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WSOP History: Looking Back at the November (and October) Nines

The November Nine concept fell by the wayside a few years back.

COVID-19 forced the postponement of the 2020 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. In lieu of being able to live report this year's summer series, PokerNews has decided to relive some of the memories of past WSOPs. This Day in WSOP History will harken back to the most poignant moments of WSOPs from 2005-2019.

No stage in poker stood as a bigger goal for a tournament player than the final table of the WSOP Main Event. For years, that meant going to sleep knowing you had the chance of a lifetime, to go down in poker history in the next few days as the cameras captured your every bet, raise and fold.

All of that changed in 2008.

The year after Jerry Yang's Main Event victory was broadcast to all on ESPN's standard tape delay, organizers made a decision to try to increase the excitement and anticipation around the final table: after the final nine was reached, play would be paused. At that point, everyone left would go home with 9th-place money and the players would reconvene a few months later to play out the final table on a short tape delay.

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November Nine Concept

The idea had a few points of reasoning behind it.

For one thing, players would have a chance to garner sponsorships and build up their star power within the poker world and without. Local news could trumpet them as heroes while they made deals with poker sites that would net them thousands of dollars in extra earnings.

For another, the concept of editing and displaying a final table months after it happened was starting to become less tenable thanks to the reach of the internet. If all of the viewers already knew who won because the results were leaked, they'd be less inclined to tune in once the actual broadcast hit the airwaves.

Plus, the actual quality of the poker would likely improve as the players had a chance to increase their skill levels in the intervening months.

Early Years of November Nine

While not everyone was thrilled with the idea, the WSOP went ahead and implemented it starting in 2008.

Peter Eastgate emerged as the event's youngest champion, winning $9.1 million. While he didn't exactly become a household name in the aftermath, he did parlay the win into a memorable appearance on "High Stakes Poker" before he ultimately faded out of the spotlight and stopped appearing at poker tournaments.

The following year, a major moment materialized when universally respected superstar Phil Ivey made the final table, albeit with one of the shorter stacks.

Phil Ivey
Ivey met an untimely end in seventh.

Ivey managed to put himself in good position to chip up, but the cards simply wouldn't fall his way. Ivey had Joe Cada at risk in a flip for his tournament life, but the eventual champ had a bulletproof vest on that whole final table as he survived a slew of all-in pots, including this one with fours against ace-eight. Then, 175 hands in, Ivey got it all in and way ahead, ace-king against the ace-queen of Antoine Saout. However, fans everywhere were crushed as a queen-high board ran out to send Ivey packing in seventh and end the epic sweat.

Michael Mizrachi made it two straight years with a star, albeit a lesser one this time, at the final table when he got there in 2010. Like Ivey, though, he'd be unable to make it happen as he ultimately settled for fifth place as Jonathan Duhamel steamrolled through with his big stack.

Poker Landscape Changes

The 2011 final table would see another European champ emerge then shun the spotlight as Pius Heinz, a little-known German, prevailed.

However, by that time, the poker world had already experienced a radical transformation. The events of Black Friday, which saw the leading online poker sites sanctioned by the U.S. federal government, reshaped the sponsorship landscape, and not for the better from a player perspective. Suddenly, sponsorship dollars dwindled as poker sites no longer had more money flowing in than they knew what to do with thanks to their U.S. customers being frozen out.

Two of the most memorable final tables being played in the following couple of years when Greg Merson won a three-handed battle of record length in 2012 and Martin Jacobson pulled off a short-stack clinic in 2014 — Ryan Riess took one home for the WSOP Circuit grinders in between — but the concept of the November Nine was wearing thin.

For one thing, the "immediacy" of a short delay began to become slow by modern standards. The introduction of livestreaming had made poker fans used to immediately being able to follow major final tables, and social media allowed people in the Amazon Room to broadcast results to thousands of followers in real time, beating the delayed broadcast.

Less than exciting final tables the next two years didn't help matters. A boring Joe McKeehen win in 2015 saw everyone else seem to play for second place, reducing the drama to zero. The actual poker was far more enthralling in 2016, but Qui Nguyen's earning of the bracelet came as folks on the East Coast were waking up for work the next day.

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Instant Gratification

Whether or not that was the last straw, the concept was shelved after 2016. A move to a more traditional — these days, anyway — 30-minute delay was implemented as PokerGO and ESPN began teaming for the broadcast.

"Times change," said the WSOP's Seth Palansky in late 2017. "You either change with them or become extinct. We live in a world of immediacy and live and nothing being kept under wraps."

That's been the new normal ever since. While the November Nine was termed "a great success" by Palansky, few have pined for the days of delayed WSOP Main Event final tables, and it seems that slice of poker history will remain just that.

