Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 WSOP November Nine is Set

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2011 WSOP November Nine is Set...

Everyone knew where this road was headed, we just didn’t know who would get there. Just 22 players entered play at the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event on Tuesday with a chance to make the final table and come hell or high water, the field was going to be narrowed to nine before the tournament was adjourned until the fall. No more playing for a set number of levels. We were going to get rid of 13 players if it took all night. Fortunately, it didn’t take all night (so long as you were following the action in Las Vegas) and we now know the identities of this year’s November Nine.

Considering the increases in payouts at this stage of the game and the importance of advancing from Tuesday to November, one would have expected play to slow to a crawl as players became very careful not to bust out. Not so yesterday. Even with a the usual breaks, a two hour dinner break, and an extra one hour break, the field was whittled to the final ten before 10:00pm Pacific time thanks to lots of three-betting, four-betting, and risky all-ins (Konstantinos Mamaliadis moved all-in with 8-2. Granted, he was short, but still. Yes, he lost that hand).

The ESPN announcing team of Lon McEachern, Antonio Esfandiari, and Norman Chad predicted that eliminating that last player to determine the November Nine would take a long time, and it did. With the media attention, sponsorship deals, and a more than $200,000 prize jump waiting for them between now and November, nobody wanted to be the final table bubble boy. In some ways, even though he was to win $607,882, it is worse to be the November Nine bubble boy than the standard “in the money” bubble boy. And while play did slow down significantly as most hands didn’t get past the pre-flop stage, it still went about two hours faster than last year’s six hour marathon.

In the end, it was John Hewitt of Costa Rica who made the other nine players very, very happy. Ireland’s Eoghan O’Dea (son of Donnacha O’Dea, who has made two Main Event final tables) opened the pre-flop betting to 1.1 million chips, with blinds at 250,000/500,000 and a 50,000 chip ante. Hewitt, who had been riding high for much of the day before taking a bad beat when his A-K lost to Pius Heinz’s K-J, pushed for his last 3.875 million. It was a race: Hewitt’s 3-3 versus O’Dea’s K-J. Despite not hitting one of his cards, it was a good flop for O’Dea, as the Q-T-7 gave him an open-ended straight draw. The Ace on the turn clinched the hand for the Irishman, sending the poker room into a frenzy. Hewitt was gracious in defeat and his fellow tablemates were simultaneously congratulatory and empathetic to him. While the remaining players were no doubt thrilled they had made the November Nine, they knew what a disappointment it was for the likable Hewitt to fall short.

While everyone moving on to November has done a fantastic job, perhaps the most impressive player of the day was Matt Giannetti. He was one of the bigger stacks during the early part of Day 8 before running into a painful hand against Ben Lamb. With blinds at 150,000/300,000/40,000, Lamb raised pre-flop to 675,000 and Giannetti called. After the flop of Ah-9h-2d, Giannetti check-called a 700,000 chip bet. Both players checked the 7d on the turn and Giannetti once again checked the 2h on the river, a card which introduced the possibility of a flush. With the pot at just over 3 million chips, Lamb made a huge bet of 4 million. Obviously holding a good hand, but unsure of just how good it was compared to Lamb’s, Giannetti went into the deepest of tanks. One minute went by, then two. Then three. Esfandiari kept viewers interested by analyzing what he thought each player had. Five minutes. Eight. After ten minutes, Giannetti finally made the call with A-9, giving him top two pair. To his dismay, though, Lamb flipped over 2-3 for three-of-a-kind, giving him the large pot and sending Giannetti’s stack down to under 10 million.

Giannetti was noticeably shaken after that and even stepped away from the table a short time later to collect himself. Struggling to stay alive as he made it to the final ten, he held firm and didn’t make any rash moves. He was able to raise a couple times pre-flop without moving all-in to collect the blinds and antes, which at that point meant he was increasing his stack by around 10 percent. He finally decided to put all of chips at risk, twice doing it with pocket Jacks, and both times doubling-up. Matt Giannetti had emerged from the emotionally draining hand earlier in the evening and had climbed back from the November Nine bubble to make it to the final table with the third largest chip stack.

