It took 12 long days of poker, but the nine-player final table of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event is finally set.
Although the final table lacks a marquee name like Phil Ivey or Michael Mizrachi, it does include Ben Lamb, who’s had one of the most dominant WSOPs in recent memory, and Eoghan O’Dea, the son of Irish poker legend Donnacha O’Dea.
The final day of the WSOP this summer got off to a crazy start when four of the 22 players who started the day busted in the first hour of action.
After Russian Andrey Pateychuk busted in 15th place, ESPN finally had to delay action for over an hour so that the live stream, set to begin at 4:30 p.m., could catch up.
Railbirds were severely disappointed when Bryan “Devo” Devonshire busted in 12th place. Devonshire, a former dealer at the WSOP, was eliminated when he put all his chips in the middle with K-Q against Khoa Nguyen’s A-7.
The fast pace of the tournament came to an abrupt end when they finally got down to 10 players.
No one wants to be the Main Event final table bubble boy and with no severely short stacks the action continued for nearly six hours before John Hewitt finally cracked. Hewitt was first crippled when Badih Bounahra doubled through him with pocket kings versus K-Q.
Shortly thereafter Hewitt was eliminated when his pocket treys were beaten by Eoghan O’Dea’s K-J. O'Dea hit a broadway straight on the turn which sent the Amazon Room into hysterics.
The final nine players will now go on a three-and-a-half-month break that will won’t see play resume until Nov. 5. This November Nine is the most international Main Event final table ever assembled and should be an interesting one when it's finally played out.
Here’s a closer look at every member of this year’s November Nine:
Martin Staszko – 40,175,00 chips
Martin Staszko is somewhat of a dark horse in the 2011 November Nine although he will enter play as the chip leader with over 40 milliion chips.
From Trinec in the Czech Republic, Staszko is a 35-year-old poker pro and competitive chess player who had four cashes at the 2011 WSOP prior to the Main Event.
Staszko picked up over $20,000 from those cashes, but that number will be dwarfed by whatever he makes in the Main Event.
He’s already guaranteed close to a million just by making the final table.
Staszko has also made history by becoming the first Czech player to make the Main Event final table.
Eoghan O’Dea – 33,925,000 Chips
Irish poker player Eoghan O’Dea is the son of famous poker player Donnacha O’Dea, who placed sixth in the 1983 WSOP Main Event and 9th in the 1991 Main Event.
A skilled player in his own right, Eoghan first appeared on many poker fans' radar when he won the iPoker ECOOP III for $315k in 2008.
Eoghan then went on record several notable live tournament scores with a second place in the Ladbrokes Poker Million VII for $250,000 in 2008 and another second place at WPT Marrakech for $378,227 in 2009.
O'Dea would become the first Irishman since Noel Furlong in 1999 to win the Main Event.
Matt Giannetti – 24,750,000 Chips
Matt Giannetti started the unofficial final table in the 10th seat and 10th in chips. But as fate would have it he would not be our November Nine bubble boy. Not even close.
Giannetti is no stranger to live poker or the World Series of Poker. Giannetti has won more than $490,000 in live tournaments and has amassed a total of 11 WSOP cashes – including this one.
But this will be – by far – Giannetti's largest cash. Before this, Giannetti's best finish was when he finished 4th in a $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event back in 2009 for $66,544.
This actually beats Giannetti's largest online cash – where he goes by the name “hazards21” – by only $44.
Giannetti is currently a resident of Las Vegas so he won't have to travel too far come November.
Phil Collins – 23,875,000 Chips
Phil Collins, who was named after the famous singer, is a very well known online poker player who goes by the moniker USCPhildo.
A stone-cold killer online, Collins has racked up over $3 million in online winnings on PokerStars and Full Tilt.
With the developments of Black Friday, the 26 year old has been playing more live poker and now has over $120,000 in lifetime live tournament earnings.
Collins, somewhat surprisingly, has never made the final table of a major live tournament.
As for his online name, Collins attended the University of South Carolina, which was also where he met his wife Katie.
Ben Lamb – 20,875,000 chips
No player has been more dominant at the 2011 WSOP than Ben Lamb.
Lamb, who is originally from Tulsa, OK, but now resides in Las Vegas, has cashed four times in preliminary events including three final tables, one bracelet win and over $1.3 million in cashes.
His inclusion in the November Nine helps elevate his performance at the 2011 WSOP to one of the most impressive in poker history.
It also helped him pass Phil Hellmuth in the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year race.
Known primarily as a PLO cash game specialist, Lamb has had success in the Main Event before.
In 2009 Lamb finished 14th in the Main Event. He now gets to avenge that loss and try to win it all in November.
Badih Bounahra – 19,700,000 Chips
Badih Bounahra is yet another player who emerged from relative obscurity in the later stages of the Main Event and built a huge stack.
Hailing from Belize, Bounahra owns and operates a card room and runs a wholesale and grocery business
He has a handful of small cashes with just over $72,766 in lifetime live earnings.
Bounahra’s only cash at the WSOP came in 2008 when he finished 51st in a $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $7,582.
Even if he goes out in ninth, Bounahra is going to absolutely destroy that number as every place is paying out at least $782,115.
Pius Heinz – 16,425,000
Pius Heinz. This name feels more suited for a Roman emperor or an heir to a multi-billion dollar sauce company then a poker player.
But then again, you might recognize him by his other name, MastaP89. The German pro has taken down online events such as Full Tilt's Sunday Mulligan and PokerStars' $150,000 guarantee.
Heinz then broke his way into the live poker arena this year. Heinz managed to cash once this WSOP, and when he did, he went far.
He made the final table for a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Event and managed to finish 7th for $83,286.
But now he's guaranteed more than that. A lot more.
Heinz is also the first German to make the WSOP Main Event final table and he should have an entire country behind him as he tries to go one step farther and become the first German world champion.
Anton Makievskyi – 13,825,000 Chips
Anton Makievskyi is a mystery player that sprouted out of the woodworks late in the Main Event. He has no Main Event cashes and no WSOP or EPT cashes either.
Makievskyi caught everyone's attention when he won a massive 20 million-chip pot at the end of Day 6 to become chip leader.
The Ukrainian doubled up to around 21 million after he and Chris Moore went all in on a K♠ J♣ J♥ board and Moore showed ace-jack for trip jacks. Makievskyi then turned over king-jack a full house.
If Makievskyi turns this November Nine finish into a Main Event championship win, he'll be the youngest Main Event champion ever.
After winning the Main Event at 24, Phil Hellmuth held this title for 19 years before Peter Eastgate won it at 22 in 2008.
Joe Cada then proceeded to break that record the next year by winning at just 21. Now, 2 years later, the record may be broken yet again.
Samuel Holden – 13,825,000 Chips
Samuel Holden is the United Kingdom's last hope for another bracelet win this WSOP.
Holden hails from Canterbury, a historic English cathedral city in Southeast England, and he has three cashes in UKIPT events with his largest being for $5,785.
He'll be making a tad more than that as a member of the November Nine.
But Holden does already know what it's like to cash for more than four figures. Holden plays online under the name SamDMND.
His biggest online cash was a 5th-place finish in PokerStars' Sunday Million for $54,390. His total online winnings amount to $285,614.
Or mere peanuts compared to the $8.7 million prize he'll be fighting for come November.