LAS VEGAS -- John Cynn defeated Tony Miles heads-up to win the 2018 World Series of Poker main event early Sunday morning, claiming poker's world championship and $8.8 million.
Cynn, 33, of Indianapolis, played 10 full days of poker over the past two weeks at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino to turn his $10,000 buy-in into one of the richest prizes in poker, triumphing over a field of 7,874 players.
Though he was still wrapped up in the emotion of his victory, Cynn made it clear that while the money will change his life, he doesn't want to change who he is as a person.
"The money is very significant, but I do like to think that I don't need the money to be happy," said Cynn. "But at the same time, practically, it's going to make things a lot easier -- things I want to do in life ... even to my parents, this is money that they never could've imagined. It's definitely going to be life-changing."
The heads-up battle between Cynn and Miles lasted almost 10½ hours, with records set for the most hands played heads-up to close out a WSOP main event (199) and the most total hands at a WSOP main event final table (442).
On the final hand, Cynn raised to 9 million with Kc-Jc before the flop, Miles reraised to 34 million with Qc-8h, and Cynn called. After a flop of Kh-Kd-5h, Miles bet 32 million and Cynn called. On the 8d turn, Miles went all-in for 114 million. After thinking for a minute, Cynn dropped in his chips to indicate a call, and it was all over.
Miles, who entered the day as the chip leader, earned $5 million for his second-place finish. Though he was clearly disappointed with the result, he already had some perspective of how special a moment he had just been involved in.
"We've been playing on little to no sleep -- the nerves and the angst that you feel at night, it's almost impossible to get a good night's rest," he said. "Then you come in here and you have to battle for 12 hours heads-up. It was a war, and it was amazing. I'm sure it'll go down and be chronicled in history as one of the best heads-up matches ever. I have a ton of respect for him. He's going to be a great champion, and I'm really happy for him."
Cynn was similarly exhausted, and in the final hours, he said he really started to feel the effects of having to push through the latter stages of the 10-day poker marathon and an intense final day.
"I'm pretty beat. I'm pretty exhausted," he admitted. "I think every day, somehow you get more exhausted but also a little bit sharper just because your adrenaline keeps you going."
Cynn entered this tournament with just shy of $1 million in career poker tournament earnings -- the bulk of which came from his 11th-place finish in the 2016 main event, for which he earned $650,000.
The final day of play began with three players, but it took just 18 hands for Michael Dyer to have his all-in bet called. His Ah-Td failed to catch up to Miles' As-Jh, and Dyer took home $3.75 million for his third-place finish.
From there, it became a battle of wills between Cynn and Miles. They traded the lead back and forth numerous times over the course of 199 hands of heads-up play, but even though Cynn found himself at a significant disadvantage several times during the match, Miles was the player at risk in all three hands in which there was an all-in and call.
The first was a river call by Cynn, who had two pair against Miles' three of a kind. The second all-in was a battle of draws that ended in an unlikely chopped pot.
The third all-in call sealed the title for Cynn.