NOVEMBER NINER PROFILE: KENNY HALLAERT

Kenny Hallaert

Twitter: @SpaceyFCB
Age: 34
Hometown: Hansbeke, Belgium
Occupation: Poker Tournament Director
Marital Status: Single
WSOP Earnings: $367,855
WSOP Cashes: 22
WSOP Final Tables: 1
Best Previous Main Event Finish: 323rd in 2012

*All stats are prior to the 2016 Main Event

 

Kenny Hallaert is a 34-year-old poker tournament director from Hansbeke, Belgium. This is the second consecutive year that the Main Event final table will include a Belgian. Last year Pierre Neuville made the final table and finished in 7th place. Hallaert is an amateur poker player, but has a resume worthy of being a professionals. Excluding this year’s Main Event, Hallaert has 22 WSOP cashes for $367k in tournament earnings. His most notable WSOP cash prior to this year’s Main Event came last year when he finished 5th in the inaugural Colossus event. That tournament still remains as the largest live poker tournament ever with 22,374 entries. Hallaert has found success on the felt away from the WSOP as well. He has career live tournament earnings of $1,317,530 and he will add at least $1 million more to it for reaching the November Nine.

Road to the Final Table:

Hallaert started out strong and bagged the most chips of any of the November Niners Days 1-3. He bagged Flight B second in chips out of the 1,301 survivors. He then bagged Day 2 51st in chips out of 2,186 remaining players. Hallaert did even better on Day 3 and bagged as the tournament’s chip leader at the end of the night with 800 players left.

Day 4 Hallaert went in the wrong direction and ended up bagging with less than he began the day with, but since he started the day with the chip lead he was still in fine shape with an above average chip stack. Hallaert grinded his way back to the top of the leaderboard and finished Day 5 third in chips. He took a tough beat on Day 6 and lost about half of his stack when his pocket kings were cracked by Kakwan Lau’s Ace-King suited. Hallaert kept his composure and ended Day 6 with a top 10 chip stack.

Hallaert scored a huge double up early on Day 7 against Valentin Vornicu. Hallaert flopped three tens against Vornicu and then proceeded to get max value with a river check-raise all-in. Hallaert went on to knock out Jared Bleznick in 16th place and finished the day fourth in chips.

Final Table Position:

Hallaert will enter the Main Event final table in fourth place with 43,325,000 chips (86 bbs). On Hallaert’s right will be Gordon Vayo with 49,375,000 chips (98 bbs) and on his left is Jerry Wong with 10,175,000 (22 bbs)

Q&A

WSOP: What has life been like for you since completing play in the summer?

Hallaert: Life had been good. Making the final table is a dream coming true. However, I keep my feet on the ground because the tournament isn’t over and more nice things might happen. Life has actually been quite busy. I ran two poker tournaments (in Denmark and Belgium) in between and I [have][been] putting some time in preparing for the final table by playing some online poker and studying on the game.

WSOP:  Have you been watching the ESPN episodes?  If yes, what are your feelings thus far?

Hallaert: Yes I have. It actually feels a bit weird seeing yourself on TV. The more episodes that come out the closer we’re getting to the real show so I’m quite excited each time a new show airs on TV.

WSOP:  Are you preparing in a particular way for when play resumes?

Hallaert:  I’m not going to change my strategy a lot. After all, it worked for getting me to the final table. But I have some players around me who are helping me out in my preparation towards the final table. They have been very useful so far and I hope their advice will help me win the whole thing.

WSOP:  What has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you since the stoppage in play that you are pretty sure would NOT have happened if you didn’t make the November Nine?

Hallaert: I would never have taken so many selfies with people.

WSOP:  Have you had any notable purchases with the money you won yet or are you waiting until you win the whole thing?

Hallaert: No, nothing at all. As I said the tournament isn’t over. I don’t want think about the money. I’ll see after the event how much money I have in my bank account.

WSOP:      Any other comments?

Hallaert: I have a feeling that a banner of me will be hanging in the Amazon room next year.

