Two of this year’s WSOP Main Event finalists are having déjà vu.
France’s Antoine Saout, 33, is one of two final-table veterans to make it back to the last nine players in Las Vegas. Saout will sit in the third seat when play resumes with 21,750,000 chips – the third shortest stack in the tournament.
He is joined by fellow veteran Ben Lamb, who made it to the final table in 2011, but was eventually sent home in third place. Despite his experience, Lamb sits last in chip count with 18,050,000 chips. The Las Vegas native is set to marry in his hometown this September.
The fourth seat will be filled by Benjamin Pollak – a frenchman making his first WSOP final table appearance. He’s no rookie, however – he made it to 27th place in the Main Event in 2013. He is a tournament professional in France with almost $3 million in live earnings to his name.
Thanks to impressive runs on the fifth and seventh days, Pollak is third in chip count behind American Scott Blumstein and England’s John Hesp. With 35,175,000 chips, the one-time engineer is in a decent spot to become the first-ever French winner of the WSOP Main Event.
“Right now I’m feeling super great. It was insane,” Pollack said on Tuesday after the final table had been decided.
Jack Sinclair ,who will sit next to Pollak in fifth position, will join Hesp as the only other Englishman at the table. Like his countryman, he is a relative rookie when it comes to poker with only 3 live tournaments and $13,500 in earnings under his belt. He will have 20,200,000 chips when play resumes, putting him second-to-last in chip count.
Sinclair played his first-ever tournament this April when he placed 161st in the partypoker Millions Live in Nottingham. He then headed to vegas for the World Series where he placed 184th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em in late June and 689th in the $888 No Limit Hold’em – Crazy Eights event earlier this month.
“I’m trying not to think too much about anything except the poker,” Sinclair told PokerNews. “But, yeah, it is definitely surreal. I’m just trying to play good poker, make the best decisions and if I do that, then I’ll be happy.”
Unlike Sinclair, sixth-position Damian Salas of Argentina isn’t a stranger to the WSOP circuit. The Argentinian made his first trip to Las Vegas to play the WSOP in 2009, and managed his highest score (fifth place in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout) in 2016.
Salas is a regular in the South and Latin American poker scene and has doubled his previous live earnings of $919,000 by making it to the final table. His 22,175,000 chips put him in sixth in chip count going into Day 8 of play.
Lamb will seat in seat seven in between Salas and Bryan Piccioli, a New York native with $2 million worth of tournament experience, most of it in the United States. The 28-year-old left the University of Buffalo to pursue a full-time poker career and, in addition to his significant live earnings, has scored $6 million in online winnings.
He has a bracelet from the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific circuit, that he won in 2013 in Melbourne in a $1,100 No Limit Hold’em event. Piccioli has 33,800,000 chips, putting him in in fourth place.
Rounding out the table in the ninth seat is Dan Ott, who sits in fifth-place in chip count. The American is among the most inexperienced at the table – he played his first live tournament this June at the WSOP where he placed 69th and earned $990. He is 26-year-old from Pennsylvania with just over $3,000 in earnings.
“I started watching and playing with my friends. And then I started playing online and just kept studying the game,” he said. “I heard these were some good tournaments and I finally had some money to buy in. I decided to take my shot at this, and the rest is history.”
Play resumes at 5:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, July 20 and will continue until six players remain. A winner will be crowned Saturday.
Photo credit: Logan Ingalls (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
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