Sunday, January 30, 2005

Scandinavian Open--Saturday Final Report

Chip counts can be found at the bottom of this post

I stood with the assembled poker media elite, legs in full-on protest over several hours of standing, and eyed the man with the Las Vegas hat.

"Who is that?" asked a member of the European media.

Minutes before, I didn't know the answer. I felt almost embarassed, in fact. I mean, a guy with a chip stack that big surely was a well-known player. So, I'd sidled up to him, with a little shame in my eyes, swallowed my pride and asked his name and where he was from.

"Dan Pedersen," he said. "I'm from here."

Here. Copenhagen. Denmark.

Minutes later, I made the rounds, announcing to anyone who would listen that the great unknown who had outlasted the Great Dane himself was, in fact, Dan Pedersen, a Dane verging on greatness.

Chip-leader, Dan Pedersen

I'd found my to his table by accident, really. A crowd was assembling itself around the table, not for Dan, but a man deep, deep in the tank.

You are now entering the den of insanity

His name was Morten Stenheim. The man from Oslo was looking at a flop, 665 with one diamond. His opponent, Patrik Antonius had pushed in every last one of his chips. Though Stenheim had him covered, to lose the hand would cripple him beyond repair. Essentially, he was making a decision for the rest of his tournament life.

Stenheim, of Oslo, Norway

The minutes wore on and the crowd grew larger. Perhaps Stenheim thought his opponent had a big pair. Perhaps he feared a six. After a player called the clock on Stenheim, the tournament director arrived and counted down the 70 seconds afforded a player so deeply in the tank. With just a few seconds remaining, Stenheim announced, "Call." Antonius flipped over AA. Stenheim winced and turned over his ATs in diamonds.

With only one diamond on the board, Stenheim needed two running cards to win.

The turn was an eight of diamonds. Stenheim yelled in his native tongue. Though I didn't understand the word, I have no doubt he was screaming, "Diamond!"

From his lungs to the poker gods ears...the jack of diamonds fell on the river.

Some people might say, "That's just one way aces lose."

Well, if it is, it's a gut-sucking way that made me nauseus just looking at it.

Antonius took it like a man who is used to getting beat unconcious, which is to say, pretty quietly

A little while later, the fates of bad beats turned their back on Stenheim when he called a small raise from Marcel Luske and saw a flop of TTx. Both players checked and saw the turn, another blank. Luske bet out, Stenheim raised all-in. Luske called and showed JT to beat Stenheim's pocket cowboys.

I thought, perhaps, that signalled that I'd seen the end of the craziness for the night.

Instead, just a few minutes later at table two, QQ went all-in vs. 99 vs. 88 all-in. Three pocket pairs, two players all in. At first, it looked good for the queens. The flop came down AQK. Then the turn, a jack. And then the river: a ten. A broadway straight on the board and none of the pocket pairs meant diddly. Chop-chop...chop.

A Frequent Player Point and a Chair

Because I like a Cinderella story as much as anybody (except maybe Prince Charming, who always seems into that sort of thing), I keep a close eye on the online qualifiers who made their way to Denmark for the tournament. I was first drawn to Justin Bonomo who cashed on the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Bonomo nursed a short-stack most of the day, finally busting in 25th place after he went all-in with JJ. His opponent held AK and found a king on the turn.

Bonomo, stacking his short-stack

Then there ways Terry Jenkins. The man rode over with me on the plane and had a running, friendly argument with his brother, who claimed to own half of Jenkins winnings. Jenkins had qualified with 200 Frequent Player Points and was on the freeroll of freerolls. He gave me some hope when he flopped a set of aces against an opponent who flopped bottom two pair. Alas, he would not survive into the money either.

Terry Jenkins, Palm Desert, CA

And then I heard the story of Pat McCarthy. McCarthy returned from his dinner break with only 3600 chips. His fiancee who flew in today went upstairs to bed. Then McCarthy proceeded to bust Gus Hansen. Then he busted Devilfish's KK with AA. He, too, was here on a 200FPP freeroll. As the hour passed 2am, he told me he'd told his fiancee, "If I'm not upstairs by 3am, it's good news."

Sure enough, when 3am came, McCarthy, from Atlantic City, was counting his chips. He goes into tomorrow in 11th place.

Good news, honey.

Pat McCarthy, Atlantic City, NJ

To the Bahamas and back again

Third-place PCA finisher, Mikael "The Salesman" Westerlund seems to be on a bit of a roll. Freshly out of the islands, he's running well here in Denmark.

As I sat and watched him, the man known to play 64o as the nuts, raised four consecutive hands. On the next hand, under the gun, he looked an his cards, scowled, and folded. Then he announced with his best salesman's pitch, "Anybody at this table would raise with that hand, but I'm afraid people are getting tired of my raises."

Well-known online player Noah "Exclusive" Boeken seemed incredulous. Westerlund countered with the best line of the night.

"I never raise with bad hands," he said. "And I never bluff. And I never lie."

He heads into tomorrow in fourth place with a very healthy chip-stack.

Westerlund in a rare folding moment

Back to the front

And, of course, we must make our way back to chipleader, Dan Pedersen. With a growing cheering section behind him, he went to battle with another well-known player who had the chips to make it into the money. With just a couple players left before the bubble, the two went to war on a raggedy board and ended up all-in. Pedersen held QQ. His opponent held TT. Pedersen's queens held up and his stack grew to more than 180,000, securing his position as chip leader.

He still has his work cut out for him though. Hendon Mobster, Ram Vaswani has been quietly, properly collecting chips all day long and sits just 30,000 back in second place.

Ram Vaswani

And frankly, the rest of the field doesn't have any slouches in it, either. To wit: Padraig Parkison, Julian Thew, Noah Boeken, and Marcel Luske are there as well and have chips with which to play.

1--Dan Pedersen--181,000
2--Ram Vaswani--151,000
3--Eirik Kolaas--150,000
4--Mikael Westerlund--139,000
5--Bambos Xanthos--131,700
6--Per Hildebrand--107,000
7--Julian Thew--102,000
8--Marcel Luske--83,800
9--Padraig Parkinson--65,300
10--Aleksander "AXABAXA" Cooper--64,900
11--Pat McCarthy--55,800
12--Mika Puro--53,700
13--Noah "Exclusive" Boeken--49,400
14--Birgitta Johansson--42,900
15--Katja Sophie Spillum--35,600
16--Jarl Lindholt--31,900
17--Jarkko Laine--25,000
18--Xuyen Pham--23,800

While I could type on and on about the 12 hours of play, good sense dictates I close now and get rested up for the final 18 players later today.

Please come back and join us. It promises to be a good day.