Qui Nguyen Won the World Series of Poker Main Event with Aggressive Play
Qui Nguyen won the World Series of Poker Main Event on Tuesday night. Wearing his trademark Rocket Raccoon ballcap, Mr. Nguyen won the November Nine mini-event, which includes the final table of nine players who survived the July portion of the tournament.
Qui Nguyen held second-place in the chip stack count before the November Nine began, but he was seen as an underdog by many.
Of the nine remaining competitors, the 39-year old former nail salon owner had the smallest career earnings total: about $20,000.
Heads-Up Battle between Nguyen and Vayo
Nguyen defeated Gordon Vayo in the heads-up portion of the event, which happens when seven members of the final table have been eliminated. The showdown between Qui Nguyen and Gordon Vayo was an epic 181-hand battle, which is the record for the World Series of Poker Main Event.
In all, the Nguyen-Vayo contest took over 8 hours. Gordon Vayo had the lead entering that stage of the event, holding a 64 million chip lead. Nguyen almost immediately seized the initiative in the heads-up portion, so that he held the lead from the 12th hand until the finishing 181st hand, when Vayo busted out with a jack-10 of spades against Nguyen’s king-10 of clubs.
The WSOP Main Event’s Winning Hand
The king-7-9 flop put Nguyen in a big lead, though Vayo had a straight draw to pull off a miracle escape. It did not happen for the 27-year old from San Francisco, who collected over $4.6 million for his second place finish.
Though he had only $9,000+ in career WSOP earnings, Qui Nguyen outplayed his opponents at the final table. Nguyen played an aggressive style which kept his opponents off-balance for three days, as they struggled to determine whether he was playing a strong or a weak hand.
Qui Nguyen’s Confounding Play
The early stages of the heads-up battle on Tuesday offered a good example. In an early hand, Nguyen collected a flush on the river and put Vayo all-in. Gordon Vayo took 10 minutes to make the call, but he was able to avoid the urge to make the all-in call.
Unfortunately, Qui Nguyen made a similar all-in call a few minutes later on a bluff. Gordon Vayo once again folded, though calling the bluff would have yielded Vayo a much-needed double-up pot.
Cliff Josephy Finishes in 3rd
Cliff Josephy came into the November Nine as the leader in chips. The 50-year old professional stayed alive for two days as players with fewer chips busted out, but Josephy and Vayo came into the final day of the event well behind Nguyen.
Josephy took a pot from Nguyen early on the third day of the November Nine, but the key hand came soon after. Josephy flopped a set of 2s, but Nguyen flopped a set of 3s. The eventually champion finished off Cliff Josephy soon after. Josephy collected $3,451,175 in winnings and said he was happy to have the win.
November Nine Earnings
The final winnings for each member of the November Nine can be found below. Though the second-biggest stack won the event, the final nine followed a fairly predictable pattern over its final three days. None of the players with fewer chips survived very long, while the final three were those who entered October/November with the most chips.
1st Place: Qui Nguyen – $8,000,000
2nd Place: Gordon Vayo – $4,658,452
3rd Place: Cliff Josephy – $3,451,175
4th Place: Michael Ruane – $2,574,808
5th Place: Vojtech Ruzicka – $1,934,579
6th Place: Kenny Hallaert – $1,463,906
7th Place: Griffin Benger – $1,250,000
8th Place: Jerry Wong – $1,100,000
9th Place: Fernando Pons – $1,000,000
In defeating a table full of poker professionals, Qui Nguyen achieved card playing immortality. While the World Series of Poker Main Event is not quite the extravaganza it was during the Poker Boom from 2003 to 2006, it is still the biggest event in the poker world each year.
In the early years of the event, the WSOP Main Event attracted only the Texas Hold’em professionals. Therefore, the event’s list of champions reads like a who’s who of poker legends: Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, Stu Ungar, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth Jr. are just some of the names which come to mind. Now, Qui Nguyen takes his place among those famous names in poker history.
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