Poker: Martin Jacobson

Poker's biggest moments from 2014

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6
JacobsonAP Photo/John LocherMartin Jacobson celebrates after winning the 2014 WSOP main event.

Last year was filled with some interesting storylines related to the world of poker, including Phil Ivey’s baccarat lawsuit, the closing of Atlantic City casinos (thankfully, the iconic Taj Mahal was saved, at least for the moment) and continued buzz about the possibility of "Rounders 2." In the direct world of poker, 2014 had numerous memorable moments. Here is a look back at my top 14 stories/moments in 2014 in chronological order.

Chip Gate
At the Borgata Winter Open, the opening $560 no-limit hold ’em tournament had 4,814 entries. With 27 players remaining, the tournament was halted due to the discovery of counterfeit chips that were put into play. After the neighboring Harrah’s Resort and Casino reported 2.7 million in counterfeit Borgata chips were found flushed down a toilet, Christian Lusardi of North Carolina, who was staying on the property, was arrested and charged with the crime. The remaining 27 players divided up the remaining prize pool (with many not pleased with the decision) and more than 2,000 players were refunded their buy-in amount. As a result of this criminal act, Borgata purchased technologically advanced poker chips that have more colors and can be validated under ultraviolet light.

Full Tilt Finally Pays Back Players
Ever since Black Friday (April 15, 2011), tens of thousands of American Full Tilt poker players collectively had millions of dollars held in cyber oblivion. During the past few years, the drain on these players’ bankrolls dramatically hurt the poker economy. In February 2014, the millions of dollars began to be returned to their rightful owners. Players were grateful to Full Tilt’s major competitor, PokerStars, which took control of the debt by purchasing the company in 2012, and fulfilled its promise to return all of the owned funds.

Blair Hinkle wins again … and again
One of the biggest winners in the Full Tilt poker reimbursement was Blair Hinkle. The Kansas City, Missouri, native had won the largest prize in Full Tilt Poker history (more than $1.1 million) just weeks before Black Friday. Although “blur5f6” suffered for almost three years, Hinkle was less concerned financially after he captured the inaugural Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) in August 2013 for almost $1.75 million.

Nevertheless, Hinkle was thrilled to finally receive his Full Tilt pay day of over seven figures.

“It was like winning the tournament all over again,” Hinkle said.

In addition to this “win,” Hinkle celebrated a couple of months later in his second hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. In April, he returned to defend his World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit main event title at the Horseshoe. Weaving through a field of 247 entrants, Hinkle was able to make history as he not only defended his title, but also became the first player to win three WSOP Circuit main event titles at the same location.

Back-To-Back Boys
Winning a poker tournament is an incredible achievement. However, winning two tournaments back-to-back is what dreams are made of. This year, three such players needed to pinch themselves to see if their achievements were real.

• Mike Leah wins two WSOP Circuit rings in one day: After winning the $580 no-limit hold ’em tournament at the Bicycle Casino on March 15, he registered late for the $365 no-limit hold ’em turbo and won that event as well. The Canadian continued his run later in the year as he finished runner-up to Dan Coleman in the 2014 SHRPO for $1.05 million. He followed up this seven-figure score with his first bracelet at WSOP Asia Pacific.

• Darren Elias goes back-to-back on World Poker Tour (WPT): In 2012, Marvin Rettenmaier won back-to-back WPT main events, but these events were technically in two different seasons. Elias took down the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September and two months later, repeated the feat at WPT Caribbean on St. Maarten. These two wins were worth more than $970,000 and the lead in the WPT Player of the Year race.

• Aaron Massey wins back-to-back Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) events: After winning the Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago in his hometown seven weeks earlier in August, Massey followed with another win at the HPT Club One main event in Fresno, California. With these two wins and a runner-up finish earlier in the season, Massey easily won HPT Player of the Year.

Coren Mitchell becomes first female two-time champ

While the WPT does not have a main event female champion, the European Poker Tour (EPT) certainly does. Having won EPT London in 2006 (the 16th EPT event), Victoria Coren Mitchell captured the EPT San Remo, the 98th event, for over $650,000. In December 2014, Coren Mitchell was once again in the news, as she parted ways with Pokerstars due to her desire not to promote online casino games.

Aces vs. Aces
Rarely does a single hand constitute a top-10 moment unless it is the final hand of a tournament. However, with the magnitude of the $1 million One Drop tournament and because the hand was seen by millions on ESPN, this hand was definitely one of the top moments of 2014. The aces beating aces hand was talked about around the water cooler for weeks. During the $1 million One Drop event, Americans Connor Drinan and Cary Katz revealed that they had pushed all-in, both holding the best hand in poker: pocket aces. Katz held As-Ah and with the board of Kh-5h-2d-4h-2h, eliminated Drinan in 18th place, well before the money in the cruelest of fashion.

