Las Vegas, NV
The Europeans trickled into Las Vegas over the last three weeks. There are a few international conglomerates that moved to Las Vegas with intentions of playing as many tournaments as possible this summer. They took advantage of the Euro kicking the US Dollar's arse, where they get more bang for the buck and can play more events and stay in Sin City for extended periods of time.
Aside from the usual lot of Europeans (mostly German, French, Russian, and the Brits) that I'm used to seeing, there has not been a surge in Europeans that I expected would flood the WSOP this year. I have been talking up how the Scandis are the best poker players in the world, yet they have barely made any noise frankly because most of them are absent. (Before we continue, my definition of a Scandi is a player from Norway, Sweden, or Denmark... although places like Hendon Mob list Finland and Iceland as a part of Scandinavia, for these purposes, I don't.)
The $1,500 PLO with Rebuys event always attracted the best PLO players in Europe especially the Brits. Plenty of familiar faces were in the field including members of London's Hendon Mob. The Elegance aka Joe Beevers made his first appearance at the WSOP along with the Boatman brothers. A bevy of Brits were in the mix including Devilfish, Roland de Wolfe, Julian Gardner, Simon Trumper, Richard Ashby, Karl Mahrenholz, Marc Goodwin, and Surinder Sunar.
Other noteworthy Europeans playing in the event were Markus Golser (Austria), Jan von Halle (Germany), Alex Kravchenko (Russia), Nikolay Evdakov (Russia), Rob Hollink (Holland), Alexander Kostritsyn (Russia), Jesper Hougaard (Denmark), Rolf Slotboom (Holland), Don O'Dea (Ireland), Noah Boeken (Holland), Katja Thater (Germany), Max Pescatori (Italy), Andy Black (Ireland), Bruno Fitoussi (France), Dario Alioto (Italy), Johannes Strassman (Germany), Rene Mouritsen (Denmark) and the Eggman...Thomas Wahlroos (Finland).
Um, aside from Thor Hansen and Gus Hansen, where were the Scandis? The easy answer is... not at the WSOP.
Per capita, I firmly believe that Scandis are the best poker players in the world. Michalski referred to them as "apparently overrated" in a recent post. He's been doing a WSOP World Standings on Pokerati. As of the start of Day 20, players from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway had only 25 cashes and two final tables... both Swedes. Yes their numbers are lame compared to the Russians (1 bracelet, 4 final tables, and 23 cashes), the Dutch (1 bracelet, 5 final tables, 27 cashes), and the Italians (1 bracelet, 2 final tables, and 10 cashes). And don't forget Dario Minieri. He won a bracelet a day after Michalski posted his World Standings. So toss in another bracelet for the Italians.
It's obvious, the Scandis are not here in full force. Why? The answer is three-fold; age, taxes, and the sun.
Some of the premiere online players in the world hail from Scandinavia because they have plenty of time to practice due to the bitter winters. They often play in EPT events and on the British tournament circuit, but they are absent from participating in WSOP events since they are under 21. Annette_15 comes to mind. I saw her at the WSOP last year wandering around as a railbird. Rumor had it that she staked several of her friends. Even though the Queen of Poker was ineligible to play, she still got some action as a backer.
Most of the Scandi pros are not down with the tax withholdings and balked on coming over for that specific reason. Also, it's an awesome time in Sweden right now with 19-20 hours of daylight. The last thing they want to do is stay indoors and play poker, since thats what they do during all those dark and depressing grey Scandinavian winters of discontent.
I'm sure more Scandis will arrive closer to the main event, but for now, most of the young guns are absent. No Johnny Lodden or William Thorsson, which means a serious lacking of scrumptious Swedish ass on the rail sweating their boy toys. Seriously, if you want to find Lodden's table during any EPT event, simply look for the one with the hottest chicks standing around. Lodden has the Tao of Poker Assman of the Year locked up for a second straight year.
Plenty of other hot shot Scandis are absent including Theo Jorgensen, Kristian Kjondal, Bjorn-Erik Glenne, Soren Kongsgaard, Sander Lyloff, Andreas Hoivold, and Trond Eidsvig.
Because the Scandis are not here, the Russians and Italians have been staking a claim for the having the best performance by a European country at the WSOP. The combination of Alex Kravchenko and Alexander Kostritsyn is a tough one-two punch Ivan Drago-style. Nikolay Evdakov leads all players in number of cashes this year and he's on pace to break the record. And although Dario Minieri and Max Pescatori don't exactly look like the fiercest poker players in the world, I wouldn't want to fuck with Scarfboy and the Italian Pirate. And that other Dario guy, WSOP-Europe bracelet winner Dario Alioto, is no slouch either.
Dario Minieri is one interesting cat. He's the first player in the history of PokerStars FPP program to buy a Porsche with all of his frequent player points. He had to play a ton of high stakes SNGs to earn that distinction.
I first met Dario Minieri at the 2006 WSOP, when I covered the Main Event for PokerStars. I recall saying something to Otis that some kid (who looks like he's 15, doesn't even shave, and may or may not be a girl) had a shitload of chips. Cardplayer had the official media coverage that year and listed him as Dario Roma. Almost, but not quite. He was Dario Minieri and hailed from Rome, Italy. I asked him his name and he said in a very dramatic and flamboyant voice, "I am Dario! Me English not so good."
He only needed to know one word.... raise.
Flipchip watched Dario's final table all afternoon and early evening.
"That kid is something else," Flipchip said. "Every three minutes you heard the same thing, 'Dario raises. Dario raises. Dario raises.' He's so young that who knows how many bracelets he'll win when he's Max's age. The way he plays, he has the potential to make a lot of money."
"Unless he pisses it all away playing Baccarat at the Wynn. Degenadario is rumored to be stuck a quarter of a million from playing in the pits."
"Well, everyone has a leak," mentioned Flipchip very matter-of-factly. "I remember down at the Horseshoe one night, Puggy Pearson came over to me, blew cigar smoke in my face, and said, 'Every man has a leak. What's yours?'"
Sports betting is my leak, and it's the size of the Mississippi River. And how about Grubby? His leak is any and every slot machine
We all know that Ivey has a leak. And Archie Karas and TJ and Matusow and Lindgren and Negreanu... all of them are sick pokers players, but they are all doomed to lose their poker bankrolls in some form of gambling via craps, golf, baccarat, black jack, sports betting, cocaine, and/or lapdances.
If I'm Steve Wynn, well I'm super happy that Dario won first place. He now has $528,418 more to gamble with.
Since we're on an international kick you should check out the latest episode of Tao of Pokerati. We are already up to our tenth episode.
Eurotarded: Dan pursues diplomatic ties with the nation of Hungary, why Pauly is the David Hasselhoff of poker blogging, and how it's so nice to see the French and Germans working the poker beat in Euroharmony...To listen to previous podcasts head over to the Tao of Pokerati Archives.
Download Episode #10: Eurotarded (2:26)
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