The two-week-long World Series of Poker Main Event has at last reached its final day. Once again, the Garden State has been well represented with two players with NJ connections among the final nine.
The $10,000 no-limit hold’em tournament attracted 6,650 players from all around the world. That turnout created a prize pool worth just over $62 million. Both Hye “Henry” Park of Holmdel, New Jersey and George Holmes, originally from NJ and now living in Georgia, survived that huge field to make the final table.
Last night the last nine players played down to just three, with Park falling in sixth and Holmes still in contention.
Holmes will return to the short stack tonight, his 57.4 million in chips putting him third in the counts. Jack Oliver is just ahead of Holmes with 77.3 million, although both are well behind leader Koray Aldemir whose big stack of 264.6 million makes him the favorite to win.
A prize of $8 million awaits the champion. The runner-up will take away $4.3 million with $3 million going to the player finishing third.
‘Henry doing Henry things’: Park finishes sixth
Hye “Henry” Park is a 38-year-old poker pro living in New Jersey. He collected one previous cash in the 2018 WSOP Main Event, taking 535th for just over $26,000. He also has numerous other WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes to his credit. In all, he had collected close to half a million dollars in tournaments before this year’s Main Event.
Now Park adds a much bigger score to his tournament résumé, having earned $1.4 million for his sixth-place finish. The performance thrilled his supporters last night who wore “Henry doing Henry things” t-shirts.
Park’s WSOP tournament run saw him enjoying the overall chip lead in the tournament at the end of Day 6 when just 36 players remained. After losing some chips early that day he battled gamely to make the final table as one of the short stacks, positioned seventh of nine.
Yesterday Park watched Chase Bianchi get knocked out in ninth and Jareth East fall in eighth during the first orbit of play. Both Bianchi and East had short stacks like Park. However the latter climbed out of the danger zone after doubling through Holmes.
That hand saw Park flop top pair and Holmes the nut-flush draw at which point the players got their chips in the middle. Park’s pair held, and he managed to survive the next couple of hours without putting his stack at risk.
After Alejandro Lococo busted in seventh in a big hand versus Aldemir, Park lasted another hour-plus before finally getting all in with pocket sevens versus Aldemir’s ace-queen. A queen on the turn ultimately gave Aldemir the pot, and Park exited in sixth.
Home game hero Holmes still alive with three left
Meanwhile, there still remains one player with a New Jersey connection among the final three, George Holmes.
Originally from New Jersey, the 49-year-old Holmes currently makes his home in Atlanta where he enjoys a weekly home game with friends. While primarily a cash game player, Holmes did make a run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event to finish 213th for just over $50,000.
So far Holmes has guaranteed himself at least 60 times that score, as a third-place finish pays out $3M. Of course, he still has a chance at either the $4.3M for second or $8M up top for the winner.
Holmes’ 2021 WSOP Main Event story includes a “chip and a chair” moment from Monday when they played from 36 down to nine. At one point during the day, Holmes found himself down to just over a single big blind. He managed to win his next all-in against multiple opponents though, and the climb continued steadily from there. Incredibly, he found himself second of nine in the chip counts by the end of the day.
It was Holmes who knocked out East in eighth early on Tuesday. However, he’d endure a couple of setbacks, including Park’s double-up mentioned above, to fall back to the pack.
Holmes’ night then involved a couple of big confrontations with leader Aldemir in which Holmes claimed pots. He also managed one big bluff against Park by overbetting the river and getting Park to fold the best hand.
Holmes later suffered short stack Ozgur Secilmis doubling through him once. He mostly sat tight thereafter, though, as Aldemir collected pot after pot. Finally, Aldemir knocked out Secilmis (fifth) and Oliver took out Joshua Remitio (fourth), leaving Aldemir to end the day with an overwhelming lead.
The New Jersey-WSOP Main Event connection continues
Players with New Jersey connections showing up at the final table continues a WSOP Main Event trend of sorts.
Last year’s “hybrid” WSOP Main Event was played partly online and concluded with a live final table. That meant players on WSOP NJ were able to participate in the early portion of the event.
In the end, three NJ players made the final nine of the “domestic” half of the tournament: Ryan Hagerty (of Somerset), Gershon Distenfeld (Bergenfield), and Harrison Dobin (West Long Branch). Ultimately Damian Salas of Argentina won the overall title.
In 2017, Scott Blumstein of Morristown topped a field of 7,221 players to win the title and $8.15 million.
In 2016, Michael Ruane of Maywood finished fourth in the Main Event. Before that in 2015 there were two NJ players among the final nine. That year Joshua Beckley of Marlton finished runner-up and Thomas Cannuli of Emma took fifth.
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