Full episodes from the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event debuted on PokerGO last week, giving fans a chance to look back at the end of the November Nine era for the first time. Over the course of six days of coverage, starting with Day 4, the field dwindles from hundreds, to nine, to one unlikely winner. There are tons of characters and personalities on display throughout the ESPN coverage, but four players from deep in the 2016 Main Event stick out and are featured in Poker Central’s first Where Are They Now? feature.
Seven years before Antoine Saout recorded a 25th place finish in the 2016 Main Event, the Frenchman had come dangerously close to Main Event glory. Saout finished 3rd in 2009, behind Americans Joe Cada and Darvin Moon, for a nearly $3.5 million score, and a year after Saout’s 25th place finish, he was back at the final table. This time, there was no November Nine, but there was a 5th place finish and another massive score. Few people get a shot at Day 7 of the Main Event and even fewer get to bag chips at the conclusion of Day 7. Saout has done that on multiple occasions and over the course of eight years, he has experienced a lifetime of success and fortune in the Main Event.
When James Obst made his 2016 Main Event run, which ended in 13th place, the Australian was arguably thought of as one of the game’s best that had never won a WSOP bracelet. That all changed for the former online legend last year, when Obst broke through in the $10,000 Razz Championship. The win came after a handful of WSOP final tables left Obst empty handed, including a runner-up finish earlier in 2017. Even though Obst may not have notched the Main Event finish that he wanted in 2016, he did leave his mark with one of the greatest folds in Main Event history.
New Jersey’s Michael Ruane has cashed in eight live poker tournaments in his life and two of those scores have come in the WSOP Main Event. After finishing 4th in 2016, Ruane was one of three players that had a chance to make their second-career Main Event final table in 2017, along with the previously mentioned Saout and 2011 3rd place finisher Ben Lamb. While Saout and Lamb were successful in their quest, Ruane fell one spot short of back-to-back final tables. Despite a 10th place result in 2017, Ruane’s runs are some of the most impressive in poker history. Over the course of two Main Events, Ruane outlasted nearly 14,000 competitors, or almost 1,000 more than Mark Newhouse, who finished 9th in both the 2013 and 2014 Main Event.
Throughout Poker Central’s Where Are They Now? series, we’ll highlight a variety of players, but we’ll always come back to the Main Event champions from that respective year. Many have followed their WSOP Main Event victories with other major titles, but Qui Nguyen hasn’t really followed his 2016 win up with anything other than a book. Nguyen briefly defended his title in 2017, but hasn’t recorded a cash since he beat Gordon Vayo heads up for $8 million in 2016. Playing a full schedule or slate of events isn’t a requirement for the Main Event winner, but seeing more of Qui Nguyen, the player that shocked a stacked final table and played above the rim poker for three days to become an instant fan favorite, would be good for the game.