This year’s Main Event was all about breaking records; we had a record-breaking field, a record-breaking prize pool, and a record-breaking 1st place prize. However, one record that we didn’t see coming was the shortest final table in recent memory; as Dan Weinman tore through the table to take home the coveted WSOP Main Event bracelet and write his name into the poker history books forever.
Super-Sized Main Event
All the talk in the build-up to this World Series was around whether or not we’d finally break the record set in 2006, where 8773 players entered the Main Event. We had seen other tournaments at this series see a huge increase in player numbers, so it seemed nailed on that the Main Event would follow suit.
After all the entries had been totted up, they smashed the poker world’s expectations, as the Main Event hit five figures for the first time in its history. This created a staggering $93.4 million prize pool, of which $12.1 million would be awarded to the eventual winner.
Over ten thousand players entered this Main Event with the hopes of becoming the winner of the biggest ever WSOP Main Event, but after ten days of play, one man stood above them all as the Main Event Champion – Daniel Weinman.
Miracles Do Happen
But it might not have happened this way. One card changed the course of poker history, in what has been described as one of the craziest hands in Main Event history. On Day 8 of the Main Event with just 14 players remaining, Dan found himself staring down the barrel of elimination, as he ran his JJ into the KK of Josh Payne and the QQ of Jose Aguilera.
Payne opened with KK to 1.6 million from early position, and the action folded around to Aguilera with QQ on the button. He put in the 3bet to 4.5 million, and Weinman woke up with JJ in the small blind right behind him. With a roughly 35bb stack, he had a tough decision to make – does he play it safe and fold, does he call and risk getting squeezed out by Payne, or does he go for it and shove all in?
After some deliberation, Dan decided to go for it and moved all in. The action folded back round to Payne, who looked a little perplexed at the action unfolding in front of him. However, he made the call, and the action came back to Aguilera who now had his own tough decision to make. Despite being in a difficult spot, Aguilera quickly made the call and would see that while he was behind Payne, he did have Weinman beat.
Payne was in line for a triple-up, whereas Dan Weinman was just five cards away from elimination. The flop came Ah7h4s – no help to anyone, as no player had a heart in their hand. Out of nowhere, the Jh hit the turn, giving Weinman a huge lead in the hand and putting Payne on the brink of elimination.
You could see the shock on Weinman’s face as the jack hit the turn, as no one could believe what they just saw. After being on the brink of elimination, Dan Weinman was one card away from scooping a nearly 80 million chip pot. The inconsequential 3s hit the river, and we hope that Dan has the Jh framed in his home after winning such a pivotal hand.
When talking about this hand after his Main Event win, Dan said that it was, “such a bittersweet hand because it was both the hand that propelled me to win this tournament, but also had to knock out and put a bad beat on a good friend from back home.”
“And I could just see how much it hurt him. In the moment, so much excitement for me, but watching it back and just seeing the pain on his face … it hurt me; not as much as it hurt him, but it was tough.”
Nine Becomes Three
That hand set Daniel up nicely for the final table, as by the time the final nine were set, he was sat in third with around 80 million chips. The chip leader was American Adam Walton – a player who had built his stack through a number of fast, aggressive plays. However, the fifth-place player Juan Marceiras served as a living warning to Walton, as he started the day with an overwhelming chip lead, only to find himself in the middle of the pack after his hyper-aggressive plays stopped working.
One of the hallmarks of this year’s Main Event has been the fast pace of play. Despite the huge money jumps, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of tanking – at least compared to other years. That fast pace continued onto the final table, as it only took six hours to get from nine players to the final three.
Daniel Holzner was the first player to hit the rail, his stack crippled after losing with AA against the TT of Jan-Peter Jachtmann before his AJ ran into the TT of Steven Jones to finish in 9th for $900,000. Shortly after his exit, the chip leader going into Day 8, Juan Marceiras followed him out the door, collecting $1,125,000 for his efforts, as his K9o couldn’t beat the ATo of fellow short stack Toby Lewis.
Despite winning the all-in against Maceiras, it wouldn’t be long until Toby Lewis was short again. Coming into the final table as the short stack, he can feel happy that he managed to ladder up a couple of spots. However, unfortunately for him, he picked the wrong time to squeeze all in with KJo, as Jones made the call with TT again, and managed to hold to eliminate Lewis in 7th place for $1,425,000.
After Lewis’ elimination, the field quickly separated into the haves and the have-nots. Prydruk and Hutchinson sat on around 22 million each, while every other player had well over 100 million in their stack. While outlasting your fellow short stack could see you earn a $550,000 pay jump, Hutchinson found too good of a hand to fold. He committed the majority of his chips with 55 on the button, only to come up against the 77 of Jan-Peter Jachtmann. The board of Js9c2hAs4d was no help to Hutchinson, and he was eliminated in 6th place for $1,825,000.
This left Prydryk as far and away the shortest stack at the table, so he needed to make something happen if he wanted a shot at winning the whole thing. After doubling up with AJ against the A8 of Jones, things were looking up for Prydryk, but he was soon back down to around 24 million chips when he shoved QcTc from the small blind, only to find Weinman had found AJ in the big blind.
The flop of 2sJsAh put Weinman in a commanding lead, with Prydryk needing a king to stay alive in the Main Event. The Qs on the turn gave Prydryk two extra queen outs, but took away the Ks, as Weinman held the As in his hand. Unfortunately for Prydryk, the river bricked out, and he was eliminated in 5th place for $2.4 million.
