EPT10 Barcelona: Memories of drinks and hats as Jouhkimainen busts
While Alex Stevic works his stack up beyond the 100,000 mark, one player who will not be making a repeat Barcelona performance today is Finnish pro Joni Jouhkimainen.
Twelve months ago EPT Barcelona was something of a coming out party for the young Finn who, along with Aku Joentausta and the legendary Ilari Sahamies, turned the latter stages of the main event into a Finnish flag day. While Joentausta fell short, both Jouhkimainen and Sahamies reached the final table - Sahamies the master about to teach Jouhkimainen the apprentice, a thing or two.
But then something went wrong for the young pretender who had impressed so many in the days leading up to the final. Was it too much pressure on young shoulders? Was it the quality of opposition? Or was it the drinks he and Sahamies imbibed during a lengthy dinner break?
As Howard Swains reported at the time, as the press corp. settled down to watch an intriguing session of three-handed play, with Belarusian Mikalai Pobal reduced to a bit part, there was mild consternation when Sahamies and Jouhkimainen were spotted re-entering the casino carrying drinks and wearing sparkly sequined trilbies.
A rather splendid Joni Jouhkimainen
Within a few hands it became clear that the two Finns would not breeze into the heads-up duel everyone anticipated. Instead, Jouhkimainen crashed out in third place leaving Pobal to climb past Sahamies to claim a second EPT title for Belorussia.
Mikalai Pobal, who moved centre stage last year
This minor hiccup aside, there was little doubting of Jouhkimainen's natural talent. He took his seat today wearing another trilby, in a low-key black rather than the sequins of last year. Sitting low in his chair, and tuned into his mobile phone, there were flashes of the aggression he showed last year, and the experience absorbed by another year on the circuit.
And yet, he failed to click. Perhaps he was a little too casual, suggested Finnish reporter Jussi Tyriseva, who recounted Jouhkimainen's last hand of the Main Event. It came against an aggressive Swede who got his chips in over the top of Jouhkimainen's pocket jacks with ace-king. The board gave the Finn two pairs, but the Swede's two were better.
By all accounts Jouhkimainen was not upset - perhaps a welcome wake-up call ahead of an assault on the side events this week. Is the future still bright for Jouhkimainen?
"Oh yes, he's going to win," said Tyriseva. "He's just so good. It's definitely just a matter of time."
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Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.