After 7 days of gruelling poker, in which a field of 7,221 has been ground down to 9 we now have our final table of survivors. Some of these players have been here before and come agonizingly close to wearing the crown, but most are in new territory. With 1,075 players having already been paid a portion of the $67,877,400 prize pool, the prize money for the final 9 has now become serious. Seven-figure serious. The minimum payout at this final table will be $1,000,000 and the winner will walk away with $8,150,000.
Day 7 began with 27 players and Christian Pham leading the way, but Pham soon found himself dragged back into the chasing pack and trampled underfoot, finishing 19th. Dutch legend Marcel Luske also struggled, and couldn’t build his small stack any higher, taking 23rd place. Michael Ruane almost emulated the back to back final tables of Mark Newhouse a few years ago, but fell just short – exiting in 10th place. Here are the finalists and their stories:
Scott Blumstein – 97,250,000
Having only started posting regular live cashes in 2013, US national Blumstein will perhaps not be the most experienced player at the final table, but with $312,142 in lifetime cashes, he knows how to pick up prize money and carries a very large stack into this final table. Last summer saw him take 1st place at the Borgata Summer Poker Open for just under $200,000, which proves he can get the job done under pressure when big money is on the line. He showed his courage late on day 7 in this tournament when he made a hero call with second pair on the river to vault into the chip lead.
John Hesp – 85,700,000
As one of the biggest two stacks remaining, John Hesp will have an excellent chance of walking away with $8,150,000 at the end of this tournament. The largest prize Hesp has ever won up until now? $1,000. The only recorded live cashes for Hesp are in tournaments which have a £10 ($13) buy in. This recreational player from the UK decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and take a shot at the Main Event, and somehow, finds himself one of the favourites to win it all. He describes his own poker abilities as: “I am to poker what Donald Trump is to politics – an amateur”.
Benjamin Pollak – 35,175,000
This French pro may not have one of the two huge stacks at this table, but his experience is very significant coming into the final table. Pollak has $2,967,782 in live cashes and has had many deep runs in WSOP events before, so he will not be in unfamiliar territory by any means. Undoubtedly one of the more skilled players at this final table, Pollak will be a serious threat with a stack size which is very comfortable.
Bryan Piccioli – 33,800,000
Fourth on the chip counts is US pro Bryan Piccioli. Aside from Ben Lamb, Piccioli is the only player at the final table to have already won a bracelet, and he also has $1,909,374 in total live career cashes, including an 84th place finish in this event last year. Piccioli also has more WSOP cashes than any other player at the table with 30, which will give him valuable experience going into the final confrontation.
Daniel Ott – 26,475,000
Daniel Ott will be one of only four players from the US taking part in this final table. With only two live cashes on record, totalling $3,656 it is fair to say that Ott has very little experience. Despite that, having got this far with a healthy chip stack, he still has a fair chance of doing well at this final table.
Damian Salas – 22,175,000
Argentinian Damian Salas managed to accumulate the chip lead at the end of day 4, and while other chip leaders fell by the wayside in the days that followed, Salas has kept his course true and arrived at this final table with a playable stack. He is not what you would describe as an amateur either, having picked up over $919,000 in live cashes over the course of his career. A former champion of the Latin America Poker Tour, Salas remains very much in contention for this title.
Antoine Saout – 21,750,000
Antoine Saout is a name that many fans of the WSOP will remember well. During the Main Event of 2009 the Frenchman was a major force at the final table, bluffing Phil Ivey along the way to an all-in confrontation against eventual champion Joe Cada, in which his pocket queens were cracked by the lowly deuces of Cada. Saout had to settle for 3rd place, but could easily have won it that year. With over $5,500,000 in live cashes and some unfinished business in this event, Saout will be one to watch as he sets about settling the score for 2009.
Jack Sinclair – 20,200,000
This player from the UK could have been bringing a more formidable stack to this final table, if not for a bluff gone wrong late on day 7. He showed a certain fearlessness, and some might argue, recklessness in bluffing off almost 25 million chips. He did show that he is playing to try and win rather than ladder up though, which seems unusual for a player who only has a few live cashes, all of which have been this year.
Ben Lamb – 18,050,000
As one of the more experienced players at this table, Ben Lamb will stand a good chance of bettering his 3rd place finish from 2011. During that World Series in which he won a bracelet, picked up a 2nd place and then final tabled the Main Event, Lamb looked like an all-round top player.
His preparation for this year’s series included winning a $25K Mixed Game High Roller tournament in April, and if he can gain some momentum, he could yet have a big say on who takes down this year’s Main Event.
Article by Craig Bradshaw