The starting lineup

August, 10, 2006
8/10/06
2:43
PM ET


Here's a glance at the nine players who will battle it out at tonight's WSOP main event final table for a first-place prize of $12 million.

Name: Jamie Gold

Age: 36. Hometown: Malibu, Calif.

Regular job: Owner of a television production company

Chip count/position: $25.6 million/first

Poker experience: Jamie has played cash games in California casinos for the last few years.

How he qualified: Given a seat from Bodog

What he needs to do tonight: "I need to stay focused, keep my head in the game, and not feel the pressure. I've already accomplished everything that I wanted to from this tournament."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Allen Cunningham. "He's so solid I rarely see him make a mistake."

Who will double him up at the final table: N/A

What will he buy with the winnings: Gold will pay for the medical expenses of his father, who has ALS.

Tournament turning point: On Day 1, facing a raise and a minimum reraise, Gold picked up 4-4 in the small blind. After flopping a set, Gold believed he was still outflopped by one of his opponents. On the turn one of his opponents folded to his bet while the other went all-in. Gold announced he had a set, and immediately his opponent called
the floorman, complaining that Gold's conduct was illegal. After the floorman said Gold's declaration wasn't against the rules, Gold's opponent called the clock on him. Gold said, "Why are you so nervous?" and called. His opponent was drawing dead and Gold ended up with $100,000 in chips at the end of Day 1.

Can he win? Without a doubt. Gold has controlled the chip lead for the last four days and has only made a few minor mistakes. If he continues playing solid poker, he'll be the one wearing the bracelet when it's all over.



Name: Allen Cunningham

Age: 29. Hometown: Las Vegas

Regular job: Professional poker player

Chip count/position: $17.7 million/second

Poker experience: Four WSOP bracelets; the most experienced player at the table.
How he qualified: Bought in.

What he needs to do tonight: "Play as good as I have been playing. Use my reputation since players will play differently against me and make mistakes."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Erik Friberg -- although Allen then followed that up with, "He's easy to play against if you pick up a big hand."

Who will double him up at the final table: N/A

What will he buy with the winnings: He's already has the money to buy whatever he wants.

Tournament turning point: Picking up bottom set against Friberg and getting paid off on it.

Can he win? Although Gold has the chip lead, Cunningham may be the favorite due to his experience and uncanny ability to stay calm at the table.



Name: Richard Lee

Age: 55. Hometown: San Antonio

Regular job: Semi-pro poker player

Chip count/position: $11.8 million/third

Poker experience: Has been playing poker since 1966

How he qualified: Bought in

What he needs to do tonight: "I just have to play good poker and I need to play differently against different players who might have different agendas as the final table." Lee essentially said he'll target those players who are willing to fold to get into the higher-paying spots.

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham. "He's the best player."

Who will double him up at the final table: Jamie Gold. "He's going into the center the most" and has been involved in the most all-in pots.

What will he buy with the winnings: N/A

Tournament turning point: "I've had to dodge lightning so many times during the tournament. At one point I miscounted my opponent's chips and when I thought I lost the tournament, I actually had $400,000 remaining in chips."

Can he win? The cool and collected Texan has the experience and the chips to make some moves to put himself in a good position at the final table.



Name: Erik Friberg

Age: 23. Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Regular job: Poker player

Chip count/position: $9.6 million/fourth

Poker experience: Has played poker as a full-time job for three years, 90 percent of it online.

How he qualified: Online satellite

What he needs to do tonight: "I need to get lucky. I need to feel relaxed and pay a lot of attention."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham "He's the only one that deserves to win this tournament besides me. He's tight and cautious."

Who will double him up at the final table: "I think Gold will mess it up ... and double me up. He doesn't have the experience that it takes to go all the way."

What will he buy with the winnings: Go on a vacation, may never work again. "Maybe I'll find a new game."

Tournament turning point: N/A

Can he win? The Swede plays fast and it seems that everyone else at the table had a read on him the other day. If he manages to change things up, he's got as good a chance as anyone.



Name: Paul Wasicka

Age: 25. Hometown: Westminster, Colo.

Regular job: Poker player

Chip count/position: $7.9 million/fifth

Poker experience: After finishing 15th in the WPT Championship, Wasicka has plenty of big-tournament experience.

How he qualified: Bought in.

