These days, the World Series of Poker Main Event regularly attracts over 6,000 players. That has led many players to simultaneously regard it as a great value (thanks to all of the weaker players who participate just to experience the world’s most important poker tournament) and something of a lottery, at least when it comes to actually winning the event. But for the last two years, at least one player has been able to solve the mysteries of the Main Event and will be the first player to make two consecutive final tables in a decade.
The 2014 WSOP Main Event played down to its final table on Monday night, with the Netherlands’ Jorryt van Hoof leading the way with 38.375 million chips, good for about 19 percent of the chips in play. But all eyes are on Mark Newhouse, who has put together one of the most improbable runs in WSOP history.
Newhouse made the 2013 final table as the short stack, and ultimately went out in 9th place, winning $733,224. But this year, the North Carolina poker pro has positioned himself solidly in 3rd place with 26 million chips, giving him a very real chance of making a deep run or even winning the tournament. He is the first player to make the final table in two consecutive years in the November Nine era, which began in 2008.
In fact, only one other player in the modern “poker boom” era has accomplished the feat, and even that was in much smaller fields than are seen today. In 2003 and 2004, the legendary Dan Harrington also made back-to-back final tables in fields of 839 and 2,576 players respectively. Harrington would ultimately finish in 3rd and 4th place in those two events.
Newhouse isn’t the only talented poker pro at the final table this year. Martin Jacobson, who has 14.9 million in chips, has earned more than $1.2 million in previous WSOP events and over $4.8 million in total tournament winnings. Most of his success has come on the European Poker Tour, though he also has a World Poker Tour final table on his resume. Jacobson is currently ranked among the top 50 hold’em players in the world, according to the Global Poker Index.
There are also some interesting characters among the November Nine, perhaps none more intriguing than that of Billy Pappaconstantinou. A 29-year-old from Lowell, Massachusetts, Pappaconstantinou is a professional competitor, but not in poker. The man known as Billy Pappas in the foosball (or “table football”) world, is a professional foosball player. He has won world championship titles in the United States and Austria in recent years, and is a five-time US champion in the game. He has no previous WSOP experience, and is actually planning to compete in a European foosball tournament later this month.
This year’s final table is also an international affair, with six nations (Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States) represented among the nine remaining players.
The nine players will return on Monday, November 10 to compete for the top prize of $10 million. In the meantime, each player has been awarded the 9th place prize of $730,725 as that is now the minimum they can ultimately win.