The 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) started on October 30 as the November Nine battled it out to win the most prestigious championship on the poker circuit. The first day saw the field drop to five as Fernando Pons, Jerry Wong, Griffin Benger and Kenny Hallaert were all eliminated and walked away with a little more than a million dollars.
The second day saw the competition dwindle down to just three as Vojtech Ruzicka and Michael Ruane were eliminated to leave Cliffy Josephy, Qui Nguyen and Gordon Vayon to battle it out for the first place which guaranteed the winner over $8 million in prize money and a WSOP gold bracelet.
Qui Nguyen who was born in Vietnam but lives in Las Vegas was the most inexperienced of the three players having won just under $10,000 in WSOP prize money and a little over $50,000 in career prize money. However he appeared to have more confidence at the table than the other two players and it wasn’t long before Josephy was eliminated on the final day. What happened next turned out to be the longest heads up session in WSOP history.
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Nguyen and Vayon battled it out in an epic 9 hour session that went into the morning of November 2. The game kept going back and forth initially before Nguyen slowly started to pull away and increase his chip count significantly. Vayo has cashed out at 26 WSOP events in the past and used his experience of playing at big events to push Nguyen hard and at one point looked like he would reverse the tables on Nguyen and pull away with a lead.
Nguyen held his nerve and in the end called Vayo’s bluff when he put 53,000,000 in chips and went all in. Vayo was eliminated and finished in second place when Nguyen drew a pair of kings and cemented his place in history as the 2016 WSOP Championship winner. Josephy who finished third took home $3,453,035, while the 27 year old Vayo finished with $4,661,228.
The Las Vegas based poker pro was in shock and stated that he was struggling to find words to describe his victory. His win at the 2016 WSOP Main Event has turned him into a multi-millionaire and will now open a lot of sponsorship opportunities for him going forward. He plans to donate a portion of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project, a project that assists injured veterans and their families.