Big Names Fill WPT Final

The name on the marquee.

The final six was set at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic Friday and it sets up as one of the best final table’s in World Poker Tour history, filled with big names and great stories.

The name on the marquee is Scotty Nguyen, making his sixth WPT final table in an attempt to book his second win.

Should he bank the $1.5 million for first, Nguyen would also become one of only four players in poker history to reach the $12 million career earnings mark, moving up to fourth on the all-time list.

Nguyen was among the tournament’s leaders in the late stages Wednesday before bleeding off the majority of his stack on an open–ended straight draw that missed.

However, the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event champion made a miraculous comeback Friday to move into second on the leader board heading into Friday’s final.

“I’m not going to roll over and die because of one hand,” Nguyen told PokerListings. “Scotty’s not going to go away. I gave away two million yesterday, but I told them I was going to come back today and collect with interest. Now I have 4 million and I feel good, baby.”

The man in the lead going into the final six is also becoming a familiar face here on the WPT.


Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka, who has earned over $1 million lifetime online, made second at the WPT Bellagio Cup this past July and finds himself in a similar spot going into the final – on top.

“It is a bit like déjà vu,” he said. “The experience will definitely help. I feel like I have a good handle on what’s going to happen, how people are going to react and how they’re going to play.”

Sitting third in chips is two-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Alaei.

Although Alaei is making his first WPT final table appearance, the high stakes cash-game pro, who was actually blinded out all of Day 1 here at Bellagio because he didn’t want to step away from a cash game that included noted whale Guy Laliberte, said he’s feeling confident.

“I’ve played lot of these so this feels great,” he said. “I’m feeling confident, fresh, healthy, well rested and focused.”

Thanks to a virtual triple-up that set the final six, eliminating Joe Cassidy seventh, 2007 WPT Mandalay Bay winner Shawn Buchanan will come into Saturday’s final table with a legitimate shot at his second title.

The Canadian said he’s as ready as ever to play in front of the cameras again.

The Buch stops here.

“The first one I wasn’t even that nervous for some reason,” he said. “It’s just poker. Once the cards hit the air you have to do the same thing you always have.”

Currently fifth in chips heading into his second WPT final table is Full Tilt Pro Josh Arieh.

With two WSOP bracelets, numerous final tables and deep cashes, he’s feeling as confident as anyone could with a shorter stack.

“I feel like I’m playing as good as I ever have,” he said. “And I’m confident I’m going to make the best decisions I can with my stack.”

Finally, rounding out the final six is Steve O’Dwyer. The online pro has been around the World Poker Tour for a few years, but this is his first chance at a big score.

“Finally I did it,” he said. “This is actually my first WPT cash as well. I mean, I’ve played a lot of these and haven’t really had much success until now, so this feels pretty good.”

With a $1.5 million first-place prize on the line, one of these already storied pros will be adding something big to his resume Saturday.

To find out who will book the win at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, tune into PokerListings’ Live Updates beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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