WSOP Super Circuit Online Series 2021 NJCOOP 2021 MISCOOP partypoker Sunday LIVE
Event #65: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship
Event #65: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship
Day 7 Completed

2018 Main Event Final Table Set With Joe Cada Gunning for Second Title

mnuwwarah • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante
Final Table Nine
Final Table Nine

The 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event has been whittled down to the final nine, and there's one very familiar face among that number.

Joe Cada already has a banner hanging in the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, one in which his arms comfortably rest atop brick upon brick of cash — $8,546,435 to be exact. That's how much Cada won back in 2009, when, as a green 21-year-old, he came out of nowhere to win poker's most prestigious prize.

Cada has since proven that win was no fluke with two more bracelet wins and two other six-figure prizes at the WSOP. One of those bracelets came just a month ago when he took down Event #3: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout. The other came back in 2014 in traditionally one of the toughest events of the summer, as he shipped the $10,000 Six-Max for $670,041.

Now he's got a chance to pull off one of the greatest feats in poker history. The last repeat winner was Stu Ungar in 1997 when he took down the third of his three titles. Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson and Johnny Moss also pulled off the feat.

However, none of those legends had to go through the kind of marathon fields with which Cada has dealt as he traversed through 6,494 runners in 2009 and now 7,874 this year to reach this final table:

SeatPlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
1Artem MetalidiUkraine15,475,00026
2John CynnUnited States37,075,00062
3Alex LynskeyAustralia25,925,00043
4Tony MilesUnited States42,750,00071
5Nicolas ManionUnited States112,775,000188
6Aram ZobianUnited States18,875,00031
7Michael DyerUnited States109,175,000182
8Joe CadaUnited States23,675,00039
9Antoine LabatFrance8,050,00013

There is 1:23:57 remaining in Level 36 (300,000/600,000, with a 100,000-ante).

"It feels unreal," Cada said. "What other feelings are there?"

Naturally, many will immediately compare this final table to 2009 and find it wanting. That table featured a legendary appearance by perhaps poker's biggest star in Phil Ivey, who finished seventh.

Several others have gone on to big accomplishments as well. Antoine Saout has become a very successful traveling pro present at all of the world's big events. Eric Buchman went on to win two bracelets. Jeff Shulman and James Akenhead have seven figures in cashes outside of that final table.

But, 2009 might as well be ancient history as far as poker strategy goes. That's why, despite a final table that lacks names the average poker fan will recognize, Cada knows he has a long and difficult task ahead.

"It's poker nine years later," he said when asked to compare the two. "That's enough said there. Everyone here's really good. Everyone was really good [in 2009] too. Everyone deserved to be there but everyone's advancing in the game."

"It was a lot more of a grind this time. I respected the tournament more. I had 9K at one point in this tournament and I just grinded a short stack. I was like maybe one-fifth of average almost the entire tournament."

Joe Cada
Cada seeks a second Main Event title, unprecedented in the modern era.

Indeed, the nearly 40 big blinds Cada totes into the final table represent one of the higher points of his journey. He had to earn them as well, showing off his mettle with a steely all-in bluff against Alex Lynskey when 12 players remained. Cada three-barreled a king-high board with an unpaired ace-six and got Lynskey to let go of king-nine. He also four-bet jammed pocket fives for almost 50 big blinds against Antoine Labat with 10 players left.

"I think it was just situations," Cada said. "I found myself in good semi-bluff or bluff situations where I felt like I needed to pull the trigger. I always try to ignore the money side of it. If I think the play is right, I'll go with my gut."

One player who didn't have to go with his gut in the key hand was Nicolas Manion, who goes into the final table as chip leader after a truly epic hand to end the night.

From under the gun, Manion opened for 1.5 million at 300,000/600,000/100,000 and got called by Labat. Yueqi Zhu then shoved from the hijack for 24.7 million and Manion moved in himself for 43.1 million since he held aces. Labat, who covered Manion, tanked awhile and then called. Manion found himself in the most dream scenario possible when both opponents held pocket kings.

"When I got both calls I didn’t even… I flipped over my hand and I didn’t even stay to see what they had," he said. "I went straight to my rail and looked up at the TV and they had set up pocket kings and my aces. And, somehow, this is real life."

Zhu was dead on the flop and it was all over by the turn, so Manion didn't even have to sweat the final card as he rocketed to 112,775,000, just surpassing the 109,175,000 of longtime leader Michael Dyer.

Something of a Cinderella story, Manion barely has a recorded tournament history with just a few small cashes and said he normally grinds $1/$2 back home in Michigan. A friend put him into a couple of $2,175 mega satellites and he won both so they agreed he'd take a shot.

