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World Series of Poker live blog: Final three are Heinz, Lamb and Staszko

Pius Heinz has more chips than the other two players combined

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Steve Marcus

The November Nine compete during the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event final table at the Rio on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.

Updated Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 | 11:21 p.m.

2011 WSOP Final Table: Day 1

Ben Lamb of Las Vegas yawns as he competes during the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event final table at the Rio Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Chip Counts

  • Pius Heinz — 107,800,000
  • Ben Lamb — 55,400,000
  • Martin Staszko — 42,700,00
  • Matt Giannetti — 0
  • Phil Collins — 0
  • Eoghan O'Dea — 0
  • Badih Bounahra — 0
  • Anton Makiievskyi — 0
  • Sam Holden — 0

2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st — $8,711,956
  • 2nd — $5,430,928
  • 3rd — $4,019,635
  • Matt Giannetti (4th) — $3,011,665
  • Phil Collins (5th) — $2,268,909
  • Eoghan O'Dea (6th) — $1,720,000
  • Badih Bounahra (7th) — $1,313,851
  • Anton Makiievski (8th) — $1,009,910
  • Sam Holden (9th) — $782,115

Final three emerge

Pius Heinz has the chip lead. Ben Lamb has the momentum. Martin Staszko has the unpredictably.

That’s where things stand in the World Series of Poker Main Event after nearly 11 hours of play Sunday. The three finalists will meet at 6 Tuesday night in the Penn & Teller Theater to determine poker’s 2011 world champion.

The winner takes home $8.7 million and the coveted golden bracelet.

Lamb had the shortest stack for most of the last hour, but heated up at the expense of Matt Giannetti late. Lamb knocked out Giannetti on the final hand of the night with pocket Kings against Ace-5. He flopped four-of-a-kind.

It came about 10 minutes after Lamb survived his own all-in with an inferior Ace-7 to Giannetti’s pocket Jacks. Giannetti, who played exceptionally well by all accounts, made $3 million for his performance.

The final table will also end with the international flavor it began with. The three remaining players represent three different nations.

Lamb is the American, as he resides in Las Vegas and plays in some of the city’s biggest cash games. Staszko, the chip leader coming in, is from the Czech Republic and Heinz, who has more than the other two players combined with 107.8 million chips, is from Germany.

Heinz was a wrecking machine Sunday, applying pressure from the moment he sat down at the table and knocking out a few opponents to rise from seventh place to first. Staszko was somewhat of an enigma. After hardly playing a hand for more than an hour, he turned it on after the dinner break and got himself back into contention.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for a full story later tonight and live coverage of the final three Tuesday.

The Ben Lamb heater is real

Ben Lamb’s friends coined a phrase this summer after the 26-year old Las Vegas professional bulldozed competition in the World Series of Poker — “run like Benba”.

They were certainly celebrating the 26-year old Las Vegas professional’s accomplishments, which included multiple final times and a WSOP Player of the Year award. But they were also poking fun at how lucky he got continually and the feeling that he never lost a hand.

Four months later, the man they call Benba is still running like Benba. He got all his chips in with the worst hand for the second time, Ace-7 of hearts, and still won.

Matt Giannetti called Lamb’s all-in with pocket Jacks, but they couldn’t hold up. Lamb turned the heart flush to send his cheering section into a frenzy.

Giannetti was left with only 6 million chips. He doubled up the next hand, but still has the fewest chips by 30 million.

Heinz breaks 90-million mark again

The chip standings stayed stagnant for the better part of the hour, but have shaken up completely after a 30 million chip pot between Pius Heinz and Matt Giannetti.

Heinz showed down Queen-8 on a King-King-7-Queen-9 board for two-pair and won the pot. It put him back up to 92 million chips, which is more than double the amount of the second place stack.

Martin Staszko is back around his starting chip count for the day with 44 million. The two remaining Americans are at the bottom, but Ben Lamb is more desperate than Giannetti.

Lamb has 29 million chips, about 11 million less than Giannetti.

Here comes Matt Giannetti

The hour before the dinner break belonged to Ben Lamb. Matt Giannetti has stepped up to command the hour after it so far.

Giannetti has solidified his standing as the second biggest stack with 62.1 million chips. He’s won the majority of the pots since the hour-and-a-half break, including a recent stretch where he scooped three of four.

Martin Staszko is still in trouble with 20 million chips. He’s already declared himself all in once, but found no callers.

Lamb has stayed steady, winning some and losing some, and currently has a stack of 37 million.

Four pots, four different winners

Consider it the post-dinner hangover.

Every year at the WSOP Main Event final table, it seems like things are slow-starting after the remaining players return from their only prolonged break of the evening. This year’s final table is fitting in nicely with the pattern.

Four hands have come and gone since play re-started and none of them featured a flop. Every hand featured one raise before the flop and the rest of the players folded. Each of the four players won one of the pots, so no movement has occurred in the chip standings.

