Where are they now? October Nine: Russell Thomas

October 28, 2012

The 2012 WSOP Main Event final table is almost upon us. Less than 24 hours away, it is likely that the October Nine are experiencing the most nerve racking anxiety they’ve ever know. It is expected that 24-year-old Russell Thomas from Hartford, Connecticut will have the biggest fan base of any of the nine final tablists at the big event, who expects to have at least 100 people cheering him on from the rails. That’s got to help with some of the stress, or will it just add to the pressure?

Among his supporters will be Thomas’s highly acclaimed poker coach, poker pro Jason Somerville. Thomas, an amateur poker player who works a day job at Aetna Insurance, told WSOP reporters, “I have co-workers coming—some that know nothing at all about poker. One of the ladies who works there, I didn’t expect her to want to come to the final table, but now she’s reading a book about poker, and she’s going to come (to Las Vegas). It was a little unexpected.”

After becoming a final contestant for the Main Event, Thomas signed with 888 Poker and has been traveling the world sporting their brand ever since. He’s been to the EPT in Barcelona, Spain and Cannes, France for the WSOPE. But he is clear this is all been business and “No fun trips. Fun is after the Main Event,” he says.

Thomas and Somerville, the 69th finisher in the Main Event, have been working hard together analyzing hands and watching each other play. Thomas has also done something to prepare that may actually give him a leg up on the competition. He has played a mock final table with exact chip counts of his opponents and emulating how he thinks the others will act. He’s primarily a cash game player, so a lot of his prep has been in tournaments. “I just trying to stay focused. I went out quite a bit right after I made the Main Event final table, but I’m just trying to stay focused. I don’t want any regrets about my preparation,” Thomas says.

Currently on a leave of absence at Aetna, Thomas says the outcome of the final table will determine whether or not he returns to work. When asked what motivates him the most, the money, the bracelet, or the win, he answered, “I think all three.” He continued, “The difference between second place and third place, how long is it going to take me to make that money? 20 years? I don’t know. The money is obviously huge. Then I’d want to get first to win the bracelet because then you’d be a legend.”

While Thomas is focused on winning the $8,527,982 first place prize, if he finishes 9th, he’ll still win $754,798. He’s already picked out the car he plans to buy if he makes enough money in the Main Event. “If you’ve seen the Audi R8 out front (of the Majestic Barriere), with the matte blue. I love that car. That car is just amazing, so maybe that exact one. I was thinking instead of the blue, it could be black,” Thomas explains. One thing is for sure. Thomas is just as prepared, if not more so, for the final table as any of his fellow October Nine players. Play picks back up tomorrow.


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