2012 WSOP Main Event October Nine Players – A Look at The Final Table


The 2012 World Series of Poker $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship is now only two weeks away, so we thought it might be time to have a quick refresher look at the players competing for poker’s most coveted title. Set to play down to 3 on October 29th and finish up on October 30th, all but one seat will be filled by players hailing from the USA, Hungary has it’s first ever WSOP Main Event contender in this year’s mix.

Perhaps the biggest side story left going in this year is are the bragging rights of being named the World Series of Poker Player of the Year; only Greg Merson of the October Nine can pull of the upset and take the title from current points leader Phil Hellmuth. With the “Poker Brat” winning the 2012 WSOP Europe Main Event a few weeks back, he vaulted to an impressive lead, however, should Greg win this at the end of the month not only will he be earning a banner at the Rio as the World Champion; he’ll also lay claim to Hellmuth’s thunder and receive a second banner for POY.

That won’t be easy however, as 8 other players will have their own agenda in mind; without further adieu, we look at the October Nine:

The Chip Counts

Jesse   Sylvia 43, 875,000
Andras Koroknai 29,375,000
Greg Merson 28,725,000
Russell Thomas 24,800,000
Steven Gee 16,860,000
Michael Esposito 16,260,000
Robert Salaburu 15,155,000
Jacob Balsiger 13,115,000
Jeremy Ausmus 9,805,000


The Chip Leader

 Jesse “4JesseJames4″ Sylvia – Las Vegas,  Nevada

Age: 26

Quick Stats: 

  • primarily a professional online and live Cash Game player, Team Pro for 888 Poker.
  • at least $150,000 in online MTT cashes on PokerStars prior to Black Friday seeing USA players blocked.
  • roughly $60,000 in official live tournament winnings prior to the 2012 WSOP Main Event

Strength: Cash Game players are usually great at deep stacked poker and he is sitting on the deepest stack in play.


The Bracelet Holders

 Greg “Gregy20723” Merson – Laurel, Maryland


Quick Stats:

  • won a bracelet and more than $1,136,000 for winning Event 57 at the 2012 WSOP, a $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Max.
  • had around $100,000 in Live Tournament winnings prior to the 2012 WSOP, with another $220,000 in tracked online MTT cashes.
  • currently living in Toronto to continue grinding online poker
  • left University to pursue poker full time

Strength: Has already defeated a tough field in a $10,000 event and has the POY title for extra motivation


Steven Gee – Sacramento, California

Age: 56

Quick Stats:

  •  primarily a cash game player however, has more than $500,000 in tournament winnings since 2005; the bulk of this total came back in 2010, after he shipped a $1,000 WSOP No Limit Hold’em event.
  • either doesn’t play online or hasn’t disclosed “handle”

Strength: Has played professionally as a Cash Game player off and on, bringing almost 40 years of experience to the table.


The Grinders

 Andras Koroknai – Debrecen, Hungary

Age: 30


Quick Stats:

  •  more than $1,841,000 in live tournament cashes, including taking down the the World Poker Tour $10,000 Championship at the 2010 LAPC
  • played online early in career, but screen name is unavailable
  • the Hungarian is the only non-American at the table and does not speak much English, so table talk will likely not affect play

Strengths: Already has one major title under his belt, along with TV table experience.


Jeremy “TheTaker” Ausmus – Las Vegas, Nevada –

Age: 33

Quick Stats:

  • more than $425,000 in live tournament winnings, including 13 prior cashes at the WSOP
  • has roughly another $425,000 more playing in tracked online MTT winnings on PokerStars prior to USA being shut out.


Appears to one of the more consistent tournament players, with both Online and Live experience, but will need to pick his spots carefully as the shortest stack going in.


Robert “treadinwater” Salaburu – San Antonia, Texas

Age: 27

Quick Stats:

  •  at least $700,000 in online MTT cashes prior to “Black Friday”
  • more than $60,000 in live tournament cashes besides what he will make in the October Nine


Proven track record as professional online SNG, MTT and Cash game player who to shifted live play; generally a winning combination in poker.


The “Part Time” Players

 Russell “into2ndwind” Thomas – Hartford, Connecticut

Age: 24

Quick Stats:

  •  his 2nd WSOP Final Table; Thomas came 5th in a WSOP No Limit Hold’em $1,500 Six Max Event in 2010
  • nearly $140,000 in live cashed prior to making the October Nine
  • around another $26,000 in online MTT cashes playing on PokerStars


Not his full time gig, so he’s going to have to be looking to make this one count and his prior final table also shows short-handed skill.


The “Amateurs”

 Michael Esposito – Seaford, New York

Age: 44

Quick Stats:

  •  about $170,000 in prior live tournament winnings
  • won a WSOP Circuit Event ring in a 2011 No Limit Hold’em; $350 buy-in and made a WSOPC $10,000 Main Event Final table back in 2005.


  •  4th cash in a $10,000 Championship, suggesting he has plenty of experience in the high buy-ins despite his “amateur” status.
  • heavy interest in training for triathlons, meaning both mental and physical stamina will be high


Jacob Balsiger – Tempe, Arizona

Age: 21

Quick Stats:

  • less than $5,000 in official live tournament cashes prior to the October Nine final table


  •  University student with a real passion for the game and dedicated to studying it hard and attacking accordingly.
  • 2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts


1st  — $8,527,982 6th — $1,640,461
2nd — $5,292,889 7th — $1,257,790
3rd — $3,797,558 8th — $971,252
4th — $2,850,494 9th — $754,798
5th — $2,154,616


Who do you think will be the 2012 WSOP World Champion?

Will it be a current bracelet holder, a consistent grinder or an amateur looking to leave his mark?

Good luck to them all and be sure to place your vote on our final table poll!



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Jon Harnish
35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.


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