PREVIEW: WSOP Main Event Chip Leaders Discuss Their Journey to Final Table

July 15, 2022
PREVIEW: WSOP Main Event Chip Leaders Discuss Their Journey to Final Table

The final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event is set with co-chip leaders among the final 10 players that begin play Friday afternoon at Bally’s in Las Vegas.

The tournament will play down to four players Friday, and those return Saturday to crown the WSOP Main Event world champion. Fans can tune into the final table action with live streaming on PokerGo.

Eight players will take home at least $1 million with the winner hauling in a massive $10 million and the coveted gold bracelet. USPoker spoke with two of the chip leaders on Thursday. Read about their thoughts on the experience below.

WSOP Main Event final table chip leaders

On-site interviews Friday included co-chip leaders Espen Jorstad from Norway, who lives in London, and Matt Su from Boston, who lives in Washington, DC. Those two top the chip counts with each starting the final table with 83.2 million chips, or 69 big blinds.

Chip counts

  1. Espen Jorstad – 83,200 (London, England)
  2. Matt Su – 83,200 (Washington, DC)
  3. Matija Dobric – 68,650 (Slotina, Croatia)
  4. Aaron Duczak – 56,000 (Kamloops, BC, Canada)
  5. John Eames – 54,950 (London, England)
  6. Adrian Attenborough  50,800 (Las Vegas via Australia)
  7. Michael Duek – 49,775 (Fort Lauderdale, FL via Argentina)
  8. Jeffrey Farnes – 35,350 (Dallas, Oregon)
  9. Asher Conniff – 29,400 (Las Vegas via Brooklyn, NY)
  10. Philippe Souk – 13,500 (London, England)

Eight players are poker pros, and Espen Jorstad won a WSOP gold bracelet already this summer with a big win in the $1,000 Tag Team, cashing in for $74,042.

Ahead of the final table start at 2 pm Friday, poker legend Doyle Brunson, the “Godfather of Poker’ also known as “Texas Dolly”, will make the “Shuffle Up & Deal” call inside the Bally’s Events Center. The moment officially commences Day 8 of play for the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, featuring the final ten players.

♠♠♠ For a complete look at all final table players, click here. ♠♠♠

Espen Jorstad’s road to the chip lead

Espen Jørstad

Jorstad is predominantly an online poker player, but has enjoyed a memorable run to the final table. He finished Day 1 with less than 18,000 chips from a starting stack of 60,000.

“I couldn’t win a hand, but seemed to win a majority of hands on Day 2,” he said.

That moved him up to more than 425,000 chips. Some memorable hands to this stage include Day 4 when he raised with Jack-Queen suited and was re-raised by a player with pocket Kings. Jorstad then four bet all-in for 40 big blinds into the huge pair.

“It was a pretty big mistake, but I turned a club flush,” he said. “I try to play every hand as optimal as possible, but this hand stuck out. Making mistakes deep in a tournament sting extra, but I got lucky.”

Surging with pocket Aces

Jorstad had double the average stack into Day 5, and near an average stack into Day 6. Then Day 7 started with 35 players remaining, and Jorstad won a massive pot against the tournament chip leader.

After raising to 1.6 million under the gun with pocket Aces, Tom Kunze three-bet to 5.2 million in middle position with Ace-King. Action folded back to Jorstad who four-bet to 11.8 million. Kunze then five-bet jammed after a minute of deliberation.

This led to a snap call by Jorstad for his stack of 43.7 million and he doubled through to 89.4 million. That brought him the tournament chip lead after avoiding a straight on a J-Q-2-8-7 runout. Kuntz was left with 24.8 million and eventually got back to 48 million, but was later busted by Jorstad to finish in 14th place for $410,000.

At the final table, Jorstad got to the chip lead when he eliminated Robert Welch in 11th place. Welch came over the top of Jorstad all-in for 9.4 million chips and Jorstad called and held up with Ace-King of clubs versus K5.

Jorstad’s personal interests included investing and self development. He enjoys meditating and fitness outside of playing poker as well. He add however: “my life is mostly surrounding poker.”

Matt Su finds crucial all-in win to stay alive

Matthew Su

Matt Su is a regular high-limit cash game player with a majority of his time spent at the Bellagio poker room in Las Vegas. He’s often in the same games with fellow final table pro Adrian Attenborough.

Su attended Boston College law school and says he “spent a few months as a lawyer,” before turning to poker and playing professionally since 2014. He enjoys skiing in the winter and spends a lot of time hitting the slopes in Utah, Colorado, and Montana. Other hobbies include scuba diving, but that was scaled back during the pandemic with less travel.

At the final table, he returns as co-chip leader with 83,200. A few key hands stand out for Su.

“I ran a crazy bluff in Day 3 when I had a huge stack. I lost over half my chips,” he said. “I’m not as comfortable playing short stack, and I check-raised a river bet and was called. I remember being a bit angry, but talking through myself to settle down.”

The big pot was Day 7 when he had 10-9 and flopped top pair and turned a gut-shot straight. After his opponent made a huge bet on the turn, Su went all in over the top and was called by A-10.

“I was mentally prepared to bust,” Su said as the camera’s rolled with Su needing a 9 or four cards to make a straight. But a 9 hit the river and he avoided elimination – winning a big pot in the process.

“As a poker player, you sort of have to trick yourself into thinking you don’t care in these big spots,” he said. “When the 9 comes, I was obviously excited, and it was a huge moment. I realized I should probably be gone, but felt like I’m free rolling.”

Matija Dobric goes from bad bluff to big stack

Matija Dobric

Su and Jorstad are chip leaders, but much can change with five other players sitting with 50 million chips or more. That includes Matija Dobric, whose wife will be flying in from Croatia to watch Matija compete.

Dobric has been playing online poker for about 10 years, and professionally since 2016. He first played in the WSOP last year, cashing in five events. That included a major score in the Main Event for $198,550 and a 32nd-place finish.

“There’s very little live poker in Croatia,” Dobric said. “Not a lot of players or money.”

After building up his stack early, Dobric played into Day 2 and 3 with over 200 big blinds. After that things seemed to go smoothly.

“I was lucky and calm, and the cards went my way,” he said.

Dobric was the massive chip leader on Day 7 with two tables and 18 player remaining. He had 78.1 million in chips with Su (45.8 million), Attenborough (40.6 million), Farnes (36.6 million) and Jorstad (30.5 million) trailing. But the chips change hands quickly, and Dobric said he made “the biggest bluff of my career, and sickest hand I played in my life.”

He lost with A-4 on a check-raise board of K-10-3, and lost more betting the turn and all-in on the river when his opponent tanked for more than seven minutes before calling with K-Q.

“Congrats to him, he made a big call,” Dobric said.

Bouncing back

Dobric then won a big hand with A-K versus 6-6 all in pre-flop followed by a nice win when he flopped a flush. The latter hand held off an all-in player who flopped top pair and a redraw to the nut flush.

“After that big blowup, I was back to 70 million quickly,” he said.

Beyond the WSOP and round-the-clock poker in Las Vegas, players are trying to get enough rest while also enjoy all the food options.

“I really love Las Vegas, for food and poker,” Dobric said while noting that there is no Japanese food in Croatia. “I enjoy the variety of cuisine in Vegas, and the best food I’ve eaten in my life.”

Final table payouts

  1. $10,000,000
  2. $6,000,000
  3. $4,000,000
  4. $3,000,000
  5. $2,250,000
  6. $1,750,000
  7. $1,350,000
  8. $1,075,000
  9. $850,675
  10. $675,000

* Photos courtesy PokerGO

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