World Series of Poker final table preview: Part 1

by Josh Slagter | The Grand Rapids Press

From left: Kelly Kim, Craig Marquis and David “Chino” Rheem are three of the nine players in contention for the World Series of Poker’s top prize.

Back in July, I said it was going to take me all 117 days of the final table delay to figure out who the “November Nine” really was, other than the remaining players in the World Series of Poker’s main event.

That’s still a work in progress.

But, the final table is almost here. It begins Sunday, with the champion being crowned sometime early next Tuesday and ESPN capping off its coverage that night.

Much has been written about all nine remaining competitors in the past three-plus months, so I thought I’d offer a quick recap of some of what’s out there.

I’ll break the preview down into three parts, starting with the lowest chip stack (Kelly Kim) and eventually ending with the chip leader (Dennis Phillips):

Kelly Kim — 2,620,000 in chips
Even if Kim is eliminated early on in the action, he certainly has enjoyed the same increased exposure of the other eight players. Short-stack play seems to be his specialty, though.

• Kim a regular in L.A. poker scene

• Bodog: Kim a longshot to win at 25-1

• Kim’s profile, career tournament cashes

Craig Marquis — 10,210,000 in chips
Marquis certainly was in the spotlight as the final table approached, surviving an all in with A-Q against pocket queens with 10 players remaining. Marquis also knocked out East Lansing native Dean Hamrick in 10th place with, of course, pocket queens.

My colleague John Faarup had an interview with Marquis a few weeks ago. Marquis is one of two players who could supplant Phil Hellmuth as the youngest main event champion ever.

• “It’s like winning the lottery.

• Marquis’ friends include Tom Dwan, David Benefield

• Marquis’ profile, career tournament cashes

David “Chino” Rheem — 10,230,000 in chips
Rheem is the most experienced player remaining and the player who’s received the most air time from ESPN. He’s already had some memorable hands and great reads.

Rheem has been in the spotlight before, too. He finished runner-up to Allen Cunningham at a WSOP event in 2006 and finished fifth in the $5,000 buy-in mixed hold’em event that Erick Lindgren won at this year’s World Series.

• Rheem happy with ESPN’s editing

• “Anybody is capable of winning it.

• Rheem’s profile, career tournament cashes

Coming Wednesday: Darus Suharto, Ylon Schwartz and Peter Eastgate

Coming Friday: Scott Montgomery, Ivan Demidov and Dennis Phillips

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