If you talked to Scott Blumstein around this time last year, he might have told you a career in poker just wasn’t in the cards for him.
“For four or five years I was a grinder and would try to get by,” Blumstein said during a phone interview on Tuesday. “I had a timeframe in mind where if it didn’t work out I would probably move onto something else.”
A year ago, too, Blumstein probably didn’t think he’d be talking to me from somewhere in Oklahoma, in the middle of a road trip with his buddies after winning World Series of Poker Main Event.
That win, which he secured just after midnight on July 23, brought him $8.15 million and a permanent place in the WSOP history books.
Blumstein was getting close to the timeframe he set for himself last year, the time when he would leave the full-time poker grind for something more stable.
But something finally worked out in his favor.
The Temple graduate and South Jersey local entered a tournament at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City last July and won the entire event. He used the $199,845 in prize money to keep his poker career alive.
Those funds helped carry him through the year, and eventually to the $10,000 entrance fee required for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Me, 12 minutes after landing in Vegas. pic.twitter.com/01t0aQYovz
— Scott Blumstein (@SBlum2711) July 6, 2017
After 15 straight days of poker, Blumstein reached the main event, and ended up in the final two, competing heads-up with Penn State Altoona graduate Dan Ott.
Blumstein held a healthy lead throughout, but still won in dramatic fashion—landing the two of hearts on the river after he was given a 7-percent chance of winning the hand.
“The whole time I was just kind of living in the moment and wasn’t thinking of what was going to happen, just what was happening,” said Blumstein. “So at the end when I won, it was just a feeling of, first relief because it was over, shock, and then happiness.”
He didn’t buy anything crazy in the last few days or have a huge blow-out party. He did, however, send his parents on vacation to Cooperstown, New York to see the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, saying “that was probably better than anything I could actually buy.”
Blumstein does predict some unique challenges to come along with his celebrity status in the poker world and newfound wealth.
“Three weeks ago I was just some normal kid with dreams of playing in the main event, and then a week and a half later it happened,” he said. “Things are just different … When I play poker, it’s just going to be an interesting feeling not being able to fly under the radar.
“I enjoyed my anonymity, but that is just one of the changes that comes with it, and I’ll get used to it.”
— Scott Blumstein (@SBlum2711) July 28, 2017
At the moment, Blumstein is traveling the country and hitting all of the poker hotspots throughout the Midwest and the South.
He and his buddies will make stops in Oklahoma, North Carolina, and end in Florida, playing poker along the way.
Now, a few years removed from his Temple days, Blumstein hasn’t lived in the city for a while.
He also didn’t even play much poker while he was here.
At one point, he had to take a hiatus from playing altogether, because online poker became illegal for people under 21 during his freshman year at Temple. He referred to that day as “Black Friday.” But rather than letting the game slip away from his life, he remembers spending time watching and learning as a passionate fan.
He also enjoyed his time in the City of Brotherly Love.
“Philly is great,” he said. “I spent four years of my life there and have no regrets.”
Blumstein plans to finish the year out by playing as much poker as he can, but when asked if he will be playing next year he replied that it’s still “to be determined.”
“In life, it is bad to always be doing one thing in general, and poker is no different,” said Blumstein. “Going forward, honestly, I plan to just find some balance.”