Down to Three Finalists in World Championship as Matt Giannetti Exits in Fourth Place

Matt Giannetti’s dream of becoming the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event champion is officially over.

The 26-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas, NV (USA) became the sixth player to exit from the WSOP Main Event Championship final table on Sunday -- following Great Britain’s Sam Holden (9th place), Anton Makiievskyi (8th place), Bob Bounahra (7th place), Eoghan O’Dea (6th place) and Phil Collins (5th place).  Giannetti lost a heartbreaking hand late on Sunday night against Ben Lamb and was eliminated a short time later, at approximately 10:50 pm.

Giannetti's bust out means only three players still remain alive in the quest for poker’s world championship title.  Fitting perhaps for an event which has become an international attraction for both players and fans alike, three different nations -- the Czech Republic, Germany and the United States -- are represented among the last survivors.  The remaining players and their chip counts are as follows:

(Cologne, Germany) – 107,800,000
MARTIN STASZKO (Trinec, Czech Republic) – 42,700,000
BEN LAMB (Tulsa, OK USA/Las Vegas, NV) -- 55,400,000

As the final table reaches what promises to be a thrilling, if unpredictable conclusion, all eyes are on the current chip leader, Pius Heinz.  He seized the chip lead just 90 minutes into final table and held the advantage during all of the following nine hours of play.  Heinz was never in serious danger of elimination once he double up early in the finale.
On Tuesday, play resumes at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT live on ESPN and

The conclusion of Sunday’s action left quite a different taste in the mouth of Matt Giannetti, who ended up in fourth place.  The heartbreaker for the Las Vegas poker pro came when he was on the brink of doubling up with pocket jacks against Lamb, who was covered and all in with a very vulnerable A-7 suited.  But Lamb caught a favorable flop with two suited cards and then completed his flush when a third heart fell on the turn.  It was a sweetheart of a card for Lamb, who now has a chance to continue in what has been a fairy-tale year at this year's WSOP.  Already a lock for the 2011 WSOP "Player of the Year," Lamb now has an opportunity to close out this season with what can only be considered to be a monumental accomplishment.

Meanwhile, Giannetti hovered around 20,000,000 to 40,000,000 mark most of the afternoon (he began with 24,750,000).  That might have seemed like a comfortable stack size given the blinds and antes, but there was little doubt from the way played from start to finish that Giannetti had no interest in inching up the money ladder.  He was playing to win.  Certainly, he made the right decision with his pocket jacks, and just got unlucky at the worst possible moment.

Hence, Giannetti was the first player eliminated after the dinner break, and the last player to bust out on the first of two final table playing sessions.  He could take some satisfaction in collecting a whopping $3,012,700 in prize money -- more than every single Main Event winner earned up until 2004.  But collecting more than three million was the last thing on the mind of Giannetti and his band of supporters as he exited the Penn and Teller Theatre in disappointment, at the Rio in Las Vegas.  The poker pro joined the ranks of 6,861 other (eliminated) players who entered this year’s championship, and are now forced to look forward to returning next year, and beyond.
Giannetti was eliminated on the 178th hand played at the final table.  His final fateful hand came as follows:
Matt Giannetti:    
Ben Lamb:     
The final hand was as ugly as it gets for Giannetti.  He was a considerable underdog to Lamb's pocket kings.  When two kings flopped, giving Lamb four kings, his supporters roared while Giannetti collapsed in disappointment.

With three players remaining, there is a still lot more poker to be played.  In fact, many expect the upcoming final session to be one of poker’s most exciting nights, given that there will be three players returning instead of two (as was the case in previous years).  The three-handed format means just about anything is possible and anyone can still win.

Hence, Pius Heinz, Ben Lamb, and Martin Staszko will return to the same stage at the Rio on Tuesday night, with the final act of poker’s world championship starting at 5:30 pm.  The world championship will be preceded by the official Poker Hall of Fame inductions, which will begin at 4:15.  This year’s induction class includes Barry Greenstein and Linda Johnson.

For those who missed Sunday’s poker action, there’s still a chance to tune in and watch poker history unfold.  For the first time in history, poker players and fans everywhere can tune in and watch all the action live.  Comprehensive coverage with expert analysis also includes player hole cards being shown to viewers on ESPN – a WSOP first.

For those who prefer review the hands that were played during Sunday’s session, there’s a terrific resource for a written account of all the action.  CLICK HERE to see the live log of every final table hand played up to this point.

To see the latest chip counts of all remaining players, CLICK HERE.  Updates will resume on Tuesday and will be posted regularly as players are eliminated and chip counts change.  

The official report of the entire tournament, complete with statistics, historical information, records, and quotes from each of the nine players will be posted to at the conclusion of the tournament.