2017 WSOP Main Event Winner – Scott Blumstein

[SS] “That was an awesome WSOP Main Event, wasn’t it?” Stan the Stat enthused.

[LL] “And I didn’t have to stay up all night to watch the end this time”, Leroy the Lion remarked.

[RR] “You’re up late anyway”, Roderick the Rock noted.

[LL] “Yes, but this time I was able to go to bed before the rest of the family woke up.”

[SS] “You could have gone to bed when heads-up started, and you wouldn’t have missed much.”

[LL] “But I kept hoping Dan Ott would wake up from his poker-induced coma.”

[FF] “A coma? What did I miss?” Figaro the Fish puzzled, joining in.

[SS] “The end of the Main Event. Did you see any of it?”

[FF] “No, although I heard some old British guy was having a ball.”

[SS] “Well, the recap goes like this… 7,221 players entered the arena, but only one could leave standing, I mean, sitting. The third biggest Main Event, behind only the 8,773 in 2006 and the 7,319 in 2010 ended almost four months earlier than the last nine did, as the November Nine was nixed. But two former November Niners kept the party going by returning to the final table six years (Ben Lamb) and eight years (Antoine Saout) later.1 Which was great because no women, no celebrities, and no former champs got anywhere near the final table.

John Hesp, who started in second with nearly a quarter of the chips but got no respect from the oddsmakers, was the best this final table had to offer. The retired Brit, a recreational player with a loud jacket and infectious enthusiasm, brought energy and aggressive play to the table until his stack was decimated by a cooler against Scott Blumstein.2

Blumstein, who almost became the first player to start the final table with a hundred million chips (97,250,000), nearly a third more than 2016’s chip leader Cliff Josephy, dominated the action after Hesp had a quick start, showing the table both bluffs and real hands. There were no very short stacks, but on just the fourth hand the bookies’ darling, Ben Lamb, who started with the fewest chips, made a standard shove with A♥9♥, ran into Jack Sinclair’s A♣Q♥ (all blanks on the board: 6♣5♦4♥3♣T♥), and was gone in ninth for an even million dollars.

Sinclair himself was out next, albeit a full sixty hands later, when he shoved with K♠J♠ and Bryan Piccioli woke up with A♠A♦.

Damian Salas exited in seventh on hand 102 with Aces in the hole when Ott rivered a wheel.

Piccioli was the short stack when he took a stand with A♣7♥, but he couldn’t pair his Ace to beat Ott’s K♠K♣ and was out in sixth.

Antoine Saout went to the rail in fifth when his three Jacks ran into Blumstein’s unlikely 7-high straight.

Hesp’s party ended when he desperately moved all-in with just 8♣7♣ and couldn’t catch Pollak’s A♦J♠. Actually, he had one last moment of fame during this World Series, as he announced, “Shuffle up and deal!” to start the final day of action.

The Main Event then almost finished on a double knockout for the first time,3. The short stack Benjamin Pollak had shoved with Q♣T♦, and Dan Ott tried to isolate and knock him out, overshoving with K♣9♦. But Blumstein called them both with the best hand, A♥Q♠. Ott survived when he hit top pair on the K♦J♠3♦ flop, and Pollak missed his straight draw and was out in third when the turn 4♣ and river 6♠ bricked.

Sixty-five hands later, it was Blumstein’s turn to get lucky. Having dominated heads-up play for the most part, Ott had begun a small comeback and was a single card away from doubling up to just a 3-to-2 deficit. Blumstein limped with A♥2♦, Ott shoved with A♦8♦, and Blumstein called. The board read J♠6♠5♥7♥, and Ott’s Eight was winning the hand until the 3-outer 2♥ paired Blumstein’s kicker and ended the tournament.”

[LL] “Too bad Ott chose to channel Gordon Vayo and his passive play from last year. I guess his lessons from Doug Polk hadn’t covered heads-up play yet.”

[RR] “But excellent big stack play by Blumstein. He certainly deserved the bracelet.”

[SS] “And the $8,150,000. Congratulations to him!”

2017 World Series of Poker Main Event Summary

Dates 7/8/2017 to 7/23/2017
Players 7,221 (1,084 cashed)
Winner Scott Blumstein ($8,150,000, U.S.)
Runner-Up Dan Ott ($4,700,000)
Final Table Bubble Boy Michael Ruane (10th, $825,001)
Money Bubble Boy Roger Campbell,
Quan Zhou (1,085th)
Last Former Champ Standing Scotty Nguyen (549th, $22,449)
Last Woman Standing Yuan-Yuan Li (105th, $53,247)
Last Celebrity Standing Richard Seymour (did not cash)

Footnotes:

  1. Michael Ruane nearly went back-to-back to make it three repeat final tablists but instead was the final table bubble boy when his A♣6♣ failed to catch Damian Salas’s J♠J♦ two hands after losing a crippling race with A♥K♦ against Bryan Piccioli’s T♠T♣.
  2. Blumstein, pronounced with a short ‘u’ and a long ‘e’, converted Pocket Rockets into a full house, and Hesp couldn’t save any chips with his two pairs.
  3. The only final nine double knockout was in 1998 when eventual champion Scotty Nguyen took out Ben Roberts and Jan Lundberg in 6th and 7th place on the same hand to start the official final table with just five players.

