LAS VEGAS — When nine poker players take their seats around a studio-lit table at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas Nov. 11-12 to battle for a $10 million top prize, they will be among the World Series of Poker’s youngest and greenest in recent history, with none having won a title before.
Dubbed the “November Nine,” the finalists have returned after a four-month break since outplaying nearly 6,700 other players who paid $10,000 each up front to play, among them some of poker’s biggest names.
In addition to the $10 million pot of winnings, the last player standing also wins one of the World Series of Poker’s coveted gold bracelets.
One player is a foosball champion who had never competed in the World Series of Poker. Another gets a second chance in a rare back-to-back appearance after an early knockout last year. The rest of the table is made up of poker players from all over the world — none older than 32.
The average age is 28, not as young as in 2010 but even that year, the oldest player was 37.
Not a one of them has a gold bracelet, the signature award for the top winner in any of the individual World Series of Poker events.
The main event, culminating this week, is just one World Series of Poker event but certainly the most watched.
The overall tournament spans seven weeks in June and July and has attracted close to 80,000 people who played (and paid with hefty buy-ins) to win in 65 events.
The World Series of Poker of today is a far cry from its original incarnation in 1970. That’s when Benny Binion set up a single table at his Horseshoe Casino and invited players who ultimately voted on a winner at the end.