Saturday, November 08, 2008

2008 WSOP Final Table Profiles: The November Nine

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

2008 WSOP Final Table Nine
2008 WSOP November Nine
Photo courtesy of Flipchip

Just in case you have no idea who made the final table, here's a quick refresher...
The 2008 WSOP Final Table - Seating Assignments and Chip Counts
Seat 1: Dennis Phillips - 26,295,000
Seat 2: Craig Marquis - 10,210,000
Seat 3: Ylon Schwartz - 12,525,000
Seat 4: Scott Montgomery - 19,690,000
Seat 5: Darus Suharto - 12,520,000
Seat 6: Chino Rheem - 10,230,000
Seat 7: Ivan Demidov - 24,400,000
Seat 8: Kelly Kim - 2,620,000
Seat 9: Peter Eastgate - 18,375,000
And now, let's meet the players...

Seat 1: Dennis Phillips - 26,295,000

"When you've seen the world a few times, it's easier to keep emotions in check and not let things bother you. These guys are going to have a real, real hard time putting me on tilt out there. They haven't had the experience or the relationships those of us with a little gray on top have had." - Dennis Phillips

Dennis Phillips is from St. Louis, MO if you couldn't tell from his red Cardinals hat. Phillips has gotten the most attention for a) being the chiplead and b) being the oldest player at the table clocking in at 53 years young. Phillips is easily a huge favorite among 50+ year old poker players and Cardinals fans. Phillips works for a trucking firm and seems like one of your father's friends... just a casual ordinary guy that enjoys baseball and poker. He won his Main Event seat through a satellite from a local Harrah's property.

The big question on everyone's mind... when will Phillips cough up the chiplead or can he go wire-to-wire and win it all?

Because Phillips left Las Vegas in July as the chipleader, he bore the brunt of the media attention. He seemed to handle the spotlight without any problems. He definitely has a tough task ahead of him since everyone at the final table will be eying his big stack.

Phillips has already stated that he's donating a percentage of his winnings to charity including Multiple Sclerosis Society (a terrible disease that his brother endures) and Put a Bad Beat on Cancer. Phillips will also donate money to Boys and Girls Hope.

Last time I checked, Phillips was a 4/1 favorite to win. I like his chances because of his deep stack and his abundance of good karma from pledging to donate a percentage of his winnings. What he might lack in overall skill (compared to the level of play from Chino or Deminov), Phillips definitely makes up for it in age and wisdom.

Seat 2: Craig Marquis - 10,210,000

"I'm saving up all my luck and run-good for the Main Event." - Craig Marquis

Craig Marquis from Arlington, TX became curious with poker when he went to David "Raptor" Benefield's New Years Party and saw a ton of baller shit. The allure of money is what initially got Marquis into the game, just like so many of us, who all thought that we can buy a lot of cool things from our poker winnings. But Marquis has distinguished himself from the rest of the pack of poker enthusiasts because in a very short time, he put himself in position to go from being a dreamer to an actual champion with a shot at winning $9 million. Marquis has a tough road ahead of him since he's one of the shortstacks. But everyone knows that a timely double up at a final table can mean a huge difference between 9th and 5th place.

I'm rooting for Marquis because he's and underdog (and listed at a 13/2 shot) and he's a reader of the Tao of Poker. Plus, if he does win, the 23 year old will instantly become the youngest player to ever win the Main Event thereby smashing Phil Hellmuth's record in the process.

Seat 3: Ylon Schwartz - 12,525,000

"Empathy is the most important thing in poker. You have to really be aware of what your opponents think. The best thing about poker is that it exposes all your weaknesses." - Ylon Schwartz

Ylon Schwartz is 38 year old native New Yorker who currently lives in Brooklyn. He was the first and only member of the November Nine to have their photo appear on the Tao of Poker prior to the 2008 WSOP. I came across him while covering an event at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City in January of 2006. He looked way too funky and too cool to be an actual poker player. My buddy Frank took a photo and I posted it on the Tao. Little did I know that 2+ years later, he'd make the final table of the WSOP.

