With the WSOP Las Vegas started with nearly 7,000 players, all of whom held big aspirations of making the final table and in turn becoming a November Nine starter.
Many consider it to be one of the biggest accolades achievable in the poker world making the November Nine instantly propels your name to the top of the poker world.
It is the poker equivalent to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world and the stakes are astronomical.
The winner of the November Nine will walk away with $8.7 million as well as a reputation which goes global.
There are a good range of players in the mix for this year’s event with a host of regions represented.
These are the players who will converge later in the year to decide who will be the next November Nine world champion.
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Martin Staszko (40.1 million in chips) –
This pro is based in Las Vegas and at 35 years old has only being playing professionally for one year. Live tournaments are something of a new thing for him but he’s shown he’s more
“I mostly play online more than live,” said Staszko.
“I played in four EPT events, some smaller tournaments. That’s all the experience I have with live play. Those tournaments prepared me. I’ve been in Vegas from June 2; I played 15 tournaments. That’s more than I’d played in my entire life, so I got some big experience here.”
He becomes the first player from the Czech Republic to make the November Nine and it’s something he’s very proud of.
“I think it will be big for our country to make the November Nine,” he said.
“We already have the EPT and other tournaments, but I do think more players would be inspired to play.”
Eoghan O’Dea (33.9 million) –
This man represents Ireland and at just 26 is actually one of the more experienced goes going around. He’s been in big tournaments before, twice walking away with more than a quarter of a million dollars.
“I think most of the players have done very well in big tournaments,” Eoghan said.
“There’s no bad players left, so I don’t know if I have an upper hand. Obviously, my dad had a great influence. Helped me out, allowed me to ask a few questions. He taught me how to play. We’ve been texting a lot during the tournament.”
“You dream to win the WSOP main event,” he said.
“It’s the best in poker and that would be pretty amazing for me, to win it. [Achieving that dream] is a pretty big factor apart from the money.”
Matt Giannetti (24.7 million) –
Also from Las Vegas this man has made his mark around a few tournaments but this is probably the first time he’s been really noticed on a big scale.
“It’s a lot of validation,” Giannetti said.
“My friends and family are finally seeing me on TV. My main thing’s been cash games, and you don’t get too much exposure for that. You tell people you’re a poker player and they ask you if you have been on TV, and when you tell them you haven’t, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re not a real poker player.’ Tournaments are only half the poker world. Cash is a real part of it.”
“Maybe it should be about the money, but it’s not.
“I’m just playing the game. I’m putting myself in a position where, if I go bust, I go bust. I don’t want to look back at the TV screen in a couple of months and say, ‘My gut instinct was to do this, but I played it safe to move up in the prize pool.’ You only get one chance in your lifetime to do this. It’s every poker player’s dream. You’ve got to go for it all.”
Phil Collins (23.8 million) –
He’s had one of the biggest supporter bases throughout this tournament and is one of the fan favourites. The songs of his famous name sake have followed him everywhere and they may just follow him all the way to the November Nine title.
“Everybody I’ve seen reacting to it has reacted positively,” Collins said.
“The dealers are laughing, the floors are laughing, and most of the players at my table are smiling and think it’s pretty funny. They’re only disappointed they don’t have as many friends here. They’re like, ‘My friends all left.’ Well, my friends all live here, so they just keep driving down. I’m probably never going to get this deep in the main event ever again, so I’d better enjoy it while I’m here. And my friends? I mean, when are they ever going to have a best friend get this close? They need to enjoy it, too.”
Ben Lamb (20.8 million) –
He’s one of the favourites to win the final and many are picking him as the best natural player going around.
He’s leading the charge to the WSOP player of the year title and a November Nine win would all but seal it.
“It’s the money,” said Lamb.
“I’m not going to be one of those guys who says the world championship means more than the money. Now, looking at the bracelet, it’s going to be really cool if I win that. I’ll be able to cherish it even if the money is gone. Fifty years from now, I’ll still have the bracelet, and still have this time in my life that I’ll really cherish, but $8 million … I can really set myself up for life. I won’t need to worry about money for the rest of my life. It’s a big weight off someone’s shoulders, and I’m only 26 years old.”
Badih Bounahra (19.7 million) –
He goes against the trend here, not only is he the oldest, he playing preferences are also different.
He’s still an amateur and he doesn’t ever play online, only live games.
“I am not a professional player,” Bounahra said.
“I’m calm and relaxed. [Being an amateur] probably puts more pressure on them, not me. I’m playing for the country of Belize. Everybody knows about it, it’s going crazy. It’s going to be even better now. It’s a very good thing for everybody.”
“My youngest son’s education comes first, then I’ll invest some of it. The money is good, the championship is good. All of it is good! But it won’t change me. It’s not going to change anything in my personality. I’ll stay the same.”
Pius Heinz (16.4 million) –
He’s only 22 and punching well and truly above his weight here. He’s looked gone on more than one occasion and but he keeps finding a way to get himself through.
“Today, there were stretches where I couldn’t relax anymore because I lost most of the pots I played,” he admitted.
“You get frustrated, but at the end of the day, I’m just enjoying being here. I made the November Nine! I feel pretty good, obviously. I wish I had played a little better throughout the day, but that doesn’t matter anymore.”
“Honestly, I’m not that big a spender,” he said.
“I always look after my money, that’s how I’ve always been. I might get a nice place to live, and buy my parents something. My sister and brother, too. They have a couple of wishes I can help with.”
Anton Makiievskyi (13.8 million) –
He’s the youngest player in the field and at 21 he’s only just legally allowed to play. He represents Ukraine, a country that has already provided five winners in this year’s WSOP.
“It will mean a lot,” he said of making the November Nine.
“For my friends, my family and my country. For everybody. I think they will feel great and they will understand how I feel. Though, I don’t even understand how I feel right now.”
“There was really a lot of pressure,” he said.
“It was the first time that I really felt pressure. I was really nervous. … I was nervous, but now I’m just happy.”
Sam Holden (12.3 million) –
He was the short stack for two days but now he finds himself in the final.
It didn’t seem likely but the 22 year old Englishman is now exactly where he wants to be.
“I was actually feeling quite relaxed being on the short stack because I’m quite confident in my short-stack play, having a lot of experience from online multitable tournaments,” he said.
“I found it quite easy, especially in this tournament, to stay patient and pick the right spots. So I didn’t put too much pressure on myself.”
“It means everything. It’s the one tournament of the year every poker player hopes to run well in, and I’ve been fortunate to do so. The November Nine … the gap now between July and November will be such an experience with all the media and everything that will come with it. … It means everything to me. For all the work I’ve put into my game … it’s fantastic!”
So there it is, the November Nine for 2011.
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