Sebastian Sorensson Wins PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event (€987,043)
In the PokerStars Championship Barcelona €5,300 Main Event, Sebastian Sorensson found himself a little out of his element.
An online qualifier who got a seat on PokerStars for $200, Sorensson was used to leisurely poker at micro stakes. Grinding through the grueling 13-hour days that populate the schedule throughout a major poker tournament proved to be a cold splash of reality on Sorensson's excitement.
The Swede found himself too tired to think, much less focussed on what was happening on the felt. He folded hands without even looking. He forgot his big blind.
"The days are so, so long," he said. "It's really exhausting."
Somehow, though, Sorensson pulled off every small stakes player's dream: satellite into a big tournament and win the damn thing. He conquered the customary massive Barcelona field, which turned out to be 1,682 players strong.
|2||Lachezar Plamenov Petkov||Bulgaria||€917,347|
|4||Brian Kaufman Esposito||Uruguay||€402,000|
|6||Usman Siddique||United Kingdom||€252,000|
|7||Aeragan Arunan||United Kingdom||€193,000|
For his win, Sorensson, who spends most of his days working in a warehouse, claimed €987,043, the biggest prize in a three-way chop with heads-up opponent Lachezar Petkov and PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo winner Raffaele Sorrentino. Petkov, chip leader at the time, got €917,347 and Sorrentino got €850,110 with the extra €100,000 left on the table won by Sorensson.
The tale Sorensson told of his journey just to get to Casino Barcelona sounds like something out of gambling folklore. A huge mixed martial arts fan, he said he put in a bet on Nate Diaz as a sizable underdog in a late 2015 bout with Michael Johnson. Diaz won by decision, so Sorensson banked $1,000.
He said he then turned around and fired that $1,000 on Donald Trump to win the Republican presidential nomination, again at about 3-1 odds. Of course, that proved to be a winner, as did his subsequent rollover on Trump winning the election.
Suddenly in the possession of about $12,000, Sorensson decided he'd like to start playing poker and hopped into the micro stakes pool with the occasional shot, such as his satellite win.
Improbably finding himself in the money despite his status as a live poker novice, he said his strategy was simply to play tight and try to hit pay jumps. He certainly did that at the final table early on, starting out as the second-shortest stack with everyone looking up at Sorrentino.
However, stacks were shallow and things proved quite chaotic throughout the course of play. After short stack Usman Siddique fell early on, the five-handed war played out over 70-plus hands and about five hours, with players leapfrogging each other on the leaderboard and nobody able to truly take control.
Such was the movement that PokerStars Team Pro Andre Akkari had one of the strongest leads of the whole final table with about 40 percent of the chips, and still went out fifth. He may have taken a hammerlock on things if his queens held against Sorrentino, but the Italian found an ace on the river with ace-queen. The affable Brazilian never recovered, busting in a flip with Petkov shortly after. Never one to dwell on the negative, Akkari took the fall in stride.
"I'm always happy," he told PokerStars' Joe Stapleton. "I'm in Barcelona playing poker and I got good money."
Uruguay's Brian Kaufman put on a creative display of poker throughout the final table with plenty of non-standard plays, but he dropped in fourth the very next hand after Akkari busted when he jammed king-queen and ran into Sorensson's ace-queen.
After about an hour of very shallow three-handed play — average stacks were in the neighborhood of 25 big blinds — the remaining plays talked deal. Negotiations went back and forth for a bit, with Sorrentino asserting that he needed more than ICM. Ultimately, he convinced Sorensson to give up €15,000.
Just a few hands later, Sorrentino shoved over a Sorensson open in a battle of the blinds while holding ace-queen, but this time the hand would fail him as Sorensson found the call button with pocket threes and won unimproved. So ended the dream of Sorrentino to become a two-time PokerStars Championship winner just a few months after he conquered Monte Carlo for €466,714.
After his elimination, he didn't mince words about how disappointed he was to come so close to a second major title.
"I was really close to an incredible result," he said. "I'm not happy, I would have been happy if I won.
"I made the deal because the structure collapsed, we were playing with 20 BB average and it was impossible for me to play my main game."
That left Sorensson and Petkov playing heads up with the former holding a sizable lead of more than 4-1.
There were only around 50 big blinds in play after Petkov found an early double and the level went up. A situation likely to produce a quick and clean outcome instead led to an extended dogfight that lasted about 60 hands.
Petkov did his best to keep the pots as small as possible, religiously limping nearly every button. Sorensson did the complete opposite, coming in for large raises in both positions with a variety of holdings in an effort to put pressure on an opponent highly experienced with short stacks heads up — Petkov plays lots of Spin & Gos on PokerStars.
Neither player would give an inch and the match descended into levels never seen before in a major PokerStars event as they hit the record mark of Level 41 (800,000/1,600,000/200,000). The breaking point had finally been reached though, and just two hands in, Petkov jammed with king-nine and Sorensson snap-called with ace-king and flopped an ace for the win.
A clearly emotional Sorensson said after the win it's finally time to splurge.
"I will probably buy a whole bunch of nice shit," he said.
He also isn't long for working in the warehouse, as he may finally try his hand at what he said is his dream: being a professional poker player. Certainly, he now has the bankroll to give it a shot.