21 July 2017 (Las Vegas) – The 2017 WSOP Main Event is getting down to the wire. Out of 7,221 players who entered the event, now only three remain. After Friday night, the chip leader is still Scott Blumstein, who entered the final table with the chip lead and has put in a dominating performance. He now has 226,350,000. But the biggest mover on Day 9 of the Main Event was Daniel Ott, who started just barely above the shortest stack at the table. But he ended the night second in chips, and he'll enter the last day of the final table with 88,375,000, nearly twice as much as Benjamin Pollak, who is now the shortest stack with 45,850,000.
No longer in contention is John Hesp. Hesp, who started the final table second in chips yesterday, has become the crowd favorite after over a week of making the Main Event fun for both spectators and for his opponents. He was eliminated on the last hand Friday night, finishing in fourth place in his first ever WSOP cash.
The first few hours of Friday night's session didn't go as expected. After Day 8 on Thursday, seven players remained in contention. Here's how they stacked up:
1 - Scott Blumstein - 178,200,000
2 - Benjamin Pollak - 77,525,000
3 - Bryan Piccioli - 35,850,000
4 - John Hesp - 22,625,000
5 - Daniel Ott - 16,350,000
6 - Damian Salas - 15,475,000
7 - Antoine Saout - 14,550,000
Chipleader Scott Blumstein
Play started with 56:01 remaining in Level 39, with blinds at 600,000/1,200,000 and a 200,000 ante. With four players fairly short-stacked, consensus seemed to be that there would be several all-in confrontations -- and likely several bustouts -- early in the night. Yet that's not how it played out.
There were two all-in moves in the first five hands, one from Antoine Saout and the other from Daniel Ott. But neither of them were called.
Then on the seventh hand of the night, we saw the first major chip movement. Piccioli made quads – there were three queens on board and he held the fourth – against Pollak and Blumstein. After the hand, Piccioli pulled closer to the leaders with nearly 50,000,000 in chips. He was well ahead of Hesp, who had about 31,000,000 in fourth place.
A few hands later, a player was at risk of elimination for the first time of the night. Blumstein raised enough from the small blind to put Saout to an all-in decision in the big blind. Saout called with K-Q, and he was up against Blumstein’s 8-7. The board improved Saout’s hand, Blumstein got no help, and Saout got the Friday’s first double up.
The next double came about half an hour later, and it was crowd favorite John Hesp climbing the leaderboard. He got all in with pocket aces against Pollak’s Ace-King. The aces held up, and Hesp moved into fourth place with around 42,000,000 in chips. Pollak was still in second with 64,000,000, but well behind Blumstein, who still led with 147,000,000.
The first bustout didn’t occur until almost two hours had elapsed on the clock. Damian Salas, who spent most of the evening as the shortest stack at the table, got all his chips in the middle against Daniel Ott. The board read on the flop, and Ott pushed all in with . Salas called with . Salas was ahead at the time, but after a blank on the turn, the river was the to give Ott a straight to win the hand. Salas, the first ever WSOP Main Event final tablist from Argentina, finished in seventh place, earning $1,425,000.
After that hand, Ott was second in chips with 45,000,000. This was a turning point for him, and his stack continued to grow throughout the rest of the night.
Soon after Salas’s bustout, Saout doubled up again, that brought him up to 50,000,000 in chips. At the time, that was good for second place on the leaderboard (but still far behind Blumstein’s 169,000,000). Most of the short stacks had gained some chips by then. Of the players who started the day in dangerous territory, only Hesp was still close to where he started. The others all had more breathing room, and it no longer looked like multiple eliminations were imminent.
Play continued for a little more than an hour after Salas’s elimination before the next player busted out. Bryan Piccioli moved all in with A-7, but ran into Daniel Ott’s pocket kings. Ott won the hand, and Piccioli finished in sixth place, earning $1,675,000.
Piccioli’s elimination hand continued to propel Ott up the leaderboard. He had 97,000,000. He was still well behind Blumstein’s 177,000,000, but had a solid cushion on Antoine Saout, who was in third with 38,000,000.
It was only a few minutes after Piccioli left the table that another player was eliminated. Blumstein and Antoine Saout got involved in a big hand, and by the river the board read J-7-6-4-J. Blumstein bet enough to put Saout to an all-in decision. After thinking it over, Saout called. Blumstein showed 5-3 for a straight, and Saout's trip jacks were no good. He was eliminated in fifth place, earning $2,000,000.
This was Saout's second career Main Event final table. In 2009, he finished in third place. One other player at the 2017 Main Event final table had been there before. Ben Lamb, who was eliminated last night in ninth place, had finished third in 2011.
That hand pushed Blumstein over the 200,000,000-chip mark, the first player to reach that milestone.
Just nine hands after Saout's elimination, John Hesp found himself following him away from the table. He had grown severely short-stacked, and had under six big blinds. He pushed all in with 9-7 and Pollak called with Ace-Jack. Hesp didn't get any help from the board, and he became the fourth place finisher, earning $2,600,000.
After Hesp's elimination, play was halted for the night with 1:33:23 remaining in Level 41 (blinds at 1,000,000/2,000,000 with a 300,000 ante). The three remaining players will return Saturday at 5:30, and the ESPN broadcast will begin at 6:00 p.m. PDT. When play is complete Saturday night, the poker world will have its newest World Champion, who will walk away with the $8,150,000 first-place prize and the most coveted trophy in poker - the WSOP Main Event bracelet!
Benjamin Pollak (r) wears John Hesp's hat as the two wait for the board to be dealt.