The Radisson SAS Scandinavia was the small-town sized hotel and casino complex which hosted this year’s EPT Copenhagen. Sold out in a matter of days, the 400 players were a combination of (mainly Scandinavian) early birds and online qualifiers, while most of the usual British suspects were nowhere to be seen. Among those who fell in the qualifier category were the expected Kerrigans – Tyrone, Jim and Les made it to Denmark – and some less expected names. TJ Cloutier, American giant (in more ways than one) was present, wearing Pokerstars’ paraphernalia, but it’s not what you think: the tournament veteran had landed his seat online, in a $10 satellite, no less.
Into the mix of aggressive unknowns were thrown the aggressive regulars like Johnny Lodden, Dario Minieri, Henning Granstad and Mats Iremark, as well as the ubiquitous Team Norsemen. This lot didn’t fare so well this time round, however, and by the middle of Day Two we were glowing with gratitude to our EPT hosts for providing comprehensive lists of players in their seat order, something which when overlooked makes the updaters’ job either mindbendingly tedious or simply too difficult to do completely. What I’m trying to say here is that we didn’t know very many of the runners; tournaments in Scandinavia are full to the brim with players whose moves are often report-worthy, but whose names and faces aren’t in the media’s databases.
We knew the first eliminated player, however, Stuart Rutter, who found set-over-set (or under-set) early on to get himself busted. We heard that the same thing happened to Isabelle Mercier too in the early levels, and with the expected fast start to the tournament, the tables were broken at a fairly brisk rate through both Day Ones. In fact, a decision was made by the Man himself, Thomas Kremser, to end the start days after eight levels rather than nine, as the field had already dropped to under 170 in total. While Bad Girl (who never got off the starting blocks in her first tourney of 2007) and Steve Vladar spent their free time post-elimination hanging out in the luxury hotel, there was a whole city out there to explore, as well as a small series of side events. Badly publicised (we only heard about them when we were there) they had good structures and attracted reasonable numbers – solid second chances for the EPT players.
Back to the main event, and the chip leader after the end of Day One was Bastian Landehagen (my identification notes read: ‘young, aggressive; hoody’ which wasn’t much help, as you can imagine). American Brent Wheeler, despite losing a 15k pot right at the end of his first day, was in the top ten, as well as my favourite European tournament player (and therefore tip to win) Jan Sjavik. Hovering in the comfortable middle were Peter Roche (whose chips yoyoed dramatically until settling in the 30k range), Roy Brindley (who outdrew Aces with Eights to get him back on the right track), Iwan Jones and Martin Wendt.
We’d also been keeping an eye on blonde member and inaugural APAT winner Daniel ‘kinboshi’ Philips (left). Keeping a short stack alive during the tense last moments of Day One, we saw him make his Day Two double up move calling his aggressive right-hand-side neighbour Simon Mycock, who continually moved in on the small blind, taking Daniel’s big blind and whittling his stack down. He found AK suited on his last hand, calling the push, but Simon had the monster that is 57, and spiking a Seven on the river sent him to the rail. Bearing in mind that you can count kinboshi’s live tournament experiences on one hand, he looked to have enjoyed his first EPT experience and will no doubt be at the next APAT event giving it another shot, or racking up tournament-hours online.
As for Daniel’s eliminator – Simon Mycock (right) was a Londoner who lives in Oslo, and therefore both a UK player and an adoptive Scandie – we didn’t know how to classify the guy, but he took the chip lead during Day Two when he got the second biggest stack on his table all in with 3c-5c on an Ac-5s-6c-5d board. He held 5-6 for the house and following from this hand the press were suddenly made aware of his existence. It was a shameful bedlam in the press room as we all gave up trying not to make jokes about his name. I’m sure he’s heard it all before, and his €13k 16th place prize was of more importance to him, no doubt.
