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Devilfish, Mike Sexton, Josef 'Pepe' Klinger and Me
I remember a long, wet night in Vienna.
The hotel bar was long closed but we had bought sufficient supplies the last round so we were not in trouble.
In a few hours the Main Event of the Vienna Spring Festival would start. In 1999 it was one of the biggest tournaments in Europe.
It had the same structure as the WSOP Main Event with two-hour levels over four days.
Back then only a few tournaments a year lasted more than one day. None lasted three, except this one, which lasted four.
Always Take the Field
It was one of the top three tournaments of the year and all the best were there. Even some Americans had found their way across the pond.
Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott claimed that he was the favorite. Mike Sexton and I agreed.
What else could we do?
We were discussing odds, you see. Sexton and I liked to bet on sports and poker and Devilfish liked to bet on everything.
In Vegas I always like the field when it comes to betting on poker. There are so many good players over there.
Sexton also always liked the field. I mean you had to when Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth were 8-1 to win the 1998 World Series of Poker with over 300 players.
I Really Liked My Chances
But Europe was a different story. The skill level between the top 20-30 and the rest was massive, especially with two-hour levels.
It was hard to hustle Mike Sexton, but since he also thought there would be more players than I did, I thought I felt I had a really good edge.
He didn't understand the difference with Europe compared to the States and how big the $2k buy in was. Last year had seen 121 participants.
I got to pick 20 players and got even money so we had ourselves a proper bet. I knew all the players so I picked the best.
I took away a few "name" players that I didn't fancy because of lack of skill or form, and added some up-and-coming stars.
I really liked my chances.
Devilfish Had Done His Bollocks
I was going to present my list the next day before the start. When betting on the WSOP I always liked people with a bracelet that year under their belt for the Main Event.
Form and confidence are huge in poker.
I checked the result lists and a guy named Josef “Pepe” Klinger popped out. He had won a satellite, which proved good form, and I liked his game.
So I wrote him down. But I had 21 names on my list so one had to go.
The Devilfish had “done his bollocks” in the cash game all week, according to himself. I really considered taking him off my list, but how could I?
He was the self-proclaimed favorite, and Mike and I had agreed.
He stayed on the list. Mostly because Mike would have told him that he was not on my list, and he would have been mad as hell.
And you didn’t want the Devilfish mad as hell. Or, actually, you did.
It was really funny. And profitable at the poker table, too. You just didn't want him mad as hell at you.
He Won, Of Course
Finally I scratched Josef “Pepe” Klinger from the list. He won, of course.
If I had known then that he was a world-class chess player I wouldn't have taken him off. Today he's #2 on the Austrian all-time money list. He finished second at the EPT Grand Final in 2010.
Devilfish? He was one of the first ones out of the tournament after losing 80% of his starting stack the first hour but still trying to dominate his table after that.
From my list I had five players on the final table. They finished 7th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd.
I don't think Mike ever understood how bad a proposition he had.
The Devilfish Chewed on a Toothpick
Anyway, back to the wet night before when the three of us had agreed that Devilfish was the favorite.
Mike said that the Devilfish was the favorite to get knocked out first.
Everybody agreed again.
We flipped the table of our speculations which led to an agreement that Nic Szeremeta, guaranteed to be the tightest player in the field, was the favorite to last to the second day but had the least chance of winning of the whole field.
The Devilfish chewed on a toothpick and summed it up on his incomparable Hull accent.
“I have a bigger chance of picking up this tooth pick from the floor with my ass cheeks than him winning the tournament.”
About Ken Lennaárd:
Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via PokerListings.com. Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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