The 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) was yet another example of how the game can change a player's life in just a few days. As has happened multiple times over the past few years, the latest $10,000 Main Event saw a veritable rookie claim the biggest prize in poker after a commanding display inside the Rio in Las Vegas.
Prior to 2017, New Jersey native Scott Blumstein had never played in the WSOP Main Event. However, he did know what it took to overcome the odds. After watching amateur Chris Moneymaker shock the poker community and inspire the masses by winning the tournament in 2003, Blumstein believed he could one day do the same!
Picking up the game soon after Moneymaker's memorable win, the 25-year-old started grinding small tournaments both live and online in a bid to increase his skill set. A second place finish in the 2012 $190 Empire State Poker Championship for $3,817 was his first taste of success on the live tournament circuit.
From that point on, Blumstein banked a series of similar cashes across the US before scooping $199,854 in a $560 tournament at the Borgata in 2016. With his live bankroll now at an all-time high, Blumstein took a shot at the 2017 WSOP Main Event and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before the final table, Blumstein was among the leading chip stacks in play, but it was the UK's John Hesp who commanded the headlines. The retired businessman who typically plays in £10 tournaments was bidding to become one of the most memorable winners of recent years.
However, while Hesp might have been the crowd favourite, Blumstein was the top pick with leading online bookmakers. In fact, it was Hesp who gifted Blumstein a huge chip lead heading into the final table. With the board reading Ac 7d 5h 10s, both players got their chips in the middle for a pot worth 156 million chips.
Despite Hesp holding a strong hand with Ah 10h, Blumstein's pocket aces meant he'd won even before the 3c hit on the river. At this point, with Hesp down to 24 million chips, Blumstein closed out the session with more than 50% of the total chips in play.
This advantage never left Blumstein throughout the final table. As the likes of veteran pros Ben Lamb, Antoine Saout and Benjamin Pollak slipped away, Blumstein stayed strong to find himself heads-up against Daniel Ott. With a commanding chip lead, Blumstein pushed the pace whenever he could and Ott was forced to respond.
A few significant pots early on gave Ott a shot at overcoming his opponent, but in the end Blumstein's lead was just too much to deal with. After limping in on the button with Ad 8d, Ott was forced to commit all his chips when Blumstein moved all-in. Going into the tank, the American eventually made the call and raised a wry smile after he saw his hand was ahead of Blumstein's Ah 2d.
Unfortunately, even though the pre-flop odds were on Ott's side, the poker gods weren't as the 2h on the river gave his opponent the hand, his final few chips and the 2017 WSOP Main Event title. For Blumstein, the hand was a fitting end to the tournament. As his family and friends rushed the stage, the Main Event newbie had not only managed to repeat the feat Chris Moneymaker delivered in 2003, but surpass it.
Thanks to another bumper year inside the Rio, Las Vegas, Blumstein was able to defeat the third-largest field in WSOP Main Event history. On top of putting his name in the record books, the impressive win meant he took home $8,150,000 and, of course, the world championship bracelet. As for Ott, he still managed to collect a runner-up cheque for $4,700,000 and the accolade of almost winning one of the biggest live poker tournaments ever.
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