Martin Jacobson Remembers His Fateful First World Series of Poker

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Martin Jacobson looks back on his very first trip to the World Series of Poker.

It jumps off his poker resume: Martin Jacobson, 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, $10,000,000.

Another $10,000,000 WSOP Main Event champion will be crowned Tuesday night. For fans watching from home the poker dream of being a champion, like Jacobson, has never been stronger.

For anyone who ever takes down the title, it would be the pinnacle of a poker career.

But like everyone who has ever stepped into the Rio during the summer series, Jacobson also has stirring memories of the first time he ever took his shot in the WSOP.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment,” Jacobson said. “Thousands of people gathered in a room, all with the same goal in mind. All you can hear is the sound of people riffling ceramic poker chips. I get a slight flashback every year I enter the tournament rooms at the Rio for the first event.”

Jacobson has made the trip to Las Vegas every year since 2008 and he has put up results in every trip since 2009. He has cashed a total of 33 times during the summer with $12,134,816 in total earnings. All of those tournaments, all of those results started over 10 years ago when Jacobson decided to take a shot in the Main Event after winning a package online.

“My very first WSOP I had qualified online only weeks before the tournament, so it was a bit of a dilemma whether I was going to go to Las Vegas and play the event or pocket the $12,000 – which at the time equaled a year’s worth of salary,” Jacobson recalled. “Perhaps the latter would have been the more financially sound thing to do but, hey, you only live once and my dream as a 20-year-old was obviously to go to Vegas and see what that was all about.”

He took the leap, decided not to take the cash out and hopped a plane to Sin City. He was put up at the Palms Place, across the street from the Rio.

“It was by far the fanciest hotel I’d ever stayed at and I was blown away by the experience.”

Speaking of experience, at the time Jacobson was primarily an online grinder. Having won his seat online, he admits at the time he wasn’t experienced when it came to live poker and the future champ was ready to learn a thing or two.

“Apart from a few home games I actually had no live experience at all. The Main Event in 2008 was my first real live tournament,” Jacobson said. “To say I was nervous would be an epic understatement.

“Luckily, as I sat down I realized that my eight opponents appeared to be just as nervous as I was. It calmed me a bit as, in my mind, I probably expected to be seated with a bunch of experienced and intimidating pros. My lack of experience came into play when I overplayed the third nuts and got eliminated on the third hand of the nine-day long tournament.”

That’s right. In 2008, Martin Jacobson, the future WSOP champion exited the Amazon room on the third hand of the Main Event.

“My initial dream of being the youngest ever champion turned into a reality of most likely being the first player to exit the event.”

“A year later I would return to Las Vegas, having quit my job and self-funded by my poker winnings, to play a four-week long schedule.”

Even though Jacobson’s first WSOP didn’t go nearly as he planned, the experience led him to believe that the WSOP is the “pinnacle of poker tournaments” and he couldn’t recommend the trip more.

“Seriously, if you’re a fan of poker and never been to Vegas you don’t know what you are missing out on. You can qualify for a WSOP Main Event package online on 888poker every Sunday for $1,050 but you can also play sub satellites for a little as one cent. That’s how I did it back in the day, I won an $82 tournament to get into the $2,100 which led me to me winning the package.”

Martin took a shot. While it didn’t pay off in 2008, everyone knows how it ended up for him. His advice to first-timers playing in the Main Event is something he took with him on that third hand in his first Main Event.

“Don’t be afraid to risk it all. As long as it’s calculated risk and you have a main goal and a reason behind every decision.”