Some of the finalists hope the millions won will be enough to make poker simply a just-for-fun pastime, rather than a bankroll boost to launch them into poker’s most expensive games.
“I hope that I will not need to play poker for (income) after the 8th of November,” said 21-year-old Anton Makiievskyi, an aspiring poker professional from the Ukraine who said he has been supporting himself with poker since 2008.
“I like this game, but for three years I needed to play it. In case of winning first place, I will play only for pleasure and results of my poker sessions will not make any changes to my life,” Makiievskyi told The Associated Press.
“Poker is just a card game,” he said. “It’s cool but I don’t want to be addicted to it.”
Makiievskyi starts the final table eighth in chips, the second fewest among players.
Three Americans, plus finalists from Belize, Ireland, Germany, England, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, topped a field of 6,865 entrants at the no-limit Texas Hold ‘em main event in July and are returning Sunday to settle the title over two days of play. A champion will be crowned Tuesday night.
The finale will play out nearly live on television for the first time, with ESPN airing the action with just enough of a delay to satisfy Nevada gambling regulators that the players won’t have any way to tell what their opponents are holding.
Stripped to its most basic level, the no-limit Texas Hold ‘em played at the main event couldn’t be simpler as a variant of poker. But play the game between nine high-level thinkers, give them 3½ months to prepare and stage the televised game in front of a live crowd of hundreds of spectators, and the game suddenly becomes far more difficult.
Matt Giannetti, a 26-year-old poker professional from Las Vegas who won the World Poker Tour Malta in September for 200,000 euros, said if it weren’t for that win during the break, he’d have rather finished the series in July.