Now that the shortest stack had been eliminated, the field was rather condensed, and many spectators thought we would be in for a long four-handed battle. However, Jan-Peter lost a couple of key hands to see him become the shortest stack. He raised K8o from the BTN and was called by Jones with KTo in the small blind. The flop came 633 rainbow, Jan-Peter c-bet, and Jones made the call. The Tc hit the turn, and Jachtmann bet close to the pot – 20.5 million into 22 million. After giving it some thought, Jones shoved all-in with his top pair (a theme that will come back to bite him later), and Jachtmann quickly folded.
Soon after that, Jan-Peter found KQo in the big blind after a raise to 6 million in the cutoff from Jones, and a flat from Walton on the button. Jachtmann decided to shove his remaining 56 million into the middle, only to be snapped by Walton, slamming his pair of aces onto the table. Jan-Peter had been caught in a trap, and it looked like there was no way out. The 2c9s5h no help to Jachtmann, with the 6s sealing his fate on the turn, eliminating him in 4th place for $3,000,000.
Lightning Fast Winner
Walton eliminating Jachtmann in fourth really made things interesting, as each player had over 100bb going into the second day of the final table. In fact, some tournament organisers wanted the players to continue playing after Jachtmann was eliminated, fearing that things could take too long on the second day.
However, that could not have been further from the truth, as Dan Weinman was crowned the winner after just two hours of play! The hyper-aggressive style of Walton was always a double-edged sword, and about an hour into play, he felt the sharp blade that he had used to cut down his opponent’s stacks turn on himself.
The hand starts with Jones opening with Qd6d to 6 million from the button, and Walton deciding to trap with 88 in the small blind. Dan Weinman is in a dream position, as he picks up AA in the big blind and 3bets to 27 million. Jones mucks his hand, then Walton immediately shoves all-in! When I say immediately, I mean it – Jones’ hand barely reached the muck before Walton moved his chips in. Weinman put his chips in the middle just as fast, and the two were suddenly playing a 430 million chip pot!
The flop of 7c3c5h gave Walton some backdoor opportunities, as he held the 8c. The 9s on the turn brought in the first part of his backdoor straight draw, tripling the number of outs for Walton. However, the Kc on the river eliminated Walton in 3rd place for $4 million and gave Weinman a huge chip lead.
While whispers of a deal could be heard around the arena, it has been confirmed by multiple parties that the players did not agree to a deal before three-handed play started, nor did Weinman and Jones agree to a deal heads-up, meaning that Dan and Steve sat down to play a $5.6 million heads-up match.
This was a heads-up match that Dan seemingly had in his pocket; while neither player would say they’re experienced in heads-up play, Dan as the most experienced tournament player managed to exert his will over Jones throughout their short match. Even when he lost a big pot, he would quickly grind it back, and keep close to the 3:1 chip lead that he had at the start of play.
It would take just under an hour for Dan to seal his win. The hand started with Jones raising J8o on the button to 7 million, and a call from Weinman with KcJd. The Js5s2c flop gave both players top pair, which spelled danger for Jones. Weinman checked, then raised to 18 million after Jones c-bet to 6 million. The 4c hit the turn, and Dan continued his aggression with a 33 million chip bet.
This sent Jones deep into the tank, as he weighed up his potential options. Just like in the hand against Jan-Peter, he decided to shove facing the big bet on the turn – only this time, he was quickly called by Dan Weinman, who saw the good news that he was a 93% favourite to win the Main Event.
Both players retreated to their rails for the river card, waiting in anticipation. The river card was the Ah, giving Dan Weinman the Main Event bracelet and $12.1 million, while Jones had to settle for the second-place prize of $6.5 million.
Sometimes, It’s Just Your Time To Win
While Dan played extremely well at this final table, there is a feeling of anti-climax around this year’s Main Event. While many people were settling in for the night to watch a fight for the ages, the action was over in just a couple of hours after two gifts from Walton or Jones that essentially handed Dan the win without him having to work that hard for it.
However, you can’t underestimate the pressure that the players are under out there, and it’s only natural that the players can’t play to their usual high standard. In fact, it’s a testament to Dan’s temperament that he was able to withstand the pressure and keep things solid while others lost their heads around him.
Dan attributes some of his success to his change of schedule, as he took part of the summer off this year to spend more time with his family, “Every year before this, I’ve been here from Event #1 to the last event,” “And by the time the Main Event comes around, I’m burnt out … I’ve said to many people, I don’t like this tournament. The structure is too good, I’m kind of over it for the summer.”
Poker is certainly a game of skill, but sometimes you just have to recognise that it might be your time to win. Speaking on how things went at the final table, Dan said, “Final tables can go so many different ways,” “You need some cards to get chips, there were a lot of good players left with a lot more tournament experience than me. But when we got down to three, I did feel like I was the best player of the three. And a couple good hands at the right time; it all came together.”
“The Boom happened and I kind of had the inkling that I would play poker and give it a shot for a few years. And here we are 16 years later … You just kind of feel like, maybe it’s my time.”
When asked what he was going to do with his $12.1 million, Dan said, “I have no clue. Probably invest it. Probably not the best answer everybody wants to hear, but I’m fairly cautious with it away from the table. Even though I like to gamble pretty hard.”
We at PokerDeals want to congratulate Dan on his Main Event win, and we hope to see even more players compete to take the WSOP Main Event crown next year.