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2010 WSOP Main Event — Second Largest of All Time

Michael Mizrachi Headlines “November Nine” Main-Event Final Table

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Aug 20, 2010


WSOP Main Event bracelet The bulk of the 2010 World Series of Poker saga is now behind us, but it will be months until a champion is crowned. After 56 preliminary events had been played, the poker world geared up for the prestigious $10,000 main event, and all of the spectacle and pageantry that comes with it.

A Look at the Numbers
Nine of the 17 largest events in history were played out at the Rio this summer, with the main event topping them all with 7,319 entrants. Those players created a total prize pool of $68,798,600, making this year’s tournament one of the biggest of all time, second only to the 2006 main event won by Jamie Gold.

In a year that was marked by declining tournament attendance prior to the summer, the WSOP reversed the trend, with a record 72,966 entrants in 57 events, creating the largest total prize pool in WSOP history — $187,109,850. The WSOP has now awarded $1,228,375,121 during its 41 years.

The WSOP also continued to feature a strong international presence in 2010, attracting players from 117 countries, up from 115 countries last year.

“By every measure, this was the most successful World Series of Poker in the event’s illustrious 41-year history,” said WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart. “From the lowest buy-in events to the highest, we saw enormous player demand translate into lengthy registration lists and massive prize pools.”

No More Registration Nightmares
The 2009 main event drew 6,494 players, but that field may have been significantly larger had hundreds of players not been turned away on the final day of registration due to lack of space.

In order to avoid a repeat situation, Harrah’s instituted a new policy that allowed tournament officials to open and close each of the four registration days, especially days 1C and 1D, which were the most popular starting days. The end result was a much more balanced field, with nobody left on the outside looking in.

The Bubble Bursts
It took four days of play for the field to reach the money bubble of 748 players. Although the professionals used hand-for-hand play to increase their stacks, it was the scared-money players who prolonged the bubble for an extended period of time, with many players doing their best to hold on while whittling down to their final few big blinds.

Among those who failed to make the money was 97-year-old Jack Ury, who continues to break his own record each year as the oldest player to have competed in the main event.

Finally, after more than an hour of play, the bubble burst when Tim McDonald moved all in with pocket queens on an A-A-2 flop. Ismail Erkenov made the easy call with A-2, for the flopped full house, and even the queen on the river couldn’t save McDonald. He was clearly disappointed, but the WSOP made McDonald a bit happier by awarding him a free entry into the 2011 main event.

Tyler and Bryn Kenney A Band of Brothers
There is definitely no shortage of sibling success at the WSOP. In 2008, both Blair and Grant Hinkle made history when they became the first brothers to win gold bracelets in the same year. In 2009, Adam and Dan Bilzerian were highlighted on ESPN when they both made deep runs in the main event. The 2010 Series was no different.

During day 3 of the main event, with about 1,200 players still remaining in the field, an extremely unlikely event occurred when Tyler Kenney’s table was broken and he was placed on his brother Bryn’s direct right. The two brothers continued to play side by side for the remainder of the day, but only Bryn was able to make the money, finishing in 28th place.

The Mizrachi brothers Donny, Eric, Michael, and Robert Michael and Robert started the Series in a big way for the Mizrachi clan when they both were able to secure a spot at the final table of the $50,000 Players Championship. “The Grinder” [Michael] went on to win the tournament and his first bracelet, along with $1,559,046 in prize money.

While it was clearly a big accomplishment for the brothers, the Mizrachis were far from done. In fact, all four Mizrachi brothers — Michael (final finishing place yet to be determined), Robert (116th), Donny (345th), and Eric (718th) — were able to navigate their way through the main event field to secure in-the-money finishes.

Scotty NguyenGood, But Not Great, Finishes
A number of notables made deep runs, including former main-event champions Scotty Nguyen and Johnny Chan. When Chan was eliminated in 156th place, we were assured that for the 22nd year in a row, the main event would see a brand-new player crowned the champion.

Breeze ZukermanRecent years have seen deep runs by a number of female players, including Maria Ho, Tiffany Michelle, and Leo Margets, but this year’s last woman standing wasn’t able to crack the top 100 spots. California resident Breeze Zuckerman claimed the 2010 honor and received a $57,102 payday for her 121st-place finish.

