The final table of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event is almost here.
Things get underway Oct. 30 when the final nine players remaining in the event will take their seats in the Penn & Teller Theater and vie for $8 million and the title of poker's world champion. Whose banner will be hung in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino next year?
Another way to answer that question is to look at the betting odds for the November Nine. Betting markets give us fairly good idea of the chances of an event happening, depending on how efficient the market is. PokerNews decided to look over the betting markets and see what kinds of insights they can give as to the chances of each player left in the event etching his name in poker history.
Now, there are many reasons this could be a somewhat foolhardy pursuit.
Each player has likely spent at least some portion of the past few months rigorously preparing in whatever way he deems best. Some players get coaching, some memorize shoving charts and independent chip model numbers, some put in as many hours as they can at the tables, some relax and some just enjoy the $1 million they already locked up and let fate take care of the rest. Only each player knows how hard he prepared.
Second, it's very difficult to estimate true talent level in poker and how varying stack sizes affect each player's chances. There's no question Jerry Wong has much more experience than Qui Nguyen, but the latter has a stack many times the size of Wong's, so he's probably got a better shot of winning. But, how much better? Plus, tournament poker is just inherently highly volatile — complete amateurs outperform even the most skilled players fairly regularly.
Finally, even these odds should be taken with a grain of salt. Large, high liquidity markets like the NFL attract max-sized bets from professionals that move the market towards efficiency. The final table of the Main Event is probably a smaller market that gives more of a rough idea than a strong prediction.
Still, it's a fun exercise and interesting to see how each player's odds stack up according to the market.
First, a refresher on the situation as it will stand when the players take their seats:
PokerNews' friends at Matchbook, a licensed and regulated betting exchange by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and the UK Gambling Commission, have posted exchange markets for the Main Event. Matchbook lets punters either bet on a player to win or take the field against the player. Here's where the current odds for each player stand at the time of writing.
|Player||Odds to Win||Odds on the Field||Chance of Winning|
|Cliff Josephy||2.76 to 1||1 to 3||26.18%|
|Qui Nguyen||5 to 1||1 to 5.2||16.58%|
|Gordon Vayo||5 to 1||1 to 6.4||16.16%|
|Kenny Hallaert||6 to 1||1 to 6.8||14.08%|
|Griffin Benger||8.2 to 1||1 to 11||10.6%|
|Michael Ruane||10 to 1||1 to 11.5||8.99%|
|Vojtech Ruzicka||10.5 to 1||1 to 12||8.61%|
|Jerry Wong||19 to 1||1 to 36||4.89%|
|Fernando Pons||38 to 1||1 to 90||2.52%|
Matchbook only allows bettors to wager against other bettors on each player's individual chances. An astute observer would note that those percentages don't add up to 100.
To get an even stronger read on the market's view of the November Nine, we took a look at Pinnacle, a regulated non-U.S. book widely regarded as one of, if not the, sharpest out there. Pinnacle is offering a nine-way market on each of the players' chances of winning the Main Event. However, there is vig, or the bookmaker's edge, baked into these lines, so a little work is required to tease out the exact implied chances of winning.
Skipping the down and dirty details of the math, here's what Pinnacle has to say about each player's odds.
|Player||Pinnacle Odds||No-Vig Chance to Win|
|Cliff Josephy||2.79 to 1||21.81%|
|Qui Nguyen||3.81 to 1||17.1%|
|Gordon Vayo||4.34 to 1||15.48%|
|Kenny Hallaert||5.7 to 1||12.34%|
|Griffin Benger||6.48 to 1||11.05%|
|Michael Ruane||7.71 to 1||9.49%|
|Vojtech Ruzicka||8.7 to 1||8.52%|
|Jerry Wong||30.04 to 1||2.66%|
|Fernando Pons||52.01 to 1||1.56%|
Most of the numbers roughly line up with those at Matchbook, although someone betting over at Pinnacle appears to be quite bullish on the prospects of Griffin Benger, as his odds appear to have moved a bit from where they started.
Now, we can put all of the predictive methods in one table, including the two prediction sets from APT — one based on the simulations and one based strictly on ICM.
|Player||ICM Win%||Simulation Win%||Matchbook Win%||Pinnacle Win%|
The two players who stand out according to the betting market are Benger and Nguyen. Compared to ICM and APT's simulations, the markets are a little higher on the chances of the former pro gamer and a little lower on the chances of the baccarat-loving Nguyen and his big stack. Cliff Josephy is the favorite, according to the markets, but is still a pretty big underdog relative to the field despite his big stack and experience. Longshots Wong and Fernando Pons don't stand much of a chance, if the odds are to be believed.
But that's why they play the game, as the saying goes, and the game will be played Oct. 30 for $8 million and a place in poker lore. Stay tuned.
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