World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table: Nguyen Leads Final Five as Pons, Wong, Benger and Hallaert Bust

November Nine

The World Series of Poker Main Event final table got underway at 5 p.m. local time after a 103-day hiatus. The nine players were all ready, and after the shuffle up and deal by Poker Hall of Fame inductees Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen, the action was fierce.

After 97 hands of play on the first of three final table days, Qui Nguyen leads with a massive stack of over 128 million, twice as much as his nearest competitor. Fernando Pons, Jerry Wong, Griffin Benger and Kenny Hallaert all busted before play wrapped up for the day just before midnight.

PlayerCountryChip CountBig Blinds
Qui NguyenUnited States128,625,000129
Cliff JosephyUnited States63,850,00064
Vojtěch RůžičkaCzech Republic62,250,00062
Gordon VayoUnited States58,200,00058
Michael RuaneUnited States23,700,00024

An Early Elimination

Play got underway with the following lineup and respective chip stacks:

SeatPlayerCountryChip Count
1Griffin BengerCanada26,175,000
2Vojtěch RůžičkaCzech Republic27,300,000
3Fernando PonsSpain6,150,000
4Qui NguyenUnited States67,295,000
5Cliff JosephyUnited States74,600,000
6Michael RuaneUnited States31,600,000
7Gordon VayoUnited States49,375,000
8Kenny HallaertBelgium43,325,000
9Jerry WongUnited States10,175,000

With all guaranteed $1,000,000 and a first-place prize of $8,000,000 at stake, Nguyen wasted no time getting involved in pots, tangling with start-of-day chip leader Cliff Josephy during the first hand. Nguyen four-bet right away, forcing a fold by Josephy.

While the two big stacks did get involved in the action, most others waited while Pons, the short stack, was holding on for dear life. Pons laid low for a few hands himself, pushing all in early only once - a shove that went unanswered.

Pons, despite seemingly as cool and collected as ever, eventually busted in the 16th hand of play. Just after the blinds had gone up, Pons shoved all in from the button for 4,625,000, the equivalent of almost eight big blinds. The small blind folded but big blind Josephy made the call.

Pons showed {a-Diamonds}{6-Clubs} and was in front against the {k-Hearts}{j-Clubs} of Josephy. The {k-Spades}{q-Clubs}{3-Spades} flop, however, turned things around in a major way and Pons was in need of some help. The {9-Diamonds} on the turn and {k-Clubs} on the river failed to improve the Spaniard and he made his exit in ninth place, good for $1,000,000.

It would take some time before the next player hit the rail. With both Wong and Benger short, the play was dominated by the bigger stacks. Eventually, after three hours of play, Wong got mixed up in a situation from which there was no escaping. With a raise and a three-bet in front of him, he four-bet with {j-Hearts}{j-Spades}. Vojtěch Růžička, the initial raiser, five-bet with the {q-Hearts}{q-Diamonds} and action got back to Wong who called all in for just a little more. The board brought no help to Wong and he made his exit in eighth place, good for $1,100,076.

Another Short Stack Gone

Minutes later, the other short-stacked player hit the rail. Benger suffered a complete lack of good cards, winning only a single hand the entire day before he made his exit in seventh place for $1,250,190. In his last hand, Gordon Vayo raised to 2.2 million and Benger moved all in for his last nine big blinds with ace-nine suited. Vayo called holding pocket tens, and while the flop brought a nine, that was all the help Benger would get and he was off to the rail.

While the initial plan had been to play down to six players, ESPN and the WSOP decided to play on for a little longer to see if one more player would bust.

With the blinds up to 500,000 and 1,000,000, Hallaert was first to act with ace-queen suited. He raised to 2.3 million and was soon facing a three-bet by Nguyen to 5.7 million. Action folded back to Hallaert and he shoved for just over 35 big blinds. Nguyen was quick to call as he held aces. While Hallaert did flop a queen to keep some hope, the turn and river were blanks and Hallaert made his exit in sixth place, good for $1,464,258.

With Hallaert's bust out in sixth place, play ended for the night. The remaining five players are guaranteed $1,935,288 and come back Monday, Oct. 31. Play will be back underway at 4:30 p.m. with live coverage on ESPN2 starting at 5 p.m. One hour and 42 minutes remain in Level 38 (500,000/1,000,000 - 150,000-ante).

1  $8,005,310
2  $4,661,228
3  $3,453,035
4  $2,576,003
5  $1,935,288
6Kenny HallaertBelgium$1,464,258
7Griffin BengerCanada$1,250,190
8Jerry WongUnited States$1,100,076
9Fernando PonsSpain$1,000,000
  • Just five players remain at the WSOP Main Event Final Table.

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