Sweden’s Martin Jacobson will forever be known as the Main Event champion, taking down the tournament in 2014 after pulling off one of the most impressive comebacks in the history of the event. As we get further removed from the year in which Jacobson took himself from short stack to champion, it’s easy to forget how a different name was nearly pencilled in as champion.
The player in question is Dutchman Jorryt van Hoof, and today we look back on a hand that turned the tables on him with three players remaining, as he doubled up Felix Stephensen who ultimately became the runner-up.
Jorryt van Hoof emerged as a real contender in 2014 when he knocked out Dan Smith in a coinflip that received a lot of attention with 20 players left in the tournament. After a pre-flop raising war, Van Hoof moved all in with pocket fours, only to be called by Smith’s ace-king. The board ran dry for Smith, vaulting Van Hoof into the chip lead.
In the hours that followed in the lead-up to the November Nine, Van Hoof dominated and bagged up a staggering 38,375,000 chips heading into the three-month hiatus. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Van Hoof continued his dominance by bluffing, value-betting and busting players on his way to the following chip lead. Van Hoof had more than 50% of all the chips with five players remaining, his nearest rival being Billy Pappas with less than a third of his stack.
After doubling up Felix Stephensen a first time, with jacks versus the ace-eight of the Norwegian, a crack started to show in the armor, but Van Hoof closed out strong. When the first night of play ended in the Penn & Teller Theatre, Van Hoof had 89 million chips, Jacobson 64 million and Stephensen 46 million.
Returning on Day 9 of the tournament with the chip lead, Van Hoof was the betting favorite, but a big double up for Stephensen turned things around. On the hand embedded at the top of the page, you can see Van Hoof make a call with just a pair of fives versus Stephensen’s middle pair, and on the following podcast, Van Hoof dives into his reasoning on the hand. The segment about this specific hand starts when you hit the “play” button down below.
“I knew that if I called and he was bluffing, we would’ve been heads-up,” Van Hoof stated as one of his many reasons to make the call when Stephensen shoved, looking for that chance to close out the tournament.
Van Hoof was knocked down into second place, and became the short stack just four hands later when Jacobson applied pressure on the river. The tall and imposing Dutchman lasted only another 20 hands after the hand shown, getting eliminated by Jacobson when he ran his ace-five of diamonds in ace-ten. Van Hoof collected $3.8 million for his third-place finish, but he’ll always be left wondering what life would be like as the Main Event champion and a $10,000,000 result on his poker resume.
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