Other professionals who made deep runs included Christian Harder (100th), Juha Helppi (86th), David Benyamine (58th), Alexander Kostritsyn (52nd), Tony Dunst (50th), Theo Jorgensen (30th), Johnny Lodden (27th), Scott Clements (18th), David Baker (17th), and Hasan Habib (14th). Card Player 2009 Player of the Year Eric Baldwin also made an impressive showing before busting out in 59th place.

William ThorsonThe Long Grind to the Final Table
The 2006 main event was the largest in history, and William Thorson was in the mix before busting out just short of the final table in 13th place. The Team PokerStars pro was hoping to earn some redemption in 2010, but once again fell just short of the final table in 22nd place. Though clearly disappointed with the outcome, Thorson earned $317,161 as a consolation prize.

Matt AffleckThe most soul-crushing moment of the summer belonged to Matt Affleck, who was making yet another deep run in the main event for the second consecutive year. He was cruising when he got involved in a monster pot with fellow big stack Jonathan Duhamel. A four-bet raising war ensued before Affleck called to see a flop of 10-9-7. Duhamel checked and Affleck bet big. Duhamel called, and the two players saw a queen hit the turn. Affleck then moved all in, and Duhamel reluctantly made the call with pocket jacks, which were far behind Affleck’s pocket aces. Nonetheless, an 8 hit the river to complete Duhamel’s straight, and Affleck was suddenly eliminated in 15th place after being just one card away from the chip lead.

The distraught online pro buried his face in his hands as he made his exit from the Amazon room. To make matters worse, ESPN cameras followed him out into the hallway to document more of his anguish. Duhamel sheepishly dragged in his opponent’s stack to vault over the 50 million mark. He would eventually add to that to secure his spot as the “November Nine” chip leader.

Pascal LeFrancoisAfter 2010 bracelet winner Pascal LeFrancois went out in 11th place, the players convened at one table to determine who would be the final-table bubble boy. Although he started 10-handed play in ninth place, Michael Mizrachi was able to chip up during the five-hour bubble by pressuring some of the more understandably nervous players before nearly doubling his stack.

Online professionals John “JRD312” Dolan and Joseph “subiime” Cheong seemed to be unaffected by the bubble, and were able to increase their stacks significantly, moving into second and third place, respectively, behind Duhamel. Tournament regular John Racener experienced some tough luck before play was suspended, but he was still able to survive with a sizable stack in fourth place.

Brandon StevenItalian Filippo Candio, Canadian Matthew Jarvis, and Americans Soi Nguyen and Jason Senti rounded out the final nine after Brandon Steven’s A-K was unable to connect against Jarvis’ pocket queens.

In addition to the title of world champion, these final nine players will be gunning for the first-place prize of $8,944,138 in November, when the final table reconvenes. Here’s a look at the final-table seating assignments and chip counts:

Seat 1 Jason Senti 7,625,000
Seat 2 Joseph Cheong 23,525,000
Seat 3 John Dolan 46,250,000
Seat 4 Jonathan Duhamel 65,975,000
Seat 5 Michael Mizrachi 14,450,000
Seat 6 Matthew Jarvis 16,700,000
Seat 7 John Racener 19,050,000
Seat 8 Filippo Candio 16,400,000
Seat 9 Soi Nguyen 9,650,000

Spade Suit

Profiling the Youngest Main-Event Final Table in World Series of Poker History
Only One Player is a Full-Fledged Amateur
By Stephen A. Murphy

A monstrous field of 7,319 players began this tournament. Now, only nine remain. At first glance, it appears to be mostly a homogenous group. Eight of the nine players are in their 20s, and none of those eight have a job outside of poker. There’s only one true amateur ­— at the ripe old age of 37.

However, as with any group, a number of memorable story lines and personalities emerge upon closer inspection. Without further ado, Card Player unveils this year’s “November Nine.”

Jonathan DuhamelName: Jonathan Duhamel
Age: 22
Hometown: Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
Chip Count: 65.975 million, chip leader
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $118,084 (live only)
Biggest Previous Cash: $53,928, 10th-place finish at 2008 EPT Prague

He’s brash, cocky, and confident. But with how well he played on the final-table bubble and how much he dominated 10-handed play, it’s hard not to be impressed by chip leader Jonathan Duhamel.

