (1st)
Hailing from: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Trademark: He don’t need one. He in da lead.
Twitter: Too cool for Twitter.
WSOP bracelets/best finish: WSOP 2011 $1.5k NLHE 175th place ($2,954)
One of the few players that has made the final table to have a sponsorship deal after he was signed up by 888poker, and confesses to playing 40-60 hours per week. He once said: “I want to make the Final Table, go home and bring everyone I know back here in a bunch of buses to get into it.” What’s it they always say about buses?
Seat 7: Robert Salaburu
Chip Count: 15.155m (7th)
Hailing from: San Antonio, TX, USA
Don’t mistake him for… a celebrity. I mean, just look at the glasses!
WSOP bracelets/best finish: None.
Started playing poker when he was 16 at home and was on the verge of opening a car lot for some money on the side before he made the final table. Only ever made $50k in tournaments before making October and is another that likes to sport a fetching check shirt. He is Texan after all.
Seat 8: Andras Koroknai
Chip Count: 29.375m (2nd)
Hailing from: Debrecen, Hungary
Trademark: Always hungry
Twitter: Is being the last European not enough?!
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 2011 WSOP Main Event 339th ($36,463)
Has tournament winning experience after taking down the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic in 2010 and the $1.7m first place prize. Is Hungary’s second richest poker player ever and when he cashes in October he’ll surpass Denes Tamas Kalo. Courted controversy on two occasions at this year’s Main Event but has since apologized and will be looking to follow up last year’s victory for Europe with another.
Seat 9: Michael Esposito
Chip Count: 16.26m (6th)
Hailing from: Seaford, NY, USA
Trademark: Pulls off the ‘egg in a bush’ look quite well
WSOP bracelets/best finish: 2006 WSOP Main Event 540th ($22,266)
First cashed back in 2002 and has been scuttling around the East Coast’s casinos ever since. He’s one man that is thankful Atlantic City hasn’t sunk or been closed down and has three cashes at various WSOP events, including one so far this year.