WSOP honorary bracelet for Chad Brown
In 2014, poker lost several members of the community, including European poker pro Johannes Strassmann, WSOP dealer “Elvis Joe” LeVine and author/player Tony Korfman. The poker world was also dealt a terrible blow with the passing of Chad Brown. Originally an actor and athlete from New York, Brown became a household name in poker with his appearances on WSOP broadcasts and as the host of "Ultimate Poker Challenge." As a player, he earned more than $3.5 million with 38 WSOP cashes, including three runner-up finishes. Unfortunately, the ultimate poker prize eluded him during his illustrious career.

In 2011, Brown announced that he had been diagnosed with liposarcoma. After numerous surgeries and treatments, the rare form of cancer took his life on July 2. However, before he passed, the WSOP presented him with an honorary bracelet. Although he was too sick to attend the Las Vegas ceremony, the precious jewelry was rushed across the country and put on his wrist, just before he died.

Emergence of new reticent young superstar
Dan Colman’s reluctance to speak with the media after his One Drop victory was met with mixed reviews in the poker world. Later, he disparaged Phil Hellmuth on the 2+2 forums. Whether you agree or disagree with his rationale, no one can argue the incredible year that Colman had in 2014.

With more than $22 million in earnings in 2014 alone, Colman has made his mark in the world of poker. He captured four high roller titles, including the $1 million One Drop and $10 million guaranteed SHRPO. He had 11 cashes, all except three worth more than $110,000, and made nine final tables. Many poker players would love to have Colman’s 2014 statistics for a career.

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Overlay
In 2013, many players were skeptical that the inaugural $10 million guarantee would be met, or even honored, by the Seminole Hard Rock. However, with 2,384 entries in the event, the guarantee was blown away and ultimately won by Blair Hinkle. The poker world was optimistic and anticipation of a high number of entrants once again in 2014, but the SHRPO was unable to meet the guarantee via buy-ins, with only 1,499 entrants. The lack of turnout created one of the biggest overlays in the history of poker: $2.5 million.

WSOP Player of the Year: Danzer vs. Shack-Harris
George Danzer had come close to winning a WSOP bracelet before, but after an incredible 2014 WSOP campaign, the German poker pro captured the honor of being WSOP Player of the Year. Ultimately, he cashed 10 times, winning three bracelets. Only five other players (Hellmuth, Puggy Pearson, Ted Forrest, Phil Ivey and Jeff Lisandro) have won three bracelets in one year.

The POY race was not a runaway for Danzer; he fought a seesaw battle against Brandon Shack-Harris, who won Event 3 and finished second two more times during the Series. Entering the WSOP APAC, Shack-Harris held a slight lead, which changed multiple times in Melbourne, but in the end, Danzer’s third bracelet helped him clinch the POY title.

Hall of Fame inducts Negreanu and McClelland
On the Sunday before the 2014 WSOP main event, poker pro Daniel Negreanu and longtime tournament director Jack McClelland were inducted into the 2014 class of the Poker Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place in downtown Las Vegas, back at the old Benny’s Bullpen (now called the Longhorn Room) at Binion’s.

The reserved McClelland asked Helluth, another Hall of Famer, to address the crowd for him. Afterward, the charismatic Negreanu, who turned 40 in 2014 and was an obvious first-ballot inductee, had his agent, Brian Balsbaugh, introduce him.

They are the 47th and 48th members of the Poker Hall of Fame. Here are their thoughts on their induction from the Poker Edge podcast.

Sweden has a new father (of poker) and Newhouse's déjà vu
After seven grueling days and the eliminations of 6,674 players, the 2014 WSOP main event final table was set on July 15. Headlining the group was 2013 November Niner Mark Newhouse, world foosball champion Billy Pappas, amateur Brazilian Bruno Politano, and Belgian chip leader Jorryt Van Hoof.

When the nine players returned to the Penn Teller Theater, Sweden’s Martin Jacobson played masterful poker from start to finish. Utilizing all facets of his game from shortstack (he was under 10 big blinds at one point) to big stack play, Jacobson battled his way to the top, besting fellow poker pro Norwegian Felix Stephensen heads-up. The former chef captured the most coveted bracelet in poker, earning $10 million for first place.

Newhouse set an unprecedented mark of back-to-back November Nines, but the more shocking result was his second consecutive ninth-place finish. Newhouse was devastated finishing ninth in 2013 and entered play third in chips in 2014, vowing to not repeat last year’s finish. It was estimated by ESPN Stats and Info that the odds of this back-to-back finish was approximately 42 million to 1.

