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July 21, 2017

Temple grad has commanding lead after first day of final round at World Series of Poker ‘Main Event’

Scott Blumstein heads into second-day play with a prohibitive chip lead

Temple University alum Scott Blumstein – the youngest of nine players who made the final table – took a commanding lead of the 2017 World Series of Poker’s No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em “Main Event’ at Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas Thursday.

Blumstein, a 25-year-old from Morristown, N.J. who earned an accounting degree on North Broad Street, finished Day One of the three-day event—the most prestigious in all of poker—with more than $178 million in chips. That is only about four million less than the six remaining players at the table combined. Should his lead hold up, Blumstein will win $8.1 million.

Through the first half of the session, Blumstein and 64-year-old Londoner John Hesp kept leapfrogging over each other as they shared the top two spots. But then came one of the most dramatic hands in the history of Final Table play:

Hesp wagered all of his chips on a hand of two pair, aces and 10s, while Blumstein had three aces (Hold ‘Em hands are made by using any or all of five exposed cards in combination with two “pocket” cards that are unseen by others at the table). Blumstein held the aces of spades and diamonds while Hesp had the ace of hearts and 10 of hearts.

The “board” cards included the ace of clubs and 10 of spades, allowing Blumstein to rake the $156 million pot--the largest Final Table haul in memory--and set himself up as the favorite to win the tournament, which began last week with 7,221 participants, the third largest field in the tourney’s 47-year history.

Should Blumstein become this year’s champ, it will be the second time in two years the winner has Philly ties. In 2015, Joe McKeehan of North Wales, Montgomery County, won more than $7 million. The runner-up was Josh Beckley of Marlton, N.J.

Day Two action begins tonight at 9 p.m. (eastern) on ESPN.