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The WSOP Main Event Done For The Summer

International Cast Playing for $8.7 Million Top Prize

by Ryan Lucchesi |  Published: Aug 24, 2011


The 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 main event came on the heels of the most successful run of preliminary events in WSOP history. More than 68,000 players had already taken a seat at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, before cards got into the air in the main event. Adding to that, more than $127 million in prize money had been awarded across the prelims.

The attendance numbers in the main event were down slightly from last year due to weak attendance during the earliest days of the tournament, but at 6,865 players, the tournament was still the third-largest poker tournament of all time, and the winner will take home close to $9 million in November. Participants hailed from 85 different nations, and that diversity later would be reflected in the makeup of the eventual November Nine.

ESPN cameras captured every possible minute from July 14-19 for the first-ever daily live coverage, and while thousands of players took part in the biggest poker tournament of the year, hundreds of thousands of people watched daily on ESPN2 and Thousands of players busted during the first two days — which were spread across six days of actual play to accommodate logistics — and by the time the survivors all returned in a combined field for day 3, just 1,864 remained.

The money-bubble burst on day 4, and play showed few signs of slowing down as the field played deeper into the money. As the tournament advanced, many big names fell, while some familiar faces emerged to be the few professionals who might make a run at this year’s edition of the November Nine. Allen Cunningham was looking to return to the final table for the first time since 2006, but he fell in 69th place. Jean-Robert Bellande made a deep run in the main event for the second year in a row, but he busted in 65th place.

Erick Lindgren (45th place), David Bach (43rd place), Tony Hachem (37th place), and Steve Brecher (31st place) all made the top 50, but none of them could break through to November. When 30 players remained, most eyes fell on the last woman standing in the tournament, Erika Moutinho, not only for her distinction as the last female contending, but also for the fact that she was the girlfriend of another remaining player in the tournament, David Sands. At times, the two were seated at the same table, which made for some interesting table dynamics, but each of them busted after dwindling with short stacks for quite some time. Sands took 30th place, while Moutinho finished one spot better in 29th place.

During the closing stretch of day 7, the field condensed to the final three tables, and one more big name was lost before play ended for the night. J.P. Kelly ran into the pocket aces of Andrey Pateychuk, and the British professional busted in 26th place. The final 22 players advanced to the final day of play for the summer, but only nine of them would have a chance to come back in November.

Anton Makiievskyi held the chip lead heading into the final day, thanks to a 20-million-chip pot he won against Chris Moore during the closing stretch of day 7. On the hand, Makiievskyi raised to 400,000 from early position, and Moore made the call from middle position. The flop fell K♠ J♣ J♥, and Makiievskyi bet 400,000. Moore raised to 1.1 million, and Makiievskyi reraised to 2.8 million. Moore then reraised all in, and Makiievskyi made the call for his tournament life. Makiievskyi held K♦ J♠, and Moore held A♥ J♦. The turn and river came 6♠ and 4♥, and Makiievskyi doubled up to 20,370,000 for the chip lead.

Moore was crippled on the hand, and he fell at the hands of Makiievskyi early the next day in 21st place, heading to the rail just behind another notable professional, Lars Bonding, who fell in 22nd place. Just after the field reached the final two tables, Makiievskyi had grown his chip lead to 30 million. WSOP Circuit National Champion Sam Barnhart then busted in 17th place, which was good for $378,796, providing a nice bookend to a summer that began with him winning a gold bracelet and $300,000 for the Circuit Championship title he won at Caesars Palace on Memorial Day weekend.

During play at the final two tables, Makiievskyi still held the chip lead, but Irish player Eoghan O’Dea was close behind. As the short stacks fought for survival, Ben Lamb, John Hewitt, and Phil Collins all chipped up to become contenders.

Khoa Nguyen was on a very short stack throughout this stretch, but he doubled up when he needed to in order to keep surviving by the narrowest of margins. At one point, his ace high was enough to best the king high of Bryan Devonshire, who was crippled after the hand, with 3.5 million left in his stack. Devonshire fell in 12th place a short time later when he shoved all in with K-Q to find O’Dea waiting with A-Q. For the second time, Devonshire lost to a slightly higher kicker, but this time the result was the end of his deep tournament run. O’Dea, the new chip leader, held close to 40 million after the hand.

Nguyen’s short stack finally saw its run come to an end in 11th place at the hands of the streaking Martin Staszko. Nguyen pegged his tournament hopes on pocket tens, but Staszko held pocket kings. That meant the final 10 were set, and Staszko settled into second chip-position behind O’Dea (41.6 million) with more than 27 million chips.
It took more than three hours to bust the November-Nine bubble, and during that time chip stacks fluctuated and Fall fortunes changed. During the first hour at the unofficial final table, Staszko continued his charge to the top, and he joined O’Dea above the 40-million-chip mark after winning multiple pots against the top talent at the table. In a hand representative of his run, Staszko opened to 950,000, Collins called on the button, and the flop fell 10♦ 8♠ 3♦. Staszko led for 1.425 million, and Collins called. The turn brought the 6♠, and Staszko checked to Collins, who fired 3.1 million. Staszko made the call, and the 9♠ was dealt on the river. Both players checked, Staszko rolled over pocket jacks, Collins mucked, and Staszko picked up the pot.

Matt Giannetti almost busted out of the tournament when he had to sweat out a preflop shove with pocket jacks against the A-10 of Hewitt. His jacks held, but that was only the beginning of the stress for Giannetti, who saw his chips go all in once again with pocket jacks a short time later. This time he needed to fade the K-9 of Lamb, and the poker gods obliged, rolling out a 10-6-3-7-A board to take his stack above 20 million.

Badih Bounahra then doubled up through Hewitt with pocket kings, and Hewitt was left with just 4,125,000 with the blinds at 250,000-500,000 and a 50,000 ante. That put Hewitt on the chopping block, so when he moved all in preflop with pocket threes, O’Dea made the call with K-J. The board came Q-10-7-A-K to give O’Dea a Broadway straight, and Hewitt was eliminated in 10th place to lock in the November Nine.
You can read more about the final nine players in the section below.
November Nine Chip Counts:*

Seat 1 Matt Giannetti 24,750,000 U.S.A.
Seat 2 Badih Bounahra 19,700,000 Belize
Seat 3 Eoghan O’Dea 33,925,000 Ireland
Seat 4 Phil Collins 23,875,000 U.S.A.
Seat 5 Anton Makiievskyi 13,825,000 Ukraine
Seat 6 Samuel Holden 12,375,000 U.K.
Seat 7 Pius Heinz 16,425,000 Germany
Seat 8 Ben Lamb 20,875,000 U.S.A.
Seat 9 Martin Staszko 40,175,000 Czech Republic

November Nine Prize Pool:
1st $8,711,956
2nd $5,430,928
3rd $4,019,635
4th $3,011,661
5th $2,268,909
6th $1,720,396
7th $1,313,851
8th $1,009,910
9th $782,115