Las Vegas – The quest for poker’s crown jewel and the richest prize in live poker history is down to nine players at the 37th annual World Series of Poker presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light.
Nine players will gather at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino tomorrow at 2 p.m. to take their seats at poker’s most prestigious table. The winner will walk away with USD 12 million, instant fame, and the most coveted prize in poker: the World Series of Poker champion’s bracelet. In a World Series of Poker first, ESPN is making the final table action available via pay-per-view.
„This is a chance for these players to win not only the largest single payout in live poker history but also the game’s most coveted prize – the World Series of Poker champion’s bracelet,“ said World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.
The nine players, all of whom will become millionaires, are:
Gold, a 36-year-old television producer from Malibu, Calif., heads into the final table as the chip leader. Gold learned to player from his mother and by taking part in regular home games, but he also has had an expert tutor in friend and 10-time gold bracelet winner Johnny Chan. Gold said he wants to win the tournament to make his father, who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), proud in the little time he has left. Chip count: USD 25,650,000.
The only household name to make the final table, 29-year-old Cunningham came of age with some of poker’s biggest names, including Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda. With four World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, including one earlier this year, the understated Las Vegas resident remains well positioned going into the final table. Chip count: USD 17,770,000.
Lee was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and now resides in San Antonio. The 55-year-old investor has been playing poker for 40 years; he is married with three children. This marks the second year Lee has played in the World Series of Poker. His greatest poker moment was going from 185,000 in chips to 2,350,000 in chips during a single day of the Main Event. Chip count: USD 11,820,000.
This 23-year-old Swede has been playing poker for 10 years. A former student, Friberg is now a professional poker player. This marks the Stockholm resident’s first year participating in the World Series of Poker. Chip count: USD 9,605,000.
Wasicka, whose nickname is „Kwickfish,“ taught himself to play poker 2.5 years ago with the help of some friends. A former bartender and restaurant manager, the 25-year-old counts „sucking out on aces“ as a hobby. Prior to making the Main Event final table, the Westminster, Colo., resident’s best finish came earlier this year, when he placed 15th in another tournament. Chip count: USD 7,970,000.
Kim is a 22-year-old a resident of Hartsdale, N.Y., who has been playing poker for four years. The financial consultant has an economics degree from Duke University and counts guitar playing and video games as his hobbies. He learned to play poker through a friend and considers his greatest poker moment „making kings fold pre-flop without having aces.“ Chip count: USD 6,770,000.
Butler, an insurance agent from Rockville, Md., is making an impressive debut at the World Series of Poker, thus far outlasting all but eight of the record 8,773 entrants in this year’s Main Event. The 44-year-old father of three can be found on the golf links when not seated at a poker table. He learned to play poker from his father 25 years ago and said he is playing in the tournament for his family and friends. Chip count: USD 4,815,000.
This 29-year-old Atherton, Calif. resident describes himself as a professional poker player and part-time theoretical physicist – he earned a PhD in theoretical particle physics from Stanford earlier this year. Binger has been playing poker for six years, and this marks the second year he has played in the World Series of Poker. In addition to making the final table of the Main Event, he made the final table of a USD 1,500 buy-in event earlier in the tournament and won USD 100,000. Chip count: USD 3,140,000.
Nassif taught himself to play poker three years ago. He has entered the World Series of Poker twice, with this final table appearance being by far his greatest performance. The 33-year-old account executive lives in St. Louis and enjoys golfing when he isn’t playing poker. Chip count: USD 2,600,000.
The nine remaining players represent all that remains of the largest field of participants ever to enter a live poker tournament, 8773. The previous record of 5,619 players was set at the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event, won by Joseph Hachem of Melbourne, Australia. Hachem pocketed a then-record USD 7.5 million.
In addition to the USD 12 million top prize, the following amounts will
be paid to the other top finishers:
2nd place: USD 6,102,499
3rd place: USD 4,123,310
4th place: USD 3,628,513
5th place: USD 3,216,182
6th place: USD 2,803,851
7th place: USD 2,391,520
8th place: USD 1,979,189
9th place: USD 1,566,858