Writer’s Note: The accompanying photo shows Eoghan O'Dea (Dublin, Ireland), who sits as the current chip leader in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship. As of mid-day at the end of Level 32 on Day Eight, he had accumulated more than 36,000,000 in chips. By contrast, Ben Lamb the second-ranked player had about 27,000,000 in chips.
Las Vegas, NV (July 19 -- 20:30 PST) – The November Nine is fast approaching!
Midway through the World Series of Poker’s final summer tournament session, play is now down to just 12 players. That means the Main Event is only hours away from taking what has become a customary three-month recess in anticipation of the biggest poker game of the entire year – the WSOP Main Event Championship final table.
Sitting at the Main Event final table, otherwise known as becoming a member of the famed “November Nine,” is the dream of just about every poker player. The finale will be played November 5-7, 2011 at the Rio in Las Vegas.
As of 6:40 pm PST, only a dozen dreams still remain alive from a massive tournament field that began nearly two weeks ago, with 6,865 players who came to compete for poker's world championship from 85 different nations.
This year’s winner achieves instant fame, fortune and immortality. He will collect a whopping $8,711,956 in prize money. He will also be presented with the game's most coveted prize -- the custom-designed WSOP gold and diamond bracelet. He will also be universally acknowledged as the reigning world poker champion.
The mid-day chip leader is Eoghan O'Dea, from Dublin, Ireland. He is the son of a former WSOP gold bracelet winner, Donnacha O'Dea -- who twice made the Main Event final table. Should the younger O'Dea hold on the rest of the night, they would become the first father-son duo ever to lay claim to making it to a WSOP final table.
Closing in on the chip leader is Ben Lamb (Tulsa, OK). He currently ranks in second place. Lamb is perhaps the hottest poker player in the world at this moment. He won a gold bracelet three weeks ago, and now has 1st, 2nd, 8th and 12th place finishes at this year's WSOP. Now, he appears destined to make the November NIne, which would wrap up one of the best WSOP showings in recent memory. It's also no surprise that no matter where Lamb finishes in the Main Event, he is guaranteed to leave Las Vegas as the 2011 WSOP "Player of the Year" point leader.
Seven of the 12 remaining players have less than 20,000,000 in their stacks. A few players -- most notably Khoa Nguyen (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) is quite low. Nevertheless, a lot of poker still remains to be played before the latest chapter in poker history is written.
Other notable Day Seven developments so far, included eliminations of the following players:
22nd Place – Lars Bonding (Las Vegas, NV) went out about 20 minutes into Day Eight. He went bust holding pocket aces, which lost to pocket fours after a four flopped – good for a set. Bonding is a 31-year-old professional poker player, originally from Denmark. He is married and has two children. He is mostly an online player, but is playing much more live poker in recent months. Bonding is also a serious backgammon and former champion. Bonding collected $302,005 in prize money.
21st Place – Chris Moore (Willowick, OH) was eliminated about 35 minutes into play. He was dealt a big hand, but got very unlucky. Moore was all-in with pocket kings, which got clipped by A-T after an ace flopped – good for a higher pair. Moore ended up with $302,005 in earnings for a fine effort. He is a 28-year-old poker pro and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
20th Place – Gionni Demers (Jackson, NJ), a 23-year-old professional poker player, went out in 20th place. On what turned out to be his final hand, he made a button all-in shove with A-5, hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes. Unfortunately, his timing could not have been worse. His opponent picked up pocket kings in the big blind and ended up busting out Demers. He collected a nice consolation prize amounting to $302,005.
19th Place – Aleksandr Mozhnyakov (Himki, Russia) had been near the top of the leaderboard for three days. But he went card dead late on Day Seven and failed to rebound on Day Eight. Mozhnyakov was eliminated when he shoved what remained of his stack holding K-Q suited, which ended up losing to an ace-high. He collected $302,005 in prize money. Mozhnyakov is a 25-year old lawyer, who recently graduated from law school.
18th Place – Kenny Shih (Taipei, Taiwan) exited the final table about 90 minutes into play. He lost a race on what became his final hand. Shih moved all-in holding pocket eights, which got crunched by a club flush. Shih is originally from Taiwan. But he now resides in Azusa, CA. He is a 30-year-old poker pro who used to be a stock broker. He arrived at this year’s WSOP with about $5,000 which was to be used to play in a few tournaments. He won a small tournament held at another casino and decided to use that prize money to play in the Main Event for the first time ever. That turned out to be a very lucrative decision as he ended up with $378,796 in prize money.
17th Place – Sam Barnhart (Little Rock, AR) came into Day Eight ranked in the bottom third of the chip count. He managed to double up once, but then suffered some misfortune when he moved all-in holding pocket nines, which ran into pocket kings. The two cowboys held up, leaving Barnhart with $378,796 and some wonderful WSOP memories. Barnhart is a 50-year-old data analyst for a software specialist. He won the first-ever WSOP Circuit National Championship held this past May, which earned him his first WSOP gold bracelet. Barnhart enjoyed a huge year -- with a WSOP Circuit win in Tunica, MS, a national championship, a gold bracelet and a deep run in the Main Event.
16th Place – Ryan Lenaghan (New Orleans, LA) had the chip lead at the end of Day Six. It appeared he would be a favorite to make the November Nine, but then disaster struck towards the end of Day Seven when his stack was cut in half. By the third hour of Day Eight, Lenaghan was one of the shortest stacks. He moved all-in with A-8 suited, but was snapped called by A-Q suited, which left him in serious trouble. The A-Q made a flush, which was overkill to Lenaghan’s hopes of doubling up. He exited in 16th place, which paid $378,796. Lenaghan is originally from Mobile, AL. He now lives in New Orleans. Lenaghan is a graduate of LSU (general studies), where he also starred on the track team. He has been playing poker professionally for about two years. Lenaghan has recorded about $120,000 in WSOP-related earnings, most of which took place on the WSOP Circuit.
15th Place – Andrey Pateychuk (Moscow, Russia) decided he had to take a coin flip for all his chips when he was dealt A-Q suited, which was tested by pocket jacks. Pateychuk missed all his draws and ended up in 15th place, which paid $478,174. Pateychuk is a 21-year-old college student and part-time poker player. He was born in Vladivostok, Russia. He was the youngest player in the tournament when there were 100 players remaining. He will clearly be a player to watch at the WSOP in coming years.
14th Place – Scott Schwalich (West Carrollton, OH) played great poker but lost a late hand against Bryan Devonshire in the fourth hour of Day Eight, and then went out a few hands later. Schwalish’s disastrous hand took place when he shoved all-in holding A-5 suited, which was called by Devonshire holding pocket tens. The pair held up, which put Schwalich on life support. He went out three hands later. Schwalich is a 24-year-old professional poker player who was mostly an online player and is now playing more live poker. He collected $478,174 in prize money.
Based on payouts, every player remaining in the tournament is now guaranteed to collect at least $607,882 in prize money. A complete list of PAYOUTS can be seen here.
The final summer playing session (Day Eight) continues for the remainder of Tuesday evening until the November Nine finalists are ultimately determined. Play is expected to continue very late. Based on recent history, the final hand leading up to the bust out of the 10th-place finisher is usually dealt sometime past midnight (PST).
Whatever happens and whoever eventually makes it to the November Nine, this promises to be a thrilling partial-conclusion to what has been a record-smashing 2011 WSOP.
RESULTS, LIVE UPDATES, and CHIP COUNTS for all remaining players can be seen at WSOP.com.