The World Series of Poker held its final table last weekend in Las Vegas and one player ended up taking home a grand prize of more than $8 million. Talk about a productive few days. Qui Nguyen beat out a field of 6,737 entrants and outlasted everyone at the final table to take home the big prize.
Heading into the final table, only one player out of the last nine players (The November Nine) had previously claimed a WSOP bracelet and that was Cliff Josephy (two). He was also the chip leader, which is why he was considered to be the man to beat. Qui Nguyen was next in line, followed by Gordon Vayo.
Four players weren’t able to make it through the first day as Fernando Pons couldn’t last, but still took home a million dollars for his troubles. Jerry Wong finished in eighth with $1.1 million and was followed by Griffin Benger, who won $1.25 million, and Kenny Hallaert, who fell out of the top five but still earned $1.464 million with a sixth-place finish. That left Josephy, Nguyen, Vayo, Michael Ruane and Vojtech Ruzicka. Ruzicka would bow out in fifth with $1.935 million while Ruane finished in fourth with $2.576 million.
The story through the first two days was Nguyen, whose abrasive and aggressive style rubbed some people the wrong way – to say the least. With so much money on the line, though, the game is not about making friends; it’s about winning. While everyone had an opinion on Nguyen’s style, he used it to his advantage as he went into the final day as the chip leader ahead of Josephy and Vayo.
Third place would go to Josephy who would tap out and take home $3.453 million, leaving Nguyen and Vayo to go heads up. The two would play 182 heads-up hands and Nguyen’s aggressive play was once again the story as he raised on 46% of the heads-up hands he played against Vayo, who only raised 29% of the time. Vayo fought valiantly but eventually succumbed to Nguyen’s continuous pushing and he lost. That left him with $4.461 million, which is a solid haul for a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Nguyen, was elated with his $8,005,310 check. Nguyen also won 3,300 points in the Player of the Year race, which moved him up to 22nd place.
Nguyen was born in 1977 in Vietnam and moved to the United States when he was 24 and where he started a nail salon in Los Angeles. In 2007, he moved to Las Vegas and became a professional poker player where he played in several smaller events. The only time he was able to cash out at a WSOP event was in 2009 with a $1,500 win at the No Limit Hold ‘Em event. To even qualify for this year’s main event, he had to win a satellite event. Talk about a life-changing experience.
He’s arrived on the scene now and future opponents will be prepared for his style going forward, which was his signature at the 2016 event. Many players have said they’re not a fan of him but Nguyen doesn’t seem like the type to care. The $8 million cheque he just deposited will likely bolster that feeling.