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WSOP09 Main Event Day 8
CEO "Rocket Boy" 07.16.2009

It only took about 11 hours in real time to play down to the November Nine. But the WSOP just might have been changed forever in that short period. Most of the remaining name pros were knocked out, but a big-name pro remains. Ane he's perhaps the biggest of the names by many measures. Yup, Phil Ivey will be there in November.

As always, there are a few Cinderellas among the November Nine, but the Evil Stepmother, in the form of Phil Ivey, will be right there to punish them. Darvin Moon has a near-superstack with almost 1/3 of the chips in play, but do you think that makes him a favorite over Ivey? Moon has stated that he wants to avoid playing hands against Ivey. Good luck with that, Darvin.

Leo Margets was, unfortunately, first out in 27th place.

But let's take it from the top. First out was the pixie-ish Leonor "Leo"Margets, the last woman remaining in the event. She got really deep, which is great for her, great for poker in Spain, and great for women in poker all around the world.

She's extremely cute, in a Terri Hatcher / Wynona Ryder kinda way. She's energetic and vivacious, but perhaps this gives her too many tells for her own good. Even when she's bundled up in her track suit and huge shades.

Nick Maimone winning one of his two suckout double-ups. He finished in 15th place.

One player who probably lasted longer than he should have was Nick Maimone. He doubled up on two hands where he got his money in bad, then outdrew his caller. Karma came back around and smacked him when he himself got outdrawn and busted in 15th place.

Darvin Moon kept accumulating chips. For some reason he's simply unstoppable so far.

Darvin Moon continued his incredible run by busting players and increasing his stack. He broke Jordan Smith in 10th place when Jordan did exactly what you're supposed to do with AA: get action. Unfortunately for Jordan, Moon had called with 88 and flopped a set.

Joe Cada being inteviewed by the stunning Lacey Jones. Incredibly, she's even better looking in real life.

Phil Ivey took some early hits calmly, then methodically advanced to the November Nine.

It looked like we might lose Phil Ivey at about halfway through day 8 when he took some early hits to his stack. He lost a big pot to Jordan Smith on the first hand when Smith rivered an ace. He doubled up Nick Maimone when Nick's Q5 turned a queen versus Phil's (dreaded) pocket jacks.

He doubled up Marco Mattes when Marco's QQ held against, yes, Phil's (double-dreaded) pocket jacks. Then Phil doubled up George Caragiorgas when George's 22 held against Phil's A10. Not looking good for our hero.

But Phil never gave up, kept attacking, and kept chipping up. He stayed on his A-game and ended the day with just under 10 million. His fans, including the elderly couple that seem to follow him around everywhere, yelled "Ivey Ivey Ivey!" loud and often.

I talked with Paul Darden, who was standing next to me in the huge crowd on the upper level, as play continued from the dinner break to the last hand of the session. He accurately predicted many of Phil's plays as he watched, and explained that Phil had taught him quite a bit about the game. At one point I mentioned that Phil could win a few extra million in side action if he won the Main Event. Paul said "No, no. Fifty." Wow.

All-in at the outer featured table

Final table play started with 10 players. Only one more bustout and the November Nine are set.

Jordan Smith was November Nine bubble boy. He shook Phil's hand just after busting out.

When Jamie Robbins busted in 11th place, the remaining players at the outer table were combined with those at the main table. Technically this was the "final table" so at least Jordan Smith can claim that he made the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event.

But the painful truth is that he became the November Nine bubble boy. He two-bet preflop with pocket aces, Darvin Moon called with 88. Moon spiked top set for the nuts on the 842 flop, Jordan check-raised all-in, thinking he still had the best hand. Moon snap-called, nobody improved, and we had our November Nine.

The director introduced the November Nine players. Here's Phil's intro. Look - he's smiling!

Darvin Moon gives one of his first interviews. He's got a classic deer-in-the-headlights look.

One of the hardest working men in poker: Robbie Thompson, WSOP tournament director.

And Here They Are

Ladies and gentlemen, your November Nine:

Seat Player       Stack
1 Darvin Moon 58.93 million
2 James Akenhead   6.80 million
3 Phillip Ivey   9.77 million
4 Kevin Schaffel 12.39 million
5 Steven Begleiter 29.89 million
6 Eric Buchman 34.80 million
7 Joseph Cada 13.22 million
8 Antoine Saout   9.50 million
9 Jeffrey Shulman 19.58 million

Great for the WSOP

In some ways, Darvin Moon is the new Chris Moneymaker or Dennis Phillips. He's a total amateur, he has that "awww shucks" humility, and he's up against a wily veteran at the final table.

But I think Darvin is far worse off than Moneymaker and Phillips were. Phil Ivey will be right there, close enough to read Darvin with his eyes closed. It's not clear to me that even a 6:1 chip lead will be that much of a help. Dennis Phillips had the lead in 2008 and didn't win.

I think Phil Ivey's presence will be a huge benefit to ESPN and the WSOP between now and November. He's a superstar and although there's a certain "anyone can win" mystique when an amateur wins the Main Event, Phil Iveys' sheer star power is guaranteed to boost ratings.

And I should mention that Jeff Shulman played a seriously strong and well-controlled game. His run so far and his upcoming November Nine presence should help boost CardPlayer and SpadeClub in addition to his own image as a player.

In summary, my first WSOP Main Event experience was tiring but fascinating. I certainly busted my WSOP Main Event cherry on a good year!

I may come out to rail the final table in November if my schedule permits. But either way, it'll be fascinating to watch and I can't wait!

Next blog: WSOP09 Random Photos Part 2...

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