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Today the World Series of Poker Academy released how they intend to award the 27th and final seat to the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions.  All 27 seats have been accounted for, 5 by automatic berth, 20 by fan voting, and 2 by sponsor exemption.  The two sponsor’s exemption seats will both be “earned seats,” with one seat being provided through an online series of tournaments, and the final seat, announced today, through a single table invitation-only satellite.

Billed as a “sudden death” matchup, the single table satellite will be comprised of players that have extraordinary poker achievements, but were not eligible to be voted on during the fan voting process.  Eligibility included being a bracelet winner of a prior WSOP event.   The 9 combatants who will battle for a seat at the final WSOP TOC event will be Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Andy Bloch, Bertrand “ElKy” Grosspellier, Gus Hansen, Sorel Mizzi, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Liv Boeree, Paul Wasicka, and actor Don Cheadle.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to win an invitation to the TOC,” says Full Tilt Poker pro Andy Bloch.  While Andy has finished runner up on two separate occasions, and has multiple cashes at prior WSOP events, the bracelet has thus far eluded him.  “When the voting first started, I heard from people who were disappointed to find out they couldn’t vote for me,” Bloch says.  “Though I have over $2 million in WSOP winnings, more than most people with bracelets, I wasn’t on the ballot because I didn’t win any of the 5 all-in pots that would have given me a bracelet.”

The competition at the table will certainly be fierce, as it features several incredible players.  Tom Dwan, arguably the best cash game player today, and certainly the individual with the most success at the high stakes online games already saw a runner up finish this year.  Michael Mizrachi won his first bracelet in the $50,000 Players Championship, and followed that performance with a final table at the 7-card stud championship.  Former WPT Player’s of the Year Bertrand Grosspellier and Gus Hansen, and EPT Champion Liv Boeree, as well as 2006 WSOP Main Event runner up, and NBC Heads up Champion Paul Wasicka, and the current Bluff Player of the Year Sorel Mizzi.

“Winning the entry won’t be easy.  These are some of the toughest players in the world,” said Bloch.  “I’m even looking forward to watching it on the WSOP Academy afterwards.  The video should be exciting and a great learning tool.”

The sponsor’s exemption tournament will be filmed for exclusive use by the WSOP academy.  Ali Nejad and 11 time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth will provide hand-by-hand analysis and expert commentary of the tournament.  The content will be available to WSOP Academy customers through its website and live events, according to the WSOP.com site.

While 8 of the invitees are recognizable for their poker accolades, actor Don Cheadle has raised some eyebrows with no recognizable poker cashes to date.  However, the philanthropic Cheadle has been instrumental along with the WSOP in placing together the Ante Up For Africa events, and recruiting celebrities to participate.  His inclusion however has other players questioning the selection process for the event.  “One bracelet winner asked me if I thought it was fair that non-bracelet winners were going to be allowed to play for a seat,” said Andy Bloch.  “The WSOP is putting up the money and it’s up to the WSOP to set the qualifications, and they never represented that the two remaining exemptions would have to have bracelets.  The WSOP didn’t change the rules.”

With so many deserving players, many have used the voting process as a platform for charities, pledging all of their winnings from the event to different charities, which is likely where the nomination of Cheadle comes in.  Says Bloch “I understand the argument, so if I do win the seat and make any money, I’m going to donate 100% of my winnings to charity.”

The single table qualifying event will play on June 10th at 12 noon PST, while the Tournament of Champions event is scheduled to begin on June 27th at 12 noon PST.