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2017 WSOP Main Event Final Table Odds

[SS] “It’s not the November Nine anymore, but can I interest you guys in a three-way final table bet again?”, Stan the Stat asked.

[RR] “Always interested”, Stan the Stat asserted.

[LL] “Depends on the bet”, Leroy the Lion hesitated.

[SS] “We’ll let you pick first, so you have nothing to complain about.”

[LL] “Sounds good.”

[SS] “Pick one of these three groups:

  1. Scott Blumstein (1st in chips) and Damian Salas (6th).
  2. John Hesp (2nd), Bryan Piccioli (4th), and Dan Ott (5th).
  3. Benjamin Pollak (3rd), Antoine Saout (7th), Jack Sinclair (8th), and Ben Lamb (9th).”1

[LL] “I’ll take the last group. I’m partial to Lamb. Tough unless you cook it right but always tasty. Plus, how can I go wrong with two players who’ve already been to the Main Event final table?”2

[SS] “Roderick, you get the next pick.”

[RR] “I have to go with the chip leader with Salas as a bonus.”

[SS] “Okay, that leaves me with the underrated Hesp and two medium stacks. I can live with that.”

2017 Final Table Odds

Player Coral
Odds
Percent
With Vig3
True
Percent
ICM4
Percent
Diff
Scott Blumstein 2/1 33.3% 28.2% 27.0% 1.2%
John Hesp 4/1 20.0% 16.9% 23.8% -6.9%
Benjamin Pollak 5/1 16.7% 14.1% 9.8% 4.3%
Bryan Piccioli 6/1 14.3% 12.1% 9.4% 2.7%
Dan Ott 18/1 5.3% 4.5% 7.3% -2.9%
Damian Salas 14/1 6.7% 5.6% 6.1% -0.5%
Antoine Saout 10/1 9.1% 7.7% 6.0% 1.7%
Jack Sinclair 25/1 3.8% 3.3% 5.6% -2.3%
Ben Lamb 10/1 9.1% 7.7% 5.0% 2.7%
Totals 118.2% 100.0% 100.0%

Footnotes:

  1. Working with the True Percent column in the table, the three groups have a fairly even chance of winning: 33.83% to 33.45% to 32.72%.
  2. Saout finished third in 2009, and Lamb finished third in 2011. Amazingly, there was almost a third player, but Michael Ruane was the final table bubble boy after his fourth place finish last year.
  3. The Percent With Vig is simply the denominator of the odds divided by the sum of the numerator and denominator. The True Percent normalizes this by dividing by the total of 118.2%.
  4. ICM stands for Independent Chip Model.

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November Nine RIP

[SS] “Appropriately enough, the November Nine lasted nine years before the plug was pulled in 2017, likely as a cost-cutting move for ESPN,” Stan the Stat hypothesized, “which has run into financial trouble in recent years. TV ratings had dropped back to pre-November Nine levels.”

[LL] “Isn’t that a bit misleading?” Leroy the Lion wondered. “Ratings might have been much lower without the delay.”

[SS] “We’ll find out in a few weeks, I guess, unless ratings get an unusual boost.”

[LL] “Like from a woman, celebrity, or former champ reaching the final table?”

[SS] “Nobody from any of those groups has made it that far since Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004.1 But almost any popular pro would significantly boost ratings. Daniel Negreanu was just two places off in 2015, which would have been huge.

Anyway, I’m not really sad to see the end of the November Nine. The biggest benefit to me was that it reduced the wait until the next WSOP, but the wait for the final table more than erased that gain. RIP November Nine (2008-2016).”

Nine November Nine Factoids

  1. Mark Newhouse was the only player to reach multiple November Nines. He finished ninth both times though, especially disappointing in 2014 when he started third in chips, the highest starting position to exit first.
  2. The chip leader held on to win only twice: Jonathan Duhamel in 2010 and Joe McKeehen in 2015. J.C. Tran suffered the biggest fall, finishing fifth.
  3. The short stack finished ninth only three times. Jeremy Ausmus managed to get all the way up to fifth in 2012.
  4. The shortest stack to win was Martin Jacobson, who came all the way back from eighth in chips in 2014.
  5. Every November Nine champion was in his twenties, from 21-year-old Joe Cada in 2009 to 27-year-old Martin Jacobson in 2015, until Qui Nguyen won at age 39 in 2016.
  6. Cada was also the youngest November Niner. Belgian Pierre Neuville was the oldest at 72 in 2015.
  7. Five of the November Nine champions were American (Joe Cada, Greg Merson, Ryan Riess, Joe McKeehen, and Qui Nguyen), while the other four hailed from Denmark (Peter Eastgate), Canada (Jonathan Duhamel), Germany (Pius Heinz), and Sweden (Martin Jacobson).
  8. It was the first career WSOP bracelet for every champ except Greg Merson, who won the $10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold ‘Em event just two days before the Main Event started.
  9. Merson was also the only champ to capture WSOP Player of the Year honors. He needed to win to overtake Phil Hellmuth, and he did, sending the Poker Brat to an amazing third runner-up finish without a title.

