Not only is the final table of the prestigious World Series of Poker (WSOP) $50,000 buy-in HORSE event packed with familiar faces and live poker pros, it also keeps the Player of the Year race after many thought three-time 2009 bracelet winner Jeffrey Lisandro had it in the bag.
The HORSE event drew only 98 runners this year compared to past fields of approximately 140 players. Some credit the economy with the drop off in numbers. Others suggest the $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Anniversary event held at the beginning of the Series drew players away from the event many refer to as the “pro’s bracelet.” And still others, like Daniel Negreanu, believe that the lack of ESPN televised coverage of the event is what primarily contributed to the drop in attendance.
Whatever the reason may be, the slightly smaller field still boasted one of the more star-studded lineups of this WSOP and fans showed up to rail their favorite players as early as Day One. Last year’s winner, Scotty Nguyen, failed to make the money this year as did Barry Greenstein, who has possibly the most consistent results in this three-year old event. Freddy Deeb, the champion from two years ago, managed to make the money, but missed out on the final table, finishing in 14th place.
The players who did make it through to the elite eight–handed final table include Huck Seed, Chau Giang, Erik Seidel, John Hanson, $40,000 No Limit Hold’em bracelet winner Vitaly Lunkin and Ville Wahlbeck. This final table marks Wahlbeck’s sixth cash of the year and fourth final table. He already has first, second and third place finishes in the Mixed Game Championship, 2-7 Lowball Championship and Seven Card Stud Hi Championship respectively. While he is the short stack going into the final table, a win in this event would propel him past Lisandro in the Player of the Year standings while a second place finish would put him just five points out of first place.
Lunkin is another player who could make a big jump on the Player of the Year leader board. A top three finish in the event would put Lunkin just behind Wahlbeck and Lisandro and just ahead of Phil Ivey with the Main Event still left to play. Going purely by the starting chip counts at the final table, a top three finish seems feasible for Lunkin, as he is second in chips to Eric Sagstrom with 2.5 million chips compared to Sagstrom’s 3.7 million.
David Bach and Hanson are third and fourth in chips heading into Tuesday’s final table and NBC National Heads-Up Poker Champion Huck Seed is right behind them in fifth place. Seed made the final table of last year’s HORSE event as well, ultimately finishing in seventh place. Sixth in chips is eight-time bracelet winner Seidel. A win on Tuesday would tie Seidel with poker legend Johnny Moss on the highest number career bracelets, trailing only Phil Hellmuth (11), Johnny Chan (10) and Doyle Brunson (10).
Play at the final table of the HORSE event begins at 2PM PT on Tuesday and will continue until they are down to a winner. The champion will receive the gold bracelet, the commemorative Chip Reese Trophy and a first place prize worth $1,276,806.

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