Nick Slade ended up on TJ Cloutier’s table, and the American took a stack off him with AA vs. Nick’s QQ – the beginning of the end for the UK player who’d had an interesting Day One and had brought us stories throughout. TJ made it on to the televised table, which was up and running throughout the second day, and spent a good few hours opposite Iwan Jones. One of Nick Slade’s stories involved Iwan’s pointed ignoring of an American announcer who called him to the desk as if his name rhymed with “eye ran.” That can’t be the first time that’s happened.
There wasn’t a giant chip leader who held on to it through the early stages, but a pair of Tens for champion dweller Thomas Holm created the first final-ready stack, when he moved in on a Jack-high, three diamond board against Landehagen. His opponent’s call with Eights secured him as temporary leader and we steadied ourselves for more waiting while his considered style of play shortened the hands per hour on whatever table he graced. Except the final – without giving too much away, he made the final Eight and therefore will be gracing your screens when this Series airs, and he played at a reasonable pace throughout. Although the miracle of editing probably makes everyone look as though they do. When’s the last time you saw footage of the clock getting called?
Iwan Jones (right) was running well, and steadily, until Jonas Helness inflicted a stack-crippling beat with 9-9. On a J-7-3 flop, it took three raises to get both of their stacks in the middle, and Iwan’s set of Threes looked promising until the two-outer hit and then it looked fatal. In fact Iwan held on for a good while, until racing his way out on the feature table. They were in the money, at this point, so exiters Nick Slade, Christian Grundtvig, Roy Brindley, Colin Ogden, Jim Kerrigan and John Shipley were among those who didn’t leave empty-handed:
9-10 DKK 228096 = €30,606
11-12 DKK 179712 = €24,114
13-14 DKK 138240 = €18,547
15-16 DKK 96768 = €12,983
17-24 DKK 76032 = €10,201
25-32 DKK 55296 = €7,419
33-40 DKK 41472 = €5,564
They got down to 12 players by the end of the draining second day, and those who’d taken the brakes off towards the ednd, like Anders Wijk, Erik Lindberg and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier had good stacks, but all a bit behind Richard Toth, the Hungarian player who’d won the Poker EM as well as getting a string of cashes in 2006. Clearly a strong player, he was the favourite going in to the final, and gave us a lesson in not judging by appearances: despite sporting a backwards baseball cap, he was not an American.
On the first hand of the final day, Magnus Petersson won a huge pot off Anders Wijk, who gifted his KK a double up with his Tens, after making a somewhat rash all-in preflop move. To put it in perspective, he had been making this kind of move with success through the previous day, and Magnus’ pretty tight image was about to be destroyed by his final table appearance. Anders Wijk still made it to the final Eight, however, after ElkY performed a double takeout, waking up with Aces after Mark Sacher Peterson and Erik Lindberg both got it in in front of him. Tenth was Jan Sjavik, so nearly making yet another final, but too short stacked to do much but attempt to double up (and fail). Ninth place went to Canadian youngster Cole Morrow, leaving us to catch our breath while the TV people adjusted knobs and walked back and forth with clipboards for an hour.
Somehow, they didn’t manage to adjust the knob which gave our press room live feed a view of the table which incorporated the hands when they were on their backs. This negated the point of having a TV feed, and made it hard work figuring out what was going on, seeing as actually approaching the table is a tricky business. Despite this, someone always figured out what had happened, and we got a translation from our Scandinavian press brethren eventually. In spite of this, it was a fast-paced and interesting final:
Thomas Holm (Denmark) -- 409,000
Samir Shakhtoor (Sweden) -- 367,000
Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier (France) -- 1,086,000
Magnus Petersson (Sweden) -- 622,000
Richard Toth (Hungary) -- 814,000
Alexandre Poulain (France) -- 128,000
Anders Wijk (Sweden) -- 255,000
Theo Jorgensen (Denmark) -- 305,000
1 DKK 4078080 = €547,177
2 DKK 2308608 = €309,773
3 DKK 1340928 = €179,928
4 DKK 1022976 = €137,254
5 DKK 843264 = €113,142
6 DKK 663552 = €89,028
7 DKK 525312 = €70,481
8 DKK 373248 = €50,083
The first to go was Anders Wijk, who ran into Richard Toth’s KK, and his eliminator then moved on to Thomas Holm. He called Holm’s preflop re-raise (about one and a half times his bet) and then checked the 7-8-9 flop. After a think, Thomas Holm moved in, only to find his A-Q instacalled by Toth’s 7-7. After this, he relinquished his role as table knockout to Bertrand Grospellier, having amassed an unapproachable-looking 1.5 million chips. The Frenchman’s making the final had filled the Pokerstars press and entourage with happiness – now a sponsored player, the one-time gamer and online player was in decent shape chipwise and even more so after he knocked out his countryman Alexandre Poulain. Despite starting the final as the short stack, Alexandre (vigorously supported by his online French counterpart of the PRO) had made the right moves at the right time to nab 6th spot.