Ylon started out as a pool hustler and chess player. He frequently played chess in Washington Square Park. He probably played at the same time as I was a jonesin' teenaged pothead looking to score weed from the rastas in Washington Square Park. Sometimes you get lucky and get the good shit. Some days you catch a bad beat and purchase a dime bag of oregano. That's just par for the course in the NYC weed scene circa 1990.

Despite all the crack slinging and spliff smoking around him, Ylon managed to squeak out a decent existence playing chess for cash in the park until a cat named Fat Nick taught him how to play poker. He's been a pro ever since despite the fact he's gone busto a few times. He has almost 250K in career earning including an impressive 12 cashes in WSOP and circuit events.

Ylon wrote the funniest stuff down on his bio sheet. The guy has a tremendous sense of humor and since he's the only New Yorker in the mix, he's on my list of guys to root for. I also think he has a decent shot to win it all despite the fact that he's listed at 15/2 odds. I already have a bet down that Ylon will win it all.

Seat 4: Scott Montgomery - 19,690,000

"Two days ago I was nobody and today I'm famous!" - Scott Montgomery

Scott Montgomery is one of the two Canadians at the final table. He hails from Perth in Ontario. The eccentric 26-year old has been a pro for four years and has earned almost $500K in career earnings prior to the November Nine.

Sometimes when he spoke on ESPN's broadcast I thought he sounded more like Rain Man than Don Cherry. Montgomery was involved in the now controversial hand with Paul Snead where Tiffany Michelle called on a clock on Snead. Montgomery was trying to pull off a huge bluff and Snead called at the last possible second. Although Snead was ahead at the time, Montgomery made his hand on the river to win the pot. He would not be at the final table if he did not win that decisive hand.

Montgomery was one of the players at the final table who could play any two cards no matter what his position was at the time. That's the type of opponent that can drive you crazy... but it's also the type of opponent that you can pick off if the timing is right. If Montgomery busts out early it will because he got his hand caught in the cookie jar and he bluffed off most of his stack. The bookies like Montgomery at 4/1.

Seat 5: Darus Suharto - 12,520,000

"I began playing on PokerStars. I just wanted to be able to pay off my mortgage. That was my main objective!" - Darus Suharto

Darus Suharto is the guy who no one thinks will win but ends up winning it all. It's sort of like when Joe Hachem won in 2005. The accountant from Toronto flew under the radar during the final three tables sort of like Hachem did three years ago. The players, media, and spectators were focused on the other players at Hachem's final table including Andy Black and Mike Matusow. With everyone's eyes watching the other November Nine players, don't be surprised to see Suharto make a run. The bookies list him at 13/2 and I think there's some decent value in betting on him to win.

Suharto won his seat online at PokerStars. He has only been playing poker for a few years. Like Chris Moneymaker, Suharto worked for one of the big time accounting firms in Deloitte and Touche.

The Canucks have two shots at a 2008 WSOP champion... Scott Montgomery and Darus Suharto. One plays like a maniac and the other cool and steady. Suharto is originally from Indonesia and currently lives in Canada. He went to school in Indiana. Wait, that means he's a hooiser hoser, eh?

Seat 6: Chino Rheem - 10,230,000

"I'm Asian and gambling is in most Asian people's blood." - Chino Rheem

Chino has an uncanny ability to know his opponents' holdings. That's a trait that separates superstars from ordinary pros, especially in NL where you are playing the players and not the cards.

The 28 year old was the first and only member of the November Nine to get any sort of negative publicity. Early on it was discovered that he fought the law and the law won in Florida many moons ago. Seems that at least one of the November Nine is 4:20 friendly and has a penchant for the bitter herbs. Cannabis. The wacky tabacky. The dank. Mary Jane. Grass. Buddha. Homegrown. Ganja. Alice B. Toklas.

