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2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Preview

A Look At The 2012 October Nine


It’s been more than three months since the final table of the 2012 World Series of Poker main event was decided on July 17th at 12:36 AM PST.

Thanks to the presidential election in early November, this year’s October Nine are set to return to battle it out starting at 4:30 PM PST on October 29th in the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio Hotel and Casino in front of thousands of fans and millions of ESPN viewers at home. The action is sure to be intense with the title, championship gold bracelet and $8,531,853 first-place prize on the line.

Here are the official final table chip counts:

Seat Player Name Chip Count Age Country
1 Russell Thomas 24,800,000 24 USA
2 Jacob Balsiger 13,115,000 21 USA
3 Jeremy Ausmus 9,805,000 32 USA
4 Steven Gee 16,860,000 56 USA
5 Greg Merson 28,725,000 24 USA
6 Jesse Sylvia 43,875,000 26 USA
7 Robert Salaburu 15,155,000 27 USA
8 Andras Koroknai 29,375,000 30 Hungary
9 Michael Esposito 16,260,000 43 USA

6,598 players entered this year, the fifth largest turnout in main event history, building a $62 million prize pool. A total of 666 players made the money, but now only nine remain and there is still more than $27 million to play for. All players have already been paid ninth-place money, and here He is a look at the rest of the final-table payouts:

1. $8,527,982
2. $5,292,889
3. $3,797,558
4. $2,850,494
5. $2,154,616
6. $1,640,461
7. $1,257,790
8. $971,252
9. $754,798

With so much money on the line, a number of the October Nine opted to hire tournament poker coaches in the months leading up to the final table, with a number of high-profile players like Vanessa Selbst, Jason Somerville and Mike McDonald among the hired coaches.

With all eyes on this exciting and prestigious final table, its no surprise that betting lines have been established on this main event final table. The opening lines had chip leader Jesse Sylvia as the favorite, with a line of of 3/2.

If you missed the action on ESPN, Card Player has narrowed down the footage to include only the key hands played by members of the final table.

The event resumes with 1 hour, 9 minutes, 45 seconds left in Level 34, with antes of 40,000 and blinds at 150,000 and 300,000. Andras Koroknai has the button, while the small blind will be Michael Esposito and Russell Thomas will have the big blind.

Play will continue until on Monday, Oct. 29th until only three players remain and play is halted for the night. Play recommences on Tuesday Oct. 30th at 5:45 p.m. and go on until the new world champion is determined.

Card Player has released profiles of each of the final nine players, with background info and video interviews, which you can check out by clicking on the finalists’ names below.

Name: Jesse Sylvia
Age: 26
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $15,078
Chip count: 43,875,000
More: The chip leader in seat six is Jesse Sylvia with 43.8 million. The West Tisbury, Massachusetts native won a massive coinflip against Robert Salaburu when his KSpade SuitQHeart Suit overcame pocket jacks to vault him up the leaderboard. He never looked back. Sylvia’s biggest score to date was a runner-up finish in a Caesar’s Palace $225 buy-in event for $15,000. Now, he’s a favorite to capture $8.5 million.

Name: Andras Koroknai
Age: 30
Location: Debrecen, Hungary
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $1,788,001
Chip count: 29,375,000
More: Second in chips is Hungary’s Andras Korkonai, with nearly 29.4 million. The 30-year old World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic winner was involved in a controversial hand earlier in the tournament were he faced possible elimination at the hands of Gaelle Baumann’s pocket kings. Koroknai mistakenly went all-in after mucking his cards, thinking he had won the pot. In the end, the ruling went in his favor and he survived. He went on to eliminate Baumann on the final-table bubble.

Name: Greg Merson
Age: 25
Location: Laurel, Maryland
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $1,136,197
Chip count: 28,725,000
More: Third in chips is 2012 WSOP bracelet winner Greg Merson, with 28.7 million. The Laurel, Maryland native took down the $10,000 buy-in six-max championship for $1.1 million just days before the main event began and is now in a great position to make a run at this title. Merson is now also a major contender in the Card Player Player of the Year race, in which he will take the lead if he finishes in second place or wins.

Name: Russell Thomas
Age: 24
Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Career: Actuary
Largest score prior to main event: $84,256
Chip count: 24,800,000
More: Fourth in chips is Russell Thomas with 24.8 million. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native has accumulated more than $125,000 in prior tournament earnings, with three prior WSOP cashes. Thomas underwent an in-depth, three-month training course with coach Jason Somerville in preparation for this final table.

Name: Steven Gee
Age: 57
Location: Sacramento, California
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $472,479
Chip count: 16,860,000
More: Fifth in chips is Steven Gee, with 16.8 million. He’s the final table’s elder statesman at 57-years-old. Gee is brings decades of cash game experience to the table, as well as a WSOP gold bracelet from 2010 and more than $500,000 in prior tournament earnings.

Name: Michael Esposito
Age: 44
Location: Seaford, New York
Career: Commodity Broker
Largest score prior to main event: $47,310
Chip count: 16,260,000
More: Coming into the final in sixth is Michael Esposito, with 16.2 million. The 43-year-old Seaford, New York resident has 18 career cashes to his name totaling $164,000, with his largest score coming from a final table finish in a 2005 WSOP Circuit main event in Atlantic City.

Name: Robert Salaburu
Age: 27
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $5,496
Chip count: 15,155,000
More: Seventh in chips is Robert Salaburu, with 15.1 million. The 27-year-old Texan has been playing poker for more than a decade, mostly online. He will blow his prior earnings out of the water even with a ninth-place finish.

Name: Jake Balsiger
Age: 21
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Career: College Student
Largest score prior to main event: $3,970
Chip count: 13,115,000
More: Eighth in chips is Jacob Balsiger, with 13.1 million. At 21 years old, the Oregon native and current Arizona State University student is the youngest player at the final table, and he has only been eligible to play in casinos for a short while. Thus, he has little in the way of live tournament earnings. That’s all about to change in October.

Name: Jeremy Ausmus
Age: 32
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Career: Professional poker player
Largest score prior to main event: $190,000
Chip count: 9,805,000
More: Rounding out the final table is short stack Jeremy Ausmus, with 9.8 million in chips. The 32-year-old Las Vegas resident has 21 career cashes totaling more than $425,000 in earnings, with his biggest score coming from a third-place finish in a $5,000 no-limit hold’em event at the Bicycle Casino for nearly $200,000.