NOVEMBER NINER PROFILE: GORDON VAYO

Gordon Vayo

Twitter: @GordonVayo
Age: 27
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Marital Status: Engaged
WSOP Earnings: $608,136
WSOP Cashes: 26
WSOP Final Tables: 2
Best Previous Main Event Finish: N/A
*All stats are prior to the 2016 Main Event

 

Gordon Vayo is a 27-year-old professional poker player from San Francisco, California. He enters the final table third in chips and will have a WSOP experience edge over most of his remaining competitors. Vayo has played the WSOP Main Event every year since turning 21 and he has the most WSOP cashes of all of this year’s November Niners. He has 26 cashes totaling $608,136 in tournament earnings. Vayo cashed in seven of the 20 events that he played in this year prior to the Main Event. The Main Event is the eighth cash for Vayo and his first final table of the year. It is his third career WSOP final table. He made his first career WSOP final table in 2012 when he finished fourth in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six Max event. He earned $121,262, which was his largest live cash at the time. His second WSOP final table came in 2014 when he finished runner-up in a $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max. He scored $314,535 for that cash and it became his largest live cash up until this year’s Main Event.

Vayo has continued his tournament hot streak away from the WSOP during the break. In early September, Vayo ended up chopping the $2,500 River Series Main Event at the WinStar Wolrd Casino for just under $600k.

“[It][was] my second biggest cash ever so that was pretty incredible, said Vayo.”

When not playing other events, Vayo is preparing for the Main Event final table with the coach he hired.

“We’ll be doing a lot of work before we restart, but I’ll continue to play my game overall. More of a sharpening than a shift,” said Vayo.

Road to the Final Table:

Vayo came out of the gates strong. He finished Flight C of Day 1 with a stack of nearly double the tournament average. Things then slowed down for Vayo and he bagged fewer chips at the end of Day 2 than he began the day with. He bagged less than the tournament average for days 2-6 of the tournament. Vayo was on the brink of elimination near the end of Day 6 when he got all of his chips in the middle preflop holding Ace-King against Jonas Lauck’s pocket Aces. Vayo turned a straight, awarding him the pot and keeping his Main Event tournament life alive. He ended up finishing Day 6 in 17th place out of the 27 remaining players.

Vayo got off to a slow start on Day 7. He began the day with 8,795,000 chips (44 bbs) and by the midway point he was down to just 4,550,000 and 15 big blinds. The second half of Day 7 is when Vayo shined. Vayo started his move to the top of the leaderboard when he doubled up through Jerry Wong by winning an all-in preflop flip. Then two hands later Vayo eliminated Andrew Christoforou in 18th place. Vayo then eliminated Michael Niwinski in 15th place to move to second in chips. Vayo got a sniff of the chip lead by taking a pot of Cliff Josephy, but Josephy was able to retake it fairly quickly. Vayo moved to third in chips after Qui Nguyen eliminated three straight players. Vayo’s position in the chip counts did not move after that and he will head to the final table in third place.

Final Table Position:

Vayo has 49,375,000 chips (98 bbs). He has the 4th and 5th place chips stacks surrounding him. He has Michael Ruane to his right with 31,600,000 chips (63.2 bbs) and Kenny Hallaert to his left with 43,325,000 chips (86 bbs).

ELTON TSANG WINS 2016 BIG ONE FOR ONE DROP

16 October 2016 (Monaco) – The latest poker millionaire was crowned Sunday night at the world’s most glamourous casino. The third and final day of the biggest buy-in poker tournament in history – the €1,000,000 Big One for One Drop – concluded at the Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco. Thirty-five year old Elton Tsang of Hong Kong emerged as the winner, earning €11,111,111 and a special bracelet fashioned by jeweler Richard Mille for his victory.

Tsang took his victory in stride, enjoying the moment with both poise and humility. “I was pretty confident,” he said after the presentation of the bracelet and check. “But you still need cards to hit in tournaments.”

This is a unique event in the poker world. It’s primarily a charity event, and €111,111 from each entry goes to One Drop to support their global water access projects. With 28 entries, the tournament raised €3,111,108 (approximately $3,484,440) for charity.

The tournament was also structured as an invitational event. It was aimed primarily at recreational players or amateurs, rather than players who make their living playing poker.

Tsang was in the middle of the pack throughout the first two days of the event, but truly dominated Sunday’s final table. He took the chip lead from Andrew Pantling on the second hand of the day, and held it for the rest of the tournament. In fact, on the third hand, he won more chips from Pantling, and finished the hand with roughly 47 million in chips. At no point did any other player surpass that mark.

“I was feeling good, feeling comfortable, getting cards,” he said of his final table performance. “My bluffs were working, [I][was] getting a good read on the table. It was just going my way.”