The young Canadian pro went from around 40 million in chips to nearly 66 million in chips in the time that it took for the tournament to go from 10-handed play to the final nine players. He was opening nearly every pot and reraising quite a bit, as his fellow competitors were laying their hands down to guarantee making the November Nine.

“Everybody was so tight; so, because I was the chip leader, I had to abuse that and raise a lot of pots, and that’s what I did,” said Duhamel, who has been playing poker for about five or six years.

He dropped out of college after one year as a finance student to pursue poker as a profession. Now, he is in great shape to win the second-largest live tournament in history — and he’s not afraid to predict how it’s going to go in November.

“I’m going to win, 100 percent. I’m the best,” said Duhamel, smiling widely as he delivered the line. But to leave no doubt, he repeated later in the interview, “I’m going to play the best poker game I’ve ever played, and win that thing.”

John DolanName: John Dolan
Age: 24
Hometown: Bonita Springs, Florida
Chip Count: 46.25 million, second in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $945,063
Biggest Previous Cash: $94,500, first place in the $1,000 Monday event on Full Tilt Poker in February 2009

Like many young online-poker pros, John Dolan dropped out of college to pursue the game. But that doesn’t mean he won’t tell you that it was a major mistake.

“I definitely left school too early,” said Dolan, a 24-year-old pro who has been a consistent winner online. “I ran really good in the beginning and ran up a decent bankroll, but I really had no clue what a downswing consisted of at the high stakes. I wasn’t really prepared to drop out.”

Despite objections from his family, Dolan dropped out of Florida State to take up poker full time. After struggling for a while, and taking jobs at various restaurants and as a poker dealer, he eventually landed on his feet.

Now, with nearly $1 million in tournament winnings prior to making the main-event final table, he will return in November as one of the more experienced players remaining. With more than double the chips than all but one opponent, he is in great position to secure his spot in poker history.

But whether or not he wins it all, he is planning on going back to the classroom.
“I’ve said that many times [that he would go back to get his degree], so I guess we will see after this if I’m just full of it or not,” said Dolan.

Joseph CheongName: Joseph Cheong
Age: 24
Hometown: La Mirada, California
Chip Count: 23.525 million, third in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $307,772
Biggest Previous Cash: $55,022, first place in a mini-FTOPS Full Tilt Online Poker Series $30 rebuy event in May 2009

For some players, it might’ve proved to be too much to handle, a fatal turning point that put them on tilt and sent their chips spewing. But for Joseph Cheong, it was merely a bump in the road as he recovered from one of the nastiest beats of day 8 to still make the November Nine with a healthy chip stack of 23.5 million, good enough for third place overall.

With 15 players remaining, Cheong got his money in good, then watched as the turn and river came out horribly wrong, sending most of his stack across the felt. After three-betting with aces preflop, his aggressive image almost made him the massive chip leader when Filippo Candio called off his entire stack with just 7-5 on a board of 6-6-5. But running cards gave Candio a straight and sent Cheong down the leader board.

But the young pro never faltered. After losing the hand, he shrugged, slid over his chips, and immediately began rebuilding his stack.

“I just thought about how lucky I was to get this far in the first place,” Cheong said he told himself at that moment. “I’m still alive and I still have plenty of chips.”

Sure enough, he rebounded well to secure one of the top spots at the final table.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Cheong moved to America when he was about 6 or 7, and earned two degrees at UCSD [University of California, San Diego], a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in a double major, mathematics and economics. But even with those diplomas, he admits that he’s never had a 9-to-5 job, as he went right into the poker world in full force after college. With more than $300,000 in tournament winnings, primarily online, he’s looking to make a huge addition to his career totals in November.

John RacenerName: John Racener
Age: 24
Hometown: Port Richey, Florida
Chip Count: 19.05 million, fourth in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $1.73 million
Biggest Previous Cash: $379,392, first place in the 2007 WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City

When John Racener was 16 years old, he asked his mom to put $50 into an online-poker account for him, using her credit card. To his surprise, she agreed. Within a year or two, Racener ran that $50 up to more than $30,000.

“My family has always been supportive,” said Racener. “And I’ve always been competitive at everything I do. It’s in my blood.”

Not only was Racener self-taught, he was a quick learner, and admittedly was on an incredible hot streak when he first started playing the game.

