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Three Players Remain at End of Day Nine of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event

Ben Lamb Pulls Into First Place in Card Player's 2011 Player of the Year Race


Ben Lamb, Martin Staszko, Pius HeinzJust three players remain out of a field of 6,865 in the 2011 World Series of Poker main event. Poker professionals Pius Heinz, Ben Lamb and Martin Staszko survived to fight it out for poker’s most prestigious title on Tuesday.

Heinz sits as the chip leader with 107.8 million, after six eliminations on day nine of the event.

It took about three hours for the final table to find its first casualty, and although there was a lot of fluctuation among the stack sizes, it was the initial short stack, Sam Holden, who busted first.

Holden was all in several times, before an increase in the blinds forced him to commit with the ASpade Suit JSpade Suit.

Lamb woke up with a dominating AHeart Suit KClub Suit, and it was the winner on the river, without much drama, to send Holden back overseas with no additional cash.

Anton MakiievskyiAnton Makiievskyi seemed content to just grind his way up the pay ladder, playing few hands before he found his short stack in the middle in a blind-versus-blind confrontation.

It was a coin flip when the 21-year-old Ukrainian, who was looking to become the younger champion in the history of the event, exposed the KClub Suit QHeart Suit. The 9Heart Suit 9Diamond Suit of Heinz were slightly ahead.

The flop came down KDiamond Suit JHeart Suit JSpade Suit, pulling Makiievskyi into the lead, but the stunning 9Club Suit on the turn left him drawing slim. The river was a brick, and he was eliminated in eighth place for just over $1 million.

With the pot, Heinz moved into the chip lead with more than 60 million, and he never relinquished his chip position.

Badih BounahraBadih Bounahra was playing as if the whole country of Belize was on his back. The 47-year-old took his time and grinded down to a short stack, before finding himself all in with the AHeart Suit 5Club Suit against the superior ASpade Suit 9Diamond Suit of Staszko. The board offered no help to the amateur, and he was gone with $1,314,097 in his pocket.

The final table was then officially shorthanded, and the action started to become fierce.

Eoghan O'DeaEoghan O’Dea was one of the favorites entering the main event final table, but a series of missteps against Heinz cost him more than half his stack.

His demise came when Lamb shoved over one of his preflop raises. After a few minutes in the tank, O’Dea made a huge call with the AClub Suit 9Diamond Suit. Lamb was drawing live with his QDiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit.

The flop rolled out JSpade Suit JDiamond Suit 6Diamond Suit, giving Lamb a flush draw. The 4Club Suit on the turn wasn’t what Lamb was looking for, but when the 8Heart Suit pealed off the deck and landed on the felt, the stage erupted.

A frenzy of Lamb’s contingent started a near mosh pit in the stands, congratulating Lamb when he ran over as if to go crowd surfing.

O’Dea’s father, Donnacha, put his head down in disappointment, as the hopes of his son winning the event he himself was never able to close out were nearly vanquished.

The energy in the room quickly dissipated when the remaining six players went on break immediately after the monumental hand.

The Irishman was crippled to just 2.6 million, while Lamb had climbed to nearly 30 million.

O’Dea hit the rail in sixth shortly after play resumed. His Q-6 failed to come from behind against Staszko’s pocket eights. O’Dea picked up $1,720,831 for his finish.

Phil CollinsDespite outdrawing Lamb in a monster pot earlier to double up, Phil Collins soon found himself somewhat short with under 20 big blinds. He elected to shove with the ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit and ran into Heinz, who held pocket nines once again.

The flop of 6Spade Suit 5Club Suit 4Diamond Suit gave Collins some hope. The 9Diamond Suit improved Heinz to top set, but it also gave Collins a flush draw.

The river was a harmless 7Spade Suit, and a disappointed Collins left with $2,269,599 as consolation.

In what seemed consistent with a historical trend in the event, four-handed play saw someone pull away with a big chip lead. Heinz was sitting with nearly half of the chips in play.

However, Lamb and Giannetti didn’t let Heinz sit easy with a dominant stack, as both experienced professionals applied the pressure, taking millions of chips off the German. Lamb was on his left and frequently gave Heinz Phil Ivey-esque stare downs.

Heinz remained tough and recovered, hovering above 90 million throughout most of four-handed play, despite doubling up Staszko at one point.

Lamb held the short stack around 10:30 p.m. local time, when he shoved over the top of a Giannetti raise. Giannetti snap called with pocket jacks and was ahead against Lamb’s AHeart Suit 7Heart Suit.

About 55 million chips were in the pot. Giannetti would have just under 7 million if he were to lose.

The flop fell KHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit, giving Lamb a flush draw and the over card. The crowd tensely stood when the 4Heart Suit landed on the felt, giving Lamb the nuts and the hand. A meaningless 9Spade Suit came before Giannetti, who couldn’t watch the hand play out, sank in his seat.

The very next hand, Giannetti was all in with Q-10 and found a call from Staszko’s Q-2. Giannetti’s hand held, and he doubled to about 15 million.

Matt GiannettiA few hands later he shoved on the button with A-3 and ran into the pocket kings of Lamb. The flop was K-K-Q, and Giannetti was drawing dead against his opponent’s quads.

With the hand, Lamb increased his stack to 55.4 million, but also secured the top spot, for the time being, in Card Player’s 2011 Player of the Year race. He is guaranteed at least 2,400 points in the event, but could scoop 3,600 if he wins.

Trailing Heinz and Lamb, the chess-playing Staszko sat with 42.7 million when the clock was paused for the evening.

Play ended just before 11 p.m. local time on Sunday and will resume at 6 p.m. PT on Tuesday, where the winner will walk away with $8.7 million and the bracelet.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus