ESPN won’t have Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi to anchor the heads-up portion of its November Nine telecast, but, have no fear, the network will hardly be lacking for dramatics come Tuesday night.
In fact, it will be an arduous task for ESPN editors to catch all of the “Wow!” moments that unfolded during the 14 hours and 219 hands it took on Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning to reduce the field of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event final table from nine to two.
In the end, Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener were the two players to survive a marathon session of poker at an electric Penn & Teller Theater that began with fans lining up outside at 4 a.m. – eight hours before the cards went in the air – to ensure their chance to see the final table of poker’s most prestigious event unfold.
The two will meet in a heads-up match Monday night (8 p.m.) that may not take long to complete. The 23-year-old Duhamel, attempting to become the first Canadian to win the Main Event, is in the driver’s seat to claim the coveted bracelet and hefty $8.9 million check that comes with it, thanks to an indomitable 188.9 million to 30.7 million chip advantage, which means he holds 83 percent of the chips still in play.
But make no mistake about it: This was hardly a trouble-free ride for Duhamel. Yes, he came in as the chip leader with 30 percent of the chips, but, like every other player at the table, there were some uneasy moments along the way for he and his clad of Montreal Canadien-sweater wearing fans, who were no doubt celebrating well into the dawn hours of Sunday, singing “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!”” in unison.
One of the climatic hands sure to be included on the ESPN telecast will be Joseph Cheong’s bluff gone bad during three-handed action. Cheong induced a collective gasp through the theater when he outrageously made an all-in call holding A-7 off suit. Duhamel sniffed it out and snap called with pocket queens. The pretty ladies easily held up for Duhamel and in the process he raked in more than 177 million chips, the largest pot in WSOP history.
It was just one of several instances that brought the spirited crowd to its feet and will elicit ESPN viewers to leap off their couch on Tuesday night. It remains to be seen if Racener, the 24-year-old pro from Florida, can somehow storm back and provide even more madness during Monday’s heads-up match. But, either way, WSOP and ESPN officials are smiling this morning. The November Nine once again provided the hype and hysteria it was meant to create.
WSOP FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS
Jonathan Duhamel and John Racener will play for the first-place prize of $8,944,310 million on Monday night in the heads-up portion of the November Nine. Second place will take home $5,545,955.
- 3rd place – Joseph Cheong — $4,130,049
- 4th place – Filippo Candio — $3,092,545
- 5th place – Michael Mizrachi — $2,332,992
- 6th place – John Dolan — $1,772,959
- 7th place – Jason Senti — $1,356,720
- 8th place – Matthew Jarvis — $1,045,743
- 9th place – Soi Nguyen — $811,823