Historic 2017 WSOP Main Event Final Table Ready to Go
The 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event final table was set at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino Monday night; we will have a new champion this weekend. Though the Main Event final table is the most prestigious final table on the poker calendar, many poker fans aren’t typically all that excited to see how it plays out, as it is usually filled with a bunch of no-names. While this year’s “July Nine” (I just coined that, isn’t it clever?) is lacking the Negreanus and Hellmuths of the world – as it usually is – this is actually shaping up to be one of the most interesting final tables in recent memory.
For the first time in World Series of Poker history, we have not one, but two players who have previously reached the final table of the Main Event. Sitting in seventh place right now is France’s Antoine Saout, who came in third in the WSOP Main Event in 2009. The short stack currently is Ben Lamb, who finished third in 2011.
And their success in the Main Event doesn’t end there. Saout finished 25th in the Main Event just last year and Lamb nearly made another final table in 2009 – the same year Saout made the final table – placing 14th.
A third player nearly made his second Main Event final table, too. Michael Ruane, who finished fourth last year, was the final table bubble boy, placing tenth. Had he made it, in addition to the possibility of three multi-final tablists (if he didn’t replace Lamb or Saout), we would’ve had the insane situation of a back-to-back final table member just a few years after Mark Newhouse accomplished the feat in 2013 and 2014. He ended up in ninth place both times.
Other players have made multiple Main Event final tables, but the players mentioned are the only ones to do so solely in tournaments with four-figure player fields. The last person to do it before Newhouse was the legendary Dan Harrington, who made back-to-back final tables in 2003 and 2004, right when the poker boom was starting. While the 2004 Main Event had 2,576 entrants, the 2003 tournament only had 839.
Johnny Chan won the Main Event in 1987 and 1988 and was the runner-up to Phil Hellmuth in 1989, but none of those events had more than 180 players.
Two players – Doyle Brunson and Jesse Alto – have made five Main Event final tables, but some of those tournaments had fields that I could fit in my living room.
Antoine Saout is also part of another historic pair; he and Benjamin Pollak are the first French duo to make the WSOP Main Event final table.
With all this talk about history being made, let’s not forget that it is Scott Blumstein at the top of the chip counts with 97.250 million. Blumstein has $312,142 in lifetime earnings (not counting the $1 million he is guaranteed from this tournament), $200,000 of which came from a win in the $1 Million Deepstack Kick Off at the 2016 Borgata Summer Poker Open.
Not too far behind Blumstein is John Hesp, who has 85.700 million chips. After those two men, there is a gigantic gap before the rest of the field. Pollak is in third place with only 35.175 million.
Thus, the dynamic at the final table could be quite interesting to watch. You have two very large stacks – so large that together they have more chips than the other seven players combined. The rest of the players have stacks ranging from about 35 million to 18 million chips. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing if Blumstein and Hesp take advantage of their stacks and bully the other players. The prize money jumps are significant at the final table, so some of the smaller stacks may be looking to try to stay alive to at least make another few hundred thousand dollars.
At the same time, the blinds will become prohibitive for some of the players soon, so it isn’t unlikely that at least one or two players will get aggressive with the all-ins. Will the big stacks be willing to use their chip cushions to try to take them out or will they be wary, not wanting to risk their position?
The final table will begin Thursday, giving players a two-day break and ESPN an opportunity to conduct interviews. This is, of course, a departure from the last decade’s “November Nine.” The final nine players will be cut to six Thursday night, to three on Friday, and the winner will be determined on Saturday.
All television coverage will begin at 9:00pm ET, the first night on ESPN2 and the other two nights on ESPN. As always, the action will be show to us nearly live, with just a 30-minute delay.