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Mark Newhouse Sounds Off On The Back-To-Back Scores He’d Rather Not Think About

35-Year-Old WPT Winner Talks About The Ups And Downs Of His Poker Career

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Mar 10, 2021

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Mark Newhouse grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and discovered the game of poker during a couple of unsuccessful stints in college. After a few $50 deposits online, he was able to run up a six-figure bankroll, winning $100,000 in consecutive months. He turned pro immediately after turning 21 and was quickly playing limit hold’em cash games against some of the top players in the world for stakes as high as $1,500-$3,000.

Despite having a preference for cash games, even spending years living out of a suitcase at the Commerce Casino, Newhouse has dabbled in tournaments during his career. Most notably, he won a World Poker Tour title in 2006 at the Borgata Poker Open for $1.52 million.

In 2013, he made the final table of the World Series of Poker main event, ultimately finishing in ninth place for $733,224. The next year, he infamously tweeted, “Just bought into the main event. Not f***ing finishing ninth again!”

Incredibly, even with a field of more than 6,600 players, Newhouse did go on to finish ninth again, earning another $730,725. It was an outstanding accomplishment, but one that the now 35-year-old admits was disappointing and the source of some pain.

Card Player caught up with Newhouse for an episode of the Poker Stories podcast recently to discuss high-stakes limit hold’em games, brutal online poker sessions, and how he has dealt with adversity at the tables.

The highlights of the interview are below. You can listen to the full episode at the end of the article, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or any podcast app.

Julio Rodriguez: You found poker in between two of your stints in college with some low-stakes home games, and then eventually found online poker. The story is that you deposited $50 and within a month you turned that into $100,000. Is that true?

Mark Newhouse: That’s not completely true. I went back to school to study at Appalachian State [the second time around], but this time I was not drinking or partying or any of that. I was just reading a bunch of [strategy] books and playing partypoker. So, I deposited $50… several times. Probably quite a few times, I’m not sure exactly how many. And, you know, busted it a few times. One of those times I ran it up, and started playing limit hold’em and moving up through the stakes. Right before I turned 21, I had two consecutive $100,000 months in a row.

JR: That year you turned 21, 2006, was a big year for Mr. Newhouse. But even though you had some big results in tournaments, it doesn’t look like you were playing a lot of them either.

MN: I was a limit player for the most part at that time. And I was playing a guy, a guy named Paul Horn who is now dead, having been shot and killed in recent years. But I was playing him heads up $400-$800 to $600-$1,200 over at the Venetian. I was playing big cash games. At the time, I didn’t take tournaments seriously. I didn’t have any respect for them in that sense. I was a cash game guy, you know, so I was just kind of messing around at any time that I played one. I feel very differently now, but that was my mindset at that time.

JR: All right, so fast forward later that year, and you decide, maybe tournaments aren’t so bad after all.

MN: I went to Borgata to play cash games. We were playing in a $200-$400 limit game that broke early morning at like 7 a.m. Me and two other guys from that game, the last three remaining, decided to go play a satellite and swap a little bit of action. I won it, and went straight to play day one [of the event] with no sleep.

JR: Obviously, it went well for you. You made it down to the winner’s circle and won $1.5 million.

MN: I had probably run up about a half a million in poker before that. And I also remember that the week before the win, I was on a huge downswing playing $300-$600 on UltimateBet. I probably lost $180,000 the week before that tournament.

JR: Now do you splurge at all after a big score like that?

MN: At the time, no. I did not. I moved straight into the Commerce Casino and was playing $1,000-$2,000 every day, getting around in rental cars. I’m not proud of it, but that’s what I did.

JR: You’ve been honest about going broke on more than a handful of occasions during your career. Was it staking other players, was it pit games?

MN: No, that was never really a big issue of mine. My issue was playing big. Playing big heads-up online against… you know, all the best players in the world.

JR: Do you remember a particularly brutal session?

MN: I mean, there were several. There was a 24-hour session I played against Joe Cassidy, and I played a lot against HossTBF (Matt Hawrilenko). But there was a guy on PokerStars named ‘IWantUrMoney.’ I started the day with a little more than $60,000 in my account, and we started playing $500-$1,000, and I was beating him pretty good. We kicked it up to $1,000-$2,000, and I was winning about $260,000 from him. He was down to about $13,000, some small amount compared to the rest. At the stakes that we were playing, it wasn’t much.

