2014 WSOP Main Event Final Table Preview / Prediction

     It’s time for dreams to be fulfilled and lives to change.  The biggest poker tournament in the world, with a $10,000 buy-in and 6,683 entrants has been reduced to just nine, the November Nine.  All members of this nine will be winning over $700,000, and someone will walk away with a whopping $10,000,000, and at least for a moment be considered the best poker player in the world.  It’s the big one, and it’s time to see how it all ends.  It’s the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event.

     For people that know me it’s no secret that I like poker.  I play home games once or twice a month with friends, and also play Zynga Poker and watch poker once in a while on YouTube.  So obviously the final table of the year’s biggest tournament will interest me, but poker, especially Texas Hold ’em, is played and enjoyed by millions around the world who no doubt will also be eager to see the Main Event’s conclusion.
     The Main Event really is a special, one of a kind tournament.  It appeals to everyone, and for that reason more and more amateurs make the trek to Las Vegas annually to be a part of the biggest poker event of the year.  More recreational players are in the field than full-time pros, and since 2003 when Chris Moneymaker (great name) became the first amateur to win the event, every average joe feels he (or she) has a chance to make history.  The atmosphere surrounding the event is surreal.
     A great thing about poker is that while better players will always stand a much higher chance to win, anybody could play the best on any given day, and that’s simply part of the nature of the game.  In fact, while the November Nine contains mostly experienced poker players (and a foosball champ), nearly everyone plays mostly online and no one has won a WSOP bracelet before.  However, after defeating over 6,000 other hopefuls including the best in the world over seven days of long, difficult play, everyone remaining definitely deserves their spot in the final table.  Incredibly, one of the remaining players, Mark Newhouse, has defied all odds by making it to the final table in back to back years, and will look to improve on his 9th place finish last year.
     It’s been nearly four months since the remaining nine have taken the felt in the Main Event, so no doubt everyone will be ready to go.  Here’s who’s left to compete for an eight digit prize, and how I feel about each of their chances.
1st: Jorryt van Hoof (Netherlands): 38,375,000 chips, 14/5 odds
2nd: Felix Stephensen (Norway): 32,775,000 chips, 4/1 odds
3rd: Mark Newhouse (USA): 26,000,000 chips, 5/1 odds
4th: Andoni Larrabe (Spain): 22,550,000 chips, 7/1 odds
5th: Dan Sindelar (USA): 21,200,000 chips, 15/2 odds
6th: William “Billy Pappas” Papaconstantinou (USA): 17,500,000 chips, 10/1 odds
7th: William Tonking (USA): 15,050,000 chips, 12/1 odds
8th: Martin Jacobson (Sweden): 14,900,000 chips, 8/1 odds
9th: Bruno Politano (Brazil): 12,125,000 chips, 16/1 odds

     Jorryt van Hoof: Obviously as chip leader van Hoof will be expected to make a deep run and have the best chance of winning.  He also has a very large six million chip advantage over second and a 12 million chip advantage over third place, so he will have room to maneuver early on.  An experienced online player, the 31-year old is tied with Bruno Politano as oldest player remaining, a clear sign that “new poker” is taking over “old poker” in today’s modern game.  As one of the more experienced players, van Hoof will definitely have a great chance of winning, but the chip leader has a lot of pressure and I wouldn’t take him at 14/5 odds.

     Felix Stephensen: The 23-year old Norwegian got the money from his buy-in by betting on the World Cup, cashing in on a $1,000 bet that the Netherlands would beat Australia 3-2 at 60-1 odds.  The Chargers fan built most of his stack up by taking out Tom Sarra Jr. with Ace-King late in day seven.  He has played well, but at 23 years old and with only one prior recorded cash I feel he lacks the tournament experience to prevail, and I don’t like 4-1 odds on Stephensen.

     Mark Newhouse: I still can’t believe this guy has made it back to the final table.  Two years in a row Newhouse has finished in the top nine out of over 6,000 people.  This incredibly unlikely run is incredible, and proves that Newhouse is one of the best players in the world.  This year he has said he is playing much more relaxed, and it has definitely shown in his game, in which he has made very few mistakes.  I personally believe he is the favorite at this final table simply because he is the only person to have made a deep run in this event before, and knows what it is like being a November Niner.  I would take the 5-1 odds on Newhouse.

     Andoni Larrabe: The Spaniard is even younger than Stephensen, and at only 22 years of age has been an online cash game specialist for years now, beginning on his dad’s account at age 16.  My issue with him is that he plays very aggressively and I see him blowing his stack early on, just like many younger players seem to do.  If he wins his first few big hands he’ll be very scary and no doubt apply pressure, but I think he’ll crack and be one of the first few out.

     Dan Sindelar: Sindelar has the most WSOP cashes of the November Niners with 17, and from what I’ve seen of Sindelar I really like his game.  He spent most of the Main Event near the top, including most of the penultimate day seven.  I’m surprised that he only has 15-2 odds and I like him to stick around for a while, slowly increasing his stack, and then maybe making a run at the final two or three, potentially winning.  He is the second of three places whose odds I like.

      Billy Pappas: The foosball champion and very likable Massachusetts native is the least experienced member of the final table.  However, he is a world champion, which no one else at the final table can say.  Perhaps he can use his experience in big games in his favor?  The fan favorite Pappas played very aggressively on day six and then conservatively on day seven to make the final table.  It will be interesting to see what approach he takes as he looks to become the most unlikely champion in a long time.  However, his little experience makes me want to shy away from him, even with 10/1 odds.

     William Tonking: Tonking is a difficult player to judge simply because of how little of him was shown on the ESPN episodes of the Main Event.  Out of the final table I’ve seen the least of him by far, and nowhere near as much as Mark Newhouse, Billy Pappas, and Bruno Politano, the most shown.  For this reason, he sits as the wild card at the table for me.  At 12/1 you could definitely do worse, so he’s an okay play for me, but at only 15 million chips it’ll be hard.  He’s not as good of a play as the next guy in the list.

      Martin Jacobson: The 27-year old Stockholm native is the most accomplished player remaining and has the most live experience, along with $4.6 million in career tournament earnings, putting him on top of the Sweden all-time money list.  At 14.9 million in chips, he’s basically in the same position as Tonking, but as the best player available he looks able to come back and has very intriguing 8/1 odds.  I’d take those odds on Jacobson, considering he still has 37.5 big blinds.  If he is able to double up early, beware.

     Bruno Politano: Another fan favorite and strong player is the Brazilian Politano, the other 31-year old left in the field.  Playing thirty big blinds, Politano still has room to maneuver but should look to move up quickly if he stands a chance against top stack van Hoof who has more than three times Politano’s stack, and other players such as Mark Newhouse.  At 16/1 odds, you would definitely have a pay day should he win, but again Politano doesn’t have much experience and especially as short stack he’ll need a lot of help.

     My Final Table Prediction:
9th: Bruno Politano
8th: William Tonking
7th: Billy Pappas
6th: Andoni Larrabe
5th: Martin Jacobson
4th: Felix Stephensen
3rd: Dan Sindelar
2nd: Jorryt van Hoof
1st: Mark Newhouse

     Remember the final table airs on ESPN2 and WatchESPN from 8pm-1am ET today and from 9pm-11pm tomorrow on ESPN and WatchESPN.  It should be a great finale.

Thanks for reading,
Connor

     

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