10. Darvin Moon is a Luddite
Main Event chip leader
Darvin Moon, who holds nearly a third of chips in play, isn't part of the online poker generation. In fact, he's not really party of the technology generation. He doesn't email or text message. And he hasn't bothered to set up the voice-mail on his cell phone. In a tournament that saw players Twittering from the table, it's interesting that a relative Luddite reached the final table.
9. Steve Begleiter knows how to handle money
Many of the world's top poker players have a sharp mind when it comes to math and money, but few have had the business success of Steve Begleiter. The 47-year-old Begleiter spent 24 years at Bear Stearns & Co. before joining private equity group Flexpoint Ford. Begleiter is a senior principal for Flexpoint Ford, which manages $1.5 billion in investments in the financial services and healthcare industries, so the high-stakes poker environment at this year's final table is not likely to faze him. Begleiter also lives in Chappaqua, New York, the town former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call home. Could there be something in the water there that promotes bluffing?
8. Antoine Saout -- the French Chris Moneymaker?
France might have its own Chris Moneymaker if Antoine Saout wins the World Series of Poker Main Event. The 25-year-old Frenchman earned his buy-in to the Main Event through $50 online satellite at Everest Poker. Now he's playing for $8,546,435. Unlike Moon, Saout is very much a part of the online poker generation. He regularly multi-tables, and he's quickly becoming a top live player as well. In September, he finished seventh in the WSOP Europe Main Event.
7. Eric Buchman is a player
Everybody knows Phil Ivey is a great poker player. But most people don't realize just how good Eric Buchman is. Buchman, who is second in chips at the final table, is a really good professional poker player. Not including this year's Main Event, Buchman has more than $950,000 in career tournament earnings. He's cashed in 20 tournaments, including in ten WSOP events. His best finish in a WSOP tournament came in 2006 when he finished second in a limit Hold'em tournament and won $175,000. And it will surprise absolutely no one in the professional poker community if Buchman wins the Main Event.
6. James Akenhead is representing
Back in the day (and by day we mean 2003-2004), Dutch Boyd and "The Crew" were all the rage. Boyd and his gang of poker playing friends -- including Scott Fischman and Joe Bartholdi -- were the young guns of poker getting ready to take over the game. This year, James Akenhead represents the "Hit Squad," another group of poker playing friends. Other "Hit Squad" members include Praz Bansi, Chaz Shattha, Sunny Chattha and Karl Mahrenholz -- and they'll be at the Rio this November cheering on their short-stacked friend as he attempts to come from behind to win this year's Main Event.
5. Jeff Shulman has been there, done that
Next to Phil Ivey, Jeff Shulman is the most accomplished pro at the final table. Shulman has more than $2 million in career tournament winnings, and he finished seventh in the 2000 Main Event, which means he will definitely not be scared by the stage. Shulman is also out to prove himself after openly criticizing the WSOP for being greedy corporate types and suggesting he might throw the Main Event bracelet in the trash if he wins it. And when you combine skill, motivation and chips -- he'll enter play in fourth-place -- you get a dangerous player determined to win the tournament.
4. Joe Cada is really, really young
In 1989, Phil Hellmuth was 24 when he won the WSOP Main Event. In 2008, Peter Eastgate was 22 when he won the Main Event. And if Cada wins this year, he'll be the Main Event's youngest champion at 21. That's right, he's barely old enough to get into the Rio. The fact that another really young 20-something is position to win the Main Event is another testament to the power of online poker. The only way these young players can improve so quickly is by playing a ton of hands online, and applying that knowledge at the table. Don't be surprised if there's a 21-year-old competing at every Main Event final table in the future.
3. Kevin Schaffel -- Middle-aged guys can play poker too
On the other end of the age spectrum is Kevin Schaffel. The 51-year-old from Florida has been playing poker since he was 11. And when he's not playing poker, he's playing golf, gin rummy and racquetball. He recently closed down the printing plant he owned and operated for 30 years, so the big Main Event payday is going to come in handy in "retired" life.
2. Phil Ivey is a stud
Yes, you already knew that. But consider this...Phil Ivey won his first WSOP bracelet in 2000 at the tender age of 23. In 2002, he won three more bracelets. He won one more in 2005 and two more this year, giving him seven bracelets. On the all-time bracelet list, he trails only Hellmuth (11), Johnny Chan (10), Doyle Brunson (10), Johnny Moss (9) and Erik Seidel (8). Yep, there's a good reason why everyone thinks Ivey is going to win even though he'll arrive at the final table seventh in chips.
1. It's good to be a friend of Begleiter (FOB)
Some friends will fly you to out Vegas to share the experience of a big score. Friends, like Begleiter, will actually give you part of their winnings. That's right, Begleiter is sharing his winnings with players from his home game. Begleiter is starting final-table action in third place with nearly 30 million in chips, so it could be a big pay day for his friends.