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Nguyen Outduels Vayo to Claim $8m, World Champion Status
Qui Ngyen outlasted Gordon Vayo in a marathon heads-up match to claim $8m and World Champion status in the stunning conclusion of the 2016 WSOP Main Event early Wednesday morning in Las Vegas.
It’s a hefty payday especially considering Nguyen almost sold his seat when he qualified to the event. The newest world champion was born Vietnam but now resides in Las Vegas. He used to own a nail salon, but these days he’s a full-time poker pro.
He also used to play a lot of Baccarat.
“I don’t want to play Baccarat anymore,” Nguyen said to PokerListings after winning. “Just poker. I’ll play poker for my whole life now.”
Nguyen’s a gambler and his playing style dominated the final table. He was just as aggressive nine-handed as he was heads-up.
Heads-Up Hits Nearly 200 Hands
The heads-up match between Nguyen and Gordon Vayo proved to be a grueling affair.
Nguyen and Vayo played 182 hands over the course of eight-and-a-half hours. Vayo started the match with the lead but lost it early on and never got it back.
Nguyen kept hammering away at Vayo and the young pro managed to double up a few times but he never got close to taking back the lead.
Nguyen was an aggressive gambler who pulled some wild bluffs. He was just as aggressive nine-handed as he has three-handed.
This is only Nguyen’s second WSOP cash and his first ever Main Event. Before this, his biggest cash was for about $9,000.
He learned to play in card rooms in Florida and Alaska and loves to play Baccarat.
Vayo was methodical and disciplined. He made some big folds and held back a bit when the table was full and picked his spots.
Gordon Vayo Picks Up $4.6m for Second
Gordon Vayo learned to play online when he was a teenager. He dropped out of school and became a full-time student of the game. He became an online pro and toured the circuit, scoring a few EPT cashes and nearly 30 WSOP cashes before making his November Nine run.
We’ve seen opposites collide for poker’s biggest title before. Chris Moneymaker was the Average Joe that qualified to the $10,000 tournament for $39 and took down the old-school Vegas pro, Sam Farha to win the title.
His win set off the biggest poker boom the world has ever seen.
The Average Joe faced off the young the internet kid in 2009. Joe Cada was just 21-years-old when he defeated Darvin Moon, a small-time logger in his late 40s.
Today it was the gambler vs the machine.
Vayo knew the numbers, he knew the odds. Tom Marchese also coached him since back in July.
Nguyen was a good reminder, however, that more experience doesn't always equate to success in poker. You can be a recreational player and still be a contender for poker’s largest title if you get on a good heater and know how to ride it.
There’s still plenty of skill involved though. Nguyen made good reads and varied his play to the point where it was nearly unpredictable to the pros at the table.
Josephy Settles for Third
Heads-up took so long you might’ve forgotten there was another player in Day 10, Cliff Josephy. Josephy started the day as the short stack with 50 million and got a double up on the very first hand of play.
Josephy moved all-in with A♦ Q♦ and Nguyen called with A♠ 4♠.
The A♣ Q♥ 7♣ flop gave Josephy a pair of pairs and then a Q♠ filled him up on the river.
Then things went south for Josephy. He got into a set-over-set situation against Gordon Vayo and Vayo’s set of threes was just big enough to beat Josephy’s set of deuces.
The hand left Josephy crippled and he managed to double up a few times before Vayo took him out.
Pons, Benger, Hallaert Among Early Eliminations at FT
While Josephy was the first elimination of Day 10, he dealt the first elimination of the November Nine.
The short-stacked Fernando Pons started the final table with just 6.16 million and got it all-in with A♦ 6♣. Josephy called with K♠ J♣ and hit a king on the flop.
After Pons, it was Jerry Wong’s turn to hit the rail.
Wong hit the first double up at the final table but lost his next.
Wong moved all-in with pocket jacks but got called by Vojtech Ruzicka and his pocket queens.
The board brought no jack for Wong, but it did bring Ruzicka a third queen on the river.
Then it was Griffin Benger’s turn.
Benger said he was card dead for most of the final table and slowly dipped until he was forced to double up or go home.
He went home.
In his last hand of the tournament, Benger moved all-in with A♠ 9♦ million and Gordon Vayo called with T♠ T♥. The day went on until Kenny Hallaert hit the rail.
Hallaert made his move with A♣ Q♣ but Nguyen woke up with AsA♣ and snapped him off. The elimination gave Nguyen a massive lead of 128.6 million and the final five came back the next day to play a relatively short day.
Nguyen Bulldozes Final Table
It was Halloween and the audience was packed with people in costumes. Nearly all of them were there to watch Michael Ruane, who started as the short stack but doubled early.
Vojtech Ruzicka wasn’t as lucky.
Ruzicka lost most of his chips with a failed ace-high bluff but Vayo had hit a set of eights. Ruzicka was left with less than a big blind and lost the rest of his chips to Cliff Josephy.
Ruane luck ran out soon after that too.
Ruane slowly chipped down and then moved all-in with K♥ Q♥ for his tournament life and Nguyen called with A♥ J♠.
The 9♥ 9♠ 2♠ flop wasn’t much help for Ruane and neither was the J♣ on the turn. Ruane had a few outs, but the 8♦ that landed on the river wasn’t one of them.
Michael Ruane’s Main Event was done while Nguyen’s lead increased to 178.4 million.
Nguyen then came back today and rode that lead to victory in one of the more dominant performances in November Nine history.
2016 November Nine Results
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