WSOP TODAY: July 16; Final nine decided in Main Event, Balkin finishes 18th

Highlights from day 51 of the 2012 WSOP (July 16)

Nearly two weeks and more than half a million hands after the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event started, the famed “October/November Nine” finalists (pictured above) have been determined. The decisive moment on day seven came when Andras Koroknai (Hungary) eliminated Gaelle Baumann (France) in 10th place.

In recent years, WSOP Main Event final tables have comprised an international collection of players from different backgrounds. However, this year’s championship was dominated by Americans, who occupy eight of the nine seats in the finale. Andras Karoknai from Hungary stands as the lone international challenger.

Aussie David Balkin, a 38-year-old security consultant to an online poker site, entered day seven in great shape and climbed as high as 12th in chips with 25 players remaining. However, his dream of reaching the final table ended in sensational circumstances, as described on

“On the first hand after the two-table redraw, David Balkin raised to 425,000 from middle position and was called by Michael Esposito. The 8s-Ks-8h saw Balkin bet 625,000, Esposito call, and the Qc appear on the turn. This time Balkin checked, and Esposito fired out 925,000. Balkin responded by moving all in and Esposito snap-called.

Showdown – Esposito Ac-8c; Balkin As-Ad. Balkin no doubt thought he had the best hand, but Esposito had nailed the flop and was a huge favourite; in fact, Balkin needed the case ace to stay alive. The dealer burned one last time and put out the Qs, putting an end to the Australian’s deep run in 18th place.” Balkin earned USD $369,026 for his 18th-place finish.

However, perhaps the biggest story of the day was the stunning way the summer series ended with female players taking 10th and 11th places, respectively. For most of the day it appeared that at least one female would match Poker Hall of Famer Barbara Enright’s 1995 feat, as the only female in history to make it to a Main Event final table. However, when Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle had their hopes crushed with “bubble” final table bustouts, the aspirations of a woman in the championship came to a disappointing end.

The chip leader entering the finale is Jesse Sylvia, from San Antonio, Texas.  He will resume play with 43,875,000 in chips, about 14,000,000 more than the second-place challenger. Chip leaders are one for three (wins) in the last three years – with first, second, and second-place finishes. This year’s finalists are:

Seat 1: Russell Thomas (Hartford, CT) 24,800,000
Seat 2: Jacob Balsiger (Tempe, AZ) 13,115,000
Seat 3: Jeremy Ausmus (Las Vegas, NV) 9,805,000
Seat 4: Steven Gee (Sacramento, CA) 16,860,000
Seat 5: Greg Merson (Laurel, MD) 28,725,000
Seat 6: Jesse Sylvia (West Tisbury, MA) 43,875,000
Seat 7: Robert Salaburu (San Antonio, TX) 15,155,000
Seat 8: Andras Koroknai (Debrecen, Hungary) 29,375,000
Seat 9: Michael Esposito (Seaford, NY) 16,260,000

Next, the tournament takes a 102-day recess.  In the meantime, each of the nine finalists will return to their homes and families. The final table will be played October 29-30, 2012 at the Rio in Las Vegas. Note that this year’s championship finale was moved up one week ahead of the usual “November Nine” session, due to this year’s U.S. presidential election.

Each of the players who made it this far are now guaranteed $754,798 in prize money. Seven of the top nine finishers will become millionaires. But none of the players will be content with a ninth-place finish at this point with a whopping $8,527,982 in prize money for the winner.

2012 WSOP Main Event (USD $10,000 + $600 buy-in, 6598 players, 666 players paid, prizepool USD $62,021,200, nine players remaining, end of day 7 chip count)

Jesse Sylvia (West Tisbury, MA) 43,875,000
Andras Koroknai (Debrecen, Hungary) 29,375,000
Greg Merson (Laurel, MD) 28,725,000
Russell Thomas (Hartford, CT) 24,800,000
Steven Gee (Sacramento, CA) 16,860,000
Michael Esposito (Seaford, NY) 16,260,000
Robert Salaburu (San Antonio, TX) 15,155,000
Jacob Balsiger (Tempe, AZ) 13,115,000
Jeremy Ausmus (Las Vegas, NV) 9,805,000

Other results (Australian players)

18 David Balkin $369,026
83 Lawrie Gibson $73,805
284 Jackie Glazier $38,453
580 Paul Birman $21,707
582 Paul Spiteri $21,707
585 Michael Weiss $21,707

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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