Two consecutive 9th place finishes at the WSOP Main Event good for more than a combined $1.4 million would be a dream come true for many a poker player.
But after beating incredible odds of 42 million to 1 in making the final table two years in a row, Mark Newhouse was aiming for higher than a 9th place finish in 2014. And after making a flush and winning a nice pot just shy of six million, it looked like North Carolina’s all-time leading money winner was well on his way to doing just that.
Unfortunately, those aspirations ended when a bluff with pocket tens on a board that read #2d#4c#jh#4h#jc fell to the pocket queens of William Tonking. And just like that, after four months of waiting for November to roll around to take his seat as a November Niner for the second straight year, Newhouse was sent to the rail and back to his hotel room.
Captured on film
His dejection in not progressing further was revealed in a documentary entitled “Off the Felt” filmed by All In Mag. To his credit, Newhouse stepped in front of the cameras just minutes after busting in an attempt to dutifully give reporters what they wanted.
But his disappointment was obvious, when Newhouse’s answer to a question was, “We don’t …. we don’t need to talk about it anymore.” But talk about it he did, allowing the crew from All In Mag to accompany him up to his Rio hotel room.
“Not gonna be much interesting conversation. Not really in the mood for that,” said Newhouse, after taking a seat in his room with friends nearby. “But happy to have you guys here for the boring finish.”
While it may have been boring for Newhouse, it was anything but for poker fans at home. A gutsy bluff led to his demise, but there was reason to believe shoving all-in may have been effective in grabbing the pot. The board showed two pair and ….
I put him on just about exactly what he had,” Newhouse said, replaying the hand that he would more than likely much rather forget. “Two queens or in that area. So he checks, I decide to turn my hand into a bluff and uh … hope he folds the two queens. There were certainly a lot of hands that I could have to beat him. And I could also have a hand like two tens, two nines, two eights ……”
Newhouse continues explaining his reasoning and the disastrous results. “So, uh, … in his spot, he’s got two queens and I’m either bluffing or I’m not. So he made the right call.”
Overcoming the odds
No player has made the final table two years in a row since Dan Harrington in 2003-04. ‘Action Dan’ finished 3rd and 4th in those years, respectively, and also won the gold bracelet in the WSOP Main Event in 1995.
Of course, fields were much smaller in those days — 273 entries in 1995. A total of 839 players in ’03 when Moneymaker did his thing, followed by 2,506 entries in ’04. Newhouse navigated fields of 6,352 and 6,683 in his 9th place finishes.
Newhouse is certainly no stranger to finishing off the field and winning tournaments. His lifetime earnings of over $3.5 million got a huge jump start in 2006 when he won the $10,000 WPT Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City for more than $1.5 million as a 21-year-old.
Five years later in 2011, Newhouse cashed in the WSOP Main Event for the first time when a 182nd place finish added $47,107 to his career totals. And those totals are mighty impressive despite not improving past 9th place in the ME just three weeks ago.
While the video viewed in its entirety comes off as a bit of a downer considering that Newhouse certainly expected a better finish, much of that feeling comes from his likeability. Even though we know what’s coming before watching, there’s a certain sadness and empathy, as most viewers, even though none have been in the same situation, can seemingly relate to Newhouse’s plight.
Check out the video below and see for yourself. It leaves us rooting for Newhouse to make the November Nine next year…. and get closer to winning it all.