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No bluffing: UND grad in finals at World Series of Poker

Jason Senti plays a hand Saturday during the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Should he outlast just one of the final nine, Senti will be a millionaire.

GRAND FORKS - Jason Senti's decision to quit an electrical engineering job to become a full-time poker player is going to pay off big.

The 2000 Grand Forks Red River graduate has made the final table at the World Series of Poker Main Event, guaranteeing him at least $811,823.

The field of 7,319 players has been narrowed to just nine - a group dubbed the November Nine, as they will return to Las Vegas to finish off the tournament at the end of the year.

Senti, who also graduated from the University of North Dakota, has the smallest number of chips left among the November Nine (7.62 million). The chip leader is Canadian Jonathan Duhamel (65.97 million).

Should he outlast just one of the final nine, Senti will be a millionaire. Top prize in the $10,000 buy-in event is $8.94 million.

Now a resident of St. Louis Park, Minn., Senti is a poker pro who writes for bluefire He previously had a high-paying salary job as an electrical engineer in the Twin Cities, but he quit over a year ago because he was making more money with poker.

"He is an incredibly intelligent and responsible kid," said his father, Bruce, who wasn't worried about Jason's decision to quit his job.

"He did things the right way. He put away enough money to give it a try. His employer let him take a leave of absence, but he never looked back. He was making substantially more money player poker, and frankly, he liked it better."

Senti has always been sharp. He was regularly on the honor roll at Red River and the dean's list at UND. He earned multiple scholarships.

It didn't take him long to pick up poker.

He started by putting $40 into an online account and playing penny games, gradually working his way up. Now, he's arrived at the biggest stage. took notice and sponsored the Grand Forks native earlier in the tournament. So Senti was wearing PokerStars gear during Day 8, when the field was narrowed from 27 to nine. It took more than 17 hours to do it.

The players began at noon Saturday and didn't get to celebrate their spot in the final table until Brandon Steven of Wichita, Kan., was knocked out in 10th place about 5:15 a.m. Sunday.

"I have been up for nearly 24 hours now and just recently finished play down to nine players," Senti wrote on his blog Sunday. "I ended the day very short (on chips) and some craziness went down including a fold that will either make me look brilliant or idiotic. Either way, I am in the November Nine!

"Time to sleep. I have interviews in a few hours and many friends here ready to party."