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Meet The World Series of Poker’s November Nine

Last updated: October 24, 2016 at 1:51 pm. Posted by in Gaming, Las Vegas Casinos, Rio Las Vegas. Comments Off on Meet The World Series of Poker’s November Nine.

The 2016 World Series of Poker is gearing up for the final table in Las Vegas Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 and it’s down to the last nine players standing, aka the November Nine.

The 47th annual World Series of Poker began in July with 6,737 entrants from 79 different countries and has now been pared down to just nine competitors hoping to become the next world champion.

Each of the nine Las Vegas poker finalists are guaranteed to collect at least $1 million in prize money. The top cash prize of $8 million and the famous blinged-out gold and diamond bracelet will be awarded to the new champion. The other eight players will divide another $17-plus million.

When play resumes October 30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, the players will pick up with 32 minutes and 50 seconds remaining in Level 35. The antes will be 75,000 and blinds will stand at 250,000 and 500,000. Comprehensive television coverage will air on ESPN2.

Las Vegas World Series of Poker: November Nine

Poker players, the “November Nine,” pose after the final table is determined for the World Series of Poker Main Event. From left are Jerry Wong, Griffin Benger, Vojtech Ruzicka, Fernando Pons, Qui Nguyen, Cliff Josephy, Michael Ruane, Gordon Vayo and Kenny Hallaert. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

This year’s November Nine are from five different countries including Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Spain and the United States.

Here’s a closer look at the 2016 November Nine including their chip counts:

Cliff Josephy – 74,600,000 – Seat 6 

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Cliff Josephy from Syosset, New York is the oldest remaining player in the field at 51, but he’s also the only one with a WSOP gold bracelet on his resume. Josephy has two, having won a $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event in 2013 and a $1,500 Seven Card Stud event at the 2005 WSOP.

Qui Nguyen – 67,925,000 – Seat 5

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Qui Nguyen is the only Las Vegas resident in the final nine. He’s a 39-year-old poker pro and gambler. This marks Nguyen’s first time to cash at the WSOP Main Event. He entered three WSOP events this summer. Nguyen’s best finish was his 54th place finish in the 2009 WSOP in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event.

Gordon Vayo – 49,375,000 – Seat 8


Gordon Vayo is a 27-year-old San Francisco resident and poker pro with 26 career WSOP cashes worth $608,136. In 2014, Vayo finished in second place in a WSOP $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed event, winning $314,535. This was his biggest poker score prior to this accomplishment.

Kenny Hallaert – 43,325,000 – Seat 9


Kenny Hallaert, 34, is from Hansbeke, Belgium and he’s amassed 22 WSOP cashes and $367,855 in winnings. He’s an accomplished poker tournament director with $1,317,530 in career live tournament winnings, including a sixth place finish at EPT Deauville in 2011 that paid him $210,962. Hallaert has twice cashed previously in the WSOP Main Event (2015: 123rd) and (2011: 323rd).

Michael Ruane – 31,600,000 – Seat 7

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Hailing from Maywood, New Jersey, 28-year-old Michael Ruane has just $24,438 in WSOP earnings, all coming from three previous WSOP cashes. His biggest cash previously was for $17,244, so the $1 million he is guaranteed is the biggest prize he’s earned in poker.

Vojtech Ruzicka – 27,300,000 – Seat 3

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Vojtech Ruzicka, 30, from Prague, becomes the first Czech to make the final table since Martin Staszko in 2011. Staszko finished in second place, and no player from Czech Republic has ever claimed the WSOP Main Event crown. Ruzicka has 17 previous WSOP cashes totaling $138,585 and has won $1,149,027 lifetime on the live poker circuit. Ruzicka is a poker pro who played 18 WSOP events this summer, cashing in four.

Griffin Benger – 26,175,000 – Seat 2

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Griffin Benger, 31, from Toronto has already won $2,395,406 in live poker tournaments and has a previous $1 million victory, claiming first place in the 2014 Shark Tank session in London. Benger has 13 previous WSOP cashes totaling $231,201 and his previous high finish at a WSOP event was twice finishing in 14th place, once in 2012 and again in 2013. Benger, a poker pro, looks to become only the second Canadian champion in this event.

Jerry Wong – 10,175,000 – Seat 1

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Brooklyn, New York resident Jerry Wong becomes the second New Yorker to be featured at this final table, alongside Josephy. The 34-year old poker pro has career WSOP winnings of $118,156 coming on 19 previous cashes. Wong played 16 WSOP events in 2016, cashing five times. His guaranteed $1 million payday is his biggest tournament prize. Prior to that, his biggest WSOP cash came in the 2012 WSOP Main Event where he finished in 309th place for $32,871.

Fernando Pons – 6,150,000 – Seat 4

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Hailing from Palma, Spain, is 37-year-old Fernando Pons, who is an account executive for a retail chain.  He has never cashed previously at the WSOP and has only won a total of $10,589 in live poker tournaments. This was the only event he came to play at the 2016 WSOP and prior to the $1 million he’s guaranteed in this event, Pons’ biggest live tournament cash was for $4,059 for finishing in 56th place in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event in Las Vegas in 2014. He is the first Spaniard to make the WSOP Main Event final table since 2014.

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