New champ rode skill — and luck

The Mercury News Weekend - - PUZZLES - By ChadHol­loway Chad Hol­loway is a 2013 World Se­ries of Poker bracelet win­ner and me­dia di­rec­tor for the Mid-States Poker Tour.

With 7,221 play­ers, this year’s 10,000-buy-in­World Se­ries of Poker Main Event was the third-largest in the event’s 48-year his­tory.

It was ap­par­ent from the ESPN cov­er­age that New Jer­sey’s Scott Blum­stein, who was the chip leader for most of the fi­nal ta­ble, was the man to beat.

In­deed, once Blum­stein won a mon­ster pot early on, the 25-year-old NewYork Jets fan never seemed to re­lin­quish mo­men­tum. He picked his spots care­fully, ap­plied pres­sure when nec­es­sary and made some impressive lay­downs.

The fi­nal hand of the tour­na­ment, which was hand No. 246 of the fi­nal ta­ble, took place in Level 43 (with blinds of 1.5 mil­lion-3 mil­lion and an ante of 500,000).

Blum­stein, who held nearly 300 mil­lion in chips, limped from the but­ton hold­ing Ah 2d, and Dan Ott of Al­toona, Pa.,who had only about 64 mil­lion in chips, raised to 8 mil­lion from the small blind with Ad 8d.

Blum­stein, who was play­ing in his first Main Event, then sprung to life by check­rais­ing all in. Ott, also aMain Event rookie, thought for a minute be­fore call­ing off his stack, and he was glad he did, as his eight kicker made him a 57 per­cent fa­vorite, while Blum­stein had only a 23 per­cent chance of com­ing from be­hind to take the hand. The two would chop the pot, or tie, 20 per­cent of the time.

The Js 6s 5h fl­op­madeOtt a 72 per­cent fa­vorite, re­duc­ing Blum­stein’s odds of win­ning the hand to 14 per­cent.

The 7h turn re­moved the pos­si­bil­ity of a chopped pot and­madeOtt a 93 per­cent fa­vorite to dou­ble up. All he had to do was dodge a deuce on the river — a card that would come just 6.8 per­cent of the time.

The dealer burned one last time and put out ... the 2h! The long shot came through for Blum­stein, who in the blink of an eye be­came a world cham­pion and cap­tured an $8.15 mil­lion first-place prize.

He im­me­di­ately shot his arms in the air, then ran over to the rail, where he was en­gulfed by fam­ily and friends.

“Money doesn’t re­ally mo­ti­vate me, it doesn’t drive me,” Blum­stein said in a post-vic­tory in­ter­view with the as­sem­bled me­dia. “I didn’t want to win this thing for the $8 mil­lion, but with that be­ing said, it’s nice to have some free­dom now. The goal was to get to a point where I can do what­ever I want to do, and I think I’m go­ing to have that op­por­tu­nity now, whether it’s poker, busi­ness, go­ing back to school. I have the free­dom to do that now. That’s the Amer­i­can dream in my eyes, and find­ing happiness is part of that. What a good way to get there.”

Not only did he play and run well through­out the 2017Main Event, but Blum­stein got lucky when it counted the­most.

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