Mark Newhouse pulled off one of the greatest feats in poker history when he made back-to-back final tables of the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2013 and 2014. He remains the only player to make two Main Event final tables since the advent of the November Nine in 2008, but Antoine Saout is trying to pull off the feat as well, toting a big stack in the early stages of Day 5 here in 2016.
The Frenchman has a stack of 4.6 million with blinds of 25,000/50,000/5,000 about one hour after the dinner break, putting him in the top portion of the chip counts. He said he followed the runs of Newhouse, and while Saout has a chance to join the exclusive club, Newhouse's feat was something else entirely.
"It was crazy because it was the very next year," he said. "For me it would be seven years after."
A lot of time has indeed passed since Saout made a run to third place in the 2009 Main Event, which was won by Joe Cada. Saout got just shy of $3.5 million for that score, and it came in his formative poker years.
He had just dropped out of engineering school and wasn't working.
"During the time when I wasn't doing anything, I started to play online," he said. "I was winning maybe €2,000 or €3,000 a month."
Saout began heading to local casinos and playing small stakes cash games. He decided he wanted to play more live tournaments and made it his goal to win some packages online to live events. His first success came with a trip to Spain, where he participated in a few events on the Spanish Poker Tour, finishing sixth in the €1,100 Main Event for €5,800.
Saout estimates he had played maybe eight tournaments live, with buy-ins of under €2,000, when he won a package to the WSOP Main Event on Everest Poker. He managed to advance to the final table, inking a sponsorship deal with Everest in the process that enabled him to travel the globe and play professionally.
The next few months saw Saout cash in events in France, Portugal, Morocco, and London, where he finished seventh in the WSOP Europe Main Event for $188,318.
When the November Nine began, all eyes were on Phil Ivey, but it was anyone's game after he busted in seventh. If not for a flopped two-outer, Saout may well be the man with his face on a banner rather than Cada. Three-handed, the American four-bet shoved all in with the when Saout held the and a deuce on the flop sent a monster pot to Cada.
Had Saout held there, he would have gone into heads-up play against Darvin Moon with a strong chip lead as the odds-on favorite to win it all. Saout still had a pulse but found himself again on the short end of a preflop all in against Cada, this time with eights against the for his tournament life.
Still, $3.5 million is quite a score, more than enough to jump into the life of a poker pro, which Saout did. The typical ups and downs of the lifestyle followed, and a major shift occurred when his deal with Everest ran out.
"I played everywhere," he said of the years immediately following his November Nine run. "I'm not sponsored any more so I play on my own money. So, I have to choose where I go."
Saout is hot once again in 2016 and putting together the best year he's had since 2009 with north of $550,000 in cashes already. He finished seventh in European Poker Tour Grand Final for $146,323 and came to Las Vegas with a plan to play heavy volume.
Where the Frenchman normally would be confined to the Rio for his stay and at the mercy of public transport if he wanted to go play anywhere else, he rented a car and a villa this year with one of his countrymen. Saout used his wheels to head to other venues for tournaments when he busted out of WSOP events.
The investment paid off in a big way. Saout ran deep in a $1,100 event in the Wynn Summer Classic, where he collected $109,544 as part of a six-way chop, then he finished second in a $1,600 DeepStack Extravaganza event for $259,114.
Now, he's back where he was in 2009, running deep in the Main Event. He doubled his stack in the early going of Day 5 when his top pair held against an opponent with a flush draw, and Saout looks like he'll be a tough out as he maintains a spot among the leaders with dinner break approaching.
Though there's a ways to go, a return to the November Nine is far from out of the question.
"It would be a big accomplishment," he said. "Now, I have a lot of experience. My game is way better and I'm confident I can do it."
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