2011 WSOP Final Table Preview

For the fourth consecutive year, the World Series of Poker will feature the final table run separately, in November. The finalists in this format have come to be known as the November Nine.

No less than seven countries are represented at this year’s final table, which includes the United States, Belize, Ireland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Czech Republic. This is the most international final table in the event’s history.

The big event will take place November 5th to 7th at the Rio in Las Vegas, which has been the venue of the WSOP over the last few years, having moved from the original Horseshoe to a much larger venue in order to better accommodate the large entry fields, spectators, and media that we see today.

Many people had speculated that the events of Black Friday, where the U.S. government cracked down on the major online poker sites offering real money poker to its residents, would cause the entry field for the WSOP and the main event in particular to be much smaller than we’ve seen lately.

A lot of the concern here was that many players who were planning on entering had their entry fees locked up alongside the hundreds of millions of dollars that online poker players are unable to access. Many top players had six and even seven figures tied up, where they were probably never going to see their money again or had no idea when they might be able to collect.

So it did come as somewhat of a surprise when the field for this year’s edition of the World Series ended up being the third largest in the history of the series. The main event ended up drawing a total of 6,855 players, all putting up their $10,000 for a shot at the glory, the world championship, and the almost $9 million in prize money that will be awarded to the winner.

So after several days of intense play at the main event, the November Nine for 2011 is now set. The unlucky tenth place finisher this year was John Hewitt, who was in fourth place in chips when the table got down to 10 players, with only one needing to bust out to set the magical nine finalists.

Hewitt started out playing very conservative, too conservative by any reasonable account, as he folded all of his hands for a whole blind round. Then his play turned too far in the other direction, making some questionable pre-flop all in calls with hands like AT and KQ, being dominated both times and doubling up two of his opponents along the way. Finally, he shoved pocket 3’s and was called by two over cards, and lost the coin flip and was sent packing, to the delight of the other nine players and their fans who all made it to the big show.

So let’s take a look at this year’s November Nine:

Seat 1:Matt Giannetti, 26, from the USA, 24,750,000 chips (third). Matt, a poker pro from Las Vegas, looked like he was up against it several times during Day 8, but managed to survive a number of all-ins to make it to the big show. He did show though that he’s not afraid to mix it up and we may see more of the same at the final table.

Seat 2:Badih Bounahra, 49, from Belize, 19,700,000 chips (sixth). Badih is old enough to be the father to 7 of his 8 opponents here, and he will be looking to show them all that age and experience does matter. He is the first player from Belize to make it to the final table, although he is just one of many top finishers at the WSOP of Lebanese descent.

Seat 3:Eoghan O’Dea, 36, from Ireland, 33,925,000 chips (second). O’Dea and his father are the only father and son combination to ever make it to the final table of the WSOP. His Dad actually made it to two different final tables, in 1986 and 1991, with his top finish being 6th. His son looks like he’s poised to better that, as he’s currently second in chips.

Seat 4:Phil Collins, 26, from the USA, 23,875,000 chips (fourth). This isn’tthe more famous Phil Collins, although Phil has been making a name for himself as well in the poker world of late. Phil is another Las Vegas pro who is looking to win his first world championship in his home town.

Seat 5:Anton Makievskyi, 21, from Ukraine, 13,825,000 chips (eighth). The youngest person at the final table, Anton has certainly made the most of his first trip to the WSOP. Several of his countrymen have already done well at this year’s World Series, and he’s looking to win the Ukraine’s fifth gold bracelet this year, and of course the biggest.

Seat 6:Sam Holden, 22, from England, 12,375,000 chips (ninth). Both Sam and Anton have relatively low stacks, and like Anton, this is Sam’s first WSOP, but these brash young Europeans aren’t to be counted out. One double up is all that it would take for this pro from Sussex to be well in the hunt for the championship.

Seat 7:Pius Heinz, 22, from Germany, 16,425,000 chips (seventh). Pius, another young first timer to the WSOP, is the first German player to ever make the final table. Pius finished at the final table at a $1,500 no limit hold’em event this year, and he will be very eager to improve on his seventh place finish in that event.

Seat 8:Ben Lamb, 26, from the USA, 20,875,000 chips (fifth). Ben is the most accomplished player at this year’s final table, and is the favorite to win Player of The Year at this year’s WSOP should he manage at least a decent showing in the November Nine. He already has a win, a second, an eighth, and a twelfth place finish at prior events, although I’m sure he’d trade all those for a win at the big one.

Seat 9:Martin Staszko, 35, from the Czech Republic, 40,175,000 chips (first). Martin is an experienced pro and is the first player from the Czech Republic ever to play at the final table of the WSOP main event. The chip leader on the final day often does not win, so Martin is sure not to just be sitting back and doing too much watching.

The payouts are as follows:

  • First place: $8.7 million
  • Second place: $5.4 million
  • Third place: $4.0 million
  • Fourth place: $3.0 million
  • Fifth place: $2.2 million
  • Sixth place: $1.7 million
  • Seventh place: $1.3 million
  • Eighth place: $1.0 million
  • Ninth place: $782K

So with so much money on the line, things will no doubt be very exciting. We’ll have a recap for you after the event so stay tuned.