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By Dianne R. Davis

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Photos by Dianne R. Davis or Burt Davis

Final Table Set at 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event

ESPN’s WSOP Coverage Continues on Tuesday Nights
through November 8, 2011

The 42nd annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship – commonly referred to as the Main Event – is now down to its final nine players. The “November Nine” – a diverse and international group – is all that remains of the massive field of 6,865 players who entered the iconic tournament seeking poker’s most coveted title and a top prize of more than $8.7 million.

November_Nine_Group_Shot


The final nine players represent seven countries – the most ever in WSOP and tournament poker history; Ukraine, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Belize, Great Britain and the United States.

The players will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in November to vie for poker’s ultimate trophy – a WSOP gold bracelet – and the lion’s share of the Main Event’s $64,531,000 total prize pool. The winner will receive a first-place prize of $8,711,956, with the other eight players sharing another $19 million-plus.

The November Nine and their respective chip counts are as follows:

1.    Martin Staszko – 40,175,000

Staszko, of Trinec, Czech Republic, is a 35-year-old poker professional. He is the first Czech ever to make a WSOP Main Event final table. In addition to poker, he plays competitive chess and tennis for pleasure. He said it would be “unbelievable” to be the first person to bring a Main Event gold bracelet back to the Czech Republic.

2.    Eoghan O’Dea – 33,925,000

O’Dea, of Dublin, Ireland, is a 26-year-old student. The son of Donnacha O’Dea – widely regarded as the greatest Irish poker player of all time – Eoghan is becoming quite the poker force himself. He now has a total of five WSOP cashes, four of which he earned this year. The father-and-son tandem now has a total of three WSOP Main Event final tables, with Donnacha having finished sixth in 1983 and ninth in 1991.  It is the first time in WSOP history a father and son has made it to the Main Event final table.

3.    Matt Giannetti – 24,750,000

Giannetti is a 26-year-old, self-taught poker professional from Las Vegas. Prior to launching his poker career, Giannetti graduated from the University of Texas.

4.    Phil Collins – 23,875,000

Collins, 26, of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a professional poker player. His considerable entourage at the Main Event spurred on the former University of South Carolina student by loudly singing lyrics by the famous musician with whom their friend shares his name. Collins’ chip count kept him near the top of the leader board for much of the past few days, leading to numerous amateur renditions of “In the Air Tonight” echoing throughout the tournament room.

5.    Ben Lamb – 20,875,000

Lamb, 26, is enjoying a career year at the WSOP, leading the race in Player of the Year points by a healthy margin. In addition to making the Main Event final table, Lamb’s other accomplishments at this year’s WSOP include a gold bracelet win, a second-place finish and eighth- and twelfth-place tournament finishes. The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native now boasts a total of 12 WSOP “in-the-money” finishes that have paid more than $2.1 million in total prize money (excluding the minimal ninth-place money he is guaranteed for making the November Nine).

6.    Badih Bounahra – 19,700,000

Bounahra is the oldest member of the November Nine. At 49, the resident of Belize City, Belize, has been playing poker for about six years. Away from the felt, Bounahra says he enjoys fishing and sleep.

7.    Pius Heinz – 16,425,000

Heinz is a 22-year-old student and poker professional from Cologne, Germany. He is the first German ever to make it to a WSOP Main Event final table, a feat he accomplished after a promising seventh-place finish in a previous WSOP event.

8.    Anton Makiievskyi – 13,825,000

Makiievskyi, of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, is a 21-year-old aspiring poker pro. When he isn’t competing on the felt, he enjoys cycling and anything pertaining to music, particularly teaching himself guitar and drums.  This year marked his first trip to the WSOP in Las Vegas.  Makiievskyi hopes to become the fifth Ukrainian to win a gold bracelet at the 2011 WSOP.

9.    Sam Holden – 12,375,000

Holden, a 22-year-old professional poker player from Sussex, Great Britain, will enter the final table as the short stack. This first-time WSOP participant will need to pick his spots carefully in November if he is to bring poker’s most prestigious title back to England.
John Hewitt, 23, finished in 10th place, just one spot away from the November Nine. Hewitt is originally from Chicago but now resides in San Jose, Costa Rica. The former student demonstrated an aggressive style of play during the Main Event, at one point even holding the chip lead. In the end, it was not enough to make the final table.

In addition to the first-place prize of $8,711,956, prize money for the remaining eight spots is as follows*:

2nd place: $5,430,928
3rd place: $4,019,635
4th place: $3,011,665
5th place: $2,268,909
6th place: $1,720,396
7th place: $1,313,851
8th place: $1,009,910
9th place: $782,115

When play resumes in November, the players will pick up with 34 minutes and 57 seconds remaining in Level 36. The antes will be $50,000 and blinds will stand at $250,000 and $500,000.

The 2011 Main Event has received unprecedented nearly-live coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Comprehensive WSOP television coverage began airing Tuesday, July 26 on ESPN. Coverage will continue in two-hour blocks each Tuesday at 9 p.m. for 16 weeks, culminating with Main Event Final Table coverage on Nov. 8, 2011.

The 2011 Main Event capped the largest-ever WSOP, both in terms of total participation and prize pool. A total of 75,672 players from 105 countries entered the 58 events on this summer’s WSOP schedule, generating a total prize pool of $191,999,010.

The 2011 Main Event was the third-largest in the tournament’s illustrious history, drawing 6,865 players from 85 nations. Only the 2006 Main Event (8,773 participants) and the 2010 Main Event (7,319 participants) were larger.

*The final nine players each received ninth-place prize money upon reaching the final table; the remainder of the prize pool will be placed in an interest-bearing account to be added to the prize pool on a percentage basis for the final eight finishers.

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