Qui Nguyen Wins 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event for $8 Million!

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Qui Nguyen from the United States has won the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. On the final day of battle, the 39-year old Nguyen defeated both Cliff Josephy and Gordon Vayo to pose with the coveted WSOP bracelet and bundles of cash worth over $8,000,000.

The start of the day was action-packed with Cliff Josephy doubling up in the first hand, only to lose 90 percent of his stack four hands later. Josephy made a comeback but eventually exited in 3rd place anyway to leave the heads-up part to Gordon Vayo and Qui Nguyen. They played heads-up for several hours before Nguyen ultimately knocked out a short stacked Vayo with king-ten versus jack-ten.

Position Player Country Prize
1 Qui Nguyen United States $8,005,310
2 Gordon Vayo United States $4,661,228
3 Cliff Josephy United States $3,453,035
4 Michael Ruane United States $2,576,003
5 Vojtěch Růžička Czech Republic $1,935,288
6 Kenny Hallaert Belgium $1,464,258
7 Griffin Benger Canada $1,250,190
8 Jerry Wong United States $1,100,076
9 Fernando Pons Spain $1,000,000

The final day of play started with still 3 players in contention for the title, after four players had been eliminated on the first day of play, and two of them had found their stacks dusted on the penultimate day. Qui Nguyen lead with a massive stack of 165 big blinds, over twice as much as both Cliff Josephy and Gordon Vayo. Here’s how they lined up as play got underway on the final day:

Seat Player Country Chip Count Big Blinds
1 Qui Nguyen United States 197,600,000 165
2 Cliff Josephy United States 50,000,000 42
3 Gordon Vayo United States 89,000,000 74

As soon as tournament director Jack Effel asked the dealer to shuffle up and deal and theESPN camera’s got rolling, the players got right into it. What followed was one of the most intense and action-packed set of hands ever seen at a World Series of Poker Main Event final table.

Right in the first hand, Cliff Josephy doubled through Qui Nguyen. Josephy, wearing a hat and sunglasses for the first time this tournament, successfully five-bet shoved with ace-queen as Qui Nguyen called with ace-four. The latter was drawing dead by the time the turn came out and Josephy started stacking.

While the first hand of the final day was a dream coming true for Josephy, the fifth hand of play would be the complete opposite. The nightmare for Josephy started with him raising and getting called by Vayo. Nguyen squeezed and both Josephy and Vayo wanted to see a flop and called. The flop came king-three-deuce rainbow and Nguyen bet just shy of 10 million. Josephy and Vayo called, growing the pot immensely. A four hit the turn and Vayo and Nguyen checked before Josephy bet 21 million. Vayo shoved for 75 million and Nguyen folded before Josephy eventually called. Vayo showed a set of deuces and Josephy raised his arms in the air realizing he had just a single out with his set of deuces. A blank on the river resulted in a monstrous 200 million-stack for Vayo while Josephy was left with just 8 big blinds.

Right the next hand, Josephy doubled through Qui Nguyen and repeated that feat not much later, this time with a suck out, to get back to the stack size he had started the day with. While Josephy had “his” chips back and seemed composed, in the end he would be next to go anyway. He lost a big pot against Nguyen where he tried to bluff him off of top pair, which didn’t work. The remainder of his stack went in minutes later, getting it in with queen-three against the king-six of Gordon Vayo. Both paired up on the flop and as the turn and river blanked, Josephy had to say his goodbyes.

With that, the tournament was down to heads-up play and the bundles of cash were brought out to the table.

Player Chip Count Big Blinds
Gordon Vayo 200,300,000 125
Qui Nguyen 136,300,000 85

Gordon Vayo lead, but not for long. What followed, was as entertaining a heads up match as any. Vayo and Nguyen played as fast paces as before. Nguyen even snap shoved a couple of times.

While the cards were initially certainly not favoring Vayo, the commentary team over on ESPN wondered out loud why Vayo was playing so passively in certain spots. He folded the better hand more than once and seemed hesitant to bet even when he made his hand. Nguyen chipped away at his opponent time and time again, only to ultimately double him up every single time as well.

One of the most intense hands was one where the two got all the chips in the middle on a queen-high board. Nguyen had by far the best hand with ace-queen while Vayo had to do with just queen-five for top-pair with not much of a kicker. Vayo, once again, put his arm around Nguyen and together they awaited their fate. Spades on the turn and river made Vayo the miraculous runner runner flush and the two gladiators went back to their corners to fight on.

While the two were jovial and friendly with each other as soon as all the chips were in the middle, while there were still decisions to be made, so tense was the atmosphere as decisions were still to be made. Nguyen looked like a cold-blooded killer when putting Vayo to the ultimate test, staring at his opponent without any emotion from behind his sunglasses and from underneath the shadow of his trademark raccoon hat. Vayo did show his feelings with his body language, with the commentators and railbirds on twitter describing him as looking unhappy to be where he was.

After Vayo was grinded down one last time, he tried to double up once again but would fail this time. He pushed his last 18 big blinds with jack-ten suited over a button raise by Nguyen, only to get called by the dominating king-ten. While Vayo flopped a double gutshot, his draw would fail to complete. After blanks on the turn and river, Vayo made his exit in 2nd place, good for $4,661,228.

Qui Nguyen, the self-proclaimed gambler born in Vietnam but now residing in Vegas, is our new World Series of Poker champion and he takes home $8,005,310! Nguyen said he would donate a portion of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project, a military and veterans charity service organization empowering injured veterans and their families.