Meet The WSOP November Nine

Meet The WSOP November Nine

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Battle resumes tonight.

After a four month hiatus, the World Series of Poker Main Event action resumes today. With millions on the line it's time to reacquaint ourselves with the November Nine. Who are these nine people, and what claim do they have to win the biggest tournament in the world?

Bluff Europe gets up close and personal with the 2014 November Nine.

NN Pappaconstantinou

Seat 1:
Name: Billy Pappaconstantinou

Age: 29
From: Greece
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $104,635
Chips: 17,500,000 (6/9)

Sat in Seat 1, Billy Pappaconstantinou is testament to the sheer randomness that can sometimes occur in the Main Event. Working as a poker dealer in his daily life, this is the first WSOP event that Billy has ever played, having been persuaded into it by a friend (who stumped up his buy-in). “I'm not a poker player, to be honest,” he said frankly to the press, after admitting he had no idea who any of the other players are. That's not to say he's a total novice, however – he has a flurry of small to medium tournament cashes, with a career best of 5th in a WSOP Circuit tournament for $52k.

Arguably he is in one of the worst positions coming to the table; starting play 6th in chips, it might be in his best interests to wait for some other short stacks to bust before doing anything risky. Unfortunately for him, it's unlikely he'll be able to steal many easy blinds from the button to keep himself afloat, given that both of the two big stacks are to his direct left. In addition to this, Billy doesn't plan to hire a coach, or even research his opponents, claiming he'd rather not know “how much better than me they are”. Bizarrely enough, Billy is also a big name in the competitive foosball world, where he has won nine world titles since turning pro at the tender age of 12. We don't reckon the odds are very good for Billy to triumph here, but then this is poker, and stranger things have definitely happened, so who knows.

NN Stephensen

Seat 2:
Name: Felix Stephensen

Age: 23
From: Norway
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $22,118
Chips: 32,775,000 (2/9)

At first glance, Norwegian player Felix Stephensen might be mistaken for a fairly uninitiated player, with just two live tournament cashes to his name. However, he is actually a successful online pro (playing under the name 'FallAtyourFeet') who makes a living by frequenting the $25/$50 PLO tables online.

Second in chips, he starts in a strong position, although he'll have to watch out for van Hoof on his left. He is fairly well-known in the online community, counting fellow Norwegian pro Ola “no_Ola” Amundsgard among his close friends, so he should have plenty of people clamouring to help him train. Having said that, his relative inexperience in the live arena may trip him up – playing with the world watching you is a lot different to playing sat at home in your pyjamas. If he keeps his cool, though, he could have a decent chance at glory.

NN Van Hoof

Seat 3:
Name: Jorryt van Hoof

Age: 31
From: Netherlands
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $358,580
Chips: 38,375,000 (1/9)

Chip leader Jorryt van Hoof's live career earnings might not match those of Newhouse or Jacobson, but he's certainly no slouch – in fact, he's one of the most experienced players still remaining. Van Hoof has been in the poker industry for years, having been a Red Pro at Full Tilt Poker before breaking away to create, his own poker training site for players in the Netherlands. Playing under the name 'TheCleaner11', he even makes some of his training videos himself; despite these being mostly focused on 6-max PLO cash games rather than tournaments, they are sure to be studied closely by his opponents.

Van Hoof has a significant chip lead over the table, giving him a lot of room to manoeuvre. One brainy bod even calculated that if the nine chopped the prize pool according to ICM, he would get $4.3 million outright. He brings a lot of skills to the table, and could be rewarded handsomely if he plays his big stack with the proper aggression. However, historically only one person who's held the chip lead going into the final table has gone on to win it (Joe Cada in 2009), so it's all but certain as to whether he'll have what it takes to stay on top.

NN Newhouse

Seat 4:
Name: Mark Newhouse

Age: 29
From: United States
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $2,776,172
Chips: 26,000,000 (3/9)

Mark Newhouse is perhaps the most interesting player at the final table, given that, unbelievably enough, he has now made back-to-back Main Event final tables. In 2013, he crashed out in 9th for $733,224; though disappointing, it was rumoured that this was a miraculous escape from being up to his ears in makeup. This year, he tweeted saying “Just bought into the main event day 1c. Not fucking finishing 9th again”, and he might well be right – amazingly enough, he will now get a second crack of the whip.

This year, Mark has a solid start, going in 3rd in chips. He also has van Hoof and Stephensen on his right, giving him a solid positional advantage against the two monster stacks. Lightning has already struck twice to get him this far two years in a row, and if the planets continue to align in his favour then he could have a strong shot at finishing the job he fell short of last year.

