Coming into the final table as the chip leader is Jesse Sylvia, with 43.875 million in chips. Hailing from Massachusetts, Sylvia finished Day 7 with 22.1% of the chips in play and 14.5 million than the next closest player. He considers himself a professional poker player and currently resides in Las Vegas.
Upon initially moving to Las Vegas, Sylvia roomed with fellow Octo-Niner Russell Thomas, making for an interesting twist to this final table. The two of them had dinner together from Day 2 on in the Main Event before stretching their runs all the way down to this Final Table.
When asked about discussing this dream scenario with Thomas, Sylvia had the following to say:
"Of course. After Day Two, Russell and I had dinner together every night. We would talk about our chip counts and hands we played over dinner. Then, his family came out and my girlfriend came and when all of us would get dinner I would be like, “I hope you’re the one I get to play heads up. When we got down to ten-handed, we just looked at each other. I was shaking my head and he was shaking his head back and forth. It was apparent we were both going to make it. Then, we went out and partied last night, afterwards. I was sitting with him and I said, ‘Like, oh my God, – this is incredible!’ So yeah, we’ve talked about it but it’s always been a joke."
Prior to this final table, Sylvia had $58,478 in live tournament earnings. He almost increased his live winnings by cashing in the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, but became the exact bubble boy.
Sylvia enters the final table with the big lead, but only one recent winner (Jonathan Duhamel) was able to turn the chip lead into a win. The WSOP asked Sylvia if he were offered a guaranteed second-place finish, if he'd accept the offer. Here's his answer:
"Honestly, I would have to think about it a bit more. But my gut instinct is that I would not take second. I think the way I think about this is unique to me because I am different than a lot of people who get to this stage. There is a common thread that poker players do not care about money when it comes to playing. But I do not really care that much about money even away from the table. I have taken months off and traveled. I lived in Costa Rica for three months, where I lived on like $1,200 the entire time. I can live on no money and be very happy. Of course, we have already made a lot of money (by finishing at least ninth) – but it’s not like that’s enough money to do whatever you want the rest of your life. So, 25 thinking about it a bit more, I might accept the five million dollars. But I still think I would be a little more
inclined to go for the glory."
Whether or not Sylvia will turn his chip lead into a win, or top-three finish, is left to be determined, but he's got quite the lead to make that happen.