Grand Start: The Henning Granstad Interview

During the break before the last level, caught up with him to see how he was faring today. 

So Henning, how was your Day 1 experience?

I started really off really carefully, checking good hands behind, just to keep the pots small. When the average is like $21,000 to $22,000 I want to be up to about $40,000 by being aggressive so I can put pressure on people. I got to $40,000, then had some good situations and got up to $70,000, and then suddenly I was on $120,000. Then [I hit] $170,000 [...] I just played really well that day.

Did you have any big hands that really mattered?

I just knocked two players [out]; that was it really I think. I won a few pretty big pots. I wasn't looking to get everything from them; just wanted to get paid off when I had the nuts. Sometimes I overbet the pot because they think you have missed a draw and make a marginal call, and then I had a set against two pair or something and got up to $243,000. I was really happy with the first day.

What about Day 2 - perhaps it hasn't gone so well so far?

It started off really well - I was straight up to $285,000 midway through the second level, but then it started against me a bit. I got two-outered, then three-outered. I had A-J versus T-T on an ace-high board after he called my flop bet, and caught a ten on the turn. I also lost a $110,000 pot earlier with kings versus ace-king, and those really hurt, but still I have $190,000.

When you lose hands [it affects] your confidence. It's better just to win lots of small pots and build up than [to have] the big jumps. I'm not too unhappy about the kings-versus-ace-king hand; I still have chips to work with. I'm still confident, but I just want this day to be over now if I'm honest.

Henning Granstad
The Norwegian in action.

How is your table playing today?

The table is ... All the table agrees that this is the toughest table they've been on in the WSOP. So it's been a really good table with good players, and there's not one chip for free on that table. I think in about half an hour we're breaking.

All the table is! We want to play some cowboys, some real American cowboys!

And overall, how has your WSOP gone?

It's been really good, I've played well this World Series, I've played 10, 11 tournaments and had one 12th and one 18th and had a bad beat in one of them. I had a chip leader pot in the $2,500 mixed Pot-Limit Hold'em/Omaha event, where I had top set and flush against a guy who had the sickest wrap I've ever seen with a higher flush draw!

He bet and I went all-in and he said, "I have to call ..." and I saw his hand and said, "Yeah! You have to call." And he hit a straight. That's Omaha for you though.

For the first three weeks I went deep in pretty much every tournament I played, playing 12-15 hours each day. I was playing really controlled, aggressive poker, but then I took two and a half weeks off before the Main Event because I was so tired. I just chilled out at the pool with friends; I went to the cinema.

Henning Grandstad
Along with Jan Sjavik and dmmikkel, one of the few Norwegians left in the Main Event.

And what's next for you? The WPT event at the Bellagio?

Depends on this tournament - I have to see how it goes here. You get really exhausted after all the WSOP events. I'll see what happens after here. I will play the WPT if I do pretty well here and am confident. If I'm not confident I don't want be in a tournament with $45,000 chips and $25/$50 blinds!

This year, the standard of the average player has really improved, it seems. What do you think?

There's a lot more good players now. For me yesterday the first table I was on was a really good table. Then I switched tables and there were good players on this new one, but they liked to gamble too much, like getting it all-in pre-flop for $50,000 with jacks, and they didn't know how to lay down a hand.

But the average players are a lot better than they were last year. I think it's going to be really hard for [anyone] to win this tournament because there's so many good players.

Thanks for your time, Henning.

* * * * * * * * * * *

One of the good guys of poker, Henning Granstad is doing well so far at the 2008 WSOP Main Event, but he'll have to wade through a still-vast field filled with progressively better players as the weak are weeded out.

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