The world will be watching live as the final nine players in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event compete Tuesday for the game’s most prestigious title and more than USD 22 million in prize money.
ESPN will carry the high-stakes action from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino live on pay-per-view beginning at 3 p.m. EDT. The winner of the Main Event will receive USD 8.25 million.
The 2007 World Series of Poker presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light attracted a record of 54,288 players in 55 events; the field of 6,358 who entered the USD 10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em World Championship – commonly referred to as the Main Event – is down to just nine.
The remaining players, who represent five countries, will take the following seats at the final table:
Seat 1: John Kalmar of Chorly, Lancashire (UK) (USD 20.32 million in chips)
Jon Kalmar is a 34-year-old professional poker player, who competes mostly in clubs located in the north and the Midlands region of England. He is married with one child. Among his prior accomplishments, Kalmar was once the lead singer in a punk rock band. Before entering this year’s world championship, Kalmar admitted to enduring a „terrible“ run of bad fortune at this year’s World Series of Poker. He failed to cash a single time in the preliminary tournaments. But everything changed the night before the main event began. Dejected, Kalmar tried to switch his airline ticket and return home early. But he was told the cost to change his departure from Las Vegas back to England would be about USD 600. So instead, Kalmar decided to enter the last mega-satellite at the Rio just before the start of the main event. He ended up winning a USD 10,000 seat.
Seat 2: Lee Childs of Reston, Virginia (USD 13.24 million in chips)
Lee Childs is a 35-year-old aspiring poker professional from suburban Washington, DC. He is married with no children. Childs holds a BBA in computer information systems from James Madison University in Virginia. He recently left a high-tech position with a firm affiliated with the National Geographic Society to pursue his passion. Childs says that he would not be here without the love of his incredible wife, dad, and all the support of his family and friends. His is currently fifth in the chip count.
Seat 3: Philip Hilm of Cambridge (UK) (USD 22.07 million in chips)
Philip Hilm, 31, is the chip leader coming into the final table of the 2007 World Series of Poker. Hilm is a native of Denmark, but currently lives in England. Family is very important to Hilm – he spent two years living in Poland to get to know his mother’s side of the family before moving on to England. Ten years ago, Hilm earned a degree in economics from the Copenhagen Business.
Seat 4: Jerry Yang of Temecula, California (USD 8.45 million in chips)
Jerry Yang is a 39-year-old psychologist and social worker from Southern California. He holds a Masters Degree in health psychology. Yang was born in Laos; he is married and has six children. Yang started playing poker only two years ago. He won a seat into the main event via a satellite tournament. His total investment in this event is USD 225. The socially-conscious Yang is determined to give something back to charity. He is pledging 10 percent of his winnings from this tournament to three different charities – the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Seat 5: Raymond Rahme of Johannesburg, South Africa (USD 16.32 million in chips)
Raymond Rahme is the first person ever to appear at the final table of the main event from the continent of Africa. At age 62, he is also the senior participant at the final table. He is married to his wife Teresa, and together they have six children. Prior to his retirement, Rahme owned and operated a bed and breakfast. Although he has played stud for three decades, Rahme has only been playing the game of hold’em for about two years. Yet, Rahme has already enjoyed significant tournament success – he’s taken first and second place at major events held in South Africa. He also took fourth place in the „All Africa Poker Championship“ recently, which was the largest poker tournament ever held in Africa. As part of his prize, he received a travel package to Las Vegas and an entry into the 2007 main event. He is ranked fourth in the chip count at the start of the final table.
Seat 6: Tuan Lam of Mississauga, Ontario (Canada) (USD 21. 31 million in chips)
Tuan Lam was born in Vietnam on New Years Day in 1966, during the war. He eventually immigrated to Canada at the age of 19. He now lives in the Toronto area where he plays poker professionally. Prior to turning pro, Lam worked as a general laborer for a metal company. He learned how to play poker from friends and has made it all the way to the final table of the 2007 main event. This is his third year to attend the WSOP. His prior cashes were 46th place in an event last year and 78th place in a WSOP tournament held in 2005. He is married with two children. Lam arrives at the final table ranked second in the chip count.
