Who will win the World Series of Poker Main Event?

Who will win the World Series of Poker Main Event?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

With the final table playing out in one week, who will be poker’s new champion?

Darvin Moon – 58,930,000

Eric Buchman – 34,800,000

Steven Begleiter – 29,890,000

Jeff Shulman – 19,580,000

Joe Cada – 13,220,000

Kevin Schaffel – 12,390,000

Phil Ivey – 9,770,000

Antoine Saout – 9,500,000

James Akenhead – 6,800,000

Those names and numbers have been ingrained in the poker community since July, when the final table of the World Series of Poker 2009 Main Event was decided; the players given their $1.2m cheque and the world left to stew for months.

Now we are approaching the climax of the 2009 World Series of Poker, the question on everybody’s lips is: who will win the Main Event? The presence of Phil Ivey has certainly biased the opinion polls somewhat, but who is actually in with the best chance?

Darvin Moon is a massive chipleader – in fact, no one has ever had more chips at a World Series of Poker Main Event final table. He could double up Eric Buchman and still be in third place. With over 30% of the chips in play, it’s unlikely he’ll crash and burn early.

However, he is a self-confessed amateur riding a wave of luck. While it’s a near-certainty that he’ll make the top 3, a win would take more luck than one man deserves. He also doesn’t care enough – he’s happy with a simple life, even if it belies a multi-million dollar bank account. He’d happily go home now and never return to Vegas, if ESPN would let him.

James Akenhead – he’s not a total write-off but he’s a severe underdog. With less than 23 big blinds he’s the table short stack and although he’s been at final tables before, none have been so big as this. However, anything can happen.

So, how about Phil Ivey's chances? Well, it’s certainly not impossible but he’s not the favourite. It’s very hard to say, with Ivey, in fact. On the one hand, he is one of the shorter stacks. On the other, he has over thirty times the big blind and he’s Phil Ivey. One only has to look at Daniel Negreanu’s stellar rise through the ranks at the WSOPE this year – admittedly aided by a lot of luck – to see that the impossible can be done.

Ivey is under perhaps more pressure than anyone there. He is the only one expected to win. However, this is a man without fear, a man who beat Andy Beal out of the best part of $20,000,000 (not a misprint), who gambles millions like pennies. The Ivey Factor can’t be underrated, and with luck he will certainly win it, but he has some obstacles to overcome first.

Our bets? Jeff Shulman or Eric Buchman. Both have the skill, the chips and aren’t likely to blow up in the manner of Dennis Phillips, Phillip Hilm or Lee Watkinson at past final tables. Writing an article like this and trying to predict the Main Event outcome, it becomes very apparent just how much luck there is in tournament poker.

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