Here is how the chip counts stack up (pun intended):

1. Martin Staszko – 40,175,000
2. Eoghan O’Dea – 33,925,000
3. Matt Giannetti – 24,750,000
4. Phil Collins – 23,875,000
5. Ben Lamb – 20,875,000
6. Badih Bounahra – 19,700,000
7. Pius Heinz – 16,425,000
8. Anton Makievskyi – 13,825,000
9. Samuel Holden – 12,375,000

It is a final table with a very international flavor: just three Americans and one player each from the Czech Republic, Ireland, Belize, Germany, Ukraine, and England. At this point, everyone is guaranteed at least $782,115 with the winner taking home $8,711,956.

The players are now on a three and a half month break as they prepare for the rest of their Main Event journey. Play will resume on November 5th, will pause when there are just two players left, and will pick up again on November 7th to determine the next No-Limit Hold’em World Champion.


WSOP Day 6: 57 Players Remain, Ryan Lenaghan in Control...

We’re at the point in the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event where everyone left in the field can smell the finish line. The coveted championship bracelet is now a realistic possibility, even for those at the bottom of the leader board. With just 57 of the original 6,865 players still holding on to chips, the tension will be ratcheted up a notch as Day 7 begins on Monday.

Leading the way is professional poker player Ryan Lenaghan, with a stack of 12,865,000 chips, almost 3,000,000 more than his nearest competitor. The Mobile, Alabama native now living in New Orleans made his biggest move late in the day. He opened the betting pre-flop with a raise to 110,000 and was then re-raised to 355,000 by Bryan Follain. Undeterred, Lenaghan took it up to 865,000 only to see Follain five-bet all the way up to 1,200,000. Lenaghan quickly moved all-in, covering his opponent, who, after some thought decided to put all his chips at risk. Interestingly, the hands weren’t all that strong considering the action: Lenaghan had J-J, while Follain held A-Q. None of the five community cards helped Follain and with the 4,200,000 chip pot, Lenaghan soared into the lead.

Despite his chip advantage, Lenaghan will start at a tough table today. Joining him is John Esposito, who has now cashed in seven Main Events, David Bach, who was the chip leader going into Day 6, top online (and now live) poker pro David “Doc” Sands, and one of the other top stacks, Hilton Laborda, who has 7,160,000 chips.

Currently sitting in second place is this summer’s star, Ben Lamb, who has been at or near the top of the field for most of the Main Event. With his deep run in this tournament, Lamb will take over the lead in the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year (POY) standings from Phil Hellmuth. Not counting the Main Event, he has four cashes at this year’s WSOP, including a bracelet, a runner-up finish and a third final table. His worst finish of the four cashes is 12th. Hellmuth will still have a chance to re-take the lead at the WSOP Europe later this year.

Other notables remaining the in the competition include Bryan Devonshire (10th), J.P. Kelly (21st), Lars Bonding (26th), Sam Barnhart (27th), Tony Hachem (36th), Erick Lindgren (38th), Steve Brecher (45th), and Sebastian Ruthenberg (57th).

Everyone remaining is guaranteed at least $130,997. Here is what the remaining payout structure looks like:

1. $8,711,956
2. $5,430,928
3. $4,019,635
4. $3,011,665
5. $2,268,909
6. $1,720,396
7. $1,313,851
8. $1,009,910
9. $782,115
10 – 12. $607,882
13 – 15. $478,174
16 – 18. $378,796
19 – 27. $302,005
28 – 36. $242,636
37 – 45. $196,174
46 – 54. $160,036
55 – 63. $130,997

And the current top ten chip counts:

1. Ryan Lenaghan – 12,865,000
2. Ben Lamb – 9,980,000
3. Matt Giannetti – 7,940,000
4. Andrey Pateychuk – 7,255,000
5. Phil Collins – 7,240,000
6. Hilton Laborda – 7,160,000
7. Nelson Robinson – 6,420,000
8. Tri Huynh – 6,295,000
9. Aleksandr Mozhnyakov – 6,070,000
10. Bryan Devonshire – 5,970,000

