It has been an incredible run for two of the biggest names in poker.  Phil Ivey and Antonio Esfandiari are still going strong in the World Series of Poker Main Event with only 27 players remaining.  The players remaining will play down to the final table of 9 today, starting at 12 p.m. local time.

Esfandiari, known as The Magician, will definitely have to work some magic to make it into the November 9.  He will start play today in 20th position, with just over 4.4 million in chips.  At one point during day 7 he was as high as 3rd in chips, but just could not put together a really good string of cards and will be fighting with a short stack going into day 8.

Antonio is probably known as much for his personality as his poker playing.  He is a regular fixture on High Stakes Poker, has a t.v. show called I Bet You with buddy and fellow poker player Phil Laak, and is a very knowledgeable fixture of the Vegas club scene.  However, he would not really be considered a feared tournament player by most other players.  Although, he did win the 2004 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic at a very young age, thus spawning his professional poker career.  He also does have a WSOP bracelet to his name as well as several other final table appearances and a couple wins at major tournaments throughout the years.

Just the mention of Phil Ivey, on the other hand, strikes fear into some players.  He will head into Day 8 in 4th place with 11.35 million in chips.  The current chip leader, Darvin Moon, said of Ivey, “I’m going to hide in a corner when I get up against him.  Everybody that’s made it this far has way more card experience than me.  If Phil Ivey is on my left and even looks at me, I’m mucking.”

Ivey already has 7 WSOP bracelets, including 2 this year, in Event 8, No-Limit Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball, and Event 25, Omaha/Seven Card Stud HL/8 or Better Split.  Ironically, none of Ivey’s bracelets have come in a no-limit Hold’em event.  Still, he is considered by many to be the best all-around poker player in the world, and he has definitely solidified that reputation during this World Series.  However, there is no doubt that Ivey’s goal is to win the Main Event, a feat that has not been accomplished by an American professional player since 2000, when Chris Ferguson, a.k.a. Jesus, won it.

A few other professional players made it quite deep in this year’s tournament.  Pros that were eliminated yesterday include Prahlad Friedman, Tom Schneider, and Joe Sebock.

Everyone who starts play today will take home at least $352,832, while those who survive today and make it to this year’s November 9, will all be millionaires, winning at least $1,263,602.  The much coveted 1st place prize is worth $8,546,435 and of course, the title of Main Event Champion.