Heads-Up with WSOP November Niner and Foosball Wizard Billy Pappas

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Holding the sixth largest stack in the World Series of Poker Main Event when play resumes on Monday will be William Pappaconstantinou, better known as Billy Pappas (pictured). The Massachusetts poker player has 17.5 million in chips and told us, “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m quite nervous too. Some people are starting to recognize me. When that stuff happens, it starts to set in.” Special thanks to 888 Poker for setting up our interview.

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On Pappas’ rail at the Rio will be none other than PocketFiver Steve MrSmokey1 Billirakis, whom Pappas has known since he was 10 years old. “His stepdad and mom are two of the best all-time foosball players in their categories,” Pappas said. Who knew?

Back to poker now. When asked what his plan of attack is with a middle-of-the-road chip stack, Pappas told PocketFives, “I’m going to play poker as best I can. I don’t know exactly what I should be doing. I haven’t done much strategy-wise. I was planning on doing more during the WSOP itself and I’ll have people there helping me along.”

One of Pappas’ defining hands to this point occurred on Day 5, when he quadrupled up with 4-4 against A-K, A-J, and J-J. Pappas spiked a four and set himself up for a deep run in poker’s most prestigious tournament. “It was a big boost for my tournament,” Pappas commented. “It was a big momentum change. Up until Day 7, I ran that thing. At the time, I was at 110th place, so it was a huge payday already. I was pretty satisfied. I didn’t want to go out, but I was okay going out in that spot.”

It can be difficult to believe that people can actually make money playing foosball, but that’s exactly what Pappas did. “I started playing foosball (Pappas is pictured without facial hair) because my mom and her boyfriend taught me how to play when I was seven,” he recalled. “We got a table when I was eight and played all the time. I still play. Right after the WSOP, I went to Germany for a foosball tournament. I went to Luxembourg and England during the break as well.”

If you’re trying to hit it big in foosball, one of the keys is passing from your five-bar, or the bar with five players on it, to your three-bar. And, in case you think spinning the bars frantically is the way to go, Pappas said that foosball is actually a pretty slow game when played professionally. Again, who knew?

At the final table, Pappas expects chip leader Jorryt van Hoofto give him the most trouble. “He’s in position and we have played the most together,” Pappas said. “He probably knows me better than he knows anyone else. He is an awesome player too. It’s a horrible combination for me.”

The final prepackaged episodes of the 2014 WSOP will air on ESPN on Sunday night before Monday’s restart on ESPN2. Pappas said he has seen every episode that has aired thus far and noted, “They haven’t shown too much on anyone except for Mark Newhouse (pictured) because his story is amazing, so it’s hard to get too much information from them on anyone else.”

Speaking of Newhouse, the first two-time November Niner has been the talk of the town in our industry, and rightfully so, having barreled through fields of over 6,000 entrants in 2013 and 2014. “It is, by far, the best feat ever in poker,” Pappas said of what Newhouse has accomplished. “I’m a huge Dan Harrington fan too. I think it’s amazing.”

Finally, we wanted to send a shout out to 888 Poker. Pappas will be donning a badge from the site during the November Nine and said, “They seemed interested in sponsoring me and I was interested as well. We have been talking for a while. Thank you to 888 for helping me with this great opportunity since this opportunity probably won’t happen again, unless you’re Mark Newhouse.”

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