On Monday night, the final 9 participants of the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event will finally play out the final table they reached back in July. The tournament started with 6352 participants, leading to a 1st place prize of $8.3 million. The final table (aka “the November Nine”) is broadcast live (with a slight delay) on ESPN2, and tends to attract a lot of attention from the casual viewer. While these casual viewers get caught up in the excitements of all-ins, the huge prize money, and the idea of the dream, there’s many other interesting factors that run through the tournament that those who aren’t serious poker players aren’t privy to.
One of these things is the fact that many, if not all, of these players have received coaching from top pros over the course of the 4 months since play first wrapped up in July. This will lead to many of the players playing completely differently than they did up through their initial run to the final table. And most casual viewers also tend not to realize just how much time it takes to get to the final table, as they are used to see quick highlights of big hands on TV broadcasts. The truth is these players all made it through 7 grueling days with 12-14 hours of play each to get to this point. Another factor that is often lost on casual viewers is the amount of thought and analysis that goes into each and every hand of poker. There’s an incredible amount of calculation of odds and probability, as well as psychology and planning that goes into every decision in a hand of poker. While poker is often seen as purely a game of luck, that is not the case. There’s an incredible amount of skill that goes into the game, that can often be masked due to the presence of variance. Regardless of all these things that can be lost on the average viewer, the WSOP Main Event final table still manages to entertain both the average viewer and the knowledgeable poker player alike. There’s one idea that appeals to both types of viewers: at the end of it all, one person will be left standing and claiming an incredibly life-changing amount of money for their efforts.