SCOOP champs around the globe
Viktor Blom doesn't do a lot of media work. Even in the few opportunities I've had to talk to him, I've walked away without a perfectly clear understanding of what we just talked about.
That is a short way of explaining why you don't yet see a long, in-depth piece about Blom's $1 million win in the $10,300 Spring Championship of Online Poker main event. His oft-retweeted response to winning was, "Cash game seat open?" I expect that will be, much like Forest Gump, all he has to say about that.
There are others, however, who are carrying around a particular glow that says a lot more, both about their game and how they chose to live their lives. Take, for instance, Randal Flowers.
It was a struggle, but the man actually managed to find a picture of himself wearing a shirt.
This bears a little explanation.
PokerStars Blog writer Krisin Bihr put it well when she led this piece with, "Randal 'RandALLin' Flowers is the youngest-ever two-time WPT champion. He has over $3.5 million in career online MTT earnings and another $1.9 million live. But until tonight, he had yet to ship a 'COOP.'"
Flowers, an American, has been on the scene for years, but when Black Friday shut down his USA headquarters, he became one of the online refugees living in Mexico.
"It was a blessing in disguise. Between all the friends I have in our small community down here in Playa, to finally finding somewhere my girlfriend and I could live together, it was very nice," he said. "Without the DOJ forcing me to move out of my own country, I wouldn't be as happy as I am now. Taking this opportunity to use my happiness to play stress-free poker as focused as I can is a great feeling.
Stress-free is right. Flowers struggled to find a picture of himself in which he wasn't shirtless or making obscene gestures to the camera. Hell, he often finds it hard to stop relaxing. The beach isn't far away, and fighting the desire to grind the waves instead of the online tables is a struggle.
Nonetheless, he's booking this turbo SCOOP win as a career accomplishment.
"It's a great win. I've won a few WPT's live which are the highlight of my career, but I've never won a 'COOP," he said. "It's funny because I primarily would say my strength would be more deepstack NLHE tournaments with the longer levels. To win something the opposite is a surprise, but I'll most certainly take it."
If Flowers' carefree lifestyle seems antithetical to the poker grind, you might want to take a look at 23-year-old Ivan "Furunduk" Tikhov who won the medium buy-in $82 5-Card Omaha Hi/Lo 6-Max event.
That's him below.
What you see there is a young man clutching the fabled Binion's million. He's a Russian. In Vegas. Who lives in London. Temporarily.
The point is, he doesn't like being rooted down. He and his wife recently traveled across Europe and the Caribbean. Poker is a big part of his life, but it's a means to an end.
"My life doesn't have geographical borders," he said. "I can live in any place I like, because my job allows it."
Event 19-L winner Ben " I Am Benjami " Stern knows all about where jobs can take you. Born and raised in London, he nows spends most of his time in Tel Aviv, Israel working in the forex and binary options trading industry. Poker is his hobby, and his job lets him live where he wants.
"It's an amazing city with a beautiful coastline and a warm bustling atmosphere almost 24 hours as day," he said. "Waking up to the sunshine, sea breeze, and being surrounded by kind friendly people from all over the world is so refreshing, especially in a zone surrounded by a shadow of troubles, both past and present."
Those are just a few of our recent SCOOP champions, men who don't need much to make their nut. Give them an internet connection and some sunshine, and they'll do the rest.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging