Despite his young age, Martin Jacobson has already established himself as one of the most successful poker players in the world. In 2014 he achieved every poker players dream by winning the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event and forever solidifying his spot as a world champion.
Born in June 1987, Martin was raised in Stockholm where he aspired to become a chef. After graduating from culinary high school followed by a year in the Navy military service, he immediately began his journey towards the top within the restaurant industry. His initial ambition was to one day open up the doors to his own fine dining establishment.
Martin’s first introduction to poker arrived as he turned 18. At the time, poker was on the fast rise and it was almost impossible to ignore its progression in popularity. During this “poker boom”, Martin started playing home games with friends along with free tournaments online. He fell in love with the competitive aspect of the game and the fact that there was plenty of room to improve and gain a significant edge over opponents. Once he got comfortable playing online poker, he made his first deposit and started playing small-stakes cash games that soon led him into single table tournaments. His plans to move to Barcelona and work his way up to become a top chef at a three-star Michelin restaurant were sidetracked when a promised job offer never materialised. Naturally he started to dedicate more time towards his newfound passion, poker.
Although Martin did well in the single table tournaments, it was while playing online qualifiers to major live events where he found his niche in 2008. The first qualifier he won was for the WSOP Main Event, the pinnacle of poker tournaments held in Las Vegas each year. The win came with a dilemma, as he had the option to either collect the value of the package ($12.000 in cash) or travel to Vegas and pursue his dream. Torn with the big decision -he asked his mother for advice. To his surprise, she insisted on the latter as she was well aware of his irresistible desire to go and play. So he packed his bags and flew to Vegas by himself, three days before his 21st birthday. Ironically, Martin got eliminated on the third hand and was arguably one of the first players to exit the eight day long tournament. It was undoubtedly an expensive experience but he never regretted his decision to follow his intuition.
A few weeks later, Martin qualified for another major event in Budapest as part of the European Poker Tour (EPT). Despite his lack of live poker experience, he ended up placing in third which, after a three way deal, netted him €280,000. The large score gave him some necessary confidence and enough of a budget to keep on fuelling his dream.
The following years, Martin kept racking up big results both online and on the live circuit all over the world. His great success on the European Poker Tour, breaking a record by reaching the final table in three main events all in one season, earned him the Online Qualifier of the Year Award along with a runner up finish as the EPT Player of the Year. He also became the first Swedish player ever to crack top ten on the well-respected Global Poker Index (GPI) leader board.
Despite all the success and final tables, Martin became notorious for coming up short in big events. After multiple second place finishes the media gave him the nickname “bridesmaid” and discussion began if he was the best player to never have won a major title. This helped fuel his motivation to work hard and put himself in the best position possible to finally conquer a major title.
His first live tournament win would come in October 2013 during EPT London. It wasn’t a major but Martin still described the win to feel better than any of his previous second places, even though these had generated a lot greater income. Many of his close friends and family members were there to support and it was all in all a very memorable event. He knew the win would give him a much needed confidence boost once he found himself heads-up in a major again.
In 2014, Martin reached a new peak of his career when he made the final table of the WSOP Main Event, the same tournament he had was eliminated from on the third hand six years earlier. It was a seven day process and after having the chip lead near the end, he would enter the final as the second shortest stack. The play was paused in July to be resumed and play down to a winner in November. Knowing that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, Martin would use this time wisely in order to give himself the best shot possible to win and become the new world champion.
After roughly five hundred hours of preparation, including; deep analysis of opponents, simulations and discussions with his elite poker playing friends, game theory as well as exploitable game plans and calculations, yoga, meditation, conditioning and dieting, it was finally time. The final table would unfold a lot differently than planned. Without any eliminations, Martin found himself short of only seven big blinds and was just a single hand away from being knocked out. Fortunately, his preparation made him keep his composure and patiently wait for the right spots to turn things around. The first day ended after twelve hours of intense play. With three players remaining, Martin would come in second in chips and play down to the winner the following day.
Riding the momentum from the comeback of the previous day, the second day only lasted four hours. Martin stood victorious in a field of 6,683 players and had won the WSOP Main Event title and $10,000,000. His outstanding achievement got praised all around the poker world and later he received the award for the best “Tournament Performance of the Year” at the European Global Poker Index Awards in Malta.
Prior to the final table, Martin became a member and ambassador of the meta-charity organisation Raising for Effective Giving (REG). REG is a community of poker players passionate about making a positive impact in the world. The idea behind this conscious movement encouraging compassionate action is to introduce a business/poker approach to charity, where rationalised decisions are made in order to decrease the maximum amount of suffering possible in the world. Read more about REG here or by visiting reg-charity.org.
Since 2011, Martin resides in London, UK. When he is not playing poker he enjoys training his body and mind to reach new levels of performance. Some of his other passions lies in outdoor and physical activities, mixed martial arts, biohacking, food, nutrition and supplementation. Martin advocates a balanced holistic lifestyle and to focus on whatever makes you happy.
“If you find your passion and strive to make a career out of it, you are likely to end up equally happy and successful”.
Not having lost his passion for food, one of his future goals is to establish a healthy-fast food franchise.