A tale of three birthdays in Berlin
At the Berlin stop of the Season 9 European Poker Tour, three professional poker players celebrated their birthday: Chris Brammer, Calvin Anderson, and Griffin Benger. Off of the felt, the celebrations were probably similar - the nightlife in the capital city of Germany is spectacular - but on the felt, the three pro's had very different experiences.
Brammer and Anderson celebrated their birthdays on the same day, April 26. For Anderson it was bittersweet, while for Brammer, it was completely bitter.
Brammer was a short stack on the bubble of the EPT Berlin High Roller. The Brit found a double up through Australia's Aaron Lim when his pocket fives held against Lim's pocket fours, but he still captained the shortest stack in the room.
A few hands later, Brammer four-bet shoved over a three-bet from Lim, looking to double up once again, and Lim made the call. Brammer was in great shape holding A♥K♥ against Lim's A♣Q♠, but the deck was unkind to him.
The dealer rapped the table, burned a single card, then spread a flop of 2♠J♥4♣. No real change. The turn brought the K♦, which gave Lim an extra out to make Broadway, and unfortunately for Brammer the T♠ spiked on the river. Brammer silently collected his things and walked off, while other players, most notably Artem Litinov, celebrated the birthday boy's demise.
To ease the pain, Brammer and his mates Pratyush Buddiga, Rhys Jones, and Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody decided to jump on a flight to Amsterdam that evening to celebrate.
"In Berlin airport, looks like we're going to Amsterdam #Ayyooooooooo," Cody tweeted.
Over at an adjacent table, Anderson was celebrating his birthday on the penultimate day of the EPT Berlin Main Event. Like Brammer, Anderson was among the shorter stacks in the room, but the bubble had burst long before Day 5. The American played his short stack creatively, picking his spots carefully, and six eliminations into the day, he found himself on the bubble of the unofficial final table.
Anderson, appropriately named "cal42688" online, three-bet shoved for roughly 20 big blinds holding pocket fives. Dutchman Pascal Vos cold four-bet shoved holding queens, and the cards were on their backs when Dashgyn Aliev, the original raiser, send his cards spiraling into the muck. Vos' queens held, and Anderson was eliminated in 10th place.
"Thanks for all the support, I hope everyone watching had as much fun as I did playing! #GetEmNextTime," Anderson tweeted.
Falling just short of the final table isn't ideal, but a €56,000 payday is nothing to sneeze at. It was also the second-largest score of the American's live poker career.
For Benger, who turned 28 the following day, it may have been his best birthday ever. The Canadian started the final day of the High Roller sitting third in chips with seven players remaining, and quickly grabbed the chip lead. He made trips against both Max Lykov and Marti Kabrhel, who started the day first and second in chips respectively, and found himself in the driver seat.
Suddenly, Benger was three-handed against Philippe Ktorza and the aforementioned Lim with nearly 80 percent of the chips in play. Benger busted Ktorza with A♠J♠ against the Frenchman's K♦J♦, making a pair of aces on the flop, and despite doubling Lim at the onset of heads-up play, he eliminated the Australian within an hour or so.
On the final hand, Lim open-shoved 14.5 big blinds on the button with K♥2♠, and Benger called with Q♣J♥. Benger took the lead when the flop fell Q♦T♦A♠, and held as the turn and river came 4♦, K♠.
When the river card hit the felt, Benger turned to give his an entire rail a giant bear hug. The Canadian took down €429,000 - more than half of a million dollars more than his previous largest score of $50,096.
In his winner's interview, Benger joking called it his "seventh-best birthday of all time." He was a bit more truthful on Twitter later, sending out the following:
"Can't wait to celebrate tonight with all my closest friends. It's not every day you win a half mil on your birthday! Seriously though, the partying to ensue this evening will be stuff of legend. It's gonna get DIFFERENT tonight. Things are gonna get weird."
Thankfully they didn't get too weird, and the next day, on PokerStars, Benger shipped two packages to the EPT Grand Final and finished runner-up in the Super Sized Sunday for $30,000.
Talk about a birthday to remember.