World Series of Poker reaches final nine players

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The World Series of Poker main event reached its final table on Wednesday night as Jordan Smith busted in 10th place with a pocket pair of aces — the best starting hand in no-limit Texas Hold 'em.

Smith, a 27-year-old poker player from College Station, Texas, was eliminated when Darvin Moon, a 45-year-old self-employed logger from Oakland, Md., called his all-in bet on a board with an eight, two and four and flipped over pocket eights for a set.

Smith did not improve when the dealer revealed the final two cards, and was eliminated in 10th place. He won $896,730.

"I was trying to look weak," Smith said. "It just didn't work."

Smith said he was disappointed with the last hand but happy with his finish in the tournament.

"I didn't come with very much money and I leave with some now," he said. "I'm very fortunate, I had a great tournament."

The 45-year-old Moon built his leading chip stack to nearly 60 million by winning the hand, putting him 23 million chips ahead of his next closest competitor, tournament poker player Eric Buchman.

"Everyone at this table is way better than I am," Moon said. "Something is helping me."

Moon said he never risked his entire chip stack during eight sessions of play during the tournament.

"The dealers — I love 'em all," he said. "It's great to have a run like that.

Moon said he planned to fly back home soon and return to everyday life.

"As soon as I go home, I go back into the woods," Moon said. "When it's time to come out — I'll come out."

Phil Ivey, a seven-time gold bracelet winner at the series who is widely considered the best poker player alive today, survived to move on even though he ended up with fewer chips than he started with after the nearly eight-hour session.

"You have no idea, I can taste it now," Ivey said. "I'm here and today was a very tough day for me. I lost a lot of tough hands early and I grinded back — now I'm right in the hunt."

Ivey will start the final Nov. 7 with the second shortest stack among the players left in the tournament.

The nine players remaining were each millionaire winners from a crop of 6,494 entrants. Each will be paid $1.26 million on Thursday, ninth-place money.

The others left in the tournament were 51-year-old Kevin Schaffel of Coral Springs, Fla.; Antoine "Tonio" Saout, 25, of Saint Martin des Champs, France; Joseph Cada, 21, of Shelby Township, Mich., Steven Begleiter, 47, of Chappaqua, N.Y.; James Akenhead, 26, of London; Eric Buchman, 29, of Valley Stream, N.Y.; and Jeff Shulman, 34, of Las Vegas.

Harrah's Entertainment Inc., the private casino operator that owns the tournament, will put the rest of the prize money into a conservative interest-bearing account until the day before the final table starts Nov. 7.

That will push the prizes for the first through eighth-place finishers even higher. Top prize right now is $8.55 million.

The tournament, which boasts poker's richest prize, started July 3 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel&Casino in Las Vegas when each player bought in for $10,000 and were given 30,000 starting chips.