Bluff goes bad for Ruzicka at crucial moment of WSOP Main Event final table

31 October 2016

LAS VEGAS — Vojtech Ruzicka leaned on the bar outside the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with a vodka on the rocks in his left hand and a look of utter bewilderment on his face. A little more than 30 minutes before, the 30-year-old pro from the Czech Republic was sitting under the bright ESPN lights at the World Series of Poker Main Event final table with more than 73.5 million chips in front of him. Six hands later, those chips were gone. Poof. Just like that, Ruzicka went from having as good a chance at winning poker’s grandest prize as anyone else in the building to sipping a drink with a glazed look on his face while being comforted by his friends and family.
Read how Qui Nygen shocked the WSOP by winning the 2016 Main Event early Wednesday morning after a classic heads-up duel with Gordon Vayo
In what Norman Chad termed a “stunning misstep” on the ESPN broadcast, Ruzicka badly misread Gordon Vayo. With ace high, Ruzicka made a three-street bluff, culminating with a gutsy, yet dubious, all-in call for his tournament life. He knew he was in severe trouble when Vayo snapped called and turned over pocket eights, giving him a set. Suddenly, Vayo was the chip leader for the first time in the tournament and Ruzicka, who played so well to get into contention on Sunday night, was down to one big blind. Vayo, who used the hand to maneuver his way into three-handed play for the Main Event bracelet beginning Tuesday afternoon along with Cliff Josephy and chip leader Qui Nguyen, actually tipped his cap to his opponent for the bluff. "There's not too many players I would see having the heart to do something like that, but Vojtech is one of them," Vayo said. "He was here to win. He proved that on Sunday night when he played so well. I knew there was a slight chance he might have queen-queen, but it was unlikely. It was a huge hand for me. I was fortunate to have it all work my way." On the very next hand, Ruzicka pushed all in again with ace-seven offsuit and got called and eventually ousted by Qui Nguyen, who held ace-queen suited and survived the blank board. A stunned Ruzicka had suddenly blown his dream of becoming the first Main Event winner from his home country. Ouch. It didn't take long for poker pros all over the world to begin chiming in: To his credit, Ruzicka handled his bust out interviews with grace and dignity. Even though English isn’t his native language and he just had his heart ripped out on national TV, he stood in front of the cameras, smiled and tried to explain his rationale. “After the river I was working through his best hands in my head and it’s pretty tough to pull a set there, but, I guess not for him,” he said with a forced laugh. “This was a great experience. Because I was a November Niner, I met some amazing people. I had so much preparing for it, I had so much fun (on Sunday night). I was very glad to be here, but I wanted to be here longer.” As Ruzicka walked away from the podium he was greeted by his railbirds, who were all wearing black t-shirts that read “Czech Your Privilege” on the front. As the crew applauded and hugged their man, Ruzicka became emotional and had to wipe away a few tears, before slowly walking over to the bar and ordering a round of stiffies for himself and his friends. With the fifth-place finish, Ruzicka pocketed $1.935 million, bringing his career live earnings to more than $3.1 million. And while the online maven may very well go on to win multiple WSOP bracelets and other big-name events across the planet, Hand #104 of the 2016 WSOP Main Event on Halloween Night in Las Vegas will undoubtedly haunt him forever.


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