Only one Canadian has ever won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. Jonathan Duhamel did so in 2010 but Griffin Benger hoped to become the second when he took his seat at the final table last night in Las Vegas.
After play paused with nine players remaining at the end of the summer, each of the final nine were paid out ninth-place money of $1 million and came back on October 30 to battle their way to first-place money of $8 million.
Benger came to the table in his signature Blue Jays cap as the Canadian contender. The one-time professional video gamer and current poker pro already had one other million-dollar cash in his career. He won the first season of PokerStars’ Shark Cage for an even million bucks. Before this WSOP Main Event, his lifetime live tournament winnings were already $2.4 million. In addition to that, Benger has a huge amount of online experience, tallying $5.9 million in tournament cashes.
The two short stacks were the first two players to be eliminated. Fernando Pons resumed play with the shortest stack of 6,150,000 and he was the first to go, getting it in with and ahead of Cliff Josephy’s . But a king hit the flop and Pons never regained his lead, finding himself eliminated in ninth place and collecting no more than the $1 million he already pocketed in July.
The second-shortest stack at the start of the day, Jerry Wong, was the second player to lose his chips. He found himself in a tough spot with with a raise and a three-bet in front of him. He four-bet and the original raiser, Vojtěch Růžička, five-bet with . It folded to Wong and he called all in for the little he had left. He never caught up when the board ran out and he was knocked out in eighth place for $1,100,076.
Following in the pattern of going up the start-of-day chip counts, Griffin Benger was the third-shortest player coming into the November Nine and was the third player to meet his demise in the tournament.
Benger had the misfortune of finding himself card-dead for all of his final table. He didn’t win his first pot until the 60th hand of play and that was when he pushed all in and got through his opponents, picking up a small pot. He never won another hand.
As he was blinded down, he eventually three-bet all in over Gordon Vayo’s open to 2.2 million with ace-nine suited and was called by Vayo who held pocket tens. Despite finding one nine on the flop, Benger never caught up and he was eliminated in seventh place to earn $1,250,190.
One more elimination finished the night when Kenny Hallaert ran into aces with ace-queen. His sixth-place elimination earned him $1,464,258 and play ended for the night. Over the next two nights, TSN2 will broadcast the live coverage of the remainder of the final table in Canada.