Jul 25, 2016
Cliff Josephy Leads 2016 WSOP Main Event Final Table
By RTR Dennis
The 2016 WSOP Main Event final table may not have a headlining pro like Daniel Negreanu or Phil Hellmuth, but the chip leader, Cliff Josephy, has an impressive poker resume. The 51-year-old poker pro has won two WSOP gold bracelets along with over $2.64 million in tournament earnings. So who’s joining Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy in the hunt for the $8 million top prize? Find out as we discuss what led to the formation of the final table, and take a closer look at each player.
Fifth-Largest WSOP Main Event
Fueled by over 1,000 guaranteed payouts, this year’s Main Event drew 6,737 players, which is the fifth-largest field in the tournament’s history. After nine days of play, the field was whittled down to 27 players, with the Czech Republic’s Vojtech Ruzicka leading the chip count.
France’s Antoine Saout, who finished third in the 2009 Main Event ($3,479,670), saw his dreams of a second-career final table come to an end after busting out in 25th place ($269,430). Eight-time WSOP Circuit champion Valentin Vornicu bowed out shortly after this in 23rd place.
A couple other big names to go out on the final day included Tom Marchese (14th, $427,930) and Jared Bleznick (16th, $338,288), the latter of whom received a short ban earlier in the WSOP.
Australia’s James Obst, who now has 16 WSOP cashes without a gold bracelet, will continue searching for his first win after busting out in 13th ($427,930). The final table was officially formed when Joshua Weiss shoved his last two big blinds in and saw his ace-high hand lose to Gordon Vayo’s pair of sevens.
The final nine players – hailing from Belgium, Canada, Spain, the Czech Republic, and the United States – will compete for $25 million worth of prize money, with the winner taking home $8 million.
How the 2016 November Nine Is Preparing
After officially joining the WSOP November Nine, who’ll play from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, Josephy and Gordon Vayo laid out plans for how they’re prepare.
“My wife tells me what I'm going to do for the next couple of months,” said Josephy, who has 74.6 million chips. “But we're probably going to travel a little, take a few weeks off, and then start getting prepared. I've got some work to do come November.”
Vayo, who’s third in chips with 49.375 million, has more-specific plans for how he’ll spend the rest of his summer.
"I played well, sure, but I've never ran this good in a tournament in my life," he 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."
Main Event Final Table Payouts
- 1st - $8,000,000
- 2nd - $4,658,452
- 3rd - $3,451,175
- 4th - $2,574,808
- 5th - $1,934,579
- 6th - $1,463,906
- 7th - $1,250,000
- 8th - $1,100,000
- 9th - $1,000,000
2016 WSOP Main Event Final Table Overview
1. Cliff Josephy
From: Syosset, New York
Live tournament winnings: $2,641,620
Career highlights: Josephy is the only player on the final table to have won in the WSOP, doing so in a 2015 Seven Card Stud event ($192,150) and a NL Hold’em tournament ($299,486). Josephy was also a primary backer for Joe Cada when he won the 2009 Main Event and $8,546,435. At 51, Josephy is the oldest and most-experienced player in the November Nine.
2. Qui Nguyen
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Live tournament winnings: $52,986
Career highlights: “This is so crazy right now. I really did not expect this to happen,” said Qui Nguyen after making the final table. It’s little surprise why the 39-year-old feels this way since he only has $52,986 in tournament winnings.
3. Gordon Vayo
From: San Francisco, California
Live tournament winnings: $974,714
Career highlights: Gordon Vayo has done quite well in the WSOP, cashing 16 times over the past three years. His biggest highlight includes taking second in a 2014 WSOP $3,000 NL Hold’em tourney ($314,535).
4. Kenny Hallaert
From: Hansbeke, Belgium
Live tournament winnings: $1,317,530
Career highlights: Kenny Hallaert’s appearance marks the second straight year that a Belgian has made the final table. Pierre Neuville did it last year, finishing 7th and collecting $1,293,293. Hallaert’s best-career finishes include sixth in the 2011 EPT Deauville Main Event ($210,952) and fifth in the 2015 WSOP Colossus ($182,348).
5. Michael Ruane
From: Hoboken, New Jersey
Live tournament winnings: $44,962
Career highlights: Michael Ruane has a short poker resume that includes a $17,244 cash in the 2012 EPT Campione Main Event.
6. Vojtech Ruzicka
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Live tournament winnings: $1,149,027
Career highlights: Vojtech Ruzicka’s first big score came when he won the 2013 EPT Deauville High Roller along with $426,907. He’ll try to see if he can best countryman Martin Staszko’s second-place finish in the 2011 Main Event ($5,433,086).
7. Griffin Benger
From: Toronto, Ontario
Live tournament winnings: $2,395,406
Career highlights: Griffin Benger is the most-interesting individual left in the Main Event field. Playing under ‘Flush_Entity’, he was ranked as the top online poker player in 2011. The Toronto native also won the Counter-Strike world championship. Benger added one more impressive accolade by winning the 2014 PokerStars Shark Cage tourney along with $1 million. His $2.4 million in live winnings go nicely with his $5.7 million in online poker earnings.
8. Jerry Wong
From: Brooklyn, New York
Live tournament winnings: $1,317,539
Career highlights: Jerry Wong’s biggest windfall came when he finished third in the 2013 PCA Main Event and collected $725,000. He has a few other solid cashes that have helped him accumulate over $1.3 million.
9. Fernando Pons
From: Palma, Spain
Live tournament winnings: $10,589
Career highlights: An account executive for a retailer, Fernando Pons has the least tournament winnings out of anybody with $10,589. Of course, even if Pons busts out in ninth place, he can’t complain given that he qualified for this event through an online satellite.