Qui Nguyen is the 2016 Main Event champion. He takes home his first WSOP bracelet along with $8,005,310.
The bright lights of the Main Event had to wait 4 months before being reignited for this final table, and after 3 days of compelling viewing, they have been extinguished once more until the summer, with one man now holding aloft the most coveted prize in poker.
This event saw 6,737 players put up $10,000 to purchase a slender opportunity to realise the ultimate dream of becoming the world champion of poker. After rake had been taken, the players were still left with a monumental sum of $63,340,268 in the prize pool. Of the players who pulled up a chair for the 2016 Main Event, 1,011 would go on to reach the money, with the prize for 865th -1,011th being set at $15,000. Further up the payout ladder, the money soon got serious, with our 9th place finisher collecting $1 million, and the eventual winner taking home $8,005,310. It took a full 7 days of play before we knew the names of our 9 finalists.
The run in
Every year, fans are treated to the sight of well known stars of the game battling it out as the field shrinks to the final few tables, and it could certainly be argued that this year was above average in that regard. Dan Colman, a young man who took the poker world by storm in 2014 when he accumulated over $22 million in live tournament earnings during the year, was up with the leading chip stacks in the latter stages of this year’s Main Event. He couldn’t quite convert his position into a final table place however, eventually bowing out in 31st place for $216,211. Two-time bracelet winner Paul Volpe collected the same payout for his 29th place finish, and 3rd place finisher from the 2009 Main Event, Antoine Saout, collected $269,430 for his 25th place this time around.
James Obst played the role of flag bearer for the online poker world in the closing stages of this event, as a holder of six prestigious online championship titles. He made the fold of the tournament as the final table loomed, throwing away a full house and openly declaring, with astounding accuracy, that he thought his opponent had a straight-flush. The hand damaged his stack however, and even though he’d shown incredible talent to survive it, and he eventually went on to fall in 13th for $427,930.
Final table unfolds
As the tournament was paused for its 4-month hiatus back in July, two-time WSOP bracelet winner Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy led the way with 74 million chips. Qui Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam before moving to the United-States, was in close proximity with just under 68 million. The rest of the field included a few other talented pros who were comfortable in the 26 to 49 million range, with short stacks Jerry Wong and Fernando Pons bringing up the rear with 10.1 million and 6.1 million respectively.
As expected, it was the critically short stacked Pons who bowed out first, with Jerry Wong and Griffin Benger hitting the rail in the hours that followed. Qui Nguyen was the real story of the day, and made his intentions clear from the outset, picking a fight with the chip leader on the very first hand of play. By the time Belgian pro Kenny Hallaert was dismissed in 6th place to bring an end to the day, Nguyen had surged into the lead with over 128 million chips. His nearest challenger was Josephy with 63,850,000.
When play reconvened the following day, Nguyen remained very active, applying pressure to his opponents, enduring some significant swings throughout the day. At no point did it seem to affect his aggressive approach however, and he was soon rewarded for his persistence. Vojtech Ruzicka had already departed the table in 5th place when Nguyen played a large pot with Gordon Vayo, emerging with the chiplead once again. Only a few more hands had passed before Michael Ruane involved himself in a serious confrontation with Josephy, seriously damaging his own stack in the process. The wounded Ruane was dispatched shortly afterwards in 4th, and the table retired for the night. Nguyen led the way once more, with 197,600,000 to Gordon Vayo‘s 89,000,000. Josephy remained in contention with 50,000,000.
The champion is crowned
The final day had not been running for too long before the first significant shots were fired. Cliff Josephy was the unfortunate recipient of a Nguyen broadside, which cut his stack down to just 18,000,000, before Gordon Vayo finished the job just minutes later, bringing the Main Event down to heads-up play.
The irrepressible Qui Nguyen no longer had the chiplead as the players faced off for the crown, with Vayo moving ahead through the elimination of Josephy. Over the following hours, the chiplead traded hands few times before Qui Nguyen eventually managed to gain the upper hand. He continued to press his advantage, grinding Vayo down to just 27bb. The final hand arrived soon after, with Nguyen holding King Ten and forcing his opponent to take his chances with Jack Ten. One clean run-out later, and the $8,005,310 1st prize, the diamond encrusted bracelet, and a place in poker history belonged to Qui Nguyen.
The final payouts are as follows:
1. Qui Nguyen – $8,005,310
2. Gordon Vayo – $4,661,228
3. Cliff Josephy – $3,453,035
4. Michael Ruane – $2,576,003
5. Vojtech Ruzicka – $1,935,288
6. Kenny Hallaert – $1,464,258
7. Griffin Benger – $1,250,190
8. Jerry Wong – $1,100,076
9. Fernando Pons – $1,000,000
Article by Craig Bradshaw