World Series of Poker: Heinz, Lamb and Staszko advance to Tuesday's final

An 8 of hearts seemed to be the shot of energy to revive World Series of Poker Player of the Year Ben Lamb on Sunday.

By Tuesday, that card could be worth more than $8.7 million.

Lamb will be joined by Germany's Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko of the Czech Republic as one of three players left vying for a spot in three-handed play Tuesday inside the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater to determine the winner of the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em World Championship.

Heinz, 22, from Cologne, Germany, began Sunday's final table of nine players in seventh place. But by mid­afternoon, Heinz had bounded to a large lead. He is the current chip leader with 107.8 million.

Lamb knocked out fellow American Matt Giannetti, 26, with four kings on the 178th hand of the night.

Giannetti was in second place for most of the day, but fell back late in the evening. He earned $3.012 million for his effort. Lamb, 26, who lives in both Las Vegas and Tulsa, Okla., is in second place with 55.4 million in chips.

Staszko, 35, looked to be the last man eliminated, until he picked up three 8s on the 156th hand of the night to double up on Heinz and move back into third place. Heinz, whose chip stack had neared 100 million, fell back and the pack tightened.

However, a few hands later, Heinz's chip stack grew back in strength. Staszko had 42.7 million.

The three are survivors from the Main Event's starting field of 6,865 players, third largest in tournament history. The three will be looking to split more than $18 million in prize money that is up for grabs. In addition to the winner's share, second place earns $5.433 million while third takes home nearly $4.021 million.

Lamb had been facing elimination in sixth place. He then seemed to regain the composure that made him the best player in the World Series of Poker this year with first, second, eighth and 12th place finishes in four previous events, and was one of the favorites going into play Sunday.

Lamb was down to his last 14.225 million in chips when he pushed all in on the 97th hand of play.

Ireland's Eoghan O'Dea, 26, called Lamb. O'Dea, who began the day in second place, but had hit an unlucky streak, held an ace of clubs and 9 of diamonds. Lamb turned over a queen of diamonds and 8 of diamonds and O'Dea was in control of the hand.

The flop produced a jack of spades, jack of diamonds and six of diamonds, while the turn card was the 4 of clubs.

Lamb was down to his last card and the 8 of hearts on the river gave Lamb some love and a pair. Instead of being eliminated, Lamb crippled O'Dea, leaving him with about a little more than 2 million in chips.

The 8 of hearts sent Lamb flying into the first two rows of his fans and friends who were sitting on stage, including one supporter dressed in a sheep costume. His fans, all dressed in green T-shirts, erupted in excitement.

The hand seemed to revive Lamb's play, which was sluggish during the event's first few hours. By the dinner break, nearly 30 hands later, Lamb had climbed into second place with more than 46.3 million in chips.

As for O'Dea, he was eliminated one hand later in sixth place, earning $1,720,831. On the very next hand, American Phil Collins went out in fifth place, collecting $2,269,599.

It was a stunning turn of events during an afternoon that saw the first player eliminated after more than two and a half hours of play.

After Sam Holden of Great Britain went out in ninth place, the action inside the Penn & Teller Theater became fast and furious with near epic collapses and some stunning finishes.

On hand 73, Collins faced elimination against Lamb. Collins raised all in for 13.575 million in chips and Lamb called from the big blind. Collins had a queen of hearts and jack of diamonds while Lamb had the ace of clubs and queen of clubs.

The flop was king of diamonds, 5 of diamonds and 3 of spades, keeping Lamb in the lead. On the turn, the 10 of diamonds gave Collins several potential outs.

His rooting section erupted when the turn card produced the queen of diamonds, giving him a flush, and he took in a pot worth more than 28 million in chips. The win moved Collins into fourth place with six players left in the competition.

Badih Bounahra of Belize was eliminated in seventh place, earning $1,314,097. He spiraled downward after the 54th hand when he lost a large pot to Giannetti.

Anton Makiievskyi of Ukraine was eliminated in eighth place, earning $1,010,015. Heinz sent him to the rail.

Makiievskyi went all in with his 10.5 million in chips and was called by Heinz, who had pocket nines. Makiievskyi had the king of clubs and queen of hearts. On the flop, the dealer turned a king of diamonds, jack of hearts and a jack of spades. But the turn card was a 9 of clubs, giving Heinz the set, which held on the river.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal .com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.