Home > Poker News > Former Counter Strike Pro, Major Backer Head 2016 WSOP Nov. 9
NovemberNine

Former Counter Strike Pro, Major Backer Head 2016 WSOP Nov. 9

Share On

The World Series of Poker Main Event has collected another eclectic group of final-tablists with a former video gamer, a major poker legend and a mix of knowns and unknowns.

Five different nationalities are represented this time around with five players from the United States and one each from Canada, Belgium, Spain and the Czech Republic.

51-year-old Cliff Josephy is the chip leader heading into the final nine with 74,600,000. Josephy is one of the original stars of online poker and was the #1 ranked player for much of 2005/2006.

He's also a very important figure in the backing world as he's had one of the biggest and most successful staking stables in poker for over a decade.

Strong Pro Contingent

Directly behind Josephy in the chip counts is Las Vegas local Qui Nguyen, who is a major surprise to find both in the final nine and so high up in the chip counts.

He was 25th out of 27th players to start Day 7 but dramatically rose up the counts to finish second overall with 67,925,000.

With barely over $50,000 in career earnings - all in small buy-in, local tournament - Nguyen is a serious underdog in the battle for $8m but carried himself well during the pressure-packed playdown to 9.

Behind Nguyen is a stacked list of respected pros from both the live and online world.

Third is Gordon Vayo, a San Francisco native who's been playing poker since he was a 16-year-old. Belgian pro Kenny Hallaert has also seen his fair of success over a long career and is also a successful tournament director in Belgium.

American Michael Ruane and Czech Vjotech Ruzicka are primarily online aces although Ruzicka also has won a High Roller event at EPT Deauville.

Seventh in the chip counts is Canadian Griffin Benger. Benger is well know and notable in the poker world for a few reasons, not the least of which is begin the #1 ranked online tournament player for a while and for winning the first season of PokerStars' Shark Cage for $1m.

He won an EPT High Roller as well and was one of the co-commentators for the first part of the Global Poker League's inaugural season.

Prior to that, in his teen years, Benger was a professional video gamer in Counter Strike and was part of a team that won a World Championship.

Rounding out the final nine is Spain's Fernando Pons, who is an amateur player and qualified for the Main Event via a $30 satellite on 888poker. Here are the chip counts when they resume in late October:

  • 1. Cliff Josephy - 74,500,000
  • 2. Qui Josephy - 67,925,000
  • 3. Gordon Vayo - 49,375,000
  • 4. Kenny Hallaert - 43,325,000
  • 5. Michael Ruane - 31,600,000
  • 6. Vojtech Ruzicka - 27,300,000
  • 7. Griffin Benger - 26,175,000
  • 8. Jerry Wong - 10,175,000
  • 9. Fernando Pons - 6,150,000

Coverage Begins on ESPN September 11

The final nine will now take a 3.5-month break before the final table resumes in late October. 

Main Event TV coverage starts Sunday, September 11 at 8:30 p.m. Shows will air every Sunday at 8:30 p.m. until the three-night prime time Main Event Final Table live coverage airs Oct. 30- Nov. 1.

Each player in the November Nine is now guaranteed at least $1m. Payouts for the remaining nine:

1st: $8,000,000
2nd: $4,658,452
3rd: $3,451,175
4th: $2,574,808
5th: $1,934,579
6th: $1,463,906
7th: $1,250,000
8th: $1,100,000
9th: $1,000,000