“I had a very good bankroll right off the bat, because I killed the cash games right away, and the first time that I ever played what is now the Sunday Million — it used to be the Sunday $500,000 tournament — I won it for $130,000 against 3,300 people. I was maybe 18 or 19,” said Racener.

After getting his Associate of Arts degree from Florida Southern, Racener has been a regular on the tournament trail, highlighted by a win in a WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City in 2007.

This was his fourth year at the World Series of Poker. Every single year, he has made a final table. In November, he will try to do what he has so far been unable to do — win a bracelet.
“This is a dream come true,” said Racener.

Matthew JarvisName: Matthew Jarvis
Age: 25
Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Chip Count: 16.7 million, fifth in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $295,280
Biggest Previous Cash: $103,000, after chopping the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up in August 2009

As the main event began, 7,319 players had a lot on their minds. They were harboring dreams of making a deep run, imagining what they would do with that nearly $9 million first-place prize.

Matthew Jarvis also had a lot on his mind, but not all of it was as light as the rest of his optimistic opponents. As the 2010 main event began, his dad was beginning chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.

“He got diagnosed with cancer right before this trip. He has throat cancer and cancer on the tonsils, as well,” said Jarvis. “It was a real shocker. It came out of nowhere. He’s a pretty healthy guy, and it was just really weird. I was thinking about staying home and being with him, and skipping the Series this year, but he said, ‘No, I want you to go.’”

So, Jarvis left Canada for Las Vegas, trying to stay focused on poker as best he could.
“It’s been really tough,” Jarvis admitted, but he said that he couldn’t help but notice how much his dad’s mood improved as he was making his main-event run. “Whenever I talk to him, he’s so excited that I’m doing so well; it’s almost keeping him positive through this whole situation. I feel like he’s been here with me.”

Jarvis called his father and his mother up to six times each day, giving them periodic updates on how he was doing.

“They’ve always been super supportive,” said Jarvis.

Although he is one of eight “November Niners” who do not have a job outside of poker, he is the only one who is cautious about using the term “pro” in referring to himself. He plays $5-$10 and $10-$20 no-limit hold’em cash games live, and has had some notable online results under the screen name “jarfish.”

However, he does admit that playing poker is more enjoyable than his last few jobs, which include working the graveyard shift in a lumber mill, being employed at a café, and even going door-to-door selling CUTCO knives.

Jarvis said that during the four-month break, he is planning on spending a lot of time with his family, and is considering getting a poker coach.

Filippo CandioName: Filippo Candio
Age: 26
Hometown: Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
Chip Count: 16.4 million, sixth in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $40,430 (live only)
Biggest Previous Cash: $11,412, 97th place in 2010 EPT Deauville main event

Last year, England and France made appearances at the main-event final table, courtesy of James Akenhead and Antoine Saout. This year, Italian pro Filippo Candio is Europe’s last hope, and the 26-year-old couldn’t be more excited about it.

During interviews, Candio was blowing kisses to the cameras while offering photographers a variety of poses. Perhaps no player smiled and laughed so much en route to the final table, as the happy-go-lucky Italian seemed to be having the time of his life during every tense moment of the tournament.

“I love people, and I hope that people love me,” said Candio. “Amongst my friends, when there is a problem, I’m the first to resolve it. … I think I’m a good guy. I’m friendly with all.”

Candio is fortunate to be at the final table, after drawing out against Cheong in a massive hand when there were just 15 players left. But he hasn’t forgotten that, remaining modest in interviews and praising his fellow players.

“I respect my opponents so much, especially Duhamel,” said Candio. “I would like to become a better player, because my opponents are incredible.”

Candio said that he plans on getting a coach during the break, in hopes of bringing Italy its first main-event bracelet.

The young Italian has been playing hold’em since the age of 21, and professionally for two years. He studied the classics in school — Greek and Latin — and went to school to study law before dropping out to pursue poker.

Michael MizrachiName: Michael Mizrachi
Age: 29
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Chip Count: 14.45 million, seventh in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $8.9 million
Biggest Previous Cash: $1.86 million, first place in 2005 L.A. Poker Classic main event

Going into this summer, Michael Mizrachi had yet to win his first WSOP bracelet. But by this fall, one might be able to make a compelling case that he’s the greatest tournament poker player in history.

