The 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event final table has been set with the conclusion of Day 7, and the final nine players will now take a break until the end of October when they resume to battle it out for a top prize of $8,000,000 and the most coveted title in all of poker. New York's Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy finished with the chip lead after bagging up 74.6 million in chips.
"I'm just elated right now — relieved and elated," Josephy said. "I had a goal, I've reached it, and now I'll set some loftier ones."
The final table was set after Joshua Weiss folded his way down to less than two big blinds before he got the last of his money in. When he finally decided to commit, it was for 850,000 from early position. Michael Ruane called from the small blind, and Gordon Vayo called out of the big blind. Ruane and Vayo checked down the runout, and the hands were tabled. Vayo had the for a pair of sevens, and Ruane had the for two pair of jacks and fives. Weiss showed the for just ace high, and that made him the 10th-place finisher in the 2016 WSOP Main Event.
|2||Vojtech Ruzicka||Czech Republic||27,300,000|
Day 7 of the event began with 27 players left. Two quick eliminations saw Christopher Kusha and Philip Postma hit the rail, and then it was a double elimination that busted both former November Niner Antoine Saout in 25th and Adam Krach in 24th.
After that big double knockout, eight-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Valentin Vornicu busted in 23rd place, and he was followed out the door by Jeff Hakim, who held on for as long as he could before shoving trip aces on the river of an board and running into the for 888poker qualifier Fernando Pons.
Pons, who qualified on 888poker via a €30 satellite, bagged up 6.15 million in chips and will be the shortest stack returning to the final table.
Matthew Moss, Kakwan Lau, and Thomas Miller all went out next, setting up the final 18 players across two tables. It was at this point that the players went on a 60-minute dinner break with Josephy in the lead.
Upon their return, Andrew Christoforou went out in 18th, and then William Kassouf busted in 17th in what was by far the hand of the tournament when he clashed big in an aces-versus-kings explosion that was a heated confrontation between he and Griffin Benger. The aces held for Benger, and the noisy Kassouf was gone with a $338,288 payday.
Benger, another 888poker online qualifier for this event, won his seat via a $160 satellite and finished on 26.175 million in chips.
Jared Bleznick, a polarizing figure in the poker world who ran into some trouble earlier in the summer that resulted in a temporary ban from the WSOP, was the next to go in 16th place.
WSOP Main Event newcomer Michael Niwinski busted in 15th place to Vayo, and shortly after that Vayo move into the tournament lead when he won a pntot off Josephy. There was a bit a jockeying at the top of the leaderboard, and then seemingly out of nowhere came Qui Nguyen.
Nguyen first busted one of the field's top favorites, Tom Marchese, in 14th place, and then he took out another skilled star in James Obst on the very next hand. Both time, Nguyen simply had the best of it — first with flush over flush against Marchese, and then second with a pocket pair of tens over the pocket pair of fives for Obst.
The run of Nguyen continued when he busted Mike Shin in 12th place, having queens hold up against Shin's ace-king, and the players went on break with 11 left.
After action got back underway, the tournament was abruptly altered as the tournament staff debated what to do over the stalling that was happening in the event with the big pay jumps. After 10 minutes, play resumed and action went to hand-for-hand play. The tournament staff also announced that they would monitor the action at both tables, taking away the option to call the clock from the players and enforcing it themselves should it become a problem.
John Cynn, who was the short stack up on the main feature table, moved all in for 4 million from middle position with the blinds at 250,000/500,000/75,000 and was called by Vayo in the big blind. After the other table completed action, the hands of Shin and Vayo were revealed, with Shin all in and at risk holding the against the for Vayo. The board ran out , and Shin was eliminated in 11th place for $650,000.
The final 10 players then joined up on the main stage at one table, and at this point it was Nguyen in the lead, but Josephy wasn't too far off the pace. A few hands into resumed action, Josephy worked his way back in front as both he and Nguyen climbed over 70 million.
As the hands went by, Weiss fell shorter and shorter, not finding anything he was willing to put his money in with. The feeling in the room was akin to that of blood in the water for sharks, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Weiss fell. In the end, the La Jolla, California resident put his money in with the best hand, but it didn't work out, and the 2016 WSOP Main Event final table was set.
"My wife tells me what I'm going to do for the next couple of months, but we're probably going to travel a little, take a few weeks off, and then start getting prepared," Josephy added afterwards. "I've got some work to do come November."
In second place on the leaderboard was Nguyen, who was extremely excited to have mad the final table and done so after hitting a massive rush that allowed him to finish on 67.925 million.
"This is so crazy right now, I really did not expect this to happen," Nguyen said. "It's amazing."
Vayo bagged up the third most chips at 49.375 million, and the longtime online pro was already thinking of how he's going to prepare.
"I played well, sure, but I've never ran this good in a tournament in my life," Vayo said. "I'm going to do a lot of playing, and run simulations. I have some friends that are really good poker players and hopefully they can emulate some of the styles of these guys and we can run some good simulations to prepare."
The 2016 WSOP Main Event final table will resume play on Oct. 30, 2016 at the Penn & Teller Theater inside the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. The final nine are all guaranteed $1 million, but it's the $8 million first-place prize they'll all be gunning for.
Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for continued coverage of the WSOP Main Event final table and its players, brought to you by our sponsors, 888poker.
*Photo Credit: Joe Giron/WSOP (group shot) and Jayne Furman/WSOP (cash/bracelet), PokerPhotoArchive.com.