It’s hard not to like Eric Buchman’s chances.Sitting second in chips, Buchman enters the final table of the World Series of Poker main event with confidence and experience. The cash-game pro from New York has cashed in the World Series nine times, results that include a second-place finish in a 2006 limit hold’em event and a final-table finish in the Omaha/seven-card stud eight-or-better event this year, which fellow November Niner Phil Ivey won.While he’s confident in his abilities, the 30-year-old pro isn’t taking anything for granted.“I could see myself winning, but I don’t expect to win,” said Buchman. “How can you expect it? How can you take something like that for granted?”Still, the Long Island native believes in his ability to consistently make the right moves, even under the spotlights of the final table and the glaring eyes of a live audience in the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio.“I’m confident I’m going to go out there and make the right decisions,” said Buchman. “I can’t say for sure if I’m going to win, but I definitely have a good chance.”His Journey to the Final TableA modest kid from New York, Buchman first got attracted to poker through his older brother. The two of them would go to a local Indian casino where the minimum age to play was only 18, or to underground poker rooms in New York City.For the past 10 years, he has been gradually and consistently working his way up in stakes, starting out at $1-$5 stud and eventually playing in the $600-$1,200 mixed games.“If you have a little natural ability, are willing to work hard, and have some money to work with, you should be OK,” said Buchman. “Those are three things that you need to be successful in playing cash games for a living.”He thinks his high-stakes cash-game experience prepares him well for November.“You’re just used to dealing with pressure more when you play high-stakes cash games,” said Buchman. “It helps when you’re deep in high-stakes tournaments.”But Buchman has always played the occasional tournament, even from the beginning. He says he spreads out his poker time with 75 percent devoted to cash games and the other 25 percent dedicated to tournaments. In the course of a year, he might spend around $50,000 in tournament entries — but that would vary year to year, depending how much he wanted to put into tourneys.“I’ll go to Vegas at least once a year for the World Series of Poker , maybe twice a year, but not that much, and I never go to California,” said Buchman. “I’ll play most of the East Coast tournaments, because they’re right here. It’s only a two or two-and-a-half-hour drive.”But if he outlasted his eight final-table opponents in November, he says he’d be willing to travel a little bit more.“I’d try to be a good ambassador. I’d definitely travel more. I wouldn’t play too much, but I’d play all of the major tournaments,” said Buchman. “They’ve got a lot of tournaments nowadays … but I’m sure I could play at least a tournament a month.”His Chances in NovemberMany people are quick to name him as one of the favorites. Second in chips, with only the amateur Darvin Moon ahead of him, Buchman is in great position to become the 2009 main-event champion.“I’m probably about 4-1 or 5-1 (to win it), something like that,” said Buchman. “I really want first, because I’m not going to have too many opportunities left to win the main event. This is my opportunity, right now. I want to take advantage of my opportunity.”On Nov. 7, he will get that opportunity. But that opportunity comes with obstacles. Two well-known pros in Phil Ivey and Jeff Shulman stand before him, along with a number of motivated players who have shown that they have plenty of ability and are not just “happy to be there.”But Buchman appears ready for the challenge. He knows he’s fighting for the world championship, for a chance to be called the world champion.“The bracelet is really nice, but it’s nicer to be known as the world champion,” said Buchman. “They call you the world champion for a year. That’s pretty cool.”Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September, but has been updated in preparation for this weekend’s final table. Check out Card Player’s other WSOP Profiles on James Akenhead , Antoine Saout , Phil Ivey , Kevin Schaffel , Joe Cada , Jeff Shulman , and Steven Begleiter . Darvin Moon’s profile will debut tomorrow.
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