When the final table of the 2012 WSOP Main Event finally plays out at the end of the month it's hard to imagine anyone being more prepared than Russell Thomas.
Since making the October Nine, the 24-year-old actuary cashed at WPT Parx, played numerous WCOOP events from Toronto, played EPT Barcelona and WSOPE and has been working steadily with final-table coach Jason Somerville.
“Hopefully I’ll be ready,” said the 888poker-sponsored player.
We spoke with Thomas during the WSOPE Main Event in Cannes. It was a frustrating tournament for Thomas as he showed moments of dominance but had the misfortune of getting pocket aces cracked by ace-king in a massive hand that eventually led to his elimination.
Video Series Follows Thomas' Training Efforts
In the weeks leading up to the WSOP Main Event final table in Las Vegas, which takes place Oct. 29-30, 2012, Thomas has plans to run a number of mock final tables to get familiar with situations that might arise with millions on the line.
“We just set everyone up with the exact stacks they have when the final table starts back up,” he said. “Then I just analyze all my hands and see if I’m making any mistakes.”
Jeff Schulman reportedly went through similar training when he made the WSOP Main Event final table in 2009.
“I don’t know anyone else that has done it,” said Thomas.
Interestingly Somerville has been producing a video series based on Thomas’ journey to the final table that you can now watch to see behind-the-scenes footage of in-depth poker training. Thomas has already placed second and sixth in two of the mock final tables.
Dealing with the Media Spotlight
Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, but currently residing in Hartford, Connecticut, Thomas has been inundated with media attention since making the final table.
“I had random co-workers coming up to me when I went back to my job,” he said. “It’s been a lot of attention for sure.”
Unlike some of his opponents, Thomas has a day job and is still undecided as to whether he’ll pursue poker full time after the Main Event final table.
If he wants to take down the tournament for $8.5 million at the end of the month he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him.
Thomas to Compete Against Former Roommate Sylvia
Jesse Sylvia, Russell Thomas
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Thomas is none other than former roommate, and current Main Event chip leader, Jesse Sylvia.
Sylvia will take 43 million chips into the final table compared to Thomas’ 24 million. Despite the competition both players remain good friends and were actively discussing strategy at the WSOPE.
“I don’t think we’re guarded about it,” he said. “We talked about hands at the [WSOPE]. I think we know each other so well it’s not a big deal.”
There are certainly some experienced players at the final table with Greg Merson and even Hungarian Andras Koroknai having both won major tournaments but Thomas mentioned he was impressed with short-stack Jake Balsiger.
“I think Jake is probably a little underrated,” he said. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience, even online, but just by talking to him he seems a lot better than his experience would suggest.”
Thomas is done with the live tournament circuit for now and you won’t see him at another tournament until the Main Event resumes on Oct. 29.
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