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)
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.