Nicolas Manion
Manion waiting for what turned out to be an easy sweat.

Now, he's chip leader of the Main Event with nine players left, but to hear him tell it, he doesn't much care. He's planning for more of the same both in this tournament and in life in general, no matter the result.

"That will not affect my play at all," he said. "I’m still gonna stick to my game plan of playing the hands that I’m dealt and trying to just chip up and win the pots that I’m entering in."

"I will not change what I’m doing. I’m not gonna go play big tournaments and blow my bankroll. I’m gonna play with all my friends just like before and enjoy life now."

Cada, playing the tournament as he so often does with Michigan Wolverines gear adorning his body and head, said he and Manion bonded a bit over their shared home state.

"He seems like a really nice guy and he's been playing awesome," Cada said. "It was cool to see what happened to him. I'm sure he's loving life right now and that's cool to see."

While they'd surely be thrilled to make it an all-Wolverine affair for the $8.8 million top prize, plenty of stiff competition remains, as Cada alluded to in comparing his two Main Event runs.

Notable pros Lynskey and Artem Metalidi remain. Poker fans tuning in to the cards-up feeds on PokerGO and ESPN have also seen less well-known names Tony Miles, John Cynn, Aram Zobian, Dyer and Labat earn their way to the final nine with skillful play in their own rights.

Each player has his own story worth telling, documented here on PokerNews in the final table profiles. Each player's journey to this point can also be seen in this chart.

But while each player merits his own time in the spotlight, the eyes of the poker world will be fixed squarely on Joe Cada come Thursday evening.

For everyone else, there's $8.8 million and a place in poker history at stake. For Cada, there's all that and the chance to pull off something that's never been done in the modern era, to etch his name in poker lore forever.

While Cada had to wait several long months back in 2009, the format change back to a Main Event that finishes in the summer means success or failure will come much sooner this time. He said he welcomes the shift.

"I'd rather just get this thing over with and see where it lies," he said. "The three toss and turn a lot thinking about where it's going to end."

With a final table that starts at 5:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, there's plenty of time for Cada to prepare. He could schedule a session with a revered poker coach. He could make sure his body and mind are ready with exercise or meditation.

Whether it's the experience of having been here before, the financial security of having already won millions in poker or just his natural way of going about things, Cada seems anything but hyped. He spoke calmly in the aftermath of the final elimination, casually outlining his simple plan.

"My girlfriend's coming in this morning so I'll probably just get some sleep and go pick her up and hang out with her," he said.

"We'll see how it turns out."

Final 9
The 2018 WSOP Main Event final table.

Tags: Alex LynskeyAntoine LabatAram ZobianArtem MetalidiJoe CadaJohn CynnMichael DyerNicolas ManionTony Miles

2018 WSOP Main Event Final Table

tRaMSt0p • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante
SeatPlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
1Artem MetalidiUkraine15,475,00026
2John CynnUnited States37,075,00062
3Alex LynskeyAustralia25,925,00043
4Tony MilesUnited States42,750,00071
5Nicolas ManionUnited States112,775,000188
6Aram ZobianUnited States18,875,00031
7Michael DyerUnited States109,175,000182
8Joe CadaUnited States23,675,00039
9Antoine LabatFrance8,050,00013

There is 1:23:57 remaining in Level 36 (300,000/600,000, with a 100,000-ante).

Nicolas Manion us 112,775,000
Michael Dyer us 109,175,000 -1,600,000
Tony Miles us 42,750,000 -4,800,000
John Cynn us 37,075,000 -500,000
Alex Lynskey au 25,925,000 -1,300,000
Joe Cada us 23,675,000 -200,000
Aram Zobian us 18,875,000 -200,000
Artem Metalidi ua 15,475,000 -200,000
Antoine Labat fr 8,050,000

Main Event Final Table Players

Webjoker • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante
PlayerDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
Artem Metalidi102,700119,70066,0001,518,0006,525,00030,845,00015,475,000
John Cynn133,000138,900709,0001,931,0005,155,00014,750,00037,075,000
Alex Lynskey67,100270,500211,0001,635,0003,655,00022,045,00025,925,000
Tony Miles72,800123,800790,0002,358,0005,600,00014,945,00042,750,000
Nicolas Manion11,50066,800-1,051,0001,395,00017,630,000112,775,000
Aram Zobian171,000436,800770,0002,464,0005,450,00041,585,00018,875,000
Michael Dyer74,600502,400693,0001,767,00012,180,00026,515,000109,175,000
Joe Cada16,50093,800211,000559,0002,965,0008,850,00023,675,000
Antoine Labat168,500218,000185,0001,359,0002,015,00028,445,0008,050,000

