After fourteen and a half hours of play on Tuesday, the 2011 World Series of Poker Championship Event “November Nine” was determined in the Amazon Room at the Rio in Las Vegas. After the excitement of having two members of the final table in the field in 2010, Canada will not be represented at this table, the most international WSOP Championship Event in the 42-year history of the tournament.
Action began at noon on Tuesday and the players wasted little time getting to business. Lars Bonding was the first to head out the door of the Amazon Room barely ten minutes into the action. On a 3-4-7 flop, Bonding pushed his stack to the center with pocket Aces, only to watch Konstantinos Mamaliadis call and flip up pocket fours for the flopped set. Bonding could only watch helplessly as the turn and river failed to give him a trumping Ace and he hit the rail in 22nd place, albeit $302,005 richer.
Chip leader Anton Makievskyi took out Chris Moore in 21st place before Mamaliadis came back to eliminate Gionni Demers in 20th place. With the elimination of Day 2A chip leader Alexandr Mozhyakov in nineteenth place by WSOP Circuit National Champion Sam Barnhart, there were two tables left in action after barely more than an hour of play.
Once at two tables, Calgary’s Khoa Nguyen was in decent shape of the final eighteen players. Sitting with 12.7 million in chips, Khoa was behind only Makievskyi, Ireland’s Eoghan O’Dea, Mamaliadis and Scott Schwalich on the leaderboard. Over the next few hours, however, Khoa failed to maintain his position as the aggression on the tables ramped up.
John Hewitt dumped Kenny Shih from the tournament in eighteenth place after Hewitt’s suited K-J caught the flush on the turn against Shih’s pocket eights. After one of the more impressive runs of the 2011 WSOP, Barnhart would be the next casualty of the game at the hands of Germany’s Pius Heinz. Heinz had Barnhart completely dominated in Sam’s final hand, pocket Kings versus pocket nines, and once the board ran clean for Heinz, Barnhart was gone in seventeenth place.
After a stirring run in the Championship Event, Ryan Lenaghan was felted by Samuel Holden. Pushing with his A-8, Lenaghan was looked up by Holden’s suited A-Q. Although it was unnecessary, Holden would go on to make a flush against Lenaghan, eliminating the Day Seven chip leader from the tournament in sixteenth place.
Down to fifteen players – and only two hours into play for the day – there was a realistic fear that the “November Nine” would be determined before the ESPN broadcast would make its way to the television (action at this point was on ESPN3.com, the online arm of the Worldwide Leader). It was at this point, however, that the pace of eliminations slowed as players tightened up for the run to the “November Nine” final table.
Khoa’s woes were numerous at this point. He had lost almost half of his chips and was the short stack among the remaining players. Most of those chips went to Phil Collins over the span of two different hands, where Collins was able to bet Khoa out of the hand on the river. In a third hand, Collins and Khoa would once again clash.
Khoa raised pre-flop to 325K and Collins decided to defend his big blind. The duo saw a 3-2-7-J (three diamond) flop and turn, where Collins would check his option, Khoa pumped the bet to 625K and saw Collins respond with a check-raise to 1.45 million. Khoa made the call and, after a second seven hit the river, an undaunted Collins made a big 2.5 million chip bet. After a bit of a think, Khoa called and disgustedly mucked when Collins turned up the K-8 of diamonds for the flush. The hand would be the turning point for Khoa, leaving him with only two million in chips for battle.
Give Khoa credit, he did attempt to fight back. He doubled up two times through Mamaliadis to get his chip stack back to over seven million, but gave back one of them to drop back to three million in chips. Still, Khoa grinded the short stack and wouldn’t go quietly into the night. The roller coaster continued for Khoa as, almost nine hours into play, he would double through Bryan Devonshire to move up to over eight million chips.
The end would come for Khoa – and for Canada’s poker hopes – after ten hours of play on Tuesday. After Martin Staszko, who had chipped up during the day nicely, opened the betting for 675K, Khoa three-bet him to 1.75 million. Everyone else got out of the way and Staszko, after a pause, moved all in. Just as quickly, Khoa called off his remaining seven million in chips and tabled pocket tens. Staszko would have him dominated; turning up pocket Kings, the Czech was way ahead. Once the board ran blank for Khoa, he was out of the tournament just short of the unofficial ten handed final table in eleventh place ($607,882).
With the final ten men gathered together, it took another four and a half hours to determine the “November Nine.” In what would prove to be the final hand of the 2011 WSOP (at least until November), O’Dea and Hewitt would go to battle. After a raise from the Irishman, Hewitt put his final chips out with pocket threes. O’Dea made the call, tabling K-J, and the flop was kind with its Q-10-7 array. With fifteen outs twice to the winning hand, the dealer wasted little time in ending it with an Ace on the turn for O’Dea’s Broadway straight. Drawing dead, Jason Hewitt would go down as a footnote to WSOP history as the 2011 “November Nine” bubble boy, albeit $607,882 richer.
With the “November Nine” determined, the 2011 WSOP Championship Event final table will be the most international in the history of the event. Seven nations are represented among the nine men, and four countries – Belize, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Ukraine – will have their first ever representative at the Championship Event final table. Here’s how they will line up come November:
Seat 1: Matt Giannetti (Las Vegas, NV) 24,750,000
Seat 2: Badih Bounahra (Belize City, Belize) 19,700,000
Seat 3: Eoghan O’Dea (Dublin, Ireland) 33,925,000
Seat 4: Phil Collins (Las Vegas, NV) 23,875,000
Seat 5: Anton Makiievskyi (Dnipropetrovsk, the Ukraine) 13,825,000
Seat 6: Samuel Holden (Sussex, the United Kingdom) 12,375,000
Seat 7: Pius Heinz (Cologne, Germany) 16,425,000
Seat 8: Ben Lamb (Tulsa, OK) 20,875,000
Seat 9: Martin Staszko (Trinec, the Czech Republic) 40,175,000
The most notable player of the “November Nine” is current WSOP Player of the Year leader Ben Lamb. Lamb is attempting to do what Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi did in 2010, albeit in a reverse fashion. Lamb was at the final table of the $50K Poker Players Championship (Lamb finished in eighth and Mizrachi won it in 2010) and is on the hunt for the World Championship (Mizrachi made the final table, eventually finishing in fifth place). If Lamb is able to capture the World Championship, he would become the second bracelet winner of this year’s WSOP along with Brian Rast.
With the “November Nine” determined, we now have a 108-day wait for the conclusion of the festivities. On November 5, the final table will reconvene at the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio to determine the final two men. After a day’s break, the heads up fight will be played out on November 7 and a new World Champion will be crowned.