The November Nine are the final nine players of the WSOP main event, the highlight of the world series. It will take around two weeks alone for this tournament to reduce the field to nine players.
Last year, almost 6700 players started the event, hoping to become one of the November Nine, and ultimately, the world champion. In the end, it was Cologne born Pius Heinz, who took down the title.
As he was the first ever German player to win the event, this triggered a new poker boom in Germany. Not as big as the one nine years ago, when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP main event, but the number of live and online players has risen significantly since then.
Pius Heinz won more than eight million dollars. He quickly moved to Vienna, Austria, before he returned to Las Vegas for the final table. Some say, this might have had to do with the more convenient tax regulation in Austria. In fact, it definitely has, but hey, what would you do?
Up until 2007, there were no November Nine. The main event was played down to the very last player. Because of the continuously increasing public interest, the American TV station ESPN, responsible for broadcasting the WSOP, tried to find a way to make the main event more attractive by keeping the suspense up about who won.
Of course, in earlier years, the winner was crowned even before the broadcast began. As there would have been no way to keep the winner a secret until the TV episodes reached the final table, the obvious solution was to postpone the finale.
Thus, the November Nine were born, and this is how it works: On the 16th of July, when the player in tenth place busts out, the tournament will stopped, the chips are bagged, and the cameras switched off.
For the next four months, the main event will then be aired with regular episodes on television. The broadcast lasts until the beginning of November, when the final nine return to Las Vegas and play for another three days to determine a winner.
This is how the WSOP and ESPN have kept it for the last four years. The winners in these years were Peter Eastgate (Denmark, 2008), who became the first winner of the November Nine Age, Joe Cada (USA, 2009), Jonathan Duhamel (Canada, 2010), and, as everybody in Germany knows who is even remotely interested in poker: Pius Heinz from Germany.
Heinz was only the second German player to ever reach the final table of the main event, and after busting WSOP player of the year 2011 Ben Lamb in third place, he beat Martin Staszko in the heads-up duel, who would also have been the inaugural winner for his home country Czech.
Of course, every WSOP champion has come back the following year to defend his title, but these days, the chances are extremely slim, as the player fields have become so huge.
The last player to be able to defend his title was Johnny “The Orient Express” Chan in 1988, when just 167 players took part. He almost won it a third time, but was stopped by a young, unknown Californian, who later turned out to become the most famous AND infamous player of the world. Read more about this story next week.
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