Play will resume at noon Pacific time on Monday. The original schedule indicated that Day 7 would end when just 27 players are remaining, but a tournament update released by WSOP officials has stated that, like in previous days, there will be four blind levels played, at which point the tournament will be paused until Tuesday. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

WSOP Main Event: Fred Berger Leads After Day 1a - 8th July 2011

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The World Series of Poker Main Event kicked off Thursday with 897 players participating on Day 1a, the first of four starting days in poker’s biggest showcase. The field was down about 20 percent from the 1,125 entrants that participated in 2010 — not surprising given the lack of online qualifiers from the major sites indicted by the Department of Justice on Black Friday.

The Day 1a chip leader was Fred Berger, who bagged 209,500 chips at the end of five levels Thursday night. The Las Vegas native took the lead in the final hour, winning a massive pot from former November Niner and bracelet winner Scott Montgomery. Berger had Jh-9h on a 8c-6h-2h-Js-Jc board, giving him trip jacks, and Montgomery was sent to the rail after he pushed all of his chips in on the river with two pair, jacks and eights.

Berger is no rookie at the WSOP; he has 13 cashes at the WSOP in his career, including victory in a $3,000 Pot Limit Hold ‘em event in 2002. Berger defeated Chris “Jesus” Ferguson heads up for the bracelet and a prize of $197,400. In total, Berger’s live tournament cashes eclipse $1 million.

Joining Berger at the top of the leaderboard are Shane Sigsbee (182,600), Kyle Burnside (159,050), Cedric Annen (155,400), and Michael Bena (150,350). Among the notables with healthy stacks at the end of the day included 2011 bracelet winner David Diaz (139,150), Sebastien Ruthenberg (117,000), Jonas Klausen (116,075), Raymond Rahme (103,950), Jaime “pokerjamers” Armstrong (103,000), Olivier Busquet (98,975), Luke “IWEARGOGGLES” Staudenmaier, and 2010 November Niner Soi Nguyen (87,325).

Four former WSOP Main Event winners took to the felt on Day 1a, including Doyle Brunson, who surprised many after announcing Monday that he would be sitting out the event. The “Godfather of Poker” apparently had a change of heart and took his seat at the ESPN Featured Table. By Level 3, Brunson had been chipped down to 4,375, and got the rest of his stack in preflop with pocket fives against the Ac-Qh of Steve Costello. The board ran out Ad-Qs-Jc-6d-2h, and Texas Dolly made his exit to a round of applause from those in the Amazon Room.

Former champions Johnny Chan, Greg Raymer and Jerry Yang also played on Day 1a, but only Chan survived, finishing with 34,000. Others making an early exit Thursday were McLean Karr, Jeff Papola, Tom Schneider, Adam “Roothlus” Levy, Vanessa Selbst, Matt Affleck, John Hennigan, Isaac Haxton, Randy “nanonoko” Lew, Faraz Jaka, and Evelyn Ng.

A total of 556 players survived the day and they will combine with the survivors from Day 1c to form the Day 2a field on Monday, July 11. The players that make it through Days 1b and 1d will form the Day 2b field, which will take place on Tuesday, July 12.

Here’s a look at the top 10 stacks from Day 1a of the 2011 WSOP Main Event:

1. Fred Berger — 209,500
2. Shane Sigsbee — 182,600
3. Kyle Burnside — 159,050
4. Cedric Annen — 155,400
5. Michael Bena — 150,350
6. Lynne Mitchnick — 145,675
7. Juan Perez — 143,425
8. David Diaz — 139,150
9. Christopher Macfarland — 135,350
10. Philipp Gruissem — 133,050

Day 1b gets underway Friday at 12:00 p.m. local time. Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for continuous updates from the 2011 World Series of Poker from the Rio in Las Vegas. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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