Throughout the day, Tsang had a small crowd of supporters sitting behind him, the most boisterous of whom was tournament veteran Mustapha Kanit. Kanit also acted as Tsang’s coach. “He gave me a lot of good advice. I don’t play tournaments that much. I used to. I kind of know some strategy. Someone to talk to in between hands helps.”

The final table of the 2016 Big One for One Drop began just after noon on Sunday amidst celebratory introduction festivities. A couple musicians flanked the stage, blasting guitar music as tournament director Jack Effel introduced each player. Once the players, most of whom were dressed in tuxedos, took their seats, Effel, One Drop founder Guy Laliberte, and jeweler Richard Mille (who fashioned the winner’s bracelet) each made a few opening remarks, and then cards were in the air and the final table was officially underway.

Eight players returned for the official final table, but two would have to leave empty-handed as only six players made the money. The first elimination occurred on the eighth hand of the day when professional sports bettor Haralabos Voulgaris, who started Sunday with the shortest chip stack, busted out. That created one of the biggest money-bubbles in poker tournament history. Six players would earn at least €1,500,000, and seventh place would get nothing.

All remaining players avoided elimination for about two hours, but three of them saw their stack dwindle substantially during that time. After two full levels, three players had fewer chips than they started the tournament with. And on the fourth hand after the break, Brandon Steven was eliminated when his king-queen ran into Cary Katz’s ace-king. Andrew Pantling was eliminated in 6th place (€1,500,000) just two hands later, and Katz finished in 5th place (€1,750,000) about half an hour after that. This was the second time Katz has made the money in a tournament with a seven-figure buy-in. He also finished in eighth place in the 2014 Big One for One Drop event.

Four-handed play lasted about an hour. Then James Bord busted out in fourth place (€2,100,000). Then it took about two and half hours until the next elimination. Rick Salomon busted out in third place (€3,000,000). Like Katz, Salomon also cashed in the 2014 Big One. He finished fourth two years ago, slightly bettering that finish today.

On the third hand of heads-up play, it looked like Tsang might make short work of his lone remaining opponent, Anatoly Gurtovoy of Russia. Tsang flopped two pair against Gurtovoy’s one pair, and all the chips went in the middle on the flop. But the turn and river put a straight on board, and they split the pot.

Despite that setback, Tsang continued his dominating performance, and about 90 minutes later he had all the chips, officially securing his victory. Tsang, a Canadian-born resident of Hong Kong, is an entrepreneur with investments in IT, travel agencies, and internet firms. But he can now add poker tournament champion to his resume, and he has and additional €11,111,111 to invest.

This is the third Big One for One Drop tournament in history. It’s been held every two years since 2012.

The tournament began on Friday with 28 entries, generating a prize pool of €24,888,892. At the end of the day, 24 players remained. They returned on Saturday and very quickly played down to the official final table of eight. Day 2 played so quickly that it took under five hours to reach final table. The final eight players returned Sunday at noon, and Tsang secured his victory at about 8:30 p.m.

For more information, please visit:
Live Updates from the event
Official Results
Photos from the event

POKER HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2016 INDUCTION CLASS

Poker Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2016

Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen Join Poker’s Most Exclusive Club

 

Induction Ceremony and Dinner to be heldWednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm at Binion’s Gambling Hall

 

LAS VEGAS (October 13, 2016) – The 2016 Poker Hall of Fame Class has its newest members as Todd Brunson and Carlos Mortensen gain entrance into poker’s most exclusive club.  The two become the 51st and 52nd individuals to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.  The two were nominated by the public and voted in by a 44-person panel made up of existing Poker Hall of Famers, and a Blue Ribbon Media Panel, it was announced today by the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council.

 

Brunson and Mortensen will be inducted officially on Wednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm at Binion’s Gambling Hall – the birthplace of poker in Las Vegas – and the original home of the World Series of Poker (from 1970-2004).  The Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner will once again occur inside the Longhorn Room, which was originally called Benny’s Bullpen.  Benny’s Bullpen hosted the very first final table of the WSOP in 1970.

 

The Poker Hall of Fame Gala kicks off the November Nine festivities, taking place before the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event final table gets underway at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino (Oct. 30-Nov. 1).

 

This year’s inductees bring some historical significance as well.  Brunson joins his father Doyle in the Hall, becoming the first father-son to be inducted into poker’s ultimate club.  Carlos, the Spaniard known as El Matador, becomes the first true international and European member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

 

The Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council would like to recognize and congratulate the other 2016 finalists all whom remain eligible for future induction: Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage and David Ulliott.

 

“It’s a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson.  “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members.  To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime.

