Chapel Hill’s Newhouse seeks third World Series of Poker final table

When Mark Newhouse made back-to-back final tables at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event last year, an MIT Ph.D student estimated the odds of such an occurrence at one in 5 million.

“It’s beyond remarkable that he’s even here,” said ESPN analyst Norman Chad prior to last year’s final table.

After all, Newhouse had to beat more than 12,000 players in the space of two years to accomplish his feat. But there was more to the story – in both 2013 and 2014 Newhouse walked away from the Rio Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas with a ninth place finish as the first player eliminated.

His devastating elimination in last year’s event took only 56 hands, the last of which he lost to William Tonking after going all in with a bet of 10 million chips on a pair of 10s. Tonking revealed two queens and Newhouse made an early exit.

“I’m still not happy with it, but I think I got over it fairly quickly,” said Newhouse from his Los Angeles apartment, just days prior to the July 5 start of this year’s Main Event. “I feel like I’d be happy to finish ninth again.”

After a brief pause, he added, “Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I made it back.”

The Chapel Hill native has already played in eight events at this year’s World Series of Poker in Vegas, cashing once in a Limit Hold’em Six Max event. Normally a frequent cash game player at the Commerce Casino in L.A., Newhouse hasn’t played in a single cash game all summer.

“I’m probably playing a lot less than I should be,” he said. “I’ve been sort of lazy about playing this year.”

Newhouse is known for his laid-back approach, and he is entering this year’s Main Event with the same outlook he had last year. “I’m just going to go play, and my goal is to get through to the end of each day.”

By playing on the third day of this year’s No Limit Hold’em Main Event, Newhouse will be able to get on his own schedule for what is the most grueling event of the WSOP.

“Day 3 (Tuesday) is always the biggest day, but the main reason I’m playing it is because I don’t want to play one day and take two or three days off.”

The former Appalachian State student will certainly be getting a lot of coverage as he makes another run at history. “When I’ve been at the Rio walking through the halls I probably stop for three or four pictures a day.

I’m definitely being recognized.”

Newhouse has already made poker history. Asking him to repeat the impossible seems almost unfair.

“I think I’m ready for this one,” he says.