2011 WSOP November Niner Matt Giannetti won the World Poker Tour Malta Main Event collecting a cash prize of $276,457. The poker media quickly grabbed the story and did the calculations of whether such success during the World Series of Poker break means better chances at the final table in November. Although Giannetti's chances before the big event look quite good as he is now in third with 24,750,000 in chips, he will still have a long road ahead of him when the final table starts in November as the chip leader Martin Staszko holds 40,175,000 and will not give up the lead easily.
So let’s turn some pages in history and see what they have to tell about November Niners winning big during the WSOP recess. Scoring big cash outs and winning major tournaments is something that WSOP Main Event final tableists have come across in the past. Ever since 2008 when the WSOP final phase was moved to November, those qualifying for the final table have won some big tournaments and played good in other events, however, one rule that has not been broken in three years is this – the WSOP Main Event champion does not score big wins during the break.
In the first year of November Nine history four of those at the final table have been successful at the tables in the three month period between reaching the final table and actually playing it. The biggest winner in 2008 was Ivan Demidov who finished third at the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event for £334,850. He then ended up in runner-up position, falling to the 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate.
The accomplishments of those to advance to the final table in November the following year were much more impressive. Four November Niners played big tournaments during the WSOP break in 2009 and achieved some good results. Antoine Saout played a lot in the off period and was really successful. He finished fourth at the Barriere Poker Tour No-Limit Hold'em event in Baule and then won €17,400 for 30th position in the Partouche Poker Tour II Grand Final Main Event in Cannes. Saout continued his performance by scoring 13th place at the Spanish Poker Tour Main Event in Vilamoura and then collected his biggest prize during the WSOP time out by finishing 7th at the WSOPE £10,000 World Championship Event for £114,228. He then again played the Barriere Poker Tour Grand Final €10,000 High Roller Tournament in Enghien and collected €17,600 for third place.
During the same WSOP recess two more November Niners, James Akenhead and Steven Begleiter, both recorded ninth place finishes in the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event and World Poker Tour Legends of Poker respectively, whereas Kevin Schaffel finished second at the WPT Legends of Poker to collect $471,670, plus another £17,000 for his 19th place at EPT London. Akenhead ended up busting out first at the November Nine final table, Begleiter came in sixth, and Schaffel finished eighth.
However, it wasn't until 2010 that a November Niner has actually won a major live tournament during the WSOP break. That year Matt Jarvis finally achieved the goal by outplaying Christopher Bush in the Canadian Poker Championships C$4,600 No-Limit Hold'em Heads-Up Championship event and collecting the cash prize of C$100,000. He continued the winning streak by coming out victorious at Festa al Lago $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event with $71,895 in cash. Still, this didn't help Jarvis when the big moment came as he left the WSOP final table in 8th place.
Despite Jarvis’ efforts, it wasn't him who won the most cash in the non-WSOP period. Joseph Cheong collected £162,280 for his second-place finish in the EPT London High Roller Turbo event. He then added another $142,635 for winning $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event at Festa al Lago. Good results did not lead Cheong into the final victory at the WSOP, he finished third in the Main Event, falling to Duhamel and Racener.
What this means is that good performances in the three month period separating November Niners from actually playing the WSOP final table gives no guarantees when it comes to the world's biggest poker tournament Main Event. In fact, none of the players who scored big wins or won a lot of cash during the break have ever achieved victory in that one last battle for the most coveted WSOP bracelet. However, it doesn't mean that it's never going to happen.
And although Giannetti's WPT Malta victory puts him against all odds, one thing to remember is that the WSOP Main Event is still a month away, during which the situation may change. A number of big live poker events are still going to take place before the November Nine comes back to Las Vegas, including EPT London, WSOPE in Cannes, WPT World Poker Finals and EPT San Remo which are sure to attract this year's WSOP final tableists with all of them standing a chance at winning big cash and titles.
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