It has come down to crunch time at the 2011 World Series of Poker Championship Event. After Monday’s day of action, 22 men are left standing to contest for one of the coveted seats of the “November Nine.” By the end of this evening (or morning, most likely), those nine men will immediately become poker celebrities prior to playing out the final table later this year.
At the start of play on Monday, 57 players were ready to work down to either the last eighteen players or play through five levels, whichever came first. Among those players were five Canadians, with Tri Huyhn and Kyle Johnson leading the Canadian contingent. By the end of the action early Tuesday morning, only one of those men would still entertain the dream of being the World Champion.
Delta’s Jody Howe was the first of the final five to head out of the Amazon Room. Coming into the day the shortest stack of the Canadian players, Jody made his stand approximately one hour into play, pushing his remaining 850K to the center with pocket sixes. Samuel Holden made the call with his Big Slick and the duo was off to the races. An 8-5-3-9 (three diamond) flop and turn kept Jody in the lead, but an Ace of diamonds on the river would give Holden a bigger flush (he held the King of diamonds) than Jody’s six of diamonds. Jody’s elimination in 52nd place ($160,036) was his second cash of the 2011 WSOP.
Soon after Jody’s departure, the next member of the Canadian squad would find his way to the cashier’s cage. Waterloo’s Matthew Kay put his one million in chips on the line against WSOP Circuit National Championship winner Sam Barnhardt and, from the start, was drawing thin. Barhardt’s A-K vastly outpaced Matthew’s A-J and the K-5-A flop essentially sealed the hand. The case Ace on the turn was the final dagger, sending Matthew out of the tournament in 50th place ($160,032).
From the start of the day on Monday, Tri Huynh was betrayed by the cards. By the first break, Tri had lost approximately one million in chips and the situation didn’t improve much from there. Nelson Robinson hacked away most of his chips when he hit a runner-runner two pair to top Tri’s flopped two pair, then Tri got his final chips in against Phil Collins and Robinson. After a K-K-10-5 flop and turn, Robinson bet Collins out of the pot and turned up A-J against Tri’s suited 6-5. Ahead after the turn, Tri had to be dismayed to see another ten come on the river, counterfeiting his two pair and sending him to the rail in 41st place ($196,174).
With the three eliminations, only Kyle and Khoa Nguyen were left to carry the Canadian flag against the forty players left in the match. Khoa made a big move late in the afternoon as, with Frank Sinopoli and Mario Silvestri all in, Khoa tabled pocket Queens against Sinopoli’s pocket Aces and Silvestri’s pocket eights. The flop brought magic for Khoa, a rainbow 7-Q-5, and the turn sealed the deal with the case Queen. With the double knockout, Khoa’s chip stack leapt above the ten million mark.
Kyle was able to get a double up against Andrew Hinrichsen, but was unable to sustain the drive. After the dinner break, Johnson found a spot with pocket threes to put his final 1.5 million in the center of the table. Collins looked him up with only a J-10 and was rewarded on the flop when a Jack flopped. An unnecessary Jack on the river sealed the deal, escorting Kyle out of the tournament in 27th place ($302,005).
Khoa continued to march up the leaderboard as play came to an end for the evening. He knocked out veteran professional Steve Brecher before taking two hands late in the evening against Christopher Moore. By the time came to bag the chips, Khoa had amassed 16.435 million in chips, good for third place on the leaderboard.
Although Khoa had increased his stack over fivefold, two other players had better days. Ukrainian professional Anton Makiievski ended the day with 21.045 million in chips, good for the top of the mountain, while Ireland’s Eoghan O’Dea* (the son of Irish poker legend Donnachea O’Dea) pulls into the second place spot with 19.5 million. Ben Lamb, Bryan “Devo” Devonshire, Lars Bonding, Barnhardt and Collins are the recognizable names that remain among the 22 men left in the event.
It could be a very long evening for those survivors. They will have to play down to the “November Nine” this evening and, although they will begin at noon Pacific Time, memories of last year’s marathon that lasted until well into the next morning are fresh in everyone’s minds. With the broadcast of the WSOP Championship Event beginning on ESPN3.com this afternoon and switching to ESPN2 at 7PM (Eastern time) this evening, poker fans will be able to learn the “November Nine” as it is determined…whether tonight or tomorrow!
*In previous reports from the WSOP, Eoghan O’Dea was identified as being a Canadian player. It was not until Day 7 that the error was discovered. CanadaPoker apologizes for any previous mistakes in reporting.