VIDEO/PHOTOS: Bonita Springs' John Dolan makes World Series of Poker's final table

Video from NBC-2

— There’s no question 24-year-old John Dolan played his cards right Sunday.

The Bonita Springs man out lasted 7,318 players in no-limit Texas Hold ‘em at the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas to land himself at the final table -- which is the final nine players. Dolan, who doubled his chip count as only 10 players remained, utilized a blend of strategy and luck.

“Honestly, when I got to the final table, I picked up some pretty awesome hands,” said Dolan, who saw his chip count go from 24.55 million to 46.3 million in the final two hours of the day.

He will battle it out with the other finalists in the November Nine, vying for the $8.94 million first prize. He already had a nice payday as all nine players remaining received $811,823, the equivalent of ninth-place money.

Dolan, finishing with the second most chips Sunday, is well placed to bring the shiny gold bracelet that goes to the winner back to the Sunshine State. Two other Floridians -- John Racener, 24, of Port Richey, and Michael “Grinder” Mizrachi, 29, of Miami -- are also among the international list of finalists.

While Dolan handled a media frenzy in Las Vegas, his Bonita Springs family also handled a flood of news reporters, friends and family swarming their home Sunday.

As of late afternoon, Dolan had not slept for more than 18 hours — and neither had his mother, Kathy, and father, John Sr.

“It’s pretty wild. This is the largest tournament there is,” John Dolan Sr. exclaimed.

“Your whole life is going to change right now,” he told his son in a phone conversation after watching the triumph on TV.

Dolan’s biggest win prior was $82,000 from an online tournament last year.

His father put $25,000 of that away.

“He blew the rest,” said Dolan Sr.

After that, Dolan asked his father why he hadn’t set more of it aside for him.

“I had to let him learn a lesson. I think that experience will help him this time around,” he said of his son’s near-millionaire status now.

Although his parents said they had their reservations at first about their son dropping out of business studies at Florida State University, they say they quickly learned he was serious about poker.

“He’s a student of the game and obviously he’s good at it,” said Dolan Sr.

It’s not just the winning, said his parents, but the way he played the game that made them proud.

“He was in last place at one time yesterday and then he fought his way back,” the proud father said Sunday. “To end up with the second most chips is amazing.”

Dolan ended with 46.2 million chips, trailing only Jonathan Duhamel, 22, of Boucherville, Quebec, who won 65.9 million chips. The next closest player was Joseph Cheong, 24, of La Mirada, Calif., with 23.5 million chips.

“He got real aggressive at the end of the night. He just dominated the table,” said Dolan Sr.

While in college, Dolan worked at Sonny’s BBQ in Tallahassee and then worked for his father in construction during the summer. There was nothing exciting enough for the former Bishop Verot High School baseball shortstop and football quarterback, said his father.

Dolan still visits Florida State, although he left the school after studying for a year and a half. His brother, Jason, 22, is a medical student there and his sister Jessica, 18, is in her freshman year at FSU.

“He takes care of his brother and sister. When he stops there he gets them everything,” said Dolan Sr.

Dolan gets some of his interest in the game from home.

“We always played cards and he was always really good with numbers,” said Dolan Sr.

A strategic mind and keen listening skills give Dolan an edge, his dad said.

“God gave us two ears and one mouth. He understands that ratio.”

The final players will wait 111 days before returning to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for a ninth card session Nov. 6. The winner will be determined in a heads-up session between the final two players starting Nov. 8.

The entries and total prize pool of $68.8 million made this year’s main event the second-largest in series history. Players paid $10,000 each to enter.

Dolan couldn’t be reached for an interview with the Daily News on Sunday. He had this to say on his Facebook page:

“Thanks everyone for the support. Has been an amazing ride so far. Hope everyone can make it in November.” He added a smiley face.

Dolan’s family already booked flights and hotel rooms to watch the November finals in-person. While they’re short on sleep, they say they’ll probably get more rest sooner than Dolan.

“He’ll probably crash for a couple days,” said Dolan Sr.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

The final nine players in the World Series of Poker main event, as determined early Sunday after an eighth session of no-limit Texas Hold 'em at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The finalists emerged from a field of 7,319 players and will compete Nov. 6-8 for the tournament's top prize of $8.94 million. Ninth place will win $811,823, to be paid Sunday; higher finishers will win at least $1,045,738 and be paid the difference from ninth place money in November.

1. Jason Senti (7,625,000)

AGE: 25

HOMETOWN: St. Louis Park, Minn.

OCCUPATION: poker player

PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 10 series cashes for $157,528; four circuit cashes for $543,637.

2. Joseph Cheong (23,525,000)

AGE: 24

HOMETOWN: La Mirada, Calif.

OCCUPATION: poker player

PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS:type:italic; two series cashes this year for $31,064; four circuit cashes for $20,890, including one win this year in a no-limit Hold 'em tournament at Harrah's Rincon.


3. John Dolan (46,250,000)

AGE: 24

HOMETOWN: Bonita Springs, Fla.

OCCUPATION: poker player

PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: five series cashes for $105,340; two circuit cashes for $3,333.

4. Jonathan Duhamel (65,975,000)

AGE: 22

HOMETOWN: Boucherville, Quebec

OCCUPATION: poker player

PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: two cashes for $43,000.

5. Michael "Grinder" Mizrachi (14,450,000)

AGE: 29


OCCUPATION: poker professional

PRIOR SERIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS: one bracelet, 23 series cashes ($2.27 million); six circuit cashes for $323,258.

6. Matthew Jarvis (16,700,000)

AGE: 25

HOMETOWN: Surrey, British Columbia

OCCUPATION: post-secondary business student


7. John Racener (19,050,000)

AGE: 24

HOMETOWN: Port Richey, Fla.

OCCUPATION: poker player


8. Filippo Candio (16,400,000)

AGE: 26

HOMETOWN: Cagliari, Italy

OCCUPATION: poker player


9. Cuong "Soi" Nguyen (9,650,000)

AGE: 37

HOMETOWN: Santa Ana, Calif.

OCCUPATION: medical supply company employee


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