During the playdown to heads-up the players were maintaining a modicum of propriety. That all dissolved when we reached the final two. Before we run down that debacle let's take a quick walk-through of the action which prefaced it.
At the beginning of the afternoon it was Tim Vance of the United States in the driver's seat with a commanding chip lead. At the other end of the spectrum were Patrik Andersson and Simon Dorslund, both with less than $300,000 to the monstrous $1.4 million of Vance.
The beauty of No-Limit is certainly how quickly a situation like this can change. Unfortunately for these two short stacks that wouldn't be the case here today.
Andersson was the first to get the ejector seat. His stack slipped to less than half of what he started with and he was forced to make a move, shipping it from the small blind over the top of a Daniel Ryan button raise. Ryan made the call with ace-five and saw he was ahead against Andersson's king-six. The ace held and Andersson was off to an early exit.
Dorslund fared a bit better. He was able to double up once and seemed to be gaining momentum before making a marginal call for a large portion of his chips. Rasmus Nielsen open-shoved from late position and Dorslund looked him up with ace-ten. He saw he had made a good read as Nielsen tabled pocket fives. He was unable to improve and the pot was shipped to Nielsen. Not long after, he moved all-in over the top of a Tim Vance opening raise holding ace-eight and got snapped off by Vance's big slick.
Nicolas Dervaux, France's sole representative at this final table, was unable to get much going. He moved up a few spots in the payouts before getting his short stack all-in with J♥ 5♦ trailing Soren Jensen's A♦ 7♦. Getting no help from the board, he was out in sixth place.
One player at this final table whom many had high hopes for was American Daniel Ryan. Esteemed online, Ryan is thought by some to be the best tournament player on the entire net. He narrowly missed the final table at the last EPT event in Dortmund but improved to a fourth-place finish here in Copenhagen. Short-stacked, he open-shoved with A♠ Q♠ and ran headfirst into Rasmus Nielsen's A-K.
Three-handed, with Vance holding a small advantage over his two opponents, we would soon see just how skill-based this game can be. Rasmus Nielsen's last hand began with an opening raise. He was re-raised by Tim Vance and, after some thought, flat-called for a dangerously large portion of his stack. The flop came out queen-high, unconnected, and Vance moved all-in. Nielsen took a quick look at the cards in the middle of the table and made the call.
We were expecting a monster, certainly at least kings or queens, but Nielsen surprised the crowd by tabling pocket eights. When Vance saw what he was up against he turned to Nielsen and said, "You've got a winner." A♣ Q♦ for Tim would need to improve. The turn was the J♠ and the river was the A♠, pairing up Vance and sending a frustrated Nielsen to the rail.
Left with the two most outlandish members of the final-table crew, the real show was about to begin.
We had already seen the antics from both the players who'd made it to heads-up play. Our first encounter with Jensen came a few days ago when a seemingly enraged Soren stormed past the press room screaming in Danish. We assumed he had been eliminated - it sounded like a two-outer - but in fact he had just taken down a big pot.
In the intervening time we've learned that Soren Jensen rarely wins a pot without letting everyone in a 10-mile radius know about it. Taking into account the fact that Jensen hasn't slept in the last 36 hours or so, which is the word on the street, it's amazing he's had the energy to put on such a performance. Jensen was also rumored to be wearing the same clothes since Day 1 of this event, something we were thankfully unable to verify ourselves.
Tim Vance, meanwhile, has a few eccentricities of his own, incessantly serenading the table with perhaps the most grating renditions of classic Beatles tunes we've ever been forced to endure. [And that's saying something! - Ed.] Add to that his habit of carrying on conversations with the photo of his daughter he keeps inside his hat and the scene at this final table was surreal indeed.
Judging by the way these two played throughout the tournament we had no way of predicting the train wreck we would soon be forced to sit through. We are aware that we're paid to be enthusiastic about the poker we cover but this match pushed us to our limit.
Never in our long careers of covering poker tournaments have we seen passivity like we were treated to tonight. At one point we watched eight consecutive hands folded by the player on the button. Flopped top pairs were checked all the way to the river. Pots were taken with jack-highs checked down to fifth street.
While neither player was overly aggressive, or even underly aggressive, the advantage lay clearly on the side of Tim Vance. Jensen began the match with a slight chip advantage but Vance quickly assumed the role of chip leader. Beating Jensen down to a 3-1 deficit, Vance got his opponent all-in. Pocket kings for Jensen on that occasion allowed him to double up, however, and we were back where we started.
Vance began the arduous task of chipping back up once again and before too long he was able to get Jensen all-in, this time with the best of it. Top pair for Vance was leading Jensen's middle pair, until the Dane caught two pair on the river. For the second time we were back to square one.
Like a repeat of a bad poker show on television the entire process began again. Sure enough Vance was in the lead before long. More than four hours into the match a big pot began to brew and we dared hope the end could be near.
A limped pot saw a flop of 8♠ 7♣ 2♣. Jensen bet out and Vance called. The turn was the 3♠ and Jensen bet again. Vance called again and the river brought the 4♠. Jensen moved in and Vance uttered the words that will surely go down in history, "It's been nice playing with you sir." He tabled A♠ T♠ for the nuts and it was all over.
Tim Vance takes a whopping 6,220,488 DKK for first and Soren Jensen rakes a 3,521,429 DKK payday for second. PL.com's Martin Derbyshire conducted an interview with our winner, and if you want to relive the entire final table check out our Live Updates page.
That's it for PL.com's time in Copenhagen but remember that part of the team is in Los Angeles right now covering the highly-publicized LAPC, one of the biggest stops on the World Poker Tour. Tournament poker never stops and neither do we. From Denmark to downtown Los Angeles we'll be there, bringing you all the action as it happens.