Young stars shine at EPT London

Vivek Rajkumar
Vivek Rajkumar finds himself among the leaders at PokerStars EPT London.

The PokerStars EPT London main event played down to the final 24 Monday and it appears youthful exuberance ruled the day.

While old-guard live pros like John Juanda, Jeffrey Lisandro and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson all hit the rail, a good number of the game's Internet-weaned bright young stars took center stage.

"I think they have an edge just because they are so fearless," said 2007 WSOPE main event champ Annette Obrestad, 21, who can count herself among the group as she heads into the event's penultimate day Tuesday among the leaders.

"They're used to playing so many tournaments and they really don't give a shit if they bust. At this stage of a tournament they're really not scared of four-betting all in with like six-seven. If they have a read on someone they are just going to go with it.

"The old-school players, they don't like to stick their chips in without a hand."

2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure third-place finisher Benny Spindler vaulted to a spot at the top of the chip counts as the tournament rolled into the money and beyond Monday.

The 24-year-old from Darmstadt, Germany starting playing online three years ago and believes the uber-aggressive style he learned on the Internet is as effective live.

"The young players all come from the Internet and have a much different approach to the game than the older live players," he explained. "It's much more aggressive and it seems that it's much better.

 

Annette Obrestad
'I think they have an edge just because they are so fearless.'

 

"I usually bust on Day 1 or a make a deep run in a tournament, the first option happens very often, but sometimes I can build a big stack and that's my game."

But not all successful young poker players believe all-out aggression is the path to success in live tournament poker.

Seattle's Vivek Rajkumar, 23, who took down WPT Borgata in September 2008, also sits among the leaders here in London, and he says adding another gear to your game is just as important.

"I used to play like that one or two years ago, but people are really too good now," the Full Tilt pro said. "People know how to play back at over-the-top aggression, so you have to tighten up, especially if you have an aggressive image.

"I know as soon as I sit down, people automatically think I'm aggressive, so I come in and try to play off that."

Obrestad, who began dominating the online poker world at just 15 years old, says she's matured as a player and is starting to understand that patience in poker is almost as important as aggression - A lesson she learned from the same old-guard players she's now replacing on tournament leader boards the world over.

"I actually started out playing live (very aggressively) and after a while I saw it wasn't working," said the Betfair Poker pro. "I was busting with stupid hands and pots I shouldn't be involved in - stuff that's just so unnecessary.

 

Benny Spindler
"It's much more aggressive and it seems that it's much better.'

 

"You have so much time and the blinds go up so slowly, you can just grind it out - take it easy. I can see why there are still a lot of older live players doing well and I use a little of their strategy as well."

While most of the poker world believes Obrestad is as aggressive as they come, she's starting to reap the benefits of playing tighter with a loose image.

"It's unbelievable how some people just don't give me any credit at all," she said. "To be honest, I would really like to be able to get away with more stuff, but I don't. I can't do anything about that. My image is already there, now I just have to take advantage of it."

For all the action from Tuesday's playdown to the final table at PokerStars EPT London, including chip counts, photos and live updates, click through to PokerListings' Live Tournaments page.

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