Familiar faces add to their WSOP jewelry collection

• John Hennigan ($50,000 Poker Players Championship)
• Vanessa Selbst ($25,000 Mix-Max no-limit hold ’em)
• Brock Parker ($10,000 Omaha 8-or-better)
• David Kitai ($3,000 six-max no-limit hold ’em)
• Dutch Boyd ($1,000 no-limit hold ’em)
• Dominik Nitsche (WSOP National Championship and $1,000 no-limit hold ’em)

Some significant milestones:

• Ted Forrest defeated Hellmuth heads-up in the $1,500 razz event to capture his sixth bracelet. After capturing three in 1993 and two more in 2004, Forrest had a decade-long drought.

• Jeffrey Lisandro captured his sixth WSOP bracelet in the AU$1,650 pot-limit Omaha event. Lisandro and Forrest are currently tied with Daniel Negreanu, Jay Heimowitz, TJ Cloutier and Layne Flack for ninth overall on the all-time bracelet list.

• Ivey captured his 10th WSOP bracelet by winning the $1,500 eight-game mix event. He's now tied in second place overall with the legendary Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson, and is only three behind Hellmuth, the leader.

Ultimate Gaming closes
In April 2013, Ultimate Gaming was the first company to open its online poker doors to Nevada residents. Expectations ran high with the re-emergence of online poker in the United States. However, the company closed its virtual doors last year in both New Jersey (in September) and Nevada (in November). Although it had first mover advantage over other companies such as Caesars, Ultimate Gaming could not gain traction to emerge as a key player in the online industry.

A new world champion will be crowned tonight and coverage begins on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.

If you want to be 30 minutes ahead of the action on TV and find out what's going on in Las Vegas at the very moment, the live blog below is for you.

Three stars aim for $10 million

November, 11, 2014
The November Nine returned to the felt on Monday for a grueling 12-hour session that resulted in three players advancing to the final day instead of two. At 4:15 a.m. PT, Jorryt van Hoof, Martin Jacobson and Felix Stephensen left the Penn & Teller Theater with friends by their side, knowing that they had reached the end of the journey.

One of these players will win $10 million on Tuesday night, or more likely, early Wednesday morning. The runner-up will take home $5.1 million and all three are guaranteed at least $3.8 million for their efforts that began four months ago with a $10,000 buy-in. The three are all incredible players with friends who have worked with them for months, preparing them for this very moment.

Here are the three the world will be watching Tuesday night and how they could get the job done.

Jorryt van Hoof: The first day of the final table was a dream for Van Hoof as he owned the chip lead for almost the entire session. The 31-year-old Dutch poker superstar known as "The Cleaner" had complete control over the table and was the first player to eclipse the 100 million chip mark late in the night. He gave a bit back, but still owns the top stack with 89.6 million in chips. Van Hoof is a cash game specialist with a strong focus in pot-limit Omaha. According to the Hendon Mob, in his previous five heads-up matches, Van Hoof has won three.

[+] Enlargevan Hoof
AP Photo/John LocherJorryt van Hoof (right) is the chip leader among the final three at the World Series of Poker. Play resumes Tuesday night.

"I was quite happy with my play," Van Hoff said at the conclusion of Monday's action. "It was an extremely fun day. It's hard to describe in words, it's so unique. I just tried to play one hand at a time and optimize from there."

How he can win: "He got a tough draw," Christian Harder said. "In my opinion the best three players are left. I think Van Hoof has been playing so well, he just needs to come in and keep up the pressure, but not go overboard. His opponents have nothing to lose now, so they might be more willing to get it in lighter. He needs to just recognize that when he's applying pressure."

Martin Jacobson: Well, as predicted, the pressure definitely did not get to him. Jacobson, 27, played an incredibly patient game for the entire night and managed to take an eighth-place stack and turn it into second with incredible timing that those who watched will try to emulate every time they play.

[+] EnlargeMartin Jacobson
AP Photo/John LocherMartin Jacobson looks to become Sweden's first WSOP main event champion.

Jacobson is the only tournament professional left, a major advantage at this juncture of the event. Even more than that, he cut his chops through sit-and-gos, understanding all the underlying calculations that go into play with each and every decision. As if that wasn't bad enough for his opponents, he also has a team in his corner that has drilled him incessantly on heads-up play. The one knock on Jacobson coming in was that he couldn't close the deal and earn that elusive major title. Now, he has another chance to quiet the critics and become Sweden's first world champ.

"They're very strong players. Both of them. It should be a fun battle," Jacobson said. "Patience is key in tournament poker. You need to know how to pick your spots and I think it's something I've got a lot better at over the years.

"Experience is a key part," he continued. "I'm very happy in how I stayed patient and positive even when I was short. It was fun."

How he can win: "The plan is to get heads-up," said 2013 WSOP champion Ryan Riess. "He is the most experienced player of the three and will certainly be the favorite. The pay jumps are massive and he will be able to use his aggressiveness and experience in big spots to put pressure on the others."

"He's stoic, nothing can phase him tonight," said Ankush Mandavia, one of Jacobson's friends who has helped him for the past few months. "He's due."

Felix Stephensen: Everyone knew that Stephensen was preparing as much as he could for the final table, but not many knew that one of the game's best players, Scott Seiver, would be right on his rail during final-table action. Stephensen entered play in second and held steady for the most part. He's a pot-limit Omaha expert playing in his only WSOP event of the year and is aiming to become the first Norwegian world champion. His previous best tournament finish was a ninth-place result last month at EPT London.

[+] EnlargeFelix Stephensen
AP Photo/John LocherNorway's Felix Stephensen enters the final night third in chips.

He's calm at the table, almost statuesque with his hoodie and sunglasses preventing the release of any tells. He didn't show much emotion until late in the night when he won a key pot against Jacobson, but once he had the chips, his rail kept him motivated and focused.

"I'm just happy to still be alive. I feel great," Stephensen said. "It's tough to pinpoint one thing [that I have to do], but I'll try to play pretty good, get pretty lucky and hopefully things will fall into place."

How he can win: "He will need to take risks," Daniel Negreanu said. "Push the envelope a little and play bigger pots"

The three resume play at 8:30 p.m. ET, with coverage starting at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Poker will have a new world champion in a matter of hours and all three of these players are ready to etch their names into the history books and capture the most desired bracelet in the game.

The November Nine Return To Vegas

November, 9, 2014
WSOP November NineJoe Giron/WSOPThe November Nine return to action on Monday night in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS -- Ten million dollars. You can probably hear Dr. Evil saying it right now.

One of the nine players remaining in the World Series of Poker main event is going to have the good kind of financial problems in just a few days. The November Nine have waited nearly four months to take their shot and on Monday night, the planning and practicing will conclude and the lights in the Penn and Teller Theater will shine down on the group of next poker superstars. One of them will walk away with $10 million.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Unless your name is Mark Newhouse.

For the second year in a row, Newhouse will take his seat on the stage, achieving a remarkable feat that many never believed would (A) ever happen and (B) ever happen in back-to-back years. The situation this time around is far different from the professional poker player who emerged onto the scene in 2006.

As the short stack in 2013, many expected Newhouse to fall first. He did. It was devastating to someone who needed to ladder up and earn some extra cash. It was devastating for someone who felt that he would finally leave the daily grind with a higher finish. Most of all, it was devastating for a player who waited all that time to simply finish ninth. He called it the worst place to finish emotionally. Again that’s ninth out of 6,352.

Newhouse has already outlasted 6,674 players this year and spent his hiatus thinking about anything but poker. This past week he was in Hawaii trying to stay away from it all. He brings in a third-place stack and the one thing nobody else has, or probably ever will have: experience at the WSOP main event final table.

“Newhouse's experience, I think, will help him come tomorrow,” said 2013 WSOP champion Ryan Riess, who played against Newhouse a year ago. “He has a stack, he has shown to be fearless, and he has been here before.”

Another world champion agreed.

“I think he will be the most comfortable and one of, if not, the most confident,” 2012 champ Greg Merson said. “I'd be more than happy to welcome him into the fraternity.”

On Sunday, Newhouse looked as relaxed as he could be. Even meetings and instructions from the production crew were a repeat for him. He sat and listened while the others learned.

Can the comfort level and experience be enough to overcome seven other players with lifelong passions for the game and one unpredictable foosball champion?

Here are the eight other players, in order of chip count, who are looking to become the next world champion:

Jorryt van Hoof: The Dutch poker superstar may not have any sponsors, but he will have the chip lead going into the night. He’s an expert in both no-limit and pot-limit Omaha and has been working with Jared Tendler on building a stronger mindset over the past few years. His passion for the game may be unrivaled by anyone else at this final table and it’s unlikely that anyone has put in more time to prepare for Monday’s events.

Felix Stephensen: The former soccer player is a pot-Omaha expert like van Hoof, but decided to only play one WSOP event this summer. You already know how that ended. He’s an online champion with tens of thousands of hands under his belt and can completely change the face of the game in Norway if he’s able to come through.

Andoni Larrabe: If staying out of the media spotlight was the game plan for Larrabe during the hiatus, he achieved it with flying colors. The youngest player at the final table has two cashes on the Estrellas Poker Tour since making the final table. He has live and online titles, and is looking to continue the trend of sub-25 poker champions. He’ll be wearing the Athletic Bilbao jersey on Monday night, trying to recreate the jersey magic that landed Riess in the winner’s circle. He said on Sunday that with his friends and family in town, he's finally feeling the excitement.

Dan Sindelar: The World Series of Poker is the place where players try to make their mark. For Sindelar, his journey since 2008 has left him with many cashes, but until this event, no final tables. The Vegas local left the University of Nebraska to pursue the game and is a few eliminations away from getting all he’s ever wanted.

