The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event started on July 7, 2012 with 6,598 players each putting up $10,000 to create a $62,031,385 prize pool. Today, after about a 3 month break, the final nine players ("The October Nine") will meet again at the Rio in Las Vegas and fight for the remaining $27,285,025 in prize money and, of course, the world champion title!
Jesse Sylvia, from the U.S., will bring the largest stack of chips to the final table. With 43.8 million chips Sylvia has about 14 million more than his closest opponent Andras Koroknai - the only non-American on the final table. The final table begins in about 4 hours and the plan is to play until only 3 players remain. Below is the final table line up (ranked by stack size) and some brief information on all the players.
Jesse Sylvia (43.87 million) Jesse Sylvia, 26, had cashed just 1 time at the World Series of Poker ($1,500 6-Max NLH in 2011 for $2,954) before making it to the 2012 Main Event final table, where he's guaranteed at least $754,798! Sylvia is a full-time live cash game player and a member of 888poker. He's originally from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, but now resides in Las Vegas and plays between 40-60 hours of poker every week.
Andras Koroknai (29.37 million) Andras Koroknai is 30-year-old professional poker player from Debrecen, Hungary. Koroknai is best known for his victory at the 2010 World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic for just over $1.7 million. He has 2 WSOP cashes under his belt including a 339th place in the 2010 Main Event for $36,463. Koroknai will bring the second largest stack to the October Nine final table, and he's the only non-U.S. player on the final table. In fact, he's the first Hungarian player in WSOP history to make a Main Event final table.
Gregory Merson (28.72 million) Greg Merson, 24, has been called the 2012 version of Ben Lamb thanks to his fantastic achievements at the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker. He entered a total of 7 events and cashed in four of them, including his win of Event #57 ($10k NLH Six-Handed) for amazing $1,136,197! He needs to finish 7th or better on the October Nine final table to beat that cash. But he probably won't cry out loud if he finishes 9th ($754k) or 8th ($971,252), though.
Russel Thomas (24.80 million) Russel Thomas is 24-year-old actuary by trade from Hartford, Connecticut. He finished 248th in the 2011 Main Event and also reached a final table at the 2010 WSOP. Thomas admitted in an interview that he hasn't played much since Black Friday and that his main focus always has been on playing cash-games. Let's hope that he's ready for the final table!
Steven Gee (16.86 million) Steven Gee, 57, is the oldest member on the final table and he joins Greg Merson as the only WSOP bracelet winners who remain. Gee basically made it to the final table thanks to hand during Day 7 in which a lucky river card gave him a straight in a 3-way all-in with only 20 players left. It will be intersting to see if the poker gods will side with him tonight as well!
Michael Esposito (16.26 million) Michael Esposito is a 43-year-old commodity broker from New York. He has lifetime tournament earnings of just over $170,000 heading into the 2012 Main Event final table, where he's now guaranteed to take home at least $754,798. This is not the first time he's been on the WSOP stage. In 2006, he finished 540th in the Main Event, and in 2009 he finished 142nd in a 6-handed $1,500 NLH event. However, his first tournament cash dates back to 2002 at in a Seven Card Stud event at the World Poker fInals at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, Esposito. The very next year he finished 16 in another Foxwoods event.
Robert Salaburu (15.15 million) Robert Salaburu, 27, from San Antonio, Texas, started playing poker at the age of 16. He started playing poker online during college and decided to drop out and try to make a living from it. He also played a lot of live cash games in the beginning of his career, but eventually he switched to online tournament. However, since Black Friday he has been forced to play live again. Besides poker, he is trying to start a car lot business to make some extra money. In total, he had less than $50,000 in live tournament earnings before entering the main event, so the prize money he will win on the final table will defiantly come in handy.
Jacob Balsiger (13.11 million) Jacob Balsiger is the 21-years-old student who used to play $5 tournaments back in middle school and get really happy when he won $30. Now he can win a bit more than that since he's already guaranteed $754,798 - with the chance of taking home the first place prize of amazing $8,527,982. Also, if he wins, he will become the youngest Main Event winner in WSOP history. No matter what happens on the final table, Balsinger will return to Arizona State University as one of the most popular kids.
Jeremy Ausmus (9.8 million) Jeremy Ausmus, 32, got "infected" by poker after high school, by seeing the cult movie 'Rounders'. He moved from Colorado to Las Vegas in 2005, where he's supporting his wife and two kids by playing live poker. In total, he had 9 cashes at the 2012 WSOP and 14 throughout his career. Although he has the smallest stack of all the finalists, he's one of the most experienced tournament players and not to count out as a potential winner!