The 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event was back in action on Monday from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The final nine players — appropriately named the November Nine — returned to action with Jorryt van Hoof in the lead. The plan was to play down until the final three competitors were reached, and that's just what happened in what was a remarkable day of poker.
Coming into the final table, all eyes were on Mark Newhouse — the man who had successfully reached the final table of the Main Event in back-to-back years. Newhouse finished in ninth place last year, and he had high hopes of finishing much higher this time around given that he entered third in chips with a very healthy stack. Unfortunately for him, fate would have it another way.
Several hours and countless orbits around the table went by without an elimination. In fact, this year proved to be the longest time since the inception of the November Nine that play went without an all in and call. But then, on Hand #56, that all changed.
Newhouse had a rough go of it to start the day, and his stack dwindled. After van Hoof opened the pot with a raise to 1.1 million from the hijack seat, Newhouse called from the cutoff seat, and William Tonking reraised to 3.75 million from the small blind. Van Hoof got out of the way, but Newhouse made the call to see a flop of . Tonking bet 3.5 million, and Newhouse called to see the pair the board on the turn. Tonking checked, Newhouse bet 4.5 million, and Tonking called. Then, the added a second pair to the board on the river. After Tonking checked, Newhouse moved all in for 10.2 million. After about a minute of deliberating, Tonking announced a call and Newhouse flipped over the . Tonking showed a better , and he would send Newhouse to the rail in shocking fashion. Just like that, Newhouse had once again finished in ninth place, this time taking home $730,725, and Tonking vaulted to the chip lead.
Almost just as many hands would be played before the next elimination came about. Brazil's Bruno Politano had a loud and heavy group of supporters, but even they couldn't will him to a victory that would've saved his tournament life on Hand #100.
Politano raised all in from the button for 8.1 million, and Felix Stephensen called from the big blind with the . Politano had he and couldn't connect on the board, earning $947,077 for the eighth-place finish.
Shortly thereafter, on Hand #106, Dan Sindelar was eliminated at the hands of van Hoof, but it wasn't without some drama.
After a raise from Stephensen and a three-bet from van Hoof, Sindelar four-bet jammed. Stephensen folded, but van Hoof ended up making the call with the . Sindelar had the to be in front, but the poker gods had other things in mind. The flop gave van Hoof the lead, and that was followed by the on the turn and the on the river. With that, Sindelar was out the door with a $1,235,862 payday, and the field was down to six.
Although the eliminations of Politano and Sindelar came close to one another, it took a bit of time before the sixth-place finisher was realized. That player proved to be Spain's Andoni Larrabe when his failed to come from behind against the for van Hoof. Larrabe earned $1,622,080 after falling to the rail on Hand #140.
On Hand #209, Billy Pappas — the only true amateur remaining — hit the rail. Like Larrabe, Pappas was done in by van Hoof after getting cropped the hand before by Martin Jacobson. In his final hand, Pappas' couldn't muster a victory against van Hoof's , and he was out the door in fifth place for $2,143,174.
With four players left, everyone knew the day's end was just around the corner, but that didn't mean the end was going to come easy. The final four battled for a handful more hands, exchanging several blows as the chip stacks moved up and down. All the while, though, van Hoof stayed out in front and kept the other three players at bay.
Then, on Hand #224, the man from New Jersey, Tonking, was eliminated by Jacobson when his couldn't find anything on the board against the . Tonking flopped the only flush draw, turned a straight draw, but still couldn't hit. He was gone in fourth place for $2,848,833, and everyone thought the day might be over.
It was decided that the final three players — van Hoof, Jacobson, and Stephensen — would play until the end of the current level, which they did. Another 20 hands were played out into the early hours of the morning, but there weren't any massive clashes. When the dust settled at the end of Level 39, van Hoof was still the tallest man standing with his stack of 89.625 million. Jacobson finished in second with 64.75 million, and then Stephensen brought up the rear with 46.1 million.
Van Hoof will be the favourite for Tuesday, but this one is still anyone's game. The Dutchman may have the chip lead by almost 25 million, but all three players are skilled, they've got plenty of manoeuvrability in their stacks, and the structure is friendly for them. That means Tuesday will likely be a long, skilful affair with lots of very interesting poker hands being played out, but it's certainly a day you do not want to miss.
Be sure to join us right back here at PokerNews for the finale of the most prestigious tournament in all of poker. Tuesday will see the winner of the 2014 WSOP Main Event crowned and that player will walk away with $10 million in first-place prize money. The cards are scheduled to be in the air at 5:30 p.m. PT, and we'll see you then.