William Pappaconstantinou: Meet the ultimate wild card of this final table. Instead of preparing, the foosball world champion played … foosball. He’s an amateur who plays for the fun of the game and enjoys dealing at a local casino for the same reasons. He’s a main event first timer by sheer surprise. His outgoing personality will shine on TV and serve as a reminder that in poker, anyone can win.

Will Tonking: The New Jersey native left college with a degree in economics and a passion for counting chips. Tonking won’t be rattled under the lights after going through one of the most stressful moments imaginable, but he will take all his cash game experience and try to turn his seventh-place stack into a WSOP bracelet.

Martin Jacobson: The problem with calling Jacobson or Bruno Politano the short stacks is that they aren’t really that short at all. Jacobson has experience in high-pressure situations and may surprise many with early aggressive play that could bring his stack back to the middle of the pack. He had two live cashes during the hiatus and is the leader in tournament earnings ($5.5 million) out of this group.

Bruno Politano: Who’s ready for a party? Politano’s rail will be the craziest we’ve ever seen as the entire country is behind their newest celebrity. Politano has a film crew covering his every move here in Vegas, a mere symbol of how infatuated his country has come with this opportunity. Poker is booming in Brazil and a win for Politano would somehow make the game even bigger. Always with a smile on his face, Politano is guaranteed to have a blast regardless of the outcome over the next few days.

The nine players were all together on Sunday night in the Palazzo Suites at the Rio. As they watched the final two hours of the WSOP main event coverage, they shared a few laughs, a few jabs at each other and some shocked faces as hands were revealed. As the bubble burst every single one of them had a smile on his face.

The hiatus is officially over. Now it’s time to go back to work.

Coverage of Monday’s action will begin “live” on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET (“live” due to the 30-minute delay necessarily put in place to preserve the integrity of the game). Play will continue until only two remain and coverage of heads-up play will begin at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday on ESPN.

Meet the 2014 November Nine

July, 15, 2014
LAS VEGAS -- After 10 days of competition, only nine remain out of the field of 6,683 players in the 2014 World Series of Poker main event. The November Nine includes a diverse collection of players and, come November, one of the largest and loudest crowds the game has ever seen. It also includes a member of the 2013 WSOP main event final table, Mark Newhouse, who battled through a roller coaster of a day to enter the final table third in chips. Newhouse finished ninth out of 6,352 players in 2013. He is the first player to make back-to-back final table appearances since Dan Harrington's run in 2003 and 2004.
[+] EnlargeWSOP November Nine
Joe Giron/WSOPThe 2014 November Nine: Billy Pappas, Felix Stephensen, Jorryt von Hoof, Mark Newhouse, Andoni Larrabe, Will Tonking, Dan Sindelar, Martin Jacobson and Bruno Politano

"I'm looking forward to not finishing ninth," Newhouse joked on the Poker Edge after making the final table. "Ninth is brutal, man. Coming back four months later and getting no money. I told myself I wouldn't be disappointed, and whatever happens happens, but it was very, very disappointing. ... Anything but ninth."

Newhouse's road back was extremely different from his journey a year ago. For most of Day 7 in 2013, Newhouse was the short stack and did everything possible to squeeze in. He entered the final 10 last year with just six big blinds and doubled up at the last possible second to keep his dreams alive. This year, he was active late and made a big call against Craig McCorkell with 13 players to go to keep him comfortable when the final 10 approached. On that bubble he remained active and ultimately knocked out two-time bracelet winner Luis Velador in 10th.

"Even though this year getting in is a bigger deal than it was last year, I was really just having fun the entire time," Newhouse said. "Playing poker with not too much pressure, not thinking about it, and I made it."

The day began with the eliminations of many of the familiar faces left in the field: 2014 WSOP bracelet winner Sean Dempsey went out in 27th followed by Brian Roberts (26th), Bryan Devonshire (25th), Kyle Keranen (24th), Leif Force (21st), Dan Smith (20th) and Scott Palmer (19th). Scott Mahin's exit in 18th place resulted in tears from the 47-year-old first-time WSOP participant, who said he was proud to represent his friends and family, both supporting him in Las Vegas and in Elk Point, South Dakota. He earned $347,521 for his first career cash.

Only 16 players were left for the 90-minute dinner break, and Jorryt van Hoof seized control at that point, knocking out his fellow countryman Oscar Kemps (14th) and Eddy Sabat (16th) after a very dramatic river. Felix Stephensen also emerged as a contender at this time after a surprising 24-million chip pot against Tom Serra (15th).

McCorkell, Chris Greaves, Max Senft and Velador went after that, and 27 minutes into Level 35, the November Nine was set.

