By Joss Wood, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer
As 6,865 players started this year’s Main Event, the final table seemed a distant dream. For nine players, dream becomes reality at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, November 6th at exactly 11.30am. One player will win the most coveted bracelet in poker and take home $8,711,956 in prize money.
This year play will continue until three players remain, then there will be a break and the tournament will resume at 5pm on November 8th. The final battle between the last three players will be covered in full on ESPN with just a 15 minute delay to allow the coverage to show all hole cards.
This year’s final table is an exciting mixture of talent, and the most international in the event’s history.
Seat 1: Matt Giannetti (Las Vegas, NV) – 24,750,000 - Age 26
Matt has been practicing; in September he won the WPT Malta for $273,200, taking him to over $1 million in live tournament earnings. He is a graduate of the University of Texas where he developed the character necessary to win a bizarre prop bet; $15,000 to stay in a swimming pool for 12 hours! Most of the payout came from David Williams, 2nd place finisher to Greg Raymer in the 2004 Main Event.
Betfair Odds: 6/1
Seat 2: Badih “Bob” Bounahra (Belize City, Belize) – 19,700,000 – Age 49
Bob runs the private poker room in the Princess Casino in Belize City. He also is a grocery wholesaler selling to Mom & Pop family shops in Belize. Definitely an enthusiast rather than a professional at poker, he may well be the popular choice to win. The sheer pleasure he takes in the game enthuses everyone on the rail. He has several live tournament cashes, including a win in the $1,020 No-Limit Hold’em Second Chance tournament on the LAPT in 2008 for $30,054.
Betfair Odds: 15/1
Seat 3: Eoghan O’Dea (Dublin, Ireland) – 33,925,000 – Age 26
Eoghan is primarily a cash game player, so his 2nd place in the Poker Million for $260,000 and victory in the iPoker European Championship of Online Poker III for $315,000 in 2008 are just extra income. Final tabling the Main Event will more than double his lifetime earnings. His father, who won a WSOP bracelet in 1998 should be proud. Dad made two WSOP Main Event final tables (6th and 9th), so Eoghan needs to run particularly well to win bragging rights.
Betfair Odds: 5/1
Seat 4: Phil Collins (Las Vegas, NV) – 23,875,000 – Age 26
Phil is well known online as USCPhildo and has over $3.25 million in online winnings. Offline, he’s backed by Erik Lindgren and is great friends with Jason Mercier, so he won’t be short of good advice. He has played the biggest buy-in live tournaments, but this will be his first really big live cash. A business graduate of the University of South Carolina, he has been a poker pro since 2007.
Betfair Odds: 11/2
Seat 5: Anton Makiievskyi (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine) – 13,825,000 – Age 21
Almost unbelievably, we could see Anton become the youngest Main Event winner ever. Anton is 3 months younger than Joe Cada who won in 2009. His lucky blue and yellow jacket belongs to his friend Oleksii Kovalchuk, who won a WSOP bracelet this year’s $2,500 NLHE 6-Max event for $689,000. Anton is already guaranteed to beat that score, but he needs to stop 4-bet folding 4-2 offsuit to win this one.
Betfair Odds: 14/1
Seat 6: Sam Holden (Sussex, UK) – 12,375,000 – Age 22
Unfairly christened “the Jobless Brit” by the British press, Sam is a professional poker player with a degree in Forensic Science from the University of Kent. He final tabled the PokerStars Sunday Million in April this year, earning $89,000 in a 6 way deal. One of my friends will pick up 20% of Sam’s winnings after staking his entry, so he’s hoping that Sam will go all the way and as a fellow Brit, I’ll be rooting for him too!
Betfair Odds: 18/1
Seat 7: Pius Heinz (Cologne, Germany) – 16,425,000 – Age 22
At the age of 22, Pius has already won the Full Tilt Sunday Mulligan for $61,000 and the PokerStars $150,000 Guaranteed for $29,000. Playing his first WSOP this year, he final tabled a $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘em event for $83,286. Not bad at all for his first live cash. He has worked his way steadily from the bottom of the leaderboard and if the cards come right, could work his way to the top of the final table.
Betfair Odds: 11/1
Seat 8: Ben Lamb (Tulsa, OK) – 20,875,000 – Age 26
Ben Lamb is blowing the top off this year’s WSOP and is guaranteed to become player of the year. After a 2nd in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event he won his first gold bracelet in the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Championship taking home $814,436. If that wasn’t enough, he finished 8th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and 12th in the $10,000 6-max No-Limit Hold’em event. He was high on the chip leaderboard for the last four days of the Main Event, and although he lost some large pots, he relentlessly climbed his way back up the rankings. In 2009 he finished 14th winning $633,000. He is now guaranteed to beat that performance in what has been an incredible run.
Betfair Odds: 5/1
Seat 9: Martin Staszko (Trinec, Czech Republic) – 40,175,000 – Age 35
The former car worker and “expert” ranked chess player is the chip leader going into the final table. He told Erik Lindgren that he had folded 40 hands in a row in order to creep into the money, leaving himself with just over 2 big blinds when the bubble broke. It might not be the most recommended strategy, but it’s got him to the final table in a dominant position. He has had five other small cashes in this year’s series, no mean achievement. Prior to the Main Event his biggest score was just over $50,000 for an 11th place in the European Poker Tour Main Event in Deauville. Look out for a lot more players from the Czech Republic getting online as the result of the huge exposure he is getting at home.
Betfair Odds: 9/2
Chip counts matter. We can use Independent Chip Modelling (ICM) to calculate each player's probability of winning based solely on their chip stack. Excluding luck and skill, these are the ICM probabilities of each player winning:
Martin Staszko 40,175,000 19.5%
Eoghan O'Dea 33,925,000 16.5%
Matt Giannetti 24,750,000 12.0%
Phil Collins 23,875,000 11.6%
Ben Lamb 20,875,000 10.1%
Badih Bounahra 19,700,000 9.6%
Pius Heinz 16,425,000 8.0%
Anton Makiievskyi 13,825,000 6.7%
Sam Holden 12,375,000 6.0%
Add back in skill, and Phil Collins and Ben Lamb should have a better shot than ICM suggests. But add in luck, and it could still be anybody’s bracelet. Staszko’s chips and solid low risk playing style should see him into the top three, but the champion this year? Ben Lamb has had the luck, and he certainly has the skill. His middle sized stack will be put to good use to exploit any cautiousness his opponents exhibit, and so we predict that this year is the Year of the Lamb.
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