Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Gary Trask
Top-10 final table tips for this year's November Nine28 September 2009
When the World Series of Poker made the decision to move the Main Event final table to November last year, it changed the dynamic of the entire tournament. The final table participants now had to go through a four-month pause in which they had to deal with interview requests and ESPN cameras poking into their personal lives. Then once they got to Las Vegas to actually sit down and play poker, the stage was much, much bigger – both literally and figuratively. They were instant celebrities in the poker world and beyond, something previous Main Event finalists never had to deal with.
This year's November Nine are currently in the midst of their four-month delay. And since the final table was decided back in mid-July, the participants have probably been getting advice from everybody they have come into contact with. But truth be told, there are really only nine other people in the world who know exactly what these guys are up against and that's the 2008 November Nine.
So we turned to two members of last year's November Nine – Darus Suharto and Scott Montgomery – to get some insight on their experiences last year
Suharto ended up finishing sixth at last year's Main Event, which was the amateur's second cash in the event. Overall, he has three WSOP cashes to his name that have earned him more than $2.4 million. Since last year he has left his job as the associate director of the internal audit department at York University in Toronto to begin his own consulting business, which has allowed him to focus more on poker.
Montgomery finished just ahead of Suharto last year in fifth place, which earned him $3,088,012. The poker pro from Canada has six WSOP cashes in his career.
Both players were willing to speak to Casino City about last year's November Nine and tell us how they dealt with the delay and the increased exposure and what they would change if given the chance again. Here's what they had to say:
10. Get yourself a coach
"I think it could have helped," Montgomery told us from his hotel room in London last week as he was preparing to play in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event. "I decided not to work with anyone because I thought it might just be confusing listening to someone else's thoughts and strategies. But looking back it would have helped if I worked with bunch of different people and talked to them about they would handle certain hands and certain situations."
9. Study your opponents
"Sometimes it's hard to find out a lot about your other opponents, but between TV coverage and talking to other people, I think I could of done a better job of studying the other guys' tendencies," he said. "For this year's guys there's plenty of info about there about how Phil Ivey plays. They should take advantage of it."
8. Don't get fooled by ESPN
"[ESPN] has to edit the coverage down so much you really only see a few hands of each guy," he said. "And the ones they show are the ones they usually win. So you really can't take too much from it. It's just too small of a sample to use it as valuable information."
7. Don't take too much time off
"I lost my edge," he admitted. "I concentrated too much on my job and not enough on poker. At the time I thought that would be good for me, but once we started playing I really felt like I was off my game early on. I would definitely recommend that these guys play as much poker as possible during the break."
Montgomery said that he did just that last year and it was definitely beneficial.
"I think it might help to take a little time off for some people, but for me it was important to keep playing," he said.
6. Don't get distracted by the media
Montgomery said that this year's players should only do what they feel comfortable with.
"Some guys like to be interviewed and some guys don't," he said. "It's that simple. If you think doing that kind of stuff is going to be a distraction, just do what's required of you and that's it. Don't do more than you feel comfortable with."
5. Get to Vegas early
"Once you get there they have a bunch of interviews for you to do and there's a lot of TV stuff that needs to be done," he said. "I think it would help to get there the day before they want you there and just get acclimated."
4. Surround yourself with family and friends
"To some people that might be a distraction, but I thought it was great to have those people there with me," he said. "It's a huge moment in your life. You want to be with the people that care about you the most."
3. Calm down
"You really have to calm your emotions because when you walk out to that table it's an amazing scene," he said. "I've never seen that kind of crowd in one room to watch poker. It can be something that can throw you off so you have to do whatever it takes to calm you down.'
2. Don't play tight early
"I guess it was only natural for everyone to play a little tight at the beginning," Suharto said. "But I should have known that was going to be the case and I should have played more hands. I think I could have picked up a few more small pots and that would have been a big help later on."
Montgomery, however, made the point that this year the players may not be as tight since the payout structure is much different. Last year the difference between 9th place and 6th place was around $1.5 million, a nice chunk of change. This year the difference between 9th and 6th is only a little more than $300,000.
"I think you may see some guys taking chances early on because the structure is so different," said Montgomery. "I know that's what I'd be doing."
1. Be yourself
"With all the media and all the attention you're getting, it's easy to try and be someone you're not and to change your approach to things," he said. "But the way I look at it, you must have been doing something right to get all the way to the final table. Why change now?"
Top-10 final table tips for this year's November Nine is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
Best of Gary Trask