It's been a bad summer for Jared Bleznick, but he's on the verge of perhaps turning it into the most memorable of his life.
Less than 50 players remain in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, and Bleznick is one of them. The peaks and valleys of his 2016 WSOP could be hitting an impossibly high peak if he closes the deal here and makes the November Nine. Otherwise, it will be just another unhappy memory in a series that's been full of them.
"I don't play that many tournaments, and this is the one no-limit tournament every year that I play," Bleznick explained. "It would mean a lot, but I also know that it's still early and if I don't make the November Nine, I'm not going to be happy. It's always been a dream of mine."
Early can be a relative term, as in the grand scheme of the tournament, Day 6 with less than one percent of the field remaining is quite late. But when you're only playing for first, as Bleznick says he is, 50-plus players is still a sizable obstacle to overcome.
Day 6 has been a fairly quiet one for Bleznick as he hasn't been involved in many huge pots. He came into the day with just under 8 million in chips, worked his way up to 10 million, and then fell back down to about 8.2 million at the second break of the day, when he spoke with PokerNews.
However, that wasn't the case on Day 5, as Bleznick made a big move up the counts in one of the most exciting pots of the tournament.
With blinds at 25,000/50,000/5,000, Bleznick called a raise in the big blind from early opener Vojtech Ruzicka. The flop came and Bleznick check-called a bet. He check-called again on the turn and led out 500,000 on the river. Ruzicka shoved for 3.225 million to put Bleznick at risk and he called immediately with the . Ruzicka had eights for a full house on the turn.
That pot put Bleznick near the leaders and he's continued to grind as players fall left and right in a fast-moving Day 6.
The success in the Main Event comes at the tail end of what Bleznick called a "horrible summer" on Twitter. He has put together some runs with three top-20 finishes, but consistently falling short near the end has worn on Bleznick. He was at the center of some controversy when, according to the WSOP live update team, he crumpled up some cards after going bust in 14th place in Event #34: $1,500 2-7 Triple Draw.
Rumor had it Bleznick was banned from the premises in the aftermath but he was able to make his return a few days later. Now, he appears to be in far better spirits, as he could be found engaging in some friendly table talk on Day 5, making his table laugh when he swore he would swap even pieces with a player on left who had a much shorter stack who Bleznick predicted was going to win the tournament.
"I like to talk to be active at the table," Bleznick said. "I get tired a lot so I like to be involved in what's going on."
Bleznick credited simple good fortune with turning things around just in time for the biggest tournament of the year.
"To be honest, a lot of it has to do with luck," he said. "I think I'm playing good but mostly I'm running good too. There's a lot of luck in poker, especially in these tournaments, and you have to catch breaks at the right time."
That's left him still in the hunt for an $8 million dollar first-place prize, which Bleznick reiterated is the only thing on his mind. Though he's guaranteed $174,826 even is he's the next player eliminated, that number means little to Bleznick.
Playing for the win is something almost every player will tell you is his or her mindset. But it's more believable coming from Bleznick than most, as he has had success at the highest levels of online pot-limit Omaha cash games. According to HighstakesDB, Bleznick is up more than $2 million lifetime in the nosebleed PLO games.
The deeper the the tournament gets and the bigger the money gets, the more Bleznick's opponents will likely be looking to ladder. It's something he said he has definitely noticed.
"I realize now they're playing a lot slower because of the pay jumps and I'm not even thinking about that," he said. "I'm used to playing high stakes, I'm used to these numbers. I don't play to cash, I play to win."
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