It happened in the early hours of this morning, or the late hours of last night, or sometime around lunch depending on where in the world you were watching when Martin Jacobson won the WSOP Main Event. For the entire poker world was tuned into the final stages where, despite what were once overwhelming odds, Jacobson triumphed with a performance that will be remembered for generations, and using nothing more than a pair of tens turned his string of near misses into ancient history.
It may have surprised some watching on television, or in the Rio Hotel itself, that this young Swede had turned a short stack into ten million dollars, but not so much to those who follow the European Poker Tour. Even as the stacks surrounded him cast shadows on his own, they suspected that Jacobson was hardly the type of player to settle for whatever the poker Gods had intended to come his way. Indeed he didn’t, and there was something marvelous about that as the sun came up this morning.
First he outlasted others, each of whom may have thought they were guaranteed a bigger payday once Jacobson’s luck ran out. Then a crucial hand, a double up, that seemed to catapult him into a higher orbit and into a trajectory headed directly towards the final day and three-handed play.
And so it goes that Jacobson is the newest WSOP champion.
It’s the new high point of a career that began back in 2008 when Jacobson reached his first final table at EPT Budapest. There he would finish in third place, turning heads as a young Swede on the cusp of that feared generation of Scandinavian players.
What followed was that famous string of near misses, a perennial bridesmaid as EPT Live commentator James Hartigan put it with a runner-up finish at WPT Venice in 2009; a fourth place in a WSOP event in 2010; another second place finish at EPT Vilamoura that same year, and the same again at EPT Deauville less than six months later. By this point Jacobson could perhaps have been forgiven for thinking that titles and trophies would remain forever out of reach, perhaps even as he reached the November Nine, with the difficult and usually short-lived task of playing the second short-stack waiting for him.
But then Jacobson has never been about sitting back at the poker table. If anything the near misses proved that. Never once has he been seem to lose that steely composure that is often the unravelling of a player. Al Alvarez once said that when you let your ego into the game you’re done for. Well, Jacobson appears to remain oblivious to ego.
He now enters a new phase of his career, one of adulation and spent telling his story again and again. He’ll now know the first question of every interview he does for the rest of his life. But then you wonder if any WSOP Main Event ever cared about having such a problem.
And while his win takes him to the pinnacle of the game there is a guilty pleasure for the rest of us, particularly those who a work on the European Poker Tour, knowing we’ll be watching him play again close up before long. In that regard it’s a win for anyone who follows the tour.
It’s there we hope he seeks out that other title, the one that he has come so close to winning but which has proved so elusive. At least now he knows there is no phantom barrier preventing him from achieving it, nothing to stop him achieving continued success. The rather conspicuous “1st” on his resume, followed by all of those zeroes, serve as the incontrovertible proof.
Poker has its newest WSOP Champion in Martin Jacobson. The sun is shining, and all feels well in the world.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.