2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table, Night Two: Scott Blumstein In Dominant Position to Take World Championship

 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table, Night Two: Scott Blumstein In Dominant Position to Take World Championship

The 2017 World Series of Poker has reached the penultimate day of its Championship Event. Nine players started on Thursday night and seven came back on Friday. As play closed last night, Scott Blumstein emerged as the odds-on favorite to be poker’s next World Champion.

Six of the seven men who came back on Friday were faced with an audacious task. Blumstein, who came into the final table with the chip lead, only solidified it through the Night One action on Thursday. Partially because of a massive hand between he and John Hesp, Blumstein came to the felt on Friday holding a massive 178.3 million in chips, almost half the chips in play on the table. Benjamin Pollak was his closest competition (77.525 million), but he was more than 100 million chips behind Blumstein. Hesp (22.475 million), Bryan Piccioli (35.75 million), Dan Ott (16.35 million), Damian Salas (15.625 million) and Antoine Saout (14.55 million) rounded out the table as someone looked to emerge and challenge Blumstein.

That question – who would challenge Blumstein – was answered quickly…nobody.

Although he would ship some chips to Piccioli after Piccioli flopped a boat and turned quads and another stack went to Saout in doubling him up, Blumstein was unfazed by the setbacks. In a particularly notable clash with Pollok, Blumstein and Pollok both would flop trip nines (Hesp, along for the ride in the hand, would depart after the Q-9-9 flop missed his hand). With a nice pot brewing, a ten came on the turn, which hit Blumstein’s 10-9 squarely and shuffled Pollok’s J-9 to second best. A King on the river sealed the hand for Blumstein, but the surprises weren’t done yet.

Sitting with trip nines that had rivered a straight, Pollok checked his option over to Blumstein’s boat and Blumstein bet out 8 million into a 30 million pot. This sent Pollok into the tank as he reconstructed the hand in his mind. After several minutes, Pollok made the outstanding – and correct – decision to lay his straight down as Blumstein recouped his chips lost earlier.

That hand was only a precursor to another soul crushing moment. Salas had been battling for most of the final table with no chips and no cards to speak of. He would occasionally push all in and pick up the blinds and antes, but rarely more. When Ott raised from under the gun with pocket fours, Salas looked down at his A-10 off suit and made his stand. Ott made the call and the twosome were off to the races.

An A-3-2 opened up a straight draw for Ott, but his pocket fours were crushed by the flopped pair of Aces for Salas. Salas got by the turn when a six came, but a river five completely savaged his Aces. It also was a gut punch to Salas who, as he recognized that Ott had rivered his straight, collapsed to the floor holding his head. Wondering what might have been, Salas barely had the strength to walk to the rail in seventh place, even though a $ 1.425 million salve was awaiting him.

Salas’ elimination, which brought the table to six-handed, seemed to open up the gates for the players to make some moves. 20 hands after dispatching Salas, Ott would do the same to Piccioli, his pocket Kings standing over Piccioli’s A-7 off suit. With Ott creeping closer (up to over 95 million chips after eliminating Piccioli), Blumstein suddenly came to life.

Only four hands after Piccioli departed, Scott Blumstein would wield his big stack and put pressure on the blinds by raising the bet to 4.2 million with only a 5-3 of spades for action. Saout, who had watched in pain as his chip stack slipped away, found a K-J off suit to his liking and called Blumstein’s bet. Saout was correct with his assumption that Blumstein was simply playing big stack poker and looked to be ready for action after Blumstein called.

A J-7-6 flop paired Saout, but Blumstein picked up a gut shot straight draw also as the twosome both checked their options. A four on the turn was devastating to Saout as it filled the gut shot that Blumstein had been looking for. ESPN’s audience knew this, but Saout didn’t; after checking and a Blumstein bet, Saout called and was pulled further into the trap.

A Jack on the river gave Saout losing trips against Blumstein as he checked again. Blumstein, seizing his moment, pushed in a bet large enough to put Saout at risk and Saout went into the tank. After what seemed to be an eternity, he called and was dismayed to see Blumstein’s turned straight vanquish him in fifth place ($ 2 million).

Over 200 million in chips (217.45 million, to be exact), Blumstein continued to keep his foot on the gas. He would take three of the next eight hands to further increase his stack to 226.75 million and seemed to be on the hunt for the elimination that would end the night’s action. That would come down between the small stacks to determine, however.

Nine hands after Saout was gone, Hesp would put his final 11.9 million chips at risk, holding a suited 9-7 in an attempt to steal the blinds. Pollak had a decent hand, A-J off suit, and pondered for a couple moments before making the call. The duo would stand with each other, with Pollok playfully taking the stylish hat from Blumstein’s head and wearing it prior to the flop, as the dealer fanned the flop, turn and river. After it had run out K-10-6-4-4, there was nothing there for Hesp as he departed in fourth place.

1. Scott Blumstein, 226.45 million
2. Dan Ott, 88.375 million
3. Benjamin Pollok, 45.85 million
4. John Hesp, $ 2,600,000*
5. Antoine Saout, $ 2,000,000*
6. Bryan Piccioli, $ 1,675,000*
7. Damian Salas, $ 1,475,000*
8. Jack Sinclair, $ 1,200,000**
9. Ben Lamb, $ 1,000,000**

(* – eliminated on Friday night, ** – eliminated on Thursday night)

Barring an earthquake opening under the Rio and swallowing the Brasilia Room whole, Blumstein would be a virtual lock to win this tournament. He hasn’t shown himself to be one that might succumb to any “brain freeze” that would shift a massive portion of his chips anywhere. Ott (88.375 million) and Pollok (45.85 million) are either going to have to get some big hands early or come out on the right side of a gamble if they are to upend Blumstein and keep him from winning poker’s World Champion.

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