Friday afternoon saw the remaining seven survivors of the World Series of Poker Main Event final table reconvene to play down to the final three, with chip leader Scott Blumstein streets ahead of his nearest rival on178,300,000, trailed by Benjamin Pollack (77,525,000) and former top chip holder, John Hesp (22,475,000).
Blumstein used his advantage skilfully to keep the pressure on the other players throughout the day, and the action was initially brisk but cautious as players eyed the next pay-out level of $1,425,000.
UK player John Hesp, who on the previous day had been crippled after losing a $156,000 pot to Blumstein, started the day well, winning several big pots that boosted his stack to over 24 million, enabling him to stay in the game until hand #135, when he was eliminated by Pollack in fourth place for $2,600,000.
The first of the seven remaining players to be eliminated was Argentinian Damian Salas, and took place two hours into the game when he clashed, and lost, to Dan Ott and headed for the rail and a seventh placing pay-out of $1,425,000.
US pro Bryan Piccioli had been battling with a dwindling stack and was next to go, busted out by Ott at sixth for $1,675,000.
He was followed by French ace Antoine Saout, who tangled with Blumstein and lost to exit at fifth for $2,000,000. Saout was the last of the previous main event final tablers still standing, having finished third in the 2009 WSOP main event for $3.48 million.
Towards the end of the game, and well before midnight Friday, it was John Hesp’s finale, taken out by Pollack to claim the fourth placing prize money of $2,600,000 – not bad for a recreational player who plays tournaments on average once a month back home in Bridlington, England.
Throughout the main event the likeable Englishman gained thousands of fans attracted by his unusual wardrobe, his unexpected success and a “poker should be fun” attitude.
Having reached the final three, tournament officials gave the order to bag up the chips, leaving Blumstein in the lead on 226,450,000 – almost 63 percent of the chips in play. Chasing him is US player Dan Ott on 88,375,000, and the low stack man is French pro Benjamin Pollack on 45,850,000.
The next pay level is $3,500,000 when the final three gather again late Saturday afternoon to play down to a winner. They will start at level 41 with blinds at 1,000,000/2,000,000 with a 300,000-ante, and average stacks at 120,350,000.
Watch the Youtube vid on Hesp’s post-exit interview here: