EPT11 London: Two down for Bram Haenraets, a hat-trick next?

When Bram Haenraets landed in Great Britain for EPT London this week, he would have been hoping for lightning to strike twice. However, when Haenraets took his seat at the start of Day 4 today, his ambitions had inverted entirely. He was desperate now that if any bolts were going to blast from the heavens, they were going to fry somebody else's bonce.

To explain: when Haenraets qualified for EPT Barcelona at the end of August, he was a 30-year-old financier making his debut on the global poker scene. He was in for $80 and had low expectations, but soon found himself the hero of one of those spectacular EPT fairy tales. He bagged the chip lead when only 25 players were left and had a really solid chance at making the big, big money.

That's when the dream went somewhat awry. After grinding for five long days, Haenraets went out in ninth place, becoming the bubble boy for the official final table. He salved his wounds with €92,800, but still left Catalonia pondering what might have been.


Bram Haenraets on his debut in Barcelona

But Haenraets soon got back in the saddle, qualified again for EPT London and hopped on another plane back to these vaunted halls. Although the odds were stacked against another deep run, he sure enough managed to tear through Days 1, 2 and 3 to land himself once more in the final 24 of his second EPT Main Event.

That's when he decided he no longer wanted a repeat of his performance at the last EPT stop.

"At the time in Barcelona I was happy, but definitely now here in London, I don't want to bubble the final table," Haenraets said. "I want to make the final table."

Haenraets was talking during the second break in play today, at the point that a redraw was necessary to condense the field around its final three tables. He had only a short stack, but was bullish about his chances of at least tripling up and climbing back in the right direction.

If anybody has been following the live tournament updates, they will know that it wasn't to be this time for Haenraets. He ran pocket fives into Sebastian Pauli's pocket jacks and that sent him to the rail in 24th, earning £17,300.

But it won't be the last we see of the Dutchman. Having quit his finance job after the score in Barcelona, Haenraets has been playing poker full time and is learning very quickly. He finished second in the Sunday Warm-Up, WCOOP edition, on PokerStars, taking $153,000, and is now applying himself to improving his game even more.

"The first in Barcelona, it was surprising to me as well that I came that far," he said. "But after that, I started to play a lot more, and I think I did pretty well, online as well, in the WCOOP...I play a lot, I'm improving a lot. I still have a lot of developments to make, but this is a good start and it's going pretty well, and I plan for it to get even better."

According to his newly-minted Twitter account, which he set up to keep family and friends informed of his latest exploits, he has already locked up passage to Prague next month, where he'll be aiming for a Haenraets hat-trick.

Follow our coverage of the EPT London festival via the main EPT London page, where there are hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top and feature pieces below. And, of course, you can follow it all live at EPT Live.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour