Congratulations to poker fans everywhere and especially ESPN's NORMAN CHAD, who always picks Phil Ivey to make the final table and win it all. We'll know in four months.
Some of the final nine players said the next four months will be an overabundance of attention and potential sponsorship opportunities. For others, the time off will translate into an opportunity to better their game. Some will watch the taped coverage of the main event on ESPN to see if they can pick up clues about their opponents.
"Study them? I don't know," said Phil Ivey of Las Vegas, easily the most recognizable name of the nine players. "I think they all know what they're doing. Anyone is capable of winning it."
Ivey, 33, has seven World Series of Poker individual event champion bracelets, 35 career cashes in the tournament and almost $3.5 million in career winnings. Two of his bracelets came this year. But Ivey had never made it to the final table in the main event.
"I'm just in a zone, playing really well," Ivey said.
He almost didn't survive Wednesday. Ivey entered play in fourth place. He quickly dropped to the bottom of the leader board, losing three successive pots worth some 10 million in tournament chips.
"I lost every hand I played," he said. "I got knocked down pretty quickly and just grinded my way back. I was just hanging around waiting for something good to happen."