At the time I was chatting with NeverWin (Dustin Woolf) who had a small sweat piece, and he was telling me I should just quit [the guy] and leave him with the $13,000. I didn’t want to do that. I mean, it’s just bad etiquette to have a guy that buried and, [not let him play it out.] I would still never do that today. If I’m playing a guy and I got him down to his last little bit, I’m going to let him continue to play until he goes broke. But the guy ended up making a big comeback about 45 minutes later, and busted me for my whole account. So, I lost $280,000 straight, and that kind of set me off for a while.

JR: Like prolonged tilt?

MN: I was just at Commerce, playing a minimum of $400-$800 every day. I had friends pull me to the side and tell me I needed to slow down, that I wasn’t playing well, that I wasn’t making good decisions, but I didn’t want to listen to anybody. I was kind of just on a mission to light it on fire.

JR: Any advice for readers looking to avoid making some of the same mistakes?

MN: One piece of advice that I give to people is how they manage themselves. I think it’s best to play long poker sessions when you’re winning, and play short when you’re losing. I don’t care who you are, everyone plays better when they’re winning and worse when they’re losing.

If you want to lie to yourself or think that’s not true, then let’s forget that aspect of it. Maybe you’re exactly the same, win or lose. Everyone else while you’re winning is losing, and while you’re losing is winning. When you’re losing, they’re playing better against you. When you’re winning, they’re playing worse against you. A lot of people will say they are neutral, but they’re not. Phil Ivey is known for playing short sessions when he’s losing. It’s a skill that he has.

JR: You dropped down in stakes and had to rebuild your bankroll. Did you struggle with your mindset in those games that were only a fraction of what you had played for before?

MN: It was very difficult. One of the first times I played $30-$60 on PokerStars, there was instantly a thread online saying that, ‘Newhizzle was broke.’ Eventually, I just had to learn to ignore that kind of stuff.

But from my peers and the people around me, it was actually the opposite. I would get a lot of support and people telling me that they were proud of me, that I was doing the right thing. I got put into a situation where I was forced to play $20-$40 to survive and just pay the bills with no chance of building a bankroll for about a year. And that’s where I was. And during that time, I was kind of able to change my mindset and learn to take smaller poker seriously and really change a lot of my values. It took me a while to play $100-$200 [again].

JR: Let’s talk about the back-to-back ninths. How did you approach the main event?

MN: Every day I kind of just went in with the mentality… that my goal is to get through the day. A smaller buy-in tournament with a faster structure, you really have pressure to accumulate chips. In the main event, you have a lot of time so you can kind of just relax and play poker. Try not to gamble too much and try not to get involved in big pots, and just let the chips come to you. Because the opposition is generally… until you get to the end, pretty easy compared to most other tournaments. And it has a very slow structure, so it’s not like you’re worried about the blinds creeping up on you.

The first piece of advice I like to give people when they ask me is, don’t eat on the dinner break. Because every time I’ve ever eaten anything on a dinner break of a tournament, I come back and I do something stupid. The digestion process slows you down. I think it’s better to be fasted.

JR: On July 6, 2014, you made a now-infamous tweet.

MN: Yeah, ‘Not f***ing finishing ninth again!’ And then I finished ninth again. I remember Martin Jacobson [jokingly] tweeted in 2015, ‘Not f***ing finishing first again!’

JR: You make the November Nine again, and people start bringing up that tweet right away. That’s got to be weighing on you for a while.

MN: You know, you don’t know whether you’re going to win $700,000 or $10 million. It’s hard to make big life decisions, if that makes sense.

I was sponsored by Commerce both years. For some reason, they decided to wait until after the final table… not during the four-month layoff, but after I [got ninth again], to put up a big banner that said, ‘Congratulations, Mark Newhouse!’

JR: That’s basically like putting up a sign in your house, in your living room. In another interview you were quoted as saying, ‘I still get random people coming up to me and trying to congratulate me for the worst thing that has ever happened in my life.’

MN: I couldn’t go anywhere without people telling me how great of an accomplishment it was, and congrats, and blah, blah, blah. Day to day, it’s not something that I particularly like to hear or talk about. And people don’t get it sometimes. ♠