Cordial atmosphere at WSOP Main Event final table is a welcome change for players

14 July 2018

LAS VEGAS -- It was about 15 minutes before the World Series of Poker Main Event final table began play on Friday night when a Tony Miles supporter approached Joe Cada and gave him a big hug. “Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to Tony,” a smiling Cada said to the woman as she walked away. Moments later, just as the cards were about to go in the air and ESPN lights flipped on, John Cynn jumped up from his seat, went around the table and slapped hands with each of the other five players, wishing them the best. Hours before, Nic Manion sent out a tweet, sending best wishes to his fellow competitors: Although millions of dollars were at stake and each of the players began Friday night in a rare position to become a part of poker history forever, there has been absolutely zero animosity at the table through the first two nights of the final table, being played here at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The play has been clean and crisp, with very little tanking, and the conversation has been downright congenial. Auburn—Alabama and Red Sox—Yankees it is not. “We’re all playing a game and we’re all playing to win, but it definitely doesn’t seem personal or anything like that, which is great,” said Cynn, a 33-year-old from Illinois who will return to the Rio on Saturday for three-handed play in second place, behind new chip leader, Miles. “I love the atmosphere. Everyone is friendly. We’re all playing quick. It helps as a player. It makes things more interesting.” “It was a fun group of guys to play with,” said Joe Cada, moments after he busted out in fifth place, earning $2,150,000. “It was a great experience overall.” Now, remember, poker is game that has given us numerous tense — and sometimes nasty — moments. The pressure is fierce and the amount of money at stake is outrageous. In recent years, we’ve had tanking controversies, player disagreements and, of course, who can forget the William Kassouf “Check Your Privilege” blow out in 2016: None of the above has been present at this year’s final table, and the players are loving it. “We’ve been pretty talkative this whole time,” said Manion, who was the chip leader heading into the final table, but saw that advantage evaporate over the last two nights, before bowing out in fourth place. “That makes the day go by so much better. It’s really nice that everyone is talking and we all act pretty fast on our hands. There’s no reason to tank.” And, as far as Miles, who enters Saturday with a commanding chip lead over Cynn and Michael Dyer, is concerned, the affection the players have for one another will extend past this year and beyond the poker table. “I love these guys. I have a unique bond with them that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” said Miles, the pro out of Florida who entered Friday night with the fourth-best out of the six remaining, only to surge into the chip lead. “We’re all friends and we all understand that we’re playing a tournament. The variance could cost one of us millions of dollars, but we’re all just grateful to be here and we’re all living in the moment and trying to be appreciative of each other.” Meanwhile, Dyer put the whole “peace and love” final table into perspective. “I mean, we’re all millionaires so it’s hard to not like each other at the moment,” he deadpanned. Well said, Michael. Well said. Wardrobe change Cada’s rail was one of the most boisterous of the night, and was wearing a new t-shirt in honor of their man. Cada explained that since he’s been in Las Vegas for the WSOP all summer, his mother has been caring for his seven-year-old Golden Retriever, Bosco. “Every time I called home I would ask how Bosco was doing and my mom would say, ‘He needs some biscuits,’ thus the t-shirt,” said Cada, the 2009 Main Event champ who fell short in his bid to become just the fifth player in history to win multiple crowns. “He means the world to me. Can’t wait to get back home and see him.” Meanwhile, Miles, who was wearing a Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks game jersey on Thursday night, switched to a black Steph Curry Golden State Warriors jersey on Friday. “Why not?” Miles answered when asked about The Town wardrobe. “He’s a stud on and off the court. Love him.” Rhode Island native Aram Zobian, the youngest player at the table, wore a black “Be A Good Person” t-shirt on Thursday, but decided to pay homage to his home state on Friday by donning a black tank-top Providence College basketball jersey. Unfortunately for the Friars, they didn’t get much TV time. Zobian busted in sixth place, but earned the biggest payday for his career with $1.8 million. “It will change my life significantly,” the 23-year-old said about his big haul. “I’ll definitely do some traveling. Probably buy a nice car, help out family, donate some to charity and improve my overall quality of life.”


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