The first day of the 2017 Main Event final table didn’t disappoint with amateur John Hesp putting on one hell of a show before getting trapped by Scott Blumstein in one of the biggest hands in WSOP history.
From the instant the final table started Hesp seemed to be on a roll and, after Ben Lamb busted in the first five hands, managed to take control of the overall chip lead with 123m chips.
That’s when disaster struck, however, as New Jersey’s Scott Blumstein, who was second in chips, picked up pocket aces and went to war with Hesp who turned two-pair with ace-ten.
By the time the smoke cleared a gargantuan 156m-chip pot was shipped directly to Blumstein and Hesp was left with fumes of his former glory.
With Hesp declawed, action at the final slowed right down and it took several hours for the next elimination, which ended up being English pro Jack Sinclair.
Action had slowed enough that organizers decided to stop play with seven players remaining at approximately 11 p.m. instead of the previously scheduled six players.
The final table resumes again at 5:30 p.m.
Here’s a look at the chip counts at the end of play:
1. Scott Blumstein — 178,300,000
2. Benjamin Pollak — 77,525,000
3. Bryan Piccioli — 35,750,000
4. John Hesp — 22,475,000
5. Dan Ott — 16,350,000
6. Damian Salas — 15,625,000
7. Antoine Saout — 14,550,000
Ben Lamb Falls Early in Ninth
Ben Lamb was one of the biggest storylines at the 2017 Main Event final table but wasn’t able to find an early double up.
Instead Lamb made a move with Ace-Nine and had the misfortune of running into Jack Sinclair’s Ace-Queen.
The board bricked and Lamb had to accept a consolation prize of $1,000,000 for coming ninth place.
It wasn’t quite the $4.02 million he received for finishing third in 2011 WSOP Main Event but a seven-figure score nonetheless.
Both Lamb and his rather sizable rail headed for the exit barely 15 minutes into the day.
That left Antoine Saout as the only former November Niner still in play.
Saout, Lamb and Mark Newhouse are the only players who have two Main Event final tables to their names in the post-Moneymaker era of poker.
Lamb told PokerListings he was looking to win the entire tournament rather than stick around for a few pay jumps, which helps explain the somewhat aggressive play with Ace-Nine.
Hesp Runs into Blumstein’s Top Set
With Lamb out of the way it was John Hesp’s time to shine. Hesp was very talkative at the table and had the crowd, and Phil Hellmuth, firmly behind him.
Fortune appeared to be on Hesp’s side and fans were getting visions of Chris Moneymaker’s iconic Main Event victory in 2003 but that came to a sudden stop when Hesp got involved in a massive hand with the Blumstein.
At that point Hesp was the chip leader but Blumstein wasn’t far behind.
Blumstein opened for 2.2 million and Hesp called from the big blind. The flop came A-7-5 and both players checked.
A ten peeled off the turn and Hesp checked but Blumstein fired a 3.1 million-chip bet. Hesp responded by check-raising to 7m. Blumstein re-raised to 17m and that prompted Hesp to shove all-in.
Blumstein snap-called to create a 156m-chip pot. He quickly flipped over pocket aces for the stone-cold nuts. Hesp could only muster A-T and was drawing dead with two-pair.
“It was nice playing a big pot with aces, and if I was going to play a big pot with John, it was going to be with top set,” said Blumstein after play ended.
After the hand Hesp saw his stack dwindle to just 24m after previously being up over 100m.
Jack Sinclair Hits Rail in Seventh
It wasn’t long after that momentum-shifting Hesp vs. Blumstein hand that English pro Jack Sinclair hit the rail in seventh place.
Sinclair had the misfortune of shoving with K-J and Bryan Piciolli found pocket aces to make the easy call.
The flop brought a king, which gave Sinclair some outs, but that was as close as he came as both the turn and river bricked.
Sinclair spent some time as the chip leader in the 2017 Main Event but ending up settling for 7th place and a $1.2m payday.
Prior to today Sinclair’s biggest score was a $9.4k finish in a partypoker Millions Live event.
Play continued for about 35 minutes after Sinclair was eliminated but there were no more bustouts.
Organizers made the decision to end play at 11 p.m. Las Vegas to save some action for the next two days.
All eyes will be on Blumstein as it appears to be his tournament to lose at this point but he’s not getting overconfident.
“How can you be upset after a day like that?” said Blumstein. “I’m not going to be counting my chickens before they hatch, though. We still got a ways to go.”
Blumstein’s biggest challenge will likely be French pro Benjamin Pollak who is second in chips with 77m and played very solidly today.
Play will resume at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow with the goal of going down to the final three players. The three last players will play to a winner on Sunday.