Meet the November Nine
After ten days of competition in this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, 6,352 players have finally been whittled down to just nine who will go on to the final table this autumn.
2014’s November Nine is made up of: Mark Newhouse, also a member of 2013’s November Nine, Dutchman Jorryt van Hoof, a young Norwegian named Felix Stephensen and even younger Spaniard Andoni Larrabe, Vegas-regular Dan Sindelar, foosball world-champion William Pappaconstantinou, Will Tonking from New Jersey, Swedish tournament pro Martin Jacobson and Brazil’s Bruno Politano.
Out of the nine who will compete for the $10m prize this November, the Netherland’s Hoof ended the Main Event as chip leader with 38,375,000, followed by Stephensen (32,775,000 in chips) in second and Newhouse (26,000,000 in chips) in third. Bringing it up the rear was Politano, with 12,125,000 in chips.
Newhouse, the first November Niner to make it back to the final table for a second shot, said he’s “looking forward to not finishing ninth” this year.
Newhouse said: “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.”
Hoof, whose fellow countryman Michiel Brummelhuis made the final table with Newhouse last year, said the Main Event had been “amazing”. After deciding at the last minute he wanted to play and booking a flight to Vegas, it’s certainly one whimsical decision this Dutchman will not forget.
Similarly Stephensen, who doesn’t travel round the European poker scene because he doesn’t like tournaments, decided he couldn’t miss the Main Event. After walking away from 2013’s WSOP with $22,118 in live tournament earnings, this year round he’s in for a chance of winning much, much more.
He said: “I’m feeling pretty good. This is pretty exciting. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of something this major. When it’s so much up top and its life-changing money, you kind of get tempted to [play]. If it works out, it’s worth it. This is what every poker player dreams about. This is it.”
It’s also 22-year-old Larrabe’s first final table. He said: “I feel pretty excited. It’s a sensation between confusion, because I think I don’t realise what I have just done, and excitement and happiness. It’s a lot of sensation all at the same time.”
Sindelar, who has attended the WSOP seven times but finished up on his money for the first time this year, also describes making the November Nine as nothing that he’s “ever felt before”, and a moment he will cherish for a very long time.
Even Pappaconstantinou, who already knows what it feels like to be world champion (in foosball), said he was “in shock”.
The only amateur at the final table said: “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 never expected it at all.”
Similarly Martin Jacobson, who often frequents super-high-roller tournaments across the globe, was a little lost for words: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’ feels surreal right now. It’s like a dream come true to make the final nine. Once in your lifetime, it’s a huge achievement. To still have the dream of becoming the world champion... yeah.”
Tonking said he tried to keep calm: “The whole time during it, I was trying to think about not being in this moment and playing poker. 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.”
The pressure was certainly on for Politano, as the first Brazilian to make the Main Event final table he is going to be a major superstar back home.
He said: “I’m very excited, my dream has come true. My rail is very, very important to me. 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 [will be there in November].”
The November Nine will meet at the table again on 10 November.