2014 WSOP November Nine: Foosball Champ William Pappaconstantinou Sets Sights on Poker
"I'm in shock. 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." — William Pappaconstantinou.
Born September 28, 1984, William Pappaconstantinou, also known as "Billy Pappas," is one of the best players in the world — foosball players that is. In fact, the 29-year-old has been playing table soccer since 2003, and since then he has won numerous titles including seven world championships. Now, the man from Lowell, Massachusetts has the opportunity to become a world champion in poker as a part of the 2014 World Series of Poker November Nine.
“Foosball is such a freaky thing. If you play foosball and learn a little bit, you’re hooked,” Pappaconstantinou explained of his foosball origins. “My parents played, and my mom still plays. It’s a cool connection, me and my mom are super close.
The son of a professional golfer, Pappaconstantinou supported his foosball dreams by taking several jobs, one of which was as a poker dealer at the Rockingham Park Poker Room in Salem, New Hampshire. Foosball may have been his passion, but poker soon became a relaxing hobby.
According to Hendon Mob, Pappaconstantinou’s began his career with two small live tournament cashes. The first was a 69th-place finish in a $350 no-limit hold’em event at the 2010 World Poker Finals at Foxwoods for $1,038, and the other came a week later when he took eighth in a $440 no-limit hold’em event at the same stop, a performance that earned him $15,342.
Since then, he has added several other cashes to his poker résumé including a fifth-place finish in a $580 no-limit hold’em re-entry event at the 2013 WSOP Circuit Palm Beach Kennel Club for $52,372, his largest cash prior to making the 2014 WSOP Main Event final table.
Pappaconstantinou’s road to the November Nine began on Day 1b where he more than doubled his starting stack to 68,775, which put him in 253rd place out of the advancing 1,428 players. On Day 2, he worked that up to 104,900, putting him 774th out of 1,864 players. The Day 3 records for Pappaconstantinou were not recorded by the WSOP, but they do know on Day 4 he finished with 757,000 (97 or 291).
On Day 5, Pappaconstantinou bagged up 3.37 million, which put him 24th out of the final 79 players. It was also on that day that Pappaconstantinou won a crucial hand.
It happened in Level 24 (15,000/30,000/5,000) when Pappaconstantinou moved all in under the gun for 425,000 and Darlene Lee called off for 280,000 from middle position. Nicholas Nardello then called from the cutoff only to have Justin Swilling move all in over the top for 775,000 from the small blind. Nardello ended up making the call and a huge crowd gathered round to see what inspired such action.
Shouts for various cards began to emerge from the respective supporters on the rail. Nardello not only had everyone covered, he also had the best hand. That changed though when the flop delivered Pappaconstantinou a set of fours. The turn gave both Nardello and Lee an open-ended straight draw, while Swilling was still competing for the side pot with his overs. The dealer burned one last time and put out the on the river, which changed nothing. Lee and Swilling were eliminated in 113th and 112th place respectively, both for $52,141, while Pappaconstantinou took down the sizable main pot.
From there, Pappaconstantinou went on to finish Day 6 with 15.64 million, putting him fourth in chips among the final 27. By the time he made the November Nine, Pappaconstantinou sat sixth in chips with 17.5 million.
"I'm in shock,” Pappaconstantinou told ESPN’s Andrew Feldman after making the November Nine. “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."
The only true amateur at the table, Pappaconstantinou said that he plans to spend his downtime relaxing with friends, seek some coaching from his old friend Steve Billirakis, and all the while competing on the professional foosball tour. In fact, he recently traveled to Germany where he won yet another foosball title:
For more on Pappaconstantinou, check out the video interview he did with PokerNews’ Sarah Grant after making the November Nine: