Las Vegas, NV
We just got ambushed by a Scandi Sleeper Cell. With 78 players to go in the 2010 Main Event, two Scandis sit atop of the leaderboard in first and fifth place. Although Gus Hansen gets the majority of recognition as the most famous player from Denmark, Theo Jorgensen has been overlooked most of his career. Heck, I knew him for a year and I didn't even know he was Danish because his English accent was that passable.
Beware of the Scandis living among us. They will entrench themselves deep into our culture and spring into action when the Godfather of Scandi Poker, Thor Hansen, issues his fatwah in one of those Osama Bin Laden-type of videos with Thor sitting in the VIP section of the Rhino, adorned with two strippers on each side, as he reads a prepared statement in some sort of Scandic language, essentially springing the Nordic Jihad into action.
I never saw it coming. Neither did the European press, at least not until late on Day 2 and at the onset of Day 3. Benjo was combing through the list of players still remaining and he noted that the field had a decent number of Scandis still alive, but the ones that were still in the mix were some of the elite Scandi players in the world. The Scandis might have skipped many of the preliminaries, but that was just a ruse. Everyone in the press was so distracted with chip counting drama, Phil Ivey/durrrr bracelet bets, the Grinder's comeback, and the British Invasion -- that they completely forgot about the Scandis. They were ready to take over the game but then the UIGEA struck -- thereby blockading any sort of Scandi revolution -- with an Ikea on every corner and toe-headed boy bands dominating our airwaves.
A few years ago, when I was covering my first event on the European Poker Tour (still in its infancy), I thanked one of the big wigs at PokerStars at the time for approving my press credentials. He joked that he desperately needed me to write about the EPT so more Americans would play in those events.
"The Scandis are winning every fucking EPT," he mused in a very proper English accent. "We need the young Yanks to come over to help balance things out."
It was on the EPT where I first watched the Scandi-style of hyper-aggressive play. That was five summers ago and the Scandis were in front of the curve when it game to MTT strategy and game theory. Many established pros from North America and Great Britain were simply befuddled, while many of the young online players adapted, incorporated, and tweaked the Scandi LAG-tard style. Within a few years, the world had caught up to the Scandis and figured out how to combat their relentless and brazenly aggro style. But since that moment, many of the Scandis themselves had readjusted their play, while a new breed of Scandis playing a hybrid postmodern Scandi-style of aggression.
By the way, I have to repeat this story that might have gotten lost in the semi-live blog from a few days ago. I feel I've never told you the story of Jan Randomsen...
During the 2008 EPT Scandinavian Open in Copenhagen, Denmark (I happened to be there and let me tell you something -- nothing is worse than a bleak Scandinavian winter -- so I spent most of my time smoking hash that I scored in Freetown, Christiana and watched Nordic sports like the ski jump and the biathlon), Benjo started a shtick about all of the random Scandis that had flooded the tournament room at the EPT Denmark. I mean, we were behind enemy lines! They all looked the same... blonde hair, hoodie, Aviator sunglasses, silver ring, stoic smile... and sitting in front of a big ass stack.Yep, the WSOP is currently under siege by the original Scandi assassin, and no one saw it coming. We got caught with our pants down. With 78 to go, two elite Scandi operatives are in the lead pack (Theo Jorgensen and William Thorson), while Jan Randomsen and Johnny Lodden are both still alive in the chase pack.
Benjo nicknamed the random Scandi... Jon Randomson, which translated into English is Jan Randomsen. In fact, the player that he used as his original model back in 2008 was the player above.
William Thorson made a deep run in the 2006 Main Event (13th place for almost a $1million score) and this is definitely not his first rodeo. That's the first time I ever saw him in Vegas -- he was sitting on four-story high fortress of chips inside the Amazon Ballroom in one of the later days of the 2006 Main Event. The kid with spikey blonde hair and designer sunglasses looked half-hungover to all hell and half-stoned the rest of the time. I'd later find out years later that my originally assessment was dead on. As much as the Scandis don't say much (and when they do talk it's freaky because they speak perfect English - which is why they are the ideal sleeper cell candidates), they often keep their emotions in check at the tables and their thoughts to themselves. But as soon as the tournament is over, they let off enough steam to power all of Las Vegas. Some of us who cover the international circuit have a running joke -- how many hotel bars in different countries have you gotten drunk with Johnny Lodden?
On Day 6, the Scandis lost one of their only bracelet winners, Jesper Hougaard. He was seated at Theo Jorgensen's table for most of the day before he busted in 108th place. Evan Lamprea began the day as the leader, but he was quickly caught by Robert Pisano who won a cooler against Johnny Fucking Chan when his Aces held up against Chan's Kings. That was the first hand that Chan had played at that table and he woke up with Kings in the big blind. He was crippled and busted out soon after.
Pisano could not retain the lead when the Grinder went on a tear to seize the lead. Shortly before dinner break, John Racener took over the lead with a hearty stack topping 6 million. Coincidentally, Thor Hansen arrived on the rail and the Scandi Sleeper Cell went into full effect. Theo Jorgensen kicked it into high gear and vacuumed up chips, like a coke slut ripping rails in the bathroom of Voyeur in West Hollywood. Theo was eventually moved to the featured TV table (joining The Grinder, Peter Jetten, and young Russian Alexander Kostritsyn). At that time, the three of the biggest stacks in the room were on the TV table - the Scandi, the Russian, and the Grinder. Sounds like the start to a bad ethnic joke.
Robert Mizrachi was one of the four Mizrachi brothers playing in the Main Event. I guess Mama Mizrachi never heard that Townes Van Zandt ballad Momma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Poker Pros. They all cashed, but Eric and Danny had already busted. Could the Mizrachis strike gold once again and have two of them advance to the November Nine, like what had happened during the 50K Players' Championship? Alas, that was not meant to be. Robert was knocked out in 116th place, thereby leaving the Grinder as the Last Mizrachi Standing. Fitting since he's the one seeking redemption this summer. The Grinder's off the felt woes seemed to echo the troubles of many pros from the poker boom who won a shitload of money in a short period of time and simply assumed that the poker boom would keep on booming and that they would be on the top of their game for the next decade, maybe longer. The reality was much harsher and The Grinder has since helped dig himself out of a hole with a bracelet victory in the 50K.
The Grinder played with an improved confidence for the entire summer, which obviously spilled over into the Main Event. With 78 players to go, and Johnny Fucking Chan no longer in the tournament, it's going to be the Grinder's reality show from here on out until he hits the rail -- something I really hope does come to fruition. I guess we're all gonna be riding the Grinder's coattails to the November Nine -- provided he doesn't get ambushed by any Scandis along the way. He's got two tough ones in the front of the pack, but the Grinder knows better than to fuck with anyone in the middle of a Nordic Jihad.
Tony Dunst made a remarkable comeback. He started the day with a short stack and managed to advance to Day 7 with 1.55 million or almost 5x what he started with. When we chatted early on, he had no fear in his eyes. With a supreme confidence that he could still hold his own with a small stack, along with a couple of timely double ups to avoid elimination, Dunst made the cut.
I'm bummed out that Jesse Martin and Fokke Beukers busted. I'm remotely chummy with Dunst and Martin and was secretly rooting them on because believe it or not, even the most jaded scribes need something to root for. Martin busted out on a flip against a former German hoops player, meanwhile Dutch pro Fokke Beukers also hit the road. I asked my Dutch colleague Remko how to properly say his name, and he even tried to teach the WSOP's staff how to pronounce it properly (without cracking up).
That's what it sounds like when the Dutch say it. Come on, say it with me out loud six times in a row.
Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers. Fokke Beuker. Fucken Bookers.
One of the ESPN producers shook their head. "We can't say that on TV. We'll have to pronounce it 'Fokkay' instead of 'Fucken' because of the FCC."
That reminded me of the scene from The Doors when the TV suits from the Ed Sullivan Show wanted to censor the lyrics to Light My Fire.
"Standards and Practices has problem with the lyric, "Girl, we can't get much higher.' Can you say, 'Girl, we can't get much better.'?"
By the way, the floor guys who announce the names of the eliminations have wicked Southern accents. Jimmy Sommerfeld's Mississippi drawl is outright hysterical, and as much as I feel sorry for the players who get their named butchered, it's just friggin' hilarious to hear struggle with Russian and Eastern European names. That's often the highlights once we reach the money in the Main Event. It's a WSOP tradition -- listen to the redneck mispronounce names.
With Day 7 on the horizon, the big stories will be The Grinder and the Scandis. Which makes me wonder of the Russians can fly under the radar. Alexander Kostritsyn is one of the best young Russian pros under 24-years old. Although, the other two are not as well known, they have been playing solid throughout the event. Anyone want to bet that a Scandi and a Russian make the final table?
I guess if you were to ask me to help rig the November Nine at this point, here's who I'd pick...
1. The GrinderNow before you send me hate mail, I'm pretty stoned right now as I'm writing this at 9:20am so I didn't really put too much thought into this. Then again, the November Nine is a total crapshoot -- even with 78 players to go. You still have to fade 69 opponents in order to make it that far.
3. Tony Duunst
4. Pick a Scandi (Lohnny Lodden, Theo Jorgensen or William Thorson)
5. Matt Affleck
6. Filippo Candio (Crazy Italian who screams)
7. David Benyamine
8. Alexander Kostritsyn
9. Bill Melvin (he's a loyal Tao of Poker reader)
The field will get chopped down to 27 by the end of Day 7. Who will survive?
Here's a list of end of Day 6 chip counts.
Here's a list of 2010 WSOP Main Event money winners.
And if you like what I've written, then please buy my book: Lost Vegas.