What he needs to do tonight: "I need to maintain focus and change gears many times. Also hitting some hands would be nice. I've been card dead for two days. I also need to pick my spots and make some big laydowns."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham. "He and I are a lot alike. Our demeanor at the table is similar. We don't like to go on tilt. He keeps his cool, is never frustrated, and is patient. He's the whole package."

Who will double him up at the final table: N/A

What will he buy with the winnings: Donate to the Bad Beat on Cancer, specifically to lung cancer. Also, his current car does not have air conditioning, so he's looking forward to a new car.

Tournament turning point: Calling with ace high after getting a read on his opponent. The board was Q-10-10-Q-x, he read his opponent for an underpair and called. His opponent had 8-8.

Can he win? Yes. He's got the skills without a doubt and after speaking with him, he's got all the confidence in the world to take down this final table.




Name: Douglas Kim

Age: 22. Hometown: Hartsdale, N.Y.

Regular job: Financial consultant

Chip count/position: $6.7 million/sixth

Poker experience: Four years, primarily online; playing $5/$10 no-limit hold 'em.

How he qualified: Online

What he needs to do tonight: "I need to get real lucky. I give myself an 8 or 9 percent chance to win the whole thing. I need to keep playing the game I've been [playing] for the last seven days and just put myself in a spot to win."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham. "He plays his stack pretty well and extracts a lot of value from his good hands."

Who will double him up at the final table: Jamie Gold

What will he buy with the winnings: An Armani suit, but besides that, invest most of it.

Tournament turning point: Holding K-K against David Einhorn, rivered a king to get a set after Einhorn had flopped a set of jacks.

Can he win? Doug will need to double up early on and keep up his momentum to get himself in a better position.




Name: Rhett Butler

Age: 44. Hometown: Rockville, Md.

Regular job: Insurance agent

Chip count/position: $4.8 million/seventh

Poker experience: Played $75/$150 in the '80s, played in the WSOP in 1988 and almost bubbled.

How he qualified: Bought in.

What he needs to do tonight: "No mistakes. I need to double up in the first hour and get above $10 million."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham and Friberg.
Who will double him up at the final table: Cunningham or Friberg.

What will he buy with the winnings: Ensure that his children's educations are taken care of.

Tournament turning point: Doubling off of Dmitri Nobles by catching a runner-runner straight.

Can he win? It's going to take a couple big hands early on to get him the chips he needs, but I wouldn't count him out just yet.

Interesting side note: On the first night of the tournament, Butler ran into Michael Binger at Buzios, an Italian restaurant. They talked about the tournament and since then, they've gone back every single night for dinner together. Strangely enough, Binger is also at the final table and both of them could not imagine they would've both ended up in the final day of the biggest tournament in the world.



Name: Michael Binger

Age: 29. Hometown: Atherton, Calif.

Regular job: Professional poker player

Chip count/position: $3.1 million/eighth

Poker experience: Playing professionally for five or six years.

How he qualified: Bought in

What he needs to do tonight: "Nurse my stack back to health. I need to get some big pairs and double up."

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham and Lee. "I've played with both of them for the past few days and they've both come back from short stacks with some impressive play and picking their spots perfectly."

Who will double him up at the final table: Gold. "He's a big stack who isn't afraid to play a lot of pots."

What will he buy with the winnings: Invest it, build his bankroll.

Tournament turning point: N/A

Can he win? Michael can win only if he make some big moves early on. He'll need to attack every pot he enters in order to get some chips to play with.



Name: Dan Nassif

Age: 33. Hometown: St. Louis

Regular job: Account executive

Chip count/position: $2.6 million/ninth

Poker experience: His second WSOP, first final table. Played poker for three years.

How he qualified: Online qualifier

What he needs to do tonight: Double up in a hurry.

Which final table participant does he respect the most: Cunningham.

Who will double him up at the final table: N/A

What will he buy with the winnings: N/A

Tournament turning point: Taking vacation time at work to play in the WSOP.

Can he win? Dan needs to catch some cards early, then catch some more cards late if he wants to make a difference at the final table. He's got the skills to make it, but he'll need some cards too.

Andrew Feldman is ESPN.com's Poker Editor. He is the host of the Poker Edge Podcast and co-host of ESPN Inside Deal. Andrew has covered the poker industry for ESPN since 2004.

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