Seven hours and 182 hands. The heads-up battle between Qui Nguyen and Gordon Vayo will go down as one of the craziest and intense heads-up matches in the history of the Worlds Series of Poker Main Event. When it was over, Las Vegas resident Qui Nguyen knocked out San Francisco's Gordon Vayo to win the 2016 WSOP Main Event and earn the first-place prize worth $8 million. Oh, and don't forget about the diamond-baller bracelet! Nguyen won his first bracelet with the victory in the Main Event.
The 2016 WSOP Main Event attracted 6,737 runners, which was a bump up from last year's number. The total prize pool for the Main Event was around $63.3 million. Action was suspended at the end of Day 7 in mid-July with nine players remaining. Those lucky nine would return to Las Vegas on October 30 for the November Nine, or three days of final table action hosted at the Penn and Teller Theater. The first day saw the November Nine play down to five players after the eliminations of Fernando Pons (9th place), Jerry Wong (8th place), Griffin Benger (7th place), and Belgian Kenny Hallaert (6th place). Johnny Bax coughed up the lead early and Qui Nguyen chipped up to a massive lead.
On Halloween, the final five returned to the Rio Casino. When the dust settled, two players were sent packing… Czech Republic's Vojtech Ruzicka (5th place) and Michael Ruane (4th place). That left three players alive on the third and final day. Going into the final three, JohnnyBax was shortstacked with 50M. Gordon Vayo was in the middle with 89M, and Qui Nguyen sat atop the big stack with 197M.
On the final day, Johnny Bax got involved in a firefight immediately. He was involved in five all-in hands during the first five orbits. Although he doubled up on the first hand against Nguyen, Bax bowed out in third place after Vayo picked him off. That left a heads-up battle between Vayo and Nguyen. When it began, Vayo led 200M to 136M.
2016 WSOP MAIN EVENT
Prize Pool: $63,327,800
2016 November Nine - Final Table Payouts:
1. Qui Nguyen (Vietnam) $8,000,000
2. Gordon Vayo (USA) $4,658,452
3. Cliff 'JohnnyBax' Josephy (USA) $3,451,175
4. Michael Ruane (USA) $2,574,808
5. Vojtech Ruzicka (Czech Republic) $1,934,579
6. Kenny Hallaert (Belgium) $1,463,906
7. Griffin Benger (Canada) $1,250,000
8. Jerry Wong (USA) $1,100,000
9. Fernando Pons (Spain) $1,000,000
Vayo seemed out of his element early on and Nguyen snagged the chip lead. Vayo looked like a deer caught in the head lights and couldn't contain Nguyen's aggression. Heads-up might have ended rather quick, buy Vayo's alligator blood kept him alive for over seven hours. Yes, the heads-up match lasted 182 hands or seven hours of real time. On the final hand, Vayo shoved for his final 53M with Js-10s and Nguyen called with a dominating Kc-10c. Nguyen flopped top pair on a K-9-7 board, but Vayo picked up outs with a double-gutter draw. Vayo desperately needed an eight or Queen to double up and stave off elimination. The turn and river didn't help Vayo and Nguyen won the pot and the tournament. Vayo locked up $4,658,452 for a runner-up performance. Nguyen took home $8 million for first place. Not too shabby for someone who had a mere $9K in career WSOP earnings before the Main Event began.
Watch the final ninety minutes of heads-up action below…
WSOP Main Event Champions
2016: Qui Nguyen $8,000,000
2015: Joe McKeehen $7,683,346
2014: Martin Jacobsen $10,000,000
2013: Ryan Reiss $8,359,531
2012: Greg Merson $8,531,853
2011: Pius Heinz $8,715,638
2010: Jonathan Duhamel $8,944,138
2009: Joe Cada $8,574,649
2008: Peter Eastgate $9,152,416
2007: Jerry Yang $8,250,000
2006: Jamie Gold $12,000,000
2005: Joe Hachem $7,500,000
2004: Greg Raymer $5,000,000
2003: Chris Moneymaker $2,500,000
2002: Robert Varkonyi $2,000,000
2001: Carlos Mortensen $1,500,000
2000: Jesus Ferguson $1,500,000