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2010 WSOP Main Event: A Life Changing November
When the 2010 November Nine sit down to play for the World Series of Poker Main Event title this weekend, there will be more than pride on the line.
Of course, there's the matter of an $8,944,138 first place prize - the kind of money that would have an impact on just about anyone, save those in Bill Gates' and Warren Buffett's tax bracket.
But major sponsorship deals, a rather intense media glare and poker-celebrity status also await the winner of the game's most coveted title.
There's little doubt, no matter who is crowned poker's World Champion inside the Penn & Teller theatre at the Rio this weekend, his life is going to change.
But for Soi Nguyen, the only true amateur at a final table full of pros, the impact could be even greater.
"That much money and all that attention would change a lot of things for me," he said. "It would be unbelievable."
Becoming the first Italian to win the Main Event would certainly make Filippo Candio a hero back home.
But the 26-year-old is taking a philosophical approach to things.
"I think that the November Nine can't change my life too much because money is very important, but its not the only thing," he said.
"Money can help me, money can give me happiness, I can buy six Ferraris and maybe five mansions, so the November Nine is a great opportunity for a poker player's career, but you have to stay focussed because sometimes glory and money can make people crazy.
"I'm 26, OK, I'm young, but not very young and I know that being in the November Nine can only help me have a great life."
Professional poker players in the online world, November Niners Jonathan Duhamel, John Dolan, John Racener and Jason Senti would all take the next step towards poker superstardom with a win.
But for a group that grinds online every day and already plays some of the biggest live tournaments on the planet, the question of how much their daily lives would change with a WSOP Main Event bracelet around their wrists is not an easy one to answer.
"I don't think I'll live any differently," said Cheong. "I'll have a lot of money in the bank to pad my bankroll and I won't have to worry about things like flying to London and playing the World Series of Poker Europe and just buying into high-roller events. But other than that it won't change my life much."
The reign of poker's World Champion always seems to include countless interview requests and a scrutiny the likes of which most players not named Tom Dwan or Phil Ivey won't have experienced before.
But Racener says for the online pro, it comes with the territory.
"This is what I wanted," he said. "I wanted to make the biggest final table in history and this is what comes along with it, so of course I'm happy."
Already a star with $9.6 million in career tournament earnings, a World Series of Poker bracelet and two WPT titles, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi might be the only one in the group used to that kind of spotlight.
But even Mizrachi admits a win on poker's biggest stage, which would also make him the game's all-time leading money winner, will have a significant impact on his life.
"I believe it will," he said. "Everybody wants to win the Main Event. Talk to me November 7th or 8th and I'll tell you what it feels like if I do."
A veteran pro who has proven himself in some of poker's biggest events might be comfortable speaking about what might be come Monday, but players like Canadian Matt Jarvis, who have had success before but nothing comparable to a WSOP Main Event win, seem a little happier waiting to see what happens first.
"I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched," he said.
"This really is a once in a lifetime type thing. This is the biggest tournament of the year, with ESPN and everything going on, there's so much hype. It's pretty amazing this situation I'm in right now."
The final nine will resume play at 12 p.m. PT tomorrow.
They will play down to the final two and come back to to play heads-up for the title beginning at 8 p.m. PT Nov. 8.
The PokerListings live reporting team will also be on hand throughout the final table providing unprecedented behind the scenes access including live updates, photos, videos and bust-out interviews.
Tune in to PokerListings' WSOP Live Updates beginning at 12 p.m. PT Nov. 6 to follow the action.