The final hand of Day 7 of the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event not only determined the nine players who would make the final table, but also propelled Nicolas Manion to the chip lead in the race for the $8.8 million first prize.
Michael Dyer had the chip lead for most of the day, but a massive cooler on the night’s final hand completely changed the dynamics of the tournament heading into the final table.
Shocking Cooler Sets Final Table
After Manion opened the action and got a call from Antoine Labat, Yuqei Zhu moved all in for 24.7 million chips. The action folded back to Manion, who moved all-in himself for over 43 million. Labat considered his options, then finally called.
The three men flipped their hands to reveal a stunning scene. Manion had pocket aces, while both Zhu and Labat turned over pocket kings. Zhu was in the worst shape of all, as Manion held the aces of the same suits as his kings, but Labat wasn’t doing much better, with the two players mainly hoping for a king-high straight that would allow them to split the hand.
But the flop only left Labat with a backdoor flush draw, and the turn ended any hope that the aces would be cracked. Zhu had busted in 10th place, while Labat was crippled, becoming the short stack at the final table with just over 8 million chips.
The massive pot also turned Manion into the chip leader with more than 112.7 million, just ahead of Dyer, who will enter the final table with more than 109 million.
Cada Looking for Second Main Event Title
The incredible hand almost overshadowed what would have clearly been the biggest story of the final table. 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Joe Cada reached the final table for a second time, and will enter Day 8 of play in sixth place with 23.675 million chips.
Cada, who had nursed a short stack for much of the day, was just as surprised as everyone else when the final hand of the night played out.
“I thought the thing was going to go all night,” Cada told WSOP.com. “I thought the thing was going to go all night. Everyone here was playing great poker…you needed something like that to burst this bubble.”
Cada isn’t the only player at the final table who has made a deep run in this event before. John Cynn of Indianapolis sits in fourth place with over 37 million chips. Cynn had narrowly missed out on a final table spot two years ago, when he finished in 11th place.
While there’s no doubt that poker is a game of skill, there’s no substitute for a big stack, especially this late in the tournament. That’s why Bet365 has made Manion the 11/5 favorite to win the WSOP Main Event, just ahead of Dyer (9/4). After that, though, the bookmaker has made Cada (6/1) the third choice, owing to his tournament poker prowess.
Tony Miles – currently in third chip position – is listed at 7/1, ahead of Cynn (8/1) and Alex Lynskey (9/1). The three short stacks are given the longest odds, with Aram Zobian (22/1), Artem Metalidi (28/1), and Labat (33/1) likely needing to make an early move in order to get back into contention.
The final table will play down to six players on Thursday, then down to three on Friday, before a winner is crowned on Saturday. All nine players are guaranteed to win at least $1 million.