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Meet The November Nine Of The 2016 WSOP Main Event

Tags: 2016 November Nine, 2016 WSOP.
Posted on 20 July 2016 by "T".

On July 9, Saturday, the 2016 World Series of Poker commenced. Overall 6,737 players shelled out the $10,000 entrance fee, thereby creating the biggest field of players since 2011. This 2016 is also the fifth-biggest Main Event in the history of WSOP.

Event: World Series of Poker’s $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship

Duration: July 9 (Sat) to November 2 (Wed)

Buy-in: $10,000

Prizepool: $63,327,800 

Entries: 6,737 

Remaining: 9

The Day 7 of the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is finally complete, resulting to a final table of nine players out of a total of 6,737 entrants. As usual, the nine will take the customary 3.5-month hiatus and come back for the final table, which will be aired live on ESPN from October 30 to November 1, 2016.

Let’s take a quick look at the nine players who are vying to win this year’s 47th Annual WSOP:

Cliff Josephy

Current Position: 1

Current Chips: 74,600,000

Previous Bracelets: 2

Previous WSOP Cashes: 17

Previous WSOP Earnings: $810,358

Cliff Josephy of Muttontown, New York, the chip leader heading into the Main Event final table, is definitely one of the most renowned names in poker as well as the most accomplished amongst all the other players of the final nine.


He first became known in online poker (screen name “JohnnyBax&rdquoBlink, and he also became successful in live poker tournaments since then.  He currently has two bracelets, with the most recent one from a 2013 shootout victory.


He also works as a poker instructor, and together with Eric Haber he has made several training videos that feature poker professionals as they play online poker.


Qui Nguyen

Current Position: 2

Current Chips: 67,925,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 1

Previous WSOP Earnings: $9,029

Qui Nguyen of Las Vegas, Nevada, can be seen as the least experienced in the high-stakes poker tournament in this final batch of nine competitors, and so normally the poker community thinks that he doesn’t stand out as a threat in the group. His career live earnings is just $52,986, and the biggest cash of his career – his most recent WSOP cash, is for $9,029, which isn’t even enough for the buy-in in this event! But because he has made it in the final nine and will battle it out in November, he’s already guaranteed a whopping payout of at least $1 million.


Gordon Vayo

Current Position: 3

Current Chips: 49,375,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 26

Previous WSOP Earnings: $608,136

Gordon Vayo of San Francisco, California, is mainly a live poker tournament event player and has been playing poker since 2008. This time, it is his third career WSOP final table.  So far his best performance was when he won 2nd place at the 2014 WSOP Event #15: $3,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em, with the prize money of $314,535. Now, as part of the final nine, he has a good chance of improving himself and earn his first bracelet in the biggest poker tournament of the year.


Kenny Hallaert

Current Position: 4

Current Chips: 43,325,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 22

Previous WSOP Earnings: $367,855

Kenny Hallaert of Hansbeke, Belgium, is a live poker player and a tournament director of many of the PokerStars and Casino de Namur tournaments. In his hometown Belgium, he manages the Belgian Poker Challenge (BPC), a two-stop tour that visits the PokerStars card room at the Grand Casino de Namur and a second tournament in Spa. Even before he began managing BPC, he was well known in European poker rooms. He has made a huge success managing the BPC. In 2014 in Hallaert’s home casino in Namur, 683 players created a €654,309 prize pool; in 2015, 680 players created a €652,800 prize pool – the biggest tournaments ever held in the country. Amazingly, both tournaments were won by the same man, named Arne Coulier, who got €101,075 to €113,820 in consecutive years.


Kenny Hallaert now has more than $1.3 million in career earnings, and his most recent best WSOP performance so far was finishing 5th place in the 2015 Colossus


Pierre Nueville was the first Belgian to make the WSOP Main Event final table last year (2015), and Kenny Hallaert is the second this time (2016).


Michael Ruane

Current Position: 5

Current Chips: 31,600,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 3

Previous WSOP Earnings: $24,438

Michael Ruane of Maywood, New Jersey, compared to other competitors, he’s quite inexperienced at poker tournaments. He only has 5 recorded tournament cashes, with the three in WSOP events. His biggest recorded score is just $17,244, but now that he’s in the final table of nine, he is guaranteed a payout of $1 million and he has the opportunity to win the most prestigious prize there is in poker.


Poker players who make it to the televised final tables usually make efforts to dress up for the occasion. Some get their fave shirt pressed or they buy a new suit. Michael Ruane didn’t expect to get deep in the Main Event, and naturally he just ran out of clean clothes.  On Day 7 of the 2016 WSOP Main Event, he went shopping at Walmart and bought new underwear, new socks, and a plain black the-shirt.


He’s a real mystery in this group of nine, because if you check his Hendon Mob profile, you will see that he was gone for a while since December 2012. Either he stopped playing in live events or he just stopped cashing them. About keeping himself mysterious, Ruane said, “Yeah, I’m trying to keep it that way. That’s the goal. It’s totally an advantage, so that’s why I’m not going to elaborate more on it.” While he does admit to playing online poker at legal online poker sites in his home state, he’s not willing to share his screen name though.


Vojtech Ruzicka

Current Position: 6

Current Chips: 27,300,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 17

Previous WSOP Earnings: $138,585

Vojtech Ruzicka of Liberec, Czech Republic is the first Czech native to be a part of the November Nine since Martin Staszko’s runner-up run in 2011.  He is considered one of the most talented players at the table, with a six-figure online win for the past 5 years and he’s also a six-year veteran of live poker tournaments in Europe and the WSOP.


