By Steve Beauregard
It may be a poker world dominated by brash-talking, anti-social internet poker whiz kids, but a genial, likeable, down-to-earth Swede has recently become its king. I’m of course, talking about Martin Jacobson of Sweden, the winner of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event.
Martin Jacobson’s Background
Martin, who became the Main Event champion at age 27, grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. He aspired to become a chef, and attended cooking school, which further enhanced his passion for food.
After a year of military service, Jacobson obtained a cooking job and started playing online poker in his free time. He told the Bernard Lee Poker Show that he mainly stuck with sit-n-gos.
Using $200 out of his small bankroll, he entered the PokerStars Steps Tournament, where he ended up finishing second. (First place gets a WSOP Main Event package, including travel expenses).
But second place gives you another shot at winning the package, which is what Martin did on this second attempt. This win, however, created a dilemma for a twenty-year old Stockholm cook with a meager bankroll: take the eye-opening $12,000 cash option? Or instead, hop on a plane for a trip halfway around the world and play poker against the greatest players in the world?
After consulting with what has to be the world’s coolest mom, Martin chose to head to Las Vegas. There he met new friends, turned 21 in what is probably the best city in the world in which to turn 21, and continued this magical run by taking his seat in the Rio for the 2008 Main Event where he….
Busted out on the third hand.
Martin flew back to Stockholm and resumed his budding culinary career, while continuing to grind online.
— Martin Jacobson (@Martin_Jacobson) February 26, 2016
Martin Jacobson’s Professional Poker Career
His big breakthrough came shortly after the series, when he finished second in the famous and popular PokerStars Sunday Million tournament. His payday was around $100,000 and allowed Jacobson to buy into a higher “step” in the steps tournament for an EPT (European Poker Tour) London event. He won it of course, but failed to cash in London.
Yet his experiences in Las Vegas and London inspired Martin to try to qualify for more big time tournaments. Entering an $800 buy-in Steps qualifier, Martin outlasted the other 43 players to win his way to the EPT Budapest.
In Budapest, Martin made his first final table, and his third place finish was good for $247,000. He was on his way, after an incredible five month period that saw him go from a cook, to winning $100K online and entering into three major, big-time poker tournaments – cashing in one for a quarter of a million dollars.
His run good would continue.
Seven months after that breakout live performance in Budapest, Martin would finish second in the WPT Venice tournament (May of 2009), collecting $319,000 in the process.
A month after that, Martin would make up for his early WSOP Main Event exit the previous year by making his first final table: an 8th place in a $1,500 No-Limit event, good for $65,000.
The next year, he once again final tabled a $1,500 NL WSOP event, this time finishing 4th for $183,345.
The next ten months were incredible for Martin, as he established himself as a player who could make a lot of money and final tables, but who could not “close the deal.”
In those ten months, he finished:
2nd at the EPT Vilamoura ($378K payday)
2nd at the EPT Deauville ($762K)
4th at the EPT Berlin ($327K)
In 2013, back in Las Vegas, he final tabled the WSOP’s One Drop (the mini version), with a buy-in of $111,111. His 6th place finish was good for $807,427.
Despite more success, including back-to-back final tables in high roller events down at the Aussie Millions, in which he won $563,000 combined in the two tournaments, Martin had never really won a major, noteworthy poker tournament.
That would change.
Martin Jacobson and the WSOP Main Event
Jacobson’s WSOP run was about as smooth as one could want.
He finished Day 1A as chip leader, with roughly 500 big blinds. To my knowledge, Ben Lamb and Joe Cada are the only other day one chip leaders to make the November Nine.
Martin tells Bernard Lee that he ended every day of the tournament in the top 30 in chips, and that he did not have a losing level until day 5 of the tournament. He also says he never was all-in for his tournament life.
He entered the 2014 WSOP final table with 14.9 million in chips, which put him in 8th place. He became the first November Niner to go from 8th place to first. At one point, he was the short stack at the table – down to just 8 big blinds.
After his winning hand against Felix Stephensen concluded, Martin told reporters that the bracelet means more than the money to him, and that he was ready to be a good ambassador for poker.
His first place winnings totatled $10 million. He is now 8th in all time earnings at the World Series of Poker.
Random Martin Jacobson Tidbits
* His career tournament earnings are now $15,197,709.
* Martin qualified for his first WSOP Main Event in an online satellite when he was just twenty years old. He turned 21 two days before the tournament started.
* He considers himself a tournament specialist, and has never played much in cash games.
* Martin ranks number 1 on the list of all-time leading poker tournament money winners from Sweden.
* He became the first player from Sweden to make the November Nine. (Another Swede, Erik Friberg made the final table of the Main Event, however that took place in 2006, before the creation of the November Nine).
* He has 23 WSOP cashes, and $11,251,000 in World Series of Poker winnings.
* Prior to his championship win, Martin had never made it to the Day 2 dinner break at the WSOP Main Event.
* Because of Sweden’s outrageously high tax rate on poker winnings (the country considers poker winnings the same as gambling and lottery winnings and does not allow residents to deduct losses), Martin claims London, England as his residence. The fact his girlfriend got accepted into a university there also influenced his decision to move to the U.K.
* In his spare time, Martin enjoys discovering (what else) fine cuisine at restaurants near his London home. He also enjoys watching MMA (mixed martial arts) and tennis – betting on both sports as well.
Martin Jacobson’s official website can be found at: http://martinjacobson.pro
He Tweets at his Twitter handle: @martin_jacobson