Wicked Chops Poker is disgustingly good at making predictions. We’re like 20th century Nostradumi…except it’s the 21st century, and where Nostradamus gave painfully vague quatrains for his prognostications, we just come flat out and tell you what will happen. In fact, part of our Mission Statement reads: "…and while we’re at it, screw Nostradamus. We will provide our readers with accurate predictions that aren’t bullshit vague quatrains like that fraud."
With that in mind, below is how we think the final table–which you can purchase on PPV, play starts at 2 p.m. (PST)–will shake down, as well as some other predictions on final table play. And we’ll be providing you updates all night on who’s in, who’s out, and what’s happening.
And for more detailed info on the final nine than we care to give, read here, here, here and here.
Now, let’s discuss who won’t win:
:: PokerStars has three players at the final table this year. And none of them will win. Dan "danxxx1" Nassif of St. Loo is a 33-year-old advertising sales exec. As told on the excellent PokerStars Blog, Dan "had to call his bosses at the Riverfront Times last weekend and ask for a few more days’ vacation." He brings 2.6M to the final table and will exit early.
:: PokerStars finalist #2 is Doug Kim from West Chester, New York. He’s a recent Duke grad, which means he probably partied his ass off the past four years and got to bang morally casual brainy co-eds. He’s stacked at 6.77M.
:: PokerStars finalist #3 is 23 year-old Swede Erik Friberg (at right, image from PokerStars Blog). Known for being uber-aggressive, he’ll bring 9,605,000 to the final table for the fourth biggest stack overall. While we actually view Friberg as a threat, we don’t think he’ll end up pulling it through. It’s also very possible he could be one of the first eliminated.
:: Known as "Kwickfish," 25 year-old former bartender and restaurant manager Paul Wasicka has been playing poker for 2 1/2 years. He’s stacked at 7,970,000.
:: Rhett Butler is an insurance agent from Rockville, Md. He’s 44 years old and has three kids. Butler will bring 4,815,000 to the final table and will exit early and quickly be forgotten.
:: Michael Binger (at right, photo from Poker Pages) is a 29-year-old who earned a PhD in theoretical particle physics from Stanford, whatever the hell that is. He’s been playing poker for six years. This is his second WSOP ME, and he banked $101,570 in Event #27 earlier this WSOP. He’d be more of a threat if he wasn’t stacked at 3,140,000.
Now for the final three…
:: "Some" might say that Jamie Gold has dominated our headlines the past week. And "some" would be right. This ex-talent agent, current production chief of BuzzNation, and regular at the Beverly Hills home poker game started by Frank Sinatra and later picked up by Ben Affleck, is known as the ‚ÄúKing of the Minor Leagues.‚Äù He’s been absolutely killing every table he’s been at since Day 4. His run has truly been sick. However, there’s a few factors we think will keep him from winning it all: 1) he’s torn as to whether or not he actually wants to win it, 2) eventually, his unbelievable run of good cards, reads, and timely situations will have to come to an end, and 3) Allen Cunningham. Gold mentioned in his ESPN feature interview that he “fears” Cunningham (we’re sure you’ll see this during ESPN’s broadcast coverage in a couple of months). With the huge chip disparity between Gold and Cunningham vs. the rest of the field, it’s highly likely that those two will end up playing heads-up, and Cunningham would then have a huge advantage. But there’s also no guarantee either that Gold will make the final two.
Which leads us to the following.
:: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and now a resident of dump-heap San Antonio, Richard Lee has been playing poker for 40 years. At 55 years of age, he’s the oldest final table-ist. He’s third overall in chips going into final table play, stacked at 11,820,000. Here’s what we like about him: 1) he’s a semi-professional gambler, so 2) he’s got a lot of gamble in him, and 3) he’s the most "unknown" under-the-radar quantity at the table, somewhat in the same vein as Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer. If the man we’re obviously about to pick as the winner DOESN’T pull it out, it will be because of Lee’s gamble. However, if Lee flames out early and it comes to a heads-up battle with Gold, then all roads are paved for…
:: Allen Cunningham. He’s our pick. What do you think we are, fucking stupid? Even if our wicked prognostication chops were screaming at us to pick someone else, we’d still choose Cunningham. He is one of the best cash players in the world. With over $4.5M in career tourney earnings and four WSOP bracelets, he’s one of the best tournament players in the world. He’s held in the highest regard by his peers. He’s also playing for a $10M bonus from Full Tilt Poker if he pulls this out–so he could bank a total of $22M for the win. Cunningham brings the second biggest stack, 17,770,000, to the final table. He’s got chips to play with and is used to the pressure. Barring some Richard Lee gamble that pays off, Cunningham will mow down this final table and be the first “pro” to win the Main Event since Carlos Mortensen.
As for some other predictions:
:: Don’t expect the record long final table play of last year to repeat itself. Joe Hachem is a pretty conservative guy, and when Mike Matusow was eliminated early, the one person (along with Andy Black) who really could mix it up and give action was gone. These guys have mostly been playing hyper-fast during the tournament and are all set to bank over a mil. Plus, there’s a huge chip disparity between most of the group and Jamie Gold and Allen Cunningham. Gold in particular could lose a few all-ins versus the short stacks and barely feel the hit. This thing will be done in 7-8 hours.
:: The winner will be male. Definitely.
:: The winner will say, "Yes!" when the final hand is over.
:: The winner will shake hands with the guy who comes in second.
Take all of these to the bank, people.
And check back here throughout the night for updates.