LAS VEGAS (AP) — The World Series of Poker is down to its final nine.
The final table for the marquee no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event in Las Vegas was set early Tuesday. The nine men who emerged from a field of more than 7,200 participants after 10 days of play now have a chance to win a grand prize of more than $8.1 million and a gold title bracelet.
The youngest player remaining in the tournament, 25-year-old Scott Blumstein, is the chip leader with more than 97 million in chips. This is the first time that Blumstein, a resident of Brigantine, New Jersey, has played the event.
“I have no words,” Blumstein tweeted. “The support from everyone means the world to me. 3 days of much needed rest and then back to work.”
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Chips have no monetary value in the tournament — each player will have to lose all his chips before he is eliminated from the final table.
The famed tournament is the end of this year’s series, where dozens of tournaments drew 120,995 entrants from around the world, shattering attendance records. The remaining men represent the United States, Argentina, France and the United Kingdom.
Unlike the past several years, the players won’t have to wait until November to take their spot at the final table. The champion will be crowned this weekend after the players return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Thursday following a two-day break. The winner will receive a guaranteed prize of $8.15 million, while the other eight players will share more than $18 million. Each player will earn at least $1 million.
Two previous third-place finishers, Benjamin Lamb of Las Vegas, and Antoine Saout of Morlaix, France, made the final table again. Lamb, 32, won more than $4 million after he outlasted 6,863 players at the 2011 main event. Saout, 33, had a more than $3.4 million payday in 2009, when he bested 6,492 participants.
The player with the second most chips is John Hesp, also a first-time main event player. Hesp, 64, has more than 85 million chips. He is the oldest competitor, a caravan home salesman from Bridlington, United Kingdom, a coastal town off the North Sea.
The married father of four and grandfather of seven has played poker recreationally for more than 20 years. Should he win the tournament, he would be the oldest main event champion since 1974.
“I am to poker what Donald Trump is to politics — an amateur,” he recently told PokerNews.com .
Blumstein and Hesp are followed by Benjamin Pollak, a London resident with more than 35.1 million in chips; Bryan Piccioli, of San Diego, with 33.8 million in chips; Daniel Ott, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, with more than 26.4 million in chips; Damian Salas, of Chascomus, Argentinia, with over 22.1 million in chips; Saout with more than 21.7 million in chips; Jack Sinclair, of London, with 20.2 million in chips; and Lamb with more than 18 million in chips.
Last year, Las Vegas resident Qui Nguyen bested the competition to take home more than $8 million and the bracelet made from 427 grams of white and yellow gold and more than 2,000 diamonds and rubies totaling more than 44 carats.
Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO / More of her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/ReginaGarciaCano