They had 103 days to prepare, but it still wasn’t enough for four of the November Niners who were eliminated on the first day of the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. On the first of three final-table days, it only took 97 hands to eliminate Fernando Pons, Jerry Wong, Griffin Benger, and Kenny Hallaert.
Play got underway at 5:00 p.m. local time at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, after the shuffle-up-and-deal by new Poker Hall of Fame inductees Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen.
Chip stacks at beginning of play:
Seat 1. Griffin Benger, Canada – 26,175,000
Seat 2. Vojtěch Růžička, Czech Republic – 27,300,000
Seat 3. Fernando Pons, Spain – 6,150,000
Seat 4. Qui Nguyen, United States – 67,295,000
Seat 5. Cliff Josephy, United States – 74,600,000
Seat 6. Michael Ruane, United States – 31,600,000
Seat 7. Gordon Vayo, United States – 49,375,000
Seat 8. Kenny Hallaert, Belgium – 43,325,000
Seat 9. Jerry Wong, United States – 10,175,000
Pons, who came into the final table as the short stack, was the first to bust. After a few low-budget hands and an uncalled shove, Pons (A♢, 6♧) went head-to-head with start-of-day chip leader Josephy (K♡, J♧) in the 16th hand.
The flop (K♤, Q♧, 3♤) gave Josephy top pair. The final two cards (9♢, K♧) put the nail in the coffin for the Spaniard. His ninth-place exit still earned him $1,000,000.
Wong and Benger were hanging out on the low end of the chip counts for hours before the group saw anymore action. Wong (J♡, J♤) exited after he four-bet with Růžička (Q♡, Q♢). Wong was enticed to call all-in and his lower pair found no help on the board. The New Yorker won $1,100,076 for eighth.
Benger hit the rail in seventh (for $1,250,190) just minutes later after an ill-fated run in with Vayo. The ace-nine suited hand of the seventh-place finisher fell to Vayo’s pocket 10s, despite a nine on the flop. While the day was supposed to end after the first three eliminations, the game kept going; Kenny Hallaert wishes it hadn’t.
With a suited A-Q, Hallaert raised; after a three-bet by Nguyen, Hallaert shoved and was quickly called. Nguyen’s pocket aces spoke for themselves and Hallaert won almost $1.5 million for his sixth-place run.
Play will resume today at 4:30 p.m. (PDT) and live coverage will begin at 5:00 p.m. on ESPN2.
Qui Nguyen, United States – 128,625,000 chips
Cliff Josephy, United States – 63,850,000 chips
Vojtěch Růžička, Czech Republic – 62,250,000 chips
Gordon Vayo, United States – 58,200,000
Michael Ruane, United States – 23,700,000
Featured photo credit: WSOP.
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