Four-handed at dinner break

The tournament has reached a stage where 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb is at his most dangerous.

Lamb can mix it up in more pots and put pressure on his opponents with the table down to four-handed play. He’s used the method to chip up to a personal-high 46.3 million chips headed to the dinner break.

Lamb finds himself in third behind Germany’s Pius Heinz with 85.5 million and fellow Las Vegas pro Matt Giannetti’s 50.3 million.

Former chip leader Martin Staszko has fallen as quickly as Lamb has risen. Whether he’s not finding premium cards or just deciding to tighten up, Staszko hasn’t played many hands in the last hour.

Unless he changes something up, he’s the favorite for the final elimination of the night with 23.9 million chips.

The dinner break lasts an hour-and-a-half. The live blog will resume after that.

Eoghan O'Dea finishes in sixth, Phil Collins takes fifth

Some fans at the Rio were slow to return to the Penn & Teller Theater after the third 15-minute break of the day.

That’s unfortunate because they missed the most action of the tournament in back-to-back hands. Crippled with only a nudge more than two big blinds, Ireland’s Eogan O’Dea put all his chips in the middle with Queen-6 against Martin Staszko’s pocket 8s.

A stoic Staszko watched as the dealer rolled out an uneventful board to give him the win. Before the onlookers who were watching the action could even fully process the situation, another player was all-in.

Phil Collins announced poker’s two most famous words and found one caller in chip leader Pius Heinz, who flipped over pocket 9s. It was well ahead of Collins’ suited Ace-7.

Collins turned an open-ended straight and flush draw, but missed the river. Heinz now has twice as many chips as the second-place player with 85 million.

O’Dea made $1.7 million for sixth place. Collins cashed for $2.2 million. Only one more player will meet his elimination tonight before the final three come back to the Rio Tuesday evening.

Eoghan O'Dea in dire straits after memorable hand against Ben Lamb

Ben Lamb has a love-hate relationship with the river card this afternoon at the Rio.

Lamb lost more than half of his stack earlier when Phil Collins beat him with a lucky fifth-street community card. But he just doubled up to 29.4 million because of the river in a hand against Eoghan O’Dea.

Lamb shoved all-in with Queen-8 of diamonds. After some deliberation, O’Dea called with Ace-9 off-suit.

Both were short-stacked, which played a major role in their decisions. Lamb flopped a flush draw that didn’t come in, but he paired his 8 to survive.

O’Dea now has less than 3 million chips and will need three double-ups to get out of last place.

Final card keeps Phil Collins alive

Las Vegas poker professionals Phil Collins and Ben Lamb share a handful of mutual friends.

Most of them probably have mixed feelings after a hand that just unfolded at the Rio. Collins shoved all-in with Queen of hearts, Jack of diamonds and Lamb called out of the big blind with Ace of clubs, Queen of clubs.

Despite Lamb’s major advantage, Collins picked up a flush and straight draw when the first four cards the dealer fanned out were King-5-3-Jack with three diamonds.

The river brought the Queen of diamonds to give Collins a flush. Lamb and Collins, in essence, swapped chip counts with the dramatic encounter.

Lamb now has 15 million chips, while Collins is in the middle of the pack with 28 million.

November Nine becomes November Six

Badih Bounahra just became the third player to meet his demise in the last hour-and-a-half.

Down to a desperate 4.5 million chips, Bounahra found Ace-5 as his hole cards and went all-in. Unfortunately for the Belize amateur, Martin Staszko had a stronger Ace in the hole.

Staszko called Bounahra’s bet with Ace-9. The board did nothing to improve either hand — running out 6-7-2-King-6 — and Bounahra exited the stage after wishing all the remaining players good luck.

Bounahra will take with him $1.31 million for seventh place and the loudest cheering section in the Penn & Teller Theater.

Two short stacks are still at the table. Ireland’s Eoghan O’Dea has 11,425,000 chips, while Phil Collins is down to 15,175.

The surge of Pius Heinz continues

Hand No. 59 showcased the type of momentum swing that has made poker a hit on television — and miserable to the player on the wrong end at the same time.

Down to 12 million chips, Ukraine’s Anton Makiievskyi got all his of chips in a pot with King-Queen. Chip leader Pius Heinz called with pocket 9s.

Makiievskyi paired his king on the flop and his friends let out a premature celebration. The turn was one of Heinz’s two outs in the deck, the nine of clubs, to give the German a victory.

Heinz now has a commanding lead with 60.65 million chips. Martin Staszko, who’s currently in second place, is 19 million behind.

Makiievskyi does get a $1 million payday out of the deal.

Sam Holden eliminated in ninth place

Ben Lamb clapped his hands together and stormed back behind the table seconds after returning from a 15-minute break.

The Las Vegas local called an all-in bet from England’s Sam Holden and saw he had the superior hand when the cards were flipped up. Lamb had Ace of hearts-King of clubs versus Holden’s suited Ace-Jack.

