The November Nine, a World Series of Poker initiative introduced to build excitement and increase ratings for tape-delayed ESPN coverage of the WSOP Main Event, died Monday morning. It was 9 years old.
Born in 2008, the November Nine matured early in life. The inaugural November Nine saw 22-year-old Peter Eastgate, a Danish professional who left the game in 2013, break Phil Hellmuth’s record as the youngest Main Event winner in World Series of Poker history. That record was broken again the following year.
Young internet kids weren’t why the WSOP implemented the November Nine though. Big name players were and Phil Ivey, arguably the biggest name in poker, made the November Nine in 2009. He was joined by Darvin Moon, a logger from Maryland, Jeff Shulman, who said he would throw the bracelet away if he won, a former Bear Stearns executive, and eventual champion 21-year-old Joe Cada.
At 2 years old, the November Nine had peaked.
There were some brief highlights over the next few years. The patch-crazy final table in 2010, the post-Black Friday final table in 2011, the latter of which more or less eliminated player sponsorships from the November Nine and poker in general. Back-to-back years of jersey–wearing established American professionals hoisting the bracelet, with a few more establish pros squashing dreams of amateur winners. There were also the back-to-back November Nine runs for Mark Newhouse, which is still arguably the greatest achievement in the history of modern poker.
Despite those highlights, big names were unable to replicate Ivey’s run and the November Nine’s health was slowly declining.
In 2015, it looked like Daniel Negreanu would save poker, the World Series, and the November Nine in one fell swoop. Instead, Joe McKeehen eliminated “Kid Poker” in 11th place and the only thing that fell was Negreanu.
After Negreanu finished a few spots short of the final table, the November Nine was on life support. It survived to return in 2016 and despite four months of coaching and preparation, a professional-heavy final table fell to Qui Nguyen, a baccarat player dressed in a hat with a raccoon face on it. The November Nine would not celebrate a 10th birthday.
The November Nine is survived by a revamped WSOP floor plan, new rules about clocks, hot dog carts, and an agreement to provide same-day live coverage of the WSOP Main Event for the first time in the history of the event.