World Series of Poker Final Table Summary of Results
After more than one hundred days wait, on October 30th the November Nine finally sits down to resume the action in the WSOP main event. This year's inductees to the Poker Hall of Fame, Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson, are there at the off to give some words of encouragement followed by the traditional “shuffle up and deal” command. Finally the wait is over.
The starting chip counts are as follows:
Cliff Josephy (74,600,000)
Qui Nguyen (67,925,000)
Gordon Vayo (49,375,000)
Kenny Hallaert (43,325,000)
Michael Ruane (31,600,000)
Vojtech Ruzicka (27,300,000)
Griffin Benger (26,175,000)
Jerry Wong (10,175,000)
Fernando Pons (6,150,000)
The first hand sees favourite and chip leader Cliff Josephy re-raising Qui Nguyen's A4o button open from the small blind with Q9o, only to be quickly slapped down with a quick four bet indicating his intention not to be pushed around in any way. We were all hoping for fireworks early on and it looked as if we were going to get our way. Sadly it wasn't to be, with everything soon slowing down into a standard ABC type game, while everybody tries to work out what their opponent's game plan is.Tail-ender Fernando Pons sat with only ten big blinds would surely be keen to make some headway to give himself a chance. After sixteen hands of play with the blinds having just increased he looks down at A6o and makes his move, shoving in his final eight big blinds from the BTN. Josephy is holding KJo in the big blind and ponders for a few moments before making the call. Pons must have been happy to see himself ahead, but the K Q 3 flop soon put paid to that. A nine turn and another king on the river ends Pons's dream for another year. Now it is Griffin Benger's and Jerry Wong's turn to sweat.
The tight play continues with the big stacks fighting it out amongst themselves for the next three hours. Then Jerry Wong wakes up with JJ, quickly finding himself in a spot he knows he can't back away from, but he isn't thrilled any more either, short-stack or not. Vojtech Ruzicka opens and faces a three bet. Wong is too short to make a call here and jams most of his stack in, only for Ruzicka to put him all-in for only a trivial amount left to call. Wong calls and Ruzicka shows QQ. The run out doesn't help Wong and so another player is out. That leaves Griffin Benger as the only short stack left. Up until this point he has only won a single hand since play began. So down to nine big blinds and holding A9s it's time to make a stand, three bet jamming over Gordon Vayo's open raise. Vayo shows TT and although a nine comes on the flop there is no more help.
After only a few hours play we are down to six handed. Surely things will start to heat up now. Next up to go is Kenny Hallaert. Not especially short stacked, with almost forty big blinds he opens with AQs only for the increasingly aggressive Qui Nguyen to come over the top. Hallaert senses his chance and shoves his remaining 35 big blinds only for Nguyen to call with AA. And there play ends for the day, with the five players left all now guaranteed almost $2 million.
Qui Nguyen (128,625,000)
Cliff Josephy (63,850,000)
Vojtech Ruzicka (62,250,000)
Gordon Vayo (58,200,000)
Michael Ruane (23,700,000)
Qui Nguyen is the surprise package so far. His fearless, hyper-aggressive style clearly confusing his more seasoned rivals. People are starting to question if the pundits have been wrong. Can he really keep this up? Michael Ruane is next in line to be facing the exit, but it didn't work out that way. Czech grinder Vojtech Ruzicka, who is impressing everybody watching, three bets Gordon Vayo who calls to see a flop with 88. Vayo makes his set, and sits back while Ruzicka three barrels AK as a stone cold bluff. With less than one big blind left Ruzicka is out on the next hand.
Ruane is next up. Four handed with less than 25 big blinds KQs looks good enough to be three bet jamming, but Nguyen is happy to snap it off with AJ and see it hold. Down to three, at the end of one of the shortest final table days ever played.
Antonio Esfandiari, commentating for ESPN, admits he is perplexed at Nguyen's style of play. Sometimes he is opening hands in early position, only to fold the same hand in a much more favourable situation from late position. Whatever his plan is it looks to be working a treat.
Qui Nguyen (197,600,000)
Cliff Josephy (50,000,000)
Gordon Vayo (89,000,000)
The first hand looks to have made matters more interesting with Josephy doubling up through Nguyen. Now all three players are in touching distance of one another. Four hands later though it all turns on its head, with all three players seeing the flop after Nguyen squeezes pre. He follows through with a bet and both Josephy and Vayo call. Nguyen checks the turn, Josephy bets and Vayo jams with Nguyen folding. Josephy looks concerned but calls with his set of deuces, Vayo then turns over a set of threes. Bang! The single out doesn't arrive on the river and Josephy is down to eight big blinds. Vayo is now sat with more than two hundred million chips, and it won't be much longer before Josephy is heading for the door.
On to heads up we go, with 125 big blinds for Vayo and 85 for Nguyen. Nguyen is really stepping it up a gear at this point. Heads up poker really is the domain of aggressive players who can play without any fear. Vayo looks to be out of sorts and resorting to passive play, but that game plan is never going to lead him to victory against this opponent. Nguyen looks to be battering Vayo, but every time a knockout blow looked imminent Vayo pulls a rabbit out of his hat to get back in to the game. Eventually Vayo finds himself short stacked once more and decides to 3 bet shove his last 18 big blinds with JTs only for Nguyen to call and turn over KT. It wasn't looking good, even if the flopped double gutshot brought some hope. It wasn't to be, and after a mammoth session of playing until 3am Nguyen, was the 2016 WSOP main event champion. Richly deserved, even if only for the heart he showed throughout.