A Look at the 2014 WSOP November Nine
Tomorrow sees the final nine players in this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event return to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the final table, and to crown the newest member of the Main Event champion club. This year’s November Nine is also a groundbreaking one, as the first place has been guaranteed $10,000,000, the first time any WSOP event has had a pre-tourney guaranteed prize.
The idea of the November Nine was launched back in 2008, during the height of the online poker boom in the US. The original idea was to allow the final nine of the main event to acquire sponsorship deals, and to allow the media to promote the biggest final table of the year through the stories under the banner of the “November Nine.”
Since Black Friday, the sponsorships on offer for the November Nine have dwindled, and this year the coverage of the November Nine has been noticeably lacking compared to the coverage in previous years. The discussion about the future of the November Nine is probably already happening in the conference rooms of Caesars Entertainment following this year’s media coverage and the background of the changes in the US regulated poker market.
Before the future of the November Nine concept is decided, we will have crowned a new champion, and he will be one of the nine men profiled below:
Billy Pappconstantinou – 17,500,000
The biggest name to make the 2014 November Nine (just count the characters), Billy may also be the most unusual of the nine remaining in the main event. He’s a professional “foosball” (table football) player, and flew back from a European foosball event to play this year’s WSOP main event. He is a five-time US Foosball Champion, and is well known on the international foosball circuit, maybe giving him an advantage in handling some of the pressure that comes with this opportunity. However, Billy is a relative fresh face at the poker tables, and his Hendon Mob page shows only three other live cashes before his appearance at this 2014 WSOP final table, totaling only $20,141. With around 44 big blinds in his stack, Billy doesn’t need to make an silly moves early, and should probably survive the early stages of the final table. If he does, and acquires a decent number of chips, he may be able to go deeper than his inexperience would suggest.
Felix Stephensen – 32,775,000
A 23-year-old Norwegian professional poker player, Felix is going into the November Nine second in chips with about 82 big blinds in his stack. Playing mainly under the screen name “FallAtyourFeet” Felix has had a good 2014 online as well as at the Rio’s tables. His live earnings may fall short compared to some of those at the table, but his Hendon Mob page includes a result from the PokerStars London EPT, held less than a month ago. He seems to be in form as he heads back to the Rio, and seems to be one to watch with his big stack and online experience.
Jorryt van Hoof – 38,375,000
The chip leader before the action starts, van Hoof is well known inside the European poker scene, and was the first high-stakes player to come out of his native Netherlands. He has only won $27,956 in previous WSOP events, but he has over $350K in total live winnings stretching back to February 2005, according to his Hendon Mob page. This was only his second WSOP event in 2014, the first of which saw him bust out before the money. His 96-big-blind stack is going to intimidate some at the table, and he has the skill and experience to make the most of his early advantage. Jorryt has to be one of the frontrunners for the 2014 crown.
Mark Newhouse – 26,000,000
Mark Newhouse was the big story for most of the poker media when he made his second WSOP main event final table in two years this July. He was the first of the 2013 WSOP November Nine to be eliminated. His return to the WSOP main event final table only a year later has been lauded as one of the biggest accomplishments in modern poker history given the size and quality of the fields in question. This is the first time a player has made it to back to back tables since the introduction of the November Nine concept, and was something that many of us in the industry weren’t expecting to ever see again.
Newhouse’s biggest result to date was from September 2006 when he won the $10K World Poker Tour event at the Borgata for $1,519,020. Newhouse is many people’s favourite to take the title, and he certainly has the tools to do the job.
Andoni Larrabe – 22,550,000
Larrabe may now be living in London, but his roots are from the Basque country in Spain, and he is the first Spanish WSOP Main Event final table member. He’s also the youngest member of the November Nine, at only 22. He also has a pedigree, having a $5,300 side event at the 2013 PokerStars PCA for $218,710, and two cashes at the 2014 PokerStars EPT stop in Barcelona among his results on Hendon Mob. This was Andoni’s only cash at this year’s WSOP, but he has $20,068 in previous WSOP winnings, with 46th in the 2013 WSOP Event #57 being his best result before this year’s main event. While he has the skills to pick up the title, his relative low profile will limit his support at the bookmakers.
William Tonking – 15,050,000
A professional online cash game grinder, Tonking is a relatively inexperienced live player. That hasn’t stopped him from acquiring $93,306 in live winnings from only 11 results, three of which were WSOP events, one of which was his only other entry in a WSOP event in 2014. Tonking is from New Jersey and is a University of South Carolina graduate. His short stack and relative inexperience have lengthened the odds on him adding the bracelet to his jewelry collection.
Daniel Sindelar – 21,200,000
Local boy Sindelar may have the home field advantage, but this Las Vegas resident also has 17 previous WSOP cashes to his name. His live winnings before this event total $335,962, but he only has one first place on his Hendon Mob page. Sindelar has entered the WSOP main event for the past six years, but this is the first time he managed to even cash, although he cashed in four WSOP events this summer. He lack of live wins may be a concern to anyone wanting to back Sindelar, but his chip stack should give him enough play to avoid an early exit.
Martin Jacobson – 14,900,000
As the owner of the biggest live earnings record of the 2014 November Nine, Jacobson may have the technical edge over the other eight. He is a regular on the European poker scene, and was sixth in the 2013 WSOP One Drop high roller for $807,427. He left his native Stockholm to live and play professional poker based in London, as have a lot of Scandinavian poker players. His appearance in the November Nine is the first time a Swede has been at the main event final table since 2006, and if he is able to make at least fifth place, he will be gain the record for the best result in the main event for a Swede. He may be relatively short stacked, but should be considered a real threat.
Bruno Politano – 12,125,000
The first Brazilian to ever make a WSOP main event final table, Bruno is the shortest stack at the restart of the event. He plays poker alongside his day job as an administrator, but has still managed to have a great year at the tables for a part time player. Since he locked up a return to the Rio, Bruno has cashed for $26,413 by playing at EPT Barcelona and the poorly attended WSOP APAC in Australia. While at the WSOP APAC, he managed to make a final table in the AUD$2,200 6-Max event, ending up in 6th place for $17,408. With his lifetime live earnings totalling $177,672, and his recent success in Australia, if Bruno can pick up chips early, he could become a darkhorse contender for the title.