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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

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Around the WSOP: It was a “Walton Wonderland” at the Main Event Final Table
 

Adam Walton fans flood the Main Event final table.

Adam Walton fans flood the Main Event final table.

LAS VEGAS – Throughout the World Series of Poker’s Main Event final table, the Adam Walton rail was the most boisterous of any other cheering section. The Walton Clan flooded a large portion of the seats surrounding the featured table inside Horseshoe Las Vegas each day, wearing bright red A&W t-shirts, and coming up with creative chants.

Their spirited enthusiasm continued on Monday afternoon as Walton took his place at the table alongside the remaining two players, Steven Jones and Daniel Weinman, in the largest Main Event field in history. They joyfully serenaded him with a modified rendition of the Christmas song "Winter Wonderland," aptly rewording the lyrics to "Walking in a Walton Wonderland."

And while they may have been the loudest fans at the final table, ironically, before the cards have gone in the air each day, the group huddled up around their favorite player, hands on each other's shoulders, for a moment of silence and prayer.

“Just praying for wisdom and that I can conduct myself in a way that expresses who I want to be,” Walton explained to Casino City just moments after he was jettisoned from the Main Event when ran into Weinman’s pocket Aces to finish third and collect a cool $4 million. “Sometimes in these big spots the emotions can get the best of you. I just want to remind myself to be the best person I can be no matter what happens.”

Lynne Walton, Adam’s mother, was among those who participated in the prayer ritual and shed light on its significance, which had become a tradition over the past few days.

“He’s gathering all of us to pray for peace, we’re not praying for a win,” she said just minutes before her son sat down at the table on Monday. “We’re praying for him to do his best and for him not to feel any anxiety. We’ve always prayed with him since he was a little baby and it’s just something he’s continued to do.”

Lynne flew into Las Vegas on Friday when the field had been cut down to 15 players and saw her son catapult into the chip lead as things dwindled down to the final nine players. When Sunday’s Final Three action began, Walton, a 40-year-old poker pro from Seattle, was still standing, but dropped back to third place with 165.5 million chips, behind Jones (238 million) and Weinman (199 million) and ultimately finished third.

“It’s been insane, but very exciting,” Lynne said of the last few days. “He has so many friends, a lot of these guys grew up with him in Washington and he has made a lot of great friends since he moved to Las Vegas. We’re so proud of him no matter what happens today, Adam is an awesome person who just so happens to be a pretty good poker player, as well.”

Added Walton: “I feel very blessed to have a great group of friends and family, both locally and across the country. You know, you don’t find yourself in this kind of situation every year, so it’s been fun to take advantage of the time to get together like this.”
Adam Walton fans present Kara Scott with a present.

Adam Walton fans present Kara Scott with a present.



* * *


Weinman was the lone player of the final three to already have one WSOP bracelet in his jewelry box. Seven out of the last 10 Main Event winners were first-time bracelet winners.

Weinman, a 35-year-old from Atlanta, also has a significant edge in career earnings, with over $3.7 million, more than three times the combined career earnings of Walton ($989,037) and Jones ($235,040).

This year's Main Event is guaranteed to crown an American champion, breaking the streak since 2018 when John Cynn claimed victory. Before 2008, 92% of Main Event winners (35 out of 38) hailed from the United States. The November Nine Era, spanning from 2008 to 2016, saw a considerable shift with four out of the nine winners originating from outside the U.S. (Denmark's Peter Eastgate in 2008, Canada's Jonathan Duhamel in 2010, Germany's Pius Heinz in 2011, and Sweden's Martin Jacobson in 2014).

Including this year, 42 of the 54 Main Event champions have been American players.

* * *


Weinman arrived at the Horseshoe on Monday as the first of the three players, emanating a relaxed demeanor accompanied by a broad smile while holding his girlfriend's hand. His father warmly greeted his son, embracing him and jokingly asking, "How is my heart rate racing 10 or 20 times faster than yours?"

When asked about the significance of the Main Event bracelet compared to the $12.1 million cash prize, Weinman diplomatically responded, "I think they hold equal value. The bracelet is great and brings honor with it, but you can't spend the bracelet."

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