Qui Nguyen Winner of World Series of Poker Main Event 2016, Unconventional Play Keeps Opponents Guessing

November 2nd, 2016 | by Greg Shaun
qui-nguyen-2016-wsop-main-event-winner

Qui Nguyen, who moved to Las Vegas from Vietnam, becomes the 2016 WSOP Main Event champion after defeating Gordon Vayo heads-up early Wednesday morning at the Rio. (Image: John Locker/AP)

Qui Nguyen won his first World Series of Poker (WSOP) career bracelet early in the morning on Wednesday, defeating Gordon Vayo heads-up, for the most coveted title in poker. On the third and final day of play at the 2016 WSOP Main Event, Nguyen scored an $8 million payday and became the champion of the poker world for the next year.

The players at the final table received high praise from top pros, including breaktime commentators Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu. Kid Poker was impressed with the excitement at the table from the final three players on Tuesday (which became Wednesday when heads up play dragged on until after 3 am Pacific time).

“I can’t remember enjoying watching a WSOP final table more than this years. This is SO GOOD!!!,” the six-time bracelet winner posted on Twitter.

Qui Nguyen began the day with more than a 2/1 chip advantage over opponents Gordon Vayo and Cliff Josephy. He built that stack with aggression, and continued his strategy on Monday. But even though it worked perfectly, one poker pro was critical.

“Nguyen needs to lower some of these bet frequencies. He’s making trapping too strong with these mergy bets,” Doug Polk said in a Twitter post.

Getting the Party Started

Cliff Josephy was on the winning side of what may have been the largest first hand of any day in Main Event history. He started with 50 million chips and doubled through chip leader Nguyen with A♦Q♦ against A♠4♣. That put him at 101 million and Nguyen stumbled a bit to 140 million.

That wasn’t a sign of good things to come for Josephy. Soon after, the only former bracelet winner at the final table was on the wrong side of the sickest cooler on the tournament’s final day. He flopped a set of deuces against Vayo’s set of threes. There wasn’t much he could do but basically hand over the majority of his stack to his opponent.

Josephy did make a bit of a comeback, but then lost a 60/40 hand against Nguyen to bust. He entered the final table on Sunday with the chip lead and was the favorite to win it all. But he’ll have to settle for 3rd place and $3.4 million.

Long Heads-Up Battle

On the 183rd hand of the final table, heads-up play began. Vayo had a sizeable chip lead (200,300,000 to 136,300,000). That lead, however, didn’t last long.

Nguyen quickly seized control of the match. He used aggression to bluff Vayo off numerous pots. The Las Vegas resident constantly put pressure on his opponent. And he got a bit lucky as well.

Not only did Nguyen catch some hands, Vayo wasn’t hitting much for hours. The Illinois resident hovered around 90 million chips seemingly for two hours.

The Final Hand

Did you stay up until 3:20 am PST to watch the conclusion of the Main Event? If not, here’s the championship winning hand you missed.

With Vayo in desperate need of a double-up, being down to just 53 million chips, he got all his money in pre-flop with J♠10♠, but was a 2/1 underdog against Nguyen’s K♣10♣. The flop gave everyone a sweat (K♦7♣9♦). Vayo could win the pot with an 8 or Q. Instead the 2♠ and 3♥ completed the board.

Vayo received $4,661,228 for 2nd place. Very nice, but not quite the $8,005,310 and diamond-studded gold bracelet Nguyen earned for winning the tournament. And with the Main Event now finished, the 2016 World Series of Poker has reached its conclusion.

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