The 2016 World Series of Poker whittled its Main Event field from 27 players down to a final table of nine over the course of Monday and early Tuesday morning.
Those remaining are guaranteed at least $1 million, which made the race for the final seat all the more thrilling. Tenth and 11th place are awarded a hefty sum of $650,000—but that's far less than what awaits at the final table.
Just to get this far in the Main Event from a total of 6,737 entries is a phenomenal accomplishment.
With the lucrative prize money looming, let's take a look at who's ahead and preview the rest of the tournament with the November Nine finalized, courtesy of WSOP.com.
|2016 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table Results|
|1||Cliff Josephy||United States||75,000,000|
|2||Qui Nguyen||United States||68,075,000|
|3||Gordon Vayo||United States||50,450,000|
|5||Michael Ruane||United States||29,800,000|
|6||Vojtech Ruzicka||Czech Republic||27,450,000|
|8||Jerry Wong||United States||10,325,000|
|2016 World Series of Poker Final Table Prize Money|
2016 WSOP Main Event Recap, November Nine Preview
As the final table moniker hints, poker fans will have to wait months before knowing who will walk away with the World Series bracelet and $8 million first-place payout.
The epic conclusion to the Main Event runs from Oct. 30 through Nov. 1.
Due to the massive number of players, it took three initial waves to start the Main Event. By the sheer odds that come with such a bevy of competitors, many of the most highly respected poker masters fell by the wayside.
One exception was 2004 Main Event champion Greg Raymer. Although he backed up his prior triumph the next year with a 25th-place showing, Raymer hadn't finished in the money at the tournament since.
This time around was a different story, as "Fossilman" went out in a respectable 122nd place on Saturday for a prize of $49,108.
Prior to busting out, Raymer spoke about the compelling storyline following him and two-time Main Event winner Johnny Chan, who wound up in 180th, per CardPlayer.com's Brian Pempus:
I was reading [a media report] this morning and it talked about how he and I were fighting to be the last champ standing. No, we were fighting to be the next champ standing. That's the reality. I don't get paid extra for being the last champ left. I'm trying to win the $8 million.
[...] It's really hard to judge someone's skill level based on tournament results, to be honest. If someone has massively good results then they have to at least be really good, but it doesn’t mean they are the best.
As for those who are still in it to win it, Jerry Wong of Brooklyn, New York, was the chips leader with 80 players remaining but was flirting with the November Nine bubble as Monday wore into Tuesday.
Wong is part of a strong American contingent that comprises five of the top nine—including the three chip leaders to this point.
At the Final 18 dinner break, Cliff Josephy was atop the chips standings, only to be eclipsed by Qui Nguyen, who went on a fantastic run.
Ryan Feldman of ESPN.com highlighted how Nguyen deserves respect for how hard he's fought to position himself for a hefty payday:
The development didn't seem to faze Josephy. So bold was Josephy that he tweeted as he had all-but clinched a comfortable spot in the final nine:
Josephy is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner—a proven commodity who has all the goods to ultimately eclipse Nguyen come November and take home the biggest payout.
Considering how unfazed Nguyen seems to be in the midst of the highest-stakes game he's ever played by far, there's reason to endorse him as a relatively unheralded champion. After all, it'd adhere quite well to Raymer's words.
The USA's Gordon Vayo even took the chip lead down the stretch at one point and sent John Cynn to the rail to cut the field to 10 on Tuesday.
A player in five prior 2016 World Series no-limit hold 'em events (h/t The Hendon Mob), Vayo has an evident penchant for the format.
The margin between the top two and the rest of the pack is considerable, so the smart money should go on either Nguyen or Josephy as the prospective Main Event victor.
Results and information courtesy of WSOP.com unless otherwise indicated.