Then ElkY (left) took out quiet Swede Samir Shakhtoor, whom we’d sort of missed playing any hands during our previous vulture-like table lurking on all three days, but who comfortably made the final, although his final hand when getting shorter was A-3 against Queens. This pot took Bertrand Grospellier over the million mark, with the other two holding about half that each. We were on the edge of our seats when the two chip leaders went to war instead of picking on the littler guys – one hand in particular changed the course of the final. Richard raised to 116k, and ElkY re-raised to 285k. Call. Double check on the 3-4-J flop, while the Queen on the turn saw a check-call of ElkY’s 250k bet. The river brought a 6, and Richard checked a third time, then faced calling ElkY’s all-in. It was a lot, but there was a lot in the pot too, and after a tortured think, Richard called, paying off, as he then saw, the 5-7 rivered gutshot straight of his French opponent.
This hand clearly upset Richard’s concentration, or was at the very least a bit disheartening, as he’d gone from comfortable leader to one of three short stacks to ElkY’s pile of chips. A bit of a comeback ensued, after he talked himself into calling Theo Jorgensen’s preflop all-in with Q-9 of hearts, finding Theo with AA, but picking up a straight and flush draw on the turn and making the latter on the river. It was enough to keep him in the three-handed game for a full extra level, (two hours if you count the dinner break) and he picked up a few sets of blinds and pushed Magnus Petersson of a pot or two. But his comeback wasn’t to last; he went all in with A-5 over the top of ElkY’s preflop raise and got a call from the winning A-Q.
So it was Pokerstars player vs. Pokerstars qualifier heads up – and Bertrand Grospellier had a two to one chip lead coming back after the break. It looked like the more experienced ElkY was set to win the thing, but financial adviser Magnus, who smiled about once an hour, if that, looked determined, and they played a lot of small pots to the flop, with a slow trickle of chips going his way. Then the crucial hand (it’s so often not the actual last hand which decides a tournament) – another uninspiring flop: T-7-2 and slow betting (by ElkY) on the second Deuce on the turn. Call from Magnus, and then it all kicked off on the rivered 3. Magnus bet out, got a 200k raise from ElkY (just what he was after, as it happened), re-raised all in, and got the call. ElkY showed A-2 but Magnus’ 3-3 had hit the best river in the world, and the tide had turned. The rest of Bertrand Grospellier’s stack went in on a Q-6-7 (two hearts) board, where his Ace flush draw was up against Magnus’ Q-6 two pair. No improvement, and, as Rolf Slotboom predicted all the way, we had a Scandinavian champion in the form of Magnus Petersson.
The pictures were taken, the trophy and ludicrously sized cheque awarded, and then the TV crew set about dismantling the stage like ants over a gingerbread house. It’s amazing how quickly the traces of the big poker tournaments get boxed and moved – Casino Copenhagen returned to normal and we headed for the airport. Our only regret of the week – that we didn’t make it to the Dusk Til Dawn launch party. Ladies in catsuits (oh how easy it is to advertise to poker players) wandered around like little billboards and the party, placed, sadly, between Day Two and Three, sounded like good fun. Next time, snoopy, next time.