The biggest spectacle in poker, the November Nine never disappoints, and today was certainly no exception. We've just closed the books on a fantastic day of poker, shrinking our final table down to just three players. It took about 10.5 hours on the clock to set the stage for Tuesday's finale where it will be Pius Heinz, Ben Lamb, and Martin Staszko duking it out for the bracelet.
For the last four months, Ben Lamb has been the one receiving most of the attention, and deservedly so. He's binked a bracelet already this year, and his run to this final table locked up another title, the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year. But Lamb is seemingly unsatisfied by those pedestrian accomplishments, and it's clear that he's got his sights fixed on this Main Event championship. And it looks like it's going to be hard to stop him.
In a fitting conclusion to the night, Lamb has just flopped quad kings to eliminate Matt Giannetti, drawing the crowd into one last frenzy of noise and celebration. It wasn't the first time today Lamb sparked the theater to life.
Beginning play with just about 20 million chips, Benba's initial trend was downward, but that didn't last long. He was responsible for the first elimination of the day when his ace-king dominated Sam Holden, and the last remaining Brit was sent off in ninth place. About an hour later, though, Phil Collins found a lucky double through Lamb to knock him back down into the danger zone. Lamb treaded water for a few hours as the field shrunk to six, and then he got his money in as an underdog. He three-bet shoved with , and Eoghan O'Dea made a big call with ace-nine. Lamb turned a flush draw and rivered an eight to double, though, and O'Dea was sent to the rail in sixth place a short while later.
As the up-and-down day drew to a close, Lamb was still hovering around 25-30 million, and he made another stand with . This time, Matt Giannetti woke up with two jacks, but once again, it was no matter to Lamb. He flopped a flush draw again, and he only needed the turn card to ring in the winner. Giannetti was crippled, and Lamb went ahead and finished him off a short while later.
But the day wasn't all about Ben Lamb, you know. Pius Heinz is the man with more than 100 million chips heading into three-handed play, and he managed to work his way to the top fairly steadily and without much drama over the course of play today. Thirty-nine hands into the day, Heinz dragged a monster pot against Eoghan O'Dea to move from the second-shortest to the second-largest stack in one fell swoop. By hand #43, he was the chip leader, and he would not relinquish that top spot for the remainder of the day. The German won a flip to eliminate Anton Makiievskyi in eighth place a couple orbits later, and he was also responsible for the elimination of Phil Collins in fifth place.
As he collected chips, Heinz's aggression level only picked up, and he was the clear Table Captain for the second half of the day. In the end, he bagged up 107.8 million chips -- well over 50% of the ~205 million in play.
And last but not least, we have Martin Staszko, the start-of-day chip leader. He picked his way through the early pots with some measure of caution, and a couple hours into the day, he put Bob Bounahra out the door. Already crippled down to his last few million chips, Bounahra got the last of his stack in with ace-five against Staszko's ace-seven, and a board full of blanks ended the hopes for him and his home nation of Belize. Staszko also KO'd an already-crippled Eoghan O'Dea in sixth place, but he began to bleed chips thereafter, dropping back into the pack and eventually down to the shortest stack left. But he would not go quietly.
Heinz tried for the knockout in a big pot with pocket sixes, and Staszko was racing for the double with ace-eight. Another couple eights on the flop kept the Czech in the game, and he bagged up just a few more chips than he began the day with. Here's how he and the other finalists stack up.
The final showdown is set for 5:30 PM on Tuesday, and we'll be right back in our ringside seats to bring you the action. Just two more eliminations separate us from our 2011 Main Event Champion, and if today was any indication, Tuesday will be a monster day.
Until then, all that's left is goodnight!