Scott Blumstein won the series' marquee no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event early Sunday in Las Vegas surrounded by dozens of supporters including relatives and college friends. He is now more than $8.1 million richer after eliminating Pennsylvania's Daniel Ott on the 246th hand of the final table, more than 60 hands with just the two of them with bricks of bills and a gold bracelet separating them.
"I'm really happy about how I played tonight," said Blumstein, who's 25. "... This is just one poker tournament. It takes variance and luck and playing your best, and all those things came together, and I'm happy to be the winner."
Blumstein's final hand of an ace of hearts and a two of diamonds ended up being stronger than that of Ott, who went all in with an ace of diamonds and an eight of diamonds. The community cards were a jack of spades, a six of spades, a five of hearts, a seven of hearts and a two of hearts. It was the last card that prompted Blumstein's supporters to erupt.
"I'm really happy with the result, really happy with the deuce because I was playing good, but I'm pretty tired of poker at this point honestly, and to have to go back and battle pretty deep again, I wasn't looking forward to it," said Blumstein, who fell to his knees near his supporters after the two of hearts was revealed.
Blumstein, Ott and seven other players reached the final table after having bested more than 7,200 participants. Unlike the past several years, the final nine players didn't have to wait until November to take their spots at the final table. Each of them was guaranteed at least $1 million.
The famed tournament marked the end of this year's series, in which dozens of tournaments drew 120,995 entrants from around the world, shattering attendance records. The men who made the final table represented the United States, Argentina, France and Britain. Earlier, on Saturday night, Frenchman Benjamin Pollak was eliminated in third place.
Ott, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, earned $4.7 million. Neither he nor Blumstein, of Brigantine, New Jersey, had previously played at the main event. Both had dozens of supporters who cheered and gasped - depending on the hand - throughout the night. Some in Team Blumstein sported T-shirts that wondered "Is this real" and others that declared "I don't like folding."
Ott said overall he was satisfied with how he performed and the result.
"At the end the chips didn't go my way," Ott told PokerNews.com after the event. "The cards didn't go my way. But I got second place in the third largest Main Event ever. I can't complain about that."
Blumstein, a graduate of Temple University, is a regular on New Jersey online poker sites but had never cashed in the World Series of Poker. His total live winnings stood at more than $300,000 before Sunday. Besides his multimillion-dollar payout, he also took home a bracelet made from white and yellow gold, diamonds and rubies.
The millions of dollars Blumstein earned probably won't go toward buy-ins at high-roller poker tournaments, though. Blumstein said money is not what motivates him to play, but his payout will allow him to do "whatever" he wants to do whether that is play more poker, go into business or return to school.
The champion's home state is one of three states where online poker is legal. After the tournament ended, he credited his many hours on the online felt for helping him win the main event.
"The best way to get better at anything is through repetition and practice," he said. "When you play online in New Jersey, it's hard for any live pro to see even close to the amount of hands I've probably seen in the last two years."