Monday, November 7, 2011 : Five eliminations in the first hundred hands at World Series of Poker main event
 
Nine players from seven countries took their seats at the Rio in Las Vegas Sunday, vying for the world's biggest poker honour – victory and wealth at the 2011 World Series of Poker main event.
 
The start was a noisy, glitzy and typically Las Vegas affair, with whooping, chanting, flag-waving and strangely attired crowds of railbirds, smoke machines, dazzling lights and sexy show girls firing logo-emblazoned T-shirts from air launchers into the crowd.
 
When the final table action started, it produced its own poker fireworks; after a fairly quiet initial two-and-a-half hours the players ignited, with five eliminations in the first 100 hands and only four players left standing by around 9pm Pacific Time on Sunday night.
 
Each of the four, Pius Heinz (22), Matt Giannetti (26), Ben Lamb (26) and Martin Staszko (35), is guaranteed at least $3 million for finishing in the top four.
 
The eliminations came thick and fast as the contestants fought for the $8,715,638 main prize – two of the casualties went out on consecutive hands, thrilling the railbirds and no doubt the millions of poker fans glued to their television sets at home as ESPN broadcast the spectacular with a 15 minute delay.
 
British online ace Sam Holden (22) was the low man in chip stacks at the start and lasted only fifty one hands before he became the first casualty of the day, eliminated in ninth place by Ben Lamb with blinds at 400k/800k and a 100 000 ante.
 
He nevertheless took home $782,115 – by far his biggest live tournament pay day yet. Holden's departure as the last Brit still surviving in the 2011 WSOP dashed the hopes of UK railbirds hoping for a miracle.
 
Ukrainian Anton Makiievskyi (21) was the next to go, earning just over a million dollars for his eighth place finish at the hands of German juggernaut Pius Heinz.
 
Makiievskyi came into the final table eighth in chips and went broke in exactly the same position. He was unable to get anything going and only participated in four hands before busting in a blind-on-blind confrontation with the German.
 
The grocer from Belize in Central America, Badih ‘Bob’ Bou-Nahra headed for the exit and a seventh placing cheque for $1,314,097 after a clash with Martin Stasko on hand 67.  At 49 years old Bob was the oldest player at the table and the only amateur, although this was his fourth World Series of Poker…and his deepest run yet.
 
Eoghan O’Dea, the 26-year-old son of the famous and respected Irish poker professional Donnacha O'Dea, said he was disappointed to manage only a sixth placing (worth $1,720,831).
 
Despite starting the final table with the second biggest chip stack, O’Dea lost most of his chips in nail-biting earlier hands; that weakened his position and saw him being bundled out of the event by Martin Staszko.
 
In one O’Dea confrontation with Heinz there were more than 44 million chips at stake, with Heinz shoving all-in over O’Dea’s river bet of 8.2 million chips. O’Dea folded an ace-high, and Heinz won the hand with pocket queens. O'Dea's early departure eerily duplicated his father's equally disappointing sixth place elimination in the 1983 WSOP Main Event.
 
The fifth elimination was Phil Collins (26), who was taken out at the 100 hand mark – the hand immediately following O'Dea's departure – by a dominating Pius Heinz. Collins moved in against Heinz, who raised to 2.1 million and demolished his opponent with pocket nines against an ace-seven with the blinds at 500 000/1 million, and a 150 000 ante. Collins' long struggle to stay in the game was over, giving him a pay day of $2,269,599 for his fifth place finish – a nice boost to his current career earnings total of around $2.5 million.
 
When InfoPowa went to press at 9.50 Pacific Standard Time the chip stacks of the remaining four players looked like this:
 
Pius Heinz 89,600,000
Martin Staszko 44,350,000  
Matt Giannetti 41,800,000
Ben Lamb 30,200,000
 
The officials plan to play down to the last three finalists and then call it a night. The next man to leave will claim a fourth place prize of $3,012,700 – a spectacular r.o.i. on the $10 000 buy-in that each contestant initially paid to play in the main event.