Jacobson shows consistency during run to WSOP title

13 November 2014

LAS VEGAS -- The first question Martin Jacobson was asked by the media was on the subject of perfection. And the Swedish poker pro quickly dismissed the notion.

“I don’t think there’s such thing as a perfect tournament,” Jacobson said.

Maybe not, but Jacobson sure came close.

Jacobson won the World Series of Poker Main Event on Tuesday night, defeating fellow professional Felix Stephensen at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Penn & Teller Theater. And he showed remarkable consistency during his run to the bracelet.

Jacobson was the chip leader after Day 1A in July. Joe Cada in 2009 is the only other first-day leader to win the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship — and was never lower than 29th on the leaderboard. Jacobson also was the leader after Day 6 of the tournament, and his play Monday and Tuesday at the final table drew universal praise from the poker community.

“I had a really good feeling all the way through,” Jacobson said Tuesday night. “After Day 1, finishing as overall chip leader was amazing. I got really good momentum from that start, and I was just kind of riding that momentum all the way through to the final table.”

Jacobson, 27, is the oldest player to win the Main Event since the “November Nine” format was implemented in 2008. The London resident originally from Stockholm made $10 million for his victory as the WSOP celebrated its 10th year at the Rio.

And, coincidentally, Jacobson was holding pocket 10s on the final hand against Stephensen.

Jacobson had nearly $5 million in career live-tournament earnings entering the Main Event but did not own any major titles. He said continually falling short started to weigh on him, and he almost quit playing poker to open a restaurant that served healthy fast food.

“If I can be honest, I feel like I’ve been a bit lazy the last few years,” Jacobson said. “I haven’t worked too much on my game. The future in poker has been so unreliable, and I really didn’t know how much longer I was going to play. So that kind of lost my motivation a little bit.

“But once I made the final table, I got that motivation and the urge back. I’ve really been dedicating a lot of time to get better and prepare myself for this day.”

Jacobson entered the final table Monday in eighth place, and he dipped down to 6.375 million chips with five players remaining early Tuesday. But he worked his way back up, crippling fifth-place finisher William Pappaconstantinou before eliminating William Tonking in fourth.

“I felt confident all the way, even when I was that short,” Jacobson said. “It’s a weird thing. I was never in doubt, never worried. I just felt like this was meant to be.”

Jacobson entered three-handed play in second place behind Jorryt Van Hoof. Jacobson seized the lead from the Dutchman after 20 hands Tuesday and had nearly a 3-to-1 chip advantage against Stephensen when heads-up play started. Their hourlong duel lasted 35 hands and ended when Jacobson flopped a set of 10s against Stephensen’s ace-9.

Stephensen, a 24-year-old London resident by way of Oslo, Norway, made $5,147,911 for second place.

“I feel I played pretty good, but the cards didn’t fall my way,” Stephensen said. “He was obviously playing very good. I felt like the three of us that made it to (Tuesday) played pretty good overall. It was a really tough table. He picked up some cards in some good spots, and he played awesome as well.”

Jacobson, the first Swedish-born champion and only the sixth European to win the Main Event, said he hasn’t thought about what he will do with the money, which is the second-largest prize in WSOP history.

“I told myself before once I made the final table that I was just going to prepare for this day,” Jacobson said, “not focus on what’s next after this, just re-evaluate after this day and see what happens.”

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