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Low-key local pro Dan Sindelar breaks through into WSOP’s November Nine

Former Nebraska student, skilled golfer represents Las Vegas at final table


Steve Marcus

Dan Sindelar competes during the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ‘em main event at the Rio Monday, July 14, 2014. Sindelar made it to the final table.

WSOP Plays To Final Table

Members of the November Nine reach for the championship bracelet after making it to the Final Table during the World Series of Poker $10,000 Buy-In No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Main Event at the Rio on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Players from left: Billy Pappaconstantinou of Lowell, Mass.; Felix Stephensen of Norway; Jorryt van Hoof of the Netherlands; Mark Newhouse of Los Angeles, who now lives in Las Vegas; Andoni Larrabe of Spain; William Tonking of Flemington, N.J.; Daniel Sindelar, originally from Columbus, Neb., now living in Las Vegas; Martin Jacobson of Sweden; and Bruno Politano of Brazil. Launch slideshow »

Main Event final table chip counts

  • Jorryt van Hoof: 38,375,000
  • Felix Stephensen: 32,775,000
  • Mark Newhouse: 26,000,000
  • Andoni Larrabe: 22,550,000
  • Dan Sindelar: 21,200,000
  • William Pappaconstantinou: 17,500,000
  • William Tonking: 15,050,000
  • Martin Jacobson: 14,900,000
  • Bruno Politano: 12,125,000
  • Blinds at 200,000-400,000 with 50,000 ante

2014 WSOP Main Event final table payouts

  • 1st: $10,000,000
  • 2nd: $5,145,968
  • 3rd: $3,806,402
  • 4th: $2,848,833
  • 5th: $2,143,174
  • 6th: $1,622,080
  • 7th: $1,235,862
  • 8th: $947,077
  • 9th: $730,725

Past 10 Main Event champions

  • 2013: Ryan Riess ($8,361,570)
  • 2012: Greg Merson ($8,531,853)
  • 2011: Pius Heinz ($8,715,638)
  • 2010: Jonathan Duhamel ($8,944,310)
  • 2009: Joe Cada ($8,547,042)
  • 2008: Peter Eastgate ($9,152,416)
  • 2007: Jerry Yang ($8,250,000)
  • 2006: Jamie Gold ($12,000,000)
  • 2005: Joe Hachem ($7,500,000)
  • 2004: Greg Raymer ($5,000,000)

Dan Sindelar took deliberate steps toward an assembly of supporters in the stands.

One friend handed the 30-year-old a beer as he leaned in for a few hugs and high-fives. Sindelar sipped softly as if too much pressure from his lips would crack the Corona bottle and spoke gently enough to belie the uninhibited enthusiasm coursing through the Rio’s Amazon Room.

Everything moved in slow motion for Sindelar in the minutes after he reached the World Series of Poker Main Event final table, as if he had awoken in a daze.

“There’s nothing that matches this,” Sindelar said just loud enough not to get drowned out by the cheers. “I’ve never, ever felt like this before. It’s really something special.”

Sindelar was as euphoric as the other eight players who reached the 2014 November Nine early Tuesday morning to clinch a payout of $730,725 with a chance at the $10 million first-place prize. The local professional, who grew up in Nebraska, just has a different way of showing it.

Sindelar exudes calm at all times, a characteristic that’s aided his poker career and makes him a threat to capture the game’s world championship when the final table plays out Nov. 10 at the Penn & Teller Theater.

“I just hope to play my game and not get out of my element,” Sindelar said. “Just feel comfortable out there is the main thing.”

Sindelar, who briefly held the chip lead on the second-to-last day of the summer, will come in fifth in chips with 21.2 million. That’s plenty for someone who might be one of the best players at the table, or, at minimum, one of the most experienced.

He’s the third-oldest competitor — behind chip leader Jorryt van Hoof and short-stacked Bruno Politano, who are both 31 — and started playing a decade ago. A game that began as a hobby in his freshman year at the University of Nebraska quickly turned into something too profitable to ignore.

“I dropped out in the middle of my junior year to pursue poker full-time,” Sindelar said. “I was doing well online. I played a little live, but mostly online.”

In an effort to play more live poker, Sindelar relocated to Las Vegas in 2008. He played often in deep-stacked no-limit hold ’em games with $5-$10 and $10-$20 blinds at the Bellagio and other poker rooms.

The same year he moved to Las Vegas brought his debut at the World Series Poker. Although Sindelar found some tournament success — he had $335,962 in earnings before the Main Event — it was fleeting.

He paid the Main Event’s $10,000 entry fee in each of the past six summers but always came up short of cashing. This year, Sindelar was down at the World Series of Poker after making the money in three out of 18 tournaments with no payouts above $3,400.

“This definitely makes up for it,” Sindelar said. “I’m not even going to think about it.”

Sindelar has played less poker in recent years, which was partly caused by the Department of Justice’s shutdown of online poker in April 2011. If his reputation is to be believed, Sindelar may have done more gambling on the golf course ever since.

His friends regard him as a prodigious golfer and joke of a future on the PGA Champions Tour when he’s eligible as a senior in 20 years. Sindelar won’t outright dismiss the possibility.

He’ll hit the links around town for the next four months, where his temperament will be as unassailable as it is at the poker table. Nothing rattles Sindelar.

“I’m just going to be taking it easy, relaxing,” he said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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