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Poker pros and media make their final table selections

2 November 2009

The World Series of Poker Main Event final table begins this Saturday and, as usual, everyone has their opinions on who will win. Casino City sent out an informal poll to a number of poker professionals and members of the poker media to find out who they're picking and why.

Out of the 17 responses we received (9 members of the media, 8 poker pros), Eric Buchman was the top choice to win, getting six first-place votes. Phil Ivey was second with five votes while chipleader Darvin Moon got four. Joe Cada and Kevin Schaffel had one person each pick them to outlast the rest.

Below you will find the complete set of ballots, as well as some well-thought out analysis from some of our respondents. We thank all of you who responded. See you at the Rio on Saturday.

Casino City's Managing Editor Vin Narayanan:
Winner: Eric Buchman
Runner-up: Antoine Saout
The quiet Europeans did very well at last year's November Nine. Saout is this year's quiet European that will make noise.
Third-place: Jeff Shulman
Phil Ivey will finish 4th

* * *

Casino City's Senior Editor Gary Trask
Winner: Joe Cada
Runner-up: Eric Buchman
Third-place: Darvin Moon
Phil Ivey will finish 5th

Click here to read Gary Trask's complete betting preview of the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table.

* * *
eric_buchman

Eric Buchman comes into the final table with plenty of experience and the second-highest chip stack, leading six of the 16 poker pros and media who responded to our poll to pick him as the winner of the WSOP Main Event. (photo courtesy of PokerStars)

Casino City's Associate Editor Dan Igo
Winner: Phil Ivey
I've got to go with Phil Ivey on this one. I know he's one of the short stacks at the table, but he is the best player in the world. Plus, I took him in the Casino City WSOP Fantasy poker draft and if he wins I should be able to take that down.

Runner-up: Eric Buchman
He's second in chips, but he's not a complete nobody like Darvin Moon. Buchman has nine WSOP cashes and enough of a chip stack to be aggressive.

* * *

Poker Hall of Famer and Ambassador of Poker Mike Sexton
"I'll be rooting for Phil Ivey because I think it would be such a good thing for poker if the greatest player in the world won the greatest tournament in the world.

"But if I had to bet on somebody to win, I'd have to go with Darvin Moon. I'm picking the chips more than I'm picking the player. Moon has so many chips I think an alien from outer space could come down, not knowing anything about poker and be able to hold his own.

"If Moon could win it, he'd be the new Moneymaker. But there are a lot of great players at that table. It could be one of the more dynamic final tables in WSOP history. I can't wait to see it all unfold."

* * *

2008 WSOP Main Event Champion Peter Eastgate
Winner: Darvin Moon
Runner-up: Joe Cada

* * *

Poker pro and 2007 WSOP Main Event final tableist Hevad Khan
Winner: Phil Ivey
Runner-up: Darvin Moon

* * *

Poker pro and 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Grant Hinkle
"I think it would be best for poker if Phil Ivey wins. I will also be rooting hard for shortstack James Akenhead to win. He finished runner-up to me last year when my T4 of diamonds outdrew his AK. He is a great player and an even nicer person. If I talk to him before the final table, I would remind him that I was the shortstack going into our final table last year and he has nothing to lose heading into final table play.

"Now as for who I think will win, I think Eric Buchman will win and Phil Ivey is my second choice. Buchman is very underrated, yet very seasoned player. He has a strong stack to start with and knows how to use it. I think he has the best chance to take it down just strictly on his stack size and experience. I pick Ivey second just based on his lower stacksize, although if they were to get heads-up, I would probably change my mind on their order because its Phil "blanking" Ivey!"

peter_eastgate

Peter Eastgate thinks Joe Cada will fall just short of breaking his record as the youngest player to win the Main Event and will finish runner-up to Darvin Moon.

* * *

1983 WSOP Main Event Champion Tom McEvoy
"I think Moon will win it and Ivey will finish about 7th. It's a tough choice for 2nd and 3rd and any of several players could finish that high. I don't think Shulman will finish higher than 4th."

* * *

Poker pro and 2008 November Niner Scott Montgomery
Winner: Eric Buchman
Runner-up: Darvin Moon
Phil Ivey will finish 6th

* * *

2008 November Niner Darus Suharto
Winner: Phil Ivey
Runner-up: Eric Buchman
Third place: Darvin Moon

* * *

Veteran poker writer/editor Haley Hintze:
Winner: Eric Buchman. Buchman seems to be the most likely of the deepest stacks to handle the unique pressures of the situation. Chip leader Darvin Moon has been playing his own cards and riding his heater all along, and may succumb to a desire of assuring himself a climb into the top three or four spots, meaning a payday of $3 million or thereabouts. Begleiter's the loose wildcard here, as was Scott Montgomery last year, meaning he could win, could go out ninth, or finish anywhere in between.

