I'm at the World Series of Pokertoday in Las Vegas, as the final table of nine players will resume on Saturday, with a champion to be crowned some time on Tuesday morning.
The stories behind the nine men who beat out almost 6,500 others, who paid $10,000 for the chance to win millions, are nothing short of amazing.
Well-known pro Phil Ivey is in the mix, as is Joseph Cada, a 21-year-old from Michigan. But the two names you won't forget out of the group — who already collected $1.2 million each and are vying for the top prize of $8.5 million — are Darvin Moonand Steven Begleiter.
If Moon wins, odds are high this will become a Hollywood story. He's a 46-year-old logger from Maryland, who is the chip leader. He only started playing four years ago and, unlike most amateurs who make the grade, Moon hasn't played online. In fact, he doesn't even own a computer and has never sent an e-mail in his life. He wears a Saints hat because he has always rooted for the underdog (the Saints are of course undefeated this year) and he has turned down almost $200,000 in endorsements because he doesn't want anyone to dictate his future schedule.
The next best story is Begleiter, who worked at Bear Stearns for 24 years until the day it crumbled. Begleiter won a seat at the World Series of Poker through a 22-person league with his friends and made his way to third place in chips. The Wall Street angle is certainly cool, but even cooler is the fact that Begleiter plans to give 20 percent of his winnings to the buddies he plays with.
Over the years, ESPN has done a nice job broadcasting the event. I'm not necessarily a poker fanatic, but I do love great stories and the characters that this event has produced have been tremendous.
Delaying the final table to catch up with the network's highly produced action is definitely the right move. No championship event can have credibility these days if it is significantly tape delayed.
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