In what he undoubtedly hopes will be a portent of things to come, Gordon Vayo won the $2,500 WinStar River Poker Series Main Event, taking the lion’s share of a five-way chop for a $587,120 score. It’s Vayo’s second-biggest cash live, behind only his undetermined 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event score, which could be worth as much as $8 million if he manages to become the next world champion in November.
Ben Ector ($344,826), Dean Bobel ($225,048), Layne Flack ($225,190), and Grant Hinkle ($207,669) were the other deal-makers, officially finishing second through fifth, respectively.
|6||Long Duc Nguyen||$70,054|
Coming into the final table with the chip lead, and having essentially run roughshod over the tournament from the time two tables were left, Vayo was the clear favorite for the $1 million first-place prize. He got off to a bit of a rocky start as Jeff Duvall doubled through him when he four-bet shipped queen-jack and cracked Vayo’s aces on a runout.
Duvall’s double against Vayo didn’t keep him around for long as he got in about seven big blinds with nine-eight of clubs and found himself staring at the ace-king of Chino Rheem and needing improvement. The board improved Rheem to top-pair instead, and Jeff Duvallheaded out in eighth.
Vayo picked up the bullets again a bit later, and Chino Rheem, not backing down from the big stack on his right, three-bet Vayo’s open holding with deuces. Vayo put him all in and Rheem called for about 13 big blinds, seeing the bad news. Rheem flopped a wheel draw that gave him some hope, but that was extinguished after blanks on the turn and river. Rheem would not have to pay out a line of creditors, as he joked earlier in the day would happen if he won.
One player unafraid to tangle with Vayo was Long Duc Nguyen, but he did not come out of those clashes profitably. After dropping a series of pots to the November Niner, Nguyen shoved in his last six big blinds from the small blind over a Vayo open. Vayo called with nines and had Nguyen with nine-eight in awful shape. A board full of blanks later, it was five-handed.
The final five played for about an hour, with the most impactful pot coming when Ector doubled with ace-queen against the nines of Hinkle. Another double by Flack through Hinkle left the latter as the short stack, and the players agreed to pause the clock for a chop discussion a bit after that.
|Player||Chip Count||Position||Original Payout|
The prize pool was very top-heavy with $1 million up top and a drop of almost $775,000 to second place. Vayo had a commanding lead with about half of the chips in play but said he would be amenable to the independent chip model (ICM) numbers if he was given a bit of a boost. Bobel agreed to ship $25,000 from his ICM cut, and the deal was struck.
The players fired up what amounted to a turbo sit-n-go for the bracelet, which was won by Hinkle, but Vayo was declared the champion of the Winstar River Poker Series Main Event.