Seat 7: Alex Kravchenko of Moscow, Russia (USD 6.57 million in chips)
Alex Kravchenko is a 36-year-old businessman originally from Archangel, USSR. He has been playing poker for about eight years. He is married and has two children. Kravchenko became the first Russian citizen in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet when he was victorious in the USD 1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low championship at this year’s WSOP – in what was the largest Omaha High-Low field in history. Russian immigrants have won previously at the World Series, but Kravchenko’s victory was clearly a milestone. Kravchenko has an impressive history of poker tournament wins in Europe. He won the Austrian Masters Pot-Limit Championship in 2001. He also won the Russian Pot-Limit Championship held that same year. He also won a Limit Hold’em title at the Helsinki Frezeout in 2002. He has cashed over 30 times in what is becoming an illustrious poker career.
This is Kravchenko’s fifth time to cash at the WSOP in 2007. Kravchnko faces the biggest challenge of any player in the finale, as the lowest stack at the table.
Seat 8: Lee Watkinson of Cheney, WA (USD 9.92 million in chips)
Lee Watkinson is a 40-year-old poker pro, businessman, and animal rights activist from Cheney, WA. He is one of only two players at the final table who currently owns a WSOP gold bracelet. In 2006, Watkinson won the Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship. He owns a few businesses as well, including a record company and a clothing line – which were started exclusively with his poker winnings. The Washington State native holds a degree in economics, which perhaps explains why Watkinson is so astute as an investor and poker professional. Yet, often when he is interviewed Watkinson is quick to shift everyone’s attention to a greater, more humanitarian purpose. Watkins and his fiance Timmi DeRosa share a commitment to rescuing and retiring captive chimpanzees, many of which have been used in everything from movies to research laboratories.
He arrives seventh in the chip count.
Seat 9: Hevad „Rain“ Khan of Poughkeepsie, NY (USD 9.02 million in chips)
Hevad „Rain“ Khan is a 22-year-old professional poker originally from Poughkeepsie, NY. He attended college at the State University of New York-Albany. He has since moved around the country, living in both the San Francisco bay area, and Las Vegas. Khan’s claim to fame before arriving at this final table was his extraordinary ability to play multiple poker games simultaneously. In what can only be described as a prodigal Bobby Fischer-like capability, Khan has played in as many as 43 poker games all at once on his home computer. Today, he must play in just one poker game – the biggest and most glamorous event in the world for the world championship. Khan arrives eighth in the chip count at the start of the final table.
In addition to the USD 8.25 million going to the winner, the remaining eight players will receive: 2nd place, USD 4,840,000; 3rd place, USD 3,048,025; 4th place, USD 1,852,721; 5th place, USD 1,255,069; 6th place, USD 956,243; 7th place, USD 705,229; 8th place, USD 585,699; 9th place, USD 525,934.
Fans can purchase The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! for a suggested retail price of USD 19.95, and can view the final table either on TV or via live online video stream on ESPN.com. Pay-per-view coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET and will continue until the 2007 World Series of Poker main event champion is crowned.
„The final table of the main event is the single most exciting night in poker and ESPN‘s pay-per-view show will give fans access they have never had before,“ said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN. „The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! will be an interactive poker experience unlike any other – viewers can email Phil Gordon questions, call and debate Phil on the air, and text in their opinions on who is playing best. It’s a poker show made by poker players for poker fans.“
Play-by-play for The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! will be provided by Ali Nejad, and poker analysis will be provided by Phil Gordon. They will be aided by numerical and graphic data from StatsTracker™, which will help analyze play with detailed stats and player trends in real time. This year, ESPN will also employ „sideline“ reporter, Marianela, to interview players‘ family members, friends and fans throughout the telecast.
For fans, The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! will offer unprecedented access to the event’s hosts. Selected viewer questions submitted via espn.com (search word „Poker“) during The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! will be answered live during the event telecast. For the first time, fans will also be able to text message their predictions for the next player to be eliminated from the Final Table. Text message details will be provided during the live telecast.
Coverage of The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! will also include live interviews of many of the 2007 bracelet winners, along with interviews of many of The World Series of Poker’s past Main Event champions.
Fans wishing to purchase The World Series of Poker Final Table Live! for online viewing can type in „Poker“ on espn.com for online ordering instructions. Fans wishing to purchase the television telecast should call their pay-per-view provider to order.
The 2007 World Series of Poker Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light, the world’s richest sporting event, began June 1 at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. More information on the tournament is available at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.
The WSOP is operated by an affiliate of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:HET), the world’s largest operator of casino-entertainment resorts. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, USA, nearly 70 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through the development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages 50 casino resorts on four continents. The company’s properties operate primarily under the Caesars, Harrah’s and Horseshoe brand names; Harrah’s also owns and operates the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker tournament. Harrah’s Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. The company is committed to reinvesting in the communities in which it operates.