Things only got better for Lamb as the first four cards were clubs, giving him a flush and the 22 million chip pot.

Lamb is now in third with 34 million chips. Holden is eliminated and receives no extra money. All players were paid the ninth-place money of $782,115 this summer.

Pius Heinz threatening for chip lead

A 44-million chip pot on the 39th hand made up for what’s been a slow two-hour start in the Main Event.

It ended when Pius Heinz shoved all-in on the turn and Eoghan O’Dea folded. They have now changed fortunes.

Heinz is second in chips with 45 million and O’Dea is eighth with 11 million. O’Dea fired a three-bet before the flop and wagered on the flop of 8-8-4.

Heinz called both bets. When the 2 of clubs hit the turn, O’Dea led out with an 8 million-chip bet. After nearly 10 minutes of contemplation, Heinz went all-in.

When O’Dea folded, a smiling Heinz went over to talk to his section of supporters. O’Dea now has some serious work to do.

Lamb awakens

The 30th hand surprisingly marked the first time in the afternoon Ben Lamb used his trademark aggressiveness.

Lamb, the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year, put in a third bet before the flop after Pius Heinz raised initially. It didn’t take long for Heinz to fold and the dealer to push the pot over to Lamb.

Lamb is hovering around 22 million, or, right where he started. When these players competed in July, it was Lamb who constantly pushed the action.

He’s backed off a bit this afternoon, but it looks like he may be ready to open up again. Lamb also just scooped the 31st hand of the afternoon.

O'Dea and Heinz are early foes

Eoghan O’Dea and Pius Heinz have faced off in the two biggest pots of the afternoon.

O’Dea won the first and Heinz took the second. O’Dea fired a river bet on a 6-10-5-5-4 board earlier and forced Heinz to fold.

Heinz briefly had the smallest chip stack in front of him, until the 14th hand of the afternoon. Heinz and O’Dea reached the river heads-up again — on a board of Queen-6-3-J-8 with three diamonds — and the German bet 2 million chips.

It made the pot worth 9 million chips, and after some consideration, O’Dea folded. O’Dea is still second in chips, while Heinz bursts up to sixth.

Collins playing a lot of hands early

Through five hands at the Rio, Phil Collins has established himself as the most active player at the table.

Collins has played three of the first five hands and won two of them. It hasn’t done anything to change the chip standings, however, as Matt Giannetti re-captured third place by scooping the fifth pot from Collins.

Collins called Giannetti’s pre-flop raise and the two checked a flop of Queen-2-7. But Giannetti fired on the turn card, the 8 of spades, and Collins folded.

Collins is back at it in the sixth hand, mixing it up with Anton Makiievskyi in another small pot.

Pre-game

Fans will look back on this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, in all likelihood, as the beginning of a new era for the largest card tournament in the world.

For the first time in the history of the event, ESPN offered live coverage of the WSOP during the summer. The network and tournament is taking it a step further with the November Nine final table set to begin in less than hour from the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio.

ESPN2 will air every hand from today’s final table on a slight, 15-minute delay with hole cards revealed at the end of the hand.

“There are moments when you realize you’re turning an important corner,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in a statement. “This coverage shifts the paradigm for poker’s potential on television and will showcase our championship with unprecedented richness and scale.”

It will also showcase the nine personalities who have made it this far from a starting field of 6,865 players. The final nine are a diverse group, spanning six nations with various experience levels.

The chip leader, Martin Staszko, hails from the Czech Republic and only started playing poker seriously in recent years. Ireland’s Eoghan O’Dea enters in second. Although O’Dea is a professional, he was an unknown before making a run through this year’s 2011 WSOP.

Close on their heels are a trio of Las Vegas professionals that no one around poker was too surprised to see reach this juncture. Ben Lamb, Phil Collins and Matt Giannetti are favorite picks of other professionals to take down the whole tournament and the $8.7 million first place prize.

Don’t forget the men behind them either. Belize’s Badih Bounahra, Ukraine’s Anton Makiievskyi and England’s Sam Holden are all dangerous in their own right.

With so many aggressive players, chips are expected to trade hands rapidly in the early going. That’s always a risky assumption in an event of this magnitude, however, as the players often chose to tighten up in hope of a lucrative jump in prize money.

Las Vegas Sun will keep you up to date every step of the way with periodic updates on this page as well chip counts to the right. Play will resume until three players remain, who will re-convene Tuesday night, no matter how long that takes.

As for predictions, we’ll pick Phil Collins to win the 2011 WSOP Main Event. He’ll outlast a surging Pius Heinz and Matt Giannetti, respectively, on Tuesday night.

Fourth through ninth place, in this wild guess, will look like this: Eoghan O’Dea, Ben Lamb, Badih Bounhra, Martin Staszko, Anton Makiievskyi and Sam Holden.

It’s not too long until these guys finally get at it. Stay tuned.

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

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