John Cynn Wins the 2018 WSOP Main Event over Tony Miles
John Cynn is the winner of the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event. Cynn, who is a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, won $8.8 million for finishing in first place at the WSOP Main Event. The 33-year old professional poker player finished in 11th place at the 2016 WSOP Main Event.
The ESPN and Poker Network broadcasters covering the event said John Cynn’s previous experience was a key factor in winning the biggest poker event of the year. If so, then Cynn’s experience told him to stay within himself. Cynn’s winning strategy was no different than his regular tournament strategy: caution play over aggression. John Cynn’s methodical style meant that the WSOP Main Event’s final two became a 10-hour marathon.
In one of the longest WSOP Main Event heads-up showdowns, John Cynn maintained a steady lead over Tony Miles. The poker historians will say that John Cynn’s methodical style wore down the less accomplished Tony Miles, who abandoned his more aggressive play style as the hours wore on. There is some truth to the snap analysis by the ESPN and Poker Central broadcasters, but the contest was won by the narrowest of margins.
It could have gone either way, based on the fact John Cynn held 213 million chips coming into the final hand, while Tony Miles held 180 million chips. To borrow the words of the Duke of Wellington, the WSOP Main Event final table was “a damned nice thing…the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.”
John Cynn/Tony Miles All-In Call
Three hours into heads-up play with Tony Miles, John Cynn had a chance to make an all-in call that would have put away his opponent. Making that all-in call would have been a hard to do in those circumstances, so John Cynn folded. It would take another 7 hours to secure the win.
Two other times throughout those 7 hours, John Cynn was faced with all-in calls which could have put Tony Miles out of the poker tournament. Both times, John Cynn decided to fold. On the second and third all-in calls, the color analysts suggested Cynn’s fold call was a little more questionable — though still reasonable.
John Cynn’s Rope-a-Dope Poker Style
Instead, John Cynn took a cautious approach, maintaining a chip lead for all but a few minutes throughout the night. At a point, he had Tony Miles down to 90 million chips (against 365 million). In a break, professional poker pro Shaun Deeb told Tony Miles he needed to be more aggressive.
Tony Miles came out of that break in an aggressive mode. Over the next two hours, Tony Miles seized the initiative and put John Cynn in uncomfortable positions. Eventually, Miles clawed his way back to a chip lead. Several times, John Cynn was helped late in hands by fortunate draws, though such luck is a part of every WSOP Main Event championship. John Cynn met Tony Miles’ aggression with a cautious play. The rope-a-dope style, though it took long hours, eventually seemed to sap Cynn’s opponent of his aggressive.
Tony Miles’ Aggression Pushes Cynn to the Limit
In the last two to three hours of play, Tony Miles fell into a more passive pattern. For a long time, the equilibrium seemed to have John Cynn into the 220 million to 240 million chip range, while Tony Miles stayed in the 140 million to 160 million chip range.
In such a situation, the player with the smaller chip stack realizes that any big pot could put then in an untenable position. Slowly but surely, the heads-up contest seemed to wear down Tony Miles’ aggressive instincts, as he called more and folded more.
John Cynn’s victory was not inevitable. In the last hour of the heads-up showdown, Tony Miles began to claw himself into striking position. Though he held only 100 million chips thirty minutes prior, Tony Miles had 180 million chips on the final hand. John Cynn had 213 million chips going into the final hand — a virtual tie.
2018 WSOP Main Event Final Hand
Ultimately, Tony Miles got decent hand to play at just the wrong time. On the final hand, Tony Miles got Q-8 offsuit for hole cards. John Cynn received a K-J suited. The flop came K-K-5, giving John Cynn a commanding lead with a set of kings.
Even worse for Tony Miles, the flop gave him three-to-a-flush draw. He bet 32 million into the pot, which John Cynn called. It was a slow call, telling Tony Miles that Cynn had a strong hand, but was hesitant to make the call. When the turn paired Tony Miles’ 8-card, it was the worst possible card the 32-year old Jacksonville, Florida native could have drawn.
Tony Miles made an all-in raise. John Cynn, holding three kings with a jack kicker, had Tony Miles’s hand dominated. From Cynn’s perspective, a few card combinations could have beaten him, so he was hesitant to make the all-in call. After two to three minutes trying to figure out the chip amounts and what possible hand Tony Miles could have, John Cynn made the call and won the WSOP Main Event.
Tony Miles: WSOP Main Event 2nd Place Finisher
While Tony Miles seemed drained and disappointed by his second place finish, he won $5.5 million for his 2nd place finish in the 2018 WSOP Main Event. Miles had $54 thousand in career winnings prior to the World Series of Poker, so the tournament was a life-changing event for Tony Miles. To have played 10 hours heads-up for the WSOP Main Event title, Miles showed considerable skill and talent at Texas Hold’em and certainly has nothing to be ashamed about.
Both players appeared drained in the post-WSOP Main Event interviews. While those TV interviews might not have been the most compelling television moments for poker, the two had endured a grueling 10-day poker event and a more grueling 12-hour final session of poker — and it was 5am in the morning where they were at. The 10-hour showdown between Tony Miles and John Cynn was a compelling display of poker, ending with a deserving champion.
John Cynn takes his place among the luminaries of poker: he will always be the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event champion.