There are plenty of unknowns surrounding this year's final table. Will a short stack finally be able to make a comeback and make the final day? Will J.C. Tran simply coast to victory like he's done so many times in the past? Will Marc-Etienne McLaughlin bring the championship back to Canada for the second time in four years? Whatever the outcome, there's one thing that will hold true: After it's all over, Jay Farber will be hosting one of the most legendary parties of the year.
Life really is a party for the Las Vegas resident and 2013 November Niner. Farber, 28, worked his way up through the hospitality ranks, from club promoter to host, and now is working for himself and making sure that visitors to Las Vegas have some of the most memorable -- or, in some cases, impossible to remember -- trips of their lives. He knows everyone, has connections celebrities dream of and, oh, he plays a little bit of poker, too.
Farber found the game 14 years ago and played at home with friends. When they turned 18, the group headed to the local casinos and, when they turned 21, they found Vegas.
"We went to Vegas to play poker and party," he said. "I was going back and forth so much that I ran out of excuses for why I didn't live in Vegas."
Once he took the leap and moved five years ago, Farber always kept an eye on the WSOP, despite spending most of his time playing cash games. He played in some event in each of the past five years, but couldn't play in the main event since he was working full-time. Now on his own, he had the chance and has clearly made the most of it.
"I had the time and had the means [to play in the main event]," he said. "It's just a natural thing. I enjoy playing the main. It plays like a deep-stack cash game, which is something I'm very comfortable with."
The trend of cash gamers finding success in the main event is far from new. The past four champions -- Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel, Pius Heinz and Greg Merson -- all boasted an extensive cash game background, and the odds are good that we'll see another champ in that realm this year with most of the November Nine (David Benefield, Mark Newhouse, Marc-Etienne McLaughlin just to name a few) also falling into that category. To give Farber a further edge, his corner will be filled with a few players who have had a taste of this experience before. Last year's runner-up Jesse Sylvia and 2011 third-place finisher Ben Lamb are two of the brightest minds in the game, and among those Farber considers friends.
"Ben and Jesse Sylvia have been a lot of help to me," Farber said. "They've been at the final table and we've definitely talked about their experience and how things played out for them, as well as what they thought they did wrong and how I could avoid those mistakes."
Chance Kornuth, Michael Mizrachi and Vanessa Selbst were also on Farber's Day 7 rail as he made his way to the final table. As crazy as it sounds, his biggest challenge might be to figure out which advice to take from which superstar.
Thus far, Farber's preparation has included a few small tournaments around Vegas, final table simulations with friends, extensive online video analysis and a whole lot of relaxation. He traveled to WSOP Europe to stay fresh, but when he returns to the U.S., he'll continue to live life day-by-day and enjoy being part of this elite group.
Farber was one of the few players who had a roller coaster ride on Day 7, despite him being self-proclaimed "card dead." He entered the final day in Vegas eighth in chips and was one card away from being the overwhelming chip leader, but Mark Newhouse's unorthodox play stood in his way. Newhouse three-bet all-in, after a Sylvain Loosli open and a Farber call, with A-2 and was well behind as Farber called with 9-9. The river gave Newhouse an ace-high straight, and Farber's stack sunk toward the bottom of the 20-something players who remained.
A few orbits later, Farber hit a river flush of his own to double and survive, then pounced on key spots against Newhouse and others to return to an above-average stack. The hand that sealed his spot in the November Nine came against J.C. Tran on the final table bubble and was one he's replayed in his head a number of times. Tran raised from under the gun, and both Farber and Carlos Mortensen called. The flop Q-10-7 enticed a Tran continuation bet and a call from both Farber and Mortensen. Tran bet again after an 8 on the turn, Farber called and Mortensen folded. With more than 14 million in chips in the pot, the dealer placed a 6 on the river and Tran slowed down with a check. Holding Q-J and a stack of only 11 million in chips, Farber checked and exhaled as his hand held.
"It was a huge pot," he said. "There could've been a really, really, really big decision for me, but luckily he checked the river. … Anything he bets there is a really big decision. No matter if he shoves all-in or value bets 3 million. It's a big portion of my chips relative to what's on the table and given the huge pay jump, I can finally find a fold there, but I'm just glad I didn't have to make that decision."
A few hands later, Mortensen became the most devastated bubble boy of the year. Farber has been all smiles since then.
"This whole opportunity, this whole thing is surreal and amazing," Farber said. "There are definitely a lot of doors that have opened since I made the final table."
For someone who prides himself on living in the moment, this is a fleeting dream turned reality. He'll have Vegas' support in November, with a rail to remember and, if he's able to win, a party nobody will want to forget.