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November 22, 2017

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Two former final table members among 97 players still alive in WSOP Main Event

Eric Buchman in the middle of the pack, while Sam Holden working a short stack


Leila Navidi

Sam Holden plays in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 12, 2012.

Notable End of Day 5 Approximate Chip Counts

  • Players Left: 97
  • Average Chips: 2,040,619
  • Chip Leader: 6,935,000 (Kyle Keranen)
  • Gaelle Baumann — 3,980,000
  • Amnon Filippi — 3,400,000
  • A.J. Jejelowo — 3,340,000
  • Paul Volpe — 3,250,000
  • Roland Israelashvili — 2,805,000
  • David Baker — 1,910,000
  • Eric Buchman — 1,550,000
  • Amit Makhija — 1,400,000
  • Jason Somerville — 1,400,000
  • Vanessa Selbst — 1,350,000
  • Isaac Baron — 1,165,000
  • Leo Wolpert — 940,000
  • Samuel Holden — 765,000
  • David Randall — 710,000
  • Gavin Smith — 675,000
Click to enlarge photo

Eric Buchman is introduced before the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Since the World Series of Poker Main Event shifted its format to hold the November Nine four years ago, no player has advanced to the final table twice.

No one has really even come close, as 2008 winner Peter Eastgate’s 78th place in 2009 and 2008 fourth-place finisher Dennis Phillips’ 45th in 2009 are the only two repeat top-100 showings among those to make the November Nine.

Two players are looking to change that as the 2012 Main Event enters Day 6 Sunday at the Rio. Eric Buchman, who finished fourth in 2009, and Samuel Holden, who came in ninth last year, are still alive with 97 players left.

“I really try for this tournament,” said Buchman, a 32-year old from New York. “It’s important to me, whereas some other tournaments, I won’t take as serious and make some mistakes. I’ll give it away. In this tournament, I won’t give it away even if I’m short. I stick with it.”

Two more days of play are scheduled before this year’s final table emerges at the Rio. Every player remaining in the Main Event is guaranteed a $62,021 payday.

Buchman has claimed his third Main Event cash in the past four years. He made $2.5 million for making the final table in 2009 and followed that by coming in 554th the next year for $24,079.

That’s among the most impressive recent stretches in poker’s world championship. One of the only men Buchman may trail in that regard is 26-year old Joseph Cheong, who was also looking to make his second Main Event final table before busting out late Saturday.

Cheong exited in 116th when his pocket 10s lost to an opponent’s ace-king, earning $52,718 in the process. Cheong incredibly cashed in the Main Event three consecutive years — this year follows a bronze finish for $4.1 million in 2010 and a 114th place for $54,851 last year.

“The good structure and deep stacks help any good player come out on top of amateur players,” Cheong told “But it’s really kind of shocking I could make it this far three years in a row with this many players.”

Holden, a 23-year old from London, shared the same feelings on making it to Day 5 for two consecutive years. Holden had never played in the WSOP before last year’s Main Event, which he turned into a $782,115 payday.

He wasn’t surprised to see Buchman and Cheong alongside him making a deep run late in the day Sunday — there’s something to be said for repeat success in the event, Holden thinks.

“I’m sure the experience helps in dealing with the pressure,” Holden said. “Some don’t cope with it all as well, but I know to keep playing my normal game.”

Holden had one of the lower chip counts in the room at 830,000 at the end of play Saturday. But that’s similar to the position he was in at this time in last year’s Main Event.

Holden’s hopeful he can follow the same path the rest of the way. Becoming the first player to make the November Nine final table twice would go down as a historic feat.

“That would be pretty awesome, but we’re a long way from that,” Holden said. “I’m not thinking too much about it. It would be a major accomplishment, but also be very fortunate.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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