Lake Mary, FL's Tony Miles continues an unlikely WSOP Main Event run, takes big lead into Saturday's final three.

13 July 2018 (Las Vegas) – The 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event has moved closer to crowning its champion, after final-table action on Friday reduced the field from six to three. Leading the way is Lake Mary, Florida's Tony Miles, who rode a run of hot cards late on Day 9 to first surge into the lead, then build upon to bag well over half the chips in play in the event.

Miles, 32, a native of Ogden, Utah, finished the night with an impressive 238,900,000 million in chips, well ahead of second-place John Cynn. Cynn, from Indianapolis, Indiana, also picked up chips late and finished with 128,700,000. Day 9's early leader, Houston, Texas's Michael Dyer, also made the final three but faltered late to finish with 26,200,000.

Miles had endured personal struggles in recent years, making his Main Event breakout a personal comeback story as well. “I went through a period of my life where I was heavily addicted to opiates,” he told the WSOP. “Before that I struggled with alcohol addiction for years.” And that made it unlikely that he'd even be able to find a way to play the Main, but he gave it a try.

“I thought that I had been playing really well, so I reached out to some people that were really, really close to me and I asked them to invest, because I thought that I could make a run in this thing.”

Miles and his backers now are guaranteed millions. He took time to thank some of the people who supported him through his tough years. “A bunch of my friends helped me in this, and when I was coming back from opiate addiction, there were very people who would take a chance on me, even though I was talented. It was hard. And there's a few people that trusted me and knew that I would get back here.

“Now, it's really amazing to see it paying off, and I'm glad that I'm able to share not only the joy, but some of the profits as well.” Miles was supported throughout the evening's play by a loud, huge rail, including several of his backers. But, with what he's been through, he's not taking anything for granted. When asked about his chances to win, Miles brushed it aside, saying, “I want to be humble. Anything can happen.”

There's still Cynn and Dyer blocking Miles' path to the title, and Cynn, who finished 11th in the 2016 Main Event, is no stranger to the pressure of poker's biggest stage. Cynn also enjoyed the support of a huge rail, even if there was more of an analytic edge occurring. He had a small team taking notes on every hand and trying to provide analysis in as close to real time as possible.

Yet Cynn said his play was a mix of both his own reads and style as well as input from others. “I feel like I have a sense of what's going on at the table, but at the same time, I welcome any advice, even if it's drastically different than mine. I feel comfortable in myself to be able to weed out what's my game and what's not. To have the rail that I have, I'm extremely lucky.”

Cynn also survived through to Saturday's final three despite having a mid-pack stack for most of the day and battling tough position as well. Cynn had Miles on his left all day, and two more seats away was Dyer, the dominant leader early in the day.

Cynn said, “Tony's been on my left for a few days now. He's always been tough; he plays well and he's been really solid. He's always someone I've been watching out for.” Cynn, though, didn't really cite any of his final five opponents as someone he truly didn't want to face, except perhaps for Joe Cada, the 2009 Main Event champ who bowed out in fifth.

“I think Joe Cada's a great player,” said Cynn, “and I also think Joe's a great guy. He would be one of the people that I didn't want to face in the [final] three for sure. But at the same time, we're all here for a reason.”

Day 9 of the 2018 WSOP Main Event began with six of the nine finalists still in the hunt, following the eliminations of Antoine Labat, Artem Metalidi, and Alex Lynskey on Thursday's rather brief Day 8. Houston, TX's Michael Dyer returned on Friday to a sizable lead, with the other five players, including 2009 Main Event champ Cada, seeking to surge to the top.

One of the first big hands of the day, however, saw Dyer expand his lead while sending his shortest-stacked opponent to the rail. Cranston, RI's Aram Zobian began Day 8 in sixth and never mustered a charge. Zobian busted when he tried to steal the antes from the small blind, moving all in for his 17.35 million stack, with   . Chip leader Dyer, though, found    in the big blind and called. Zobian had few outs to survive other than for spiking a six, and the board's     runout ended those chances, leaving five players in the final.

Dyer remained active throughout much of the early action, slowly chipping up as the others jostled for position. Among them was Cada, the 2009 champ, who snared a big pot early in five-handed action, but then busted a short while later in a huge pot against Miles.

Cada had climbed the ranks in recent days with the help of a series of all-in, re-raise shoves, and he exited in a similar situation on Day 9. The hand began with Cada opening to 2.2 million. Miles, on the button, re-raised to 6.9 million. Cada then moved all in for his entire stack, about 47.6 million. Miles thought for minutes before calling, but he eventually did. Cada then showed his   , while Miles opened   . Miles' large rail erupted when the flop came    , but Cada's rail erupted when the   turn gave him more re-draw outs. Cada still needed a jack or a ten, but the river brought the   instead, ending his bid to become the first two-time Main Event winner since Johnny Chan accomplished the feat against much smaller fields in 1987 and 1988.

The huge pot pushed Miles over 100 million in chips and into second place, though still well behind Dyer's 167 million at that point. Yet Dyer's stranglehold on the lead soon ended when another big pot went Miles' way. In that hand, Miles flopped a set of threes and got Dyer to come along, with Miles eventually raking in a near-100-million chip pot. Miles continued to surge from that point, capturing several contested pots over the next two hours to climb over 200 million and open his own wide lead.

Nicolas Manion, who started the day in the lead, saw his chip stack dwindle through the first several hours. He ended up on the shortest stack, though he survived once and doubled up when his pocket sevens held up in an all-in, pre-flop hand against Miles' A-K. Later, again short, Manion doubled up against Dyer in a hand where he moved all in on a flush draw and secured the double when a heart came on the turn.

Dyer also ended up short as the night's action progressed, but Manion busted in fourth place when his third try at a double failed. This time, Manion moved all in with    over Cynn's opening bet, but Cynn quickly called with   . The board ran out   ]     , sending Manion to the rail and setting Saturday's final three.

Saturday's Main Event finale can be seen live on ESPN on Saturday.

Final Table Chip Counts:

Seat 1: John Cynn – 128,700,000
Seat 2: Tony Miles – 238,900,000
Seat 3: Michael Dyer – 26,200,000

Day 9 Eliminations:

4th: Nicolas Manion - $2,825,000
5th: Joe Cada - $2,150,000
6th: Aram Zobian - $1,800,000

Remaining Payouts:

1st: $8,800,000
2nd: $5,000,000
3rd: $3,750,000