“The Grinder” is this year’s Phil Ivey — a big-name TV pro looking to do the almost impossible, outlast thousands to win the main event.

Mizrachi’s results have been beyond impressive. With a minimum ninth-place payout of $811,823 in the main event, he will pass T.J. Cloutier to move into 12th place on the all-time money list. If he gets third place in November, he’ll move all the way to second place on the all-time list, replacing Daniel Negreanu.

If Mizrachi gets second or first place, Ivey will no longer be poker’s biggest tournament winner in history. That distinction would belong to The Grinder.

“No one would even be close to me [on the all-time list if he won],” said Mizrachi. “It’d be an amazing feeling, since I’ve been playing tournament poker just since 2004.”

It’s been quite a year for Mizrachi. After becoming the topic of a Florida newspaper story that publicized his overdue taxes, he has had one of the best _WSOP_s in the modern era. He won the $50,000 Players Championship, for his first bracelet and $1.56 million, and then proceeded to make another three final tables, including the main event.

The Grinder said that the newspaper story, as well as not being picked in a popular fantasy-poker draft amongst the high-stakes pros, was all the motivation he needed this summer.

“I kept my head up, stayed focused, and played my game,” said Mizrachi. “It definitely motivated me.”

Soi NguyenName: Soi Nguyen
Age: 37
Hometown: Santa Ana, California
Chip Count: 9.65 million, eighth in chips
Biggest Previous Cash: $1,980, 69th place in an L.A. Poker Classic event

The main-event final table may have been inundated with amateurs the past few years, but in 2010, there is only one — Soi Nguyen.

Like many casual players of the game, Nguyen had fantasized about playing in the main event ever since he watched Chris Moneymaker win it all on ESPN seven years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the main event. Ever since I saw Chris Moneymaker play in the main event, I said, ‘I’m going to give it a shot one day,’” said Nguyen. “I talked to my boss and told him I was going to take some time off and try it, just so I could look back and say, ‘At least I played in it once.’”

Well, Nguyen has accomplished in one tournament what many poker players fail to accomplish in hundreds: He has made the final table.
It’s an accomplishment that is all the more stunning when considering his relative inexperience.

“My background in poker is very limited. I’ve gone to play poker maybe five or six times in the last three years. That’s how little experience I have in this game,” said Nguyen. “I have played in only a couple of tournaments before.”

Fortunately for Nguyen, he has some talented friends. He grew up with Nam and Tommy Le, two respected pros, and also had Tuan Le and Chino Rheem cheering him on.

“I have a couple of friends who play professional poker, and I’ve known them since I was a kid. We played poker as kids, but nothing serious,” said Nguyen, who works at a medical supply company as the head of its authorization billing department.

Despite entering November eighth in chips, he firmly believes that he has a shot to win.

“I think that everyone sitting at the final table has a chance to win this thing,” he said.

Jason SentiName: Jason Senti
Age: 25
Hometown: St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Chip Count: 7.625 million, ninth in chips
Lifetime Tournament Winnings: $65,112
Biggest Previous Cash: $47,125, fifth place in the $5,000 Spring Championship of Online Poker event in May 2010

Don’t be fooled. Just because Jason Senti doesn’t have too many tournament cashes to his name, it doesn’t mean that he’s not a top-notch pro. Just ask Phil Galfond.

Galfond, one of the best online cash-game pros, has a piece of Senti in the main event, so you can be sure that the player known as “OMGClayAiken” will be rooting hard to see his friend improve upon his short-stack status.

“I hung in there well enough to sneak through,” Senti said after he made the final table.

Senti plays mostly cash games online, from $5-$10 to $25-$50 no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha.

“I started in 5¢-10¢ no-limit hold’em cash games, and quickly worked my way up,” said Senti.

The Minnesota pro played only three WSOP events this summer, since he isn’t a fan of the World Series grind. But that third event he played, the main event, has made it more than worth his while.

The former electrical/software engineer is the short stack heading into November, but he’s hoping to make a quick double-up to become a legitimate threat for the title.

Senti also plays guitar and sings in a rock band back home.

The cash-game pro said that he’s going to take it fairly easy in the next few months, but is considering going to London to compete in the World Series of Poker Europe. Spade Suit