American player Scott Blumstein, was crowned 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event champion on Saturday night in Las Vegas, winning a massive $8.1 million on his way to the biggest title in poker. Blumstein, a New Jersey native, beat countryman Dan Ott in the final headsup battle to claim poker immortality. “I’m just in utter shock right now,” Blumstein said. “Two weeks ago, I was just a kid who loved to play poker and somehow here I am the champion of the main event. Now I’m just thinking about the past six or seven years, all the events that led up to this. I’m just living a dream.”
Ott, whose runner-up finish netted him $4.7 million, was in a marathon final three-way session which extended to close to seven hours before Blumstein caught the card he needed to score the win. Second runner-up, French pro Benjamin Pollak who made a $3.5 million payday, was eliminated on in a double all-in situation leaving Blumstein and Ott to battle to the finish. Blumstein, who entered the final three with a large lead, saw his chip total dip in the first 60 minutes of play, but he managed to quickly rally back up courtesy of a huge 100 million chip bluff versus Ott.
Despite that initial dip, Blumstein was never really in danger playing smartly and methodically to slowly overcome his opponents with stack pressure.
This was Blumstein’s first time at the WSOP, which had a field of 7,221 players this year. He graduated in 2014 from Temple University and his previous big win was at the Borgata $550 Deepstack event in 2016 for a $199,854 score.
When the final table began on Thursday, only one other player was even close to Blumstein, John Hesp of the UK. Over the course of the Main Event, Hesp became a crowd favorite thanks to his fashion sense along with a genial, welcoming personality. Soon after play began on Thursday, Ben Lamb became the final table’s first casualty. He finished in ninth place, earning $1,000,000. This is Lamb’s second career Main Event final table (his first was in 2011), an accomplishment that’s only been matched by two other players in poker’s modern era. One of the others joined him at the final table this year. Antoine Saout made the final table in 2009, and finished in fifth place this year.
Not too long after Lamb’s elimination, there was a crucial hand that altered the course of the tournament. By this time Hesp had taken over the chip lead, and Blumstein had lost quite a few chips. The two of them butted heads, getting involved in an all-in confrontation. Hesp had top two pair, and Blumstein had top set to win the hand and double up. He surged back into the lead, and Hesp was left among the short stacks. Hesp hung on valiantly, but never truly recovered. Blumstein, meanwhile, now had a huge lead on the field that he never relinquished.
Only one other player busted on Thursday night – Jack Sinclair finished in eighth place for $1,200,000 – and the seven remaining players returned for the second session of the final table Friday night. Blumstein had almost half the chips in play, about 178 million. Benjamin Pollak was second with 77 million, and no other player had more than 36 million.
Four of the seven players were short-stacked when play resumed on Friday, but none of them busted out quickly. It was almost two hours into the session before the night’s first elimination. Damian Salas of Buenos Aires is the first Argentinian ever to make the Main Event final table. He’d been at the bottom of the leaderboard almost the entire session. He finally got his chips all-in with a good chance to double up against Daniel Ott, but the river card gave Ott a winning hand, and Salas became the first casualty of the night. He finished in seventh place, earning $1,425,000.
About an hour later, Ott also eliminated Bryan Piccioli (sixth place, $1,600,000). Then toward the end of the night, Saout (fifth place, $2,000,000) and Hesp (fourth place, $2,600,000) were eliminated within a span of 10 hands. The final session of the final table – Day 10 of the Main Event – began on Saturday evening with Blumstein holding a substantial lead (226 million) versus Ott (88 million) and Benjamin Pollak (46 million). Pollak’s knockout came in this three-way all-in when he moved all in with Q T, Ott moved all in over the top with K 9, and Blumstein called with A Q. He had a chance to bust both opponents and win it all. But a king fell on the flop to give the pot to Ott. He tripled up to 128 million, Blumstein was left with 232 million, and Pollak was the first elimination of day. He finished in third place, earning $3,500,000.
The final hand of the 2017 Main Event had Blumstein limping in on the button and Ott raising it to 8 million. Blumstein moved all in, putting Ott to the test for his remaining 55.5 million chips. Ott went into the tank and called after about a minute. Dan Ott’s Ad 8d was ahead of Scott Blumstein’s Ah 2d but the river gods made their decision about the eventual winner when the dealer fanned out Js 6s 5h 7h 2h dealing a miracle for Blumstein on the river to the loud roar of his rail.
Where Blumstein goes from here is anyone’s guess, but it’s a sure bet his newfound wealth won’t change his outlook on life. “Money doesn’t motivate me, it doesn’t drive me,” he said. “I didn’t want to win this thing for the eight million dollars. But it’s nice to have some freedom now. That was the goal, to get to the point where I can do what I want. And I think I’m going to have that opportunity now, whether it’s poker, whether it’s business, whether it’s going back to school, whatever it is, I have the freedom to do that now.”
2017 World Series of Poker Main Event payouts
1. Scott Blumstein – $8,150,000
2. Dan Ott – $4,700,000
3. Benjamin Pollak – $3,500,000
4. John Hesp – $2,600,000
5. Antoine Saout – $2,000,000
6. Bryan Piccioli – $1,675,000
7. Damian Salas – $1,425,000
8. Jack Sinclair – $1,200,000
9. Ben Lamb – $1,000,000
Image courtesy: WSOP.com