So, how will the WSOP Main Event final table play out? Nobody knows for sure, but the USPoker team has made a few bold predictions.
Who will be the first player eliminated at the WSOP final table?
Jessica Welman: Jack Sinclair got his chips thanks to aggressive play. He also lost those chips thanks to aggressive play. Without much time to recalibrate before the final table, I can see Sinclair focusing more on getting chips back then laddering up. This is not a bad strategy, but it could result in an early exit.
Steve Ruddock: Dan Ott. He has a middling chip stack, but of all the players, he seemed the most likely to mix it up and throw caution to the wind.
Matthew Parvis: Earlier in the tournament Bryan Piccioli walked on water when he hit a two-outer against Antoine Saout to stay alive. Sitting fourth in chips he won’t be afraid to get involved in hands early on, and I think that’ll be his downfall.
Which two players will battle heads-up for the WSOP title?
Matthew Parvis: Ben Lamb will claw his way back from the short stack to battle against our new poker superstar, John Hesp.
Jessica Welman: The tempting thing to do is pick the two gigantic stacks. I think one will make it through to the end. I think Hesp will keep people guessing and manage to hold on to his chips. Moreover, I think the prestige of the final table might convince him to keep those super reckless plays to a minimum.
WSOP Final Table dynamic you’re most looking forward to?
Steve Ruddock: It will be interesting to see if the friendly atmosphere of the final table bubble continues, or if nerves start to get the better of some of the players.
Matthew Parvis: I’m really curious to see how the shorter break impacts this final table. Without the November Nine, there is not nearly as much time to prepare and study. I think that will make for a more interesting final table, as players will be reliant on their instincts rather than months of preparation.
Jessica Welman: I am really curious to see how Lamb acclimates to his short stack. Last time, he came to the final table with a pile. Will this high stakes cash player play ICM or will he come in and start pushing?
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Who will win the WSOP Main Event and why?
Jessica Welman: I think Pollak is the industry favorite to pick. He plays well and has made no major mistakes so far. When that is the level of your game, if you win your flips, you’re in a great position to take it down.
Steve Ruddock: Pollak. I was really impressed with his consistent play throughout the Main Event.
Matthew Parvis: I’m going out on a limb and picking Lamb. He’s been so close to the top of the mountain in the past and despite his short stack, Lamb won’t let this opportunity slip away a second time.
Who will make the best ambassador for poker and why?
Matthew Parvis: I may come off as a bit of a curmudgeon with this answer, but I think the idea of the WSOP Main Event winner needing to be an ambassador for the game is dead. Sure when the world barely knew what poker was, it needed the Chris Moneymaker’s and Joe Hachem’s to advocate for the game. But, poker now has the likes Daniel Negreanu, Jason Somerville, Doug Polk and so many others producing great content to get the masses interested in poker.
Did people get excited last year watching Qui Nguyen wreck the final table? Yes. Did they care when he went into hibernation after the win? No. His image at the table did enough to grow the game.
Jessica Welman: Hesp would obviously be incredible. However, I have been a big Piccioli fan for a long time. He is a smart kid with a ton of talent, but he also is a great character. Having met his father, you can see family is really important to him, which is a nice message to put out there.
Steve Ruddock: John Hesp. Because he’s John Hesp.
Which member of final table will win a major poker event first after the WSOP?
Steve Ruddock: Sinclair. He definitely seems like a shooting star in the poker world and seems really passionate about the game. I expect to see him playing in a lot of events in the future.
Matthew Parvis: Piccioli has had a very solid poker career up to this point. I think making the final table not only boosts his bankroll but also boosts his confidence. He’ll use both to earn a another title in the not-to-distant future.
Jessica Welman: Piccioli. He already has a bracelet, and the financial support he could offer his family would make it easier for him to travel the circuit a touch more.
Any final thoughts?
Jessica Welman: Being in the room as they played down to ten, I will admit it felt a little anticlimactic. The moment when Piccioli spiked an eight on the river to survive with 11 left was the jolt of electricity I am used to feeling during this time.
Steve Ruddock: I was really impressed with the player’s attitudes and poise on what is always a long and grueling Day 7. All nine players, as well as the players who fell by the wayside, did poker a great service.
Matthew Parvis: I hate to say this, but it’s going to be hard to top last year’s WSOP final table. Nguyen’s unconventional style of play along with a seemingly never-ending string of amazing hands was so entertaining. I truly hope the final table can capture that same level of excitement this year.
The WSOP Final table kicks off Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Catch our WSOP final table viewing guide here for more details.