By Ian Hiaring, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer
The final three players in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event met Tuesday night to finally decide who would walk away with the Championship bracelet. Presumably, the matter of dividing up the remaining $18 million between the three players should have been easy, right?
After playing 178 hands Sunday to get our November Nine down to our final three, it took just four hands to get to heads-up play on what ended up becoming a historical Tuesday night for WSOP, players and fans alike.
Pius Heinz – 107,800,000
Ben Lamb – 55,400,000
Martin Staszko – 42,700,000
Ben Lamb, who already sewed up the 2011 World Series Poker Player of the Year Award before the first cards were even dealt on Sunday, found himself on the losing end of a very peculiar first hand of the night on Tuesday.
Lamb four-bet all-in preflop against Staszko and we were off to the races with Lamb’s K-J offsuit failing to win the coinflip against Staszko’s pocket 7’s. Lamb’s large group of followers (some 300 strong) in the Penn & Teller Theater were stunned to see their hero crippled with just 10 big blinds left in his stack.
On the very next hand Staszko took the chip lead from Team PokerStars Pro Pius Heinz when his pocket kings held up on an ace-high board against a king high check-raise river bluff from Heinz. While neither player was all-in during this hand, Staszko managed to increase his stack by another 21 million chips. In the short span of just the first two hands, Staszko went from worst to first, and would remain a tough competitor for the duration of the competition.
It didn’t take long to get to heads-up though. Just two hands later, Lamb shoved his 10.9 million chip stack in the middle with Q-6 offsuit. Unfortunately for Lamb, Staszko woke up with J-J and sent Lamb packing, leaving Heinz and Staszko to battle it out for the coveted WSOP bracelet.
Upon entering heads-up play, Staszko held a 117M to 89M chip lead, and if the first four hands of the evening were any indication, it certainly seemed like a short night was in store for the fans. The crowd seemed to be anxious for action on every hand, but instead an epic heads-up match evolved that saw the lead change numerous times as well as some gutsy play from Heinz and Staszko. Both players were quite aggressive over the next six hours, and as you would expect with play like this, most hands were raised pre-flop with a number of those hands three-bet as well.
With so many pots becoming quite sizable before the flop, one would think that it wouldn’t be long before a major swing in the chip lead occurred, but both players used excellent post-flop play to keep the match close most of the night.
With Lamb eliminated, most of the fans in the theatre were left without a horse in this race. Heinz appeared to have a few more (or at least louder) followers. For an unofficial theme song, the Heinz fans adopted a version of the song “Give It Up”, a minor 1983 hit single for KC and the Sunshine Band. The lyrics of the chorus were tweaked to become a repetitive chant of “Pius Heinz…Pius Pius Heinz.” While mildly annoying, the level of raucousness displayed by the crowd was relatively tame compared to years past.
After the lead see-sawed back and forth throughout the evening, this key hand gave Heinz control of the battle.
Staszko limped on the button and Heinz raised to 7.9 million, which drew a call. The flop came 10-7-K with two clubs, and Heinz made a continuation bet of 8.2 million or approximately half of the pot; which was a pretty standard play from Heinz throughout the evening. Staszko raised it up to 17.5 million, and after tanking for a few minutes Heinz shoved his stack in the middle, forcing Staszko to make a game-changing decision.
After the stoic and contemplative Staszko weighed his options, he made the call with Qc-9c, and when the cards were flipped up he found himself in a tight race with Heinz’s Ah-Qh. The 3h and 6s on the ensuing streets were a relief for Heinz as he dodged the flush and scooped the pot to take a 162M to 44M lead.
After that momentous hand, it took just seven more shuffles of the deck to determine the 2011 WSOP Champion. The final hand found As-Kc to be Heinz’s championship hand as it held up against Staszko’s 10c-7c. After victoriously jamming his fists in the air, Heinz threw himself into his crowd of followers for a few minutes before graciously walking over and exchanging congratulations with Staszko.
1 – Pius Heinz - $8,715,638
2 – Martin Staszko - $5,433,086
3 – Ben Lamb - $4,021,138
4 – Matt Giannetti - $3,012,700
5 – Phil Collins - $2,269,599
6 – Eoghan O’Dea - $1,720,831
7 – Bob Bounahra $1,314,097
8 – Anton Makiievskyi - $1,010,015
9 – Sam Holden - $782,115
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