The cards are in the air!
The final table of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship, a.k.a. “The November Nine,” began at 12:36 pm in front of a packed arena at the Penn and Teller Theater, inside the Rio Las Vegas.
As expected, players were cautious during the early going.  The first hand saw Matthew Jarvis make a $1.2 million raise, which prompted the remaining players to fold.  That was the first of what is expected to be several hundred hands which will be played until the final two players are ultimately determined.
Jason Senti, with the shortest stack at the start of final table, was the first player to move “all in.”  A few hands into the action, his big raise was not called, and he dragged a much-needed round of antes and blinds.
The opening ceremony was one of the most exciting and entertaining spectacles in poker history.  Players were introduced by seating order and descended from the arena entrance, through hundreds of cheering and high-fiving spectators.  Players bolted through the swarms of poker fans, some gyrating to their chosen introduction music.  Players selected tunes from the likes of D.J. Khaled, Lil Wayne, and Cage the Elephant.  One player (Jason Senti) even used his own original song, written and performed by his band, Suburban Hero.
Once players were assembled onstage, the customary “Shuffle Up and Deal” announcement was made by Mixed Martial Arts voice and ringmaster, Bruce Buffer, who worked the crowd into a near frenzy.
Play continues all day and night until two players remain.  Heads-up play will resume on Monday, November 8th at 8 pm PST when the final two will play down to a winner.  Coverage of the final table will air in a two-hour telecast on Tuesday at 10 pm ET on ESPN.
The winner of this year’s Main Event, the second largest in the 40-year history of the WSOP with 7,319 entrants, will take home $8,944,310 in prize money and the most coveted token of achievement in all of poker, the World Series of Poker Main Event Championship Bracelet.
The nine players are playing for a staggering $29,032,637 with each on average taking home more than $3.2 million.
Among the story lines that have developed since this year’s November Nine were introduced to the world back in July is whether celebrated pro Michael Mizrachi will be able to tie Frank Kassela for 2010 WSOP Player of the Year.
On Day 4 of the Main Event, it was noted that Mizrachi was the only player remaining with a chance to tie for POY honors with a win in the Main Event, however as one of the shorter stacks and with 571 players still remaining, his odds to do so seemed astronomical.
However, true to his name, “The Grinder” resurged on Day 5 to loft himself above the chip average and eventually near the top of the leader board. Now, with only 8 competitors left to beat, Mizrachi, who earlier in the series won the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, has a clear shot at cementing his name in poker infamy.
Fellow pro, John Racener, joins Mizrachi as one of the players to beat at the final table although the player to look out for when play resumes Saturday clearly will be the chip leader, 23-year-old Jonathan Duhamel from Boucherville, Quebec, Canada.
Duhamel will have a dominating lead over most of his final table opponents and has demonstrated that he knows how to wield a large cache of chips. Duhamel along with Matt Jarvis, an amateur from Surrey, British Columbia, make up the Canadian contingent of this year’s November Nine.
The other non-American player among the Nine is Filippo Candio. The 26-year-old is the first Italian to ever make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table. With the recent growth of poker in Italy, thousands of Candio’s country men will be sure to follow his progress throughout the day.
24-year-old Joseph Cheong of La Mirada, CA, who was able to duplicate his success on the 2009/2010 WSOP Circuit at this year’s WSOP, comes to the final table third in chips while fellow Californian, Soi Nguyen, and Jason Senti of St. Louis Park, MN round out the final nine. Both have steep roads ahead of them coming into the final table as the bottom two in chips.
Who will win? Keep it here for all the latest news, chip counts and photos from the finale to find out and be sure to tune in to ESPN’s telecast on Tuesday at 10 PM ET to see how it all unfolded.