You can’t beat the drama that surrounds the WSOP Main Event final table bubble.
It’s arguably the single biggest bubble in poker with nine lucky players becoming millionaires, instant-fame and numerous sponsorship opportunities while one unlucky player becomes a minor footnote in poker.
The stands are generally packed with friends, family and fans and — for one day at least — people are really, really interested in watching people play poker.
The difference between ninth and 10th place this year was $350,000 but there’s a good chance most poker players are thinking of about the $8 million up top. Or at least that’s what’s going to keep you up at night if you do finish in 10th place.
More than anything the WSOP Main Event represents hope in poker. The chance to elevate yourself to the top of the poker hierarchy and effectively end your days of small-stakes grinding if you so choose.
This year’s playdown was one of the best ever with characters like Cliff Josephy, Griffin Benger and fast-talking William Kassouf putting on a show.
PokerListings was of course on hand for the entire production with four photographers this year so we thought it would be a good time to share some of the unused photos from the fateful day in late July.
Photos by Matt Showell, Arthur Crowson and Alex Villegas. Check them out below:
The Amazon Room is particularly cavernous once everything has been cleared out for the final day of action in the Main Event over the summer. You can't really tell from the TV broadcast but it's one hell of an empty room.
The media is out in full force on the final day of the summer. Even tournament reporters who are not working tend to make a trip down to the Rio to see who makes the final table. It also represents the last day of work for a lot of people so there are definitely some smiles in the room.
The WSOP Main Event bracelet is on display for the entirety of Day 7. The bracelet is placed in a plexiglass case that's tantalizingly close to the main TV table. If you bust you can always attempt to bash the case and run away with the bracelet. Good luck with that though.
Former November Niner Antoine Saout was one of the early eliminations on Day 7. He busted in a massive three-way hand Kakwan Lau busted both Saout and Adam Krach with pocket aces. It wasn't enough to get Lau to the final table, however, as he busted in 20th place.
Most stylish player on Day 7? Definitely Qui Nguyen. His trademark badger (that's a badger right?) hat stood out amongst the numerous hoodies.
Britain's William Kassouf was one of the most entertaining players in the Main Event but his journey came to an end in 17th place after an enormous dust up with Griffin Benger. Kassouf had the misfortune of getting pocket kings to Benger's aces and couldn't talk himself out of that one. Some are calling it the hand of the tournament because of the amount of talk between the two players.
You could certainly make an argument that high roller Tom Marchese was the best player left in the field to enter play on Day 7. Unfortunately Marchese stalled out in 14th place, coming painfully close to the final table. On the bright side he added $427,930 to his high-rolling bankroll.
As usual the Amazon Room just gets busier and busier as the final table approaches. By the end of the night it was standing room only. Even pros turn into fans. You might notice a few famous poker players in the top right, actually.
You might expect that with so much money on the line every player remaining would get really quiet but that wasn't really the case. Here Gordon Vayo and Michael Ruane share some information.
Veteran poker pro/backer Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy definitely had some fans in the audience thanks to his backing relationship with a huge number of online poker players. Josephy famously had a piece of Joe Cada's Main Event win in 2009. Now Josephy has a chance to put his own mark on the poker world.
Former Counter-Strike pro Griffin "ShaGuar" Benger also had a ton of fans in the crowd. One of them was online wizard Calvin "Cal42688" Anderson. Here they talk over hand during 10-handed play.
For nine players to make the final table you gotta have at least one heart-breaking elimination and this year that unfortunate distinction fell to Josh Weiss. Weiss actually took the beat very well and shook a few hands before heading off to collect his $650k payout. Of course his bustout meant absolute jubilation for the nine remaining players.
The most excited player award might have gone to Kenny Hallaert who celebrates here with a friend seconds after clinching his spot at the final table.
Gordan Vayo and Jerry Wong share a moment after making the 2016 November Nine while Qui Nguyen and Griffin Benger celebrate in the background.
Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy gives props to his friends and family who came out to cheer him on. Josephy will enter the final table first in chips with an impressive 74.5 million.
Qui Nguyen does an interview after making the 2016 November Nine. Nguyen is second in chips with 68 million. We'll have to wait until November to see if he can parlay that stack into the $8 million for first.
Players discuss their good fortune in making the 2016 WSOP Main Event final table. Just by making the final table every player has already locked up the biggest score of their live tournament careers at $1m a piece.
The two big stacks at the final table -- Qui Nguyen and Cliff Josephy -- ham it up for the camera.
Gotta keep your eye on the prize. The final table plays out on Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2016, at the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio. One of these players will be the new world champion and be $8m richer.