The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino is abuzz once again, and it's poker that's drawn the crowds inside today for the penultimate time in 2010. Walk down the long hall from the Amazon Room towards the Penn & Teller Theater and you'll see the first signs of life as a line of wall-leaners begins to form along one side of the corridor. A middle-aged woman wearing a "Grinder" hat. A group of face-painted frat boys huddled around a cooler. A young couple talking over each other in machine-gun Italian. Sasquatch. The line is growing by the minute, and this hallway will soon be packed with poker fans, friends, and family ready for the biggest show in town.
When last we left these halls, the Wall of Bracelets in the Pavillion was all bare except for one shiny piece of World Series of Poker jewelry. There, alone on the stage, the bracelet sat waiting for its new owner as the Main Event field was slowly whittled down from its starting field of 7,319 players. Two weeks of poker were required to shrink that number down to a manageable nine, each of them given a check for more than $800,000 and a Vegas-bound plane ticket with today's date on it. We're left with just our November Nine, then, a promising final table from which will emerge our new World Champion of poker.
Bios of our nine finalists are posted below for you to peruse, and there are a ton of interesting story lines to be found as you dig deeper into the intel.
The eyes of the poker world are on Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi today, the most accomplished pro at this table and the closest thing 2010 has to Phil Ivey at this final table. Speaking of Ivey, Grinder has a shot at taking one of the legend's records away from him before it's all said and done. Closing in on $10 million in career earnings already, a first- or second-place finish this weekend would move Mizrachi ahead of Ivey and into the top spot as the winningest poker player ever. Ever. And boy, would that Main Event bracelet look nice on the mantle next to his other piece of Championship hardware from 2010, the one-off $50,000 Players' Championship bracelet.
The other eight will all be battling for their first WSOP bracelets, and it's anyone's guess who'll be there for the final heads-up showdown on Monday. Among them we have another sponsored pro (John Racener), a pair of Canadians (Matthew Jarvis and Jonathan Duhamel), a college dropout (John Dolan), an online monster (Jason Senti), a South Korean (Joseph Cheong), an amateur (Soi Nguyen), and an Italian (Filippo Candio), the first from his country to make it this close to a Main Event bracelet.
It's the Super Bowl of poker, and it's today! We'll be back with all of the action just before noon local time, and we'll be bringing you every single hand in real time. Get comfortable, grab yourself some popcorn or a tasty beverage of your choosing, and get back here before the cards go flying.