The World Series of Poker has lost much of its cultural cache since its heyday in the mid-aughts, but it still is one of the best games in town for agonizing tension and armchair psychology. This year’s event has also been the surprising source of some incredibly entertaining clips.
When the tables get down to the final two players, all of that gets turned up to eleven, and players either rise to the occasion or they crumble under the pressure. This year’s main event came down to Joey Vayo and Qui Nguyen, who played heads up for seven hours before Nguyen finally took home the bracelet and $8 million.
One of the turning points of that grueling final table was when Nguyen, holding zip, zilch, nada, bluffed Vayo out of a pot in which he was holding top pair. Vayo checked on the flop and the turn, inviting Nguyen to swell the pot, and Nguyen played right into his hands. But as the river came down and Nguyen’s jack-five of diamonds was proven to be worthless, Nguyen raised Vayo all-in to bring the total pot to a whopping $162.2 million in chips. The term “brass balls” was invented for situations like that, and Vayo, looking positively sick, decided to fold with the winning hand.
There were still hours left in the game, including moments when Vayo won back plenty of chips, but Nguyen’s constant aggressiveness won the day, and the massive payout.