Last year’s World Series of Poker Main Event final table did not go as Steve Gee had planned. The bracelet winner came to the final table fifth in chips. As one of two bracelet winners at the table, Gee had chips to work with and experience on his side.
Then Gee made a move on the river with pocket eights and, just like that, his Main Event was over with a ninth place finish. As Gee tells the ESPN camera’s on tonight’s WSOP Main Event coverage, he spent weeks reliving his unfortunate demise, thinking he had squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Might there be new hope for Gee this year though? The last time we saw a player make back-to-back Main Event final tables was in 2003 and 2004 when Dan Harrington posted third and fourth place finishes in two of the most memorable Main Event final tables in WSOP history.
Since then, the field sizes of the Main Event make it increasingly difficult for players to make it back to the final table. We haven’t seen a player make the final table a second time since Jeff Shulman did it in 2009. Last year, the closest we got to a repeat finisher was 2011’s ninth place finisher, Sam Holden, who took 55th.
Since the November Nine concept was instituted in 2008, no player has managed to make the delayed final table twice. Dennis Phillips came close in 2009, taking 45th place. Joseph Cheong has made a couple of runs into the final 100 or so players. This week, we have not one, not two, but four members of last year’s October Nine in the money and still kicking midway through the Day 4 action.
In addition to Gee, reigning champ Greg Merson will be featured on tonight’s coverage, which airs from 9pm-11pm ET on ESPN. We’ll also hear from last year’s fourth place finisher, Russell Thomas, and one of the more polarizing characters in poker in 2012, Rob Salaburu.
Of the quartet, Thomas has accomplished the most since the final table, including a final table appearance at the first-ever WSOP Asia-Pacific Main Event. Meanwhile, Merson had yet to post a WSOP cash since winning $8.3 million last fall, but is now guaranteed another Main Event payday.
Which of these four will survive to the end of tonight’s coverage? The only way to find out is to tune in to ESPN from 9-11. Tell us what you think of each of the October Niners left in the field by getting into the Twitter conversation using the hashtag #WSOPonESPN.
Until then, check out this clip of Gee discussing last year’s run to get a sneak peek at what tonight’s episodes have in store for you poker fans: