John Cynn Wins 2018 WSOP Main Event, $8.8 Million After Historic Heads-Up Slugfest

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After an epic, back-and-forth match of 199 hands, John Cynn defeated Tony Miles to win the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event early Sunday morning. The more than 10 hour heads-up battle marked the longest in Main Event history.

John Cynn, 2018 WSOP Champion
After a marathon heads-up session, John Cynn claimed the bracelet and $8.8 million as 2018 WSOP Main Event champion. (Image: WSOP)

“Right now, I feel pretty overwhelmed,” Cynn said afterward. “All the emotions times 10.”

Cynn, 33 of Northbrook, Illinois, was the last player standing in the second biggest Main Event in history. He bested a field of 7,874 that included 2009 Main Event winner Joe Cada at the final table. In total over three days, the final table lasted 442 hands, the most ever for the Main Event in its 49-year history.

When Cynn, Miles, and Michael Dyer started three-handed play on Saturday, Cynn was second in chips, more than 110,000,000 between him and the chip leader Miles.

Welcome to Cynn City

On Cynn’s rail, fans and friends wore white T-shirts that read “Welcome to Cynn City,” a slogan ESPN commentator Lon McEachern called his favorite from Main Event crowds.

Though the matchup lasted into the wee hours, it was anything but a snooze-fest for fans. Cynn and Miles went back and forth for hours, with lots and bluffing and three-bets, and the lead changing 11 times between them.

Eyeing victory after such a long fight, Cynn took his time to call with K♣J♣ on a board of K♥K♦5♥8♦ after Miles shoved his last 114,000,000 in chips. Miles held Q8♥, and was drawing dead.

And just before sunrise, the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino became the capital of “Cynn City.”

Cynn, who had 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb and heads-up no-limit hold’em specialist Dan Cates in his corner, nearly reached the Main Event final table two years ago, finishing 11th in 2016 for $650,000.

Without his two WSOP Main Event cashes, Cynn has about $300,000 in tournament winnings over eight years of results.

“Last time when I got knocked out in 11th I was really happy,” he said after Sunday’s win boosted his lifetime tournament earnings to more than $9.7 million. “Really, neither is supposed to happen, right? To make 11th is insane on its own. And then to win, that’s literally something that you dream of, but just never expect to happen.”

Miles started three-handed play with the chip lead and a stack of 238,900,000, while Cynn entered the day with 128,700,000 and Dyer clutched a short stack of 26,200,000.

After Dyer, donning his blue hoodie emblazoned with balloons and clouds, was eliminated about an hour into three-handed play, the bricks of cash were poured onto the table.

Early on in heads up action, Cynn, with his calm smile, shrugged off what appeared to be a turning-point bluff after Miles shoved on a board of J♦4♦3♥3♣K♦ with 7♥5♦, prompting Cynn to fold his 6♠4♣.

A call could have ended the match nearly a full working day earlier for Cynn, but he didn’t let it knock him off-balance upon learning of the bluff from his rail a half-hour later.

Serious Players, Rising Tournament Pros

Wearing a blue University of Florida Gators jersey, Miles, with $54,333 in career tournament earnings previous to the Main Event, collected $5 million for second place. 

The final two players appeared to get along as they fought for the title, laughing and smiling with each other between hands.

“Tony is an amazing guy,” Cynn said. “I truly belive that from my conversations that we’ve had at the tables. He plays really well. I think he adjusts well. He put me in a lot of tough spots.”

Miles, 32, from Jacksonville, Florida, had only cashed two previous times at the WSOP for $6,396, and his previous best finish was an $18,000 cash for third place in Florida.

Fans in Miles’s corner wore black and white T-shirts with the words “One Day at a Time” on the front and “Team Miles” on the back. It was a nod to his sobriety, as Miles’s story was one of a recovering drug addict hitting rock bottom before finding focus and redemption through poker.

Most fans on either side of the heads up battle seemed to endure the entire match, and Cynn’s rail erupted when he called for the final hand and Miles was drawing dead.

Among other notable players on the rail were Shaun Deeb, Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy, and 2017 WSOP Main Event winner Scott Blumstein, who stood in a corner, watching the ESPN feed on his phone.

Blumstein seemed to enjoy the experience of being an ambassador with a view.

“It’s a lot more relaxing,” he said. “I’m excited to see what these guys do.”

Final Table Payouts

1. John Cynn – $8,800,000
2. Tony Miles – $5,000,000
3. Michael Dyer – $3,750,000
4. Nicolas Manion – $2,825,000
5. Joe Cada – $2,150,000
6. Aram Zobian – $1,800,000
7. Alex Lynskey – $1,500,000
8. Artem Metalidi – $1,250,000
9. Antoine Labat – $1,000,000

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