Win the World Series of Poker Main Event and your name will forever resonate with poker fans all over the world. Make the World Series of Poker Main Event final table, and there’s a good chance your name starts blending together with the 80 or so other names that fell just short of the game’s pinnacle achievement.

While a long road still lies ahead, French pro Benjamin Pollak finds himself amidst a third big run in the WSOP Main Event that could move him further up the ranks as one of the best performers ever in this tournament. After Mark Newhouse, Ben Lamb and Antoine Saout went before him, Pollak has all the means to make it big in Las Vegas once again.

Tied with Saout for the best finish by a Frenchman in the WSOP Main Event after finishing third for $3.5 million in 2017, on top of a Day 7 run in 2013, it wasn’t unreasonable to ask Pollak what his secret recipe for playing in this tournament is.

With a big smile, the Frenchman said, “I don’t have a big trick, I’m just very patient.”

Pollak’s patience is evident, explaining that he didn’t see a single premium hand during the first two days of play before finding two double-ups on Day 3.

“The days are so long, making patience even more important. It’s important to find some value where you can, and not try to think that you can win every hand. You have to admit that the field is pretty easy, and in total there might only be around 500 good players in this tournament.”

As the field quickly thins, and another cash starts becoming more feasible with every orbit, Pollak’s eyes start glowing when he talks about the excitement of this event in which he’s performed so well.

“I love this energy. Everyone here has a dream, even though I know there’s still a long way to go. My goal is just to enjoy the present moment because I could be out in 15 minutes. It’s so good to be here, I’m enjoying it and I want to keep making the best decisions.”

Three handed in the 2017 WSOP Main Event: Benjamin Pollak, Scott Blumstein and Dan Ott.
Three-handed in the 2017 WSOP Main Event: Benjamin Pollak, Scott Blumstein, and Dan Ott.

Looking back on 2017, seeing the final table setup, the big cameras, and bright lights, Pollak couldn’t help but wonder and think ‘What if’.

“When I saw the TV table set, I had that feeling of wanting to be there again. It was so much fun, especially because I had such a fun table with John Hesp, and I would love to get another deep run into Day 6 or 7. There’s a long way to go though.”

“In my mind, I know that there is the possibility again to make Day 6 or Day 7, but I remember all the days I played last year and how long it took to make the final table.

Shaking his head at the absurdity of thinking about making back-to-back final before even reaching the money, Pollak verbalizes what’s still to come before he can start thinking of taking.

“Day 4,” Pollak says before pausing.

“Day 5,” Pollak laughs.

“Day 6,” Pollak sighs.

“And then Day 7,” he says as if it’s light years away.

“Even though I can feel it, I can’t visualize it, yet.”

Despite a healthy dose of confidence mixed with a large scoop of reality and understanding of the odds of making it to poker’s biggest final table once again, Pollak’s goal is clear and he gets straight to the point when asked what it would take to satisfy him in the 2018 WSOP Main Event.

“Making the final table. I want to play at the final table again. I can’t say that I’m going to win it, but I want to experience that feeling again. Feeling that pressure, all the energy, I just want that as long as I can.”

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Ben Lamb, 2018 WSOP Main Event, 2017 WSOP Main Event, Benjamin Pollak, Antoine Saout, Mark Newhouse