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April 20, 2014

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World Series of Poker final table has international and local flair

Three Las Vegas residents and six foreigners make the Main Event’s November Nine

Image

Steve Marcus

The “November Nine” pose after making it to the final table during 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. The players will come back in November for the final table. From left are: Badih Bounahra of Belize, Phil Collins of Las Vegas Matt Giannetti of Las Vegas, Pius Heinz of Germany, Sam Holden of Britain, Ben Lamb of Las Vegas, Anton Makiievskyi of Ukraine, Eoghan O’Dea of Ireland and Martin Staszko of the Czech Republic.

2011 WSOP Day 8

Eoghan O'Dea of Ireland competes during Day 8 of the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event at the Rio Tuesday, July 19, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Chip Counts

  • Martin Staszko — 40,025,000
  • Eoghan O'Dea — 33,925,000
  • Matt Giannetti — 24,750,000
  • Phil Collins — 23,775,000
  • Ben Lamb — 20,875,000
  • Badih Bounahra — 19,700,000
  • Pius Heinz — 16,425,000
  • Anton Makiievskyi — 13,925,000
  • Sam Holden — 12,375,000

2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st — $8,711,956
  • 2nd — $5,430,928
  • 3rd — $4,019,635
  • 4th — $3,011,665
  • 5th — $2,268,909
  • 6th — $1,720,000
  • 7th — $1,313,851
  • 8th — $1,009,910
  • 9th — $782,115

Poker is a global game with Las Vegas acting as its international capital.

This year, it’s a fact that will be best illustrated in poker’s most grand moment. The nine players who came out of a field of 6,865 players in the World Series of Poker Main Event to make up the tournament’s “November Nine” final table represent seven different nations.

The United States is the home to only three of the finalists who will reconvene Nov. 5 at the Penn & Teller Theater to determine the 2011 world champion of poker. All three of those players — Matt Giannetti, Phil Collins and Ben Lamb — reside in Las Vegas.

“I’ve played online with Matt Giannetti for about five years and played live with him for three years,” Lamb said. “He’s a phenomenal player. I know Phil and I know all of his friends. I’ve known him for a few years, too.”

It’s no surprise that the three most famous players to break through to the final table were from Las Vegas, where a majority of the world’s top poker pros do business.

Lamb wasn’t familiar with any of the other six competitors until he started playing with them in the last few days as the tournament wound down. Not that anyone could blame him for that, as they’re an eclectic bunch that came out of nowhere to seize attention in the Main Event.

The six international players had combined for less than $150,000 in career WSOP earnings, held no bracelets and made only one final table. Two of the players, Ukraine’s Anton Makiievskyi and Great Britain’s Sam Holden, had never played in a WSOP tournament before this year’s Main Event.

“It’s crazy,” said the Czech Republic’s Martin Staszko of the international presence. “I don’t believe it. It’s unbelievable.”

Staszko said he began hearing from poker fans in his home country a few days ago when they realized how deep he had gotten in the Main Event. When he gets back to the table in November, Staszko wants to win as badly for his country as he does for himself.

Statszko will enter the final table as the leader with 40 million chips. In the meantime, he’s going to return to the Czech Republic and relax. Eoghan O’Dea, a 26-year-old from Ireland, is second in chips with 33 million and has plans similar to Statszko’s.

“Hopefully, I can take it easy for a while before I get back to playing again,” O’Dea said. “I want to be able to enjoy it.”

Rounding out the final table are Belize’s Badih Bounahra and Germany’s Pius Heinz, who are looking to become the first world champions from their home countries. With both holding below-average chip stacks, they would appear as two of the longer shots.

But multiple players suggested that the talent level is fairly equal between the final nine.

“I don’t want to say too much, but most of the players are really good,” Lamb said. “Everyone who is here is good at poker.”

No one has enjoyed a better World Series of Poker run than Lamb. With the minimum $782,115 he’s earned for finishing in the top nine of the Main Event, Lamb brings his six-week total at the Rio to more than $2 million.

He’s the leader for the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year award. He’d also say he’s the favorite to take the Main Event bracelet, but he’s going to have to overcome the most diverse final table in history to get it.

“Playing this final table will clearly be the biggest moment of my poker career,” Collins said. “I’m going to do what I need to do to make sure I’m playing my best.”

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

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  1. There are 9 people in the photo, yet only 8 names listed below the photo.

  2. Thanks for looking out. We left out: Matt Giannetti of Las Vegas. From left he is pictured third. Matt, 26, is a graduate of the University of Texas.