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Final table of 9 set for World Series of Poker Main Event

Michael Ruane put his backpack over his shoulders and looked up at the video screen.

When the final card was dealt, the professional poker player from Hoboken, New Jersey, scrunched his face one last time.

Ruane was knocked out in 10th place early Tuesday at the Rio Convention Center, falling one spot shy of reaching his second consecutive World Series of Poker Main Event final table.

The $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship resumes at 5:30 p.m. Thursday when the final nine players return following a two-day break.

All the remaining competitors are guaranteed a minimum of $1 million with $8.15 million to the winner.

Scott Blumstein, an online poker grinder from Morristown, New Jersey, making his Main Event debut, has a commanding chip lead.

Blumstein and 64-year-old John Hesp of Bridlington, England, in second place have more than half of the chips in play between them.

“I can’t believe it’s real,” Blumstein said. “I have a great group of guys, and we’re going to get to work and prepare for one of the biggest moments of my life.”

Ruane was looking to match Mark Newhouse (2013, 2014) as the only players to reach the Main Event final table in back-to-back years since the tournament went to the former “November Nine” format in 2008.

Ruane finished fourth in 2016, and he took home $825,001 for this deep run.

Ruane saw his chip stack decimated in a pivotal pot late against bracelet winner Bryan Piccioli, who thought for more than two minutes before calling — and ultimately winning — with pocket 10s against Ruane’s ace-king.

Ruane was eliminated by Argentina’s Damian Salas on the next hand.

Piccioli is fourth in chips thanks in large part to a hand against Antoine Saout with 11 players remaining.

With Piccioli’s tournament life at stake, he hit one of the two remaining 8s in the deck on the river to double-up against the Frenchman and set off a massive celebration in one corner of the Brasilia Room.

‘They’re baaack!’

Even without Ruane, two familiar faces will return to the final table.

Ben Lamb, a Las Vegas resident, finished third in the 2011 Main Event. He has the shortest chip stack with 18.05 million chips (23 big blinds).

Lamb, who has more than $6.2 million lifetime WSOP earnings, also made a deep run in 2009 when he finished 14th.

Saout, who finished third in 2009, is seventh in chips with 21.75 million (27 big blinds). Saout was 25th in last year’s Main Event.

Foreign flavor

Saout is joined by countryman Benjamin Pollak in third place, marking the first time two French players are at the Main Event final table. A French-born player has never won the Main Event.

Hesp and Jack Sinclair, who had a massive chip lead for a large portion of the afternoon and early evening, are looking to join Mansour Matloubi as the only British players to win the tournament.

Also, Salas became the first Argentine to make the final table and is sixth in chips.

CHIP COUNTS

1. Scott Blumstein (Morristown, New Jersey), 97,250,000

2. John Hesp (Bridlington, England), 85,700,000

3. Benjamin Pollak (Paris), 35,175,000

4. Bryan Piccioli (Allegany, New York), 33,800,000

5. Dan Ott (Altoona, Pennsylvania), 26,475,000

6. Damian Salas (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 22,175,000

7. Antoine Saout (Morlaix, France), 21,750,000

8. Jack Sinclair (London), 20,200,000

9. Ben Lamb (Las Vegas), 18,050,000

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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