World Series of Poker Main Event: Three Former 'November Niners' Eying Second Chance At Title
Eric Buchman, Joseph Cheong and Sam Holden Still Alive
Out of the 282 players remaining in the 2012 Main Event, three men each have a shot at making a once-in-a-lifetime experience redundant. Eric Buchman, Joseph Cheong and Sam Holden, who each outlasted massive fields in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively to make final tables, are still alive after Friday’s fourth day of play.
Buchman, a New York pro, ended action Friday with nearly 2.1 million, which puts him in the top 5. Three years ago he ended the fourth day of play with about 500,000.
Despite his success in tournaments, which includes a bracelet in 2010, Buchman says that few recognize him. “I like flying under the radar,” he said. “I don’t need all the attention.”
Cheong, originally from California, has played the World Series of Poker Main Event just four times, but in that span has finished 3rd, 114th and enters Saturday with 1.44 million.
Cheong has cashed for millions on the felt, but he’s a humble player, well aware of the improbability of his streak. He said, simply, that he just runs well in the Main Event. “That’s all it really takes,” he explained.
He did admit that he’s really good at changing gears and playing the short stack. “These long levels really let me wait for hands,” he said. “I don’t really take marginal spots as much.”
Cheong has to play a lot tighter these days because few believe he’s holding strong hands. “It makes for a much more boring experience for me overall,” he conceded.
Holden, from the U.K., finished ninth last November, but will have work to do on day 5 this year after ending play Friday with 358,000. He’s looking to be the first to make back-to-back final tables since Dan Harrington did so nearly a decade ago.
Aside from the former “November Niners” — a name given to the finalists of the Main Event since 2008 — numerous big names are still lurking around the Rio Hotel and Casino.
High-stakes cash game player Chance Kornuth survived with 651,000, after an adrenaline-filled day. One of his most gut-wrenching hands was when he five-bet all in with K-Q against John Juanda, who also made it to day 5. Juanda mucked A-Q.
“I’ve bluffed all-in for six figures before [in cash games], but when I went all-in against John I was more nervous there than during the six-figure bluffs,” Kornuth said. “I don’t why. I found it perplexing. I can rebuy in a cash game. I can’t rebuy here.”
Gavin Smith still has a shot at $8.5 million after making one of his all-time best folds. With half his stack already in the pot, Smith was put all-in on a Q-Q-10-K-8 board. By trusting his instincts, Smith threw pocket tens into the muck. He was short after the hand, but got the chips back and then some, ending play with 831,000.
“I am firing on all cylinders now,” Smith said.
The 43-year-old said a big score would be important because he has two young kids. “You always want to have money to provide for them,” he said. “This is a pretty tough life. Also, you don’t get deep in the Main Event all that often, so it’s really important to capitalize. It’s a dream of mine to make the final table, and I really think it’s going to happen this year.”
Leading the pack is Internet player Paul Volpe, who sits with 2.75 million. Another online grinder, Dave D’Alesandro, is in third with nearly 2.1 million.
Other big stacks include Leo Wolpert (1,835,000), Vanessa Selbst (1,678,000), Erik Cajelais (1,600,000), David “ODB” Baker (1,381,000) and Andrew Lichtenberger (1,150,000).
Daniel Negreanu made it through with 302,000. The chip average is 701,915.
Check back at CardPlayer.com for more coverage of the 2012 Main Event.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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