November Niners take on WPT Legends

Steven Begleiter
'The voice inside my head said let's go play some poker.'

The World Poker Tour's Legends of Poker began at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles Saturday with 276 players vying for a million dollar score and three simply looking for a bit of a tune up.

Just a little over a month since reserving spots at poker's biggest final table, November Niners Steven Begleiter, Kevin Schaffel and Joseph Cada were back on the felt in L.A.

When the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event begins Nov. 7 with an $8.5 million first-place prize up for grabs, Begleiter will come in third in chips.

He told PokerListings the chance to play against the best in the game is what drew him to Legends.

"I took a vacation, then I took another week off and then the voice inside my head said let's go play some poker," he said. "I want to play against top flight competition and that's what these $10k events have to offer. The high-limit buy-ins attract a lot of really good players, so I'm going to play a handful of them prior to the Main Event."

Begleiter said he will definitely be at the WSOP Europe in London this September and is considering playing the WPT's Festa al Lago at Bellagio in October.

Schaffel, 51, will enter the final nine sixth in chips and with plans to play just here at Legends and PokerStars EPT London at the beginning of October; his schedule should be a little lighter.

In the meantime, he's preparing any way he can.

"I've been reading a little bit and playing some sit and go's to try to get some shorthanded play in, because usually I play full ring games," he explained. "I'm also going to watch all the [2009 WSOP Main Event coverage on ESPN]. I love the show. I've watched them all since Moneymaker.

Kevin Schaffel
$10k is $10k.

"I don't really know what you can pick up from watching one or two hands, but I'm going to watch how [the rest of the November Nine] play in general and that's all I can do. I don't really think I'm going to find any nervous ticks on anybody though."

While playing at Legends, Schaffel is actually hoping he can keep thoughts of Main Event on the back burner.

"$10,000 is still $10,000 and a first place of [$1 million dollars] is still a lot of money," he said. "So I won't find myself thinking about November during this tournament."

Begleiter claims he's here simply to stay sharp.

"If I didn't play poker for like three and a half months, or whatever, I'd be a little over-focused on what's going to happen in November," he said. "If I play regularly, hopefully I go in there playing at a high level and I'll make better decisions."

The 47-year-old investment banker is also squarely focused on staying in good physical shape heading into the final.

"I'm really trying to stay in shape," he said. "I'm not the youngest guy at the table and there's a good chance it'll be a long night. I think the adrenaline rush will keep everybody sharp, but I'm definitely working out regularly.

"I think that helped me in the Main Event and so I'm definitely going to go in there in good shape."

Joseph Cada
Rumble, young man, rumble.

The youngest guy at the Main Event final table will be 21-year-old Joe Cada.

He'll start fifth in chips in November and starting with the Legends of Poker, he plans to play as much as he can between now and then.

"There's a bunch of other tournaments I'll be playing," he said, mentioning EPT Barcelona and the WSOPE in particular. "I'm just going to continue to play and go to a bunch of tournaments trying to stay sharp."

In a strange twist of fate, Cada actually had Begleiter on his left to start the day at Legends.

"I think it helps having Steven to my left, so I can get a chance to see how he plays a little," he said.

Cada says he'll also be watching the ESPN broadcast to pick up whatever he can.

"Of course I'm going to watch on ESPN," he said. "There are some hands I'm definitely interested in seeing."

As Day 1 of WPT Legends of Poker wrapped Saturday, Begleiter found himself among the chip leaders.

Legends continues from The Bicycle Casino with Day 2 starting at 3 p.m. PT Sunday and you can follow all the action from our Live Tournaments page.

The 279 total players created a $2,625,500 prize pool. One hundred and eighty players will head into Day 2, the money starts at 27th place and first pays $1,009,000.

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