2016 WSOP Main Event’s November (October) Nine Is Set
The 2016 WSOP Main Event’s “November Nine” is set for another year. This time around, players from 5 different countries will compete in the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel in Paradise, Nevada (adjacent to Las Vegas).
Many people are calling the group the “October Nine”, because the final stage of the event is going to start on October 30th. The event is taking place a week earlier this year, so the ESPN broadcast does not conflict with US Presidential Election coverage.
Introducing the November Nine
The final nine are an interesting mix of veteran players and newcomers, though no household names are in the final group. The 9 remaining are what’s left of a field of 6,737 entrants. The field was drawn from 79 countries worldwide.
Each remaining player is assured of winning at least $1 million out of the prize pool of $25 million. The top prize is $8 million and a Jostens-encrusted diamond and gold bracelet. Winners of each of the 69 World Series of Poker events in 2016 won a bracelet, but it is the WSOP Main Event which brings a player poker immortality.
Entertaining Group of Players
The November Nine are expected to put on an entertaining show when the tournament recommences. In the final stages of the July phase of the event, players appeared to be animated and enjoying themselves. Though it is the biggest poker tournament of each player’s life, the gamblers appeared to be loose.
Another reason the final table is intriguing is the chip leader does not have an insurmountable lead, as in several of the last few Main Events. The 51-year old Cliff Josephy of Syosset, New York has the chip lead with 74 million+ in chips, but his lead is less than 5 million chip more than the second-place contestant.
Cliff Josephy – Chip Leader
Mr. Josephy is the oldest remaining player and the only player with a WSOP bracelet. Cliff Josephy won a seven-card stud event in 2005 and a no-limit hold’em event in 2013, so he has two bracelets to his credit. He’s also finished in the money two other times, so it’s appears Josephy has a killer instinct, with a 2-for-4 record of winning 1st place in event he receives winnings.
Cliff Josephy won a part of the 2009 WSOP Main Event prize, though, because he was a financial backer of 2009 winner, Joe Cada. That indicates Cliff Josephy has enough financial werewithal that he will not be wowed by the event’s high stakes.
Qui Nguyen in 2nd Place
Current second-place contestant Qui Nguyen is in the opposite position. Mr. Nguyen has only $9,029 in career winnings, which is less than the $10,000 entry fee for the WSOP Main Event. Thus, it can be said Qui Ngyuen, a Las Vegas native, is a career negative player.
That will not be the case long. With just under 70 million chips, Nguyen stands a good chance of winning $8 million, but certainly walks home with the million-dollar minimum purse every player receives at this point.
Gordon Vayo: A Favorite with the Smart Set
Gordon Vayo, a 27-year old poker professional from San Franciso, is a going to be a favorite to win. Vayo has 26 career WSOP cashes and $974,000 in career earnings. Gordon Vayo has had one of the best tournaments so far, with 8 cashes in 21 events entered.
Kenny Hallaert and Michael Ruane
Kenny Hallaert holds fourth place at present with 43 million+ chips. The Belgian Mr. Hallaert is a veteran player with over $1.3 million in career earnings. Though his best finish prior to this year was in Europe, Kenny Hallaert has finished in the money at the WSOP Main Event two of the previous three years.
Michael Ruane sits in 5th place with 31,600,000 chips. The New Jersey resident has never cashes in a WSOP event prior to the current tournament. Ruane as a lifetime live poker tournament winnings of $44,962, though he considers himself to be a professional player. Perhaps anyone would after winning a million dollars in the world’s biggest poker event each year.
Vojtech Rusicka and Griffin Benger
Vojtech Ruzicka is going into the November Nine in 6th place, though he entered the final day of play as the chip leader. The 30-year old Czech had a bittersweet final day of the July phase of the event, as he lost his chip lead and now sits in the bottom half of the final table’s standings. Ruzicka kept from going on tilt and is now poised to recapture the momentum, with over three months to prepare for the final day of poker.
Griffin Benger (7th place) is the rare Canadian player to have finished in the final nine of the WSOP Main Event. The 31-year old resident of Toronto has $2,395,406 in career winnings, 13 previous WSOP cashes, and a $1 million to his credit. That million dollar purse was won during the 2014 Shark Tank session in London, England. Benger hopes to become the second Canadian champion in the WSOP Main Event. Jonathan Duhamel was the first in 2011.
Jerry Wong and Fernando Pons
Brooklyn resident Jerry Wong is the 8th-place contestant at the moment. Wong ishas $1.3 million in career earnings. Over half of that amount came when Jerry Wong won the 2013 PCA in the Bahamas. Mr. Wong has 5 caches in 16 WSOP events entered this year.
Fernando Pons is the 9th-place entrant at the moment, with only 6.15 million in chips at the beginning of play in October. Fernando Pons is from Palma, Spain and he is a real underdog story. Mr. Pons only has $10,589 in live poker tournament winnings. The WSOP Main Event is the only event Pons entered in 2016, so he has exceeded all expectations for the event.
Solid October Nine
Fernando Pons is on the cusp of busting out of the tournament. He has the smallest stack and the least experience. With only one event this year, the million dollar purse is already a huge windfall. And the big blinds are going to be huge to start the next round.
Expect to see Fernando Pons take a stand or two early on, hoping to double-up. Those calls usually do not work, as the player might be playing marginal hands against a table full of people reading to make an all-in call.
That is part of the intrigue, since everyone employs different strategies. Some seek to survive, while others want to build up their chip stack at the expense of the remaining players.