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WSOP11 Main Event - Day 8
19 July 2011

This year's Main Event final table of 10

So close yet so far

To get this deep, after 7 grueling days of cut-throat play, then to bust out before making the November Nine must be crushing. Seriously, deeply crushing. Because one different card, or one great laydown, or one slightly bigger raise could have made all the difference. Better not to think about what coulda, shoulda, woulda happened. Better to be grateful to have made it this far at all.

Thirteen of the remaining 22 hopefuls would experience that crushing feeling. Right here at the Rio, in front of all the railbirds and all the ESPN cameras streaming the event near-live with a 30+ minute delay. They would have to gather themselves and think coherently enough to have something to say to Kara Scott on their exit interview. And it would have to be a good interview, because for many of them it would be their last moment in the spotlight. The pinnacle of their poker careers.

Pius Heinz considers the size of a raise

Aleksandr Mozhnyakov chats with his (and Anton Makiievskyi's) railbirds

Two levels of waiting

The main featured table was rather quiet compared to the secondary featured table. It seemed like all the yelling, singing, ooh-ing, and aah-ing was coming from outside "the mothership." The main table players seemed quite content to play small pots. Trade blinds. Make a small bet at the flop, then fold to any raise.

And the big stacks were quite content to check down rather strong hands. Two players checked down winning trips on two nearly consecutive hands, sending a clear signal to the short stacks that they were simply waiting for a chance to crush them. No need to play big pots against another big stack. Which pretty well sums up the first level of waiting: big stacks waiting for a chance to knock out short stacks.

The second level of waiting happened between the short stacks at the table as they tried to outlast each other. After the players redrew for the final table of 10, play continued for about 4 hours. Matt Giannetti and Bob Bou-Nahra, both with fewer than 10 million chips at one point, sat there and waited for the other guy to make a fatal mistake.

Anton Makiievskyi plays to the crowd

In the air tonight

Phil Collins is a quietly stoic and extremely tough player. But his fans on the rail were the loudest by a huge margin. And probably the drunkest as well. When Collins won a pot, they sang phrases from Phil Collins' (the singer) songs. Mostly this:

"I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh lord.
And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh Phil."

There were, of course, plenty of fans cheering for their favorites. And many name players were there to rail their friends (and horses) as well.

Humberto "De Chaaark!" Brenes chats with an ESPN staffer

Minh Ly sweats the featured table action

Mike Matusow offers his opinions to Kara Scott and the ESPN audience

A whole lot of texting going on

We noticed a strong trend this year. Players stepped away from the table(s) to use their smartphones. A lot.

The rules require players to leave the table whenever they use their phones for anything. Calling, texting, surfing, emailing, whatever. We suspect that texting was the major reason the players were using their phones. And we think that the near-live stream of the event was the reason for all that texting. Just look at it this way: if you were playing the event and you could ask your friends to watch the stream and text you your opponents' hole cards, wouldn't you do it? It could help confirm your reads on your opponents. And they're going to do it, so you should too.

We absolutely love the near-live streaming. It really does add another dimension to the spectating experience. It's the next big thing, and we are huge fans. But it also changes the game, at least with the current rules in place.

From now on, players will need support teams who watch the stream and text them their opponents' hole cards, physical tells, and other information. This has never happened before, and this particular aspect of the near-live streaming may actually detract from the game. It adds a technological infrastructure to playing what has always been a low-tech "people game." And it changes poker from an individual effort into a team effort. Neither of which is a good thing in our opinion.

Badih "Bob" Bou-Nahra sweats his all-in with KK vs. John Hewitt's KQ

Courtesy double-ups

The waiting finally ended, but not without some major swings. Giannetti bluffed off about 25% of his already-short stack when he folded after Ben Lamb 3-bet him all-in. It looked like he would be the November Nine bubble boy, and after a weak play like that it looked like he deserved it. But he doubled with JJ through John Hewitt's A10, then doubled with JJ again against Ben Lamb's K9. Giannetti was out of danger. He could wait out the short stacks like everyone else.

New short stack Bou-Nahra also doubled when he woke up with KK and John Hewitt called with KQ. The queen on the turn wasn't enough to get Hewitt out of jail and Bou-Nahra doubled through. This left Hewitt as the new low man. Ultra-low, with barely over 4 million. That's 8 big blinds and change.

Twenty minutes later, at about 2:10am, it was all over. Hewitt shoved with 33, probably hoping to get into a flip against two big cards. Eoghan O'Dea obliged with KJ, and they were off to the races. No more courtesy double-ups. The QT7 flop gave O'Dea an open-ended straight draw, and the ace on the turn had Hewitt drawing dead. O'Dea made Broadway, and we had our November Nine.

The November Nine congratulate each other (and do yet more texting / tweeting)

Eoghan (pronounced "Owen") O’Dea enjoys a beer after the end of play

Bob Bou-Nahra phones a friend

Your November Nine

Last year's November Nine stack sizes ranged from Jonathan Duhamel's 66 million down to less than 8 million for Jason Senti. The top three stacks comprised 62% of all chips in play. This year, the stack sizes are far closer. Martin Staszko's 40.2 million big stack is barely 3.2 times that of Samuel Holden's 12.4 million short stack. It's still anyone's game, and we're looking forward to a great finish. Congratulations to the 2010 November Nine!

Here are your 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event November Nine, courtesy of WSOP.com:

By stack Rank Stack Player
  1st 40,175,000 Martin Staszko
  2nd 33,925,000 Eoghan O’Dea
  3rd 24,750,000 Matt Giannetti
  4th 23,875,000 Phil Collins
  5th 20,875,000 Ben Lamb
  6th 19,700,000 Badih Bou-Nahra
  7th 16,425,000 Pius Heinz
  8th 13,825,000 Anton Makiievskyi
  9th 12,375,000 Sam Holden

By seat Seat Player
  1 Matt Giannetti
  2 Badih Bou-Nahra
  3 Eoghan O’Dea
  4 Phil Collins
  5 Anton Makiievskyi
  6 Sam Holden
  7 Pius Heinz
  8 Ben Lamb
  9 Martin Staszko

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