The biggest spectacle in poker, the World Series of Poker November Nine never disappoints, and Sunday's game was no exception. After a four-month hiatus, the final nine players of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event converged on the Penn and Teller Theater in the hopes of making it to Tuesday — to be part of the final three. Pius Heinz, Ben Lamb, and Martin Staszko have kept the dream alive and are still in the hunt for the coveted bracelet.
The first elimination of the day came on the 51st hand of the day. Ben Lamb raised to 1.7 million from under the gun. Action folded to Sam Holden in the small blind and he reraised all-in for 11.125 million. Lamb made the call and turned over . Holden's was dominated. The flop fell giving Lamb top pair and a flush draw. The on the turn left Holden drawing dead and sent him to the rail in ninth place, good for $782,115.
Shortly thereafter, Anton Makiievskyi was eliminated in eighth place. On the 59th hand of play, action folded around to Makiievskyi, who was in the small blind. He open-shoved for 10.5 million and was called by Pius Heinz in the big blind. Makiievskyi, holding was flipping for his tournament life against Heinz's nines. The flop came down , pairing Makiievskyi's king and putting him in the lead. The turn changed everything, however, because the fell and gave Heinz a full house. The river brought the , officially sealing Makiievskyi's fate in eighth place. He pocketed just over $1 million for his efforts.
Heinz had a commanding chip lead after he eliminated Makiievskyi and it only continued to grow throughout the day's action. The third elimination of the day came when Martin Staszko raised to 1.7 million and a short-stacked Bob Bounahra reraised all-in for 4.475 million. Staszko, who tabled , was ahead of Bounahra's and stayed that way as the board ran out . Bounahra was sent to the rail in seventh place, good for $1,314,097, and his raucous Belizean contingent followed him out of the Penn and Teller Theater.
Phil Collins, who by the 73rd hand of play, had fallen to the second shortest stack at the table, moved all-in from the button for 13.575 million. He was called by Ben Lamb in the big blind holding . Collins was way behind with . The flop kept Lamb in the lead, but Collins had flopped a backdoor flush draw. The on the turn gave Collins a huge sweat, with a flush draw and an open-ended straight draw. The river kept Collins in the game when the appeared, doubling his chip stack to over 28 million, and sending his rail into boisterous cheers.
Twenty-four hands later, Eoghan O'Dea was crippled in a huge hand against Lamb. Only about two million in chips separated the two when the chips went in the middle preflop. Lamb was at risk and O'Dea was in the lead with against Lamb's . The kept O'Dea in the lead, as did the on the turn. The river dealt the crushing blow — the — and O'Dea was left with 2.6 million. O'Dea was eliminated two hands later, in sixth place — the same finish his father had in 1983, albeit for a much smaller prize, $43,200. He was all-in preflop with against Martin Staszko who turned over pocket eights. The board was no help for O'Dea who was eliminated and took home $1,720,831.
On the very next hand, the field was reduced to four. Pius Heinz raised to 2.1 million from under the gun. Action folded to Phil Collins who moved all-in for 18.3 million. Heinz made the call, and Collins' tournament life was on the line. Heinz held and was ahead of Collins' . The flop gave Collins an open-ended straight draw, but Heinz was still in the lead and stayed there through the turn. Heinz turned a set, but Collins picked up more outs. None of Collins' outs hit when the fell on the river, eliminating him in fifth place, $2,269,599. Heinz added even more chips to his already monstrous stack.
Play slowed considerably after the dinner break, but only one thing remained constant — Pius Heinz at the top of the leaderboard. However, on hand No. 156, Heinz gave away a few of his chips when he doubled up Martin Staszko. In the hand, Staszko moved all-in over the top of a raise from Heinz, who was under the gun. Heinz made the call and tabled , well ahead of Staszko's . With the giving Staszko trips, he stayed in the lead through the turn and the river, doubling to 44 million, and leaving Ben Lamb as the short stack.
Lamb was in need of some help to keep his tournament dreams alive, and he ended up getting some at the expense of Matt Giannetti. On hand No. 174, Giannetti raised to 2.6 million from the button. Lamb reraised all-in from the big blind, and Giannetti called the 26.8 million more. Giannetti and his pocket jacks had Lamb, who tabled on the ropes. The flop fell giving Lamb a flush draw. The turn, , brought Lamb's flush and the river was the meaningless . Lamb doubled to 55 million, and Giannetti was crippled.
Giannetti doubled on the next hand against Staszko but didn't hold on to those chips for long. Giannetti and Lamb tangled again, but Lamb held the best of it, and Giannetti couldn't get his pay back. The chips went in the middle preflop on hand No. 178, with Lamb holding kings and Giannetti tabling . The flop sealed Giannetti's fate when it fell , giving Lamb quads. Giannetti fell in fourth place, pocketing $3,012,700.
His elimination set the stage for Tuesday when the final three players, Lamb, Heinz, and Staszko, will play for poker immortality.
2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Chip Counts
Play gets under way Tuesday at 1730 PST (0130 GMT) and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to provide hand-for-hand coverage until a winner is crowned.
Follow PokerNews on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.