Two years after falling agonizingly short of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table, John Cynn redeemed himself by winning the game’s most prestigious tournament.
In the early hours of July 15, Cynn claimed the last chips in play to capture the 2018 WSOP Main Event. The grinder based out of Indianapolis took home $8.8 million in first-place prize money, along with his first career gold bracelet and a permanent spot in the poker history books.
Cynn defeated Tony Miles after an epic heads-up duel that spanned over 10 hours. Miles pocketed $5 million for his runner-up finish, but he was clearly crushed upon losing the most coveted title in poker after a marathon heads-up match for the ages.
One player’s heartbreak is always another’s happiness, and that was true for Cynn, who returned to the WSOP Main Event feature table stage after an 11th place run in 2016. That was the last year of the “November Nine,” a concept which saw the WSOP Main Event final table play out more than three months after the tournament began.
During the November Nine era, players who made the final table enjoyed a window of opportunity to secure sponsorship deals and other perks – an experience Cynn essentially bubbled that year.
He returned this year to take another shot, but with 7,874 players ponying up the $10,000 buy-in, Cynn certainly faced a tall task. This year’s turnout was the second-largest in WSOP Main Event history, topped only by the 8,773-player field from 2006.
Cynn sat down on July 4 alongside 4,570 other hopefuls looking to survive Day 1C. The third starting flight was the largest flight in WSOP history, and when it was all said and done, Cynn turned his 50,000-chip starting stack into 133,000 – good for 215th place out of 3,480 survivors.
He maintained his chip advantage throughout the next six days of play, eventually securing a seat at the nine-handed final table with a fourth-place chip stack of just over 37 million.
When the final table began, Cynn had two opponents with more than 100 million (Nicolas Manion and Michael Dyer) to watch for, but all eyes were on Joe Cada – winner of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. Cada had already bagged his third career bracelet earlier in the series, and he became the first World Champion to reach a second WSOP Main Event final table in the post-Chris Moneymaker era (since 2003).
Cada eventually bowed out in 5th place for $2.15 million, however, while Manion (4th place for $2.825 million) and Dyer (3rd place for $3.75 million) were next to go.
That left Cynn to face off against Miles for the title, and with the pair nearly dead even in chips starting heads-up play, their 10-hour brawl was not all that surprising.
Finally, Cynn flopped trips with K-J on a K-K-5 board, while Miles’ Q-8 found a pair on the 8 turn. When Miles shoved all in, Cynn mulled his decision over for a few minutes before announcing the call – winning the World Championship in the process.
In the immediate aftermath of the win, Cynn told PokerNews how this year’s journey compared to 2016:
“(It) feels very different. I mean really neither is supposed to happen.
To make 11th is insane on its own, and to win, that’s literally something that you dream of but you just never expect to happen.
Right now, I do feel pretty overwhelmed.”
Cynn also revealed his plans for the $8.8 million windfall – the fifth-largest WSOP Main Event prize ever paid:
“I do like to think that I don’t need the money to be happy, but at the same time it’s practically going to make things a lot easier.
Things I want to do in life, things for my family, and my parents.
To my parents, this is money that they could have never imagined. It’ll definitely be life-changing.”
Check the table below to see where the rest of the final table fell, and how much they earned for their efforts:
2018 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results
Place Player Nation Prize
1st John Cynn United States $8,800,000
2nd Tony Miles United States $5,000,000
3rd Michael Dyer United States $3,750,000
4th Nicolas Manion United States $2,825,000
5th Joe Cada United States $2,150,000
6th Aram Zobian United States $1,800,000
7th Alex Lynskey Australia $1,500,000
8th Artem Metalidi Ukraine $1,250,000
9th Antoine Labat France $1,000,000