Every year the World Series of Poker Main Event brings nine unique stories to the limelight, but this year there’s something else that makes this final special. The top 2 stacks belonging to John Hesp and Scott Blumstein are so far ahead of the rest of the pack that we’re breaking down this final table in two parts.
In this first part you can get to know the seven players all vying for a chance to compete with the two chip leaders. To put things in perspective, Hesp and Blumstein have nearly half of all the chips in play between the two of them.
If you’ve missed last night’s epic poker action, rewatch all the big hands leading up to the final table here on PokerGO.
Here’s the final table seat draw and chip counts:
9th – Ben Lamb – 32 years old – United States
The biggest star the 2017 Main Event final table is without a doubt Ben Lamb. A high stakes cash game player from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lamb has the highest total of career tournament earnings coming into the final table, largely due to finishing 3rd in the 2011 Main Event for $4,021,138.
There’s only one problem: The 2011 World Series of Poker Player of the Year has the fewest chips with nine players remaining. Experience however should make up for the 23 big blinds he has to work with. Lamb’s experience in the Main Event is only matched by Antoine Saout, as the winner of the $10k PLO has not only a 3rd and this final table finish, but also a 14th in the 2009 Main Event and a 157th in the 2007 Main Event.
“I had a blast the last few days, and the million dollars is obviously cool, but I really want the bracelet. Have you seen it, it’s huge!” Lamb said in an interview to Poker Central right after making the final table.
8th – Jack Sinclair – 26 years old – United Kingdom
The young Brit dominated on the final day, but just like his best friend Anton Morgenstern, he had one big hand backfire on him to put him eighth in chips heading into the final table. At age 26, Sinclair is one of the young players at the final table, and with only $13,500 in live earnings to date he’s one of the least experienced live players at this final table.
Sinclair’s coached by Philipp Gruissem and the aforementioned Morgenstern, and he’s successful applied his successful strategies in online poker to the live felt. Sinclair held the chip lead for most of Day 7, but with 10 players left he pulled off a massive bluff that was called by Scott Blumstein to put him in the lead. Sinclair takes 25 big blinds into Thursday night’s final table.
7th – Antoine Saout – 33 years old – France
Just like Ben Lamb, Antoine Saout can build upon the experience he takes with him from making the November Nine in 2009. Saout ended up finishing third in that year’s Main Event for $3.4 million, making him the best ever French performer in the biggest tournament of the year. Now, Saout has a chance to improve upon that finish himself, something he never thought possible.
“This is the one, this is not like an EPT, or another bracelet, winning this puts your face on the wall here forever. The first time I made it I was just an online player, and it was my first $10k event. Now I’ve been a professional for nine years, and I’m a much better player.”
6th – Damian Salas – 42 years old – Argentina
Argentinian Damian Salas has made poker history for his country, becoming the first ever to make the WSOP Main Event final table.
“I’m so, so happy. During the tournament I was quiet, calm and I never think to the future or about the final table. I never thought about this being the Main Event, just focus every day, every hand and honestly right now I understand that it’s more than that.”
From Chascomús in Argentina and an avid River Plate fan, Salas is a former high stakes cash game player that now focuses on tournaments. Playing as pampa27, Salas has $2.5 million in online earnings on top of $919,525 live earnings. Salas takes 28 big blinds into the final table.
5th – Dan Ott – 25 years old – United States
“I’m not really a rookie, I’ve probably played about 25-30 WSOP events but just never cashed. I thought to myself, ‘One of these days I’ll make it’ and that happens to be in the Main Event.”
Ott has just $3,656 in live tournament earnings, and his mom, brother and sister have been following him from the rail since Day 4. The Altoona, Pennsylvania native’s playing in his first Main Event and felt intense nerves going deep in this tournament. The pressure however didn’t get to him, as he’s coming into the final table fifth in chips with 33 big blinds.
Ott was involved in plenty of clashes with chip leader Scott Blumstein, but he managed to hold his own and secure at least $1,000,000 at the final table.
4th – Bryan Piccioli – 28 years old – United States
“Oh well, that’s it,” Bryan Piccioli verbalized his thoughts when Antoine Saout hit two aces holding ace-deuce versus the eighths of the man who finished 84th in last year’s Main Event. But that wasn’t it, as he hit an eight on the river for one of the most improbable comebacks of the 2017 Main Event.
Hailing from Allegany, New York, Bryan Piccioli was once the number 1 ranked online player in the world, and now he has a chance to become one of the most famous players in the world with a chance to win the Main Event.
Piccioli is not just playing for himself, but also for his family that suffered a major tragedy after his run in last year’s Main Event. An accident at home left his father a quadriplegic, and Piccioli is heavily involved in his father’s rehab, and a win in this Championship event could provide with the means to improve his living situation even more.
3rd – Benamin Pollak – 34 years old – France
It doesn’t happen often that good friends make the WSOP Main Event final table, but Antoine Saout and Benjamin Pollak have done it. The French will have two chances in this year’s Main Event to take the crown back home, and Pollak sits on the third biggest stack with nine players remaining.
“For the last nine years I’ve been playing this tournament and I’ve cashed only once before, so this feels like a sweet revenge. It’s just insane that I made the final table!” an elated Pollak said after securing his seat at the final table.
Pollak has nearly $3 million in career earnings prior to this event, and experience in all poker formats including high stakes mixed games. Pollak comes into the fainl table with 44 big blinds.
Read the preview of the two biggest stacks and favorites in the tournament right here. Tune in for the final table action on ESPN2 on Thursday at Start times: 6:00pm PT | 9:00pm ET | 1:00am UTC.