WSOP Main Event chip leader Jorryt Van Hoof

Favorite Jorryt van Hoof will go into the WSOP Final Table finale as chip leader tonight, as three players battle for a $10 million first prize. (Image: Neil Stoddart/

The World Series of Poker final table is down to three players, with Dutchman Jorryt van Hoof finishing yesterday’s play as he began, with the chip lead and bossing the table around.

And despite Phil Hellmuth’s once disparaging remark about “Northern European idiots,” three players hailing from the upper part of that very continental landmass have bagged themselves gold, silver and bronze in this race, with the last great American hope, Will Tonking from New Jersey, bowing out gracefully in fourth.

Joining van Hoof tonight to play for the biggest title in poker will be Sweden’s Martin Jacobson, who has 64.75 million in chips, and Norway’s Felix Stephensen, with 46.1 million. Van Hoof, meanwhile, has a by-no-means insurmountable chip lead of 89.6 million. Tonight, the players will compete for a top prize of $10 million and the title of World Champion.

Déjà vu

November Nine play started off cagily, as you might expect for a tournament with millions of dollars at stake in which some of the pay jumps could buy you a house or two. In fact, it took 12 hours to whittle nine down to three. The first elimination, when it came, was extraordinary, in that it was Mark Newhouse, the guy who finished ninth last year. Someone figured out that the odds of Newhouse making back-to-back final tables was 524,558-1, so the odds of him finishing ninth twice must be off the chart.

It had to have been particularly galling for Newhouse, because he started the final table third in chips and a respectable 65 big blinds. However, if it’s any consolation, some may think that coming in ninth twice is a tad more impressive than winning the whole thing once, albeit slightly less lucrative. Newhouse picked up $ 730,725, for his incredible ninth place finish, two and a half grand less than he won last year.

Fooseball Champion

One of the most entertaining performances of the night was that of Billy Pappas, a celebrated fooseball champion from Massachusetts, who began the table as one of the short stacks, then became the actual shortstack, before doubling through twice to suddenly find himself second in chips.

We all love a rags-to-riches story, but alas is was not to be for Pappas, whose run came to an end when he ran his A-J head on into Martin Jacobson’s pocket fives. A five on the flop crippled Pappas and he was out next hand in fifth, picking up a handsome $2,143,794 for his wild ride.

Van Hoof Still Favorite

Van Hoof will certainly be the favorite going into tonight’s finale, as he has a commanding chip lead, along with a vast amount of tournament experience. However, there’s plenty of play left in those chips. Lying in second, Jacobson is a good bet, too; a hugely consistent tournament player, he has $4.8 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, topping the Swedish money list. Few players have made more EPT final tables than Jacobson, yet that major first-place finish still eludes him. Could this be his year?

And the wild card could be online player Felix Stephensen, who decided to enter the Main Event with his winnings after betting that Holland would beat Australia exactly 3-2 in the World Cup. Stephensen has already parlayed that $1,000 bet into at least $3.8 million, the minimum each player will win tonight.