After Epic Battle, Qui Nguyen is 2016 WSOP Main Event Champion!
After an epic heads-up battle with runner-up Gordon Vayo that went deep into the night, Nguyen finally subdued his challenger to win the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event title and $8 million.
He also, thanks to his bold play and aggressive moves, earned the respect of a whole lot of poker fans who hadn't really seen him play poker before.
Vayo, meanwhile, was taken to task on Twitter for his passive play but will still take home $4.66m as a pretty decent consolation prize.
Josephy Bounced in Third
The 2016 World Series of Poker November Nine kicked off on Sunday and played down to five players. That group returned on Monday and played down to the final three.
After two days of play the final three players remaining were the three biggest stacks at the start of play on Sunday.
Cliff Josephy, aka JohnnyBax, was looking to add to his esteemed reputation in poker with a Main Event title. Gordon Vayo, a former horse for Josephy, was the only "20-something" left in the field by Sunday and was looking to earn his own legendary status.
Heading into the final day of the Main Event on Tuesday, Nguyen had a massive chip lead. He held 197.6 million versus 89 million for Vayo and 50 million for Josephy.
In the very first hand, Josephy doubled through Nguyen when his A-Q managed to fill up against Nguyen's dominated A-4. Josephy appeared to be a contender but then lost nearly all of his stack in a massive set-over-set hand against Vayo.
All the chips went in on the turn with the board showing Kd-3c-2s-4d. Vayo was all-in with pocket threes and Josephy called with pocket deuces. The river 6d missed both players and Josephy was down to just 9 million.
Just when you thought Josephy was out, he managed a pair of doubles. First, he doubled with Ad-10d against Kd-8h of Nguyen. A bit later, he pulled off a miracle runner-runner flush with Ks-9d against Nguyen's Ah-Qd. This put Josephy up to 45 million.
A bit later, Josephy gave back most of those chips back to Nguyen when he called too many bets with bottom pair against top pair for Nguyen.
Then with just under 19 million left, Josephy shoved with Qd-3d and Vayo called with Kh-6d. The flop fell Kc-8c-3h to give both a pair and Josephy needed a queen or three to double. The turn fell the 4c and river the 2c and JohnnyBax went home with $3.45 million and the respect of the poker world.
Nguyen also picked up a bit of respect from poker pro Shaun Deeb. Deeb served as a coach for Josephy in the Main Event and he tweet later that as they exited the arena, some of Nguyen's fans began heckling by singing "Goodbye."
Nguyen quickly admonished them, telling them to stop. Not surprisingly, some of Josephy's supporters jumped over to support Nguyen in his run to the title.
Vayo and Nguyen Battle Deep into the Night
Vayo started as chip leader during heads-up play holding 187.1 million to Qui Nguyen's 149.5 million. Nguyen ramped up the aggression and soon took the chip lead.
The two traded the lead before Nguyen started hitting hands and to open up 5:1 chip lead.
With just 57.6m left, Vayo found As-Jd and raised. After a three-bet to 14.9 million by Nguyen, Vayo shoved and was called. Nguyen turned over Kh-9d and needed a ton of help. The board missed both players and Vayo was back to 117.8 million.
The two continued to battle well into the night and Vayo continued to swing between 80 and 120 million over the course of 50 hands. However, from that point fans were "treated" to one of the most brutally slow deaths in WSOP Main Event history.
Vayo played a hyper-passive style that saw his stack ground down time and again. He was down to 50 million at one point and then doubled to 100 million. After nearly pulling to even, he then was ground down to just 30 million at which point he found another double to 60 million.
After his second double, Vayo hung on for a bit but with just 53 million in his stack, he moved all-in pre-flop with Js-10 and Nguyen made the call with Kc-10c.
The flop fell Kd-9c-7d to give Nguyen top pair but a double gutshot draw to Vayo. This time there would be no double for Vayo as the turn fell the 2s and the river the 3h to give Nguyen the hand and the title.
In addition to the grossly blinged out bracelet, Nguyen wins $8 million in prize money. But what made this win even better is the fact that this was his first Main Event and he won his way into the event for just $3,000 in satellite entries.
Qui Nguyen not only won the Main Event title but the respect of many in poker with his style of play and his overall positive demeanor. He's quickly shaping up to be a great ambassador for poker.