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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Top-10 predictions for the 2010 WSOP Main Event final table

1 November 2010

With two November Nine experiences under our belts, we're starting to get a better feel for how final table action plays out going on hiatus for nearly four months.

Players, for the most part, don't get coaches. Their game brought them to the final table, and they don't want to make drastic changes.

The final nine generally play a fair amount of poker to stay sharp. And they usually come back rested, confident and with a definite game plan. So what does that mean for this year's World Series of Poker Main Event final table? Here are my fearless predictions.

10. Soi Nguyen will not be the first to go
During the first two year's of the November Nine, short stacks either folded their way into more money, like Kelly Kim, or they made a stand early and finished ninth, like James Akenhead. Nguyen has the second-shortest stack at the table with 9.65 million in chips (Jason Senti is the short stack with 7.62 million). He is the definitive amateur in the group. And at the age of 37, he's the oldest player in the group. That all adds up to someone who will play more like Kim than Akenhead. Akenhead was there to win the tournmanet, and he played like it. For Nguyen, this is life-changing money, and the best he'll ever do at a poker tournament. If he can fold his way into more money and higher finish, he'll do it. Twenty years from now, nobody is going to remember how he played to finish eighth or seventh. They'll just remember he didn't finish ninth, and that's all that matters.

9. Final river card
You can bet on the suit of the final river card at BetUS. Silly? Yes. But you can bet on the coin flip at the Super Bowl and people do it. Black and Red bets pay of at 1.75 to 1. Guess the correct suit and you'll get 3.75 to 1 on your money. I'll go with spades in the hopes that we get to hear ESPN announcer Norman Chad call it the "prettiest suit in the deck."

8. Hand to win outright?
This is another fun one offered by a few online sportsbooks. We found the best odds for it at bet365 with prices ranging from 2-to-1 for a pair to 250-to-1 for a royal flush. Cada won last year with a pair nines. Peter Eastgate won in 2008 when he hit the wheel. I'm guessing trips win it this year at 6 to 1.

7. What country will the winner be from?
This is an interesting bet over at bwin. They're offer 1.5 to 1 on USA, 2.7 to 1 on Canada and 15 to 1 on Italy. I'm going to throw out Italy because they have only one player at the final table, Filippo Candio, and I don't think he's going to reach heads up play. That leaves me with the Canadians -- Jonathan Duhamel and Matthew Jarvis -- and the Americans. Considering Duhamel is the significant chip leader with over 65 million and Jarvis is in fifth with 16.7 million, I'll take Canada at 2.7 and place the value bet.

6. Candio will be the first player eliminated
This is another value bet. By virture of chip stacks, Senti and Nguyen are the most likely to be eliminated first. But I'm tossing them from the equation because at 3.25 and 3.75 to 1, you're not getting good value. And because Senti is a savvy online pro who will find his way to hang around for a bit and Nguyen will play not finish in ninth. Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi has the next biggest stack with 14.45 million, but he's one of the best players at the table, so he's not likely to be the first one out. That brings us to Candio. Candio tightened up significantly during 10-handed play to reach the final table. He played premium hands only, but that's not his style. Candio is an aggressive player who likes to play a wide range of hands, and I expect him to play that way at the final table. Unfortunately for him, there are players at the table who are better with that style of play than he his. And he's going to end up running into trouble in a hurry. I'll take Candio at 8 to 1 to be the first player out of the final table.

5. Mizrachi will outlast Dolan
I couldn't find any sportsbooks offering last longer bets. But if I did, I'd take Mizrachi to outlast Dolan. Dolan is second in chips with 46.25 million, while Mizrachi has 14.45 million. That's a big gap for Mizrachi to make up, but I think players are going to be going after Dolan. His stack is a little easier to attack than Duhamel's 65.975 million. And Mizrachi is easily the most accomplished player at the final table. He knows how to win big tournaments, and he's going to be in contention longer than Dolan.

4. Cheong will outlast Jarvis
For me, Joe Cheong is this year's Antoine Saout. He's the quiet online poker pro nobody is talking about (except Casino City's Aaron Todd). He's playing with confidence -- and 23.525 million in chips. And he's going to be the best player at the final table until something unspeakably bad happens to him and he finishes in third place. Meanwhile, Jarvis is the friendly Canadian who everyone likes, and likes having at the table, until Cheong knocks him in out sixth place.

3. Mizrachi won't win
Mizrachi might be the best player at the final table, but he has a tough path ahead of him. There are six players with more chips than he has. All of those players are good. And like Phil Ivey last year, he'll have a hard time finding action. Nobody wanted to give Ivey chips. And nobody will want to give Mizrachi chips either. "The Grinder" will make a run at the title, but he'll fall short.

2. Racener vs. Duhamel in heads up play
BetUS has a great wager available where you pick a player to have a top-2 finish at the Main Event. Duhamel is pays 1.9 to 1. Dolan pays 2.35 to 1. Mizrachi pays 2.75 to 1. Cheong pays 3.5 to 1. And Racener, who will begin the day with 19.05 million, pays 4 to 1. That's great value for the best poker player in Florida not named Mizrachi. The bottom line is Racener is an experienced pro at the top of his game. He finished fifth at the WSOPE Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, and players that have fared well at the WSOPE the same year the played in the Main Event final table (like Ivan Demidov), have typically done well at the final table. While everyone is watching Mizrachi, I'll be keeping an eye Racener.

1. Duhamel win, Duhamel wins
In 2008, the chip leader entering final table action (Dennis Phillips) finished third. In 2009, the chip leader entering final table action, Darvin Moon, finished second. And in 2010, I fully expect this pattern to continue, with the chip leader winning the tournament this time. The big difference in 2010 is Duhamel is a serious online poker player. Phillips is a good player, but he was an amateur compared to Duhamel. And Moon definitely didn't have as much experience as Duhamel. Duhamel was impressive as the Main Event field moved from 10 players to nine. Unlike many of the players who tightened up, Duhamel stayed aggressive and built up an impressive chip stack. He showed he knew how to play big stack poker. And if he keeps playing big stack poker well, he's going to be the 2010 WSOP Main Event champion.
Top-10 predictions for the 2010 WSOP Main Event final table is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.