The 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event wound to a lengthy end in the wee hours on Sunday morning, and Indianapolis poker pro John Cynn was the victor of the $8.8 million dollar first prize.
Cynn also received the accompanying 18-carat white gold, 120 diamond-encrusted champion’s bracelet worth an estimated half-million on its own, all following a grueling heads-up match against Tony Miles of Ormond Beach, Florida, who took home $5 million for his second-place finish.
The win puts Cynn as Indiana’s top live tournament player, besting former #1 spot holder and iconic WPT show host Mike Sexton’s $6.63 million lifetime record to date.
Wages of Cynn
The 33-year-old Cynn — who has the best winner’s last name since Chris Moneymaker’s in 2003 — bested 7,874 other players, making it the second-biggest field in WSOP Main Event history.
It wasn’t his first rodeo: Cynn finished 11th in the 2016 Main Event, missing the final table by just two spots.
Cynn and Miles traded the chip lead for over ten hours in the heads-up marathon, until Cynn gained the decisive momentum. Holding Q-8 on a K-K-5-8 board, Miles “bluff[ed] at the exactly the wrong moment,” as Phil Hellmuth declared in the commentary, because his opponent held K-J and had him covered.
But Cynn did not snap-call, rather taking a minute and carefully considering his predicament.
“I promise I’m not slow-rolling you,” he said. “It’s late, it’s a big decision, and I don’t have A-K.”
Cada Bounces Out, Then Bounces Back
His eventual winning call was the culmination of a tough tournament, which for the first time in memory had no time off before the final play day.
“Last time when I got knocked out in 11th I was really happy,” Cynn told WSOP.com afterwards, adding:
Really, neither is supposed to happen, right? To make 11th is insane on its own. And then to win, that’s literally something that you dream of, but just never expect to happen. Right now, I do feel pretty overwhelmed. All the emotions times 10,” Cynn said.
Until Cynn emerged as a contender, all eyes had been on Joe Cada. In 2009, at the tender age of 21, Cada became the youngest-ever Main Event champion, a record he still holds. He entered this year’s final table as one of the short stacks and threatened briefly to become only the fifth player to win the title more than once, and the first in the post-poker boom era.
But Cada’s spirited run towards the history books came to an end when his pocket tens ran into Miles’ A-K and an ace on the board jettisoned him into fifth place for $2.15 million. He didn’t hang around moping, though: he hopped into The Closer, a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event, and by Monday morning had won his fourth career bracelet and another $612,886 cash prize for first place.
Salomon Leads Big One for One Drop
But the WSOP is not done yet. The Big One for One Drop (BOFOD) — a $1,00,000 buy-in tournament that attracts only the cream of the crop, plus a few wealthy amateurs — will go into its own Day Two, beginning at 11 am PT on Monday, and plays down to a winner on Tuesday.
Rick Salomon — the man who co-starred in and allegedly leaked the infamous Paris Hilton sex tape, married (and then divorced) Pamela Anderson, and finished fourth in the 2014 BOFOD — is a significant chip leader after one day of play.
Breathing down his neck are two true greats of the game, Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, in second and third place respectively.
With only 24 entrants so far (registration remains opens before the start of Day Two) and a $22 million prize pool that is likely to give the top finisher more than half of that — Salomon will need to watch his back.
This year’s Big One for One Drop field is but half the size of the original 2012 event, in which pro Antonio Esfandiari won $18.3 million, which is still the largest single poker tournament cash in history.
All proceeds from the tournament go to the One Drop Foundation, a charity devoted to providing access to safe drinking water globally.