The 2014 November Nine was an eclectic, multinational group. Six different nations were represented -- including the USA, Brazil, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and The Netherlands. There were several professional poker players, a previous November Niner (Mark Newhouse), and a world champion foosball player (Billy Pappas).
In a tournament typically dominated by the host Americans, 2014 was the northern European players’ time to shine under the glaring lights of the ESPN stage, constructed inside the Penn and Teller Theatre, a place where magic happens almost every night. The same held true for poker. On Monday, after about 12 hours and 245 hands at the final table, six players had been eliminated, leaving only Jorryt van Hoof, Martin Jacobson, and Felix Stephensen (from Norway).
It was the Dutchman Jorryt Van Hoof who dominated the first day of final table action. He carried a chip lead over from mid-July, and held onto it for most of the day. Other players—Stephensen and William Tonking—briefly took over the top spot on the leaderboard. However, Van Hoof always took it back. He steadily built his stack, and finished the day right where he started, with more chips than anyone else.
However, as great as Monday was for the beaming Van Hoof, today was equally difficult. Van Hoof couldn't gain any momentum. Early in the day, he called an all-in bet from Felix Stephensen with the second-best hand, and that seemed to set the tone for his day. His chips slowly disappeared, most of them going to Jacobson, and after just over two hours of play on Tuesday, Van Hoof busted out in 3rd place.
When the November Nine were determined in July, one of the biggest stories during the hiatus was Mark Newhouse’s repeat appearance. Newhouse had made the November Nine in 2013. In the seven years since the inception of the November Nine, Newhouse is the only player to have made it more than once, and the fact that he did so in back-to-back years makes the feat seem even more impressive. Even before the final table was played in November, the last person to make the Main Event final table in consecutive years was "Action Dan" Harrington, who accomplished the feat in 2003 and 2004. Harrington also won the Main Event in 1995, so Newhouse remains in good company.
Last year, Newhouse finished in 9th place, and this year his aversion to finishing 9th again was well publicized. He said in interviews leading up to the championship, even before making the November Nine, that his goal was not to finish 9th again. He said he'd rather finish 10th than 9th. Unfortunately for Newhouse, he was eliminated in 9th for the second year in a row. Despite being the first player eliminated from the final table, Newhouse certainly remains on of this year's most amazing stories and will be a player to watch again next year.
For fans and viewers, the off-the-felt stories this year were almost as compelling as the action on the table. One of the most fun to watch was the carnival atmosphere that followed Bruno Politano everywhere he went. Politano is the first Brazilian ever to make the Main Event final table, and he’s had the emotional and vocal support of a nation since even before the November Nine were officially determined. In July, when the final 27 were whittled down to 9, Politano had a loud, boisterous rail that virtually never stopped singing and cheering for their newfound hero. Politano even had a fan in a Scooby Doo costume. Since then, he’s garnered even more support. Last week, he released a youtube video featuring messages of encouragement from a variety of Brazilian celebrities, including Xuxa (Olympic swimmer), Thiago Camilo (race car driver), and soccer stars Neymar, Júlio César, and Kaká. On Monday, his rail returned in force (Scooby Doo included), and kept the decibel level high throughout Politano’s performance. He eventually bowed out in 8th place, and even then smile never left his face and his supporters were as lively and energetic as ever.
The other fan favorite was William Pappaconstantinou, who goes by Billy Pappas (much to the delight of journalists everywhere). Pappas is one of the few true amateurs among the 2014 November Nine. He is a professional foosball player with 14 world championships and countless other titles. That profession seems apt for Pappas. He likes to play games. He likes to have fun. And it was obvious to anyone watching the final table Pappas was genuinely having fun. He arrived on Monday wearing the same grey hoodie and green Yoshi hat that became his trademark in July, when he first caught the attention of the poker world as he ran deep in the Main Event. And throughout his time at the final table, he never seemed as though the joy of the experience faded. It didn’t matter if he had fewer than 10 big blinds with 8 players left, if he was second or third in chips with five players left, or if he was all in and waiting on a river card to keep him alive—he was always enjoying himself. For everyone watching, Pappas offered a reminder that poker is a game, and anyone who makes a lot of money by playing a game is lucky in life, regardless of how the cards run out.
Here are the final table results:
1st – Martin Jacobson - $10,000,000
2nd – Felix Stephensen - $5,147,911
3rd – Jorryt van Hoof - $3,807,753
4th - William Tonking - $2,849,763
5th - Billy Pappaconstantinou - $2,143,794
6th - Andoni Larrabe - $1,622,471
7th - Dan Sindelar - $1,236,084
8th - Bruno Politano - $947,172
9th - Mark Newhouse - $730,725