What a difference two years make for John Cynn. The lasting image of Cynn from the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event in the mind of poker fans is a slumped puddle next to the rail of the ESPN stage awaiting the runout of his final all-in. Cynn finished in 11th place for $650,000 and joined the list of good players who came close but were thrown in the closet of Main Event almost.
The bowing head and dead shoulders are replaced by an erect posture and confident table talk with only two tables left in 2018. Cynn stood fourth in chips on the second break of the day, a favorite to cash in on the $1 million awaiting all who make the final table.
What’s Cynn’s secret to weaving through seven days of poker unscathed? He’s running even better than he did in 2016.
“These seven days have been the best stretch of cards I’ve ever had in my life,” Cynn explained to US Poker. “There were so many spots where I could do no wrong. Amazing runouts, getting lucky on flips. I’ve always wondered, ‘how do these people get so lucky all the time.’ Now I know. I’ve had so many sets, so many flushes, straights.”
Acting like you’ve been there before
Sylvain Loosli, Joe Cada, and Cynn were the only three players with Day 7 experience going into Wednesday’s action, but Cynn’s experience shines more than Loosli and Cada’s subdued nature. Cynn’s casual conversation in between hands and during all-ins shows a man who has been there before and knows what to expect.
The experience allows relaxation when most of his tablemates are playing for millions of dollars for the first time.
“For some reason, maybe because I’ve been here before, I just feel like I’m playing poker which is nice,” Cynn said. “I do feel like that I’m more confident at the table than other people for whatever reason, maybe just because I’ve been here before.”
The prior run did not cause Cynn to change his play as he advanced up the payout ladder. His rush of cards was responsible for most of the work and Cynn acknowledges that there is only so much he can do with what is dealt to him.
“I don’t try to have a strategy of building a stack or anything. I more believe that you play the cards you have and do the best you can with them and whatever happens with your stack happens.”
Call it a rush
Most of Cynn’s rush took place in the latter stages of Day 6. Cynn doubled up through Nirath Rean by winning an ace-jack versus pocket nines flip, and then held with kings against Clayton Fletcher’s top pair to double again. Prior to those two hands, Cynn’s hopes relied on the strength of his 15 big blinds heading into the last level of the night.
A better focus is an asset Cynn claims to have benefitted his journey through the short-stack doldrums to get where he is now.
Tournaments are not a primary focus in Cynn’s life and neither is poker. The 33-year-old former consultant played professionally during the middle of the decade but he is now in the world of cryptocurrency ICOs.
Cynn admits he made some judgment errors after winning $650,000 in 2016 but rebounded to the life he now owns.
“I started playing in a lot of bigger games which was a mistake because I ended up doing horribly. Lost a lot of money but then I have some friends who are really smart and they are in crypto as well.”
Never a tournament pro to begin with, Cynn, like other cash game pros before him, loves the rush that comes with running deep to win the pot of gold at the end.
“I still love playing tournaments, they’re so much fun. There’s no feeling like going deep in a big tournament or any tournament, really. To be here again is unreal,” Cynn said.
Time for the endgame
Cynn’s chance this year might very well be his last to make the Main Event final table. In the history of Main Events lasting at least seven days before the final table, only Antoine Saout and Ben Lamb have made it three times.
The money is on Cynn’s mind but he is blocking that factor out well enough so far on Day 7 to play his best poker.
Heartbreak struck Cynn once before and the way he speaks, he is determined not to let the same image of his demise repeat this year.
“What’s going through my head is to definitely stay on my A-game,” Cynn said. “I’m more concentrated and focused, for sure, but it’s still a ton of money.”