The October Nine might not ring a bell, but the presidential election has bumped this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event final table playdown back a week, thus the name change. And as of the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the lucky nine players who will return to the Rio in the fall are all set.
Day Seven of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event was full of drama. But what else would you expect when 27 players are competing for an $8 million first place prize and the most coveted gold bracelet in poker?
With these nine players left, play will resume on October 30, a week before the November 8 election. ESPN will begin airing the Main Event weekly beginning September 18, leading up to the final table, which will air “live” on a 30-minute delay.
Christopher Kusha was the first casualty of the day on Monday. He put all of his chips in the pot pre-flop with A♦K♦ and saw a board run out of 2♦4♠A♥2♣3♣, probably feeling good about his chances. William Kassouf bet Kenny Hallaert out of the pot on the turn and flipped over 4♥4♣ for a winning full house. Game over for Kusha, but he can’t be too upset with the $269,430 he won.
Antoine Saout was the lone remaining former Main Event final table member heading into Monday’s action. But it was to be a short day for the Frenchman. He busted out in 25th place. In 2009, Saout finished 3rd and was a sick bad beat from Joe Cada away from being heads-up against Darvin Moon.
The only player left on Day Seven with a bracelet to his name was Cliff Josephy. Many poker players know him as JohnnyBax, his online poker screen name.
Josephy is a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. He’ll come back in October with a chance to pull off the biggest victory in his impressive poker career.
The man from Muttontown, New York has 75,000,000 chips and is in the lead, slightly ahead of Qui Nguyen (68,075,000). When the final table odds are posted at online sports books, he will likely be the favorite.
The nine players left in the Main Event are from all over the world. There are five countries represented (United States, Canada, Spain, Czech Repubic, and Belgium). Here is a short bio on each October Nine participant:
Cliff Josephy (75,000,000): Online poker star with two career WSOP gold bracelets. The most familiar name at the final table.
Qui Nguyen (67,925,000): Prior to the Main Event, his largest career live poker tournament cash was for a shade over $9,000.
Gordon Vayo (50,450,000): The California resident has now made three final tables in his WSOP career.
Kenny Hallaert (43,325,000): Finished 5th in the Colossus last year and has won more than $1.3 million lifetime in live poker tournaments.
Michael Ruane (29,800,000): He’s only cashed in five recorded poker tournaments before the start of this event.
Vojtech Ruzicka (27,450,000): He becomes the first to make the final table from the Czech Republic since 2011 (Martin Staszko).
Griffin Benger (21,925,000): An accomplished online pro who also provides commentary for Global Poker League matches.
Jerry Wong (10,325,000): One of the most experienced tournament players at the final table with over $1.3 million in career winnings heading into the Main Event.
Fernando Pons (6,225,000): Not only is this the first time he’s ever cashed at the World Series of Poker, it’s also the first WSOP event he’s ever entered.
The players in the 2016 Main Event all started with 50,000 chips, more than in previous years. Due to the chip stack increase, the final table competitors will have more big blinds than ever before. That means less pure dumb luck and more skill in determining the outcome.
Play will resume on October 30 and a winner will emerge on November 1. The final table will air semi-live on ESPN, with a 30-minute delay.