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2011 Tournament Poker Year in Review -- July to December

Results From WSOP Main Event to December's Last Events


The first half of 2011 featured many interesting tournament results, including Erik Seidel’s $5.4 million dollar run, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier going back-to-back with NAPT titles and Ben Lamb’s fantastic World Series of Poker run.

As July loomed, the approach of the WSOP Main Event had the entire poker world excited to see what would happen in the second half of the year. Here are the biggest results that followed.


The last few WSOP preliminaries wrapped up is time for July 7, the first of four starting days in the Main Event. Four days and a few hours later, registration officially closed and the official entry and prize pool information were finally tabulated.

With 6,865 entrants putting up the $10,000 buy-in, the prize pool grew to a massive $64,531,000. It took nine more days until they had whittled this behemoth field down to the final table, at which point play halted until early November.

David SandsMany notable players made deep runs, including engaged couple Erika Moutinho and David Sands, who finished 29th and 30th respectively.

WSOP bracelet holder J.P. Kelly finished 26th, Lars Bonding finished 22nd and Chris Moore placed 21st. Bryan Devonshire came incredibly close to a final table berth, finishing 12th for $607,882.

When the dust settled, the final nine included a number of notable pros, including Eoghan O’Dea, Phil Collins, Matt Giannetti and the on-fire Lamb. With all of his results during the prelims, Lamb was a huge threat at the final table and in the Card Player Player of the Year race. He and the poker world had to wait until November to find out just what would happen.

While the Main Event was in its late stages, some big action was also going on at the Bellagio Cup VII $10,000 main event — which drew 224 players.

New York pro Elio Fox was the last man standing, winning $669,692 after defeating Hafiz Khan heads-up.


August has been a slower time in the poker tournament world as many players take some time to recover from the WSOP onslaught, but plenty of action took place as summer entered its final phases.

The European Poker Tour began its eighth season with the EPT Tallinn in Estonia. Swiss Ronny Kaiser topped the 282 player field to win €275,000.

Chino RheemStateside, the Epic Poker League had its premiere $20,000 main event in Las Vegas.

The event sought to become poker’s equivalent to the PGA tour, with players having to qualify for a tour card in order to play the event.

A total of 137 players entered, but the last man standing was Chino Rheem, who earned $1 million for defeating Erik Seidel heads up. Seidel secured himself $604,330, continuing a massive year.


Will “The Thrill” Failla kicked September off with a win at the WPT Legends of Poker main event for $758,085.

Across the pond, the European Poker Tour Barcelona main event set the record for the largest poker tournament in Spain with 811 entrants.

Martin Schleich was the last man standing, earning €850,000. Eugene Katchalov continued his impressive year by finishing third for €315,000.

Sam Trickett

In France, the Partouche Poker Tour €8,500 main event drew 579 entrants, building a roughly €3.5 million prize pool. Much like the WSOP Main Event, this tournament played down to a final table of nine and then went on hiatus until November.

The chip leader heading into the final nine was none other than Sam Trickett, who had started off the year red-hot in Australia.

November Niner Matt Giannetti won the first ever WPT Malta main event late in September, adding $276,457 to his bankroll and undoubtedly a load of confidence.

The WPT Borgata Poker Open set a record for the tour with a huge turnout of 1,313 entrants putting up the $3,500 buy-in. The eventual champion was Bobby Oboodi, who earned $922,441 for his win.

In Las Vegas, young pro Mike McDonald took down the second Epic Poker League main event for $782,410. As one might guess, Seidel indeed did make the final table again, finishing fourth for $184,100.


October was dominated by European events, kicking off with the EPT London main event, which drew 691 players. German pro Benny Spindler defeated Steve O’Dwyer heads up for the title and first prize of £750,000.

O’Dwyer had made six final tables already in 2011, and moved into the top twenty in the Player of the Year race with this finish.

Elio FoxThe World Series of Poker Europe made its debut this year in Cannes, France, having moved from London. The series featured nine bracelet events, and a number of notable winners, including Steve Billirakis, who took down the €5,300 pot-limit Omaha event, Tristan Wade who won the €3,200 no-limit hold’em shootout and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, who won the €10,400 no-limit hold’em split format event.

The WSOP Europe €10,400 main event drew an impressive field of 593 players, with Elio Fox coming out on top. Fox defeated Chris Moorman for the €1,400,000 first prize. Moorman’s second place finish for €800,000 vaulted him into the lead in the Player of the Year race, having made the Aussie Millions final table and a number of big scores at the WSOP.

The October Europe swing wrapped up with Andrey Pateychuk’s victory at EPT San Remo for €680,000. Pateychuk, who had finished 15th in the WSOP Main Event, topped a field of 837 to secure the title.


Pius HeinzAll eyes were on the WSOP final table as it resumed early in November. The first day of play saw nine whittled down to three.

German pro Pius Heinz had the chip lead three handed, with Lamb in second place closely followed by Martin Staszko.

Incredibly, Lamb lost an all-in on the first hand of play coming back, and was eliminated shortly after in third place for $4 million. With this score, Lamb took over the lead in the Player of the Year race, which he maintained until year’s end.

The heads-up battle lasted many hours, but eventually Heinz triumphed over Staszko to earn $8,715,638 and the title of world champion.

Much like the WSOP Main Event, the Partouche Poker Tour main event reconvened in November to play down to a winner. Trickett entered with the chip lead, and exited as the champion with €1 million extra for his efforts.


There was still a ton of poker to be played with only a month remaining in the year.
Card Player’s Native American Casino Poker Tour had its premiere event at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, OK.

The NACPT Choctaw $1,000 main event attracted 324 players, and was eventually won by Kansas native Kirk Stewart for $50,000.

EPT Prague was had its €5,300 main event, which attracted 772 entrants. The eventual champion of the event was Martin Finger, who earned $964,023 for his victory.

James DempseyThe Five Diamond World Poker Classic played host to two major events. First, it’s $10,000 WPT main event drew 413 players, and was eventually won by James Dempsey for $821,612, Dempsey topped a tough final table that included defending champ Antonio Esfandiari, Vanessa Selbst, Soi Nguyen and Andrew Lichtenberger.

Jason Mercier continued his winning ways by taking down the $100,000 buy-in high roller for $683,000.

With many players in contention for the POY scrambling for points at the end of the year, including Mercier, their last best chance was the third Epic Poker League main event. Mercier ended up being the only player in contention to pick up any points, finishing seventh to move him into sixth position in the overall standings. The eventual champion was Chris Klodnicki, who earned $801,680 for his victory.

2011 Comes To A Close

In the end, 2011 was an incredible year for tournament poker. Big names made deep runs, new faces emerged as key players, and a lot of money was won and lost.
The top 50 finishers in this year’s Player of the Year race cashed for more than $87.5 million, more than $14 million more than last year’s total of $73.1 million. Somehow, despite all of the obstacles that stand in its way, tournament poker continues to grow. Who knows what 2012 could have in store?