It’s Day 6 of the World Series of Poker Main Event and the race to the November Nine is entering its final stages. At time of writing 56 players remain, and there are some big stars among them. Here are the men we recognise, and what we know about them.
Hallaert is a familiar face on the European circuit, both at the tables and presiding over them. He is the organiser of the Belgian Poker Challenge, sponsored by PokerStars, which is the biggest tournament series in his native country.
He was chip leader at the end of Day 3 and has been a big stack ever since.
For a long period, Benger was best known as an online beast, where he goes by the moniker “Flush_Entity”.
With $4 million in recorded winnings on PokerStars alone, he is also a former world No 1. Benger has moved out of the online world with great success in recent years, booking his first major tournament win in the High Roller event at EPT Berlin in April 2013.
He then took a seat in the PokerStars Shark Cage…and you should head over to PokerStars.tv to see how that worked out for him.
If there’s anyone in the world of poker who doesn’t know William Kassouf by now, they haven’t been looking or listening. Kassouf is the exceptionally talkative master of speech play, who yesterday talked his way to a one-round penalty, but who is now on the television stage and will, when the episode airs later this year, become a star.
Among the best-known (and, simply, best) high stakes heads up players in the world, Jason Les is enjoying his second deep run in huge World Series events this summer.
He finished 15th in the High Roller for One Drop a week ago, picking up $216,814.
Les also became well known a year ago when he took on and beat the most sophisticated poker bot, proving that there’s still hope for the humans for when the robot apocalypse occurs.
(Les survived a full day on the same table as William Kassouf yesterday too. There should be an additional prize for that.)
Only one man has been to two November Nine final tables: Mark Newhouse, who finished ninth in 2014 and 2015. But Saout has the chance of booking his own return visit to the November jamboree.
He finished third in 2009, the year Joe Cada won, but was considered to be the best player at the table by many commentators.
Best falsetto: “You know you make me Antoine Saout!”
Konopelko has also been to a World Series Main Event final table before–albeit the World Series of Poker Europe, where he finished seventh in 2013.
Konopelko is a regular on the European Poker Tour, booking his best finish in Barcelona in 2013.
He was chip-leader going into Day 4 of that event, which was the only time we’ve managed to prise some words out of the unflappable Belarusian.
“Some luck, some good play, some bluff,” he said.
Josephy can, in some ways, claim to have already won the World Series Main Event–in addition to the two bracelets he earned in 2005 and 2013.
Renowned and respected as a backer of poker players, he had a huge piece of Joe Cada when he won the big one in 2009.
“JohnnyBax”, as he is known online, is also a former world No 1.
It’s not known what stake he has in any of the other 50 players, but there’s a high chance Josephy will have an interest still in November, whether or not it’s actually him seated at the final table.
While we’re on the subject of winning major tournaments, let’s just take a quick look at Dan Colman. Between April 2014 and June 2015, Colman picked up 11 tournament scores of six figures or more, including five of more than $1 million and $15 million for first place in the Big One for One Drop.
Before that, Colman was best known as “mrgr33n13” online, where he became the first player ever to book a profit of more than $1 million in hyper-turbo tournaments.
These days, he is mostly putting his acumen to good use in various philanthropic ventures, but clearly thought he’d just drop in on Las Vegas to win the Main Event. Why not, if you’ve got a spare two weeks.
A British favourite, and a particular friend of PokerStars Blog, Max Silver has been on a spectacular rise through the poker ranks over the past few years.
He first emerged on the scene at the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), making three final tables including one outright victory, and is now more regularly seen in the high roller events on the EPT.
This deep run will finally introduce one of Britain’s best to the American public too.
Nobody doubts anymore that online players aren’t the best in the world at this game, and James “Andy McLEOD” Obst is among the cream of the crop.
He has four SCOOP titles on PokerStars–even though, in his own words, he feels he has “significantly underachieved”.
Obst was heads up for the $10,000 HORSE tournament in Las Vegas this summer and is, in my very humble opinion, a smart pick to win the Main Event.
When the money bubble burst, there were at least 11 former EPT champions still in the Main Event field but now, with 56 players left, only Tom Middleton (Barcelona 2013) remains.
The final table in Barcelona was notable not only for Middleton’s superlative play, but also for a pretty unusual deal-making negotiation, to which PokerStars Blog was all ears.
(It’s worth noting that Middleton, as “hitthehole” online, has more than $4 million in record winnings too.)
Update: Middleton was eliminated from the Main Event in 56th place.
The European Poker Tour is not the European Poker Tour without Jeff Hakim. He has barely missed a stop since making his debut around Season 5.
He has 12 EPT main event cashes under his belt, including a final table appearance in Deauville in 2013, but is now actually guaranteed the biggest live tournament score of his career.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s a mark. As “Jeff710” on PokerStars and “YoungSupremacy” on Full Tilt, Hakim has more than $7 million in online tournament scores.
One bracelet and $5 million in live tournament earnings would probably be enough for most poker players, but Paul Volpe does his best work at PokerStars.
In the live arena, Volpe is most devastating in the high buy in events, with WSOP final tables in the deuce-to-seven championship event, the $10,000 Heads Up tournament and the $10,000 pot-limit hold’em.
Tom Marchese’s tournament record is one of the best in the world. With $13.2 million as his total, you would expect that.
But it wasn’t until he sat down at the inaugural North American Poker Tour (NAPT) event in 2010 that Marchese actually won his first live tournament–a breakout that has then led to 12 more major tournament triumphs since.
His heater glowed hottest in January this year, when Marchese won two $25,000 buy-in tournaments at the Aria in consecutive days.
Known as “kingsofcards” on PokerStars, there has rarely been a more appropriate screen-name.
Another very well known and highly rated star on the European Poker Tour, Vojech Ruzicka seems set to take over at the top of the Czech money list sooner or later.
Only Martin Staszko has significantly more than Ruzicka in recorded tournament wins, and that’s largely thanks to his second place at the 2011 Main Event.
Ruzicka won a high roller event in Deauville a few years ago, beating a final two tables that featured Adrian Mateos, Davidi Kitai, Kevin MacPhee, Jonathan Duhamel, Steven Silverman, Bryn Kenney and Martin Jacobson.
Yeah, Ruzicka is that good.
Ask any top-ranking poker player to name who they consider to be in the top five at the game and a huge percentage of them will namecheck Tony Gregg.
With $11 million in live tournament winnings (and quite probably a whole lot more than that from cash tables in Macau and beyond) Gregg is a real player’s player.
He has also been to the PCA main event final table three times, most recently in January this year when only Mike Watson outlasted him.
Chris Klodnicki (United States)
Klodnicki is the only man still in the field who was mentioned on PokerStars Blog when the site looked like this.
As if that accolade wasn’t enough for him, he has more than $8 million in live tournament winnings, including a couple of huge scores in high buy-in WSOP events.
This is his eighth cash this year and seems well set to make it all the way to the final after that close call in 2008.
Dietrich Fast (Germany)
If it wasn’t for Fedor Holz and Dan Colman, whose tournament heaters have been white hot, Dietrich Fast would be getting a lot more press.
In October last year, he won his first WSOP bracelet at the European event and followed up with his maiden WPT title in February.
He was back at a WPT final table in March. Update: Fast was eliminated from the Main Event in 55th place.
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WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.