Here are the players who will compete for the $10 million top prize in November:

[+] EnlargeJorryt van Hoof
Drew Amato/BLUFFJorryt van Hoof leads the 2014 WSOP main event final table.
Jorryt van Hoof (38.375 million in chips) -- For the second year in a row, a truly talented Dutchman has made the final table. Van Hoof is a cash-game professional who has a passion for online poker. He's been playing professionally for a decade, owns a highly popular poker training site, and will definitely be in contact with 2013 November Niner Michiel Brummelhuis throughout the process.

"It's been amazing," van Hoof said. "I ran hot and there were a few bubbles that I could make [use out of]. When we were down to 18, I wasn't happy with my table draw, but I won some good hands, got some chips and things went really well from there."

That's an understatement. Van Hoof had the lead for the final two levels and used his stack on the bubble to chip up even more. The best part about van Hoof's placement is that he wasn't planning on playing this summer at all.

"This year Vegas really pulled me," he said after making the final table. "I booked a last-minute flight. I came here a few days before [the main event]. I decided in the moment that I wanted to go to Vegas."

Felix Stephensen (32.775 million in chips) -- The 23-year-old Norwegian pro entered his second WSOP event with a mere $22,118 in live tournament earnings. He left the Rio with much, much more. Stephensen plays pot-limit Omaha cash games online and doesn't travel around the European poker scene because he doesn't like tournaments. That said, he couldn't miss the main.

"I'm feeling pretty good. This is pretty exciting. I don't think I've ever been part of something this major," he said. "When it's so much up top and it's life-changing money, you kind of get tempted to [play in a tournament]. If it works out, it's worth it."

Stephensen made Day 3 of the event in 2013 and said he ran incredibly well to get to this point.

"This is what every poker player dreams about," he said. "This is it."

Mark Newhouse (26.000 million in chips) -- If there's one player you don't need an introduction to, it's Newhouse. The 2013 ninth-place finisher has done the unthinkable and made back-to-back final tables in a post-boom poker world. Newhouse is a WPT champion with experience that no other player at this final table can rival.

"It's a great accomplishment, but I can't comment on greatest anything or stuff like that," he said to Bluff magazine. "I know it's amazing, but I'm never going to say anything like 'greatest' with my name in it. That's all I have to say about that."

Andoni Larrabe (22.550 million in chips) -- Larrabe, 22, now plays the live circuit after spending years grinding the online multitable tournament scene since he was 18 under the alias "pollopopeye." He is the owner of two Spring Championship of Online Poker titles and the winner of the $5,000 event from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2013. He has three WSOP cashes, and this will be his first final table.

"I feel pretty excited," he said. "It's a sensation between confusion, because I think I don't realize what I have just done, and excitement and happiness. It's a lot of sensation all at the same time."

The Spanish pro was extremely aggressive on the final table bubble, which was part of his game plan. He didn't want to go into the November Nine as the short stack and put himself back into it with one key double-up against Velador (A-A against Velador's A-K).

"I'm going to approach it as calm as I can," he said of the final table. "There's a lot of time. I'll think about it, but the most important thing will be to go relax."

Dan Sindelar (21.200 million in chips) -- Sindelar is the only Vegas regular at the final table and will be flanked by a number of pros throughout his journey to November. This is his 18th career WSOP cash and his fourth of the summer.

"It's nothing that I've ever felt before," he said. "I'm going to cherish this moment for a very long time. ... This is just going to be a lot of fun."

The Nebraska native moved to Vegas six years ago to pursue the game full time. After Black Friday, he pivoted to play more live cash games and a few tournaments here and there. This was his seventh WSOP main event and first cash.

William Pappaconstantinou (17.500 million in chips) -- "Billy Pappas" is already a world champion ... in foosball. The 29-year-old has loved the game since 2003 and had the opportunity to play in the WSOP for the first time this year. Things couldn't have turned out better, and he's looking to add a poker championship to his collection of numerous foosball titles.

"I'm in shock," he said after making the final table. "I never thought I'd play in this event. It's been my dream, and I've been saying 'this year' or 'next year' for like 10 years, just to play in an event, period. Now I get to play this, and I've never expected this at all."

Pappaconstantinou is the only amateur at the final table. He plans on spending the next few months traveling and relaxing with his friends.

Will Tonking (15.050 million in chips) -- It didn't look good for Tonking when he arrived at the final table bubble, but an early double-up against Martin Jacobson brought the New Jersey native back into contention. Tonking, 27, plays professionally in New Jersey both live and online. He recently hit a $50,000 score on, then came out to Vegas and made the money in the mixed-max event. This is his first main event cash.

"The whole time during it, I was trying to think about not being in this moment and playing poker," he said. "I kept on making myself refer back to the scene in 'Hoosiers' when Gene Hackman took them into the big stadium, the small-town team, put the tape measure up to the rim and down to the floor and said, 'Still 10 feet, gentlemen.'

