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August 1, 2014

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A reason to catch ESPN’s 2013 WSOP Main Event coverage, which starts tonight

Image

Steve Marcus

J.C. Tran of Sacramento reacts after losing a hand during the seventh day of the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em event at the Rio on Monday, July 15, 2013.

November Nine chip counts

  • J.C. Tran 38,000,000
  • Amir Lehavot 29,700,000
  • Marc McLaughlin 26,525,000
  • Jay Farber 25,975,000
  • Ryan Riess 25,875,000
  • Sylvain Loosli 19,600,000
  • Michiel Brummelhuis 11,275,000
  • Mark Newhouse 7,350,000
  • David Benefield 6,375,000
  • Blinds at 200,000-400,000 with 50,000 ante.

2013 WSOP Main Event final table payouts

  • 1st: $8,359,531
  • 2nd: $5,173,170
  • 3rd: $3,727,023
  • 4th: $2,791,983
  • 5th: $2,106,526
  • 6th: $1,600,792
  • 7th: $1,225,224
  • 8th: $944,593
  • 9th: $733,224

In the past, catching the first few episodes of World Series of Poker Main Event coverage felt a lot like watching preseason football.

Fans could enjoy the action but not shake the nagging thought that it was all a bit irrelevant. With more than 6,000 players registered annually for poker’s world championship, it’s difficult to glean much footage from the opening days that will fit into the larger narrative by the time the tournament reaches its final table.

Luckily, now with more than a decade’s worth of consistent experience, ESPN has refined its WSOP methods. The network begins its 2013 Main Event coverage at 6 tonight with an episode chronicling Day 3 of the Main Event.

ESPN will show two-hour blocks of Main Event content for the next 11 weeks leading up to the final table, which will be shown live Nov. 4 and 5.

By joining on the third day of action when only 25 percent of the field remained, cameras were able to capture critical moments as soon as they were turned on.

At that juncture of the tournament, it was already clear that how far defending champion Greg Merson advanced would play into how the 2013 Main Event will be remembered. Bids for deep runs from “The Godfather of Poker” Doyle Brunson and 2007 WSOP Europe champion Annette Obrestad were also among the biggest stories of the summer.

Expect to see all three of those A-list professionals featured prominently in the first few episodes. Keep an eye out for the “November Nine” who advanced to the final table, too.

The cameras were certainly attracted to current chip leader J.C. Tran early, as the Sacramento native had five cashes in the past nine Main Events and two WSOP bracelets before this year.

And, as a refresher, Tran wasn’t the only notable to survive through more than 70 hours of tournament no-limit hold ’em play last month.

The player lurking right behind him, Amir Lehavot, won a bracelet in the $10,000 buy-in pot-limit hold ’em world championship two years ago. Marc McLaughlin, third in chips, got some brief ESPN time the same year when he finished 86th in the Main Event.

Former World Poker Tour champion Mark Newhouse and online poker luminary David “Raptor” Benefield were also recognizable before boosting their profiles with a November Nine berth.

Tune into ESPN over the next three months to witness how it all happened.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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