Event 61: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event

Seat 7: Robert Salaburu -- 15,155,000

Robert Salaburu
Robert Salaburu

Robert Salaburu is a Texas native and a professional poker player. He's been playing poker for six years, and this is by far his biggest poker achievement to date. Salaburu got interested in poker during high school, where he'd play home games in his buddy's garage. From there, he transferred to online play and claims he got "hooked."

Prior to this Main Event run, Salaburu had $42,411 in live tournament earnings. His largest score was a win back at the North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun for $17,261 in a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em side event.

Since reaching the Octo-Nine, Salaburu has cashed twice on the circuit. He placed in the money in The River Poker Series, and then he took eighth place in the Daytona Beach Heartland Poker Tour. Those scores netted him $5,381 and $14,796, respectively.

Salaburu held the chip lead at points during the Main Event, but it was when there were about 100 players left that he really felt he had a shot. Here's what he had to say when asked about when he thought he had a legitimate chance at making the Octo-Nine:

"Probably with about 100 players left. I continued to hold the chip lead for about two days. Whenever I get a chip lead in a tournament, I am pretty hyper-aggressive. I tend to just go for it and try to maintain. When you have chips late in a tournament like that and you see them breaking to ten tables, then nine tables, then eight tables, then fifty people then 25. Right around there, I knew I had a legitimate shot of getting there and making a good run at it."

Salaburu will start the final table with 15.155 million in chips and is seventh overall. He does have direct position on the chip leader, Jesse Sylvia, which could work to his advantage if he has some good timing.

Märksõnad: Robert Salaburu

Seat 8: Andras Koroknai -- 29,375,000

Andras Koroknai
Andras Koroknai

By making the World Series of Poker Main Event final table, Andras Koroknai has become the first Hungarian player to do so. That also makes him eligible to become the first Hungarian Main Event champion the WSOP has ever seen, and he's got a solid chance to earn that honor as he stands second in chips with 29.375 million.

Entering this final table, Koroknai has over $1.84 million in live tournament earnings. The bulk of that comes from one major score. Back in 2010, Koroknai won the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic for nearly $1.79 million after topping a field of 745 players. Other notable cashes on his record include two in-the-money finishes in previous WSOP events. One of those was the 2010 Main Event where Koroknai placed 339th for $36,463.

Koroknai surged into the final table on Day 7 by busting Elisabeth Hille in 11th place, then Gaelle Baumann in 10th place. Interestingly enough, both were women and one (Baumann) was a player Koroknai had a little bit on controversy with prior.

Koroknai and Baumann were involved in a pot where Baumann had raised, Koroknai had announced she was all in, and then Koroknai mucked his hand before Baumann could act. You can read about the hand here, and it generated a lot of chatter from the community. What's even more interesting is that Koroknai told Robert Salaburu, "The French girl is mine," upon reaching the 10-handed final table. If anyone's going to be the bad guy at this final table, it's surely Koroknai.

When asked about eliminating both females from the event, Koroknai said:

"I hadn’t thought about it. When I sit down at the table, I don’t care if it’s a male or female player, everybody is equal and everybody wants to win. Everybody is each other’s opponents. There is no friendship at the poker table."

Koroknai is 30 years old and considers himself a professional poker player.

Märksõnad: Andras Koroknai

Seat 9: Michael Esposito -- 16,260,000

Michael Esposito
Michael Esposito

Hailing from Seaford, New York, Michael Esposito is the second oldest player at this final table at 44 years old. His occupation is a commodity broker out of New York City, and poker isn't Esposito's full-time gig. In fact, Esposito claims he plays only a few times a year as a hobby.

Coming into this final table, Esposito had $173,299 in live tournament earnings. Those earnings came from cashes that have stretched back several years to 2002.

Prior to this big run, where he has already locked up over $750,000 like his eight opponents, Esposito's largest score was for $47,310. That cash came back in 2005 when Esposito took ninth place in the World Series of Poker Circuit Atlantic City event. He also had another big score for $33,600 in Atlantic City at the 2003 United States Poker Championships $4,000 Seven Card Stud Event.