Runner-up: Joe Cada. Every year, one of the early short stacks makes a serious push (re: Joe Hachem, Jerry Yang). Cada's a tough young player who's demonstrated enough live chops to be a serious threat here, and he's the best of the darkhorse picks.

The Phil Ivey Finish: Call it sixth. He's far and away the best player at the final (Happy Shulman being the clear second-best), but the cards themselves don't know that. Mathematically, Ivey will need to survive each of three potential bad beats to move into a dominant chip position, and he's less than a 30% fave to survive even if he gets his chips in good three straight times. Let's assume Ivey will pick his spots like the champ he is, but then will suffer something similar to the famed Moneymaker beat that ended Ivey's dream in 2003. If fortune does smile early, then Ivey becomes the fave to take it down, but the numbers themselves are against it.

* * *

Poker pro Yuval Brohnstein
"I think Ivey will win, which will cement this year as the greatest Main Event in history, as well as escalating Ivey's legacy to the point where he is regarded as the best player of all time, rather than just the best player of our time.

"I think Shulman will finish runner-up after an 'instant classic.' very long and grueling heads up match in which the players swap the chip lead back and forth for hours and hours and hours, and Ivey's sheer luck, 'it factor' finally prevailing.

"I predict Ivey will bust Buchman in 3rd place when both players are about even in chips, and Ivey traps Buchman to commit his stack drawing almost dead."

* * *

B.J. Nemeth, poker tournament reporter/photographer
"Predicting who will win with nine players left is closer to guesswork than science. And the chip counts are only a rough guide at this point -- Billy Kopp was the chipleader with 12 left, and busted in 12th place. At the WSOP Europe Main Event, Daniel Negreanu started the final table as the short stack, and if his pocket aces had held up, he would have won. (Negreanu started 9th, finished 2nd.)

"Having said that, I think four players have the highest likelihood of winning: Eric Buchman, Jeff Shulman, Joe Cada, and Phil Ivey. If you ran this final table 100 times, I believe they would win considerably more often than the other five, including chipleader Darvin Moon and third-in-chips Steven Begleiter.

"Moon appears to be more lucky than good, and there is still a lot of play left. If he tightens up, he'll go deep and finish in the top four, but I don't think he has what it takes to win with a structure this deep and this slow. His chip lead is less important than it would be in a lesser event with a faster final table blind structure.

"I'm going to go with my heart and pick Phil Ivey to win the WSOP Main Event. He's the best player at the table without question, and he has enough big blinds to work his magic.

scott_montgomery

Scott Montgomery was at the WSOP Main Event final table last year. This year his pick to win is Eric Buchman, followed by Darvin Moon. (photo by Vin Narayanan/Casino City)

"I believe Buchman, Shulman, Cada and Ivey are the most likely to make the final two. For this prediction, I'm going to pick Shulman as the runner-up finisher to Ivey. He has a strong combination of skill, starting chip stack, and preparation (with Hellmuth as his final table coach). I believe Phil Ivey will either finish in the top three places or the bottom three. If things go his way early, he'll pick up chips and be a threat to win. But if things go against him early, he will bust early. I don't see much chance of middle ground for Ivey -- no 4th, 5th, or 6th place finishes for him.

* * *

Steve Hall, PokerGossip.com
Winner: Eric Buchman
Runner-up: Jeff Shulman
Phil Ivey will finish seventh

* * *

Dan Cypra from Poker News Daily
"I'll go with Darvin Moon since he has 30% of the chips in play and seems like he's reluctant to fork over any of his arsenal without a fight. I think Ivey will make a run, but he seems too far down at this point for me to predict him as the winner. I'd put him in fourth place with Moon defeating Eric Buchman."

* * *

Scott Long, publisher of Ante Up Magazine
"Ante Up is Florida's Poker Magazine so I'm rooting for Floridian Kevin Schaffel. He's a solid player that could be overlooked by his competition. Darvin Moon will be runner-up. It will take several bad moves to lose 59 million in chips quickly. As for Ivey, you have to respect his game, but low on chips will mean he'll have to take some chances before others do. I say he finishes in 5th place."

* * *

John "Johnny Quads" Wenzel, Editor, Poker Pro Magazine, Poker Pro Europe
Winner: Eric Buchman
Runner-up: Phil Ivey
Third-place Darvin Moon

Poker pros and media make their final table selections is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT