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Top-10 hands from the WSOP November Nine

14 November 2011

The World Series of Poker Main Event concluded play last week in Las Vegas, with Pius Heinz becoming the first world champion from Germany and taking home the $8.7 million first-place prize.

For the first time, every hand of the final table was shown on a 15-minute delay on the ESPN family of networks. If you caught the action, you know that it was thrilling theater. If you didn't, here's a list of the top-10 hands from the final table.

10. O'Dea overplays ace-queen
Eoghan O'Dea entered the final table second in chips and with the support of all of Ireland behind him. He lost a few chips early, but was still in second when he found ace-queen in the small blind. Facing an early-position raise from Heinz and a call from Ben Lamb, O'Dea put in a third bet. Heinz, who had pocket queens, just called and Lamb folded. After an 8-8-4 flop with two clubs, O'Dea bet more than 20 percent of Heinz's stack, and Heinz called. A third club (the deuce) came on the turn, and O'Dea bet 8.2 million chips, or half of Heinz's remaining chips. Heinz, who in addition to his pocket pair held the queen of clubs for a flush draw, thought for some time before finally moving all in. O'Dea was forced to muck with just 11.5 million remaining, falling from second to eighth in the first significant pot of the final table.

9. Makiievskyi runs bad
Anton Makiievskyi had been one of the most aggressive players when play was down to a just a few tables earlier this summer, but when they reached the November Nine bubble, he slowed down and found himself short stacked as the final table began. Makiievskyi looked to be on the verge of becoming a major factor in the tournament when he moved ahead of Phil Collins in a coin flip, catching a king on the flop while holding king-queen against Collins's pocket nines. But Collins caught a nine on the turn and Makiievskyi couldn't catch up on the river, sending the Ukrainian to the rail in eighth place.

8. Lamb runs bad?
Phil Collins looked to be destined for a sixth-place finish when he moved all in from the button holding queen-jack. Lamb called, holding a suited ace-queen in the big blind. Collins caught a great board, finding some hope with an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw on the turn. He hit the queen of diamonds for a flush on the river. Instead of being eliminated in sixth, Collins moved into fourth chip position and Lamb, who would have been in a close four-way race for the chip lead, fell to fifth.

7. Heinz slow plays top pair to take lots of Collins's chips
Soon after Collins doubled up, he sent quite a few of the chips he won from Lamb to Heinz. In a battle of the blinds, Heinz called Collins's raise with ace-jack. He hit top pair on the flop and just smooth called Collins's bet. Both players checked the turn, and when a jack came on the river, Collins bet 3.3 million, only to see Heinz raise it to 10.1 million. Collins mucked (he had two pair) and fell back down into the bottom tier with six players left.

6. Lamb runs good
Lamb moved all in from the big blind over O'Dea's raise holding queen-eight suited, and O'Dea called holding ace-nine. Lamb flopped a flush draw, missed on the turn, but hit an eight on the river to double up and put O'Dea on life support. If O'Dea had won (which would happen 60 percent of the time with the hands the two players had), he would have been close to third in chips and Lamb would have been eliminated. Instead he found himself out in sixth just a few hands later.

5. Heinz catches a three-outer on Giannetti
Matt Giannetti wasn't involved in many big pots at the final table, but he slowly crept up the leaderboard and avoided all-in confrontations with well-timed aggression and good reads. He was set up to take a big, important pot off Heinz when he called a reraise from the button with pocket eights. After a K-K-7 flop, Giannetti called a 6.9-million-chip bet, then both checked when the turn and river when they came queen-nine, respectively. Heinz, who held Q-8, got lucky on the turn and paired his queen. The 30-million-chip pot put Heinz in cruise control, virtually guaranteeing him a spot in the final three with almost 90 million chips, while Giannetti, who would have been the chip leader had he won the hand, fell to third with just four players remaining.

4. Giannetti's jacks
It just wasn't Giannetti's day. He raised from the button with pocket jacks, and Lamb wasn't a believer, moving all in with ace-seven suited. Giannetti called, and of course Lamb flopped a flush draw. He hit the flush on the turn, so there was no river drama. Giannetti, who would have eliminated Lamb and been second in chips heading into three-handed play had he won the hand was crippled and exited four hands later when his ace-rag ran into Lamb's pocket kings.

3. Lamb's early shove
After an off day, who would have thought there would be fireworks on the first hand of three-handed play? Lamb raised from the button, Martin Staszko three-bet, and Lamb moved all in with king-jack. Staszko thought for a minute before finally calling with pocket sevens, which held up and put Lamb on the brink of elimination. Three hands later, Lamb was eliminated when he ran into Staszko's pocket jacks.

2. Staszko's folded flush draw
Holding nearly a 3:1 chip lead more than 100 hands into the heads up match, Staszko check-raised Heinz's flop bet of 4.5 million to 10.2 million on a board of J-5-4. Heinz moved all in for an additional 44.1 million. Staszko held queen-six of hearts for a flush draw. Considering the size of the pot, even if he only had a flush draw, he was getting the right price to call. He also had an over card to the board. As it turned out, he had 15 outs; Heinz made the move holding ten-five for middle pair. Staszko ultimately decided to fold and saw his chip lead shrink to less than 2:1. Had he called, Staszko would have had a 53.5 percent chance of winning the tournament, and if he'd lost the hand, he would have only been slightly behind Heinz.

1. Staszko's missed flush draw
Five hands later, Staszko decided to make a call with a flush draw, only this time, his chip lead was smaller and he had fewer outs. Holding queen-nine of clubs on a K-10-7 board with two clubs, Staszko raised Heinz then called his all-in. Heinz held ace-queen and had a 53.6 percent chance to win the hand. Staszko missed his draw and saw Heinz take a nearly 4:1 chip lead. A few hands later, Heinz won the title, and Staszko settled for a consolation prize of $5.4 million.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.