Scott Blumstein, a 25-year-old medium stakes poker pro from New Jersey, decided to play his first World Series of Poker tournament a few weeks ago, the 2017 Main Event. It turned out to be a pretty good decision, as late into Saturday night, Blumstein survived an original field of over 7,200 entrants to take home $8.15 million plus a jewel-encrusted champion’s bracelet worth another half-million.
It was not long after midnight Pacific Time on Sunday morning, on hand 256 of the WSOP Main Event final table, Blumstein defeated Pennsylvanian Dan Ott to become poker’s new world champion.
“I’m still in shock,” Blumstein told reporters afterwards. “I thought I would get even more emotional that what I got in real time but it’s just the best feeling, I can’t even put it into words.”
Despite making a living as an online grinder back home in New Jersey, this was the first time Blumstein had ever ventured to the Rio in Las Vegas to play live in a World Series event.
With the November Nine concept scrapped in favor of three consecutive segments of final-table play, broadcast with a 30-minute delay by ESPN on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Blumstein began the new format final table with a commanding chip lead. It was a lead he relinquished only once over the course of the match, when jovial crowd favorite and British granddad John Hesp briefly wrestled top spot from the chip-stacking juggernaut.
Hesp busted out in fourth, setting up a final night of three-handed action between Americans Blumstein and Ott, and France’s Benjamin Pollack.
The short-stacked Pollack had everything to gain and was willing to get his chips in and gamble. Ultimately, though, he hit the rail soon after 9 o’clock PT, after some intense three-way action.
Pollack shoved from the button with Q-T, while Ott lived up to his name, coming over the top (OTT in poker parlance), re-raising all-in from the small blind with K-9. Blumstein saw potential to take it all down right there, and called from he big blind with A-Q. Blumstein was ahead pre-flop, and the entire tournament could have ended then and there. Instead, a king on the flop tripled-up Ott and sent Pollack to the rails.
The final moment was postponed for another 60-odd hands, and when it came, it came via a slice of luck for Blumstein, who played solidly throughout the 10-day event. With all the chips going in pre-flop, Ott was ahead with A-9 versus Blumstein’s A-2, but one of three remaining deuces hit on the river, ending the Main Event and assuring Blumstein a spot in poker history.
The new champ says that, while the money is nice, it won’t change his lifestyle all that much. The Temple University graduate, who holds an accounting degree, told WSOP officials after his win:
“Just two weeks ago I was a New Jersey online grinder and nothing has really changed.