WSOP Main Event Final Table: The Heads up is set, Cheong takes third place

JOSEPH CHEONG TAKES THIRD PLACE IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

The duel is set.  It’s Jonathan Duhamel versus John Racener.

The crescendo of the November Nine reached its near-final furious finale when zig-zagging Duhamel eliminated Cheong on what turned out to be the final hand of Final Table — Day One.  The long 14-hour session included the elimination of seven players, leaving only Duhamel and Racener to compete in a heads-up duel for the world title.

The third-place finisher was former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Joseph Cheong, from San Diego, CA.  He collected $4,130,049 in prize money, an astronomical consolation prize that still somehow failed to heal the fresh wounds of a poker pro with broken dreams.  Making the disappointment more painful, Cheong held the chip lead about an hour before busting out.  He lost the key late hands that destroyed what at one point was viewed as a potentially insurmountable advantage.

That sets up the heads-up stage of the world championship, coming up on Monday night.  It also concluded an extraordinary day (and night) filled with twists and turns, and several exciting moments.

The fourth-place finisher was Filippo Candio, from Sardinia, Italy.  As the first Italian player ever to make it to the Main Event Championship final table, Candio proudly collected $3,092,545.

The fifth-place finisher was Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, from Miami, FL.  Undisputedly the most famous and most accomplished of the final nine, Mizrachi suffered a blistering final hour when he went from chip leader to the rail, losing every key late hand of importance.  Mizrachi took some consolation in his payout, which amounted to $2332,992 in prize money.

The sixth-place finisher was John Dolan, from Bonita Springs, FL.  He ran card dead at the worst possible time, hopelessly falling victim to a bad run of cards in the later stages of play.  Dolan busted out when his bluff failed.  Nonetheless, he managed to scoop a monster-sized check from his initial $10,000 investment.  Dolan received $1,772,969 in prize money.

The seventh-place finisher was Jason Senti, from St. Louis Park, MN.  He began final table play with the shortest stack, but moved two spots up the money ladder.  Senti collected $1,356,720.

The eighth-place finisher was Matthew Jarvis, who took a terrible beat en route to a disappointing end result.  Jarvis was the victim of one of several astounding final table hands which resulted in a cyclone of emotional twists and turns and ultimately, chip lead changes.  Jarvis received $1,045,743 in prize money.

The ninth-place finisher was Soi Nguyen, from Santa Ana, CA.  The only amateur player among the final nine, Nguyen collected $811,823 in prize money — an incredible accomplishment considering this was his first time to cash in a major poker tournament.

The final duel of the Main Event is set to begin on Monday night.  Heads-up play will resume November 8th at 8 pm PST, when the final two survivors will play down to a winner.  Coverage of the final table will air in a two-hour telecast on Tuesday at 10 pm ET on ESPN.

The winner of this year’s WSOP Main Event, the second largest in the 40-year history of the WSOP with 7,319 entrants, will take home a staggering $8,944,310 in prize money.  He will also be presented with the most coveted achievement in all of poker — the World Series of Poker Main Event Championship gold bracelet.

So, who will become the 2010 world poker champion?

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