The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is an incredibly tough event that rewards patience. You play for 10 days, over 12 hours a day and you know that any decision within that 120 hours of play may keep you from poker immortality. Not only are you fighting fatigue when you’re trying to figure out what your opponent has but you also know that even if you have the right read and make the right call, your opponent could get a lucky card and beat you anyway.
The final table started on Thursday and the heads up battle took place on Saturday night. Out of 7,874 players, it came down to John Cynn and Tony Miles where the winner would get $8.8 million. The two fought it out over 10 hours and it got to the point where I went to bed at 2 am expecting to wake up and find a winner; woke up at 8 am, turned the TV on and those two were still going and had comparable chip totals to when I went to bed.
After another 20 minutes, the dam finally burst and Miles tried to pull off a bluff, going all in, not knowing that Cynn had a three of a kind and knew he had the best hand. After a few minutes, Cynn called and became a Main Event champion.
If you were watching throughout the night, you heard some rather interesting commentary. I mean, they got to fill a seemingly unlimited amount of time because who knows when the event ends. Anyway, at around 3 or so am, poker pro Antonio Esfandiari talked about how he once was in the same club as Kobe Bryant and many thought he spent a lot of money on champagne. Esfandiari cleared it up and it was his friend but it was still a wild story.
That’s the dream, to make enough money to be able to buy $40k of champagne just to outspend Kobe Bryant. I’ll even take having a friend who can do that. I have no shame, if they want, I’ll have no problems with a friend spending thousands of dollars in alcohol and not paying a dime.
Anyway, this marathon heads up battle shows the difficulties of broadcasting poker on TV. No disrespect to pro poker but it’s one of the worst sports to broadcast live. That’s because it’s a game that rewards patience and consistency and there are large stretches where nothing happens. When the poker boom started in the early 2000s, ESPN edited their broadcasts down to only showing the most important hands so a 12 hour poker session may have been edited down to an hour broadcast that would be shown six months later.
Tape delay, especially tape delay months later is impossible to do now so ESPN has no choice but to show everything live. But because of the gambling nature of the sport, “live” still means a half-hour tape delay. Nobody wants someone in the crowd livestreaming the broadcast on their phone, knowing what the competitors have in real time and try to help someone win.
Anyway, after a week and a half, John Cynn stood above the rest and became a champion. It’s his first WSOP win overall.