The half-hour following the earthquake hand between Scott Blumstein and John Hesp produced little in the way of aftershocks.
After all, Blumstein’s huge double-up to more than 158 million represented a seismic shift in the chip counts. That was more than twice closest challenger Benjamin Pollack, and between five and almost 11 times what everyone else had.
Damian Salas got all in once on the river in a pot versus Dan Ott, and Ott stepped aside. Jack Sinclair then open-pushed on another occasion, getting no takers. Antoine Saout was the next open-shover, and again no one chose to challenge.
Finally, though, a clash of short stacks produced more than just a tremor, and when the dust settled Sinclair became the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event’s eighth-place finisher.
After the hand Sinclair himself noted how he — and several others — had been forced to play most of the final table with short stacks. That meant a lot of working on “preflop ranges” and “push-fold maths,” and indeed, Sinclair’s last hand amounted to yet another bit of all-in arithmetic.
With 13 big blinds in middle position, Sinclair looked down at K♠J♠ and pushed his stack in the middle. Salas had to think about it before he folded (and later we saw he had ace-queen). But Bryan Piccioli had less of a puzzle to sort through as he’d been dealt A♠A♦ in the cutoff. Piccioli reraised all in for a little more, the others folded — including Ott with ace-jack — and the cards were tabled.
The 4♣K♥3♥ flop provided some hope for Sinclair, but the 8♦ turn and 6♥ river extinguished it as he watched from his rail.
Meanwhile Piccioli and his supporters provided an unsurprising contrast for the photographers to capture.
Piccioli returned to his seat to count his winnings while the Londoner went around to shake hands with everyone else, ending with the still-seated Piccioli.
A mostly online player whose decision to play the WSOP was somewhat last-minute, Sinclair afterwards expressed happiness both with his play and the result.
“I didn’t make any mistakes… I think,” he said with a smile. “The cards were not in my favor… [but] I got a double-up, which got me $200K.”
Sinclair alluded to another important bit of math — the difference between ninth- and eighth-place money. Thanks to his early knockout of Ben Lamb, he’d ensured a jump up the pay ladder to $1.2 million for his finish.
Sinclair noted as well Saout’s earlier double through him — “I was right back down to where I was before” — and how that put him again in math-problem mode.
Sinclair clearly relished the experience, which in the end had to have exceeded his wildest expectations.
“Amazing,” was the first descriptor he could find to describe it. “Really quite a surreal experience… it’s still not quite hit me.”
What’s next for Sinclair? He answered the question in list form, as though calculating another math problem and working through the steps in order.
“Drink,” he began.
“Sleep,” was the next step.
“And maybe go play some $1/$2 at the Aria or something,” he concluded.
Seven remain to puzzle some more over stack sizes, pot odds, ICM implications and more. For us the math is a lot easier — one more knockout, and the day will be done.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.