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October 21, 2014

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Meet the World Series of Poker’s November Nine

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Steve Marcus

A sign reads the “2011 November Nine” after the final table was determined at the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold ‘em main event at the Rio early Wednesday morning July 20, 2011.

World Series of Poker Main Event players have started with 30,000 chips at the beginning of the tournament for three years. In that time, the discrepancy between the chip leader and shortest stack at the final table the past two years was an average of 55 million chips. When the 2011 November Nine meets again in four months, the margin from first to ninth place is a mere 28 million chips.

That’s a significant difference from the 2009 and 2010 Main Event final tables. When commentators utter phrases like “everyone still has a chance,” it will actually be true.

“No one really separated themselves from the pack yet,” said Phil Collins, who is in fourth with slightly less than 24 million chips. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out. It could be kind of slow and then go bang-bang-bang.”

No possible outcome could register as shocking come November. Consider that one double-up would put Sam Holden, currently in ninth place, third in chips. A double-up for Ben Lamb or Bounhara Badih, who are in fifth and sixth respectively, would place them at the top of the leaderboard.

“It’s definitely anyone’s game,” Collins said.

That’s why it’s worth getting to know each member of the 2011 November Nine. Click through below to meet the future champion of poker.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Martin Staszko (40,025,000 chips)

      Staszko became a professional poker player less than a year ago after spending most of his adult life in the automotive industry.

      The Czech Republic native caught on quickly. Not only will Staszko, 35, go into the final table with the chip lead, but he also cashed in four other events at the WSOP this summer.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Eoghan O'Dea (33,925,000 chips)

      The 26-year old from Ireland would probably like to step out of his father’s shadow, but that’s a lot to ask.

      O’Dea’s father is Donnacha O’Dea, a member of the European Poker Players Hall of Fame and 1998 WSOP bracelet winner. Eoghan O’Dea played a lot of hands on Day 8 on the Main Event and never fell below third in chips.

    • 2011 WSOP November Nine
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Matt Giannetti (24,750,000 chips)

      While many fans have never heard of Giannetti, poker pros sing his praises.

      Giannetti, 26, has played professionally in Las Vegas for many years, but without much recognition. That’s because he was more of a cash game grinder and didn’t delve into tournaments much. He said that would change after his success in the Main Event.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Phil Collins (23,775,000 chips)

      Yes, the parents of the 26-year old from Las Vegas named him after the famous singer. Yes, his friends sang “In The Air Tonight” every time he won a pot at the Rio and will probably do the same in November.

      Their voices could get tired, as Collins is the most aggressive and arguably the best player at the table. He made millions in online poker tournaments and wants to prove he can do the same at live tables.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Ben Lamb (20,875,000 chips)

      Lamb, a 26-year old who lives in Las Vegas, is undoubtedly playing better than anyone.

      He’s reached the WSOP’s two most prestigious final tables, the $50,000 buy-in Poker Player’s Championship and the Main Event, and made $2 million in tournaments in six weeks. Lamb is a former poker dealer who left his home in Tulsa, Okla., to move to Las Vegas and play professionally a few years ago.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Badih Bounahra (19,700,000 chips)

      At 49-years old, Bounahra is the elder statesmen at this year’s Main Event final table.

      He’s also an amateur, as Bounahra lists his occupation as a businessman. Bounahra was born in Lebanon before living in Belize City, Belize, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His only previous WSOP cash came in 2008 at $7,582.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Pius Heinz (16,425,000 chips)

      Heinz is a 22-year old student from Cologne, Germany.

      He’s had quite the WSOP experience, as he earned what was previously the highest payday of his life in a $1,500 no-limit hold’ em event. Heinz came in seventh for $83,286, which likely allowed him to buy in to the Main Event.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Anton Makiievskyi (13,825,000 chips)

      The 21-year old Makiievskyi’s sole source of income is poker, but he’s also a full-time student in his native Ukraine.

      The Main Event is the first WSOP tournament he’s ever participated in. He grabbed the chip lead during Day 7 of the Main Event, but tightened up on Day 8 and played very few hands — possibly to assure himself a seat in November.

    • 2011 WSOP Day 8
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Sam Holden (12,375,000 chips)

      Holden, a 22-year old from Sussex, United Kingdom, was a student until he recently dropped out to pursue poker full time.

      He likely won’t regret his decision after making the November Nine final table. The Main Event counts as his first WSOP in-the-money finish ever.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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