"It's just poker. I was just playing the hand in front of me, not trying to think about anything else. The game is hard enough. The field is tough enough without letting that stuff bother me."

[+] EnlargeMartin Jacobson
Drew Amato/BLUFFIncluding the ninth-place payout, Martin Jacobson has $5.5 million in live tournament earnings.
Martin Jacobson (14.900 million in chips) -- The Swedish tournament pro is still looking for that one live victory that he can add to an already impressive résumé. He played this tournament with a consistent focus that allowed him to maintain a Day 1A chip lead and take him to the final table. He finished Day 6 as the chip leader and didn't play too many huge pots, besides one major one on the bubble, en route to an eighth-place stack for November.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. It feels surreal right now," Jacobson said. "It's a dream come true to make to the final nine. Once in your lifetime, it's a huge achievement. To still have the dream of becoming the world champion ... yeah."

Jacobson played 27 events during the 2014 WSOP and cashed three times. He's no stranger to high-pressure situations and can often be found in the super-high-roller tournaments around the world. Being involved in that scene will most definitely provide him with a little benefit when it comes to the final table.

"It means so much to everyone to actually make it," he said.

Bruno Politano (12.125 million in chips) -- The man who will have the most vocal crowd in November is a true character on the felt. Before this cash, Politano, 31, had $110,054 in career tournament earnings, including one WSOP cash. He's the first Brazilian to make the WSOP main event final table and, at 31, is going to be a major superstar in his country, which is experiencing a tremendous poker boom at this time.

"I'm very excited," he said. "My dream has come true."

For the entire night, his supporters were singing and dancing in the stands. He encouraged them after big hands and jumped into their arms after making the November Nine.

"My rail is very, very important to me," he said. "Without this, I wouldn't be there. For me, it's everything. It gives me support in that moment. I promise more than 200 people [in November]."

The final nine players return to action Nov. 10. The broadcast of the main event will begin on ESPN on Sept. 28.

Here are the rest of the final table payouts:

1. $10,000,000
2. $5,145,968
3. $3,806,402
4. $2,848,833
5. $2,143,174
6. $1,622,080
7. $1,235,862
8. $947,077
9. $730,725
Tensions are high in the Amazon Room as players at the final three tables battle it out for a chance to become a member of one of poker's most elite groups. The November Nine will be set at the end of what is expected to be a very long day, and it will be a constant battle of will to fight off fatigue and nerves with so much on the line.

2014 bracelet winner Sean Dempsey was the first player to fall Monday, calling all-in for his tournament life on the river against Mark Newhouse. Perhaps trying to use his tight image, Newhouse min-raised under the gun with 8h-9h, and Dempsey, in the big blind, just called. After a flop of Qh-6d-4h, Dempsey check-called a bet of 250,000. Both checked the turn 5, and Dempsey fired about half a million after the Jh hit the river. Newhouse pushed enough in the center to force Dempsey to make a tough decision, and when he ultimately called, the disappointment set in. After that hand, Newhouse had more than 10 million in chips. Dempsey earned $286,900 for his 27th-place finish.

Brian Roberts played the short stack well for days and doubled on the final hand of Day 6. Starting Day 7 with only 11 big blinds, he would need to try to double before the next level. Roberts moved all-in from under-the-gun with K-J and couldn't catch against Eddy Sabat's A-Q. This 26th-place finish was the second-largest live cash of Roberts' career.

Players took a 10-minute break before the beginning of Level 31 (80,000/160,000 with a 20,000 ante). Upon returning, Thomas Sarra doubled through Andoni Larrabe to move into the top half of the chip counts.

If play ended now, the November Nine would be:
1. Martin Jacobson (20.2 million)
2. Dan Sindelar (17.3 million)
3. Luis Velador (16.6 million)
4. William Pappaconstantinou (15.8 million)
5. Bruno Politano (12.6 million)
6. Andrey Zaichenko (11.6 million)
7. Mark Newhouse (9.2 million)
8. Felix Stephensen (8.5 million)
9. Dan Smith (7.7 million)

LAS VEGAS -- Martin Jacobson led the WSOP main event after Day 1A and nobody batted an eye. Success isn't automatic for the chip leaders of the early days, but Jacobson is looking to follow in the footsteps of Joe Cada and turn a Day 1 chip lead into a world championship. Day 6 concluded with the Swedish professional leading the final 27 players. Jacobson has already won millions over several years of live and online play at the highest stakes, but he understands the potential of surviving just one more day.
[+] EnlargeMartin Jacobson
Drew Amato/BLUFFMartin Jacobson leads the final 27 players in the 2014 WSOP main event

"It's amazing to have made it this far in the main event," said Jacobson. "It's such a big tournament and a lot of prestige. I'm very proud of myself right now. "

Players began Day 6 action Sunday at noon PT and wrapped up at nearly 2 a.m. Monday. Fatigue was setting in for a number of players during the final level, including Jacobson, who finished the night with 22.3 million in chips.

