Rob Varkonyi, the 2002 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Champion, has been declared winner of InterPoker.com's Extreme Poker Challenge in Kemi, Finland. Varkonyi defeated fellow competitors Peter Larsson of Sweden, Ulrik Jensen of Denmark, Rene Christensen of Denmark, Daniel Stein of England, and reigning Extreme Poker Champion and local favorite, Finnish player Juha Helppi.
Battling temperatures that reached minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius), the competitors were given the option to repurchase lost chips in exchange for their coat, forcing them to play in only a T-Shirt.
Within the first three hands, Internet qualifier Daniel Stein had not only stripped Varkonyi of his chip stack, but also forced him to peel off his protective layer of winter clothing in order to stay in the tournament. Varkonyi later resorted to running laps in between hands to maintain circulation and stave off frostbite.
Ultimately, only Varkonyi and Helppi remained in the 90-minute tournament, with Varkonyi playing in just a T-Shirt, and Helppi securely wrapped in his Parka.
"Winning this title makes my suffering through the most excruciating cold I've ever experienced worth it, and I know this tournament will prepare me well for the 2006 World Series of Poker," said Varkonyi. "Juha really gave me a run for the title, and my hat and coat are off to him."
With this victory, Varkonyi will join Juha at the 2006 Extreme Poker Championship along with top-placed InterPoker.com Internet qualifier Ulrik Jensen from Denmark. The Extreme Poker Championship will be held in a sunken ship off the coast of St. Kitts in the Caribbean.
"Rob is a true champion, and he demonstrated today that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win, including removing his clothes in subzero temperatures and running in circles to fight off hypothermia," said Helppi. "I congratulate Rob his victory, and look forward to facing him in the next Extreme event to take back my title."
"The tournament was absolutely stunning -- the players sat atop a seemingly endless ice shelf on the Arctic sea and played a frostbitten game of poker, as the frigid winds tore across the table," said InterPoker.com spokesperson Peter Marcus.
"All of the players showed an amazing amount of concentration, skill and pure grit during this tournament -- especially our Internet qualifiers, who I anticipate will have very promising poker careers."
At the close of the Finland event, InterPoker.com announced that every player who qualifies for the 2006 WSOP through InterPoker.com WSOP satellite tournaments are automatically entered into qualifying rounds for the upcoming July Extreme Poker event, "Loser's Leap," to be held 10,000 feet above the Las Vegas Desert. Players will compete in a plane and will be forced to parachute out when they run out of chips.
Please see InterPoker To Host Extreme Poker Event In Finland for further details on InterPoker.com's Arctic Freezeout Tournament.