WSOP: November Nine return to decide 2011 Main Event champ

One of these nine players will be crowned the 2011 WSOP Main Event champion

How quickly we forget – 108 days after John Hewitt was eliminated in 10th place, the remaining nine players in the 2011 WSOP Main Event will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas this weekend to decide who will take home the USD $8.7 million first prize.

This is the third-largest live poker tournament in history. Only the 2006 WSOP Main Event (at 8773 entrants) and the 2010 WSOP Main Event (at 7319 entrants) were bigger. Prior to this year, the third largest live tournament was the 2008 WSOP Main Event with 6844 players.

This is the fourth year of the “November Nine” concept, with the finale comprising two sessions. The first session is on November 5 and will play the nine initial starters down to the last two players. Then, the two finalists take a one-day break before the heads-up battle on November 7.

Players from seven different countries will be represented in the finale. Four nations – Belize, Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine have a finalist in poker’s world championship for the first time. This year’s November Nine finalists are:

Seat 1: Matt Giannetti (Las Vegas, NV) 24,750,000

Giannetti is a 26-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas. Prior to playing full time, Giannetti attended the University of Texas. He was short-stacked during much of the later stages of day 8, but managed to survive a number of all-ins and comes to the final table right in the top three (third of nine players).

Seat 2: Badih Bou-Nahra (Belize City, Belize) 19,700,000

Bou-Nahra becomes the first player from Belize ever to make it to the Main Event final table. He is a 49- year-old businessman. Bou-Nahra was actually born in Lebanon, but is proud to now call Belize City his home. Bou-Nahra was very low on chips on day 6, but ran well late and survived. Now, he has an average-size stack.

Seat 3: Eoghan O’Dea (Dublin, Ireland) 33,925,000

O’Dea is a 26-year-old poker pro. This is his fifth WSOP cash, four of which have taken place this year. He has cashed in several major tournaments, mostly in Europe. He is the son of famous Irish poker player Donnacha O’Dea, who won a WSOP gold bracelet in 1998. O’Dea was second in chips when day 8 began. He remains second in chips.

Seat 4: Phil Collins (Las Vegas, NV) 23,875,000

Collins is a 26-year-old pro poker player. He was previously a college student. He attended the University of South Carolina. He played a lot of online poker until the developments of April 2011. He has been at or near the top of the leaderboard during much of the last few days.

Seat 5: Anton Makiievskyi (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine) 13,825,000

Makiievskyi is a 21-year-old aspiring poker pro. This is his first trip to the WSOP in Las Vegas. Four Ukrainians have already won gold bracelets this year. Makiievskyi hopes to become the fifth. This marks the first time a Ukrainian player has ever appeared at the Main Event final table. He is one of the lowest two stacks, but is not in serious danger of busting soon because he has several rounds of blinds and antes.

Seat 6: Sam Holden (Sussex, UK) 12,375,000

Holden is a 22-year-old professional poker player. He is playing in his first WSOP this year. He holds the lowest stack, but (like Makiievskyi) is not in serious danger of busting soon because he has enough chips to make it through several rounds of blinds and antes.

Seat 7: Pius Heinz (Cologne, Germany) 16,425,000

Heinz is a 22-year-old student and poker player. He is playing at his first WSOP this year. He finished seventh in one of the earlier $1500 NLHE events. He becomes the first player from Germany ever to make it to the Main Event finale. He’s seventh in chips at the moment.

Seat 8: Ben Lamb (Tulsa, OK) 20,875,000

Lamb is enjoying a monster run and is unquestionably the player who is on the hottest streak of anyone at this year’s WSOP. He is the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race. He has a gold bracelet win, a second place finish, and eighth- and 12th-place showings in his four cashes – and has now made the final table in the Main Event. He currently ranks fifth in chips. Lamb is playing as well as, if not better than, any player in the world at the moment.

Seat 9: Martin Staszko (Trinec, Czech Republic) 40,175,000

Staszko is a 35-year-old professional poker player. He becomes the first player ever from the Czech Republic to make it to the Main Event final table. He will resume play at the chip leader when the November Nine begins.

WSOP Main Event final table payouts

1         USD $8,715,638
2         USD $5,433,086
3         USD $4,021,138
4         USD $3,012,700
5         USD $2,269,599
6         USD $1,720,831
7         USD $1,314,097
8         USD $1,010,015
9         USD $782,115

• Check back here over the next four days for regulars updates from the Penn & Teller Theater as the 2011 WSOP Main Event champion is decided.

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