After the longest heads-up battle in World Series of Poker Championship Event history, Illinois’ John Cynn was able to outlast Florida’s Tony Miles to capture poker’s World Championship in winning the 2018 WSOP Championship Event.
The Early Action
Coming to the three-man finale on Saturday night, both Miles (the chip leader) and Cynn were solidly in their positions. The man who was under risk from the start was the man who came to the final table on Thursday as the chip leader, Michael Dyer. Dyer, only on a 20 million stack to start the day, kicked off the festivities with two all-in moves that warned his competitors that he wasn’t to be messed with, despite being the short stack.
For some time, it seemed as if Cynn and Miles wanted to take each other out instead of the “shorty.” The duo would clash on several occasions, with the battle going back and forth, but it was inevitable that they would soon turn to Dyer. That occurred when Dyer picked up an A-10 on the button and shipped his chips, only to find Miles had woken with A-J for the call. Although the board would provide a Jack and a Queen to tease Dyer with a straight, it didn’t come home, sending Dyer to the rail in third place.
Hope You Brought Your Pillow
As we attempted to detail with our live blogging of the 2018 WSOP Championship Event, both Cynn and Miles had such deep stacks that it was going to take some time before a champion would be crowned. After Dyer’s departure, Miles had over 100 big blinds and Cynn had over 90, stack ratios that are normally only seen at the start of tournaments. Thus, that “take some time” turned out to be the longest WSOP Championship Event heads up match in history.
The poker played between the two men was at times stunning. At one point – and in one of the historic hands of the match – Miles moved all in for his tournament life holding complete air. The problem was that Cynn, who had connected for fourth pair on a board that also had flush and straight potential, really didn’t have the hand to be calling (even though he would win the tournament). At the end of his deliberations, Cynn couldn’t pull the trigger and Miles took the pot, much to his relief.
This is the way that the action went throughout the heads-up battle. One player would work their way out to a lead, only to turn it back over to their opposite number scant hands later. The twosome would swap the lead an astounding 11 times through the evening, with both at one point or another getting their opponent close to the felt but not quite finishing the job.
A Refreshing Change
What was stunning in the 11 hours that Cynn and Miles played together was the camaraderie and bonhomie that was very evident between the duo. At the table, they would battle it out tooth and nail for every chip available, but they weren’t cutthroat about it. They instead treated each other with a great deal of respect, joking back and forth as if they didn’t have a care in the world (when the worst you’re going to go home with is $5 million, then you probably don’t have a care). When there were breaks in the action, the two could be found commiserating with each other as they waited for the play to resume. It was refreshing to see such respect between the players – and let’s also applaud them for their pace of play, which was appropriately quick when necessary and “tank time” was kept to a minimum.
Unfortunately, there are no co-champions at the World Series of Poker. Eventually one man (or woman) must win every tournament that is played, whether it is Las Vegas, Rozvadov, or Melbourne (oh, WSOP Asia/Pacific, we hardly knew ye). The same goes for the 2018 WSOP Championship Event, which ended at roughly the time folks on the East Coast were waking up from their previous evening’s activities.
The End Comes For All (Especially in Poker Tournaments)
The final few hands were similar to how the entire battle between Cynn and Miles had proceeded. Miles, fighting back from a sizeable deficit, had been able to close to within 33 million chips when the final hand came down. On Hand 442, Cynn opened with a raise from the button and Miles three-bet the action to 34 million. Cynn made the call and the K-K-5 flop came out. Miles kept up his aggression, pounding in a continuation bet of 32 million, and Cynn called to see an eight on the turn. Miles pushed all in at this point and Cynn took a moment to think things over.
It was an unnecessary “tank,” as Cynn had the goods. He made the call and turned up a K-J for trip Kings, crushing the Q-8 of Miles (Kings up and drawing dead). Once the formality of the river being dealt was complete (a four, for the record), John Cynn was the victor and poker’s new World Champion.
John Cynn, $8,800,000
Tony Miles, $5,000,000
Michael Dyer, $3,750,000
Nicolas Manion, $2,825,000*
Joe Cada, $2,150,000*
Aram Zobian, $1,800,000*
Alex Lynskey, $1,500,000**
Artem Metalidi, $1,250,000**
Antoine Labat, $1,000,000**
(* – eliminated on Friday night)
(** – eliminated on Thursday night)
The 2018 World Series of Poker isn’t done yet, however!
While the Championship Event has been going on, there have been other bracelet events being played (you have probably heard by now that Phil Hellmuth picked up Bracelet #15 and Shaun Deeb won Bracelet #4). But the “Big One” is literally up next. The “Big One for One Drop,” the $1 million buy in tournament, will begin on Sunday and be broadcast on ESPN2 (at 12:30AM Eastern Time Tuesday, with the final table broadcast later that day at 7PM). Everyone rest up, because the 2018 World Series of Poker is not quite over yet!