After a four month wait the 2014 WSOP Main Event final table is finally upon us. Who will win? Julian Rogers gazes into his crystal ball…
It began in early July with 6,683 hopefuls from 87 countries and halted a week later with just nine players remaining. Then followed the habitual, thumb-twiddling, four-month wait for the Main Event finalists to reconvene in the Rio in Vegas where, on November 10, they will battle it out until only the world champion remains. This time round they will also be vying for a whopping $10m first prize, the largest since 2006.
The participants, including a quartet of Americans for the rambunctious home crowd to rally behind, are each within touching distance of the life-changing cash, coveted WSOP bracelet, and the priceless recognition of being crowned world champion. Nine remain. But who will win?
State of play
- Blinds: 200k/400k/a50k
- Largest stack: 38,375,000
- Short stack: 12,125,000
- Average stack: 22,000,000
The cards will be in the air at 5pm (1am GMT) on Monday Nov 10, and again at 6pm the following day when the remaining three play for the win. The action is live on ESPN in the US. If you’re in the UK you can watch it live on ESPN Player – a two-day pass costs £2.99.
The November Nine
1. JORRYT VAN HOOF
Cash game specialist van Hoof is the chip leader with 19.1% of the chips. However, he doesn’t exactly hold an unassailable lead; not since 2008 has the big stack commandeered less than 20% of the chips in play, which means it’s a fairly compressed gap between him and Bruno Politano at the bottom of the pile. The Dutchman, who has accumulated $358k in live winnings, has experience, the chip lead and an amusing surname – a dangerous combination.
PokerPlayer says: The bookies have chalked van Hoof up as the 3/1 favourite, although being chip leader comes with high expectations and plenty of pressure.
2. FELIX STEPHENSEN
Oslo’s Felix Stephensen is out to make poker history by becoming the first Norwegian to take the title. The Scandi has won over $300k in online MTTs but is relatively inexperienced live with just two cashes worth $22k before his summer run-good.
PokerPlayer says: The accomplished online player has stockpiled a good stack but his lack of live experience makes him a long-shot.
3. MARK NEWHOUSE
Unsurprisingly, Newhouse grabbed the lion’s share of headlines this summer by reaching consecutive Main Event final tables. The last person to achieve that feat was Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004, although the field sizes are significantly larger nowadays, which makes Newhouse’s accomplishment more impressive. The American pro will be anxious to eclipse his disappointing ninth place finish last year.
PokerPlayer says: His appearance, albeit short-lived (and featuring a bowl haircut), at the 2013 final table will stand ‘Newhizzle’ in good stead. Our official pick to win it all.
4. ANDONI LARRABE
At 22-years-old, the Atletic Bilbao fan is the baby of the bunch. That said, Larrabe has years of experience under his belt and, rumour has it, he surreptitiously played using his father’s online poker account when he was just 16. Tsk. He’s since crushed online games and racked up over $340k in the live arena, including three cashes at this year’s WSOP.
PokerPlayer says: The first Spaniard to reach a Main Event final table since 2001, but he ain’t no Matador. Prediction: Seven-bet blow-up.
5. DANIEL SINDELAR
As a Sin City resident, Sindelar will feel right at home when he takes his seat and Jack Effel bellows ‘Shuffle up and deal’. An avid golfer with live poker winnings totalling $527k, Sindelar cashed in four of the 19 WSOP events he entered this summer. He’s played the Main Event for the past six years and this is the first time he’s made it into the money – proving good things come to those who wait.
PokerPlayer says: He has home advantage and plenty of support on the rail, but this Sinde-rella story is not likely to have a happy ending.
6. BILLY PAPPACONSTANTINOU
The man with the tongue-twister of a surname has been a pro foosball superstar since he was 12! In terms of poker, ‘Pappas’ had a modest $20k in live winnings to his name, while this was the first WSOP event he’s ever entered.
PokerPlayer says: With a cool nickname, lumberjack beard and interesting backstory, Pappas is the People’s Champion. It’s just a shame then he’s got less chance of winning than Blonde Electric have of winning X Factor.
7. WILLIAM TONKING
Cash game specialist Tonking admits to being ‘not much of a tournament player’. However, negotiating a Main Event field stuffed with pros, amateurs, and the odd crazy donk, to reach the final nine disproves that.
PokerPlayer says: Looks like he’ll struggle to make a significant impression, but we’ve backed worse 16/1 shots before. A lot worse.
8. MARTIN JACOBSON
The bespectacled Swede ended Day 1 as the chip leader and was never all-in for his tournament life during the whole week of competition! Jacobson also cashed three times this summer at the WSOP and is a regular face on the EPT circuit, racking up almost $5m in tournament winnings. That far outstrips his eight opponents’ total prize money. The fly in the ointment is that he finds himself in eighth position with plenty to do.
PokerPlayer says: Jacobson will be a clear favourite to win if he gets off to a fast start, but he’s just as likely to bust in ninth looking for a double-up. Watch for fireworks early…
9. BRUNO POLITANO
The first Brazilian ever to reach a Main Event final table, Politano may be the short stack but he still has 30 big blinds to play with. After the debacle of the World Cup, Brazilian fans could do with a bit of cheer – but is Bruno a star like Neymar or a dud like David Luiz?
PokerPlayer says: With $730k locked up and nothing to lose, Politano could turn out to be the dark horse if he wants to gamble.
Back Mark Newhouse at 5/1 with Sky Bet but stick a saver on Martin Jacobson at 8/1 with Paddy Power or bet365. He’s nursing the second shortest stack, but still has plenty of room for manoeuvre.