The 2014 WSOP Main Event featured some interesting history on the European side. First off, Martin Jacobson became the first Swedish player to win the tournament, collecting a $10 million payout in the process. And with Jacobson, Norway’s Felix Stephensen (2nd) and Netherlands’ Jorryt van Hoof (3rd) taking the top three spots, this is the first time in WSOP history that Europeans have gone 1-2-3. But is this just a rarity, or something that we can expect to see more of?
There were pretty good odds that a European champion would emerge because van Hoof and Stephensen came on to the final table with the first and second-most chips respectively. However, for the Europeans to sweep the top three spots – with four Americans on the final table – is a new landmark in the game. And according to Aaron Todd of CasinoCityTimes, we can likely expect more of this moving forward.
Todd’s argument stems from the fact that much of Europe has easier access to online poker. After all, multiple nations throughout the continent have taken steps to regulate the online game. Meanwhile, the United States has seen less and less regulation, thanks to the 2006 UIGEA and Black Friday (2011). The latter was especially a big blow because it took away Americans’ access to the biggest sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Taking everything into account, it would seem like Europe has a big edge moving forward in the WSOP. “Maybe Europeans have a small advantage because online poker is still widely available,” van Hoof explained. “I guess that makes us able to practice more, so I hope America gets (online) poker back soon, so they’ll get to practice more as well.”
“I don’t want to be mean to all the Americans,” said Stephensen. “But I definitely feel like Europeans are stronger right now. You get in a lot of volume, and when you play online, it’s usually against tougher opponents than you play against (in live games). I think that has a big impact on why it’s evolving this way.”
If one isn’t convinced online poker availability could be increasing the Europeans’ presence at the Main Event final table, then consider the following stats that Todd provided:
In the last four years, 33.3 percent of the final table players have been European, 55.5 percent have been American and 8.3 percent have come from outside of America and Europe. In the previous eight years, 73.6 percent of the final table players have been American, 16.7 percent were European and 9.7 percent were from other areas.