He earned over $1 million in 2011 that included a 2nd place finish in the WCOOP Main Event for $710,000.


Also, he won €313,000 at the EPT Season 9 Deauville High Roller. He also won in the 2012 German Championship of Poker.


His best previous WSOP cash was $42K by placing 7th in a $1,500 Bounty Event last year. Coming into the final table at 6th place, Ruzicka has over 50 big blinds, which is plenty of room to make a big move.


Griffin Benger

Current Position: 7

Current Chips: 26,175,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 13

Previous WSOP Earnings: $231,201

Griffin Benger of Toronto, Canada, is considered as one of the world’s most accomplished players – both a pro in poker and in video gaming. At one point, he won the Counterstrike World Championships, and over the course of five or six years he (alias “ShaGuar&rdquoBlink and his team (NoA) were placed as the number one team half a dozen times. However, when he discovered the extreme amounts of money that he can win in poker, in 2006 he switched games and never looked back. 


His bread and butter has always been online tournaments. Going by the poker screen name “Flush_Entity”, Benger has more than $6.2 million in combined earnings, with $5.29 million of it in tournament earnings with 138 victories and 109 runner-up finishes. Also, eight times he has been the #1 ranked player in the world between October 2011 and July 2012.


Jerry Wong

Current Position: 8

Current Chips: 10,175,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 19

Previous WSOP Earnings: $127,343

Jerry Wong of Brooklyn, New York, is a full-time poker pro since 2008, and won $3.3 million online (nickname Hummylun); thus, he clearly has the experience and skill to nab the second-smallest stack of the November Nine.


In 2013, Wong finished third in the PCA Main Event for $725,000, and in 2014, he won a WCOOP bracelet.  With his experience both live and online (and poker friends like Mike Leah in his corner), he has an equally good chance to take the title home from a short stack as one can be.


Previously he had 19 WSOP cashes, but this year will be his first WSOP final table.  Despite his previous accomplishments, he is already guaranteed the biggest payout of his career.


Fernando Pons

Current Position: 9

Current Chips: 6,150,000

Previous Bracelets: 0

Previous WSOP Cashes: 0

Previous WSOP Earnings: $0

Fernando Pons of Palma, Spain (living now in Caldwell, New Jersey), may be the shortest stack at the final table of the 2016 WSOP Main Event, but with how he started out in all of this, you can say that he has already earned a super-huge return on his investment.


Pons qualified for the 2016 WSOP Main Event via a mere €30 satellite on 888poker. Just by making it to the final table of nine, he’s already guaranteed $1 million, so that’s really huge reward for him.


Actually, Pons has had a lot of first times in this tournament.  This year is his very first time to play at a WSOP Event, and also his first WSOP cash. It’s also his first time in Las Vegas.  He arrived in Vegas on July 10 and originally planned to stay just for 5 days only. He ended up shopping for clothes daily (apparently he ran out of clean clothes) when he got into the later part of the Main Event.


Pons is primarily an online poker player and plays part-time; on record he has only two live tournament cashes. He is married, has a 4-year-old daughter, and works as a full-time account executive for a retail chain.



Pons is the first Spanish player since Andoni Larrabe (in 2014) to make it to the final table of the WSOP Main Event.  Larrabe finished 6th so Pons would have to play his very best if he wants to surpass his fellow countryman.

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8 comments on "Meet The November Nine Of The 2016 WSOP Main Event"

 bowie198421/07/2016 00:39:25 GMT
So they have some seasoned pro and some rookie first timer among the final nine as well. Good, diversity never hurts. Also that million dollar could never hurt either. Damn, when I started having interest in poker the first price was around three million...
 Calmplay21/07/2016 05:38:44 GMT
I like the chip leader there, Cliff Josephy a very well experienced player in the circuit and I have no doubt he'll finish in the top 3 unless the poker god decide the oppose.
 pochui21/07/2016 08:09:54 GMT
Duration: July 9 (Sat) to November 2 (Wed)... great to see such endurance from the players, no wonder they are called poker pro's... it must be tough on one's brain and kidneys to play a tournament which lasts ~3,5 months. at last the end is in sight and players can take their deserved rest afterwards.
 doubletop77721/07/2016 09:42:11 GMT
It must be a frustrating wait for these nine guys to finish this tournament. I can see why the TV companies would want to build up to the final but i still think they should play it off straight away
 tropical21/07/2016 10:28:27 GMT
Tough final table. Lots of good players.
My money is on Griffin Benger. That guy is a very good player and also very lucky. I guess i will be getting pretty decent odds for him since he is 7th in chips. Hope he takes it down.
 Tony_MON7ANA22/07/2016 00:39:56 GMT
Huge congratulations to this year's November Niners! I can't imagine how exhausted they must be after going through excruciating seven-day ordeal.
I am looking forward to checking out WSOP coverage on YouTube.
 pochui22/07/2016 09:53:13 GMT
well maybe mr. mobbit tropical has a serious point here, this griffin banger dude could just about bang the whole table and run away with full pockets of dollaros. still i believe this tourney would become even more successful if organizers decided that final table has to be played not 3.5 months later, but 3.5 years later... why not?
 JorAxe27/07/2016 15:22:35 GMT
Well wait for that big final table in that tournament as big plays, big bluffs grades coolers and expected. Good luck to the finalists.

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