"I'm not that jacked up, but mostly tired to be honest," he said. "Hopefully I'll be able to get a few hours of good sleep and be ready to go again tomorrow."

His ascension to first was impressive, a constant climb throughout nearly every level. He's played that style for a few days, never finding himself outside of the top 20 percent of chip stacks, and has demonstrated strong reading ability all along. Jacobson has $4.8 million in live tournament earnings, but is still missing that elusive major tournament victory.

In order to get that opportunity, he needs to get through the final day first. His starting table features a number of major obstacles, but it's the player in the No. 7 seat that will be the focus of attention: Mark Newhouse. For the second year in a row, a member of the previous year's final table is looking to make a repeat appearance (Steve Gee, who made the final table in 2012, finished 24th in 2013). Newhouse demonstrated a year ago that he could play a short stack to perfection on Day 7 and he's prepared to do so once again. He discussed those plans on the Day 5 Poker Edge podcast.

Newhouse enters Day 7 with more chips than he did a year ago, but will have a challenging seat to start the day with big stack Bruno Politano next to him. Additionally, Politano will have to figure out how to approach his button as Jacobson will be waiting, and should be very aggressive given his lead. Considering the November Nine bubble is one of the most important moments of the year, Jacobson should use this beneficial table draw to chip up early by keeping the pressure on.

Other big stacks belong to two-time bracelet winner Luis Velador, tournament regular Dan Sindelar, Spanish online poker phenom Andoni Larrabe and William Pappaconstantinou, who goes by the name "Billy Pappas" in the world of foosball, and now poker. Pappaconstantinou simply considers himself a poker dealer on a heater.

"I still don't think I'm on these guys' level," he said. "I'm going to try to stick with the same game plan [on Day 7]. Hopefully nobody picks up cards and I keep raising."

Pappaconstantinou surged into the top 10 after a big hand with 30 players to go in which he picked up aces against the kings of Dong Guo and eights of Robert Campbell. The 6.2 million he added to his stack after that hand gave him 14 million and a free pass to coast for the rest of the night.

The day concluded with the elimination of the Day 4 chip leader Matthew Haugen, who ran 10s into the queens of Bryan Devonshire. Haugen began the day as one of the short stacks and turned it into eight figures. His plan unraveled after the first level after dinner, and he ultimately pushed his pocket 10s at the wrong time. Devonshire finished Day 6 with 5.7 million and looks to improve on his 12th-place finish in 2012.

"I'm thrilled to be here, but I'm exhausted," he said. "These 14-hour days are brutal. It's so mentally exhausting. I haven't thought that hard about poker for a long time, and I'm already tired. I think [fatigue] plays in a lot and I think it's playing in extra in this tournament."

Sound familiar? It's been a grueling battle for everyone, and unfortunately for Devonshire and the rest of the field, Monday's schedule won't be any easier as the event must play down to the final nine-handed table. Tournament director Jack Effel estimated that will happen during Level 36, which would mean another 11-13 hours at the felt.

All remaining players have earned at least $286,900. When play resumes the blinds will be 60,000/120,000 with a 15,000 ante. Here are the top 10 chip counts heading into Day 7:

1. Martin Jacobson (22.3 million)
2. Luis Velador (16.6 million)
3. Dan Sindelar (16.3 million)
4. Andoni Larrabe (15.2 million)
5. Billy Pappaconstantinou (14.6 million)
6. Bruno Politano (11.6 million)
7. Dan Smith (10.3 million)
8. Craig McCorkell (8.7 million)
9. Felix Stephensen (7.7 million)
10. Andrey Zaichenko (7.3 million)

Small blinds: There are two bracelet winners in the top 10: Velador and Craig McCorkell. Sean Dempsey and Leif Force are the other two bracelet winners left in the field. … Scott Palmer began the day in third and finished in 27th. Anton Morgenstern led after Day 6 last year and did not make the November Nine. &133; Kyle Keranen was chip leader for a good portion of the day but lost a big pot to Velador, who briefly took the lead during the final few levels of the night. … Andoni Larribe, now in fourth, has two SCOOP titles. … Ten countries are represented in the final 27. … Andrey Zaichenko, now in 10th, has made a WSOP final table in three of the past four years. He has $1.3 million in live tournament earnings. … The fourth feature table in the outside section has already been broken down. … Dan Smith and Aaron Kaiser got into it after dinner in what should make for some very interesting television. Read about that here. … Monday will be the final day of play until the field returns to action on November 10. … Ryan Riess, Phil Hellmuth, Brett Richey, Dani Stern and Mike Matusow all stopped by on Sunday to check out the remaining field.