When it comes to the WSOP, Esposito has three others cashes on record besides this one. Two of them are small, but in 2006 he did manage to get into the money in the WSOP Main Event where he finished in 540th place for $22,266.

When asked what was more important to him, the $8.5 million or the gold bracelet, here's what Esposito had to say:

"Trust me, the money is more important than the bracelet. If you wanted to tell me that I could come in second and get the $8.5 million and the other guy could have the $5 million, I’d sign up for that deal right now. I don’t need any of the stuff that goes with it. Realistically, my year to play poker next year will probably be very similar to my year to play poker this year. I’ll play in a few small tournaments during the year. If something works work-wise I might play something else next year. Maybe I’ll play two or three small tournaments and the Main Event next year. It’s really not going to make that big of a difference. But, I’m hoping this can get me in the Ironman World Championship in October because they have a big media thing, so maybe they’ll give me a slot to go. I’m going to try to see if I can do that. I’m going to try to play that card."

Esposito is bunched in the bottom half of the group of players with 16.26 million in chips. He's right behind Steven Gee in sixth place overall, but not too far ahead of Robert Salaburu and Jake Balsiger.

Märksõnad: Michael Esposito

The Octo-Nine Is Here

The 2012 WSOP Octo-Nine
The 2012 WSOP Octo-Nine

Good afternoon from here in Las Vegas, folks. Today marks the kickoff the of the greatest final table in poker as it belongs to the World Series of Poker Main Event!

Just about three and a half months ago, the nine finalists etched their name in the poker history books by becoming the nine members of the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table. Not only that, but they also became the first group called the "Octo-Nine". Headed by big chip leader Jesse Sylvia, everyone remaining has locked up a minimum of $754,798, and it's the top seven spots that will become millionaires.

Speaking of Sylvia, he'll be looking to achieve what Jonathan Duhamel did when he came into the final table as chip leader, and that's win the title. Other former chip leaders since the delay in action were Dennis Phillips (2008), Darvin Moon (2009) and Martin Staszko (2011), but they all failed to get the job done.

Trailing Sylvia are Andras Koroknai and Greg Merson with just about the same amount of chips. Koroknai could be seen as one of the dark spots of this final table, but to him it doesn't seem to matter how the public views him. There has been some controversy around Koroknai, and he even told Robert Salaburu, "The French girl is mine." upon making it down to the 10-handed final table, speaking of Gaelle Baumann.

Merson, on the other hand, has been to the dark side, but has since worked his way back. Having come into poker and money at a young age, Merson fell into a drug addiction, but has battled against it to get his life back in order. Doing so allowed him to win his first WSOP gold bracelet earlier this year, and can still see him win a second. He could also win the WSOP Player of the Year if he were to claim first place. Right now, Phil Hellmuth is set to take those honors.

Another feel good story alongside Merson's would be if Jake Balsiger won, but he'd have to do it coming from the second shortest stack remaining. Balsiger is just 21 years and 281 days old, and he could become the youngest Main Event champion in history. The 2009 champion, Joe Cada, was 21 years and 356 days old when he won the event.

Here's a look at the final table, and how the players will stack up in seat order:

SeatPlayerCountryAgeChip Count
1Russell ThomasUSA2424,800,000
2Jake BalsigerUSA2113,115,000
3Jeremy AusmusUSA329,805,000
4Steven GeeUSA5716,860,000
5Greg MersonUSA2428,725,000
6Jesse SylviaUSA2643,875,000
7Robert SalaburuUSA2715,155,000
8Andras KoroknaiHungary3029,375,000
9Michael EspositoUSA4316,260,000

The crowd here inside the Penn & Teller Theatre is heating up, and the electricity is in the air. There's going to be plenty of excitement on the way, and you won't want to miss a thing!

Märksõnad: Andras KoroknaiGreg MersonGregory MersonJacob BalsigerJake BalsigerJeremy AusmusJesse SylviaMichael EspositoRobert SalaburuRussell ThomasSteven Gee

Event 61: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event
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