Scott Blumstein won the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas, the first time he participated, in the early hours of Sunday morning, local time, and he had an unexpected deuce on the river to thank for it.
To be fair, the 25 year-old American had held the chip-lead for the duration the final table, which he steamrolled from start to finish, and so he probably would have won it anyway, but the deuce on the river certainly hastened his path to glory and the US$8.2 million ($10.3 million) first prize.
It was Blumstein’s first Main Event, although you wouldn’t know it, and he is certainly no “rookie,” as the Associated Press was reporting over the weekend. In fact, he’s a pro.
Blumstein is from New Jersey, one of the few states in the US where online poker is legal, and he’d spent the summer grinding as many online tournaments as he could at once, preparing for the tournament of his life in Vegas.
No More November Nine
This was the first Main Event since 2007 to be played in July. For the past nine years, there has been a four month break between the main body of the tournament and the final table to allow the TV audience to catch up with the action and the drama, after which poker fans would tune in to watch the “November Nine” TV production
But the November Nine concept was scrapped this year, recognition that big poker events are consumed in different ways than they were a decade ago.
Today, people are more likely to follow the event via live streaming or social media as they are to wait in and watch it on the box.
This year’s final, then, was split into three almost-live segments (it can’t be shown completely live for obvious reasons) and broadcast on ESPN, or live-streamed on the PokerGO website for regions that don’t have access to that channel.
The Final Hand
So what about that deuce on the river? On Saturday night (Sunday here), on hand #246 of the final, Blumstein stared down his opponent, fellow American, Dan Ott, with millions of dollars on the line, and all hell broke lose.
A limp, a re-raise all-in, a call, and suddenly, Blumstein, who had been dominant throughout, looked vulnerable, holding A-2 to Ott’s A-8.
Cue the three-outer on the river!
“A normally inconsequential deuce just changed my life,” marveled Blumstein afterwards.
He was not exaggerating. This was the culmination of a 74-event poker extravaganza, attracting a record 120,995 entrants from 111 different countries, all competing for a record $231,010,874 collective pool.
It was the third biggest field for a Main Event in the WSOP’s history, with 7,221 players.
On Sunday morning, there was only one left, posing with an enormous pile of cash, grinning and blinking while the cameras flashed.