Rosters of Delayed WSOP Main Event Final Tables

2008

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Dennis Phillips26,295,0003rd$4,517,773
2Craig Marquis10,210,0009th$900,670
3Ylon Schwartz12,525,0004th$3,774,974
4Scott Montgomery19,690,0005th$3,096,768
5Darus Suharto12,250,0006th$2,418,562
6Chino Rheem10,230,0007th$1,772,650
7Ivan Demidov24,400,0002nd$5,809,595
8Kelly Kim2,620,0008th$1,288,217
9Peter Eastgate18,375,0001st$9,152,416

2009

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Darvin Moon58,930,0002nd$5,182,928
2James Akenhead6,800,0009th$1,263,602
3Phil Ivey9,765,0007th$1,404,014
4Kevin Schaffel12,390,0008th$1,300,231
5Steve Begleiter29,885,0006th$1,587,160
6Eric Buchman34,800,0004th$2,502,890
7Joe Cada13,215,0001st$8,547,042
8Antoine Saout9,500,0003rd$3,479,670
9Jeff Shulman19,580,0005th$1,953,452

2010

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Jason Senti7,625,0007th$1,356,720
2Joseph Cheong23,525,0003rd$4,130,049
3John Dolan46,250,0006th$1,772,959
4Jonathan Duhamel65,975,0001st$8,944,310
5Michael Mizrachi14,450,0005th$2,332,992
6Matthew Jarvis16,700,0008th$1,045,743
7John Racener19,050,0002nd$5,545,955
8Filippo Candio16,400,0004th$3,092,545
9Soi Nguyen9,650,0009th$811,823

2011

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Matt Giannetti24,750,0004th$3,012,700
2Bob Bounahra19,700,0007th$1,314,097
3Eoghan O'Dea33,925,000
6th$1,720,831
4Phil Collins23,875,0005th$2,269,599
5Anton Makiievskyi13,825,0008th$1,010,015
6Sam Holden12,375,0009th$782,115
7Pius Heinz16,425,000
1st$8,715,638
8Ben Lamb20,875,0003rd$4,021,138
9Martin Staszko40,175,0002nd$5,433,086

2012

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Russell Thomas24,800,0004th$2,850,494
2Jake Balsiger13,115,0003rd$3,797,558
3Jeremy Ausmus9,805,0005th$2,154,616
4Steve Gee16,860,0009th$754,798
5Greg Merson28,725,0001st$8,531,853
6Jesse Sylvia43,875,0002nd$5,295,149
7Rob Salaburu15,155,0008th$971,252
8Andras Koroknai29,375,0006th$1,640,461
9Michael Esposito16,260,0007th$1,257,790

2013

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Sylvain Loosli19,600,0004th$2,792,533
2Michiel Brummelhuis11,275,0007th$1,225,224
3Mark Newhouse7,350,0009th$733,224
4Ryan Riess25,875,0001st$8,361,570
5Amir Lehavot29,700,0003rd$3,727,823
6Marc McLaughlin26,525,0006th$1,601,024
7JC Tran38,000,0005th$2,106,893
8David Benefield6,375,0008th$944,593
9Jay Farber25,975,0002nd$5,174,357

2014

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Billy Pappas17,500,0005th$2,143,794
2Felix Stephensen32,775,0002nd$5,147,911
3Jorryt van Hoof38,375,0003rd$3,807,753
4Mark Newhouse26,000,0009th$730,725
5Andoni Larrabe22,550,0006th$1,622,471
6William Tonking15,050,0004th$2,849,763
7Dan Sindelar21,200,0007th$1,236,084
8Martin Jacobson14,900,0001st$10,000,000
9Bruno Politano12,125,0008th$947,172

2015

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Zvi Stern29,800,0005th$1,911,423
2Pierre Neuville21,075,0007th$1,203,293
3Josh Beckley11,800,0002nd$4,470,896
4Max Steinberg20,200,0004th$2,615,361
5Thomas Cannuli12,250,0006th$1,426,283
6Joe McKeehen63,100,0001st$7,683,346
7Patrick Chan6,225,0009th$1,001,020
8Federico Butteroni6,200,0008th$1,097,056
9Neil Blumenfield22,000,0003rd$3,398,298

2016

SeatPlayerChipsFinishPrize
1Jerry Wong10,175,0008th$1,100,076
2Griffin Benger26,175,0007th$1,250,190
3Vojtech Ruzicka27,300,0005th$1,935,288
4Fernando Pons6,150,0009th$1,000,000
5Qui Nguyen67,925,0001st$8,005,310
6Cliff Josephy74,600,0003rd$3,453,035
7Michael Ruane31,600,0004th$2,576,003
8Gordon Vayo49,375,0002nd$4,661,228
9Kenny Hallaert43,325,0006th$1,464,258
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  • Look back on the concept and implementation of the November Nine at the WSOP.

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