Kenny Hallaert: No N9 Means “More Pure Poker, Less Atmosphere”

Last year Kenny Hallaert was part of the November Nine final table and he says getting rid of it is a mixed bag for the World Series of Poker.

Hallaert is from Belgium and finished sixth in last year's WSOP Main Event, earning almost $1.5 million.

This year he's going deep in the Main Event once again and thinks that the decision to get rid of the delayed final table will have an impact on both the player and fan experience.

"If it was my decision I would keep the November Nine,” said Hallaert.

“The atmosphere will definitely be different this year. With the break we had more possibility of bringing lots of friends and family and you could organize everything really well.”

Last year Hallaert brought a crowd to the final table, complete with Euro-style football chants, and he actually attended the final table the previous two years to cheer on friends who had made the November Nine.

November Nine Unique Spectacle in Poker

Hallaert liked the spectacle of playing the final table in the Penn and Teller Theater and having big cheering sections for every player. He said it was fitting for the world's biggest event to have something special like the November Nine.

Kenny Hallaert3
"For the players this year it's going to be a lot different. "

As a player he also liked the opportunity to seek coaching and to prepare for such a big opportunity.

But just because he sees some downsides doesn't mean he thinks the decision is without advantages.

"For the players this year it's going to be a lot different. There's going to be a lot more history between the final table players.

“Last year there wasn't any real history since everybody had so much preparation and we basically started like it was a brand new sit and go.

"We might see more street poker, more stuff like the Philip Hilm blow-up.

“It will be more pure poker I think so for the game itself and the viewers watching at home it might be better but for the atmosphere in the room, not so much."

Hallaert Coached by Holz for N9

One reason Hallaert might favor the chance to get coaching during the November Nine break is that last year he received teaching from Fedor Holz.

Holz has racked up almost $23 million in live tournament earnings, most of it in the last two years, and is arguably the most successful poker player in the game right now.

Fedor Holz WSOP2
Fedor Holz

After making the Main Event final table in 2016 Hallaert got poker strategy coaching from Holz and mental game coaching from Jared Tendler. Judging by his results this summer, it paid off.

"I learned so much in those months. It was really eye-opening for me,” said Hallaert. “Now I have the chance to put all that new knowledge into practice.

"When you hear Fedor talk about poker you see really quickly that he's a really smart kid and he thinks about the game in a really special way.

“I'm not surprised at the success he's had honestly and I think he'll have a lot more in the future.”

Big 2017 WSOP for Hallaert

This summer at the WSOP Hallaert made two final tables and four other cashes, totaling more than $364,000.

Now Hallaert is deep in the Main Event again with a big stack and guaranteed another solid payday.

He says the experience he got last year is worth a lot this time around.

"I definitely learned a lot last year. Making deep runs in big field events like this is a big advantage compared to someone who's doing it for the first time."

“Being at the feature table yesterday was a big advantage for me. I was a lot less nervous with all the cameras and all the attention since I've done it before.

This year's WSOP Main Event reaches a final table on July 17th and will crown a winner July 22nd.

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