$794,112 is a nice little sum of money. That’s what the winner of today’s $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship final table will receive for their efforts, but this group is going to be just as concerned with the bracelet and the prestige of winning in what will be remembered as one of the biggest tournaments against one of the toughest fields of the 2008 World Series of Poker.
There are no weak links here, and every demographic is covered. We have a living legend, an internet god, the leading woman money leader in live tournament history and a compelling dominant chip leader whose been crushing for years but is still searching for his first bracelet. Have a look below to learn a little more about the nine people left playing for the Pot Limit Hold’em championship;
Andy Bloch – It’s tough to think of any member of the original wave of live game TV pros as underrated, but Bloch may qualify. In the past twenty-four months, Bloch has been a force; the only thing that separated him from winning the $50,000 HORSE event in 2006 was Chip Reese surviving five all-ins; he finished second at this year’s NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championships; he just made the semi-finals of a $25,000 Heads-Up Championship online and he’s had eight cashes in total over the last two years at WSOP. Bloch’s the monster chip leader coming into the day with 2,115,000 and has to be a big favorite to take the bracelet.
Nenad Medic – “Big Serb” is a beast both at and way from the table. A towering pile of muscle, Medic looks like he’d be as well suited to an MMA ring as the poker table. The intellect and skill matches the muscle; he’s been called by many the most successful no-limit cash player of the last few years and has a World Poker Tour title to highlight his resume. He begins the day with 1,200,000 in chips.
Mike Sexton – There are great players and then there are great ambassadors. Mike Sexton is both, playing host to the WPT, engaging in numerous charitable pursuits and going the extra mile to promote the game. Thing is, Sexton’s ambassadorship has diffused his reputation, but that says nothing of his obvious skill. ‘Obvious’ comes from his four cashes last year and a win at the 2006 Tournament of Champions. He plays a tight game, so look for him to get down to the final five and then see where the chips fall. He starts in third place with 1,130,000.
Mike Sowers – Ask industry observers which 21-year olds to keep an eye on this year, they’d answer Tom Dwan; ask for a second name and you get Sowers. Despite his online success ($800K in tournament winnings in the last two years to go with recent live successes), Sowers doesn’t fit that usual mold. He’s a businessman, not a partier and he takes poker seriously as a craft. His coming out party came when he won a $5,000 event at Borgata earlier this year, but this will be his first televised final table. Call this his coming out . He has 675,000 coming into today.
Amit Makhija - Makhija’s name may stand out as being less recognizable than the others at this final table, but that doesn’t lessen his credentials. Ranked in assorted systems as one of the 100 winningest players in online poker right now, Makhija is thriving in an event that seems to have been tailor-made for him thanks to his extensive experience in pot-limit play. He enters the fray at 525,000.
Chris Bell – One of the best-liked players on tour, Bell has overcome adversity in recent months to be here. Regularly seen in the company of Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren and Bill Edler, Bell more than holds his own when the boys play, bet or do anything in between. Bell only plays in the biggest events and his resume is dotted with WPT and WSOP cashes, but he’s never won a bracelet. He’ll be looking to change that today by working his 455,000 stack.
Phil Laak – Enigmatic, fun and maybe just a little crazy, Laak is ultimately so much more than that. A thoughtful intellectual, Laak has a WPT title to his credit but has never won a bracelet. This is Laak’s first tournament TV appearance in a couple of years (he’s been a regular on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark), so a deep run here could mean big things for him. He starts the day with 425,000.
- It’s not always fair to look at players by demographics. Liebert is one of the best tournament players in the world with over $4.4 million in live tournament winnings. Owner of one bracelet and three WPT final tables, she’s looking to add to her accomplishments here. Liebert told WorldSeriesofPoker.com
“This is a great final table with a lot of great players, but I like my chances today.” She’ll have her work cut out for her; she’s starting with just 285,000 chips.
– Poll online players about who the best player in the world is, and most will give you one of two names; Phil Ivey
and Antonius. He is considered by some to be a poker god, with success in online and live play, tournaments and cash. Despite the universal respect, “The Black Lotus” has never won a WSOP bracelet, but winning his first today will be tough; He starts with the low stack of 230,000 and will need things to go wildly in his favor.
Gary Wise is covering the WSOP all summer for WorldSeriesofPoker.com, espn.com/poker and in his blog at www.wisehandpoker.net.