* End-of-day chip counts as reported by official WSOP list
** Nicolas Manion's Day 3 count was not reported on the official list

Yueqi Zhu Eliminated in 10th Place ($850,025)

zedmaster84 • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante
Yueqi Zhu
Yueqi Zhu

Hand #171: Nicolas Manion continued his aggression in the very next hand and opened to 1,500,000 first to act. Antoine Labat called in middle position and Yueqi Zhu moved all in for 24,700,000 from the hijack. Once the action was back on Manion, he announced all in himself for more than 43,100,000 and Labat asked for a count.

By then, the rail was already about to implode, and things got even more intense as soon as Labat announced the call as the biggest stack of the trio.

Yueqi Zhu: {K-Hearts}{K-Spades}
Nicolas Manion: {A-Spades}{A-Hearts}
Antoine Labat: {K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}

Labat had two live suits to knock out both opponents and picked up some hope on the {J-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{4-Clubs} flop, as the entire Thunderdome was filled with shouts from every corner. The {3-Spades} turn locked up the hand, making the {J-Clubs} river a formality.

Manion's rail exploded into cheers as their hero won the hand to scoop the monster pot and take the chip lead. Zhu came up agonisingly short of the official final table, finishing in 10th place for $850,025, while Labat will have a mountain to climb with just 13 big blinds for the official nine-handed final table.

The official counts will be published shortly, along with a recap of today's action.

Nicolas Manion us 112,775,000 76,775,000
Antoine Labat fr 8,050,000 -43,200,000
Yueqi Zhu cn Busted

Tags: Antoine LabatNicolas ManionYueqi Zhu

Feature Table Hand #170: Manion Takes It On the Flop

zedmaster84 • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante

Hand #170: Tony Miles made it 1,400,000 to go and Nicolas Manion called from one seat over, as did Michael Dyer. On the three-way flop of {8-Clubs}{7-Clubs}{2-Diamonds}, Miles continued for 2,600,000 right away and Manion raised it up to 7,000,000. Dyer folded instantly and Miles gave it some thought before coming to the same conclusion.

Tags: Michael DyerNicolas ManionTony Miles

Yueqi “Rich” Zhu Seeking Second Bracelet of the Summer

LiveReporter • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante
Yueqi Zhu
Yueqi Zhu

Born in Benxi, China but now residing in Rowland Heights, California, the 55-year-old Yueqi “Rich” Zhu is no stranger to poker. Not including what he makes in the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event, he has $1,456,884 in prior WSOP earnings.

Zhu tends to only play tournaments during the WSOP, while the rest of the year he’s busy working and grinding cash games.

In the 1990s, Zhu immigrated from China to study at the University of Wisconsin, which is where he got his Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering. For as long as he remembers he’s fancied both card and board games.

A self-described “semi-pro,’ Zhu has one son, though he doesn’t know much about poker.

“My son, my family, they don’t play poker,” he explained. “They don’t want to watch poker except probably for the past couple days.”

Zhu, who has promoted poker in China for decades via forums and magazines, finally broke through with a bracelet win earlier this summer after 11 final table appearances and 71 cashes dating back to the 1999 WSOP. His win came over a 773-player field in Event #35: Mixed $1,500 PLO8, Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, Big O for $211,781. It came after he finished sixth in the same event the year before.

“I saw a lot of people get bracelets, it seemed so easy, no matter what they do they win,” said Zhu. “But for me it was a different story. Finally, I got one.”

Even before his Main Event run, Zhu was planning a book to help introduce poker to the Chinese market. Obviously making the final table of the WSOP Main Event would obviously provide a happy ending to such a book.

“Poker in China, over the last 15 years, has gone from almost nothing to into the mainstream,” said Zhu, who makes frequent trips back to his homeland. “It’s going really fast. From my part, we have a lot of people working on promoting poker because in my mind, for card games, I feel American poker is the best. For myself, I started a poker forum that is generally regarded as the most respected in the Chinese world. I also have a poker magazine and we published like 70 issues in a seven-year time frame.”

Zhu's End of Day Field Position

DayEnd-of-Day Chip CountRank
Yueqi Zhu
Yueqi Zhu at the feature table.

“I’ve had a few really good reads,” Zhu said when asked about big moments in the tournament. “On Day 4, a guy put me all in with {K-}{Q-}{J-}{10-}{X-} on the board. He was the preflop raiser, so he could have easily had an ace or nine. I called for all my chips with a set of kings. He didn’t have the straight. I could’ve easily busted that hand.”

