November Nine: The Short Stack
When poker fans tune in to watch the World Series of Poker Main Event final table on ESPN later this week there is at least one person really hoping they’re not up getting snacks when the broadcast begins.
Kelly Kim, the shortest remaining stack of the November Nine, will have just fewer than 11 big blinds left when the final table resumes and given his underdog status and easygoing personality, he might just be the fan favorite.

His night will most likely be over in short order unless he’s able to put together one of the most remarkable comebacks in WSOP history. Kim’s attitude though might take you by surprise, toeing the line of every Oscar-nominated actor or actress who didn’t win, Kim is just happy to be here.

“I wanted to make this final table so bad,” gushed Kim moments after the final table broke until November. “When we were getting down today it was all I could think about and now I’m here.”

When the final ten players were moved to the ESPN table inside the Amazon Room Kim turned into a superhero, but it wasn’t one blessed with amazing skills that would make him a force at any poker table. Instead the California-based poker pro turned himself into the invisible man, playing very few hands in hopes of surviving to see one more player eliminated.

“I was so short, but I decided I was going to make the final table,” said Kim who actually moved all-in on more than occasion but never got any callers. “This really means the world to me. Finishing tenth is the same as finishing 12th really.”

“I was hoping that somebody else would get involved and go out. I was the shortstack for what felt like forever,” said Kim, who had the least amount of chips with 13, 12, 11 and 10 players remaining. “I’m just so glad it wasn’t me. I mean this a huge achievement – it’s historic.”

When Dean Hamrick busted in tenth place Kim bagged up only 2,620,000 chips. By comparison chipleader Dennis Phillips put 26,295,000 into his giant Ziploc bag and Kim’s closest competitor, Craig Marquis, bagged and tagged 10,210,000 – nearly five times Kim.

Kim has had success at the WSOP main event before but finishing 398th in 2006 is a whole lot different than finishing in the top nine this year. And while Kim has over $300,000 in lifetime earnings that experience won’t help him much when he gets cards for the first time in November.

“At this point the cards will really dictate what I do. I won’t have to make too many tough decisions,” said Kim. But don’t think that means that Kim is all but resigned to finishing ninth and walking out of the Rio with no additional money.

“I’m still playing to win it,” said Kim with a smile that is sure to make him a hit with viewers on ESPN. “I mean I made the final table and that was my goal, so I may as well win it now too. Realistically I’m just going to enjoy the next four months as much as possible.”

And don’t for a second think the other eight players are taking Kim for granted as an easy kill. While it could be a quick night for Kim, the other shorter stacks are somewhat wary of tangling with him.

“If I double him up early, rather than say Dennis Phillips or Ivan Demidov doing it, it puts me in danger,” said Marquis. “So by no stretch is it just a matter of making the call.”