Each year, a new banner is raised inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to commemorate the past year’s World Series of Poker Main Event champion. The banner debuts at the start of the summer but the poker world has to wait a few weeks until the defending champion takes his seat in the Main Event. Last year’s winner, Qui Nguyen, entered today’s Day 1A flight earlier and after the last break, his table was moved to the PokerGO stream.
Nguyen’s table is on the secondary feature table set but judging by the defending champion’s entrance, there is no lack of fanfare following the first non-professional to win the Main Event in a decade. Nguyen posed for pictures with fans, while the PokerGO break desk reviewed hands from last year’s final table, where Nguyen shocked the poker world with a near perfect performance.
Prior to last year’s final table, Nguyen was just another WSOP Main Event hopeful. The Las Vegas resident had one WSOP on his tournament resume before last year’s Main Event but that didn’t stop Nguyen from outlasting an over 6,700-player field to win just over $8 million and etch his name into the poker history books.
There hasn’t been a back-to-back Main Event champion since Johnny Chan won in 1987 and then followed that victory up with another triumph in 1988. Those fields, combined, just barely crack 310 players and if Nguyen is going to try to repeat, he’ll likely have to go through another massive field.
Can lightening strike twice for Qui Nguyen? Follow Day 1A of the WSOP Main Event live on PokerGO and ESPN, with a complete list of broadcast times for the entire Main Event listed here.