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WSOP: Rounding out the Main Event’s final nine (Nos. 5-9)

Yesterday we previewed the top four chip stacks heading into tonight’s World Series of Poker Main Event final table, so now it’s time to take a look at the five players hoping to run it up.

Dan Ott will have 26,475,000 to work with when the cards start flying, enough for 33 big blinds.

Before this summer, the 26-year-old online grinder from Altoona, Pennsylvania had never even made the WSOP sojourn. In fact, the first two live cashes of Ott’s career came during the 2017 WSOP, but the $3,656 he earned from those scores has already been dwarfed by the $1 million he’s guaranteed to make as a Main Event final table member.

Damian Salas hails from Argentina, and his heritage was proudly displayed during Day 7, as he donned his nation’s flag as a cape in hopes of becoming a hero to his poker-crazy countrymen back home.

The 42-year-old sits on a stack of 22,175,000 for 28 big blinds, and for the longtime veteran of the Latin American Poker Tour, that should provide plenty of wiggle room. Salas is no stranger to the final table, with 49 live cashes and 976 more online accounting for $4 million in career cashes.

Poker fans may remember Antoine Saout from 2009, when the 33-year-old Frenchman very nearly won the Main Event to become France’s first world champion of poker. He fell just short with a third-place finish that year, but if eventual champ Joe Cada hadn’t flopped a set with 2-2 to down Saout’s pocket queens in a preflop all-in, history may have been very different indeed.

Saout has 21,750,000 for 27 big blinds in the bag, so he’ll be looking for the same sort of magic that propelled Cada to the finish line way back when.

Viewers who tuned in during Day 7, but hit the hay early, may be wondering why Jack Sinclair is listed so low here. The 26-year-old Brit had been the first player to eclipse 100 million chips, and he seemed like a shoo-in to lead the final table – but a brave three-barrel bluff against Scott Blumstein went awry.

Even so, Sinclair still has 20,200,000 chips for 25 big blinds, and the Main Event’s forgiving structure should allow him time to pick his spots. Although, based on his “fire-away” mentality from Day 7, he could easily be the first elimination as well.

Despite riding the short stack, Ben Lamb has been listed as the favorite to win among poker pros and betting sites – and for good reason.

The 26-year-old pro calls Las Vegas home, playing in the highest-stake cash games around to earn a living. But when he’s not playing in “Bobby’s Room,” Lamb makes the Main Event his home away from home.

Back in 2007 he made his first deep run, falling in 156th place out of the 6,358-runner field. By 2009 he weaved his way to 14th place from 6,494 players, but the final table still escaped his reach. That changed in 2011 during his Player of the Year campaign, when Lamb nearly beat out the entire 6,865-player field before bowing out in third place.

He’ll be short tonight, but with yet another chance to win poker’s most important prize, Lamb is expected to leave everything he has on the felt.

Coverage of the 2017 WSOP Main Event final table begins tonight on ESPN-2 at 6 p.m. Las Vegas local time (PST), with the field playing down from nine to six.

On Friday, the action shifts to ESPN at 6 p.m. (PST) and they’ll play down from six to three.

The next world champion will be crowned on Saturday, so tune in to ESPN beginning at 6 p.m. (PST) to see who wins it all.

See poker reviews and WSOP qualifier specials here.

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