Name: Pierre Neuville
Hometown: Knokke-heist, Belgium
One of the feel good stories about the 2015 World Series of Poker Championship Event has been the strong run to the “November Nine” by Belgium’s Pierre Neuville, the first person from that nation to make the WSOP Championship Event final table. The 72-year old is in fourth place with his 21.075 million stack while setting records for being the oldest person to ever make the “November Nine” (previous record holder: 57-year old Steven Gee) and, should Neuville win poker World Championship, would become its oldest ever winner (current record holder: Johnny Moss, who was 67 when he won in 1974).
Neuville’s story is an intriguing one as he only took up tournament poker within the last decade. After his family was raised and he was into retirement, Neuville picked up the game by playing online. He qualified for so many European Poker Tour events through PokerStars that he became known as “The Serial PokerStars Qualifier,” with his second career cash coming at the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2008 for $48,000 (his first was at the Belgian Poker Championships in 2007).
Since that time, Neuville has not earned a major tournament championship but he has had a great deal of fun along the way. Neuville has cashed 86 times in his career (the ninth place finish that he has been paid for already with the WSOP Championship Event is his largest ever cash) and has racked up over $3.1 million in career earnings in only eight years. Should Neuville stun the world and win the 2015 WSOP Championship Event, it is thought by many that he would usher in another “bump” for poker’s popularity, much like Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003.
HOW HE GOT HERE
Day 1(A): 79,625
Day 2(A): 357,600
Day 3: 299,000
Day 4: 956,000
Day 5: 7.105 million
Day 6: 6 million
The chip leader on Day 5, Neuville didn’t let that go to his head and instead depended on his slow, deliberate manner to drive to the “November Nine.” That doesn’t mean he wasn’t up for confrontation, however, as a late hand on Day 7 would prove.
After taking some chips from chip leader Joe McKeehen on the previous hand, Neuville would clash with the second oldest player in the tournament, Neil Blumenfield, in a hand that showed Neuville’s mettle. Neuville, in the small blind, called a 1.1 million chip Blumenfield bet to see a rather threatening K♦ K♥ 10♦ flop hit the felt. After both men checked, a 4♦ came on the turn and Neuville fired away with a 1.2 million chip bet. Blumenfield called and, after a 10♥ came on the river, Neuville fired again for 2.3 million. Blumenfield, still sitting on a very healthy 22+ million stack, decided that discretion was the better part of valor as he folded.
What did Neuville have? He showed Blumenfield pocket nines, a hand that more than likely was beaten by Blumenfield. Such moxie as this could prove useful to Neuville as he continues on his funhouse ride towards poker’s greatest championship.