EPT Dortmund: Hoivold takes EPT German Open
EPT German Open Champion: Andreas Hoivold
by Simon Young
A record-breaking EPT field of 493, one of the biggest prize pools in Europe, one of the nicest guys to take a title. Andreas Hoivold has lifted the EPT German Open trophy here in Dortmund, Germany, collecting a massive €672,000 - but, boy, did he have to work for it.
The Norwegian, 35, clawed his way through a gruelling seven-hour final table using his undoubted talent and cheeky sense of humour to win many new friends, as well as the cash. The victory is his second big result in recent months, after his third-place finish in the Poker Million in London in December, where he secured $250,000. His decision to turn pro just seven months ago now looks inspired. This victory makes him the second Norwegian to lift an EPT title this season, after Erik-Bjorn Glenne's stunning success in Barcelona.
Eight players sat down at the final table here at the Casino Hohensyburg, just outside Dortmund. The building nestles atop a hill and in the middle of woodland, providing a relaxing and picturesque setting for the players that swarmed here from all over Europe and beyond. Some even came as far from the US, Australia and Japan. Most, however, were from Germany (126), desperate to take the title on home ground.
Of the eight today, just one remained from Germany - PokerStars qualifier Sebastian Ruthenberg from Hamburg. He was down, then up, and then out in third.
8th Place: Thomas Fougeron
And of those eight, one was arguably the success of the tournament, even though he was the one who went out first. Thomas Fougeron, from Lille, France, was down to just 600 chips on his Day 1. All in with 6-6, he thought he was out when his cards were overtaken by the river. But he had 600 left and was called back from his walk to the door. From that little acorn of a stack, he built an oak tree and got this far with 286,000 chips in hand.
His astonishing run came to an end, though, when his all-in bluff was called by PokerStars qualifier Gunnar Rabe, from Sweden. Fougeron, who manages a computer company in France, pushed when the board showed 6-A-8-6. Rabe announced he had no ace but "had to call" with his suited 8-9 for a pair and flush draw. It was a good decision, as the Frenchman flipped over Q-10 for, well, nothing at that stage. The river was a 3 of clubs, bringing the flush, and Fougeron left with €60,300.
7th Place: Nicolas Levi
Only a hand or so later we lost our second player, with Nicolas Levi, also from France, being busted in 7th - also by Rabe. They got in a raising war pre-flop that had only one, inevitable conclusion... all in, call. Levi, 24, who lives in London and is an online pro, had K-Q, but was dominated by Rabe's A-K. Nothing the dealer produced changed the natural order of things, and Levi trousered €85,700.
At this stage Hoivold was one of the also-rans, as Italy's Christiano Blanco and Sebastian Ruthenberg stole the chip-stacking show. But Hoivold came back from the dinner break in cheerful - and chirpy mood, soon more or less doubling up through Blanco when he hit a Q on the turn to make his K-Q a winner.
6th Place: Erik Lindberg
Next to go home was Sweden's Erik Lindberg. The 24-year-old from Stockholm, an online pro, is on a decent live run having finished 11th in the EPT Copenhagen in January. And his sixth place here, for €109,000 will be sweet for his bankroll. It all ended when he re-raised Blanco all in while holding K-J. Blanco had the 6-6, although three spades on the flop - Lindberg's J was a spade, giving him hope for a flush as well as hitting his overs. Nothing came.
5th Place: Jacob Rasmussen
By now Hoivold was getting into his stride, looking and, no doubt, feeling, supremely confident. Denmark's Jacob Rasmussen soon became the eventual winner's next victim. The Norwegian raised to 106,000, saying "six is my lucky number". Rasmussen thought for a good few seconds before announcing he would raise. Quick as a flash, Hoivold asked Lee Jones - calling the final table here - "Can he do that?". With that, Rasmussen pushed all in, called in a flash by Hoivold.
Rasmussen had Q-J, but Hoivold had the K-K. "May the best hand win," he said. And indeed it did when the board came 7-10-3-3-J. Rasmussen, 23, is studying Economy and Law at Odense University, and now has €139,000 to help supplement his meagre student income.
4th Place: Gunnar Rabe
With four left, there was still everything to play for. Blanco's lead had been slashed first by Rabe, then by Hoivold. Rabe then took a huge hit himself, losing a critical pot to Ruthenberg, leaving him exposed. With just a few hundred thousand left, he was in push or fold mode - and he lost one all-in too many. The action was folded around to him on the small blind, and he went with his 2-2. Hoivold, in the big blind, looked at his first card - an ace - and called. His second was a 9.
The flop was 5-5-4, the turn a J. So any 4, J, 9, or A would knock Swedish PokerStars qualifier Rabe out. It came a 9, and he walked the plank, but now has €169,000 to dull any pain.
So then there were three, and Hoivold, Ruthenberg and Blanco were destined to trade chips for a while. Blanco, however, was by far the shorter stack, and could have been forgiven if he had started to work out how to spend €220,000 that came with that position. But, as so often happens, it was the two large stacks who went to war - and Hoivold won it.
3rd Place: Sebastian Ruthenberg
The blond-haired Norwegian, who had a small Mickey Mouse as his card protector, found K-K in the small blind, and raised Ruthenberg's 60,000 big blind to 140,000. The young German called. The flop was 2-3-10 and Hoivold bet out with 200,000 - called. The turn was 9 spades, making two spades on the board. Hoivold bet 500,000, Ruthenberg, with the A-5 spades moved all in with the flush and Gutshot draw, and Hoivold called. The German needed a spade, ace or 4 on the river to win, but it fell 8 clubs.
That huge hit left him with just 100,000 or so behind, forcing him to move all in each hand. It worked once, but no more. Pushing with his 236,000 holding A-3, he was called by Blanco and, not surprisingly Hoivold. The flop came 5-7-5 and was checked, the turn a 6, induced a 200,000 bet from Hoivold. He had the trip nines and did not want Blanco catching a straight on the river. The Italian had no piece of the flop anyway, and folded, leaving Ruthenberg to show his A-3 - the river was a meaningless 8 and Ruthenberg was out with €220,000.
2nd Place: Christiano Blanco
So we were heads up. Hoivold had a massive chip lead, and we expected the kill to be quick. But the manner of its speed - just one hand - did surprise us a bit. That's all it took for Blanco, 26, a football writer from Rome, to push his 400,000 with 9-10 offsuit. Hoivold looked down, saw Q-Q and obviously called. The flop was Q-A-8, giving Hoivold a set, but giving Blanco, who has only been playing for a few years, some hope of a straight if a jack fell. But the turn was another 8 and the river a K.
1st Place: Andreas Hoivold
Blanco took home €380,000 for second, a fantastic effort, but it was Hoivold who took home the cream - €672,000 to be precise.
And after watching his dominant performance, no-one would say he did not deserve it.
Hope you have enjoyed the coverage from Dortmund. Join us in a few days when the circus kicks off again in Warsaw, Poland, for that country's first EPT.
* For a full list of results, stats on player nationalities etc, please visit the official European Poker Tour site HERE.