Last night saw the biggest poker spectacle of the year kick off, as the November Nine reconvened in Las Vegas to start a three-day trial, at the end of which we will have a poker champion of the world for the year 2016.
Nine players full of hopes and dreams took their seats at the Rio last night, knowing full well that just one of them could become the champion, winning $8,000,000 in the process. After 97 hands of play on the Day 1, we are down to five, with Qui Nguyen firmly in the lead.
A man or a raccoon? Qui Nguyen seizes the day
Heading into last night’s skirmish, I said that Qui Nguyen may lack experience at the big stage, but he certainly doesn’t lack enthusiasm. He proved that last night when he took everyone by surprise, building a huge chip lead by the time the play was stopped.
Qui Nguyen starts strong
Nguyen wasted no time as the final table got underway. Starting the day second in chips, he quickly got involved with the chip leader, Cliff Josephy, and a few confrontations later, it was Qui Nguyen leading the way.
However, the first elimination was not the work of the man with a raccoon hat. Fernando Pons, who won his Main Event seat via an online satellite and who was the official short stack of this year’s November Nine was ousted by Cliff Josephy.
Although the first to go, it was a great adventure for Pons, who managed to turn his €30 satellite entry into a cool $1,000,000, so he probably won’t be complaining too much.
Jerry Wong was the second shortest stack and he was sent to the rail by Vojtech Ruzicka. Wong had his hope ups when he found pocket Jacks and moved all in, but one pocket Queens and a clean board later, his Main Event adventure was over. He earned $1.1 million for his performance.
Benger falls first, Qui Nguyen sends Hallaert home
Griffin Benger, like the rest, was coming into the final table with high hopes. However, these hopes were crushed by Gordon Vayo who took the last of Benger’s stack. Things simply wouldn’t go right for the Canadian, who was card dead for the most of the final table.
The man who silenced William Kassouf was thus eliminated in seventh place, earning $1,250,109 for his efforts.
The biggest pot of the night went to none other than Qui Nguyen, who took the opportunity to eliminate the Belgian tournament director Kenny Halleart. Although Kenny was the official short stack, he still had some 30 big blinds in his stack, so it took a mini-cooler for him to be sent to the rail.
Halleart picked up Ace Queen suited in clubs under the gun and came in for the raise. Nguyen and his raccoon hat, however, had the Belgian in a bit of bother, as Qui peeked down at pocket Aces. After a standard three-bet, Hallaert decided Qui Nguyen was at it and 4-bet shoved.
To his detriment, of course, as Nguyen snap called to put Kenny at risk. Although a queen came on the flop, there was nothing else to save the day and Hallaert was sent to the rail in sixth, earning $1,464,258 for his efforts.
Qui Nguyen bags nearly 130 million
After Hallaert’s unfortunate exit, the play was stopped for the night. When it was all said and done, Qui Nguyen bagged 128 million in chips. To put things in perspective, second place Josephy bagged 63.8 million.
Vojtech Ruzicka will be coming back tonight with 62.2 million, with barely anything separating him from Josephy.
The rest of the field is made up of Gordon Vayo (58.2 million) and Michael Ruane (23.7 million). Don’t forget, the ESPN live coverage begins tonight at 8 PM, aired on ESPN2. If you are among the lucky ones who can watch the coverage, make sure not to miss it.
The remaining players will probably play down to the heads up, after which the play will be stopped for the night to resume tomorrow for one last confrontation; the confrontation which will decide who wins the money, the honor, and the glory!