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WSOP Finalist Jacob Balsiger hires Mike McDonald as Coach

With an $8.5 million top prize on the line, poker coaching has suddenly become a trendy pursuit among the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table. Just last week we discussed how both Jesse Sylvia and Russel Thomas hired coaches to guide them towards a big payout. Perhaps they inspired Jacob Balsiger to do the same since he recently hired Mike McDonald to coach him.

Seeking a Mentor

If there’s anybody who could use some extra guidance on the Main Event final table, it’d be Balsiger. Now we’re certainly not saying he lacks skills since the 21-year-old was a pretty good online poker player before making the final table. But just months ago, he was a student at Arizona State University who had little live poker experience.

So it’s definitely nice to have the advice of somebody like McDonald to count on. The Ontario native has earned $4,506,872 in poker tournaments, which includes an Epic Poker League title, a 2010 PCA side event victory and a 2008 EPT German Open win. Considering that McDonald retired from poker at one point, his $4.5 million in winnings are all the more impressive.

Focused on School

Going back to Balsiger, he recently announced that he’s been attending classes at Arizona State again. This is quite interesting when you consider the large amount of poker pros who’ve dropped out of college never to return. And these people aren’t even eyeing a guaranteed $754,798 payout. In one year he’s set to graduate with a degree in political science.

But at the moment, Balsiger will mainly be focused on winning as much money as he can on the final table. He’s eighth in chips (13,115,000) out of nine players right now, but will still be hoping to become the youngest Main Event champion in history. McDonald will definitely make this goal a lot more realistic for Balsiger.