NN Larrabe

Seat 5:
Name: Andoni Larrabe

Age: 22
From: Spain
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $341,266
Chips: 22,550,000 (4/9)

Spaniard Andoni Larrabe may be the table's youngest player at 22, but his youth does not equal inexperience. On the contrary, his career earnings are on par with or even surpass a few fellow November Niners who are almost a decade his senior. Larrabe's big break first came in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure's $5,000 side event, in which he defeated Justin Bonomo heads up to take the trophy and $218,710.

His journey to the final table wasn't a smooth one – indeed, it looked for a while as if he was circling the drain as the short stack in the final 10. Fortunately, he found a good time to wake up to Aces, doubling up through eventual November Nine bubble boy Luis Velador, and now sits comfortably 4th in chips. Although his previous achievements suggest he definitely knows what he's doing, Larrabe has swerved the media the most out of the nine, making him something of an unknown quantity – but definitely one to keep an eye on.

NN Tonking

Seat 6:
Name: William Tonking

Age: 27
From: United States
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $93,306
Chips: 15,050,000 (7/9)

William Tonking may be among the short stacks of the final table, but he's already guaranteed what is by far his biggest cash (his current largest score is from a Sands Bethlehem Deepstack event, where he placed 5th for $28,000). One of the four Yanks on the table, Tonking is familiar with the WSOP, with a few small cashes under his belt from previous years. However, he claims to be more of a cash game player than anything else, and seems less confident in his tournament abilities. Finally, Tonking has commented more than once that he wasn't looking for fame, so whether the flashbulbs and media circus will affect him playing his A-game remains to be seen.

NN Sindelar

Seat 7:
Name: Daniel Sindelar

Age: 30
From: United States
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $335,962
Chips: 21,200,000 (5/9)

Square in the middle of the chip counts sits Daniel Sindelar, a professional player hailing from Nebraska. His poker CV boasts a score of WSOP cashes over the years, but he's never yet made a final table – until now, that is. Sindelar has plenty of experience both online, where he plays as 'dsindy' or 'sindy2', and live, where he has an ample list of tournament results (with a career best score of $105,312 after winning the $1,000 Fall Poker Classic in 2007).

Coming up to the final table, Sindelar told the press how he rejoiced at having positional advantage over Martin Jacobson, who he considered to be a formidable opponent. He might be less pleased to see that the tables have now turned when it comes to the final table seat draw, since Jacobson is set to be on his left. Currently, Sindelar is neither a favourite nor an underdog to win: he's certainly no amateur, but will have to pick up some lucky spots in order to grow his middle-of-the-pack stack into something more fearsome. One thing in his favour is that he has a sizeable, and raucous, rail – and look what that did for 'Riess the Beast' last year.

NN Jacobson

Seat 8:
Name: Martin Jacobson

Age: 27
From: Sweden
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $4,807,316
Chips: 14,900,000 (8/9)

Jacobson is by far the most successful player in terms of career earnings out of the nine. He is a big face on the European circuit, having had more EPT cashes than we've had hot dinners, including a runner up finish in EPT Deauville 2011 for €560,000. He also final tabled last year's One Drop High Roller event, netting him $807,427. Although he has the second shortest stack on the table, if there's anyone who can turn it round, it's Jacobson – he is the pro's favourite, and almost certainly the best all-round player left. He also has plenty of experience in playing final tables for big money, meaning he's likely to be cool and collected playing under the spotlight.

NN Politano

Seat 9:
Name: Bruno Politano

Age: 30
From: United States
Pre 2014 Main-Event Career Earnings: $335,962
Chips: 21,200,000 (5/9)

Finally, in Seat 9 is Bruno Politano, who is another player to make history – this time as the first ever Brazilian to make the November Nine. Finishing 3rd or higher would catapult Politano to the top of Brazil's all-time money list, and the vast majority of his tournament cashes have been on home turf, with his biggest score being a 3rd place worth $47k in the 2013 Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event. He's also got a wealth of experience online under the moniker 'Foster18', with over $300k in profits.

Politano has been involved in poker for over a decade, but is not a professional player, simply commenting that it is only a nice supplemental income for him. Although he is the shortest stack, it's not by much – he only needs three million to shoot up two places in the chip counts, giving him a decent chance if he manages to come off well in any early tussles.

The Final Table will be broadcast on ESPN, starting on the 10th November.

Tags: WSOP November Nine, Billy Pappaconstantinou, Felix Stephensen, Jorryt van Hoof, Mark Newhouse, Andoni Larrabe, William Tonking, Daniel Sindelar, Martin Jacobson, Bruno Politano