At 5:30 p.m. local time, the final table of the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event got underway. Nine hopefuls started, with a plan for six players to bag and tag, seeing three players exit on the first of three final table days.
Fan favorite John Hesp, who began the day second in chips, made his presence known right out of the gate. In the very first hand of play, Hesp opened the cutoff and called Antoine Saout's three-bet out of the small blind. He then min-raised Saout's continuation bet and showed a bluff as Saout folded. Hesp raised his arms in the air and cheered, his opponents at the table cheered with him, as did the crowd that went wild with such a fierce start from the Englishman.
Three hands later, the crowd would get even louder as the first all-in and call happened. Ben Lamb shoved with ace-nine suited out of the big blind against Jack Sinclair who had opened his button. Sinclair called with ace-queen and the board stayed clear of nines, flushes and straights. Lamb was the first one out, in the fourth hand of play. After a 3rd place finish in 2011 ($4,021,138), Lamb added a 9th place finish in 2017, scoring an even $1,000,000.
The John Hesp show continued after Lamb's departure, with the amicable Brit being the center of attention. Hesp took over the chip lead for a moment, but it was the double-ups for Saout (ten-nine against the king-eight of Sinclair) and Dan Ott (ace-jack to Blumstein's queen-ten on a jack-high board) that got the crowd really going.
As Pollak started to move up in the ranks, the biggest pot of the tournament would be played between the only two players who still topped him. Hesp and Blumstein, the two biggest stacks at the final table, clashed - and they clashed hard. Blumstein opened the hand from under the gun for 2.2 million and Hesp called from the big blind. Both players checked on ace-seven-five rainbow and an off-suit ten hit the turn. Hesp checked again and Blumstein bet 3 million. Hesp check-raised to 7 million and saw Blumstein three-bet to 17 million. Hesp shot up out of his chair, then moved all in. Blumstein snap called, making it the biggest pot of the tournament. Hesp had top two pair with ace-ten suited but was drawing dead against the top set of aces of Blumstein. The meaningless three of clubs hit the river and Hesp lost the 156 million pot, left with just 24 million. Blumstein was still stacking chips when the next hand was over.
While Hesp had lost the chip lead and had doubled his nearest opponent, he was by no means the shortest player after that. He still had more chips than Bryan Piccioli, Saout, and Sinclair, as play continued. After Saout got a shove through and Hesp lost another pot, Sinclair would end up next on the rail. He shoved with king-jack suited right into the aces of Piccioli. The flop brought a king to keep Sinclair hopeful, but the turn and river bricked to see Sinclair exit in 8th place, for a payout worth $1,200,000.
Play continued for 35 more minutes, but no players were eliminated. Just as the clock hit 11 p.m., the tournament organizers called for the bags to come out and play was halted for the day. Instead of the original plan of playing down to six players, the wrapping up began with seven still players remaining. They will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Friday at 5:30 p.m.
After play was over, we caught up with Bryan Piccioli. He talked about what he did in preparation for the final table, and broke down his thoughts on today's play, including the big knockout of Jack Sinclair with aces.
"Obviously I wanted to do some studying up," Piccioli said. "I didn’t do as much as I had hoped to I guess. I was super focused on making sure all my friends and family were able to get out here and making sure they were settled in. I wasn’t sweating it super hard obviously this is the main event but I mean I’ve played big ones before and this honestly isn’t too different. I’m very comfortable with my position at the table."
He continued, "I had a few close spots where I made some tight folds I’m sure people saw on the stream but with my stack and being kind of short but having other stacks that were shorter than me. So yeah I basically had enough to keep me out of trouble. Then Jack (Sinclair) moved in and obviously when you see a guy all in in front of you you always dream to look down at aces and that happened. The flop was a bit scary could have been scarier but I’ll take it."
Scott Blumstein heads into the second day of the final table as the overwhelming chip leader and was asked what was going through his mind. "A lot of thoughts, and a lot of nothing. It's overwhelming. I didn't expect tonight to go as well as it did. That hand was pretty brutal for John. He had two pair on the driest board and I was lucky enough to have top set. I accumulated around 80 million chips, how I could be upset with that?"
Blumstein had quite the celebration when he got involved in the big pot with Hesp and he explained his reaction. "It was nice knowing he was probably drawing dead. In poker, not very often do you get to celebrate when the chips get in the middle. It was nice playing a big pot with aces, and if I was going to play a big pot with John, it was going to be with top set.
"We didn't even knock out the amount of people we were supposed to. I'm not going to be counting any chickens before they hatch, you can't in this game."
Blumstein was not getting too far ahead of himself looking towards the next couple days and what could be a big pay day for him. "Having a big stack is obviously imperative and I'm just excited I can come back tomorrow and play my game," he said.
|Seat||Player||Country||Chip Count||Big Blinds||%||Trend Since Start|
|1||John Hesp||United Kingdom||22,475,000||18.7||6%||-63,225,000|
|2||Scott Blumstein||United States||178,300,000||148.6||49%||+81,050,000|
|6||Bryan Piccioli||United States||35,750,000||29.8||10%||+1,950,000|
|7||Dan Ott||United States||16,350,000||13.6||5%||-10,125,000|
|8||Jack Sinclair||United Kingdom||$1,200,000|
|9||Ben Lamb||United States||$1,000,000|
The Biggest Hands of Day 8 of the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event
Ben Lamb Eliminated in 9th Place ($1,000,000)
Hand #4: Jack Sinclair raised to 1.6 million on the button and Ben Lamb jammed all in from the big blind. Sinclair quickly made the call and the cards were tabled. Lamb showed and Sinclair was in a dominating position with .
The flop came and Sinclair was still in the lead. The turn brought the giving Lamb some chop outs as well. The river landed the , giving no help to Lamb as he became the first elimination on the final table.
The remaining eight players are guaranteed at least $1,200,000 from here on out.
|Jack Sinclair||United Kingdom||37,200,000||+17,000,000|
|Ben Lamb||United States||Busted|
Blumstein Scores Huge Double Through Hesp
Hand #47: Blumstein raised it up to 2.2 million from under the gun, and it folded around to Hesp in the big blind. He called, and they went heads up to a flop of . Both players checked, and the hit the turn. Hesp tapped the felt again, and Blumstein fired 3 million. Hesp check-raised to 7 million, and Blumstein didn't take long to reraise to 17 million. Hesp shot up out of his chair, then moved all in. Blumstein snap called, making it the biggest pot of the tournament.
Blumstein and his rail went crazy when the cards were flipped, as Hesp was drawing dead with his two pair to the top set of Blumstein. The meaningless river was the , and Blumstein scored a massive double up to 156,050,000, while Hesp tumbled down to 24,225,000.
|Scott Blumstein||United States||156,050,000||+75,625,000|
|John Hesp||United Kingdom||24,225,000||-75,000,000|
Jack Sinclair Eliminated in 8th Place ($1,200,000)
Hand #64: Jack Sinclair moved all in for 15.6 million from middle position and Damian Salas asked for a count. Eventually, he folded. Bryan Piccioli was in the cutoff and moved all in over top for 18,750,000. Everyone else folded and the cards were on their backs.
The flop came and Sinclair picked up a pair of kings for a chance to improve. The dealer put out the on the turn, and Sinclair needed a king or a jack to stay alive. The river was the and Sinclair was eliminated, sending him home in eighth place for a hefty payout worth $1.2 million.
The remaining seven players are guaranteed $1,425,000 from here on out.