PokerListings.com is the world's largest and most trusted online poker guide, offering the best online poker bonus deals guaranteed, over $1m in exclusive freerolls every year and the most free poker content available on the Web.
Robert + Rasmus: "We Haven't Celebrated in a Proper Way Yet"
The 2016 Battle of Malta was a memorable event in a few regards.
The main event beat its own record once again. The side events grew exponentially. And for the first time ever we saw a Swedish winner.
The most unique story, however, was two best friends making the final table.
Sweden's Robert Berglund and Rasmus Eriksson finished 1st and 3rd in the main event. How everything ended is now history – Robert claimed the title for €160,000 while Rasmus got a solid consolation prize of €67,000.
Together with a third friend, Johan Hinders, they all had a piece of the action. A few weeks after the somewhat improbable result we spoke to the 25-year old duo from Dalarna (north of Sweden) about their success. They were two humble winners.
PokerListings: A big congratulations on your 1st and 3rd! What have you been up to since? How did you celebrate it all?
Robert/Rasmus: Thanks a lot! We stayed in Malta a couple of days and just enjoyed the moment.
We haven't actually celebrated it in a proper way yet. We were so tired the days after so we just relaxed, ate and drank well.
PL: You had a last longer bet where the winner got a free dinner, did you receive that one around the same time?
Robert: Haha yes I got it immediately. We ate at a steakhouse in the harbour, it was really good.
PL: During the tournament you mentioned that you started playing poker together 5-6 years ago. How did it all start?
Rasmus: My older brother was Robert's friend and one evening he asked me if I wanted to come along and play.
I don't remember exactly what we played but probably some small Sit & Go or some really small cash game. It was also at this time we started to hang out with each other.
After this we had more poker nights and eventually we started to play online.
PL: Was Johan with you during those nights?
Robert: Not from the start. We first met him a few years later in Riga during our first live event.
PL: So you have an established poker community in Dalarna?
Robert: No, we're just a few friends that enjoy playing together. We mostly play online nowadays.
PL: Since you started to play together around the same time you must have developed some similarities in your game. How did your strategy look before the tournament? Did you have the same approach or do you have very different styles?
Rasmus: I think we play kinda similar. Battle of Malta has such a good structure so it was all pretty basic.
You get a nice amount of space to take it easy in the beginning and then it of course becomes more and more aggressive the further the tournament goes.
PL: Do you agree, Robert?
Robert: Yes. It was a really calm first day. Even the second day was kinda calm the first hours. You just had to relax and find some good spots.
PL: The night before the final table you were 6th in chips Robert and you were 2nd Rasmus. How did you prepare? Was it on your own or did you hang out together as usual?
Rasmus: We sat down and talked about how we thought the opponents played, but not much more than that. We took a fairly early breakfast and then we hang out by the pool for a few hours before we went to the casino.
PL: Were you nervous or was it just happy feelings?
Robert: Of course you were a little bit nervous, but as soon as you sat down by the table it all disappeared.
PL: Did you discuss any deal that night?
Robert: Not really; we had such different chipstacks. But we changed a few more percent so neither one would cry a river if the other one went all the way.
All three of us already had a fair amount in each other before the tournament so everyone got a good profit in the end.
PL: How did you feel when you knocked out Rasmus?
Robert: I would rather have knocked out the Irish guy (Finnighan) but it felt OK. I pushed with 9-7 and Rasmus called me with king high. He found a good spot as a marginal favorite and I sucked out.
Rasmus: Yeah I guess you could say that.
PL: Is it usually Robert that wins those hands when you play?
Rasmus: That guy always wears his running shoes!
PL: Robert, in a shorter interview during the Battle of Malta you said that you were trying to become a professional. How has that worked out for you?
Robert: It’s been going good. I have been playing poker full time for about a year now.
I mostly play cash games during the weekdays, everything from €0.5/€1 and up, and on Sundays I grind tournaments.
PL: What did you do before?
Robert: I worked as a care assistant.
PL: Have you noticed any differences in your results since you started playing poker full time and do you have any goals poker-wise for the future?
Robert: Yes, the results are much better now. It's fun to see. I can put so much more time into it which makes a big difference.
At the moment I don’t have any specific goals, I just take it as it comes. The only thing I have scheduled is Eureka in Prague. I might also play some side events in the EPT that runs along with it.
PL: You stayed in the same hotel room in Malta; do you live together in Sweden as well?
Rasmus: No we don’t, I just moved to Falun (another town in Dalarna). My girlfriend lives here so that’s why. Robert is still in Mora so we live about 100 km from each other.
PL: Do you work there? Or do you have any plans like Robert and turn professional?
Rasmus: Of course I thought about it a couple of times but I don’t have the passion to put the time in you're required to as a professional. I’m currently working at a remediation firm and I’m very happy there so I have no plans to stop.
My colleagues are great, even if they have to accept that I take some more time off than usual this year to go to Prague with Robert.
But they've handled it well -- some of them even want to buy a percentage in the action (Laughs).
PL: You had a pretty strange bet before Battle of Malta. If any of you reached the final table the other guys had to get a tattoo of a “Dalahäst” (A wooden horse from Dalarna). Have any of you done it yet?
Rasmus: Haha not yet. We actually haven’t spent any time together since we came back to Sweden.
But it is the Swedish championships of online poker this weekend and I will go to Mora to play. Get back to us after the weekend and we will have solved it!
PL: Are you going to have a lockdown?
Robert: Yes a few friends are coming over to my place. Both Rasmus and Johan are coming, also a few others. It will be at least five of us. We will grind tournaments.
PL: Might it not be difficult to find time for tattoos then?
Rasmus: Haha yes but we have to solve it! All details are not finished yet since two of us reached the final table.
As it looks in the current situation Johan must do two because both me and Robert managed to get there. And since I made it Robert has to do one; the same goes for me.
PL: Have you had any other crazy prop bets before?
Rasmus: Hmm, we have one that is still active with a third friend that uses way too much “Snus” (A Swedish tobacco). It is also about a final table - this time about the Sunday Million.
If he reaches it first we have to start with snus, but if one of us makes it first he has to stop for one year.
PL: Do you have any time limit for that one?
Robert: No, it's a standing bet. Because of that reason we play the Sunday Million every week. It is not about the money; we just want to win the bet.
It was a bit nervous once when he finished around 70th but it hasn't happened much since.
PL: Will you come back to Malta next year?
Robert: Yes, I am almost convinced we will.
Rasmus: Without a doubt! It's almost forbidden to schedule something else in November.