2016 WSOP Main Event: Cliff Josephy aka “JohnnyBax” Leads Final Nine

Today began with 27 players still in contention from a field which began as 6,737. There were plenty of unknown players still in there at the start of the day, but also a great deal of quality remained in the field. Online stars and former bracelet winners were still in the hunt, but after several hours play, we have finally assembled the nine men who will battle for glory come October.

We lost some interesting players along the way, with former final tablist Antoine Saout finishing 25th for $269,430 before the final Asian player in the field, Ka Kwan Lau fell in 20th for the same payout. Lively character and UK pro William Kassouf managed to assemble 30 million chips at one point, but couldn’t convert that into a final table seat. He was eliminated in 17th for $338,288. U.S pro Tom Marchese was one of the better known players left in the field, but he also fell just short, taking home $427,930 for his 14th place finish. Then came Australian pro James Obst. Having distinguished himself online over the years, this series had seen him make several deep runs in live events, and his Main Event efforts were equally impressive. He fell in 13th place for $427,930.

2016 WSOP November Nine
2016 WSOP November Nine

Here are the final nine survivors still vying for this world championship and the $8 million 1st prize:

Cliff Josephy – 74.6 million

Cliff Josephy has been one of more experienced players in the late stages of this event, and has certainly put that wisdom to work in the final table run in. He began as an online tournament specialist, achieving online notoriety under the name ‘JohnnyBax.’ He became a famous player in the early days of online poker, but is now a veteran of both the online, and live worlds. Born in New York, he owns two WSOP bracelets, with the most recent coming in 2013. Having previously been ranked the number 1 tournament player online, he now has live cashes of $2,625,000.

Qui Nguyen – 67,925,000

When play began on day 7, Qui Nguyen sat in 25th place in the chip counts out of the remaining 27 players. He managed to grind out enough pots to keep himself in with a chance today, before hitting a well timed upswing in the second half of day 7. His fantastic day has seen him propelled up to 2nd on the chip counts. Having had only one previous WSOP cash before this event, Nguyen now has the chance to win life changing money.

Gordon Vayo – 49,375,000

With plenty of live tournament experience and a very strong stack going forward, U.S pro Gordon Vay has a great chance of toppling the bigger stacks to win this in October. He has 26 previous WSOP cashes, with over $608,000 in career cashes at the series. Having first competed in the WSOP in 2011, he has a 2nd and a 4th place finish to his name. Vayo will be one of the stronger opponents on this final table.

Kenny Hallaert – 43,325,000

Belgian born pro Kenny Hallaert led this tournament back on day 3, and despite plenty of ups and downs since then, now has a strong stack and a serious shot at WSOP greatness. He certainly has tournament experience, with 22 WSOP cashes and world series earnings of $367,855. No stranger to large fields, he took 5th place out of 22,374 runners in last year’s WSOP Collossus event.

Michael Ruane – 31,600,000

Having led this tournament through parts of day 7, U.S national Michael Ruane now holds a comfortable stack going into the final table. He may only have 3 previous WSOP cashes, but has every chance of causing an upset here.

Vojtech Ruzicka – 27,300,000

Ruzicka is an interesting player in this lineup, as he has significant online tournament pedigree, having taken runner up spot in the 2011 WCOOP Main Event. That type of event attracts some of the greatest players on earth, which hints at Ruzicka being a talented opponent. His WSOP cashes only number 17, but this Czech player may yet be the dark horse of the final nine.

Griffin Benger – 26,175,000

Griffin Benger is another talented and interesting addition to this lineup, as the Canadian is a famous Counterstrike player who turned into an online poker pro, enjoying plenty of success under the name ‘Flush_Entity.’ He won the Pokerstars Shark cage for $1 million in 2014, and has been doing commentary work on the GPL broadcast recently.

Jerry Wong – 10,175,000

U.S national Jerry Wong is another player who has led this Main Event field in the late stages, but clearly had a difficult day 7, as he has slipped to a shorter stack. He has 19 previous WSOP cashes, with over $118,000 in WSOP earnings to his name, and so he is no stranger to cashing tournaments here at the world series. He will be hoping for a special run of form when the final table convenes again in October.

Fernando Pons – 6,150,000

Spaniard Fernando Pons is about the only player in this field who won’t be feeling too much pressure going into the final table. As the shortest stack by a reasonable margin, he won’t be expecting great things at the final table. But when a player relaxes and plays well, there is always a chance to gather some momentum. Pons has no previous WSOP cashes.

Article by Craig B.

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