He continued: “The next day, someone tried to bluff me but I snap-called him with two small pair. It was for my tournament life.”

Another hand that helped Zhu along the way happened on Day 7 with 12 players left. Zhu raised with ace-ten suited and then called when Frederik Brink jammed 4.1 million with king-queen suited. Zhu was a slight favorite and held after the board ran out clean to vault him up to 35.7 million in chips.

Follow Yueqi Zhu on Twitter @yueqizhu.

Tags: Yueqi Zhu

Feature Table Hands #168-169: Zhu and Labat Chop

MrCleverFox • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante

Hand #168: Alex Lynskey opened to 1,200,000 from early position and action folded around to the button where Antoine Labat called. Yueqi Zhu called in the small blind and in the blind Artem Metalidi folded.

The flop was {8-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}{3-Spades} and Zhu checked. Lynskey checked as well. Labat put out a bet of 2,200,000 and Zhu called. Lynskey folded.

On the {J-Spades} turn, Zhu checked, as did Labat.

The river was the {5-Spades} and Zhu checked again. Labat checked as well Zhu showed {A-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds} for ace-high, but Labat had that matched with {A-Hearts}{K-Clubs} for the same hand, so the two chopped the pot.

Hand #169: Action folded around and John Cynn got a walk in the big blind.

Michael Dyer us 110,775,000 -200,000
Antoine Labat fr 51,250,000 1,100,000
Tony Miles us 47,550,000 -200,000
John Cynn us 37,575,000 1,100,000
Nicolas Manion us 36,000,000 -200,000
Alex Lynskey au 27,225,000 -1,200,000
Yueqi Zhu cn 24,775,000 1,100,000
Joe Cada us 23,875,000 -200,000
Aram Zobian us 19,075,000 -200,000
Artem Metalidi ua 15,675,000 -1,100,000

Tags: Alex LynskeyAntoine LabatArtem MetalidiJohn CynnYueqi Zhu

Feature Table Hands #166-167: Miles Three-Bets Against Cynn

zedmaster84 • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante

Hand #166: Aram Zobian made it 1,300,000 to go from the cutoff and that scooped the blinds and antes without resistance.

Hand #167: John Cynn raised to 1,300,000 from early position and Tony Miles three-bet to 4,000,000 from two seats over. The action folded back to Cynn, who called after some consideration. The {J-Hearts}{10-Spades}{4-Diamonds} flop brought a check from Cynn and a continuation bet of 3,200,000 by Miles, which ended up winning the hand without showdown after the fold of Cynn.

Michael Dyer us 110,975,000 -200,000
Antoine Labat fr 50,150,000 -1,100,000
Tony Miles us 47,750,000 5,700,000
John Cynn us 36,475,000 -4,200,000
Nicolas Manion us 36,200,000 -200,000
Alex Lynskey au 28,425,000 -200,000
Joe Cada us 24,075,000 -500,000
Yueqi Zhu cn 23,675,000 -800,000
Aram Zobian us 19,275,000 1,700,000
Artem Metalidi ua 16,775,000 -200,000

Tags: Aram ZobianJohn CynnTony Miles

Feature Table Hands #164-165: Two Pair is Good for Dyer

MrCleverFox • Level 36: 300,000-600,000, 100,000 ante

Hand #164: Joe Cada opened with a raise under the gun to 1,300,000. Joe Cynn called from middle position. Action folded around and Michael Dyer called in the big blind as well.

The flop was {Q-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}{3-Clubs}. Dyer led out with a bet of 1,175,000 and Cada folded quickly. Cynn called.

On the {8-Diamonds} turn both players checked and the {6-Spades} came on the river. Dyer put out a bet of 1,825,000 and Cynn called. Dyer showed his {Q-Hearts}{10-Spades} for two pair and that was good for him to take down the pot as Cynn's hand was mucked.

Hand #165: John Cynn opened to 1,300,000 and everyone folded, so Cynn took down the pot.

Michael Dyer us 111,175,000 6,400,000
Antoine Labat fr 51,250,000 -200,000
Tony Miles us 42,050,000 -200,000
John Cynn us 40,675,000 -2,600,000
Nicolas Manion us 36,400,000 -200,000
Alex Lynskey au 28,625,000 -200,000
Joe Cada us 24,575,000 -2,100,000
Yueqi Zhu cn 24,475,000 -200,000
Aram Zobian us 17,575,000 -500,000
Artem Metalidi ua 16,975,000 -200,000

Tags: Joe CadaJohn CynnMichael Dyer