 

“I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” commented Mortensen.  “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish.  I’ve always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame.  To be included with the legends makes me very happy.  I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me.  I take this honor very seriously.”

 

About this year’s inductees:

 

TODD BRUNSON (https://twitter.com/toddbrunson)

As the son of Poker Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson, Todd has followed in his father’s footsteps in making poker his profession, and there is no doubt the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Despite picking up the game for the first time while he was studying law at Texas Tech University, Todd eventually dropped out of school to turn professional. With nearly $4.3 million in tournament winnings, including 52 WSOP cashes and a gold bracelet, the younger Brunson has carved out his own successful career.  The 47-year-old Las Vegan is best known for his mixed games acumen, choosing to spend most of his time playing cash games inLas Vegas and typically only playing tournaments that offer a variety of non-Hold’em variants.  And as told in the 2005 book, The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King, Brunson once won $13.5 million over a two-day span in a heads-up, $50,000-$100,00 Limit Hold’em cash game.

 

CARLOS MORTENSEN (https://twitter.com/CarlosMortensen)

When it comes to tournament poker and ROI, no one besides Dan Colman can compare to Carlos “The Matador” Mortensen.  The 2001 WSOP Main Event Champion has won more money on the World Poker Tour than any other player in history despite playing significantly fewer events. His almost $6.8 million in WPT earnings combined with over $3.1 million in WSOP earnings and assorted other cashes put his career earnings at almost $12 million.  The 44-year-old is also the only player to have won both the WSOP Main Event and the WPT Championship event.  Hailing from Alicante, Spain but now residing in Vegas, Mortensen is still one of the top players in the game, already cashing 12 times in 2016.

 

The Poker Hall of Fame, established in 1979, was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars) along with the World Series of Poker in 2004.  Though the Hall of Fame is virtual in nature, its membership includes poker’s most influential players and other important contributors to the game.  There are now 27 living members.

 

The main criteria for the Poker Hall of Fame are as follows:

 

  • A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition
  • Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination
  • Played for high stakes
  • Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers
  • Stood the test of time
  • Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.

NOVEMBER NINER PROFILE: QUI NGUYEN

Qui Nguyen

Age: 39
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Occupation: Professional Poker Player/Gambler
Marital Status: Married
WSOP Earnings: $9,029
WSOP Cashes: 1
WSOP Final Tables: 0
Best Previous Main Event Finish: N/A
*All stats are prior to 2016 Main Event

 

Qui Nguyen is the only November Niner with home field advantage. Nguyen, who was born in Saigon, Vietnam, now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. He will enter the final table second in chips after relinquishing the chip lead to Cliff Josephy 13 hands before the halt of play in July. Nguyen is a professional poker player and has one WSOP cash that came in 2009 in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event. He finished 54th for $9,029.

Nguyen says that he has been keeping a low profile during the break before the start of the final table.

“I pretty much spend lots of time with family and close friends, went to California for a few days with family and came back, but that’s about it,” said Nguyen.

Road to the Final Table:

Nguyen had the biggest Day 7 of anyone, making the jump from 25th in chips to second. Before Day 7 he remained mostly under the radar. He finished Day 5 in the middle of the pack with a stack just under the tournament average. Early on Day 6 Nguyen moved up near the top of the chip counts after he eliminated Tyler Hancock in 63rd place with a rivered full house. If Nguyen would have lost the hand he would have been left with just three big blinds and would have had to climb out of a deep hole to make it to the November Nine. After that hand, Nguyen’s stack went in the wrong direction, but he was able to survive the entire day and bag chips. He bagged 25th out of 27 remaining players at the end of Day 6.

Nguyen hung tough on the early parts of Day 7 by stealing blinds and antes to maintain his short stack. On the third level of the day (Level 33), Nguyen was finally able to escape his short stack and double up through Michael Ruane, who was the chip leader at the time. Nguyen used the momentum from that hand to continue to grow his chip stack. The next level (Level 34), Nguyen went on a rampage busting three players in a row.

After those three eliminations Nguyen became the chip leader. He held onto the chip lead until Josephy passed him with 10 players left.

Final Table Position:

Nguyen is headed to the final table with 67,925,000 chips (135 bbs). He is seated between the biggest stack and the smallest stack. The chip leader, Cliff Josephy is on his left with 74,600,000 in chips (149 bbs). To his right is Fernando Pons, who is the shortest stack with 6,150,000 (12 bbs).