Alas, Chino's minor scrape with the law was just that. And since then, his legal problems have been swept under the rug or smoked like a cheap bag of ditchweed. Yeah, it goes without saying that Chino is the one guy at the final table that I'd most likely smoke a blunt with.

I stood on the rail and caught that crazy hand when Chino was all in preflop with 2-2 against Joe Bishop's A-3. Bishop flopped two pair, but Chino rivered a Wheel against two pair to bust Bishop in 11th place. His entourage/posse/friends/backers went berserk. That crew included Greg 'FBT' Mueller and two of the Mizrachi brothers. Chino met them a decade ago when he was cutting his teeth at the low limit tables at the Hard Rock Casino in Seminole, Florida. Man, I played in that Godforsaken 1-2 Limit game and you were better off shooting craps.

I don't know exactly how much Chino has of himself. Word on the street says he has as little as 14% and as high as 50%. The rumored list of people who own a piece of Chino is too long to list. I guess the real question is... who doesn't have a piece of Chino?

The experts suggest that Chino is the best player at the final table with Deminov being the hottest. Chino has over $700K in career earnings. He begins the final table with around 10 million in chips and is listed as a 5/1 favorite. If anyone picks off a massive bluff early on at the final table it will be Chino. I'm predicting a big hand where Montgomery tries to steal a pot away from Chino and Chino calls him down with Ace high to win the monsterpotten.

Seat 7: Ivan Demidov - 24,400,000

"You can't win with just math. You really have to learn to play the players you're up against." - Ivan Demidov

For the second year in a row, a Russian has made the final table. I have been talking about the prowess of the Scandis over the last few years, but here come the Russians! The 27 year old Moscow native is a former math whiz turned professional poker player. His idol is Alex KGB Kravchenko and Demidov is backed by a mysterious Russian gajillionaire who also backs several other young guns.

Demidov's screen name on PokerStars is "Soul" and the kid has tons of it. Demidov has had the most impressive results since the final table went on hiatus. Demidov went deep in London at the WSOP-Europe main event and advanced to the final table. He finished in third place while his fellow Russian Stanislav Alekhin was the runner-up to the eventual champion John Juanda.

Several of the top pros picked Demidov to win it all based on his gutsy performance in London. The bookies have him as one of the co-favroites at 4/1. Demidov is second in chips and seems like a lock to make the final three.

Seat 8: Kelly Kim - 2,620,000

"In America we root for the underdog and I'm the underdog." - Kelly Kim

I guess you can say that Kelly Kim is freerolling at the final table. He's listed as the longshot on the board at 15/1 and begins the final table as the shortstack. He also seems to be having the most fun since he's simply happy to be one of the November Nine.

Kim is a 31 year old from Whittier, California. He has a degree in economics and has around $350K in career earnings. If he can go from the short stack to champion, that will be one helluva story.

Seat 9: Peter Eastgate - 18,375,000

"I really don't care about (breaking) Hellmuth's record. I want to win the entire tournament." - Peter Eastgate

What is a WSOP final table without a Scandi in a hoodie? The thing about 20-something Scandis is that they could have been pros for almost a decade. The young gun from Odense, Denmark is no different.

The bookies must have a man-crush on Scandis. They list Eastgate as a 5/1 favorite to win it all. The kid has a big stack. He's impossible to read. And that's why a lot of pros have picked him to win it all. Unless he donks off his chips early on like Philip Hilm promptly did last year, there's a good possibility that we could see a Demidov and Eastgate showdown.

Eastgate is also the youngest player at the final table. Along with Craig Marquis, they both have a shot at knocking off Phil Hellmuth's record for being the youngest ever world champion. I know that Hellmuth will be sincerely rooting against the Scandi.

* * * * *

Thanks to Flipchip from for all the photos of the November Nine players.

Final table starts at 10am PT on Sunday. Check back in with Tao of Poker for live coverage and to get the straight dope on the WSOP final table.

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Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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