Footnotes:

  1. Two former champs and two women barely missed the final table between 2007 and 2013: Scotty Nguyen (11th in 2007), Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille (10th and 11th in 2012), and Carlos Mortensen (10th in 2013).

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Last Former Champion vs. Last Woman vs. Last Celebrity Standing in the WSOP Main Event

[LL] “So, which group do you think has the best chance of lasting the longest, the Women, the Celebrities, or the Former Main Event Champs?” Leroy the Lion queried.

[SS] “Well, with only 32 former Main Event winners alive, the women have the best chance with significant numbers over the former champs (about four percent of the field or roughly ten times as many entrants) and numbers and skill over the celebrities”, Stan the Stat submitted. “I think this table shows things pretty clearly.”

Last Former Champ vs. Last Woman vs. Last Celebrity Standing in the WSOP Main Event

Year Place Last Champ Place Last Woman Place Last Celebrity
1971 1 Johnny Moss
1972
1973
1974 1 Johnny Moss
1975
1976
1977 1 Doyle Brunson
1978
1979 5 Johnny Moss
1980 2 Doyle Brunson
1981 1 Stu Ungar
1982 4 Doyle Brunson
1983 3 Doyle Brunson
1984
1985 7 Johnny Moss
1986 5 Bill Smith 25 Wendeen Eolis 21 Gabe Kaplan
1987 9 Jack Keller
1988 1 Johnny Chan
1989 2 Johnny Chan
1990 5 Berry Johnston
1991 29 Billy Baldwin 13 Gabe Kaplan
1992 7 Johnny Chan 21 Telly Savalas
1993 4 Mansour Matloubi 19 Marsha Waggoner
1994 16 Mansour Matloubi 10 Barbara Samuelson
1995 4 Hamid Dastmalchi 5 Barbara Enright 26 Hal Kant
1996 16 Berry Johnston 26 Lucy Rokach 24 Hal Kant
1997 1 Stu Ungar 12 Marsha Waggoner
1998 22 Jack Keller 10 Susie Isaacs
1999 6 Huck Seed 21 Hal Kant
2000 10 Annie Duke
2001 5 Phil Hellmuth
2002
2003 3 Dan Harrington 47 Annie Duke
2004 4 Dan Harrington 98 Rose Richie
2005 25 Greg Raymer 15 Tiffany Williamson 93 Nick Cassavetes
2006 238 Joe Hachem 56 Sabyl Cohen-Landrum 196 Rick Salomon
2007 11 Scotty Nguyen 38 Maria Ho 237 Sully Erna
2008 45 Phil Hellmuth 17 Tiffany Michelle 104 Kara Scott
2009 78 Peter Eastgate 27 Leo Margets 186 Lou Diamond Phillips
2010 156 Johnny Chan 121 Breeze Zuckerman 478 Bruce Buffer
2011 514 Robert Varkonyi 29 Erika Moutinho 94 Mars Callahan
2012 353 Johnny Chan 10 Gaelle Baumann 134 Kevin Pollak
2013 10 Carlos Mortensen 31 Jackie Glazier
2014 77 Maria Ho
2015 121 Jim Bechtel 29 Kelly Minkin 286 Fatima Moreira de Melo
2016 122 Greg Raymer 102 Gaelle Baumann
20171 549 Scotty Nguyen 105 Yuan-Yuan Li

Notes:

  • Only players who cashed are listed here. See the original lists to see the players who didn’t cash. E.g., the 2002 out-of-the-money winner was Phil Hellmuth, who finished somewhere between 60th and 77th place.”
  • The former champs dominated this list until 2004 (lasting the longest 23 times to 3 to 1), then the women took over convincingly (11 of the last 13). Interestingly, over the last dozen years the former champs have a very slight edge, 7 to 6, against the second to last woman standing, so the contest is closer than it might look.
  • The only celebrity to outlast his female and champ counterparts was Gabe Kaplan in 1991 (who perhaps more impressively was the sixth place bubble boy in 1980).

Footnotes:

  1. July 17, 2017 Update: The women (Yuan-Yuan Li, 105th) outlasted the former champs (Scotty Nguyen, 549th) and celebs (Richard Seymour, Day 3) again in 2017.

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