October Nine: Jake Balsiger
July 20, 2012
First there was Peter Eastgate in 2008, who took the title of youngest WSOP Main Event champion away from Phil Hellmuth, who held the record at 24 years old since 1989. Eastgate was just barely 21, but not nearly young enough because the title was swiped from him only a year later by Joe Cada, also 21, but closer to his 21st birthday than Eastgate had been.
Now comes Jake Balsiger, a senior at Arizona State, who may continue the tradition of young gun Main Event winners and take the title from Cada as the youngest WSOP Main Event Champion in the history of poker.
While he is not the shortest stacked player at the 2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table, he is the next best thing, stacked eighth with just over 13 million chips. Born in Portland, Oregon, Balsiger currently resides in Tempe, Arizona. This is his second cash this year, after placing 100th in Event #2 $1500 NLH for a few thousand dollars.
Being so young, Balsiger doesn’t have that many cashes under his belt, and he admits he never expected anything this big. In an interview post-final table determination, he said, “I entered the Main Event expecting to hopefully get some kind of cash. I end up at the final table. Unbelievable.”
He’s been dreaming of entering the WSOP ME since he was 13 when he’d watch it on TV and has been playing since he was 18, though he admits he just got good this year.
Will poker affect his schooling like it does for so many other players? he does admit that he won’t have to worry about money for a long time, “hopefully the rest of my life,” he says. “I guess I can do whatever I want,” he joked with a laugh.
As for his time off, he’s going to probably get a coach, possibly Mike McDonald and play non-stop as well as learn about his opponents.